faith

Make it Plain

How in the world do you pronounce Habakkuk?  Image via BreatheConference.com

How in the world do you pronounce Habakkuk?

Image via BreatheConference.com

I was going to come on here and talk Tall style.

Yes. I am still passionate about it.

Yes. I will still share about it in every way.

But right now I am smack in the middle of a very amazing period of growth and I would be remiss if I didn’t share what was actually going on in my life.

I am in a season of building. Building my faith, my brand, my ideas, my personal life, my circle and my health (both metal and physical). You see, when you work somewhere for 13 years straight, you get comfortable in a lot of areas. As you know, nothing ever grows in prolonged comfort. Thus, a lot of the facets of my life had been stunted right under my nose. Once I took the leap, the ugly parts swam to the surface and waved at me. They are being addressed and it has been nothing short of beautiful. Painfully gorgeous.

Working through the muck is taxing but the worst thing that could ever happen to you is making a home in it. Kicking back in rubbish isn’t cute. I shutter at the thought of remaining the person that I was a little under 8 months ago. The Alicia you are listening to right now, is not the same one that you have known. She is far better, far stronger and a heck of a lot wiser. She knows who she is and what she brings to the table. She knows what she deserves and more importantly what God wants for her life. She is ready to actualize all of the purpose He has placed in her heart.

I am changing and that means that TallSWAG will be changing too. I am working behind the scenes on so many things that I can’t wait to share with you but know this…

we are going to work this out together.

I am not on this journey alone. God has built me to share my story and I will. I will reveal this portrait not at once, yet stoke by stoke of the brush.

Right now the color is named vision. We are going to be talking a lot about her. We can’t accomplish anything without it being in the forefront. God literally gives us a vision for our life in different ways. It’s our job to recognize it, write it down and move our feet so vigorously that there is no question that we will catch it at the exact right moment.

Mine is on paper in permanent ink. I recite them every morning. Speak them into existence every day. Work on them in complete faith that they will come to fruition in the exact way that they should. It’s a process that takes patience, prayer and persistence. You are not seeing what God is doing but please believe your works are seen, heard and used all up and through His plan for your life.

Sounds overwhelming right? It can be but His promises supersede any doubt that you could ever muster up to block it. Breathe. Get out a piece of paper and physically write down the vision. Make a word map of what you are going to accomplish and get ta following it.

No like I’m serious. Get out a piece of paper right now and write those bad boys out. I will wait. As a matter of fact, everyone who is depending on you to actualize the vision are currently waiting too. Don’t disappoint them.

WRITE THE VISION and make it plain, so that he who reads it may run. [Habakkuk 2:2]

The Leap

My friend Shay took this photo in Ibiza on a 3 week trip through Europe that I took with a group of friends a week after my leap. It was such an incredible trip. Freeing. Affirmative. Enveloped in God's love. I am so thankful for the time He has given me to recharge and repair. I know that both are necessary in preparation for the path He is about to lead me down.  

My friend Shay took this photo in Ibiza on a 3 week trip through Europe that I took with a group of friends a week after my leap. It was such an incredible trip. Freeing. Affirmative. Enveloped in God's love. I am so thankful for the time He has given me to recharge and repair. I know that both are necessary in preparation for the path He is about to lead me down.  

Well...I made the leap.

As many of you saw on Instagram, I stepped away from the comfort of a position that I had for 13 years, to let God paint the picture. I literally stopped letting the fear of what could go wrong stop me from living to my fullest potential and pursuing the things that God has placed in my heart. 

I wouldn't be telling the whole story if I didn't share the moments of terror that I have. What did you do Alicia? What will you be Alicia? What does God have planned for you Alicia? But then Faith comes through like a wave to wash them out because I know that it was a God-led decision that was 6 years in the making.

No. This decision was not made in a split second. I have felt restless for years, knowing that I was made for more and deserve respect for the hard work that I bring to the table but I didn't want it be my decision, I wanted it to be God's.

So I prayed, continued to work hard, navigated through it in the most gracious way I could and waited on God. Along the way I was prompted to do things that I didn't understand (that I now know prepared me to walk away from my comfortable captivity), until the day came that it was time to trust Him more than I trust myself.

Now, 3 months into it, I am emphatically moving my feet and knocking on all of the doors that spark passion. I am revamping some things (both internally and externally) and going after my purpose. However the thing I am doing differently, is giving God the control and the room to do His work. It's a hard thing to relinquish, but I must get out of His way to find my way. The picture undoubtedly will look far different than what I think but will give me the peace of knowing that I am walking His path of purpose for my life. I am here for it Lord!

