Sweet 16

When I turned 16 I remember it was uneventful, but pretty special because I was growing up. My family and I had dined out at our signature birthday dinner place Chili’s, and that was it. That summer I had my first “boyfriend” for two weeks and six days (I kept count haha). But not too soon after being wooed I saw him kissing plus walking hand and hand with another girl in the neighborhood. I randomly was passing by a street while on the trolley going home from school and there he was. I was able to get a good view since a passenger had rung the bell for the 52nd street stop. It sounds so dramatic now but in that moment I felt heartbroken for some reason.

During our phone call later on that day when I asked him about it he said and I quote, “Oh, her? Naw, she’s gay.” My 16 year old self knew it was a lie and it bothered me that he had a nerve to date two girls at once. My guess is I wasn’t moving fast enough for him. Plus he told me that I never wanted to come over his house and “chill.” Looking back I find it funny that I expected a hormonal 16 year old boy to be “faithful.” I mean like, we were kids, it wasn’t that serious. But often I love hard and I put a lot of emotions into things that may seem unimportant. So in turning 16 I learned what my boundaries were and staying true to what I thought was right.

Fast forward to present day I want to embrace 16 in a new way, making this year of 2016 amazing, heartfelt, and filled with love!

So, in order for me to keep the positivity going I have to take charge of my wellness and RESET: Rest, Empower, Savor, Engage, Think. I said a prayer this past Sunday morning asking God for guidance as I RESET. A new month has arrived and it feels like a new chance to get past my fears and things that were hurtful to me. No sense in delaying progress.

I’m not 16 anymore. But today and everyday I feel more confidence that 2016 for me will be filled with a sweetness of growth and standing my ground. I’d like to think my younger self helped to prepare me for the greatness I am capable of. And while I didn’t have  a big party when I turned 16, I now realize no matter what, a celebration of life (even if it’s at Chili’s) is pretty sweet.

Cheers.

Tap the “Love” section for some food for thought on my self-love journey!

Elishia

The heart of the matter

  

Where should I start?

Let’s go back to when the ball dropped and 2015 had arrived. Just like any other new year I was excited and so certain my life was going to make this huge turnaround. It did, somewhat. It was for the good mostly but I kept feeling uncomfortable and hidden as if I was being overlooked by family, friends, jobs, or lack thereof. The new year of 2015 was the beginning of me forming the words to say where I worked and that it was ok. It was the beginning of having 3 jobs and struggling to keep a balance. The year began with a promise to myself that as long as I love me, a true love would follow. While I can’t proclaim that I became a rejuvenated person in 2015, I can definitely say I have grown. With all of my heart I am growing.

Let me go back to June 12, 2012 when I was laid off. This will bring the present more full circle, please bear with me. If you’re still reading, thank you. June 12, 2012 was the most confusing, hurtful, weird day of my young life. Following a merger with another organization the place I had been so smitten with was gone, taken, and turned into a company I couldn’t recognize even with my reading glasses. It was different. When the “chosen ones” were given notice of our immediate departure I felt numb. Though it was a summer day in June it was rainy and damp, much reflective of my hurt feelings. I had some hopes that the outcome would be different. But lines were crossed and professionalism went out the window, along with my emotions that felt like they were trampled on. 
From that day on I struggled with what my next steps would be in regards to a career. I loved the work I was doing, working with high school students, planning events, writing for the organizations newsletter, plus bonding with my co-workers. It had been about 2 1/2 years since I graduated at that point. But suddenly my first big job out of college was terminated, as if it never existed. The “work family” I had adored so much had dwindled into a last man/woman standoff of who would jump ship next. I had only wished I had left willingly. 

Even today I sometimes think about if I had a job lined up I wouldn’t have cared as much about getting “the boot.” But I had nothing lined up, false promises of potentials that went nowhere. 

The unemployment hotline became my newest co-worker of getting funds available so that I could care for myself and the 2 year old car that I so greatly loved. Being unemployed was a foreign word to me. My first job was at 15 years old and I continued on to keep a job. So when I had to take a dreaded trip to the welfare office I was forever humbled. In that moment I wasn’t Elishia who had a degree and working towards a second. I wasn’t the “smart girl” who had it going on. I was broke and in need of assistance. 

