» Vessel. Voice. Visionary.

Because, its my time.

Humanity IS Enough: Criminal Justice as Human Justice

I’ve been “in the field” of criminal justice for longer than my active decision to pursue it academically or professionally. I’ve been working in criminal justice from the days of trying to understand why the guys in my neighborhood beefed with each other over a color or a block, despite the fact that they spent time together in daycare or shared the same classroom in elementary. I’ve been working in criminal justice from the days of fighting for my high school across the street from the projects to remain open in the face of hundreds of school closures, cited as low-performance, despite the fact that we had little resources and the real standard was miracle, not achievement. I’ve been working in criminal justice for half of my short life. And I must say that I’m tired. I’m tired that I and the many millions of people working for social justice in criminal justice are still working. We’ve tried countless ways to overhaul the system, and have been successful of many fronts, but the continuous reminder of the long way to go sometimes becomes defeating.

I recently began working in city government. Prior to starting, I knew I would be entering a space where I would be the minority and even a subset of the minority because of my intersecting identities, but I was unprepared for the emotional cost of showing up every day. I was unprepared for the ways in which I would have to perform—to be silent, to be cautious, to be highly aware, to be palatable, and to be agreeable— to compromise to fit in. I was unprepared for the sheer energy it would take me to get through 40 hours a week, even in a role that I was so committed to. For the first couple weeks, I would leave work so drained and could not understand why I was so worn-out. Once I began to recollect the events of my day, I saw so many pockets of energy exertion that I realized my fatigue was attributed to more than waking up earlier than I was used to. I felt heavy.

I feel heavy. I sit in countless meetings and listen to countless strategies to address criminal justice issues that all fail to mention that the work needs to be done because people are human. I am tired of change being driven by anything other than acknowledging the dignity and worth of a human life. Forget economic benefits. Forget who can use it for their political platform. Forget who will or will not find it palatable. Forget any reason that does not put human in front of any crime, condition or identity. Anything less will not achieve meaningful change. Human existence should be the sole justification for change. On any other stand, we will only see iterations of the same oppressive and violent system: one that approves the epitome of whiteness to sit in the White House, one that approves the infiltration of systems like policing and correction in communities of colors like plagues, literally wiping out millions of people and severing hope for millions more, one that has caused the internalization of hatred, one that causes poverty and then criminalizes it. If we reduce the amount of people in jail only to have them in the community still under correctional control, we have not achieved meaningful change. If we only come up with reform for people who commit “non-violent” crimes, while slamming the book against people who commit “violent” crimes, we have not achieved meaningful change. If we allow formerly incarcerated people/people with criminal records to contribute to society only when they met our standards of “redemption”, we have not achieved meaningful change. If we continue to justify police-sponsored killings because of self-defense or the officer’s top priority of getting home safely to their family, we have not achieved meaningful change. If we call for restructuring to the system because it is costing us too much money, we have not achieved meaningful change. Meaningful change will only be accomplished when the people on whose behalf we are working mean something—mean human. I am tired that this concept is not common sense, that it still needs to be said.

But. I can do nothing else than continue working. I will continue to pull strength from and invest energy into Behind the Walls, Between the Lines to create spaces of healing, transformation, and catalysts for change. I will continue to navigate whiteness in the workplace and carve out ways to stand in my truth. I will continue to speak. I will continue to show up. I will continue to fight for justice because it has a name.

 

In Solidarity,

Felicia

To You.

It’s still you.

Years later, my heart reminds me that I have a space collecting dust in its corner.

I didn’t move anything in.

And how could I when it’s only been you that fits there?

Sometimes I am afraid that I’ll never learn to love like this again, that my pen will never capture the way my heart beat at the sound of your feet up the stairs or the feel of your hand across my face to wipe the tears I felt safe releasing with you.

I am afraid that the feeling of a thousand butterflies all flapping their wings underneath my skin may not be duplicated. I’ve waited for the weight of loving you to be alleviated.

But it hasn’t.

It’s still you.

And I can’t say that I don’t want it to be.

I’ve imagined life beyond what we shared but I still find myself looking back even though I can’t go there.

I am not simply nostalgic. And no, I haven’t forgotten. Anything.

I am not remembering better than when the memories were created—it was complicated.

I’ve learned to accept it. To acknowledge my role and the way “we” had a hold on me.

It helped to have space. To walk in the Grace so freely offered even when I didn’t always get it right.

My sight is different now.

I see clearly. And I still see you.

And maybe, maybe we’ll never walk down the aisle. But, I’d like to think loving you and being loved by you was worthwhile.

Every smile that seemed to contain the sun’s rays. Every perfect contortion of a snuggle on lazy days. Every hug that assured me of security. Every clasped hand that spoke of surety. In us. In me.

Rolls frame by frame on the screen of my mind, I remind myself that it is not live TV.

That the only thing happening in the present is my pen gifting my page with words dedicated to you.

I hope you read this.

That you hear it in my voice.

That you hear all the things I still want to say but have no choice to keep to myself.

I still love you.

That’s a constant despite the variables that keep us apart.

Sometimes love is a la carte.

Sometimes you love without possessing and that alone is a lesson.

Love from a distance is still love. Even when it’s ninety-nine point eight miles away.

I hope it travels.

