Promises, Hope and my Heart

Counselors picI accepted a job offer last week! I have yet to share it with the world. I have been trying for consistent employment in counseling for the last two years. I am excited and I feel extremely blessed. This morning as I was looking at the beautiful autumn leaves I realized that I am manifesting, yet afraid of His promises of hope.

The dream opportunity to work as counselor—to be in this role before graduation, waiting on licensure scores—terrifies me. Manifestation: an event, action, or object that clearly shows or embodies something, especially a theory or an abstract idea. I am walking in what God has placed in my heart, a work that He knew of before my acceptance, a purpose He gifted me without giving details of how to achieve.

I tell you, do not push away from the painful things, the disappointments. Remember, that God is within those things, those interruptions as well, right there with you. This Counselor’s path has been not easy —very difficult. Becoming a counselor is not a stagnant career choice. You will grow whether you want to or not. Your heart will change, stop, beat, ache, break, melt, heal and then do it all over again. Your friendships, the ones you cherish will hurt. Oftentimes your alone time will be your healing time. This is an unquit for me.

This is my unequivocal purpose that is coming true! Although the promises of Hope move me in unfamiliar territory, I am in a territory of harvesting—working within my spiritual divine role. The moments that do not hurt: receiving authentic affirmations from a 15 year old recovering within her eating disorder: “I am beautiful. I am so beautiful! I am disappointed that I treated myself this mean.”

I received a beautiful hand-created scarf (pictured above) —this client did not use a knitting nor crochet needle. She used her fingers! She saw my joy and I put it on immediately, and said, “I will rock this!” She responds so unsure: “Ms. Michelle I can make you another, a better one.”  Me: “I don’t want you to. This is perfect!”

I have learned to love the unexpected hugs! (In the beginning, this was a problem for me.)  They are the greatest especially when I know my clients battle with touch, intimacy and trust. With all that comes with gaining a trauma victim’s trust it has been my intimacy with God that carries me through each session. At times, the science and the spiritual do not mesh and then there are times you cannot have one without the other. There are different paths that lead to healing. I marvel at these concepts and therapeutic techniques. I love Counseling! I do.

My life has by far been a complete God-experience; He has kept me when I did not recognize how He keeps. I could not have identified my professional identity without my spiritual journey. My first day begins after Thanksgiving.

Remain grateful, hopeful and I beg you to, choose the larger life.

“The beginning is most important part of the work.” –Plato

Intimately worded,

Michelle

{Song of Solomon 8:5}

Pause Mode: Cooking, Music, Saturday Reflections

“Keeping the devil down in the hole:”  https://youtu.be/9k9FMGp7oGU

I love creating in the kitchen. When life events become perplexing deciding what to prepare for breakfast, lunch, and or dinner based on what is available in the kitchen is a joy. #mindbliss

When it all gets complicated, keep it simple. Wait your turn it is all coming around, know that for every unanswered reason and all the unbelievable whys will make sense. Remain confident in where God has you. If He doesn’t have you where you are go and find Him.

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

See the pics of creations below:

Skillet Deliciousness
Heated Rosemary Garlic bread topped w/ fresh sauteed mushrooms, onions, jalapeno peppers topped w/cheese and fresh tomatoes. Yummy!
Skillet creations II
Eggs over easy, sauteed green peppers and onions. My new favorite. 

Happy July! Be grand in every endeavor you are lead to or have to take. It matters.

Creatively yours,

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!

 

 

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!)

current-pic-happy
Keep pushing until it all matters; because it will

Love anyway

To be a Guardian ad Litem is the most adventurous, heart-wrenching, soul-healing-happy roles ever. Although, I am unable to share their story due to confidentiality please note that the victims are within the system for much more than what my little self can fix…being there, visiting them makes me happy.

These two, six-year-old girl and nine-year-old boy are the most genuine lovable pair I have yet to advocate for. They have no knowledge of the past week travesties to their race nor of the ones who protect and serve. They did not hear the woman in my Sunday School class state: “We cause things to happen to ourselves. We deserve what happens to us when we put ourselves in environments like that.” She’s Black, a mother, a wife and older.They are unaware of the state of my heart. I visit them at their daycare. They greet me with hugs and questions. I smile so.