I don’t think I can ever forget the neglect and discrimination I felt in going to that welfare office. I felt labeled, I felt pitied, Black, poor, from the hood, words I wouldn’t typically use to identify myself. But that’s how the welfare office was the two times I had to suffer through the long wait, crying babies, and eyes wondering about the next persons “situation.” You could always tell the pros and repeat folks who knew how to work the system. I was unaware and somewhat snooty of why I was even there. Once called to the back area to speak with a caseworker, I was given the breakdown of what I was eligible for and what I wasn’t. Having no children or a disability left me with very few options. 

The caseworker seemed to see right through me, noticing on my application my highest level of education. The older gentleman peered at me over his glasses. “It can happen to anybody,” he said. He chatted with me candidly, “I spoke with a man not too long ago, college educated, Master’s degree like you, but had a Ph.D. and boom, laid off. He sat right where you are and there wasn’t much I could offer him. Single, no children, or a disability to speak of. He looked at me like how you are right now.” I remember adjusting my exhausted facial expression and apologized, informing him of my frustration and feeling like it was unfair. 

The caseworker filled me in on his almost 30 years working for the welfare office and that he’d seen it all. “You will figure it out, you got the tools.” Naturally in the moment I felt like he didn’t understand but thanked him just the same for the insight. But he wasn’t too far off. I did have the tools but I felt like I needed a manual on how to build from there.
The next year when my unemployment ended in September of 2013 I was again unprepared. The prized pot of gold benefits had ended, there wasn’t anymore money to dish out. My almost daily job searching hadn’t led to any prospects and I was in dire need of money. The long lost rich uncle I imagined was nowhere to be found. So I hit the streets. Well let me clarify, I “hit the pavement” as the saying goes and began my job searching on the streets by foot. I walked in and around my city of Philadelphia to see what businesses were hiring. Most people looked at me crazy upon me asking the words, “Are you hiring?” or that I wanted to fill out an application in person. Some businesses right away told me to apply online and I very quickly would turn back around and walk out the door. 

The one particular day I went out to find a job was tiresome but productive. At that point in the aftermath of my unemployment ending it was mid October of 2013, over a month without income. Luckily, with what I had left in my bank account and some assistance from family I was able to pay for my major expenses. But in many situations that can’t go on but for so long. 

Something in me had decided that going directly to certain businesses might reflect positively on my part. Tired and ready to go home, I somehow ended up at The Franklin Institute. I was greeted at the information desk by an older Black woman with cropped salt and pepper hair. I informed her of the nature of my visit and I was given a paper application to fill out. I left the building exhausted and sure that it was a dead end. 
About two weeks later my cell phone rang while at a Starbucks doing writers stuff (sipping on coffee that I rarely ever drink, gazing out the window, notebook in tow, and occasionally looking at the other out of work folks and possible nannies), writers stuff. The phone call was an interview invitation and I graciously accepted. 

The day of my interview as a greeter in the museum quickly turned into being hired on the spot. I could’ve cried in that moment but instead I said yes and was asked when I could start. In the beginning of my new job journey on November 1, 2013 I was bitter. I was half grateful to finally get a job but the other half of me thought, “Is this it?” I felt like I had worked so hard post being laid off, submitting app after app, job interviews here and there, or dealing with rejection emails. I felt like I deserved more. I had just received my Masters degree. I felt like I deserved more than a part time job that required me to stand all day and give out repetitive directions of where “The Heart” or bathroom was where the sign clearly said BATHROOM. I wanted more! I wanted to end 2013 with the kind joy that I so gratefully wanted. But it was anything but joyful. I felt appreciative but angry.

I yearned for the kind of balance the therapist I had been seeing discussed with me. Balance of acceptance and being ok if all of my tasks were not completed in a day. Therapy was brief but beneficial. Upon expressing to my physician about the continued sadness I was experiencing from losing my job and other emotions, he recommended that I speak with a specialist to get my thoughts out. It was a must, I hadn’t felt so down and unqualified as I did after June 12, 2012. 

When a year had gone by after being laid off I didn’t feel fixed or better. The therapist helped me to address the root of my problems and seesaw-like emotions. 

