From Crux to Flux… Part II

Early Saturday morning, just before it gets hot and icky out, I sit on my patio. I exhale; drink my water. I watch how the breeze plays with the leaves and gently touches my skin. I see the tiniest tomato growing on my tomato plant…its small and green and blends with the vines yet it is there. I smile remembering my Mom’s garden in the country. I frown remembering having to shuck corn…the “hair” and the worms you unveiled just flat-out gave me the creepy crawlies. Yet, eating the cooked corn was one of the greatest hits of summer. #yummy  I love nature, the simplicity of it, of how it all works in unison.

Garden_little mater
My little mater. #proudof mygreenthumb

Nothing stops…seasons change, life breathes new as much as it expires, our pain is continuous yet we heal. God whispers to us when we are at our lowest and when we find just the perfect moment of peace. He is ever so indicative of being seen for such an invisible God. Without difficulty, when we are in an existential crisis and cannot see Him we have no other option but to feel His presence.

Pain does not stop. We can both lie, dwell in it as well as allow it to be our entire reason for living. We have the choice to live within the healing process. I choose to heal and to continue healing. Healing is never-ending and it is without compromise. The beauty in brokenness—if I want to heal with love, with expectations, with hope I must do so without compromise. I cannot cheat you and heal. I cannot increase your pain and heal. I cannot stop loving and heal. I cannot forgive and love on purpose. Somehow, someway a part of this curative process is to understand the why. In addition, we cannot live there.

My flux…I am at a new internship site that helps adolescents and adults live with their eating disorders. I have never worked with this population and it is a great learning curve for me. I am completely fascinated, mindfully and spiritually overwhelmed. This is different and no the remedy is not simple as getting one to eat. Eating disorders are physiological and psychological. I am there 4 days a week—analyzing and understanding why clients are suffering with the basic necessity required to live. I have a great part time job. I have a huge gratitude for working with like-minded people. They are professional and so kind. I am near to finishing my first book. I am transitioning. I am healing.

My crux…Quitting at Life is not an option. Just as gardens cultivate, achieve, inspire where they are planted, we too must do the same. When God whispers it will be all right, it will be and just perfectly so. While watching nature I reflect of how holy God is. He is not some Fix-it King nor an entity that just repairs. He does so much more than our minds can phantom. How He intricately set the number of our days and count the hairs on our heads yet leaves it up to us to do what we will. His gift of freewill has no limits. We limit ourselves, create our own little boxes of our wants, we hold on to the familiar—pain, confusion, chaos, and our wants. We continue praying for what we want lessening the power of His intentional purposes for our lives.

Garden_God whispers
My little garden: tomatoes, some type of flower and a little basil

Get unstuck! #BelieveBigger God has a way of imparting and manifesting what we think are weaknesses into the greatest triumphs of our lives. Continue to love with care and heal according to the trust God has for you. That is not a heavy responsibility…if the thought does not bring you joy than that is where you need to heal. #mindyourmental

Intimately written,

Michelle ©

Wonderful work and a Great Start

The National Alliance on Mental Illness recognizes the potentially deadly consequences of when police respond to calls involving people with mental Illness. That’s why the organization and its nearly 1,000 branches across the country are working diligently to encourage a more robust training of police in the area of mental health. For police, it’s hard […]

via North Carolina to Require Mental Health Training for all Police Officers — Praise 100.9

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.)

 

 

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

 

 

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!

Culinary Skills & Dilemmas

When I have no solace, a lot to think over and no one to share my thoughts with I cook. I love the art and the science in preparing a meal. I love the creativity it takes to create a new recipe…the imagination of different flavors and spices. Trying to measure and enhance one product  to mesh with another. I enjoy the soothing methods slicing vegetables brings. I love the colors of bell peppers, the promise of just enough heat of habanero peppers and I love the earthiness of mushrooms. Today I am preparing a new dish, a signature recipe in every aspect: Salmon Braise, perhaps. I like that. As I am cutting, and preparing all ingredients to go into the crock pot I think, I pray. I listen for confirmation, affirmation of my thinking process. Oh how I miss the days of having someone listening to me, hearing my heart without cutting me off, nor interrupting me nor misconstruing my words. I continue cutting. This meal is supposed to be for me, the Little Ones do not care too much for mushrooms and okra. I think I have prepared enough for the neighborhood.

