Flux to Crux…Part I

When it hurts to write (my number one love), when it hurts to counsel, when it hurts to breathe…within my crux. My well is dry. My give is limited. My encouraging spirit, well it is in wound. This is new. There have been times in the past I was unable to write. This is different; my life experiences are genuine, unique. I try my best to learn from them and move forward. I hold no ill will towards anyone.  This is more than hurt feelings, more than depression, more than overworked, more than transitional. All of me is in such a painful turmoil; my thoughts, my spirit, my body…yesterday I cleaned my face with fingernail polish remover. Smh/laugh, I did.  Yet, I know this is more than I need a vacation phase.

I am not sure what this is, what it means. I quit social media for a minute. I have been fasting since May. I have taken the necessary steps to welcome this transition and yet it seems I am still failing.

My flux—Monday through Wednesday schedule is when I give all of me to others. Monday: work, see clients, facilitate grief group. Tuesday: work, see clients, and attend class. Wednesday: work, see clients, facilitate divorce group. Thursday: work, work on proposals, homework, more counseling projects. Friday: looks like Thursday. Saturday & Sunday: self-care days…even with some sort of training—in ethics or sex trafficking and conducting prayer hotlines. I think my self-care is suffocating because I do not know where I am at, who I am becoming. In addition, how is it possible that there is more to life when it all hurts?

I am alone in my crux. I see, hear so much hurt. From planned suicide to displaced wives and children to grieving individuals. Their hurt pains me so much and I know to run, walk, talk, pray for them outside of my counseling sessions. I do not carry their weight although the heaviness is substantial. I could list all my credentials, my leadership roles, my accomplishments, my wants yet it still is what I did —not what I am doing. I have only the premise that I am in the middle of something huge and I cannot go backwards nor move forward in front of God. It all frightens me.

“There is nothing My Holiness cannot do.” ~Marianne Williamson

Fighting for joy…to keep it…to live with it and in it in spite of what I see, of what I hear and no matter the mistreatment keep fighting for joy. My purposes are my purposes…God-divine. When things come up hard, when reasoning makes no sense, when everything seems to fall short, when the fluxes of this life overwhelm we must remember all that God requires is never easy. Jesus, His son suffered more than anyone. He set the standard for being obedient to God’s will. He won. His victory is for us to win as well.

There will be times I cannot be all to everyone. There will be times my spirit of encouragement is nil. There will be times when how alone I am in this world flattens me. (When Daddy & Momma are gone, it is a whole other kind of growing up.)

I do not talk. I do not complain. I encourage. I smile. I cover up. While in this transition phase one person said to me: “There’s something behind that smile.”  I broke down. I cried. Not those hard cry just silent tears. There is my brokenness. There is the pain of being told my last seven years are a farce. That my struggle, my fight to be a counselor is of all things–unethical.

Normally, I have a few choice words for people who intentionally harm or disrespect me. I have my say. I am my best advocate. Yet, this time the weight of others, of it all, of this journey made me pause. I give. I give a lot. I give out. This time, for this moment I gave in. Whammy after whammy is depleting. The core of everything I am, everything I am becoming has to be fought for and I am tired.

“I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he[a] will answer my complaint.” Habakkuk 2:1 (NLT)

 There is peace in my wait. There is more of me in my wait. He is there for me in my wait. I awake smiling. I enter my space, my chosen time alone is outside where I can see, hear, smell, touch, breathe in His love. There is where I begin…within my crux. I am trusting God to do His possibles for me and for you.

His grace.

Intimately worded,

Michelle

Fyi: For those who do not know I am in the practicum/internship phase of achieving my master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. 
Beauty Selfie (2)
Beginning 2009 or 2010

 

Michelle_June 9 2017
In between June 2017.  (at my daughter’s graduation from Middle School.) 

 

 

Singleness Relationships His plans

Confident

Human Nature is God created and is the simplest most complex form of co-existing. It seems that relationships are now this big hoo-haw of rules…you have to be, what you should do, do not do that, and then they add in the biblical characters of Boaz, Ruth, then the terms submissiveness, wait and pursue. It kills me, completely. I am not writing to give advice and suggest anything. Just read this with an open-mind and open-heart.

I want to remind you that finding what you want, being single, while-in-wait is not complicated. It truly will take that one day, the one moment (and you may not ever describe it as perfect but it will be for that moment) that one conversation, that one hello, that one smell of his cologne, his swag,  that one act of chivalry and it happens. There really is no rhyme or reason to it. Even the unexpected friendship that blossoms is a part of it all.