My mind felt so warped that I began to think I was experiencing a sickness that had my mind in chains, unable to break free. I was so tangled up in my mind that some nights I tearfully asked my mom to sleep in the bed with me. I was in fear of being alone and afraid something bad would happen to me. Thoughts of death and thoughts that my heart was not functioning was proof of the deepened depression slash anxiety I was facing. It seems so small now. But while everything was happening all at once I could not handle the loss, the rejection and the hurtful words said to me leading up to my job termination. 

Starting a new job at the museum wasn’t what I had expected or felt like was mine. I hadn’t let go of the previous hurt and here I was moving on to something way out of my element. I was downright bitter about it.

The first few months at the museum I began distributing the same behaviors that I displayed at the previous job when it was close to being over: showing up late, looking and feeling uninterested. When my manager called me out on my missed morning meetings and lateness, I felt bad. I was convinced that this new job I had wouldn’t last and there was no need to act like I cared. I had the urgency to tell my manager a quick rundown of what my lateness and bitter behavior stemmed from. She seemed to understand but ever so politely let me know what would happen if my lateness continued. 

It took some heart to heart conversations with family and a few friends for me to finally get to the source of my bitterness and roller coaster of emotions. 
When I turned 25 I was no longer eligible to be an added person on my dad’s health insurance so I had to end my therapy sessions. Some months after I felt like I still needed to vent to an unbiased person. Then there were other times where I felt I could handle what I was going through in a different way.

When my one year anniversary of being employed at The Franklin Institute came about it felt strange but I was grateful. I was grateful that I survived a year full of doubt, tears, run-ins with guests, lateness, too short lunch breaks, and sore feet. I was also grateful to have met co-workers who varied in ages and experiences. From the college aged kids who were just getting their start, to the retirees that I never grew tired of listening to. I had established friendships and a fondness for people that I more than likely wouldn’t have met had I not been through my passing storm. 

Throughout 2015 I was faced with hardships, a juggle of added jobs and trying to keep my mind at ease. This past summer was a huge test of my tolerance and ability to handle multiple responsibilities. It is my eagerness to make it through my career hurdles that is a true testimony. I survived, and I continue to move forward. 
Two years this past November marked my second anniversary at the museum, and seven months at an elementary school working with 1st grade students with special needs. 

Yup, I’ve been one busy bee. In between the career chaos fun was had, but there was some loss of good people, strain on friendships, then there were beautiful weddings, one trip to the beach where I placed my feet in the sand, dating adventures that failed, feeling hopeful, a new book idea that I am confident will soar, and other positive news on the way. 

This year of 2015 kicked me around – a lot. Not to mention the car accident I was in just 2 days after Christmas, a head on collision that wasn’t at my own fault. But I can’t help but feel like if I didn’t take Chestnut Street to work when I normally take University Ave to hop on 76, the crash wouldn’t have happened. I took a different route and literally BOOM! My precious car went slamming into another car that ran a red light. A bruised knee and stiff neck later I am here, I am alive and surely will be well. 

My first purchase as an adult was so roughly damaged and I feel sad. Reminiscing on all of the trips, snowstorms, the cherry red color that I kept in good condition, mostly good memories of my first car. But gratefulness is what I feel. No matter the outcome my mind and body was kept in place despite the crash. All parties were unharmed though the sight of my car scrambled in a busy intersection is still heartbreaking because it’s very fresh. But again, I am safe and that’s what is important. 

Material things like cars can be replaced, and I was so lucky to have had one for 5 years with very few mechanical problems, and one payment away from paying off the car loan completely. Even with my up and down financial issues during the last 3 years I managed to still pay for my expenses and have enough money to do simple things like treat my mom to a movie or dinner. 

I am savoring the good because it is meaningful. If you were to ask me what’s next for me or if I think 2016 will be “my year,” my response is, “I am savoring for the here and now. But the hunger for more is still there. The heart of the matter is that I am never too full. That’s a start.”  

-Elishia

FALL in love with yourself

  
When you’re getting ready for the day every morning try something new: Confess how much you love yourself. Seems weird, right? It works, trust me. You shouldn’t have to depend on others to compliment you or give you praises – not all the time anyway. Here me out, receiving encouragement from others is awesome and healthy. But what are you giving yourself? Not everyone is able to give self love, and that’s ok. Sometimes it takes a while.

