Learning to Simply Be Me In The World of Blogging

Everybody starts with a goal when they blog. Some people are parents and they write about things that they can relate to regarding parenthood, some people are avid cooks and enjoy sharing their recipes. It seems like everywhere you turn you can find a blog for something. Anything from sports opinion pieces to celebrity fashion watches; most writers have a knack for niches. Finding my niche was extremely hard because I feel like I’m such a multi-faceted individual. During 2020 and most of 2021 I found myself missing in action in the wonderful world of blogging because I just didn’t know what to say.

Being a writer, I’m sure you can imagine my horror at the idea of not knowing what to write about. As a child, one of my favorite Disney movies was Bambi. I would call down the hallway, like clockwork at 2 1/2 to 3 years old “Mother!” and we’d spend at least some of our day watching either that or the Little Mermaid. There are two things these movies have in common: Thumper making a statement that: “if you don’t have anything nice to say; don’t say nothing at all” and Ursula telling Ariel that while she won’t have her voice she’ll have her “pretty face and don’t forget the importance of body language”. We live in a world where (even as kids) we’re taught to speak less, to focus on our appearances, and as a Disney adult at aged 33 now; I couldn’t help but wonder: Did I have a greater purpose in the blogging world without a niche?

I turned to my friends by posting what I called a social experiment on my wall: how would you describe me? My friend Kate weighed in about this eternal conundrum in a writer’s mind when she said very simply she’d describe me as multi-faceted. I was used to hearing the normal, at times safe, adjectives from the people I often refer to as my chosen family. Multifaceted with something I had never even considered when I looked for adjectives to describe who I am and yet it made sense. Still, what place did a multifaceted person even have in the writing world?

As human beings, there is a natural need to be accepted for who we are. We may or may not keep up with the latest trends, television shows, and actors/actresses. We may or may not put more emphasis on our outward appearances than we do on nurturing our souls but at the core of it: we’re all crawling around this thing called life looking for love and acceptance. Inauthenticity, it’s a big word and it’s also a loaded word. Did I mention it is also a word that is completely rampant in this day and age?

So many people in this world stay in situations that no longer serve them personally, professionally, and yes, even spiritually. In many ways, these individuals are forcing themselves into niches that they have no business in and not because they don’t belong there but because they’re not being true to themselves by being there.

As writers, we often throttle up on power in the form of subscriptions, likes, and shares, but do we ever stop and think about what made us write in the first place? Think about the first thing you wrote that you felt proud of. Does your blog and brand reflect who you genuinely are? Do they highlight the complexities of being an authentic person in an inauthentic world? There’s an old saying, that happens to be one of my favorites, “only dead fish go with the flow”. The real question was not whether or not I belonged blogging as a writer without a niche but rather: did I have the courage to swim upstream against the current called niches in blogging? Now that was a question nobody could answer for me except for myself.

When we honor the things in our lives that bring us joy, we are living our best life. We are also living authentically when we are honest about what we can or cannot be capable of. On June 30, 2022, at about 12:30 AM I decided that forcing myself to write about things I thought my audience wanted rather than what I wanted put too much unnecessary pressure on me, it took the passion out of what I did, and was not going to work if I wanted to have success. I decided at that moment: I am a multifaceted writer with no niche and that’s okay. Salmon spend their entire lives swimming against the current, if they could be programmed to go against the grain, couldn’t I as well? In the words of Mr. Big from Sex in the City, ‘abso-fucking-lutely’.

Some posts will be longer than others and some will be brief. However, I can honestly say that there will never be a weekly post that won’t be brutally honest and authentic. A snapshot of what is going on in my mind. A slice of life without necessarily being branded as a “slice of life”. My brand is that there is no brand. I don’t want to share recipes with you, although if I have a particularly good one I’m happy to pass it on, I want to feed your souls. I want to have deep conversations with strangers on the Internet in the comment section. I want to change the way you think about certain topics in society at large. My moon is in Pisces, which means I am a constant and ever-evolving whirlpool of emotions and ideas about the world around us. Writers, who fit into niches, are often stuck in that box of their design but I don’t want that to be me. For me, living authentically means not limiting myself to one box. Much like The Verve in ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ ‘I’m a million different people from one day to the next and I can’t change my mold’.

That being said, I hope you still like this blog in the format it will be in going forward but even if you don’t that’s OK too. Being a blogger in a world of niches is not for me. I am a multifaceted, multi-niched, incredibly straightforward person and I will be writing about whatever sets my soul on fire from now on.

