One of the most difficult exercises I have encountered (outside of burpees) has been setting and reinforcing healthy boundaries in my life. I can distinctly recall having a bully of a friend in college. Not the physically violent type of bully but a controlling, will-imposing, guilt-tripping kind of friend. I tried everything, except telling her directly how she was overbearing, to end the relationship. The final straw was an argument that could have been avoided if I had only stood up for myself, erected, and enforced a healthy boundary.
Toxic people poison your life and impact your health by being a constant drain on your energy and mood. They can be tricky to identify. Humans are multifaceted beings. No one is all bad. However, when someone continues to do things that harm you emotionally, socially, and/or financially, you may need to set a boundary.
Controllers: These are people who want to dictate who you can or cannot be friends with. They want to isolate you from others so that their influence is the most dominant one in your life. You can experience this in friendship, marriage, or business.
Angry Birds: These are people who have a negative disposition on life. They will shoot down any good news with a complaint. They will dull your dreams with why it will never work out. Do yourself a favor and erect a boundary. Start by informing that person of how their behavior makes you feel. Next, state that if the behavior continues, you will limit the time spent with this person. Last, enforce it.
The Needy and the Greedy: These are people who always have a hand out. They always need to borrow money or your car. They hit you with a sob story and lead you to believe you are their only hope. Point them to Jesus and a financial literacy course.
Establishing boundaries is no easy feat. Relationships develop behavior patterns. You may even positively identify as the ‘strong one’. It is easy to fall back into a familiar role if not careful.
Recently, I had someone call me at 4:30 am. The last time I received a call that early, my godmother had passed. I answered in a panic. The caller was stuck in a town an hour away and asked if I would come and get him. I was so relieved that someone was not actually dead. I put on my ‘captain-save-a-bro’ cape and headed out. As I was driving down winding, isolated back-roads in the dark, I realized how incredibly stupid this was. I was putting myself at risk to save someone who, as I learned later, was in the predicament by being irresponsible.
On the way back, I start asking all of the questions I should have asked earlier on the phone: Don’t you have roadside assistance? How much would an Uber have cost? Granted, this was an extenuating circumstance, so I was not tripping too hard that I had agreed to pick him up. However, I was annoyed by his lack of preparedness. I firmly state that I was not driving back out to this town or any town in the middle of the night. I explained that he needed to have a plan in place in case something like this happened again, a rescue plan did not include me.
The next day, I get a call asking if I will ride out to the same town to help drive his car back. Having already firmly stated that I would not be driving back out to that remote town, I said no. I provided sound alternatives; get a male friend to help, pay someone to assist, or get a tow truck to haul your car back. Of course this person, used to me swooping in to save the day, was annoyed and angrily ended the call.
Enforcing boundaries is necessary to protect your mental and emotional health. You must set the rules of engagement for your relationships. Those who love and respect you will choose to play by the rules. Those who do not will be effectively blocked.
Ever hear yourself talking and realize you need to take your own advice?
I was being interviewed by hosts Denise Cole Hill and Wilson Murkinson for Nuu Beats Radio on Saturday. I start saying something like, “you have to give yourself permission to go for what you really want, not for what you think you can get.” I heard the sentences as if they were coming from another person’s mouth. My vocals reverberated off the walls and landed back into my soul.
Was I truly going for what I want in life and not what was easily attainable?
Being raised with lack can cause you to believe any crumb is a blessing. Gratitude for what you have is necessary before you can truly appreciate more. A crumb is insufficient if you are truly hungry. It is a blessing in a sense but is it God’s best? The Bible says it like:
” . . . but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” Proverbs 27:7b.
When i was unemployed back in 2010, I took the first job offer available. I was immensely grateful to be working; however, I recognized early on that this was not a holding place for me. I started inquiring about and applying for jobs that aligned with what I actually wanted to be doing. I got a new gig 11 months in.
Have you heard the term ‘Struggle Love’? It’s the idea that in a relationship a person has to remain loyal through someone else’s emotional, financial, and relational struggles. Your loyalty is rewarded with marriage after you have sufficiently suffered.