I can't wait to share this path with you. Knowing you are there to grow and learn with me, means the world to me! What better way to start this journey than to talk about some of the things he did to prepare me for the leap.

Alicia, you just leap right!?! Yes, that has been what some were called to do but God knew that I needed to ease into this thang. I think we forget the He created us. He knows us better than we know ourselves and so when He wants us to make a decision like this, he gives us some type of nudge that makes sense to us. Something that gives us the courage to take it.

One thing my Pastor always says is do the last thing that God told you to do. With that said, I wanted to share 5 steps of obedience that helped me see God's timing for my leap:

1) Steward my money. 6 years ago, the Holy Spirit was like girl you need to get your finances right (me and the Holy Spirit go way back so He can talk to me like that). So I did. I tithed (wasn't perfect every month but I grew in leaps in bounds), saved and God gave me the resources to pay off all of my debt. This gave me a cushion. It doesn't mean I don't have to hustle, but instead of jumping off the cliff without a parachute, I have a thin one that made the leap far less scary. God knew this child had to have a little rope to hang on to.

2) Car Shopping. I got into a fender bender with my old faithful 4Runner that I picked out with my Dad. When I took it to the shop to get it fixed, even though it looked perfectly fine, they said there was internal damage that you couldn't see and they totaled it. I cried because it was sentimental, made me feel close to my Dad and I just knew I would have a car payment that would set me back financially. God sent a car that had great mileage and I could pay for it in cash from the payout of my totaled car. I didn't want it. I fought it for a hot minute until I heard chill, this is the one. I begrudgingly did what I was told to do and now this car completely makes sense and is a total blessing. The gas mileage is on point, it runs really well and is exactly what I need right now. No matter what, listen. It's all part of the plan.

3) Find Community. I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember but there was always something missing. Sitting in church alone was something I had become accustomed to but after a taping of my show, I met The Movement Church and it has changed my life. Among other things, it has shown me the importance of having a strong group of believers around you to lift you up, talk it out, hold you accountable and bring you back to God's word when you want to run from it. By no means did they tell me to do this. This leap was prompted by God but my community is certainly helping me navigate through it. My wise council game is strong.

4)  Amplified Prayer. Years ago, my prayer life was weak at best. I really believe it's a lifelong practice that you must constantly work on. So I stepped it up and continue to do my best to enhance and increase my prayer life. Praying about this decision was a daily essential. I wanted to make sure the move was from Him so I stayed prayed up. I didn't get the answer for many years, so don't think that your answer will come overnight, nor that it will be the answer that you want. Prayer changes things, fosters power and gives direction. In everything that you do, integrate prayer as a main ingredient.

5) Trust the Process.  That word trust comes up all of the time. Either the word itself, or an amazing example like this one I shared on Instagram, God constantly brings me back to trusting Him. It's not always easy, but it is a constant step of obedience that I have to foster daily. He knows I need those reassurances and He continues to unfold them through the most confusing and beautiful moments of this whole life thing.

These most certainly are not the only things that He did to launch my leap. You see, God already knew when I would do this before I was even born. Our stories are meticulously planned by Him. He knows all of the failures, wrong turns, mistakes and successes. His plan is in constant motion. We must show up, do the last thing he told us to do and rest in the peace that it's already happening. It's going to be a wild, emotion filled ride but I am thankful that He is the one behind the steering wheel.

 The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8       

One Giant Night

Photo by  Nikki Notarte

Photo by Nikki Notarte

Today is a GIANT day for many reasons..

1. Season 3 of My Giant Life on TLC premieres TONIGHT at 10/9c! I am blessed to have been added to the cast. I am proud to be the first African American cast member and hope that ALL women find inspiration through the lives of the women on the show.

2. I am stepping ALL THE WAY outside my comfort zone. Listen, putting your story in the hands of someone else is completely uncomfortable. It has stretched me and in turn I have grown in ways that I never would have. I now see the beauty in being uncomfortable and I know that no matter what comes out of this show, that I will be better in the end and God will ultimately use it for my good. It certainly will not look that way that I think it should, but I rest in the fact that it will be exactly what it needs to be.

3. I get to share my story on a major level. I was built to tell my story. It's part of my purpose. This opportunity was mapped out for me before I was even born. Having the faith to be so vulnerable in front of hundreds of thousands of people is a step of obedience. I am blessed to have been given this responsibility. If I inspire just one person from this show, my transparency will have been worth it.

