lessons

Starting Line

When I took the leap to follow my dreams, I knew it would take a lot of hard work. Being a dream slayer is a relentless pursuit of getting the bag your way, every day. I’m knocking on every door that I am passionate about, and praising God for the ones that He opens, as well as the doors he creates. It’s a faith fueled grind and I am here for every minute of it.

Perhaps the thing that is hardest, is my budget. While I was saving up for this time before, now I am living solely off of my pursuit and savings. By no means am I broke but there is still a change in the way that I spend my money. I was a baby about it at first, but I am adjusting in the best way I know how. I am well aware that I have more than most and every single day God shows me that money doesn’t make you rich. It’s a lesson that humbles me constantly. My eyes are being opened in ways that I didn’t know I desperately needed.

With that said, mixing and matching are my jam right now. The days of acquiring pieces that aren’t thoughtful are over. If I can’t wear them in every season, in multiple ways, it more than likely won’t end up in my cart. Also, I am moving into a time of living in a more minimalistic manner. I have too much stuff and it’s time to simplify everything (something exciting is on the way there so stay tuned).

Take these pants for example. I have been wearing them all summer with some sandals and a bodysuit but now that it’s fall, they will get a remix. Not only because I love them, but also because they are a pant that you can literally wear everything with.

All of these pieces are from Long Tall Sally. The construction is stellar. Wanna try their pieces on? Check to see if there is a pop-up shop near you. I’m telling you, it’s worth your time. When was the last time you walked in and were able to try everything on? It also helps to know your LTS sizing for future online orders. THE BEST part is meeting your fellow tall queens. It’s magical.

Throw on a  cardigan  and  sneaks  and walk right into fall.

Throw on a cardigan and sneaks and walk right into fall.

From a cardigan, to a blazer, to a sweatshirt, these leggings are on trend and go with everything. I have been channeling sporty spice like a mug. I’m also incredibly comfortable which has been very important to me these days. I’m working hard and not trying to be irritated by my clothing or shoes. Actually never but you know what I mean.

Now, I am going to post a thousand more pictures in this outfit because it’s a lot of work to take them (check out my IGTV episode on blog shoots on IG) AND Nikki shot some killer shots. She not only shot the photos, she also slayed the makeup. Please follow her page @TheEyeThatGetsThePicture. Enjoy the blizzard of photos and like the great blogger that I am, I will sum them all up at the end.

Side Stripe Ponte Leggings (shown in size s) / LTS Peyton Lace Detail Sneaker  (shown in s size 13. I always personally size up for LTS Sneakers)/Bodysuit and necklace - Forever 21 (some of the bodysuits actually fit me. Emphasis on some.)/ Block Sandals above  - Target (shown in size 12).

Side Stripe Ponte Leggings (shown in size s)/LTS Peyton Lace Detail Sneaker (shown in s size 13. I always personally size up for LTS Sneakers)/Bodysuit and necklace - Forever 21 (some of the bodysuits actually fit me. Emphasis on some.)/Block Sandals above - Target (shown in size 12).

While I definitely still have my moments of uncertainty, I rest in knowing that I am rockin whatever I wear on the right path with God leading me all of the way. I am working harder, smarter and in a fiscally responsible manner. The lessons that I am learning far outweigh the change in my payroll. God wants it ALL for me and I will faith it forward, achieving His purposes for my life along the way.

It’s the start of fall, but every day is a start of something great that God has planned for you. Whether a new path, new project, or new frame of mind, it’s never too late to start. Are you ready? Get set. Go!

Lemonade

To say that I have been wallowing in a bit of self-pity would be an accurate statement.

Yes, it is true that I have had some incredibly uncomfortable and unfair things happen to me in the past couple of months BUT at the end of the day it’s my responsibility to turn lemons into lemonade. I can either swim in the acidic waters that aspire to decay or use the lesson to propel me to the very platform God created just for me.

I have literally done this in every other facet of my life. From using bullying to fuel my confidence to abstaining from drinking because of a family disposition to alcoholism, I have taken the best parts of the bad to build the good. Why not this time?

I was hit with many things at once and completely punted outside of my comfort zone. It was a potent mixture of seemingly creative failures, death, racism, sexism and a shattered heart. All unfolded like dominoes. This could be viewed as an excuse but fact: it’s really hard to get up when you are constantly being sucker punched.

However…

When the punches stopped coming as frequently, I just sat there. Instead of taking a breath and preparing to bob, weave and hit back, I literally prepared myself for another blow with no recourse. It was a side of me that I didn’t recognize. I don’t like that Alicia.

Slowly but surely, healing started to occur. It’s different for everyone. There is no real formula. I simply started consistently focusing more on who God is than the problems that were coming my way. He surpasses all of them so what was I trippin about? Nevertheless, I still have that last bit of saltiness to work out but I wanted to share with you 6 lessons that I am learning while making my lemonade this time around (there will be many batches love):

1)      Change reveals what you need to work on, keep close and cut out. When you aren’t the same, and things around you change, everything will start telling on itself. It will scream from the mountain tops I’m not for you, I’m fake, stay away from me, I actually really care for you…whether it be a person, place or thing, it will let you know. This could potentially hurt in the beginning but trust that it will be beneficial for you in the end. You don’t want to carry unnecessary baggage to the top.

2)      Take a breath. In a world so focused on pushing ahead, this doesn’t always apply to life changes. Sometimes you propel yourself farther in the long run by taking a beat, healing and then moving forward. A wounded walk is more belabored than a strong one. Recharge and then charge.

3)      Forgive but don’t forget. Yes it happened but are you going to let it continue to handcuff you? Forgive and file the lesson away. Those experiences occurred for a reason. Let the pain go but by all means keep the message.