Stop allowing what “experts” give, sell to you about your life because this is your life, your choice. Honestly, he/she cannot tell you how to be now in order to be dating if they have no clue of the trials you went through or the fiery acts of faith you believed in your past. People change. Mindsets become new. Our environments change. How I am, is due to the things God has allowed in my life and they are blessings. As a single parent of three African American males (two are adult men) and one daughter I have no room in my life to be passive, submissive nor non-intimidating. It just will not work. Yet, I know enough from my Mom, my Daddy, my brothers, my family, those aunts on how to be loving towards a man who holds my interest.

I have become, am becoming this person, this woman, this loving female not because of my past but in spite of; in spite of all I endured, endure —-because of my relationship with God. There is no doubt in my mind that my intimacy with God has grown me into a woman who is too forward, too passive, too gullible and above all ignorant. He just would not allow it. I am imperfect, perfectly so.  I smile from my soul for who I am. Our walk with Him is personal, it is about growth, it is about healing, and it is about GROWTH! Growth and stagnation does not mesh. God is so much greater. We have to realize that people choose to love or runaway, they choose it. Let them. Their choice does not make you or I less than. The only person that can impede God’s will for your life is you. {Jeremiah 29:11}

The heavy part of love requires all of you, each of you. Know and believe in your definition of love and you will find the partner that will enhance your definition or have you rewrite your definition with his or her edits. Just proofread first! Be in ready mode. Your heart is bigger than what if. God’s will is grander please believe that.

I pray God’s grace in whomever you choose to love….and I am so proud of you for where you are today. You have come through so much. Keep your You! It works specifically for all you are connected to.

Intimately written,

Michelle

Heart Faults, when we break.

In any relationship, manipulation is the highest form of betrayal. We will have to stop eating everything that is fed to us…even if its silver spoon fed. We grow watching, observing and living to our parents and family wishes. We trust them. Believe them without reservation. When we live our lives only by observation, and with their expectations without knowing their wounds, their whys our foundation will crack.

Respectability and accountability are requirements for the things we want in life, what we require from each other. Jesus’ mandate was to love one another as we love ourselves. His commandment sounds simple enough yet I believe it is one of the most difficult challenges in our faith walk. Loving self is a lifetime journey and it becomes more difficult to do when we break. The longevity of carrying pain, damaging pain that steals your joy and stills your heart is not loyalty. Do not lose Self in your love of someone. Our definition of love has to be redefined at times for every relationship is different. I hope that you create, prepare, equip and fall in love with your perspective of love….for love does not destroy you. Remember it. Keep your personal definition close to your heart. When the fires come, you will be able to fall back on a firm foundation no matter the cracks.

Dr. K E Garland has written, “The Unhappy Wife” a book that solidifies the undoing of each woman’s heart within matrimony. The book is a collection of short stories of 12 different women and their intimate soul reveals.  I love how the book is not about failing marriages yet more about individuality and how meshing, merging are important without losing Self.

Intimacy should be a bond that transforms and grows us individually and with our mate. It is inhumane, to not be touched, or reassured in your love. Intimacy is more than sex, more than means of procreating, its right smack in the middle of the whole scheme of things. As you read this book watch how their lives differentiate from their initial dreams, from their wants and how they live, survive within those differences.

My friendship with this author, reading her book leaves me indebted to her. She writes truths that the reader unveils whether we are single, coupled, or married. She understands the schematics of how we love, how we believe with God and that the one-billionth prayer will somehow magically fix the ones we love to love us back. As I shared with her, “We have to do better” for ourselves, our daughters, granddaughters for all who are connected to us. As well as for the honor of a unique want that becomes a spiritual yet legalized covenant.

One thing I did for myself many moons ago: I stopped labeling myself as divorced within conversations, on applications and within my definition of self-love.  That word, that status carries an overwhelming heavy weight. Drop it. Move forward. Love self so that you are able to love others, equally and with compassion. The Unhappy Wife by [Garland, KE]

You are able to purchase, “The Unhappy Wife” here: www.kegarland.com. It will be one of your best book purchases this year. I promise! KE Garland’s blog link: kwoted.wordpress.com/

Please post your feedback here, encourage KE Garland on her website and blog-site. I would love any commentary on this book, this post and your heart faults, please share. I teach a monthly workshop on Identity for Women of Faith and our sessions have been remarkable. So this read, this reflection has me ever so excited for our future. It all circles back.

Keep healing; it recipriocates and removes the fault lines.