The Vehicle to Truth

I received my car a couple months shy of my 20th birthday. It was my father's--dusted off and tuned up after over a year of sitting in the garage of my house. I didn't want it per se; I guess you can say it sort of "fell" into my lap. It took me a while to get adjusted to the idea of driving around in my father's car. I had mixed emotions. I went from happy that I had this piece of him personally, but sad that this personal piece was in light of his death. I settled with being grateful that I had it, and become very protective of it. If someone slammed the door too hard or left crumbs on the seat or if I scratched it, it would send me reeling. Forget anyone driving it! I can still count on one hand how many people I've let drive it in the last 5 years I've had it. Once I got into an accident, and ended up needing a new bumper. I stood crying in the middle of Pep Boys and couldn't even talk as the mechanic asked me why I wanted the scrap bumper they took off the car.

Needless to say, my car is super meaningful to me. As I waited for my food in the McDonald's drive-through (don't judge me!) two nights ago, I looked up and opened my sunroof, and was reminded of another layer of meaning. There, on the inside of the sunroof, was the inscription of the nicknames my ex and I used for each other, written on a winter night, as the heat within the car caused fog on the cold windows. I smiled when I saw it, and simultaneously grieved for what I no longer had.

I was reminded of the sanctuary my car has been to me over the years. I have been through so much in the confines of those four doors. I have bawled my eyes out, trying to release the soul-aching pain I felt so often. Yet, I have literally screamed with joy, at the receipt of good news. I have doubted that God loved me and was concerned about me, and yet, I have been reminded of His faithfulness. I have sang songs at the top of my lungs, yet sat in silence when it felt like I had no song to sing. I have went to spiritual war on behalf of my loved ones, yet listened to their prayers when I couldn't formulate the words. I could go on and on, but my point isn't about my car. It's really about how my car has literally been the vehicle (ha!) to truth. As I delve deeper into finding and embracing my truth in the present, I am reminded that it is possible no matter how hard it seems or how painful it is. I can be honest about my fears, dreams, hopes, doubts, etc. outside of those four doors. 

So I'll be honest about them on this page. Some days I miss who I was. Some days I regret letting hurt stop me from developing and sustaining friendships and relationships. Some days my heart is warmed by people who desire relationships with me. Some days I am ashamed of ways that I gave in fleshy desires, and ways that I lowered or eliminated my standards. Some days I pat myself on the back for ending things that no longer served me. Some days I don't feel loved. Some days the love that I get isn't enough. Some days I am absolutely in love with myself. Some days I am angry at God. Some days I doubt that His plan is good. Some days I don't feel worth it. Some days I feel alone. Some days I feel empty. Some days I am super proud of who I've become. Some days I really miss my ex-boyfriend. Some days I still want to marry him and have chocolate babies. Some days I feel like I still haven't accomplished enough. Some days missing my father drowns me. Some days I look at my mother in fear that she'll leave me too soon. Some days I wish I was a better sibling. Some days I'm unsure about what I'm doing and if I'm doing the right thing. Some days I am satisfied. Some days I wish I was "normal". Some days I want to say the truth. Some days I don't. But. This day, I am. And for all the future days of my life, I will.

For too long I've looked at "some days" like only "my days" but I'm not the only one. If there is anything this journey is teaching me, it's that lighter is better. Embracing what hurts-- the shame, fear, pain, etc. and honoring it so that we can let it go is essential. Writing helped. Therapy helped (will write post on that later). Friends helped. Praying helped. Reading scriptures helped. But it wasn't until I was honest, until I said the "some days" out loud, and risked "the worst possible reaction" that I began to heal. I'm not fully there yet, but I'm lighter. With the way my life set up right now, God, with His strategic self, was like "oh no baby, there's a strict baggage allowance on this flight--you gon' have to leave something behind". LOL! But I'm glad I am leaving something behind. I got no time for delays, extra fees and tired shoulders. 

So, be free y'all. One "some day" at a time. You're worth it. <3

Until next time, 

Felicia 

Guest.

I will adjust your tie at your wedding.

I will look into your eyes and tell you how beautiful your bride looks, and how overcome with emotion you will be when you see her.                              

I will look too long.

And for a millisecond, you will see sadness in my eyes as I wish it was me.

I will blink my sadness away. 

I will give you a hug, whisper a prayer in your ear, and I will let go.

I will let go.

I will let go and you will feel it.

You will feel my release.

You will look into my eyes and tell me you're sorry.

I will smile and tell you I love you. You will say it back.

I will adjust your tie at your wedding.

I will be a guest.