They command me to get on the floor and race cars, play in the sand box. I think oh my achy knee, hitch up my skirt and I join in. It takes a minute for me to realize that the little girl has snuggled up against me and is inside the crook of my arm. I hug her. She is just chattering away. The little fella has named me in his imaginary carpool with himself as the driver, “Ms. Michelle you can sit in the back seat. I got this.”

We move to the drawing table and they talk some more. We are drawing and coloring, making paper airplanes and paper masks. Frustrated, the little fella destroys his mask because he cannot cut it just right. He begins to fuss at his sister. She says, “Stop getting so upset. I didn’t do anything to you.” Without any anger or accusation, I address him, “Don’t do that. Do not fuss at her. Try again. We will have to use a different type paper. Don’t get so frustrated and do not quit.”

An hour later, “Ms. Michelle can you come back tomorrow? Ms. Michelle come back next Friday it is show and tell. Come back next Friday definitely. Ms. Michelle you do not have a phone? You lose it, break it? You really need a phone so I can show you how to play games.”(I keep my phone off and out of sight. They have my full attention.) I left there with a drawing, a happy heart that is sleep (too cute) and a happy heart that is crying. She also drew me in a picture with her family.

Their story is not the easiest nor one of the worst I have had to advocate for but the innocence and love they have for this stranger bends me and molds me into a better human, a better mother.

Writing about child advocacy is a difficult task and because of the emotional totality of it, I do not write but today, today these two are an exception…a remarkable exception. Their big hugs are enough to mend me, encourage me to keep doing what I do. 🙂

As a people we cannot be outdone.God cannot be beat. There are so many reminders of His promises to us. Find a way through it all, continue to care and love for and on others. It makes our world different, better.

When I return home my Brutus: “The kids good? These are not the ones at the Center. These the ones you guardian for, the ones that have been neglected? You help them. Kids should have their parents, Momma. I like that you do this.”  I kiss and hug him even the more.

My morning affirmation: After the loss…love anyway, trust this part of the journey, trust the timing of your heart. I believe we observe the power of Holy Spirit more in this part of the journey when we trust God’s timing. We are not in this alone. There is no part of our journey God hasn’t equipped us for. I promise you each phase of our journey prepares us for His next. I am so ready for “After the loss” moments, soul-tired yet ready.  💛 Faith read: Matthew 11:28-30. The choice to be amazing does not guarantee the absence of hurt…it sets you apart to set you apart. Continue to be amazing! ~M.

P.S. I love when the beginning of the day transforms the remainder of the day.

As for the lady who spoke such ignorance. No one addressed it. I think God has a way of indicating to fools too.

Be amazing!

Carved New Horizons, Opened Doors

 

 

angelou
Dr. Maya Angelou                                   April 18, 1928-May 28, 2014

 

 

Cooper
J. California  Cooper         November 10, 1931- September 20, 2014

 

Nikki
Nikki Giovanni               June   7, 1943

 

Toni M
Toni   Morrison                                                                                       February 18, 1931

 

images
Gwendolyn  Brooks                           June 7, 1917-                 December 3,2000
octavia-butler-photo
Octavia Butler                                             June 22,1947 -February 24, 2006

Black Women Authors expanded, continue to expand my  world.

The authors shown above are my favorite. Hopefully, if you haven’t read their work you will make time to do so. Wondrous works.

                                        Black Women Authors, Writers….

They mend our souls over so many obstacles, over so many other things, for so many years. Soul-reachers. Soul-Soothers. Confidence makers. Our next-phase- encouragers. Hope-pushers for the discouraged. Dream creators.

                                 Girl. Teen. Lady. Woman. Queen. Wisdom.

                                                         We are royalty. 

Our “I am” Warrioresses….we know how to hold on, we know how to let go, how to breathe…with their words. Words grouped into stories, poetry, truth fabricated to educate, enhance, imagine, explore, to start, to stop and to begin again, to finish.

Soul-reveal reads! They are our forever writers. Ase Ase.

Celebrate Herstory. We are amazing by choice!