Intimately worded,

A. Michelle

Carry Hope, this Counselor’s heart

 

journey-pic  It is never easy being vulnerable nor is it ever so easy being the strongest. What I am learning is that life gets better when we share. When we open up, expose our hearts, share our pitfalls, and express our hopes and dreams, our lives become bigger. No longer are we alone, separate, on our own.

I am learning with confidentiality comes responsibility. At the beginning of my education in counseling, I thought confidentiality was a burden…a required stressor for client relationships. As Counselors we cannot share any client cases not even with our spouse. I would find this most difficult whenever my he finds me. Yet, as I grow, as I try to understand the complexities of the heart, our minds and the human spirit I am not alone in carrying or solving another’s problems. It is their story, I am blessed to hear it, to listen in…what a grand opportunity to be present for another.

Our heart’s ache with so much. Love for family, for our spouse, our friends, partners, for all we are connected to and things will get heavy, very heavy. Carry Hope. Hope is essential. Faith is a required necessity. The two enable us to pick up shattered pieces, to gain a God perspective in all matters of the heart. In addition, it is free…listening with care is priceless. Seeing a person’s heart is one of the greatest values, a treasure. God will do the rest. Carry Hope and be gracious in giving it away.

Yesterday, I listened as this woman described how her 19-year-old son has schizophrenia. How over the years he has tried to cope with the voices in his head…how loud music does not drown them out, how the medicine does not drown them out. Yet, he knows the difference in what the voices tell him…he knows which are spiritual and which ones are not. I listened as she says she has never been dismissive when he speaks to her, warns her about things. I listen, as she has become his champion, his advocate. How she works to make sure the members of the police department know him, their family for his safety. How the Church members know him, he sits in the foyer (his choice) away from everyone and he listens to the sermon, the music. How she says he looks normal and he is her son. There is no tiredness in her voice, no weariness. She smiles. She speaks of love, her son, her husband, their community. I see her heart. I am proud of her, her son, her family, her community. She “fights” for everyone. #VillageLove

My Autumn  told me she saw me as a forgiving person, very forgiving. I asked does that make me a wuss, a pushover. She responded: “It means you forgive, Mother. That is it. Stop adding stuff.” I laughed. What a great characteristic to see in a person. She is right; I tend to add more than the necessary to any situation. Forgiving frees you up. It requires a lot to forgive but even if the process is slow, we are gaining more of ourselves each time we forgive. Do not let what others perceive of you dictate the kind of heart you have. Let your heart show. Let it beat, break, heal and love some more. Continue to guard it, though guard it with love not barbwire.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4: 23 (NIV)

Inevitably, the God-stuff happens. My heart is most happy when I can witness the miracles God works daily through our lives, nature, in our friendships, with family relations, in business ventures and once in a lifetime encounters. It was not until I went to bed last night that I realized that I was among a group of women that counsel, that are Believers, wonderful individuals and we all want the same thing. This path is so different from what I imagined. I am so grateful for my experiences; even the difficult ones for each equip me to journey on.

Again, carry hope…your definition of success is soon to follow.

Intimately worded,

A. Michelle!

© 2017 Michelle Tillman All rights reserved

 

 

The Cost of no, maybe & no response

He doesn’t want me…

and I’m good with that. I am better when I acknowledge that information.  I am still great. I am still going to lose the weight and not eat this big bowl of butter pecan ice cream… and lays potato chips. (Awesome combination and a great emotional cure all.)  I am still loved. I am still an awesome mother. I am still kind. I am appreciative and appreciated. Rejection is painful and it also should make you fully aware of your greatest asset: Self, your You.

We too often fall victim to our own missteps. We turn our hopes into a great mistake. Learning to love who you are should never be categorized with rejection. Love heals. Love corrects. Love gives. Love loves. Do not tear yourself down due to inattention, love is action.

I know the negativity that runs rapid through our minds. I know how it replays itself over and over again. The strength of our hearts is based on the strength of our hearts… it’s unbeatable.  Never allow a person to out-purpose God’s intent and intended for you.

Earlier this week, a great friend asked me why I never spoke of my ex-husband.  I responded: “That’s not a part of me. Why would I? It is so long ago. I have been divorced over 10 years.” She responds: “You filed it away. ” Me: “No. It isn’t a part of me. He was mean and cruel. I refuse to give Satan any credit. To “file away” implies I carry it and at times look back at it. I don’t. I’m healed. There’s no discussion about him because there’s no new information to discuss.” One little tidbit: If a person does not bring up their ex in a conversation, respect it and you in turn do the same.