Why I'm Considering Working In A Coffee Shop

As I'd like to say, my career trajectory has always been pretty linear. While I didn't have the language back then, I was interested in why my classmates and friends were getting locked up or shot up. I was adamantly opposed to the massive closure of public schools, including my own, especially because they consisted largely of people that looked like me. I was appalled that less than 15 minutes of geographic separation meant a difference in a quality education. I walked in rooms and felt the weight of people before I even saw them. It's safe to say that I knew my place was in social work and criminal justice. Once I got to college and sat in a SW and CJ class, I confirmed what I knew all along. Since then, every class, internship, placement, fellowship, job, and even passion has all built upon one another. My experience in one thing informs my experience in another. At this moment in my life, I'm realizing that while there's nothing wrong with that, I don't have to box myself into it. Investing yourself in the lives of people every day becomes exhausting, especially in a world where my own life needs investment in this crazy society. Being "responsible" for a caseload of people, involving yourself in every aspect of their existence as it relates to what they need support in can be draining. Granted, with the right supports you can push through, but with the lack thereof I'm experiencing, I'm ready to take a little break. Don't get me wrong, social work and criminal justice are MY LIFE. There is nothing else I can imagine myself doing, but as the days go on, I realize that somewhere I believed that I had to follow this particular pathway, and the truth is, I don't. I can still be committed to social justice working in a coffee shop, just as I would be working in a office. I can be intentional about where and how I devote my energy, where and how I resist. And sitting at a desk, following 50 life details about 50 people doesn't work for me. I want to create art, create pieces about racial injustice, tell the stories of people that were reduced to bodies. I want to rally people together to fight with me. I want to engage those in power so that they hear the reclaimed narratives of personhood, see themselves, and change policy. And I don't have a road map for how to do those things. Only that I want to, and will. But not like this. Not by regulating myself to a certain path. I will be free, because. how else can I lead others there? 

Until Next Time, 
Felicia

Perfectly Imperfect

"Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order." -Anne Wilson Schaef


When I read that quote years ago, I vowed to put the weapons down and accept that I'd never be perfect, because I was never meant to. Yet, years later, I realize my armory was more loaded than I imagined.

I woke up to text messages from my peeps asking me to check out projects they were working on. I was genuinely happy for them, but the safety on my weapons began to turn off, and the nozzles began to aim. "What are you doing Felicia? People around you are still working, break over." "That looks dope. Can yours compare?" "You need to get on that level." But. I'm not going to allow the weapons to fire. Despite whatever text messages I receive, or statuses that come across my timeline, or perfectly filtered pictures that I lay my eyes on, I have nothing to prove. Especially to myself. I am enough, always have been, and always will be. Enough is not perfect. And that's okay. My journey may not contain years of experience, or a specific title, or a mass following, or tons of money, but it does have one characteristic that I'll never find in anyone's else---it's mine. I am the only one with MY story. This is more than patting myself on the back for where I've made it to, and celebrating my victories, it's acknowledging that I'm the only one that made it THAT way.

Sometimes we need to shut off all forms of media, look ourselves in the mirror, and acknowledge that we are the best versions of ourselves that exist. We need not treat ourselves like a quilt, patching pieces together to create a marketable product. Perfection is an illusion. Holding ourselves to that standard robs us of the ability to see we are already everything we are looking for. Put the weapons down.

Until next time,
Felicia

Lessons I Learned While Losing

Back in July of this year, I was told by doctors that I had to drastically change my eating habits or I'd be on medication for the rest of my life. Begrudgingly, I started out on my healthy eating journey. Over the last few months, I've learned a couple things that have also taught me spiritually.

1. Appetites are developed.

On my best behavior, I lost 16 pounds. Unfortunately, because of my worst behavior, I've gained more than half of it back. Why? Because I developed an appetite for the things that weren't healthy for me. I wasn't born with an affinity for chocolate or French fries or burgers or bread--those were developed through tasting, and then consistent feeding. Our flesh is like that too. Although we're born innately sinful, what we indulge in depends on what we feed ourselves. If I have a taste of sex, and then am trying to stay away from it, "feeding" myself romance movies or sleepovers or more sex will only reinforce the appetite I've already developed.

Which leads me to my second point.

2. It's a daily process.

I won't stop liking chocolate over night (and I'm pretty sure EVER) but I can reduce my intake of it day by day. If I imagine 6 months worth of no chocolate, I'd probably quit before I started. But if I think of no chocolate for the day, pretty soon, I'll be a week without it. In terms of our flesh, appetites for sin may not go away either, but they can be reduced on the daily. Imagining celibacy or singleness or no cursing or (insert thing here), months or years out may make you rebellious! Strong appetites require daily victory. Now, it doesn't mean that you won't have the taste for it. But over time, when you've given yourself a chance to develop an appetite for the healthy stuff, (spiritually, God), the taste for unhealthy things decreases and likelihood of actually tasting 'em does too. I was a huge fan of soda. I replaced it with seltzer water and now, I don't even drink it! If I feel so inclined to taste it, I'm immediately disappointed because it's not even appetizing anymore. But that took time.

My third point.

3. Maintain, maintain, maintain.

Losing the weight was not as hard as I thought it would be. Maintaining the weight loss has been the hardest part. When I get bored with healthy eating, I binge on foolery, and then soon, it's been two weeks. Maintenance is about creating a lifestyle, not a diet. It's about doing things that are sustainable. I cut bread out cold turkey. That wasn't sustainable because some of my favorite meals included it. What IS sustainable is reducing how MUCH bread I eat on a weekly basis. In the spiritual, maintenance is equally difficult. We can go on "holiness sprees" where we refrain from engaging in a particular sin, only to be caught by it after a good streak. Sometimes that happens because we create unsustainable defenses. Being single is not a sustainable defense against lust. Neither is getting married. What IS sustainable is reading more scripture, or getting an accountability partner--things that can be maintained. But. Also realize that setbacks are normal. We're not perfect. Sometimes as much as we don't want to, we'll indulge. It's up to you to dust yourself off and start again.