The Power of Thoughts

Albert Einstein once said; “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” As I sat in bed, on my MacBook typing away at a passion project, I never imagined I’d hit save, close out the Microsoft Word program, (which I took time researching how to download and operate on an Apple) , and lose all my progress from the last week. I have a USB for this exact reason and yet now it was gone. I could neither laugh nor cry; I was like that Carrie Bradshaw meme where she’s just blinking blankly. You know the one, you’ve seen before.

A writer has many projects; I’m no exception. Some of the short stories which I write I never intend on posting, they’re for me. They confront uncomfortable truths about my emotions and complex struggles within my mind. Tuesday night, as I lay in bed, I cried for no other reason other than that I felt sad. Nothing happened, nothing triggered me. I’m far from unhappy with the circumstances in my life; in fact, I’m arguably the happiest I have ever been. Now as I stared blankly at my laptop, all my progress still possibly gone, I couldn’t bring myself to feel a damn thing. I wanted to feel something, instead, I felt voided.

The human mind is a very complex thing that I don’t think it’s given enough credit for. The book, that I reference a lot here, Embraced by the Light by Betty J. Eadie says that if only we knew the power of our thoughts we would guard them closely. I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic; I am a realist. I look at both sides of any situation. Is the glass half empty? Is it half full? Maybe it’s neither. Maybe a glass filled with something (do they ever specify what’s in the glass?) is just that. A glass that is filled with some substance to provide nourishment to us. One thing I’m certain about is this: we cannot give from an empty cup.

We certainly cannot fill an empty cup when we think about what we don’t have. Sometimes, we fill others’ cups and sometimes they fill ours. I don’t have more than half of the progress on the writing project I’ve been working on for the last several months, but I do have a husband who is hell-bent on purchasing a recovery program to at least try. In my situation, whether the proverbial glass is full or empty is irrelevant. I am surrounded by such an amazing support system I have with family and friends that even when the glass seems like it could be getting empty, it isn’t.

I do believe that when we transform our thoughts; we can transform our lives and whether the cup is half filled or empty doesn’t matter because we’re just grateful to have a cup. I am not sure if I will be able to recover the most recently updated document I lost but I’m always looking to improve myself and am forever grateful for the relationships, friendships, and deeply meaningful connections I have. As time slips on, these people and things we love will one day be lost too. It’s inevitable. If you’re born, you will one day die but memories and feelings about these things live on. In this way, we’re all immortal to some extent. This is why we must constantly take stock of how we treat those around us both in our words and minds.

We are never guaranteed tomorrow, friends. We would like to think that life goes on indefinitely and to some extent it does, with and without us. When we transform our thoughts to focus on the wonderful things we have in our lives it’s impossible to truly stay down and out about anything. When we focus on what we DO have rather than what we lost we can fill our cups. When we fill our cups, we can be the best versions of ourselves and create a reality we can be proud of.

So as I sat there, loose-fitted T-shirt, lounge shorts, and a messy bun staring blankly at my computer; as Tom swooped in swearing to save the day, I couldn’t help but feel grateful. Transforming your mind doesn’t mean disappointing things won’t happen from time to time, but it does allow you to feel the emotion and move on from it. Once you allow yourself to feel and embrace those sad feelings, you can let them go and focus on the good. The good, in this case, is a saved version from last week on my old computer. Yes, my updates may be gone, but the whole document itself is not.

Whether I had seen the cup as half empty or depleted at that moment, it didn’t matter, I felt lifted entirely by his efforts to bring back what I put my heart and soul into and that was enough substance in that proverbial cup to keep me sustained.

I know it one point when I was a child, it was very easy to be optimistic. As I became a moody, sullen, teenager pessimism reigned supreme as life experiences do tend to dim even the brightest lights. As an adult I’ve learned; to take each exhilarating and demoralizing experience life throws at me as a blessing and lesson. Nobody is without doubts, insecurities, and profound sadness at times. The cold truth is, that everyone’s faking it. Nobody’s got their shit together.

I feel like Einstein was onto something when he said our train of thought affects our reality. Like attracts like, if you are an extremely negative person you won’t see the lesson in the challenges that you face. You’ll simply see inconveniences and disappointments. We can’t grow spiritually from negativity. The good news is we can break these proverbial chains at any time. If you transform negative thoughts into positive thoughts you allow positive energy to flow to you rather than away from you. This is sometimes easier said than done and requires constant mental training in your brain.