I saw an Instagram post about a reality star Kimbella who has been in a relationship with rapper Juelz Santana for nearly ten years. According to the post, Kimbella has endured birthing two children, infidelity, his drug addiction, and finally as he may be doing jail time, he proposes.
Granted, I do not know all of the details of their relationship, it is ‘reality’ TV of course, but on the surface this appears to be textbook ‘struggle love’.
A guy told me that if I don’t want to accept the breakups and makeups of a relationship then I am not really ready for one. I explained that we understand love different. I believe love is the action of sacrificially seeking the best for someone. I demonstrate love by caring for and taking care of the needs of my partner. I want him to be healthier, wealthier, wiser. I will assist in any way required. That’s how my soul is setup. Hurting someone to see how much they can withstand to test their loyalty/love is cruelty.
Putting me first is a challenge. Rejecting what I can get and going for what I truly want takes a level of faith that I am still developing. There is always someone or something demanding the attention/time that I have allotted to self-care or pursuing my calling. There is always a small doubt saying maybe this is as good as it gets. In my prayer time, I can hear the spirit saying ‘don’t settle’. My inner voice is calling out to me to take care of me, to put me first.
I am listening.
Holding on to something you have instead of going for what you really want is a recipe for unhappiness.
Let me say it again!
Holding on to something you don’t really want instead of going for what you truly desire is a recipe for unhappiness.
People stay in jobs they hate due to a number of reasons. One being tradition. They saw their parents work at a company for 20, 30 years and retire. They stay because it pays the bills. Maybe there are kids, a mortgage, sick family members who need health insurance.
I GET IT, BUT . . .
What is your happiness worth?
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 NIV.
The migraines, colds, lethargy could be due to your own unhappiness.
How do you get to career that fulfills you? Take a class to improve your skills, join a professional group to network with professionals, start a side-hustle that you LOVE.
There are people dating/married to men/women who cheat, mistreat, deceive, etc. They stay out of convenience, fear of being single, or something other than true love. Deep down, some believe that they do not deserve any better. Your happiness cannot be gotten from someone else, great relationship or not. However, being with the wrong person can lead to stress, angst, mistrust – all of which contribute to unhappiness.
LET IT GOOOOO . . . but have a plan.
That’s right. Plan for your happiness. Imagine it. Create a vision board. Look at it everyday. Locate the dream job. Find out it’s requirements. Work to become qualified. Network with professionals in your industry . . and BAM! You are doing something you love.
Go to the gym. Get a meal plan, Read books. Become that interesting irresistible person the man/woman of your dreams will be attracted to . . . and BAM!
Happily Ever After!
You can have love and happiness but you have to let go of what you really do not want. Have faith and go after what you really want.
You deserve it.
Halloween was two days ago. I never really dress for the occasion anymore. If pressed, I just go as a gypsy. A little extra makeup, scarf and a long skirt and I have nailed it. No extra money spent, so forethought. As an adult, I understand that free candy is just an invitation to bloating and additional crunches.
I liked several Facebook photos of little children dressed as their favorite super hero. Apparently, I am old as I did not recognize half of them. I had to google 'yellow and blue costume' to know that my friend's son was The Wolverine. And, who the heck is Elsa? When I was kid, everyone was either Superman or a Ninja Turtle. The 80s rocked, lol.
Back then, I thought my mom was super human. A super woman of sorts who worked two jobs, fed us, and kept a roof over our heads. She did her best to rescue us from mistakes that she knew would take our lives down a hard path. She spoke to God and actually knew what we children were going to do before we could do it. Seemed pretty super human to me.
As I became a young woman, the mother-daughter dynamic became more difficult to manage. I have learned that the complexity of this relationship is standard. The power-dynamic changes as you get older. A mother no longer needs to or can make all of decisions. I had to move out and grow on my own. As a child becomes a woman, a mother's role must adapt as well. A daughter no longer needs to be rescued but respected.
1. You cannot be best friends because you are not equal.
Maya Angelou is quoted as saying, "Only equals make friends. Any other relationship is out of order." I and my mother did not go to school together. We never partied together. We did not raise our children together. Our life experiences are different. We can learn from each other but equal we can never be. She will always be ahead of the game.