I've learned a ton more but I'll make a part two so you aren't scrolling forever lol. I'll be working on getting snatched both naturally and spiritually in the meantime.

Until then, 
Felicia 

T.C.

I haven't slept properly in almost two weeks. That day, when I awoke from my nap, and happened to check my FB, I was shocked (to say the least) to hear of Thomas TC Clay's death. Unexpected. Unnerving. Saddening. Every night since, I've scrolled through his page, put his songs on repeat, and watched every video I could find. I've felt the grief and anguish of people that loved him, and cry to know that he is gone. There are times when the sovereignity of God is directly in opposition to our humanity. This is one of those times.

I can't tell you exactly why his death has affected me the way it has, but I have an idea. TC showed us what it was like to be courageous enough to be fully human. He showed us what it was like to be imperfect and flawed, yet wonderfully loved and forgiven. He showed us that worship was still possible in the midst of sin when your heart became pure. He showed us how beautiful it was to embrace the pieces and trust that God knew how to make them all make sense. He showed us that it was possible to make mistakes along the way, but that it was okay. He showed us that authenticity and vulnerability would sometimes cause us to be alone, but we still weren't ever alone because God was with us.

I am deeply moved by his life, and his death. I am grateful for the lives that he has impacted, including mine, even from the other side. I am humbled at the lessons I've learned, and am still learning weeks later. I am praying for strength, comfort, and peace for us all, especially those closest to him. All doesn't make sense now, but #allwillmakesensesoon.

Rest well TC. Thank you. Thank you SO very much.

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Worth The Sacrifice

"I'm not happy here". Those are the four words I want to say, have wanted to say for a long time, that sound logic tells me not to. But. Something in me tells me that I should. See, I've come to learn that potential isn't always worth the sacrifice. Too often, we wait around for potential to be actualized while day by day, we become frustrated that it hasn't. Whether that is in a relationship, or at a job, or with some other significant person, place or thing, we wait for the future to be better than it is now. News flash: now will be what you allow now to be. If you spend now waiting on the potential of the future, you may never be happy. Think about it. How many times do future events actually unfold the way we think they will, or even the way we want them to? How many times do we look back on moments and say "dang, look at what I missed while I was looking for what I couldn't see?" How many times do we realize that the now was what counted? I'm getting to the place where I understand that what you see now is most likely what you're gonna get. If the organization "could" be a lot better if they did this or that, but they are still following the same culture they did when you got there years ago, maybe it's time to let it go. If you're in a relationship and keep fighting over the same things month after month, and you stay because you believe they're gonna get it one day, maybe it's time to let it go. Now, let's get it straight. Potential is not synonymous with faith. I'm not saying to up and run away from things that are uncomfortable, nor am I saying that you can't be a change agent but if potential is the ONLY fuel keeping your vehicle running, you may want to do an evaluation of why you're still going. Realize that in every situation of waiting for potential to be actualized, you are sacrificing the reality of performance. Time isn't standing still. Opportunities aren't available forever. You have to give something up. Sometimes, that thing is you. Is it worth it?

Until next time, 
Felicia 

Five Years Later....

Five years ago today, my father died. For the last five years, I've been trying to make sense of it. And yet, as I type this, I know I never will. At one point in my life, that would have been a terrifying discovery. Now? A heavy, but manageable weight. I'll never wake up not grieving, but I'll never wake up forgetting the imprint he made on my heart. My Daddy was one of the greatest human beings in the universe, and I've done my best to keep him there--at human. My poems and blogs and chapters and statuses and messages about him remember his humanity and etch him into the eternal existence of words. Truth be told, I write for those who read my words as much as I write for myself. Humanity relies on connecting with someone else, knowing you're not alone. And that's what happens every time I put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard. I release, and I connect. And so, on this 30th day of July in the year 2016, I release that I surely do miss my Daddy, every second of every day, and I connect to every soul that misses someone too. Love keeps them alive--keeps us alive. Daddy, <3

Until Next Time, 
Felicia 

What's Next?

I'm 23 years old, with a Bachelor and Master of Social Work degree, full time job as a Social Worker getting paid enough to pay my bills and then some, a brand that has successfully launched two shows reaching over 200 people and engaging over a dozen different artists, a licensed Minister building my ministry outside of the four walls, and yet, I hear the deceiving voice of "not enough". Yet, I feel the tug of inadequacy and the desire to "do" and "achieve" more. As you can see from the things I named above, I have done plenty, especially for someone my age. So, you might be saying, "what in the world are you talking about?"

I'm talking about that voice that lives inside my head, and probably some of yours reading this, always trying to rob me of the opportunity to live in the present and acknowledge the accomplishments to date. "So what if you got your Masters at 22? Do you have your social work license?" "Okay you've been out of school for almost a year. It's time to go back." "When are you going to turn your brand into a company?" "What's next Felicia? What's next?"

What's next is always the question in my mind. It in itself is not a bad one either; we should be thinking ahead of how we can grow and become skilled in our gifts. BUT. It is a dangerous one when it is not coupled with the acknowledgement of what's achieved. Before you think of what's next, you should look where you've come from. The journey has not been easy by any means, and I don't have to know your story to know that. When I think of the last five years of my life alone, I can bust out into tears at the grace and strength that God has given me to make it this far. I literally could have quit! It would have made sense! Some people in similar situations as mine did!  Yet, there are times where I bypass that realization and force myself to think of the next accomplishment. (It's also an issue of pride, but that's another convo).

