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.) 

 

 

February Love, dealing with Me.

me_2016     Where to begin? I believe in love. I believe in the type of love that covers, protects. The love that heals, forgives. The love that encourages, advises. The love that is silent yet quietly completes. I do not anticipate the fairy-tale, the dreamy –sexy-Knight-in-shining-armor type. I do not expect the saintly, mega millionaire to make all my dreams come true. Love is hard work. The type of work that is not for the faint of heart. My heart has been bruised enough. I am not dictating that it will not happen again, hurt has every opportunity as with everything in life. Yet, I will not force pain to remain.

As of late, I have a mental checklist with my heart and my brain. Another year of no valentine…I contemplate the suggestions family and friends throw my way: join a dating site, do online dating, go to a bar, find someone in the Church, join this, join that. What I realize I never had to join anything to meet either of my ex’s.  Well at 46, I refuse to play any of those games now. I am not putting anyone’s efforts in finding love down. I know what works for me because I know what I want. I am an old soul. I am old-fashion in believing in connections, in happenstance, in chance, in coincidences, “coinkadinks” (as my Momma would say.) The Next One will come.

So in-between that time and now I work on self.  I process to progress. I heal. I grow. I achieve. I teach.  I help. I am kind. I am there for others as well as myself. I give. I understand. I work. I smile. I encourage. I love. We easily lose sight of others, our friends and family when we lose sight of ourselves. Soul reveal: I do not receive invitations to many things because I am not part of a couple. It does not bother me as much anymore. Time is a precious commodity and if any friendship requires exclusion, that is a terrible loss for all involved.

There is no self-degradation during this time! Read a book. Watch a movie. Other times I review my week. I think of how many people I helped during the week. I think of how many reached out to me for answers, for a listening ear and I smile. I encourage myself. Surely, what we put out there we will receive back. God’s word says it multiplies. {Ephesians 5:15-17}

I love that my heart is not as fragile as my first heartbreak. Geez, aren’t they worst? I truly thought I could no longer live. I laugh remembering the woes of a teen. I love the fact that my heart is not bitter and broken from a failed marriage. I love that I understand love with all its simplicity and all its complexity, for all its worth that I would not change. My experiences lead me to who I am becoming. Love does not have to find me. I am not hiding. It is here, it has always been here, waiting for me to discover, uncover, and recover and then love some more. Ever changing. February is Love month, as well as Black History month. February is also the shortest month of the year—dealing with me, well that is 365, 24/7. I am trusting God for my more while protecting the best of me until He delivers. {Jeremiah 29:11}

“For now remember this. Even though you don’t have what you want right now, keep your heart open anyway. Later, you’ll see more. You’ll see how it worked out. How it needed to be just so.” ~Melody Beattie. 

Love Self; the rest will come. It all circles back and you will know when you see it. I am learning that we cannot timeline our seasons…spring always follows winter.

Keep sowing,

A.Michelle!

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

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!

 

 

 

The Power of Not Knowing

books and laptop pic

My Sundays after worship service are quiet…well the majority of them are unless I plan a coffee meet or lunch date with my circle of friends. It is a day and time I love, Sundays.

At this moment, my little bosses are asleep. My daughter has her latest book beside her head, glasses on. I remove them and cover her up; she snuggled a little deeper under her covers. I smile, proud that she devours books as much as I did at her age. My Brutus fell asleep playing his game. I turn it off. He immediately reaches out to hug me, eyes closed. I carry him to the sofa and cover him with my favorite blanket.  He mumbles, “Love you.”

For that reason, I decide to write about this moment, pushing aside the two books I am reading, savoring the peace, the solitude. Given the aftermath of all the national tragedies of lives being taken out of fear, out of anger, out of confusion …and we are still stuck without resolution, without solidarity. I smile today for I have hope, still.

I have friends. I have family. We are be it big or small affected when humanity continues to unravel, in such a way. I have adult sons. I have two young children. I have me. I do not like what I see in this world. What I can do is not react selfishly, nor ignorantly. So within these four walls, I pray. I believe. I write. I pray some more. I read. I cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for my children. I love on my baby grand when she is here. I dream. I educate myself. I hope. With hope, I plan the monthly prayer circles for my extended family.

As mom, sister, auntie, counselor-in-training, as an individual, I teach the idea of love by being proactive in love…not to some but to all. Others, irrespective, may twist the act of love, love on, the right way.

I revel in not knowing, yet faith-ing for everyone’s better. Continue to find the sacredness of peace, of being alone. You are the better for it.

Big hugs,

A.Michelle!

You are beautiful

 

I have this intrinsic viewpoint of myself. I believe it to be more humble than critical, an innocent naiveté. I speak and communicate with strangers yet it still blows my mind when others want to be a part of my world. All right, I rip myself apart. You do too. I am friendly enough, very independent and make my own way but not at the expense of others.

I have been teaching for the last three months. I have prepared myself so that I will not fall in love with these teenagers. My expectation when transitioning to teaching was and is to gain their respect not to be their friend nor to gain love. My big picture is to finish graduate school, pass the exam and achieve licensure as a counselor. I am a year and half away from the complete process.