I’m learning that no one’s journey is the same. Heartache happens to us all but no one has the right nor the self-history to label my healing. Life is heavy don’t carry the unnecessary; carry hope.

He doesn’t want me and I’m okay with that. Dating has become so generalized, an unflattering epidemic of social media terms and rules. Love is so much more, so intimate. Don’t get caught up in the pics, the messages,  the memes, sex clips, and infamous propaganda. I watched,  observed my parents a lot. What I didn’t comprehend they explained and taught me better. 33 years of marriage. God’s grace.

I remember my first date. I was 16, so excited. I finally was allowed to date. My date blew the horn.  I jumped from the sofa,  ready. My mom,  my Pearl: “If you open that door I’ll break your neck.” I stopped in my tracks,  my smile fading. My Dad,  all 6 feet of him: “If he doesn’t come in here and speak to us there is no date. You not going anywhere.” I tried my best to hold back the tears while holding my breath and simultaneously working my unknown telepathic skills to will my date in. He finally crossed the threshold and I remembered that breathing was again wonderful.  Of course there was a list of rules and a set curfew.

That lesson and many others from my parents keep me “okay” with a great deal of things. Rejection is a minimal concurrent stacked against unlimited possibilities. Know your worth and always expect God’s greater for every area of your life. No matter where you are in the phase of your journey—interested, like, deep like, in love,  can’t live without him feelings, heartbreak, know that you deserve all or nothing. Be proud of wanting what you want!  If the wanted doesn’t want to be wanted free’em with love. Stop bashing self and others. There are other open doors, different and in want of you!

He doesn’t want me and I’m okay with that. Smile, anyway. His competition, that One will. Keep pressing. Remain focused. Subtract the cost, add in the benefits. For any person struggling for a place to be or how to be… Be you! It is better than okay.

Heart full,  heart
A.Michelle

Pick your battles…Parenting Autumn

IMG_217943346666549    You have the ability to choose. I think often times we lose focus on the power of simplicity because if our lives are not forced focus, in crisis mode, hectic hellish or nonstop un-normal we fight to right our ways our way. Discern what matters God has placed within your life to deal with. Remember anything He gives us He also equips us. There are difficulties we must face, know that we do not face them alone. So often, we place burdens on ourselves that are His and we blame Him for the most. We carry that ice chip on our shoulders, in our words and we embed it in our hearts. God loves and He disciplines those He loves. He is not going to allow us to outdo Him. Honestly, there is no way we can.

My Autumn is 13 years old, an awesome daughter. She is my only daughter. #motherhood As her mother, I think I mess up a lot. I think I have to watch her more so because I fear for her. I think she could have had a mother that has more expertise in all things. I think she could have had a better mother—a mother who knows how to raise daughters. (I have three sons.) I do not allow her any social media time, her friends are few and she starts high school next year. Oh, and her figure, her shape is coming in already (just like mine at her age) and she is a beauty and so smart. Therefore, I am frightened in so many different areas of her life because I am her mother. Am I too stifling? Do I suffocate her? Am I making her feel she is loved and loving? How is her self-esteem? What are boys saying to her in that school? What are men saying to her? Then again, what are girls saying to her? Do we talk enough? Am I doing right by her? Has my singleness all these years braced her or harmed her for her future relationships? Big sigh.

When I get this way, which is not often but often enough. I immediately go into a tailspin of fear after hearing about the 12-year-old girl who committed suicide on FB. This cuts my heart up in so many ways. My soul is silenced when my friend tells me. My heart aches. She sends me the link of the little girls’ suicide. I refuse to open it up.

At times when I worry and Autumn is home, I run in her room and jump in her bed with her. I snuggle up with her while she reads her book. I make her take out her ear buds and we talk. Earlier this week, she complains but is laughing, “Momma, why?! It is hot. Stop.” She says. I smile and kiss her cheek and say, “Well, I’m not. My feet are cold. Warm me up” Her: “Your feet are always cold.” Me: “Let me search your phone to see what I can see. What’s your code?” She tells me and goes back to reading her book. While perusing through her phone, I find this text: Her and her friend are discussing their hair issues:

India (is a great friend to her and has long straight hair): “Use the ECO gel on your hair.” Autumn: “I did and my hair came out so short. I did not like it. My Mom used it and her hair looked great! But she used oil on hers and I did not. I am going to use oil and the ECO gel tonight.” My eyes water, I turn to her and smile, “You don’t ever tell me my hair looks great. You just say good or act like I am getting on your nerves. You love me!” Autumn, laughs so.