SLOW DOWN. When is the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back?  When is the last time you looked around at what you accomplished and was satisfied/proud? When is the last time you took the time to thank God for even bringing you as far as you are? James 4:14-15 (NLT) says "How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, 'If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.' " Ecclesiastes 3:13 (NLT) says "And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God." At the end of the day, the point is we have no clue what the future will hold, and not just five years from now, but next 60 seconds. God has gifted us with time, and graced us to accomplish things within it. Acknowledge that. And thank Him for it. Instead of asking what's next, see what's NOW.

Until next time,
Felicia

Indefinite Pain

She said to me "Felicia you're talking as though it'll end. And that might be, but what if it doesn't? What if everyday you have to wake up and navigate the pain? What will you do then?"

There are some kinds of pain that end. When you stub your toe, it hurts (especially if it's that pinky toe!) but you grimace because you know it'll end momentarily. If you have a headache, you either wait it out or pop an ibuprofen, waiting for it to kick in. The thought of knowing the pain will end makes it bearable. You can wait. But what happens with the pain that has no end in sight? What if there is no countdown clock? What happens then?

That kind of pain requires a different kind of attention. For pain with an expiration date, the best thing to do is wait until that date. You can carry the full weight of that pain daily until that date because you know you'll never have to carry it past then. For pain without an expiration date, the best thing to do is take it one day at a time, sometimes one moment to the next. You can't carry the full weight on a daily basis indefinitely because it'll crush you. You develop a daily tolerance for the pain and carry as much as you can for that day.

What I've learned is that these kinds of pain are the pains that we must cast upon God because we weren't meant to carry that kind of weight by ourselves. There is a reason why Jesus told us to trade our burdens and yokes for His (Matthew 11:30). I believe He was talking about these kinds of pain--the ones that no pain relievers can alleviate.

I'll never wake up and stop feeling the pain of missing my father. That kind of pain has to be navigated on a daily basis because it is a part of me. But the great thing is I don't have to be crushed by it or consumed by it because of the trading of burdens I can do daily with Jesus. That doesn't mean it won't hurt. That doesn't mean I won't miss him. That doesn't mean that there won't be days when I feel like staying in the bed and crying all day. It does mean that in these moments I'm not alone. There is no expiration date but Jesus' invitation doesn't expire either.

A little less than a year later, the pain of my breakup feels as fresh as it did the day it happened. But no expiration date doesn't mean no hope. It doesn't mean no freedom. It does mean that I will wake up each day carrying less than I did the day before.

The pain of abandonment and rejection and insecurity and loss and fear and isolation and a million other things I can't even name do not have expiration dates. Some of them may very well end before my time on earth does, but some of them may go with me. And that's okay. I have someone in my corner that will be with me until then, and even beyond.

So whatever the cause for your indefinite pain, know that there is a God that exists outside of time that is willing to bear it with you. 

Until next time, 

Felicia

Some.times

And sometimes the blanks will remain
There will be no answers, only broken pieces that stay broken as reminders of the pain that you still carry.
Look deep into yourself and you’ll see what you hold, that which won’t be folded and tucked away, that which there won’t be a day where it disappeared.
And sometimes you’ll realize that that’s okay.
That everything doesn’t get to have a happy ending or an ending at all
And there’ll still be many nights where you’ll bawl thinking of that call that you cannot make, the future you thought of with that mate, of the questions you’d ask if you could ask fate.
Sometimes there will be no dustpan.
Sometimes you’ll just make a pile and sweep it to the corner
Choosing the days that you’ll mourn or smile
Because sometimes it stays with you.
And you’ll find that missing doesn’t always mean empty
And desire doesn’t always mean meant to be
And sometimes broken really means free.

Twenty-Fifteen.

As I sit recuperating from a wisdom tooth removal, in the middle ground of pain and healing (hope you caught that),  I reflect on my 2015. There are a couple things I learned along the way, and I thought I'd share them with you. 

I didn't love myself the way I thought I did. People really think that they are experts at loving themselves until they go through something and realize they didn't quite have a good grip. There were a lot of days when I looked in the mirror and was happy with what I saw, but still many days when I looked at her, or them, or it, or anything outside of myself and felt the void of self-acceptance. Loving yourself is so important. How else can you teach others how to love you if you haven't shown you? How can you know what to look for externally if you haven't set standards internally? Insecurity is real and I found that this year, and even still to this moment, I have a lot of them. It's okay though. A quote I read sums up my point: "show me all the parts of you that you do not love so I know where to begin." I started and will continue to uncover everything that I have not mastered loving about myself and commit to loving every single one of them. 

I was broken. You don't really realize how broken you are until you start to uncover wounds that never healed. I was hurting. There were so many days that I sobbed or felt empty and could not figure out why. There were so many times that I drew connections to what was hurting me and yet, could not heal because it was too painful. Little by little, I refused to allow the brokenness to suffocate me though. One day, the dam broke, and I did nothing to stop it. Since then, the river has been flowing, and it is a beautiful thing. Brokenness is beautiful. Painful? ABSOLUTELY. Downright crippling sometimes? ABSOLUTELY. Feels like your soul is being pulled apart? ABSOLUTELY. But beautiful. So many of us do so much to hide our brokenness, hide those things that are still bleeding because we think we're supposed to have it all together. No. Embracing  your brokenness will allow someone else to embrace theirs. And brokenness doesn't have to stay forever. Healing does come, but you have to be willing to uncover those wounds, let them bleed and then allow them to scar first.