I am my biggest critic, I am hard on myself when I don’t have to be. But I have learned the importance of loving me, because I didn’t always, not fully. Growing up I agonized over my dark skin, afraid to stand in the sun too long during the summer because I didn’t want to get MORE dark. It sounds silly now but it was how I felt. Once I let go of that fear and kept it real with myself, I shed so much of the disgust and sadness I felt until about age 20. So now just 8 years into my newfound love of myself beyond complexion but also other things I can be self-conscious about, I really do love ME.

So take some time during this fall season to fall in love with yourself. If you’re already pretty confident in who you are, cool. Though there’s always room to improve and grow.

This week on Labels, Love, and Living I’m covering a Thanksgiving “I’m trying to cut back” survival kit, warming up in sweater weather, and while my single status needs to change.

From my heart to yours,

-Lish

Tap here for more on the below quick vid! 

November rule: Go for it

  
My November is off to an ok start. I don’t feel the need to complain nor confide in anyone. But let me preface that remark by saying that I am inbetween some emotions. So while I may want to complain or maybe confide in people, I’m not really doing much of either. It’s really just that simple. However, my emotions are also filled with hope and an eagerness to grow and relocate to a new city! That is my focus and November rule to just go for it!

Planning and being organized is essential though I don’t want to be too rigid. There’s fun to be had even if I have no clue what it will be, I just want to be flexible and open for a positive change.

This week on Labels, Love, and Living I’m sharing how I channeled my inner superpower, what I have been up to when I feel down, and having the heart to say yes. 

Click/tap the highlighted links to read more!

From my heart to yours,

-Elishia

October favorites…so far

image

Hello, lovelies! October will be wrapping up soon, can you believe it? I can’t. For one thing, wasn’t it JUST September! And yet, here we are. No worries, because I have some plans to make any and everything count and turn my occasional frown upside down. This morning I cried about 10 seconds into hearing “I Smile” by gospel great Kirk Franklin. If you’re familiar the beginning lyrics start off saying, “Today’s a new day, but where are my blue skies? Nothing but clouds and it’s dark and it feels like a cold night.” By thd end of the first few lines I was bent over on my bed crying. I cried for a few things. I cried for feeling stuck AGAIN with my career path.

I cried because the application I submitted this past Friday was strangely “reviewed” and a decision email made its way to me two days later on Sunday evening. I’m privy to the fact that employers nowadays have a computer system that sorts through resumes submitted online. To me that isn’t always fair. It felt so impersonal and too quick. The dreaded job rejection email is not new to me but I really wanted the job I applied for – bad! So this morning I woke up thanking God, but I was sad and I cried. The release happened as it needed to. I mean, I couldn’t keep it all in. The human instinct of a jumbled mind caught up to me and I cried. But I move forward.

That brings me to my October favorites, so far. Though an emotional cry isn’t quite a favorite action to like per se, I am feeling gratitude within myself for trusting my feelings. Beyond the cry this morning I have some actual items that are favorites of mine as well. Below is a brief description of the items shown in the image above!

BCBGeneration hooded jacket- I purchased this jacket this month of October and I love it. I snagged this stylish jacket for $79.99 at Burlington Coat Factory. Perfect for fall, its leightweight but the warm lining and hood is helpful on a chilly day.

Motivational plaque- While visiting my grandmother this past August in Ohio we visited a thrift store. The olive green sign that reads in bronzed letters, “Bloom where you are planted” was all but $2.99! Inspirational and inexpensive.

Scalp massager- With the advice from a fave YouTuber I like to watch (BlakIzBeautyful), I decided to purchase a scalp massager by Vitagoods. Powered by a battery the handheld tool vibrates and gently massages the scalp, lifts up dryness and helps with moisture and hair growth. You can find it at vanityplanet.com and use Jenell (BlakIzBeautyful)’s coupon code: jb4scalp for 50% off!

Marilyn Monroe– I found the business card case for $2.99 at Rainbow some time in September. I love the black & white images of Marilyn, an array of expressions and poses. It can even be used to hold miscellaneous cards from a wallet.

The Star Side of Bird Hill tells the story of two young sisters Dionne and Phaedra who go from living in Brooklyn to Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. The setting is 1989 and the girls encounter their families culture with their grandmother and their new life in Bird Hill, Barbados. This is my next novel to read and I’m excited to see how the story will play out. This novel is written by author Naomi Jackson.

Please be sure to check out the Labels, Love, and Living pages for some more content for this month!