She has an awesome laugh too. Her natural hairstyle, her choice since she was 9 years old. Our hair textures are different but she has embraced her hair with such creativity and uniqueness it baffles me. Her self-strength is so powerful. What an amazing mirror I have. {An excerpt from one of my original poems: “I see Autumn leaves in the coldest of winter.”~M.} She is rooted well. I am so humbled by God’s love for me.

Therefore, I am going to push aside the “what if” and “if I just had” and also the “but God” and pick my battles, the winnable ones— the God has equipped me battles. I love being her mother more than the fear. Parenting costs so much yet the rewards are priceless and non-refundable. It is impossible to do everything right, I know that but the easiest part is when we do our best for them. We do not argue about social media. It is just an “is” in my home. We have discussed the possibility of Snap chat when she turns 14. So, I am on a journey to learn all I can about that before her next birthday in order to give the right answer to her, yes or no with an explanation of my choice.

I grieve for our children. I love our children; it truly takes a village. Suicide is preventable. Autumn and I discuss the neglected and abused children, teens, her peer group. I smile because her anger, her fight is just as strong as mine. Children, Adolescents have my heart they always will. We all are accountable to all we are connected. Please see the hope in that statement, there is no condemnation nor judgment. None, zilch. We must find ways that show our children they are loved without sacrificing our moral upbringing, without them suffering the residuals of this mean, mean world.

I think if we take a firm and mindful stance to focus on the winnable– our aspirations, hopes and dreams we have no recourse but to line up with what God has purposed for our lives. #TrustHim In all we do there has to be a peace that remains. I am learning this scripture holds so much direction and guiding, Philippians 4:6-8:”Do not be anxious about anything but in everything…”

Discern and pick your battles in every aspect of your life. God has planned for you to win the war. Growing up I did not like kids, did not want to be a mother. If I married, I wanted one child that was it. I remember telling my father I was never going to marry. He laughed along with giving awesome advice. (I will share that conversation later.)  God laughed too! I have four children, married once and divorced. I have been single longer than I was married. I am a grandmother! I am a child advocate, graduate student of Counseling and I teach Sunday School. Oh, God laughed big!! Remain focused on where He has you. Be God-confident!

My heart is all over the place… I hope this read makes sense. It all circles back.

My heart–Intimately worded,

A. Michelle!

 

 

Geeked!!

What God wants…

Happy 2017! I have committed to living a better life…no resolutions. Great things happening this morning, Wednesday, January 4 has led to a shift in perspective. Although I am able to encourage others (not just shoot off cliches) I find myself in the “dumps” quite often.

Early morning I receive a text requesting that I speak at a Book Club event. I smiled and agreed. My friend, requested and suggested the topic to speak on: the “work” needed in the “Sisterhood” era. Earlier this week I tweeted my thoughts on Self-care:

Click on link: https://www.instagram.com/p/BOvSoQCjiE0/?taken-by=nit_one

I smile at her suggestion, our communication and reflect. During my graduate interview in 2014, I was asked by the panel, “What population do you think you will have trouble serving?” Me, “To be honest, its not a matter of trouble. Its a fear. I fear working with Black Women and that makes me feel guilty. They are a population I feel I cannot reach. There is so much hurt there. I can’t understand it and it bothers me so.” Dr. S, “Than there is where you are most needed. Your greatest fear is entry point to your greatest triumph.”  I side-eyed her, she is African-American. I thought to myself, pssh if I am accepted I am not dealing with anyone I do not have to. My plan was to maintain a B average and avoid the difficult. God has other plans. Accepted in, A average and I did not avoid any difficulties…I worked. I studied. I cried. I counseled.

As my day progresses, I review assignments for my next class: Substance Abuse Counseling. I am excited that we have the previous professor we had in our Crisis Counseling course. She is awesome! My final course, Gender Counseling is taught by another professor I adore so my nervousness in achieving all A’s is swept away. I am able to do the work. I have learned as a grad student that apprehension about a course has a lot to do with learning the professor and the way they teach. Once the final two courses are completed, I begin my practicum and internship in May. Finding and researching the correct placement for my counseling career is exciting, slightly overwhelming. I emailed two more resumes and requested contact information for spots in Domestic Violence and Sex Trafficking of minors. I will be a practicing student counselor. Oh my!

One of the assignments in the Substance Abuse course is to abstain from one certain thing and journal our progress for the next 8 weeks. I have chosen to abstain from sugar. I have practiced the Daniel’s fast several times and although it takes great discipline, I enjoy it. The healthy results gained were fast, effective and practical. I am intrigued with how I will progress in abstaining from sugar as a project assignment. Especially, after I was a dessert pig over the Holidays.