See, when you get a wound, in order for it to heal properly and without infection, you must first make sure it's clean. That means getting everything that stands in the way of that, out of the cut. But that hurts like heck. That is the moment that hurts sometimes even more than the wound itself. Whether peroxide or alcohol, people wince at the cleaning, even though they have good knowledge that they'll feel better once its cleaned. After the cleaning, you cover the wound up so nothing bothers it, maybe put some antibiotics on it, and let it heal. While it's healing though, it itches or feels tight, almost like it's giving you reminders that it's there. Then, one day, it's healed and all that's left of the wound is a scar. Brokenness is like that. Whatever has hurt and wounded us, we have to uncover, let it bleed and clean it out. It hurts like a mother, but you realize healing is so much better so you push forward. That wound will send us reminders while it is healing, but we realize those reminders no longer hold the magnitude of the pain. Then, one day, we wake up and the wound is a scar. A scar that reminds us of the wound, but no longer hurts. Everyone is not willing to go through that process though, and I had to, and still have to learn that. Everyone does not want to uncover their wounds, and feel the intensity of the pain. Even when I noticed brokenness of others, I had to wait until they were ready to deal, instead of pushing them to go. All I could do was support. 

A year really makes a difference. I got my Master's Degree, started a new job, moved back home to NY, and became single, amongst other things. If you asked me last year what 2015 would have looked like, I would probably not be accurate in my prediction. I thought for sure employment in Alabama. Thought I'd be continuing down the relationship path to serious commitment. Thought I'd be pretty sure about next steps. But little did I know, God had something else in store. Trust me when I tell you accepting His alternatives was not easy by any means. I wanted what I wanted, and my heart was broken when I didn't get it. But I had to trust that by God giving me something else, or really Himself, It would be better than my first choice. 

2015 was the year of revealing. My growing up process game was strong. I never had to face so much of myself, and actually deal with it, but I'm so glad I accepted the challenge. I plan to love myself fiercely, be courageous enough to uncover my wounds, feel the pain, and heal, and commit to grieving for everything I lost, while trusting that God did not and will not abandon me.  I am sooooo ready for what 2016 has because I see healing. Everything won't make sense, but I'm sure things will fall into place. 

In anticipation of great things, 

Fe

Vulnerability- The Beginning.

It's really hard for me to be vulnerable. A friend once told me that I could be transparent, but not vulnerable, and at the time, I was like, but aren't they the same thing? I've come to realize that they're not. Being transparent means that I can be real about what happened but being vulnerable means that I can be honest how I felt about what happened. For example, you and a close friend fall out. Another friend comes along and asks you what happened. Transparency says: we had a fight about the fact that she said I look fat in my jeans. Vulnerability says: I was hurt by the fact that she knows I'm struggling with weight and she made that kind of comment without being considerate of that. See the difference? Although transparency can include a level of vulnerability, it doesn't have to. But what I'm noticing about this stage of my life is that vulnerability is important and downright essential to growing up. It has to happen in some way, shape or form. Some of us think we can do without it but we don't realize the things that have happened to us are following us. If we haven't dealt with them, they are leaking as we walk. Nothing goes away--buried yes, but not disappeared.

Vulnerability is important because it's important to realize that it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to be hurt, to feel pain, to ask why. It is okay to say that things didn't necessarily go the way you wanted to. It's okay and it's necessary. In order for us to grow, there is a level of shedding that needs to happen, and shedding happens with vulnerability. I find that I'm in place where I no longer fight the tears and no longer tell myself to be strong. I feel. And it's overwhelming and messy and painful, to the point of feeling like my insides are literally aching. It's no easy thing and even when I want to revert back to being superwoman, I just realize I can't.

Now, I have a super long way to go, and it doesn't happen across the board (for now), but I'm proud of my process. I remember getting angry when I met people who had a parent that died, especially a father. Recently, I've begun to immediately tear when I hear their story.  I remember feeling insecure when I wanted to tell people that I missed them out of fear of "feening" or "looking dumb". Recently, I've allowed myself to reach out, if only for 30 seconds to let them know. I remember saying I'm fine when I really wasn't. Recently, I've begun to say, actually I'm not, I'm somewhat overwhelmed but I believe I can get through it in time. I'm changing. And it's scary and weird but necessary. I see myself being the better for it. It's a lifelong journey and I'm okay with that. One day at a time, one step in that day. This is not the end.

To be continued, 
Felicia

Why not Him?

We all live our lives by faith. When you wake up in the morning, you have faith in the manufacturer of your bed that it could withstand your weight during the night and not have you on the floor. You have faith in the person that built your house that the floor will not collapse as you step onto it. You have faith that the person who installed your sink and tub did it properly and that the water will come out, and as the temperature marked. You have faith that once you get dressed and leave the house, the light signals for the pedestrians and cars are working correctly. You have faith that as you are crossing the street, no driver will plow you down. You have faith whatever mode of transportation you take to your destination will function properly, that the car won't break down or the drivers on the transit won't be sleeping or under the influence. You have faith that when you get to your destination, the elevator isn't gonna drop down to the bottom. You have faith that when you sit at your desk, the chair won't give way. And so on... 