For me; the miracle jar I have works wonders! I simply transform a worry, fear, or concern into a positive statement: ‘I lost all of my progress on the fan novel I was working on’ becomes ‘I have a saved copy from last week of my fan novel; I will find the motivation to rewrite the parts I lost and it will be even better than the progress I lost’. I put the positive statement into the jar and believe that the highest and best possible outcome will occur. Do you see how much better the second statement sounds though? With determination, the rewards of transforming our thoughts to transform our reality are beneficial. Instead, we see that things that seem so awful are an opportunity for spiritual and emotional growth and we can say “Thank you for this spiritual lesson”. The key is to take life one day at a time. If you falter or fail you can always brush yourself off and keep trying to be more positive with your thoughts. If we focus on the good surrounding us, and there is some good in everyone’s life, we can conquer anything life throws our way.

Not A Mother’s Day

I’m walking out of the 4:30 mass on Mother’s Day weekend. I’ve been told by many I look way younger than 33 years old, so as I creep towards the exit with all the stealthiness of a cat I’m startled by the smiling woman with shoulder-length dark hair and a bright cheery smile who is holding out a carnation to me. It’s yellow, and I reach forward to accept it before she holds it just out of my reach, “are you a Mother?” She asks and the question seems innocent enough that I indulge her, “I’m a proud Dog Mom, Godmother of two and an Aunt of four.”

She holds the carnation to her chest, smiles, and says “Oh I’m sorry, I mistook you for a Mother.” It was just a flower randomly plucked from the bunches of others but suddenly I felt oddly labeled. I wasn’t entitled to the carnation because I wasn’t this woman’s definition of a mother.

What is a mother? Some would define the act of giving birth to a child and raising it to be a productive and decent human being in today’s society as the definition of a mother. Some would define a mother as one who nurtures, gives of herself without expecting anything in return, and loves unconditionally. While I can honestly say I am not the first if being a mother requires you to give birth and raise a decent human being I have not done that. I have, however, nurtured adults and children through the years.

I have provided a safe place for people who are lost to feel like they could speak candidly, and honestly. I try to be a champion to those who struggle with mental health even while I struggle myself and I always try to pull others out of their dark places in the recesses of their mind. As an aunt, I have kissed boo-boos and provided advice to my Littles on how to handle the trials and tribulations of life that they don’t feel comfortable speaking to their parents about. I have read bedtime stories and never had to chase out monsters from under the bed because my littles knew monsters aren’t welcome at Aunt Britt’s house. I am not one for self-promotion or even bragging when it comes to myself.

I do these things because I love the people in my life. I am protective of them to a fault. If I love you, whether you are my family or my friend I will love you through your flaws, your triumphs, and even your losses. I will lift you, even at the sacrifice of lifting myself. It’s who I am; it’s why I’m like a beacon of light to lost souls. I’m drawn naturally to people that need healing; people who are in need. I love to love with all my heart. These are all qualities I would describe as Motherly and yet I’m not biologically anyone’s mother.

The fact that I was denied a carnation because I did not fit some random stranger at church’s ideal of what a mother needs to be should not have bothered me and yet, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. The woman who is a self-professed ‘proud dog mom’, Aunt, and considered the responsible ‘mother hen’ of her friend group is not a mom after all. Novel concept. While I hold no grudges towards the woman who deemed me not worthy to receive a flower, I couldn’t help but think how many women have lost babies, struggled with getting pregnant, or even recently found out that they couldn’t conceive at all. How much of a slap in the face would it have been to me if I’d recently miscarried?

Luckily, I am none of these things. I am simply a woman who decided in her late teens to not procreate. I have written about the stigma regarding women who choose not to have children many times on this blog. For every blogger who proclaims themselves Childfree, there are twenty Mommy Bloggers. There is a myth that women who opt out of motherhood are lonely creatures to be pitied. That they either hate children or will change their minds about having them. The most persistent myth regarding my child-free lifestyle is the idea that I am naturally selfish.

I am far from lonely; I have a husband and we have friends, hobbies, and traveling we like to do. I certainly don’t want to be pitied for my choice of not having a baby as I do not feel like I’m missing out on anything truly remarkable. I love my friends’ children as well as my nieces and nephews. I’ve even grown fond of strangers’ children who became like my own when I taught preschool for 9 1/2 years. To assume I hate children I find very asinine and insulting but even more asinine and insulting is the idea that I’m incomplete and will change my mind about my choice to fulfill some “ultimate womanly destiny”.