4. This is a huge step in loving myself completely. Man...when ya girl saw the trailer I was like ummmm that's not the way I look! I freaked out. I wasn't used to seeing myself with natural hair (as I stopped wearing a weave a short time before the filming), the angles aren't the most flattering and I indeed look taller than everyone else. Well Alicia, I hate to break it to you (in my sarcastic voice) but you are. See, we tend to only show the world our best angles. We can scream we love ourselves from the mountain tops until the perspective changes. Can your confidence remain strong despite an unsavory viewpoint? Will you continue to stay resilient despite what others think and say? Without a doubt, this is a test of self-love and I'm here to pass it.

5. It's an accomplishment. It took a lot of work to get to this point and really, this is just the beginning. I'm going to work harder than ever but tomorrow is a time to celebrate this milestone in my journey.

6. I get to share this win with all of you. God has given me a community that I share every accomplishment with. I am honored to be on this journey with friends and family which includes you. We are standing Talll every day, in every way together and today is no different. Thank you for your support. It means the world to me!

Those are just some of the many reasons that today is truly a giant of a day. Check out the preview below as well as a segment that I did with Right this minute previewing tonight's premiere. I am blessed to have had many opportunities to tell my story which I will share with you soon!

See you tonight at 10/9c...it's going to be a wild ride!

Let God

Style posts have taken over my life for some years now. People don't understand how much work they really are. Imagine every outfit you have worn in a 2 week span, constructed, gathered and shot in a single shoot. It's taxing. While this style schedule has been draining, this post is the first time in a long time that I actually had fun doing one.

In the past I put so much pressure on myself to look perfect, have the perfect on trend clothes and obsessed about angles. I was unknowingly creating an image that I could never live up to. I was doing you a disservice and I apologize for that. 

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I would toil over every detail and it was taxing.

No more.

Whenever I shoot these from now on, I will just let them unfold organically. Those veins on my hand will be poppin. If a hair is out of place, that is where it will sit. If my nails don't match, oh well. If I don't feel like rockin a trend, I won't. I will no longer push outside ideals of what I think I should be. That drug no longer has a place here.

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For the past 6 months especially I have been stretched to the hilt. I have found out so many things about myself. I love the beautiful things and am repairing the ugly ones. My confidence is a constant werk in progress. It ebbs and flows. I don't want to preach that it is always positive. While our confidence is always there, no doubt there are days when it's exausted.

There will be many more days where I will need to build my strength. This doesn't make me weak, it makes me human.

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And really I need to stop caring about what you think. I found myself caring more about your thoughts of my content than the purpose behind the pictures and words. 

I absolutely enjoy sharing our stories and beautiful comments about life. It is one of my favorite things about being a blogger but I need to shed the act of caring what you and other people think. The only opinion that should matter is God's. He built me, He gave me my purpose and has made me exactly who I am. He and He alone is who I should be concerned with. I love you and will listen to anything you have to say but at the end of the day, He is the only opinion that matters. To fully live my life, I must walk tall in this fact every single day.

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Sweatshirt - STUZO Clothing / Tall Mom Jeans - ASOS /Glasses - Opaque Eyewear/Kicks - Nike via Nordstrom Rack  Photo credit:  Ashdav Photo

Sweatshirt - STUZO Clothing/Tall Mom Jeans - ASOS/Glasses - Opaque Eyewear/Kicks - Nike via Nordstrom Rack

Photo credit: Ashdav Photo

This is a revelation that came out of a 14 day period of non-stop anxiety about the show. When I dropped the trailer, anxiety enveloped every being of my body. I didn't like the reactions of some people, I didn't like the way I looked with my natural hair (silly yet real thought), questioned the telling of my story and a hundred other completely fabricated things. I built a false mountain out of a non-existent molehill.

I relied on my own view of the situation instead of relying on God's principles and promises for my life. He has given me this opportunity, told me to do it and will do great things with it despite what my view of it may be. Our steps of faith are hard and often confusing but lead to God's plan that is always better than anything we could ever piece together. 

I say all of that to say this...stop trying to control your life and let God take the lead. Work on giving Him the reigns for good. Your life is strategically unfolding in the way that He wants it to. Get out of your own way and certainly get out of His. Listen to Him and unapologetically walk with Him. Be yourself, learn, grow, let go and let God be who He is. 

#HiFelicia

I have not blogged in 16 days because I have been truly tired and uninspired. Quite frankly, I have been busy climbing out of a deep hole of perfection that I dug and then dove right in to. It's been an exhausting, yet beautiful process.