My dilemmas: Church & Internship and other stuff

My length of unemployment boggles my mind. It still hurts. I feel so unbalanced and insecure. I have worked since I was 15 years old. Its wonderful being available to the children, driving them to school and helping with homework. It is completely alien to me not being able to provide from my own work. I do not know how to be…but I am learning. I am learning that this phase of my life is so much bigger than not having a 9 to 5 or an office job.

Church vs my prayer life! Someone told me that the length of my unemployment might have a lot to do with my prayer life. (I have to bite my tongue a lot!) This statement pissed me off until I realized my relationship with God is intimate and no one gets to decide if I am close to Him or not based upon my employment status. (The preparation of cooking gives me time to evaluate and rid myself of others’ toxic conversation.) My spiritual growth is becoming greater but my spiritual connect with fellow believers has become stagnant. This concerns me. I believe in going to Church although I do not believe in the strictness and mandatory that religiosity pushes.

Teaching this Identity Workshop series will be a huge undertaking for me. I am in awe of how I got to this point in my life. This concept is not mine alone. If it were up to me, I would be behind the scenes somewhere. I consider myself more of a support person not a leader. I think I help leaders be better. I am a bossy supporter! 🙂

Internship! Internship! Both placements are awesome and could take my counseling career to great horizons. What is amazing to me is that internships are coming left and right but no job offers. Confuses me so; boggles my mind. You would think God’s priority would be opening doors of job opportunities first.

This Soul reveal has been on my heart for awhile: I attended several training classes this past week. My counseling journey can be quite heavy. Confidentiality is a huge piece of counseling, the heart of it. This journey is going to be more difficult than I thought and what I presumed. One class educated us on the effects of child sexual abuse, the tragedy of what happens to the victim from onset to the cycles of their adulthood. Heart wrenching. The documentary included a 60-year-old beautiful woman; she had the bluest eyes and the whitest hair. (I still see her face.)  One particular night she described how terrified she was at a young age. Her father was in her room and they both heard her mother’s footsteps approaching. Her father stopped. She held her breathe knowing that it would all stop now…then the return of exact devastation as they heard her mother’s footsteps retreat upstairs. She knew her mother would not save her. He knew that they all knew, He would not stop. She stated he abused her from the age of 2 to 17. Oh how I felt her terror. I wanted to protect her then and at present. She is 60 years old and the fear that came over her as she told her story saddens me deeply.  It is a heavy but necessary training course. The permission of hurt that mother allowed, it stops my heart. We can prevent child abuse. Although my heart ached for all their stories and my soul is tattered, I will continue to volunteer as a Guardian ad Litem. I do not see myself removing this type of servitude from my journey.

Do your best to stop taking ownership of the hurt people cause you. It is not your fault. I believe we all have good hearts and the Life stuff happens. However, taking ownership of what others intentionally do to us manifests into cancerous emotional scars. It multiplies. Yes, get to the root, do the necessary work to heal but stop blaming yourself. Getting hurt is not a responsibility, stop owning it.

What I gained this past week, the good things, the revelations are: the beauty in pushing forward, the hope in seeing tomorrow and the requirement necessary to focus on the love received. You will make it. Our humanness, that spiritual part of us promises that we will overcome. Sometimes the unintentional hurt pulls our heartstrings the worse. Allow God to work His way… you have to release it, all of it.  It is not your fault.  Tomorrows are worth the fight. {Psalms 91:1}

Me intimately worded,

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!