A. Michelle

 

 

The Roots of Thanksgiving

roots of thanksgiving
     Since my mother passed three years ago my Thanksgivings are completely different. Our Thanksgivings are so different. I’ve always cooked during this time and I enjoy it. My emotions range from being absolutely grateful yet missing her and my siblings tremendously to wondering what to do. Overwhelming. How do you start new family traditions when the Center, our Nucleus has transitioned?
     Family is everything. ​Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because I get to see all my Family—well Daddy’s side. My aunties, my cousins, my nieces and nephews, new additions to the Family. My family is huge and I love that. I travel from Charlotte to Waxhaw. My oldest lives in Virginia and his girl is from Virginia as well. In October I asked could we spend Thanksgiving with her family and the answer was yes. I wanted a change of scenery, to do something different. A week before Thanksgiving Damien calls to say, “We are coming there.” Me: “So I have to cook?” Damien, sarcastic as usual: “Well, yeah.”
       The morning of: I am up early cooking. Damien is as well. He doesn’t sleep in anymore. He comes in the kitchen, “What’s ready now? What can I eat now?” Me: “Turkey necks and rice but who eats that as breakfast, this early?” Well, Damien does. Later, I ask him to taste test my gumbo, “That’s good. Damn, that’s good.”
      Damien has to return to Virginia Friday so our time together is rushed. Seamlessly, all falls into place without me having to organize anything. We will stop in Waxhaw, two of his buddies from college will join us. Isn’t that awesome, that his college friends want to be with his side of the family? The crazy, loveable, country, ghetto, thuggin, I-love-God-but-will-cuss-and-or-cut-you, we-all-gone-eat (neighbors and strangers too), most Black family in all the world. I am so proud to be a Tillman.
      We drive the long way into Waxhaw. New developments that we haven’t seen. The town is beautiful with Autumn leaves, the colors are magnificent. The countryside, the woods bring back so many memories.  I greet my cousin “B”, who looks nothing like 61 years of age. She hugs and kisses me, “Look at you short and sexy. Keep it up.” My other cousin Sharon is just beaming with a beautiful joy and has been for the past year or so. She will not tell me her secret. She is absolutely gorgeous. Then there is my cousin Vince Edward and we argue-love as usual. He’s older than 50. He says he isn’t. I say he is. Then there is my Auntie, the matriarch, head full of gray and silver……she fusses. I smile. I listen. I tell her my baby is going to have a baby and she smiles so, she laughs as if this is the greatest thing in all the world. I tear up because I see my Daddy in her smile. I remember how important family was/is to him. No matter what went on in my life I know I was loved…am loved.
      My family….my Damien and Darius have girlfriends, long-term girlfriends. There hasn’t been any others brought around for me to meet except these two, JaNee` and Dominque.  I reflect on how their girlfriends are becoming more like daughters than friends. We have dinner at my place, Damien’s circle and my children. All is well. The laughter, the conversation and their camaraderie made my heart smile. The one from Delaware hasn’t ever had nor heard of turkey necks before and condemns us as country bumpkins before he devours them.
      My family….when Dominique bites into my collard greens, closes her eyes and sighs w/ deliciousness. She says, “This is so nasty.” We laugh. She is womb-ing my first grandchild and again my heart smiles. I remember how I would only eat my Momma’s collard greens. She would give me my very own dish to take home.  Domi has the most peculiar taste buds and I know her pregnancy has warped everything. There is still a great debate about the title of my new role. I’m not ready for the title “Grandma” because my mother was Grandma. (Doesn’t feel right, lol.)
I like Grammy— like the Grammy awards. My children roll their eyes at this idea.  Everyone else is called Nana, Mimi, Glam-Ma or Me Maw. I don’t like Glam-Ma either.  Decisions, decisions. (huge smile)
      At one point I try to exit the room to escape the heaviness of the season, missing my parents, our time together and JaNee` says: “Next year at this time you will have the pitter patter of little feet, a baby crawling reaching for you. Expect big things next year. Different, new. Big.”  I smile, realizing that she is learning me. She won’t let me wallow, I step back in the room and tell her, “You are right.” We talk some more.
My roots, my family, my children and now my children’s children.
My Thanksgiving. My Life!
Tearfully and amazingly grateful,
 A. Michelle!
 P.S. Dominique returned the next day for more collard greens.