4)      Ask for help. Sitting in your hurt will only wound you further. Call up your strongest allies and let them carry you for a bit. There is power in knowing when you need a hand to hold. God has placed them in your life for a reason. Draw some strength from their well.

5)      Make failure the homey. Embrace it like you would a win. You cannot succeed without partaking in the other side. A path without failure is a false hustle. There is absolutely no way to make lemonade without the sting of the lemon. Use the failure, don’t let the failure use you.*in my Diamond voice*

6)      Remove yourself from the madness. Sometimes the lesson is that we didn’t listen. God has been telling us for weeks, months and years that it is time to move and we just refuse to do it. You can also be so used to an uncomfortable state, that you find comfort in it. Thus, He simply let’s scenarios occur that will ultimately make you do it. Comfort is a quiet killer of dreams. Pray. Ask God for the next move and DO IT. Don’t delay His plan with your worldly dependencies.   

Stress point: it’s a work in progress. I feel incredibly strong writing this but who knows how I will feel when the next curve ball is blasted my way. I pray that the lessons stick or at least reveal themselves after my first reaction. It truly takes time. Be gentle with yourself and embrace the fact that no matter what is going on, God is orchestrating it for your good. That my friends, is one thing you can always count on. Always.

Ok. Now it’s time for my annoyingly positive end remarks that are absolutely true but sound like nails on a chalkboard when you are nestled in a valley moment. Get ready to unlock your ears and put your rose colored glasses on…

Stay strong. You were carefully built for this. His promises are certain. Use this time wisely. Let it mold you. It’s not the end, it’s the uncomfortable key to unlock the beginning. This too will inevitably make you stronger than ever.

And in those moments when you need a quick dose of sheer joy, watch this. It's the absolute best.  

Video courtesy of Jay Versace 

   

I am the Soul That Lives Within

Guess what I just got?

A weave.

No Alicia! Why? Your natural hair was so pretty…you don’t need a weave!

You are absolutely right. I don’t need a weave. I want one. Let me explain…

This summer I started my natural hair journey for many reasons. From wanting my niece to see my natural hair to feeling my scalp to embracing everything that God has given me including my natural curls…I did all of that! I really love my natural hair and think that it is one of the things that make me, me. Is it hard work. Yes. And so I had some box braids installed to give me a break. I loved those too. It was a chic look with absolutely no work sans some edge control. But, I can’t even lie, throughout the entire process I missed my weave. I love the look, the little maintenance and the fact that you can change your look without changing your actual hair.

So I got one.

I felt so much pressure to keep my natural hair but the fact is that at the end of the day it’s mine and I can do what I want to do with it. Am I perfectly fine with my natural hair? Yes and you will see me rock it again but why should I be married to it? Over the summer, I found like clothes, hair is another way for me to express my style voice. Because of my natural hair, I can virtually rock any style and that it is a God given blessing that I want to exhaust to the hilt. If I want to wear a neon blue Marge Simpson hairdo…so be it. It’s my choice and my privilege to do so.

I am going to do everything I can to protect my natural hair so when I rock it, it’s fabulous but I have the power and right to change it if I want to. In many ways I was finding my life consumed by my natural hair and that’s the thing…hair, or any aspect of yourself, natural or not, should consume you.  You are truly not your hair. You are YOU with, without it or with hair added to it.

Let’s celebrate this realization with a little India Arie shall we. Even if you have heard it a million times, really listen to the lyrics. It explains what I learned over the summer better than I ever could:

So there is it…I passed summer school with flying colors and can’t wait to learn my next lesson. In the meantime, watch me whip this hair back and forth until the next style.  

Pop Quizzes and Speed Bumps

This story has been on my heart since last week. I am not sure why I am sharing it, but know that there is a purpose for it.

On this particular day I was extremely tired, in a bad mood but had a lot to accomplish. I was running errands at lunch and noticed a woman who was riddled with illness. Her hands were permanently clenched, back painfully arched and both legs were barely keeping her up. She had a cane and was literally stepping in inches to her destination.

Regardless of her illness, her pride was shining through. She wasn’t giving up. Even if it took her hour to get down the corridor, she was going to make it on her own. I wanted to help her but could tell that it would be an insult to do so. She was determined to beat her body. Her mind wouldn’t let her physical state win.

I immediately felt ashamed of my ridiculous worries and insignificant feelings. Who was I to inflict self-strife for such futile emotions? She had every reason to throw an extravagant pity party and chose life, faith and focus. With tears welling up in my eyes, I looked away from her in sheer disgust for myself.

And then she stopped,

smiled,

demanded eye contact,

and said hello to me.

Her hello was a distinct lesson for me. She was not her illness, she was a person walking forward in faith through the fire who would not let me walk by without showing me that I could do it too.

I have been through a lot in my life, weathered many storms, but the insignificant day-to-day ‘struggles’ in many ways affect me more than life changing events. Why do I have insurmountable faith in overcoming large obstacles in my life and not the same resolve for the speed bumps that happen on a daily basis? If this woman could take the time out to smile through her enormous test how could I continuously fail pop quizzes?

The answer is, I can, I will and you can too. No matter what is going on, from tiny to gigantic, walk in constant faith knowing that this is all in the plan. Every state is there to shape you into the exact form that you need to be in to execute God’s plans for you. The tests prepare you for the execution. They all require faith. One isn’t any more important than the other. Stand tall and learn from them rather than wallowing in the discomfort they create.

I am going to make a concerted effort to live these words and maybe I wrote this to show you that you can do it too. Thanks for listening.