I could go on forever, but my point is, each and every single day, we wake up trusting in what we see. We continue to trust and have faith in these things, even when we hear countless stories of accidents involving pedestrians, buildings collapsing, crashes, elevator malfunctions, etc. Every thing that we have faith in has failed at some point, yet we continue to believe. 

Why not trust and have faith in who we can't see--in God? He has never failed. He has never had an accident or malfunctioned or went off course. He has always been and will forever continue to be consistent. He cannot go back on His word, which is essentially Himself. We look and search to find so many reasons not to trust Him when in actuality, He has proven Himself to be more faithful than the very ground we walk on (think of all the sinkholes and sidewalks falling in on themselves). If you're not trusting Him, it's not because He hasn't proved Himself to be trustworthy. 

So. Try it. Try Him. Allow Him to show you that just as you never think twice about trusting the things that can fail, you never have to think twice about Him coming through. 

 

Learning along the way,

Felicia 

Adjustment Issues


Phew.

All I can say is oh.my.goodness. If someone had told me this was what life after college/grad school would have looked like, I would not have believed them. I mean I watched people, listen to advice and stories, etc. but nothing prepared me for this. In my defense, I will say it’s not only starting a full-time job. A LOT has happened/resurfaced for me in the past couple of months and if not for the Grace of God, I think I’d be tapped out. But. Let’s talk about this job.

No lie, I’ve thought about quitting at least once a day. Lol. I mean it’s sorta funny, but I’m so serious. I really have sat at my desk and asked myself what I was doing and what I signed up for. Granted, a part of it is just the dynamic nature of my job and the fact that there is always something happening, but it felt like I could not keep up for the life of me. The first week of work I literally came home, ate and went to bed. I did not have the strength for anything, let alone the mental capacity to think about anything. I felt so guilty because there were all these things that I wanted to do that I just couldn’t. Then I realized the trick–don’t sleep! Getting stuff outside of work done meant that I would get less sleep during the night because I would have to stay up longer to do it. For the most part, I’m not sleep deprived so that’s good. But I had to learn all of these things. I had to adjust to what life was like with a full-time job: the sacrifices that I would have to make, the things I couldn’t do, the things I needed to focus on etc. In the last couple of weeks of working, I have learned SO much about myself. Weaknesses have been highlighted, as have strengths, but who I am as a person and the things that I value have DEFINITELY come to the forefront. It’s amazing, but scary, and weird, and intimidating all at the same time. I’ve had to face some things head on, and deal with the fact that it’s ME on the other side of it. It’s like, WHOA. That’s in ME?? It’s surreal.

The technical stuff is a doozy too. Dealing with real social worker issues, like having a gazillion clients that you have keep up with, not to mention all the paperwork that comes with them is like o_O. Plus, dealing with people in their most vulnerable states makes you so aware of your own vulnerability, and have you ready to be like ahhhhhhhh what is life?! But. I’m pressing. I’m fully aware that things won’t be “perfect” ever and surely won’t be comfortable for a while, but I guess my biggest lesson is, that’s okay. It’s okay that things don’t fit perfectly into little circles and squares, that sometimes life is messy and complicated and stressful and painful and overwhelming, but in those still moments, one of the most beautiful things we’ll ever encounter. So. Stay tuned. This journey will be one for the books.

In my growing up process,

Felicia

 

To Philadelphia.

To acknowledge the beginning of a thing, you must acknowledge the end of another. To acknowledge the end of a thing, you must acknowledge the beginning of another. Three days ago, I moved back home, both back to my home state of NY and the house I grew up in. It hasn't actually sunk in that the chapter of my life that was Philadelphia is now over but I feel it. To be honest, I'm pretty sad about leaving Philadelphia. I'm not sad about being home though--I'm quite excited to be back. But, I'm sad that I closed out that chapter. Although I was born and raised in NY, I "grew up" in Philadelphia. I moved there when I was 17 years old to attend college. I am now less than 6 months to 23. Really important, memorable, transformative experiences happened in Philadelphia. I became legal (18) and an "adult" (21). I learned how to live on my own, furnish a place, pay bills, cook, buy groceries, etc. "grown-up" things. I learned how to sacrifice my wants in order to get my needs done. I had trips to the emergency room and doctors without my parents. I started and maintained "adult" friendships. I started my first real "adult" relationship. I developed a deep (and deeper) relationship with God and propelled forward in ministry. I mean the list goes on and on. Throughout the last five years, I've traveled back and forth to NY, and even stayed for weeks/months at a time, but the majority of my time was in Philly. I missed SOOOO much while I was away. Births, deaths, marriages, celebrations, ceremonies, graduations, and all kinds of functions. When I think about that, I'm glad to be back so I can be a part again, but of course, to be present here will make me miss things there. So, no matter what, it'll be always be weird, like I totally had this life in a whole 'nother state and now, though not completely, it's over in the way that it's been for the last five years. I will miss it for the people, people that came in and absolutely changed my whole view on life and my purpose in it. I will miss it for the places where I made memories and experienced both and good times. I will miss it for the way that it made me feel (in the good ways lol), and how it taught me so much about who I am, and who I want to be. I will miss being familiar with it, navigating it as I grew up. It was not easy, and there were PLENTY times when I wanted to leave and never go back, but at the end of the day, I'm appreciative for everything and everyone that I encountered while I was there because it/they contributed to who I am now. Though I have things to work on, I love who I'm becoming. Everything didn't always feel good, but it will work out for my good, because He is. So. I'm excited for this next chapter of my life. It will be weird and different and I have plenty more growing to do, but I will miss (and already do miss) the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. I can't name names but you know who you are. For some, our paths may never cross again. For others, our paths will cross monthly lol. For other still, I pray our paths never cease to cross. I love you all. Thank you. 