-Elishia

So long summer

 In this moment I’m thinking about the movie Grease and the classic song, “Summer Nights.” If you’re familiar with it feel free to hum it as you read! 🙂 Anywho, summer is like, over. Well not completely and for some of us we don’t even recall when it began because like always it goes by super fast. Eh, that’s life. 

Summer is what, three months of hotness and of an open time frame for many people to take vacations, quick road trips, clean your closet like you wanted to last winter. People get married or attend a wedding during summer, sleep more, the list can go on. 

For me it was spent: WORKING. Yep, this gal had a total of 3 jobs from June until the very last day of July. Then it went to just one job, and now that August is nearing the end and school is almost back in session it’s back to 2. Whoo, well I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Again, eh, that’s life. However I’m not letting all of the hoopla and juggling define me or get me down. I’ve got a new attitude! Yay, me. Still exhausted but, yay!

This week on Labels, Love, and Living it’s all about going back to college, being a little more selfish, and me trying out dating again. But first, tap your finger here for a quick and fun post just for freshman students (particularly young women) starting college, and to those who know a freshman who’s about to start the new journey of college life. 

Cheers to powering through summer and then some…

From my heart to yours,

Elishia 🙂 🙂

Hello August

 
Well, here’s my “it’s a new month” blog post. Womp, womp. Ok, so I’m not being negative but I’m not going to get into the whole speech of “new month, new me.” I am simply taking in the month of August day by day but also organizing myself in a way so that things that are important to me don’t pass me by. A way of keeping that momentum is to treat each day as precious and while the month has just begun I want to see it as “off to a beautiful start” as the main image proclaims.

This week on Labels, Love, and Living I am not holding back. I am posting new content everyday! I even have a special guest posting on the “Living” section on a new delivery snack service she has discovered. Also for the “Love” section this week I’m polling women about “giving up the goods” prior to seriously dating and I’m sharing some new thrifted items I recently purchased. 

For now, head to the “Labels” section on the new lipstick I’m in love with and then watch this quick slideshow video on some of my favorite moments this past July!

Summer hair: braided bob

 

It’s summer, it’s humid and hot. Duh, right? Well this summer like the last four years I am very adamant about having my hair manageable and out of my hands as much as possible. As a natural gal going to the hairdresser throuought the summer is like me wearing a sweater in the heat- it doesn’t make sense! Though I could use a trim on my ends (not badly though), I still don’t think getting my hair pressed and curled is in my hair or bank accounts best interest. So, the last two summers (many thanks to some YouTubers) I learned how to do kinky twists/Marley twists/jumbo twists etc. on my natural hair with hair added. I’m even doing styles on my mom and aunts hair, it’s nice to be able to do your own hair and family members who let me “try out” styles on them :-).

I’d much rather at least learn to do versatile styles instead of forking out $100 or more at a braiding shop. No shade to those that do because hey, you want your hair to look a certain way and be neat. The little home girl down the street that can braid may not be what you’re looking for. And plus if you don’t know anyone who braids or braids somewhat professionally, to the shop you go! 

I just know for me and past experiences in a braiding shop I prefer letting friends I know that do just as good of a job like the braid shop to style my hair, and for my pockets it’s cheaper!

This summer I wanted something different from my go to Marley twists. After coming across the “braided bob” style randomly on Pinterest I first thought, “Do people still wear their hair like this, and with the burnt ends?!” Then it turned into me thinking that the style was actually kinda of cute and so vintage, much like my own style the last five years, I love things that are timeless and classic. 

I remembered a friend I met in high school, Tahira, who began braiding hair as an extra hustle during the summer. I also remembered the last time I wore my hair this way was circa the early/mid 90’s and I was in the 3rd grade! I need to find the picture where I’m rocking the style. Anyway, once I found out Tahira could do the burnt ends I set up an appointment with her, and it was also pretty groovy that she’s reasonable with her prices. With my 8 packs of hair and about 3 hours later my braided bob was complete! 

I admit I was nervous about the style from the beginning, I wanted to be different since not many girls/women that I’ve seen are wearing braids (if they have them) in this way. Braids for those who rock them are so helpful during the summer, cause who wants to be bothered with their hair when it’s hot! 