As someone who’s volunteered a lot of time towards their parish, friends, and family I’ve been described as everything from wildly passionate, deeply compassionate, and incredibly selfless.

The point of this post is incredibly short, sweet, and simple: women without children are not less than. They are dog mothers, lovers, friends, and children themselves. They are godmothers, aunts, mentors, and sisters. They have a great deal of love, time, and concern for things that matter most to them and that is the farthest thing from selfishness. We need to normalize not asking women if and when they will be mothers. Sometimes a friend who provides unlimited advice, unconditional love, and support to another friend who was disowned by their blood family simply for their sexual orientation is motherly without being an actual mother. Motherly behavior can be found especially in women who are not traditional mothers. It’s time to stop defining motherhood in the traditional sense of the word.

My decision wasn’t one I entered into lightly. It was one that I meditated on, prayed on, and sought out guidance for by means of literature and even the Facebook page: I Regret Having Children. Personalities such as Jennifer Aniston, Chelsea Handler and Megan Mullally made me feel more secure in my choice and of course the support of my own Mother validated my feelings and stance. Ultimately, regardless of what extrinsic influences shaped and validated my choice it was the intrinsic instinct that I was living my life authentically by not having children for me that truly cemented it. This idea that women need to procreate with their spouses to prove that they truly love them is dated and nauseating. Also, Uranus is chillin’ in my 5th house which basically has it written in the stars that I wasn’t meant to be a traditional Mother. Shoutout to Astro-Library for that juicy piece of information.

To close, today is bittersweet. One of my friends, a cousin by marriage of sorts, will begin the harsh reality of saying goodbye to his mother. Today he will be faced with people, friends, and family who will express condolences for his loss; as if mere words could take the place of the irreplaceable figurehead he lost. I live over nine hours away from the place I was born and raised, I also go back to work tomorrow after a rather long weekend I spent with my parents so I cannot be present for the pomp and circumstances regarding his grief yet I made him aware that I am here for him. I know despite my feeble words of comfort nothing will heal the devastating hole inside of his heart and yet life goes on. At this moment I am oddly relieved I won’t have a child to know intimately the pain of losing me as their Mother. At this moment I know I made the right choice, never to be someone’s Mother. To the woman who didn’t think I was worth a carnation; keep it. I’d rather just pray for you instead.

Browns, Panthers and Baker, Oh my! My Thoughts On The Baker Mayfield Trade

It’s 8:05 PM on Wednesday, July 6th and I’m sitting in my car listening to the rain echo off my window pane. There’s heat lightning which lights up the sky like the 4th of July in brief flashes. Did I intend to contemplate my upcoming season as a Panthers fan, seat pushed back, feet on the dashboard while cool air blew on my face? No. The power had been out in my neighborhood for about 5 hours by that time and so desperate times called for desperate measures. It’s easy to be irritable; let’s face it losing your power in the summer is one of the worse things that can happen. No power means no air conditioning, no air conditioning means limited ways to keep cool and limited ways to keep cool means limited patience.

Panthers Twitter was particularly excitable on that Wednesday evening. Here in the greater Charlotte area we had a police chase that spanned two states, included three vehicles, and once the suspect was in custody news broke that Baker Mayfield was coming to the team. I had nothing but time as I sat in my car, fat rain drops rolling down the windows, and 90’s R&B pumping through the speakers. I turned it down slowly, deliberately, till it sounded more like a whisper than a LIVE show and I gathered my thoughts on the acquisition of Baker Mayfield. Buckle up, friends, it’s time to have this conversation-ready or not.

For me to articulate how I feel about this more recent trade, let me take you all back. The year is 2021 and we acquired Sam Darnold who at the time was considered a struggling quarterback with the New York Jets. We brought him to Carolina with cautious optimism. The Jets had hoped to kick off a new era by opening the door for Zach Wilson; what they ended up with was a great deal; for them-not the Panthers. Not only did “Gang Green” secure three draft picks (a second-round pick, fourth-rounder, and sixth-rounder) but the real kick in the ass was the Jets were completely off the hook with Darnold financially. Darnold is set to make just under $19 million in 2022 with Carolina and much of the struggles he’s faced in New York came back to haunt him in Charlotte. For a quarterback that was once mocked for his line about “seeing ghosts,” this wasn’t something that appealed to the fan base.