I enter the teaching field based on a suggestion, good advice, a solid “to do” until graduate school is completed. My wall is up, my heart guarded and my emotions are in check. I want you to know these children, these teens that are deemed “at-risk”, who are less than respectful, that are mean, they are hurtful and hurting….they come find me now. They seek me out. The ones I have had removed from the classroom. The same ones who call me names, the ones who walk out of the classroom, and the ones who have fought one another in front of me…..they purposely come find me in this huge school. It is a new semester and I have a free fourth block every other day. It is my planning period. I expect them to ask me for something or to do something and I hear, “We don’t want anything. We miss you. You mind if we sit in here with you?” I breathe, we sit, and they talk. My heart melts….I have no clue why they want to be here with me. The children that are expelled….referred over to alternative school they search for little ole me. They come in between classes to speak, to give a hug, to smile and just to let me know they made it to school. It truly amazes me.

I have teen females telling me their troubles. How being girls in their household leads to violent acts, how they are touched inappropriately and how, “Mom has had three different boyfriends. She is pregnant now.” They tell me how being gay and sexually active at 14 years old is, “what I know. I know how men are. I see what my mom goes through. How she takes his side. How she did not come out her room when he was beating me. She threw me out. I mean I’m back now and he is gone.” Her head down and my response: “Our children should come first.” Her: “We should.” I just hug her because I do not know what else to do. I want to bring her home with me. Not just her, all of them. Oh how my heart aches for they go right back into the same environment.

As a counselor, as a mother I know how to do this. As a teacher, I am amazed, blindsided, lost, and heartbroken. I have so many questions. This hurt, their hurt is on a grand scale and it is a lot of them. Her story is not new to me and her story has happened to so many of them in this school. I completed an essay and had an open discussion with my professor. I ask, “Why do they share with me? I do not know them. They are students not necessarily mine. I just got there.” Her response: “You are trusting. That is what they see. You’ll figure out what to do.”

While I am trying to figure out the best way to aid, help, assist who I am does not stop becoming, does not stop progressing. My soul stretches. The gray hair multiplies before my next salon appointment. I tend to wear my glasses more than my contacts. (I think they hide my crying, red eyes better.) I do not see any increased worry lines. I still manage to smile. I have to. I love on my children even the more. I am ever so grateful for my parents, my family and my extended family.

Wednesday of this week, I am waiting in the line at the grocery store talking with my Brutus, my youngest son. An older woman walks up to me: “I love your hair. I absolutely love it. You know we spend so much money on our hair. I know you not spending $300.00 on this and it is beautiful. Do not change. God has blessed us as a people with so much and we try our best to make it into something else. I have dreads and people do not even do that naturally anymore. We so quick to hop away from us. This is what I love to see. I am not going to stop at your hair. I looked at your skirt, beautiful. Your shoes, beautiful. You are doing it and doing it divinely. I had to come and speak to you. I watched you talk to your son. You, your you is just beautiful. Keep it up. Don’t change!” I thank her tremendously. Yet, I still wonder why she and others open up to me. I tell my daughter the conversation and I ask her, “Women will compliment me quicker than men. This woman compliments me and I turn heads but not one man spoke to me. Why is that?” My Autumn, (she is 12) hunches her shoulders: “She is right. You are attractive Momma. Maybe men see more and are intimidated.” My resolve, she is watching me too.

We reflect what we want to portray yet it is what others see that is /will be our greatest impact. Continue to believe more of who you are rather than in what you are trying to do. God has this God-way of making it all work for our good. Your efforts will impact, direct lives to overcome, have others stand strong, motivate change and encourage others not to quit.Be beautiful in every way. Let them see you, your beautiful you.

Light the way,

A.Michelle!

Sunday Brunch…..the Sabbath

Sunday BrunchI am sitting here thinking about my Church life, my pastor and my parents. My pastor is due to retire next year….I am sadden, happy, proud and grateful for him and his wife. His leadership is more than phenomenal. He is 76 years old and still preaches two services every Sunday. I have never had to call him for anything personal, never had to reach out to him outside of the Church. Yet, he and his wife know my name. No one knew me personally at the Church, yet when I joined six years ago it was him and his wife that were standing up for me (as my family)…..it felt like home. So many Waxhaw, Momma & Daddy feelings, flashbacks at that time.
Today, after Church I am standing and talking with a friend. She is telling me of her troubles with her daughter who is in college. We talk how it is a growth experience for the parent and the child. College is difficult. Parenting a child away from home is difficult. Our pastor is making his way towards us, shaking hands and speaking. He says to her, “Tell her we sent her to college to get a degree not a dude.” Oh how we laughed. She told him to call her, talk to her. He said he would and writes down her number… “I will call her and give her some communion. You know when you take communion it is sacred. Imma speak  some sacredness in her life.” We laughed, she thanked him. Immediately, the mother relaxed, confident he would carry out what he said. She is a single mother; a weight within itself and he lifted that weight with a promise to call. His leadership does so much more than the eye can see.
 I have never felt the need to ask my pastor for anything outside of church—-I gained what I needed, the prayers, the advice, the structure, the teaching, weekly in his sermons, any church activity–even when he attended the basketball games. But I don’t think I would have been able to appreciate any of it; Sunday, the Sabbath, friendships, opportunities of serving, loving thy neighbor, worshipping, Church without my parents, my family. The circle of life…..I don’t know why I am thinking about my daddy so much today but it is good. We are where we are, intentionally, spiritually.
Be found loving,
A. Michelle!
P.S. Nap times are crucial on Sundays. Smile, take one. It is a national requirement.