From the end of one journey, to the beginning of another, 

Felicia 

Why?

One of the most fundamental, powerful and frightening questions for any human being is “Why?”. This seemingly simple three letter word holds weight unimaginable, and has the power to change the course of a person’s life in an instant. It is one of the first words we learn, as little kids ask their parents “why” for everything. “Why” is the sky blue? “Why” does she look like that? “Why” do I have to go to bed? As we get older and become adults, the word becomes attached to things with even deeper meaning like “why” doesn’t he love me? “Why” do I have to go through so much hardship? “Why” doesn’t God do something about this? “Why” is so powerful because of two main reasons.

The firstit signifies that everything happens for a reason. We recognize that things don’t happen by happenstance. There is a purpose, a significance, to everything that happens in our life even if we cannot see it immediately. There is a reason behind “why” things do and do not operate the way they do. That realization can sometimes be incomprehensible and/or frightening. There’s a reason “why” I can’t have juice. There’s a reason “why” I had to get my heart broken. There’s a reason “why” that person had to transition. There’s a reason “why” anything that happened had to happen. There’s a reason “why” anything that is happening has to happen. There’s a reason “why” things are aligned the way they are.

The second reason is in realizing that everything happens for a reason, we also realize we want to know that reason. Well, if what I’m going through is for a purpose, what is that purpose? Now, here’s where it gets really sticky. What happens when you don’t get an answer? Better yet, what happens when you don’t get the answer you expected/desired? It’s a tricky thing because we think the answer will give us closure when it fact, most times it doesn’t—most times it opens the door for hurt, and sometimes, even more “why’s”. “Why” did he walk away? Suppose he says he doesn’t know. Does that give you closure? Does it make him walking away better? What if he says because you aren’t the one for him? Is that a better response? Does it alleviate any of the heartbrokenness you feel? “Why” do I have to go through so many trials? What if you never get an answer? What if the answer is because you were made for it? Does it make the trials any more bearable?

The problem is asking “why” is never ending. There will always be another “why” because we desire to know everything. The crazy thing is we never will. Furthermore, if we did, we wouldn’t be satisfied. We would ask “why” did we have the ability to figure everything out? “Why” isn’t there more to know?”. Sometimes not knowing and just trusting it’s the way things must be is better than knowing. Sometimes we can save ourselves from pain by just taking situations at face value. It doesn’t mean the “why” doesn’t exist, it just means we’ve gotten to a mature place that says a “why” exists but I don’t need to know. Now, I know that’s difficult, and in the phase of life that I’m in now, I have plenty of “why’s”. Sometimes, they get answered and bring me no solace—sometimes they bring me even more pain. BUT. I am getting and will get to the place where the “why” doesn’t matter—just the fact that reason exists is enough.

So. Just like me, you may have plenty of “why’s” but trust that the One who knows everything IS the sufficient answer to every one of them.

 

Until Next Time,

Fe

When You Wish For A Time Machine

In the last three weeks, three things that I invested myself in failed. Without warning, each of them came to an end. As I sit and think about them, it reminds me of the transiency of life. Each day, we wake up and go about our business, often not thinking about "what if this ends? or what happens when it does?". Now, I'm not being morbid and talking about death; I just simply mean being someplace one day and then not being there the next. Being someone one day and then not being that person the next.

I think about every relationship and friendship I've had, and how when I was in the ones that are now ended, I never thought there was an ending coming. I couldn't have fathomed it because in that moment, it didn't seem possible. I think about how they influenced me, how they changed me, how they opened me up to something I had never experienced and yet, how I placed my stamp on them. I think about all the significant moments we shared--then wonder how it is possible to hold someone's intimate feelings one day and then not talk to them the next. It's a weird feeling. I understand that seasons change, and every person is not meant to stick around, but regardless, I carry them with me because of what they deposited in me. I would not be the same person I am today had I not met them.

I think about the environments I've been in and how they molded me, how placement mattered. Then I think like omg, I'm not there anymore. Even with the places I knew I would eventually leave, like school for example, it still feels weird not being able to in a sense, transport myself back to that place. 

So. What's the point of this blog post? Well, I guess, to say that life really does go on. Nothing lasts forever. You really do meet people, grow to love them and then let go of them, never to cross paths again. But you keep living. You really do fall in love with places you've been, even when you know you'll never return. And you keep living. You really do experience remarkable things, and you wish that it would be exactly that way forever, but life goes on. It doesn't mean that those people, places and experiences are not valuable or significant--it just means that you have more to experience, more growing to do, more things to love. I guess my point is to remember that whenever you wish you had a time machine. Forward is better than what is behind. <3 

 

Until next time, 

Fe