I am looking forward to traveling and attending counseling workshops with my cohort. We get to meet one classmate’s mother when she visits. We have been pressing through together for three years; meeting mothers are a treasure. (I love the Elders)

The Little Ones return to their regular schedule of school and homework. They were not excited this morning yet this made me smile too. Their ways, their reactions I am learning to devour every chance I get. Time is so swift. Brutus’, “two more minutes” are the most endearing because he mumbles it and pulls me in for a hug. Autumn’s, morning “mm-hmm” and conversations on the drive to school remind me so much of myself. She said, “I already know they are going to be asking me for my pencils. I am going to say no. These pencils are my fav, the eraser just does not stick straight up you know. They twist up. You know I bought three packs. (Big sigh, smiling). It makes me feel better knowing I have them and I will not run out. Its 9:05, not late and not too early. Bye, Mother.”  My teen, she is a stickler for wanting things a certain way. (We cannot just write with any kind of pencil. She buys pencils!!! Lol) #motherhoodbliss

The career hunt is still a career hunt. I am maintaining a consistent belief that God is my provider. After this stint of unemployment, something wonderful will come. #bigHope #BigGod

Just a quick blog message, I am going to enjoy 2017 moment by moment. You do the same! Nothing is greater than walking the path God leads us on, for there; there He has equipped us for it all. Dig deep. Go further. Faithfully pray and do good works. #necessary work

God’s grace,

Michelle, Counseling Graduate

A Christmas Eve Note

 “Love yourself. Accept yourself. Be honest about what heals and helps you. Then you will bring your healing gifts to others. Your life will be a gift to the world.” ~Melody Beattie

One of my favorite events of Christmas is trimming the tree. I completed the trimming this morning. I was very ill earlier this week. Yes, there is a point in putting it up this late, it is my joy! Also, I remember. I reflect on each ornament. There is so much love,  so many memories… Damien is now 27, and now has a fiancée!! Darius gingerbread man hangs crooked–he was created in 1997 and has survived many breaks. I have glued him back together several times during Darius’ gravity defying superboy years. Smh/lol.  He is now 24. Autumn & Brutus'”new” ornaments with their initials. As they hang their individual ones, (I love their banter.): Brutus:”You know “B” is always at the top.” Autumn: “A” always come first.” As she hangs hers higher. I am a grandmother and my first grand baby brings me the greatest joy–her love is the reason for my illness. I could not put her down no matter how she coughed and sneezed. Oh she is getting so big, my Plump Plump.

 I have beautiful old ornaments passed to me by my deceased Mother-in-Law. The way I decorate all my Mom, deceased now 4 years. I remember so much of how I grew up with family …I remember my oldest brother Wayne teaching me the tricks of cooking grits. “Michelle because the instructions say 5 minutes. You do not stop there. You cook them longer than 5 minutes.” This morning we had grits for breakfast. (Not something I eat daily.) I remember walking over our land and picking out our Christmas tree for Daddy to cut down. I remember all my Waxhaw Christmases. #Tillman

My children do not realize the joy of trimming the tree yet. The toils of youth!  The thought of trimming the tree is cumbersome and they want to do something else. I cherish this time, it is very dear to me. I give pause and think of so much that has brought me to this day, my now. So much has happened in my life this year but that will be another blog post. I promise to share. 2016 has been amazing and amazingly difficult yet I have not lost sight of how God does what He does.
Reflect. Remember. Receive. Giving back to self requires many non-worry moments. Light your candles, play the Christmas music, fill the kitchen with the smells of baked cookies and favorite cakes. Listen to the laughter of children, of family. Love more because you are capable. We are equipped with the gifts to love, to love others and to be loving. Gift the world with your presence. We were created in His image for so much more.
Live love. Love self, it is imperative that we do. Be great at expecting God’s best for you. What we gift out, boomerangs purposely. Continue in God’s grace for your life. Do not doubt His love for you even though it feels and seems like He hasn’t heard a word of your prayers. As He justifies, He prepares. Merry Christmas!

Season’s Best,

Michelle & the Tribe

2016-christmas-tree
Christmas Tree 2016…my Angel Woman’s head. My tree is 7ft tall…I wouldn’t have it any other way. #tiredoftakingpics #thisisthe bestshot

Broken Wings

When I see myself, I see a little person who is still in a constant state of trying. Trying to achieve, be, get, will and do.