2. Acknowledge mistakes but forgive.
Through life's ups and downs, I began to see the humanity of my own mother. She made mistakes and was sometimes wrong. That is okay. She is still a great mom and did her best with what she knew. We are still finding our balance. It is easier with me allowing my mom to be human and she seeing me as an adult.
3. Establish boundaries.
"Space – the final frontier." The opening sentence of Star Trek : Enterprise tv series. Exploring the boundaries of relationships is a work always in progress – learning what to discuss and to what extent. My mother remarried and some discussions (sex) still creep me out and are a no-fly zone. Maybe you are more mature than I am. I am okay with that.
I talk to my mom almost every single day although there are more than 1,000 miles between us. Sometimes the conversation is less than 5 minutes but I make the effort to connect just to see how her day is going. Other times, the conversation is longer and more in depth. The blessing is that she is still around and able to talk to me so I never get to busy for her.
Proverbs 17:22 states, "A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones." (NKJV).
We make each other laugh. Our relationship is the better for it. It is the one super power we share.
How is your relationship with your mother? How can you make it better? Please share.
I always meet people who are on a parallel journey. We have such similar experiences, it is as if I am looking at my reflection in a mirror. I place my face in the cardboard cutout of their lives and it is almost mine – except my right is their left. You get what I mean?
I was talking to that girl in the mirror and she made a statement that resonated with my own situation. When you feel you are over the 'what-ifs' of long lost love, that is the exact moment he/she calls, texts or just shows up. It is never at a moment when everything is rosy in your life, when you are strong and content. It is at the height of the being tossed to and fro on a stormy sea. Here comes that old familiar comfort. You know it is not what you want/need but it provides solace.
As you are on the sea, alone on a boat trying desperately to get to that place of promise – the happily ever after. The sun beats, the waves toss and you have been sailing for what feels like forever. Yet, you keep moving on because you have faith in the One who keeps every promise that your destination will be worth the journey.
A mirage appears. It looks like land, you want it to be land – but is it? The attractiveness of this phantasm is so strong.
A mirage is a real phenomenon caused by refracting light. "What the image appears to represent, however, is determined by the interpretive faculties of the human mind." Source
Our minds give it power. The more you think about a thing the more 'real' it becomes. The battle starts, is fought, and is won or lost in the mind.
The lesson in all of this:
Keep your mind right. Keep sailing. Stay on track. You will not have to go chasing a fantasy. You will know when you hit land because your boat will stop.
I was scouring the internet for a competent review of this week's episode of R&B Divas LA. Finding none, I decided to write one.
I am loving the new addition to the show – Chrisette Michele and Leela James. These two are eclectic artists with good spirits. They add fresh air and new perspective to the show.
This episode focused on the mental health of one of the veteran stars – Michel'le Toussant.
Chrisette's boo is out as producer of the Puerto Rico project and Warryn Campbell is in.
Michel'le is performing at the Crenshaw MLK Day Parade. She is told last minute that her 15 minute set (for which she practiced) is now a 30 minute set. She is very upset and seems to spiral out of control. She starts 'babbling' as Leelah James put it. It does not help that the sound is totally wack during the performance. michel'le even walks off stage at one point until the sound engineers can get it together. Needless to say, all of the ladies are concerned about her health.
Leelah and Lil' Mo visit Michel'le as home. Michel'le is surprisingly candid about her feelings and current emotional challenges. She shares her feelings of abandonment which arise from being displaced as a child from her mother and later her father.
The episode concludes with Michel'le visiting a psychologist. This psychologist is professional, concerned and firm about the seriousness of Michel'le's current condition.
I have written on Talulazoeapple before on mental health issues, specifically, the suicide death of a very good friend of mine. I am excited that such a popular show has decided to shine a light on such a serious issue. Mental illness is such a taboo subject in the African American community. We blame the victim. We blame the devil. Where is the help?