When Darnold first arrived in Charlotte; I was admittedly optimistic. What kind of Panthers fan would I be if I didn’t hope that the person being brought in to lead my team wasn’t successful? The track record of Adam Gase with grooming quarterbacks spoke for itself. Who was I to judge someone who came from the New York Jets of all places? As a Panthers fan who was raised in a Jets household, I understood Darnold‘s plight.

Was it not this very mentality of me always pulling for the underdog that led to me becoming a lifelong fan of the Carolina Panthers? Indeed, it was. The year was 1995 and the (winless at the time) Carolina Panthers were taking on the New York Jets. They won their first game with my 6-year-old eyes glued mesmerizingly to the television set. Had I not fallen in love with a team that was constantly fighting tooth and nail to be given any respect whatsoever in the NFL I wouldn’t be here writing this.

I am an eternal optimist in many ways, especially when it comes to my Panthers, despite my struggles with mental health- an oxymoron if you will. I never understood the mentality of disliking somebody before they even take a snap. I gave him an honest chance, I was open-minded to what he had the potential to bring here to the Carolinas. Looking back, seeing him pathetically draw the Panthers logo was probably an omen to this not being a long-term solution. Could you honestly blame anyone who had hope for Sam Darnold considering how unstable the quarterback position has been in Carolina since Cam Newton was first unceremoniously released?

I had hope and faith, and I don’t regret it. My optimism lasted until I saw Darnold get progressively worse every game. The problem with Sam Darnold is that he’s in his head way too much. He forces things that just aren’t there. He also forced me to hold my breath every time he released that damn ball. His footwork needed serious work and his decision-making skills under a skilled Defensive Line were about as formidable as a stacked deck of playing cards in the wind. I think it was then Panthers fans realized this man was not the answer. Finding a quarterback that works in your team’s unique system is a lot like what I would imagine online dating to be. Things could look really good on paper, but that doesn’t mean it translates well to the field. Do I think that we were catfished with Darnold? Not necessarily, his time with the Jets certainly indicated he was a project quarterback. I think the real question is: were the Panthers prepared to take on such a project? Again, I’m going to go with no.

Many factors contributed to Darnold’s lack of success here in Carolina; at least in this Fan’s humble opinion. An Offensive Coordinator who got fired mid-season and an Offensive Line that was subpar if I’m being generous. The loss of Christian McCaffrey and dropped balls by wide receivers certainly didn’t help matters. While Sam didn’t show enough for us to purely blame it on those factors; it would be remiss to not take them into account.

This brings us to the most recent development at the Quarterback position; acquiring Baker Mayfield from the Browns. Let me go on record stating I always liked and had great respect for Baker Mayfield. His ability to be drafted to an organization like the Cleveland Browns and make them somewhat relevant cannot go unnoticed. Anyone who wants to call Baker Mayfield dysfunctional should take into account that the whole Cleveland organization and front office are dysfunctional.

As far as what Baker brings to Carolina and how he stacks up against the incumbent Quarterback, Sam Darnold, the numbers speak for themselves:

Completion Percentage: 61.6% (Baker) vs. 59.8% (Sam)

Passing Yards: 14,125 (Baker) vs. 10,624 (Sam)

Touchdowns: 92 (Baker) vs. 54 (Sam)

Rate: 87.8 (Baker) vs. 76.9 (Sam)

4th Quarter Comebacks: 6 (Baker) vs 3 (Sam)

Game Winning Drives: 7 (Baker) vs 4 (Sam)

Sacks: 134 (Baker) vs 133 (Sam) *Yes, Baker has gotten hit as much as Sam and doesn’t see ghosts*

Inceptions: 56 (Baker) vs. 53 (Sam) *Note that Baker played 10 more games than Sam which is why his number is higher*

With the Panthers selection of Quarterback, Matt Corral, out of Ole Miss it is clear that they plan to give the young rookie the keys to the kingdom one day. As I mentioned to a friend earlier today, I am hopeful that Baker Mayfield has success here in Carolina and can stay on long term because it can only serve to benefit Matt Corral’s development and readiness to compete when the time comes for him to inherit the team and become the new face of the organization. With Darnold’s contract set to expire after this season, once he collects his $19 million the Panthers are off the hook with no further obligations to him. Having someone with proven playoff experience under his belt in Baker Mayfield to mentor Matt Corral would be much more of an invaluable asset than someone such as Darnold being charged with that responsibility on top of his struggles.