Last night I was encouraged, “Michelle, thank you for representing us so well.” I was stunned so I asked her, “What do you mean?” Again, she said, “Thank you for representing us so well.” I respond: “Thank you. Thank you so much.” Tears pricked my eyes because I still see myself as this little person who is just trying. It amazes me that this is how she views me…I am this little country girl no one wants. Being unwanted has set a precedence through major phases of my life. It is not a behavior issue; it is fact and an ugly scar…since birth. I know God orders our steps.

I have never been an attention seeker. I am really quite shy—bold and generous with my spirit (because we never know what another is battling) but my inner me is full of mush. I will fight for my family, my friends, my clients, for all who surround me. I fight the good fight, yet I am dumbfounded when told I am great at being me.

Last night’s event: I was inducted into the International Honor Society for Counselors as Chapter President-Elect. Amazing, right? After being sworn in, my responsibility is to swear in the other members. Criteria is 3.5 GPA or higher with a commitment to be excellent in integrity and to practice ethics of the highest standards in the counseling profession.

Amazing, it is such a grand experience to be among so many. We each have the same calling to work in so many different genres of the psychology field. One realization, I did not feel weird at all. I tried to sneak away from most of the photo taking but the photographer would eventually find me and whisper, “None of that.”  We laughed.

Growing up I was usually the only Black female in class, the only Black female on the job…there are so many different types of pressures when you are the only Black in any environment.Flashback at 19, just gave birth to my oldest son: “You Black, you female and you uneducated.” Exboyfriend. Flashback from 26-38: “You are fat. Stupid. No one will ever want you.” I was told I was unable to focus when I forgot something minor. (I was a tired, very tired insecure wife.) Oh, here come the tears…my point there are so many different types of fight I had to fight. Moving forward, I refuse to give any credit to the enemy.

As I am sitting listening to the speaker of the night, I am humbled. She is 61 years old. She has worked in the counseling field since she was 21. I value the softness of her voice, the gray in her hair, the simplicity of how she speaks and how she carries herself. She gives us 12 major points of advice to govern ourselves with through this journey. My favorite: “Focus on what you love, what is important, and ignore the rest. Be kind whenever possible and hold on to your humanness.”

I know I have one of the greatest life stories to share yet I am reluctant because it truly is not my platform. We learn from our past.. to grow, to evolve, to educate either by design or by example. I am amazed at how counseling found me, dragged me and continues to lead me. I love this stuff. I love how the educational achievements are celebrated at the Montreat Chapel or the Montreat Fellowship Hall, where God’s spirit is honored. Whatever our individual religion or spiritual preference is, our human hearts united yesterday to honor our dedication as well as our intent to impact and improve the lives of others through counseling.

We are adults some of us working fulltime, taking care of family and family members and maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or above in the professional field of human behavior. It is hard. It isolates you. It makes you unique. The thing is the more we do for others the better we become in whatever aspect we choose in life. Kindness is so underrated. No one should be made to feel unwanted, unworthy of affection, wasted time spent, nor of being uncared for. We cannot fix people but we certainly do not have to mistreat them.

So the compliment, “You represent us so well” has quieted and quickened my spirit.  I smile through my tears of gratitude; I am doing something right, somehow.

Broken wings

I have to fly higher than this.

 I have to reach further than most.

Words, people can no longer defeat me. I heal.

 Life situations will bend, break, and move me in resounding shifts. I heal.

How unordinary I am because I have broken wings.

 Soar with broken wings, all of it will pull shadow and carry you.

Soar anyway. ~Michelle (11.05.16)

I miss Momma and Daddy, they would be proud. Little Michelle, President-Elect of Mu Chi Chapter, Honor Society for Counselors. I have battled with going on further to receive my doctorate. I was informed that as an officer it is an expectation. I laughed. Really? Well, let me just go on and see what the end will be.

Represent well,

Michelle

(At the end of the ceremony, through all the prestige and decorum I still let out a big whoop whoop as I congratulated and welcomed the new Mu Chi members of 2016-2017. We rock!)

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Keep pushing until it all matters; because it will

Heart Moments #NecessaryWork

I have a tendency to listen more than I advise. It makes me smile, being aware that I am capable of that particular attribute. #lifelessons

Volunteering has opened my eyes to so much more than an individual’s present circumstances. I volunteer with the Child and Adolescent population in different roles. Lately, my work has included working with teens that are recovering addicts. All male and of all races. They have my heart. It amazes me that so many are addicted, so young, so many trying to cope with life, their way.