I briefly worked as a case manager. There was a woman who threatened suicide – once over the phone and once in person. As she sat at my desk, I searched for resources to provide her with the care she needed. How ironic - I am working in a social services agency with no resources for suicide prevention. I called a doctor's offices and one kind gentleman gae me the number to a mobile crisis hot line.
These people took care of this woman – sick, no insurance in a dark place. They drove to her home, diagnosed her and provided medication. When I saw her again, she looked like sunshine.
Kudos to the people who volunteer and service those suffering from mental illness. Kudos to TV One and R&B Divas for shedding a light on this serious issue.
If you know of someone in crisis, here are some numbers to give them:
Need help? Text “CTL” to 741741.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255
I can honestly say that I had a great week. Seriously.
I went home and saw my lovely family. I saw my nephew who I had not seen in nearly 6 0r 7 years. He was shot in the lung a few months ago. By the grace of God he survived and is healthy and strong. We laughed and talked about totally unimportant things but to have him there talking and laughing was the most important thing. You can talk on the phone all day but when you see someone and hold someone, love becomes real. You must be present to do this. Life happens when you are present.
I also saw a good friend (of whom I have written on here in the past) who I had not seen in nearly 16 years. It is wonderful to connect with someone via social media, texting or phone conversations. There is another level of intimacy that occurs when you are able to see, touch, smell and hold someone. It becomes real.
Being present, however, adds another dimension to communication – the all-telling body language.
Why are you so distant? You are acting like we are strangers.
Today is a sunny, beautifully clear Friday. I am sitting at my cubicle doing what I love – writing.
Of course, I am at the j-o-b on my lunch break cranking out a post before time to start again. Is not the intro a better opening – more positive? It is all about perspective.
I was at the Kimbell Art Museum with a good friend during the Matisse and Picasso exhibit. I saw the painting below:
If you look at the photo. It may seem skewed or even crooked. That is, until you think of perspective. I relayed my own narrative of this painting to my companion. I explained that the image is from someone – possible a beau – reclining on the bed in the room. He is watching his lady sitting on the balcony. From his perspective, his world is in balance.
I think of this picture sometimes when I assess my view of people, things and situations in my life. My viewpoint is limited. Position, location, emotions, time – all limitations.
I was trying to understand the behavior of someone towards me. I was talking it out with a friend who stated, "God forbid, Felicia, that someone would have a life with priorities and you not be the center of them."
It took a moment for the initial shock to wear off. I took the statement to mean that someone ele's behavior (even when it concerns you) is about them – their perspective in that room. Of course the image looks out of place to me because I thought I was the focal point. In my relationships, I am actively trying to view the world from the other person's perspective. The image is getting clearer.
Someone I love dearly was treating me unkind. Let us call her Belle. I initially started interacting with Belle from a place of defense. This was getting me nowhere except into daily sparring matches. I started to really considered things from Belle's perspective. I realized the behavior was not about me at all. I was the object of her frustration due to proximity. I was not the cause of it. This epiphany changed my daily interactions. Belle and I started to actually have fun times together instead of the usual battle of wills. My world became balanced.
I was re-reading some of my posts in 2008. Back then I wrote a lot more about relationships. I came across a post entitled, "What Do Good Black Men Want in a Relationship?" It was a topic on the Tyra Banks Show and I expounded upon it. I got some really good comments on the post. CLICK HERE to read it.
I love reading my old posts. I reflect upon that hopeful, dream-filled young woman who wrote back in 2008. I can appreciate the journey that has led me to be the woman I am today. I just am not wowed by what I used to be wowed by.
I have learned a few lessons in these six years of writing this blog. On relationships, specifically:
1. Behavior never lies. What someone shows you in his/her actions – believe.
2. Real men want to provide, protect, and cover. If you are always providing and covering – something is wrong.
3. A man taking charge is like the sexiest thing ever.
4. An honest no that is hard to hear is better than a fraudulent yes.
5. Real men tell the truth.
6. It is okay to wait on Mr. Right and not settle for Mr. Right Now. By Mr. Right, I mean God.
7. Don't let others pressure you into a relationship.
8. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, SOMETHING IS WRONG!
9. Be open to new experiences.
10. Be willing to learn. You (I), don't know everything.