There are some days where I cannot wait to get the hair off of my neck and when the side braids rub against my face it can be irritating. Otherwise I love the look! I’m doing my best to keep the braids off of my face because I’m getting tiny bumps on the right side of my face because I get oily throughout the day and with the braids touching, it’s a bummer. 

So the way to go with any braid style is to keep the braids out of your face (if it irritates you) and keep your scalp hydrated. I have been spraying my scalp with water and also keeping it oiled, I have had some dry scalp issues so it is essential for me to keep my scalp treated. Healthy hair is the best hair in this heat!

Here are some ways I’ve rocked my braids so far: 
 

In Harlem NYC

  

Quick pic at my second job at a summer camp

  

I went fishing on this day and caught some awesome sunlight

 
 

My “on the block” pose, haha

 
 

“I wanna be down” like how Brandy sang it

 

From my heart to yours,

*Elishia 🙂 

Truth or Dare to try?

  
Hello dear reader, is your summer off to a weird, hustle-minded, warm summery start? Well, mine is. 

Weird because I don’t any concrete vacation plans.

Hustle-minded because for the first time I have 2 jobs, a 3rd one I’ll start next week. Two of the jobs are temporary summer grunt jobs but I need money, it’s imperative I collect as many checks that I can. 

Summery because the temperatures are warming up, some days are cooler but my car Cherry reminds me of the steamy days as her small size holds in heat!

Anyways, every day is a day and by the next week most of what happened is a blur. With summer around I definitely don’t want it to pass me by without at least succeeding in some harmless fun. Routine can become boring and I am lately, easily bored. Usually around this time of year I visualize after summer and how I want my life to be, but this year I visualize each day as a potential breakthrough for something new and beneficial. 

Eh, I am pretty much over that same mantra to be truthful. Mostly since the dreaded layoff 3 years ago on June 12th I have worked hard to get to that “something new” and it’s come in strange ways. Whether it was the something new of a job at the museum I didn’t want, the means to get through paying a car loan, a bearable new relationship with some family members, to meet someone I connected with. 

These are things I prayed for but when it began to happen or came to be partially I still didn’t want it, I thought I deserved more. I dared myself to be ok with the changes and in some cases not what I expected. Yeah I was able to pay for some bills, but just barely. Yeah I started to experience a connection with an old friend but it turned out to be just that. I am not by any means questioning what God decided to bestow upon me, though I was quite self-conscious that things still weren’t “right.”
I want to feel alright about my current “situation” but the emotions aren’t budging. Some days I feel confident and others counterproductive. There was something rap star Nicki Minaj (yeah I know) said the other night on The BET Awards after she won an award. Now let me preface this and say I did not watch the show at all, I only saw news highlights. She also sounded a bit “under the influence” and she at one point had forgotten what award she won, but there was something that caught my attention. 

When she said something about dreams and essentially if they don’t come true or you don’t do anything to possibly bring them to fruition, you have no one to blame but yourself. Upon first hearing her words I thought, “Ouch.” But when a second media outlet played the same awards clip of Nicki I thought on her words again thinking, “Maybe she’s right.” I mean would any of her dreams of being a rap star happen if she didn’t hustle doing mixtapes or her keeping a close eye on her then MySpace page to ensure she was getting attention? I’d say maybe not, and truth I don’t know her full story of her “come up” but I’m only commenting on the fact of action speaking louder than our words. 

Hell, I talk a lot and mostly inwardly about my “dreams” and somewhat I have taken steps to make them real but not nearly what I could be doing. I just feel drained sometimes, like society or the media makes it hard for anyone who isn’t famous or remotely well known –  to make it, be discovered. With social media nowadays there are so many people Youtubing, snapchatting, selling hair extensions, dubbing themselves entrepreneurs off of seemingly minute ideas. Where do I fit in?

Truth, I am rarely the person that wants to fit in but I dare to be a person who is noticed behind 12 likes on a poem I wrote or a good job tap after I perform at an open mic. 

I know I have a purpose and my gift as a creator in many forms cannot be taken from me, it is unique. But it’s tough to captilize on it the way I want it to quickly. It’s not just a dream thing it is a dinero thing. Money isn’t everything in regards to my success but I can’t lie, today it is important to me.

This post I first started out as a DIY blog post (which I’ll still do) but gradually as I began the draft it turned into this. It’s my truth.

From my heart to yours,

-Lish