I do not see myself as the typical counselor. As I journey towards licensure I pray that I do not lose sight of caring. The type of intimate caring with your heart that becomes easy to lose in all the rules, policies and regulations. I tend to mother first. I am quiet more than intrusive. I have learned in the most difficult way to be quiet, to listen.

It becomes laborious to think outside the box when policies and set therapeutic techniques are the norm. We cannot touch, hug, and show any kind of affection. We know not to preach, fuss, and become a parent to them. These rules are for my protection and quite different for me for I am a mother and I was raised old school in a two parent home. (Most of them just need a good switch and their mouths washed out with soap. I digress. Lol.)

One day while visiting the park, I listen to Brandon. He is 15 years old, Black, appears kind, great dimples. I ask, “When did you become aware of your family’s use of drugs?” He responds, “Four. I was four years old.” My heart breaks. He has seen a lot. He has become conducive to his environment. He has done more criminally than a grown man has. He is 15.  Me, turning away because I am about to cry, “I would hug you but we can’t do that. You know there is more out here. More to life.” Him: “I like my environment Ms. Michelle.” Me, heart completely shattered: “I know. I know you do.”

Our conversation bothered me so much. Why should I be this bothered? He is receiving necessary help. I find out that this is his second time in. For weeks, the word “environment” and his predicament weighed heavy on me. I called my older sons, Damien and Darius. I questioned them on implementing a journal technique, getting the clients to write. Both respond: “Not sure why you think writing is going to help them kids.” It kind of hurts when your children tell you your thinking is off base. The more I learn of Brandon’s life, the more I felt helpless. My thoughts, he is receiving what he needs. He has counselors. He is going to his NA meetings. He is going to be fine.

Yet, the way he talked, his topic of conversation did not change. He was still going to rob people, commit home invasions, and maybe not get high as much but he would still carry out the same behavioral actions. The more I kept telling myself I could not improve the system the more depressed I became. Helping is about change. Volunteering is about improvement.

As God worked my heart, an idea began to form, EFL, Equine Facilitated Therapy. A proven therapeutic technique. I spoke with my Director. She gave me the go ahead to pursue. Throughout all the required business details, I kept quiet. I just knew this was going to fall through. I presented my proposal as a recreational activity. The Director accepted as an additional therapeutic technique for the Adolescent clients! My family responds: “Good, Momma.” I know this is huge; pretty mega. I laugh and I am so giddy.

Oh, how I wish I could share photos. I love confidentiality; I do but man I wish I could share photos. First session: the experience is exciting and unbelievable. Brandon, leader, aka tough guy is the most fearful. Kenny is as well. Remember, all these teens have some sort of record. Yet, they are quiet, scared, and respectful of these great creatures.  Of the twelve, Brandon and Kenny hide behind me, and counselors whenever the horses move. At least eight, take to the horses. They are working as a team to guide, walk and command the horses. Kenny, the one so afraid is able to lead and command the toughest horse there.

As we are watching him, his counselor says to me: “He has been shot twice. Gangs are trying to kill him. He is a tough one. His dad abused him. His mom doesn’t want him.” As she is speaking, I am watching this child smile; laugh, talk and I cannot hold back my tears. Me: “I need to take the time to read their files.” Her: “You haven’t? You put all this together without reading their files. Look around you. I have never seen these boys this way. Good job.”  I smile more, whisper to God a thank you and take more pictures. Brandon, my ringleader has not taken to any of the lessons given. He actually has the other clients surrounding him for protection. Smh, awesome leadership skills. He states he does not want to come back. (The EFL therapy is mandatory!) However, our second session he is riding. He even coaches and reassures me as I ride.

EFL is more for the teens but as I learn and bond with the horses, I am learning so much more about myself. At times, the sessions are so intensifying…its overwhelming to come face to face with your past, your Self in front of others. What I am learning about me at 46 years of age….I am a good person. That although I have been told otherwise and been made to feel inferior over the years I know that my heart is pure. I am proud of me, of who I am, of where this journey is leading me and it is wonderful to be okay with myself. #becoming

The responsibility of communicating with an animal that weighs up to 1600 pounds and it is just as furious about surviving as we are is humbling phenomenal.  I come home completely drained from the experience, happy. The emotional, mental and spiritual content, connection is difficult to express, another reason I have not blogged for a while.

Listen to the nudges, pricks, ideas you receive. They should cause us to go deeper, reach further. The possibility of change begins within us. Do the necessary work, it will influence the future. We can.

Love the journey,

A.Michelle!