I worked incredibly hard to attain the confidence that I have now. I earned every moment of my self-esteem. While it fluctuates from time to time, it has grown in a powerful manner and wins more than it loses. I am proud of me but must continually monitor myself because while I am a great gatekeeper, I am human and life inevitably makes it's way in.

This is normal. This is life. This shouldn't be denied or disguised but from the moment I started my blog, I felt an overwhelming sense of portraying this perfect existence that is completely unrealistic. Not so much in my words, but in my photos. I started scrutinizing every pixel of the pictures. My weave had to have the perfect wave, never revealing the transitioning curls underneath the cap. My makeup had to be on point, with any unsavory blemishes shopped out. Every piece of clothing was painstakingly pressed because that is how it is in real life right? I was chasing a faux goal and it was making me rot from the inside out.

Enter social media.

The Internet's shallow ways sucked me in. I became a sucka for the gram and started comparing my photoshopped images to other photoshopped images. I was fighting fake battles that created real stress. Bit by bit, that confidence that I fought so hard to attain was crumbling and I blindly blogged right through it.

I started praying about it and God really began to show me in little-big ways how silly I had been and presented opportunities to face the fear that I had created.

One, was taking my weave out. Now listen, I am all about changing your hair. Hair really is another way to express your style. If that means adding to it, or taking away from it, please commence. However my weave was not a form off expression, it was a safety blanket. Instead of a compliment, I used it as a form of completion and that had to stop. I was enormously uncomfortable and had literal anxiety attacks but it was something that had to be done. Taking my weave out and rocking my natural curls has stretched me in countless ways and continues to do. While you will see me change my styles up, I can say that I will not depend on one, nor hair in it's entirety, to define me.

I then stopped aggressively photoshopping my photos. I still play with light and clean up the background but for the most part they are raw. The last 5 style posts reflect this ongoing change.

Dating completely transformed. I realized this perfect blog life had spilled over in to my relationships. How can anyone bond with you, when the real you is concealed in unrealistic expectation? While there were many contributing factors, I pinpointed that even my longest relationship wasn't completely authentic. I was so busy trying to be perfect that it was impossible for him to fall in love with me. No more. 

And then there was Felicia.

Listen. My Felicia appearance this Halloween was a statement of complete growth. I had no makeup on, my hair was braided up in to 4 very shrunken braids and I was picking Friday wedgies out of my crack all day. That's as raw as you can get. To be honest, it all started because I didn't want to do my hair but it ended up being far more significant for me.

Felicia was my second Halloween costume. My first was a chic interpretation of Prince. I walked in to the Purple Rain party with my makeup, curls and curves poppin. She did that! You couldn't tell me a thing. I felt completely comfortable and powerful.

While I was crafting the jacket for the Prince costume with a friend, I was simultaneously air drying my braid out for the curly doo that would polish off the look. We snapped the scene for another friend and when she brought the phone over to include me in her story, she said BYE FELICIA! It was funny but I was lightweight mortified. How could you compare me to this disheveled character? My friend suggested that I actually rock the costume at work on Monday and my immediate thought was you must be out your mind.

But then, like all of the other little ways, God conveyed that this fear of being Felicia in public was also silly and that I had to conquer it. So, I swiftly went to Goodwill and found the costume in 10 minutes for under $7. I washed it, cut the collar, braided my hair up and BOOM...Felicia was in the house.

The reactions were hilarious. A broad spectrum of who the heck is she supposed to be to that is the best Halloween costume I have ever seen. Walking around the office naked was a great feat but that social media realm was a whole other story. With this one Felicia post I would exterminate the perfect existence that I had crafted for years.

So with anxiety in my chest, I did my best Felicia impression, captured the photos and posted them. For all intents and purposes, I was frolicking nude in a field of followers.

And guess what. It got WAY more response than the Prince costume. People recognize real and they respect it. That was the realist Alicia they ever known. Applause.

It all comes down to this: The Alicia on the left is the same Alicia on the right. You must rock with both to be truly authentic. Both portraits are beautiful together and beautiful apart. Neither of them are perfect and it's impossible for them to be. Every unique aspect is an imperfectly picked accumulation of the real you that should never be suppressed out of necessity. 

Those are commanding, true words that I am on a mission to live by. I won't be this strong every day, but with every fear I overcome I get closer to living in my purpose and being the person that God created me to be. The person that God built to be loved in her entirety. The woman that won't let perfectionism block her from her blessings.

You will certainly see pretty photos adorned with variations of hair and makeup on this blog but the most beautiful thing is, there will be absolutely nothing perfect about them.

Say hi to Felicia and all of her gorgeous imperfections. She's here for it. She's here for it all.