Those who are bemoaning ‘why not start Corral now?’ should know, that’s not how winning organizations do it. There’s a reason that the Jets keep utilizing draft picks to pick a new Quarterback every 4 to 5 years. When you throw a rookie the wolves by having them start day one it’s a recipe for disaster. Even the elite Quarterback known as Tom Brady was once a rookie and backup to Drew Bledsoe for a year. It wasn’t until the incumbent Quarterback Bledsoe was injured in the second game of the 2001 season where he suffered from internal bleeding after a hit from New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis, that Brady took over in that game — and for the next two decades.

What fans of the game don’t realize is the speed of the game going from college to the NFL level is a huge leap for any new rookie to adjust to. The ability to learn and experience those growing pains under a veteran is a huge asset to any player but especially to one who will be called to lead, inspire and rally their teammates around them. Sam Darnold is a prime example of the product that just being tossed into the starting role can cause when not properly mentored. Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, and many others gained experience in a backup role before being thrust into the leadership role and I do believe they were better for it in terms of sustained success. Granted, there are exceptions to this, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson are examples of such instances where they came in on day 1 and adjusted beautifully to the starter role. These instances are rare and take a special kind of person and a particular set of circumstances to succeed.

Matt Corral can only grow in his confidence, leadership abilities, and skills by learning under a veteran like Baker Mayfield (who bare in mind played with an injured shoulder last year). There are zero reasons for Panthers fans to be salty and as Edgar Salmingo Jr put it, “For a cheaper contract and a conditional (2024) 5th round pick, how could you not take a chance on Baker Mayfield? Even if he is terrible, he ends up costing minimal cap space and nothing in draft assets”. I couldn’t have said this better myself, not to mention Joe Person’s report added that Baker Mayfield would take $3.5M cut off the $18.8M guaranteed salary, which tells me not only was he hell-bent on getting the fuck out of Cleveland he likely feels like he’s got a lot to prove. Although Mayfield can earn the money back if he hits certain incentives, I think his main motivation will be making the Browns regret the way he was dumped quite unceremoniously in favor of DeShaun Watson, a man with questionable off-field conduct.

Furthermore, after the atrocious Darnold Deal, the Panthers created a low-risk, high-reward situation in the Baker Mayfield deal. The Browns will pay Baker Mayfield $10.5 million this season, which means they trimmed over $8 million in cash and salary-cap space. The Panthers will pay Mayfield only $5 million with Mayfield agreeing to trim the $3.5 million off his base salary. How can anyone be upset with this? With the offloading of Darnold after this 2022 season that will leave an open slot for higher compensation to Mayfield IF he proves it to the team that he’s worth it.

In sum, the Quarterback Carousel is exhausting for many of us fans. Not having a consistent face at the Quarterback position since Cam Newton was unceremoniously released has done serious damage to the morale of the fanbase. Come what may; I will support this team and their decision to bring in whoever they feel can help us win. I’m not sure about many of you, but I’m sick and tired of losing. Will Baker Mayfield be the answer for the next few years to grow and mentor the future heir to the Franchise Matt Corral? That remains to be seen but I sleep well at night knowing my rookie Quarterback won’t be tossed into a situation he is ill-prepared to take on quite yet. For me, that is enough. For now. As Steve Smith said, “if you go with your team you got to roll with them”. Much like Agent 89, I am rolling with the Panthers now and forever. On that note, go Baker and Keep Pounding!

In Search Of A Manifest Destiny

Good Evening; Long Time No Chat…

In one of my favorite movies of all time, Forrest Gump both opens and closes with the image of a white feather floating through the air. I remember being a kid, watching this movie with my Mother and being in awe as the feather swirled and twirled through the air, before coming to rest in Forrest’s suitcase. It stays there till the end of the movie, as the audience watches as it flies back up into the air, helping to symbolize the cycle that has now been completed—specifically, the cycle of life and death, and one of new beginnings. After all, the movie ends with Forrest’s son going off to his first day of school just like Forrest did at the beginning of the movie. Even the bus driver, Dorothy Harris’ daughter, is fulfilling the same role for little Forrest that her Mother fulfilled for his Father all those years ago.

One of my favorite quotes in the whole movie symbolizes this as Forrest says straight out: “I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze.”. As life chugs on it’s very hard not to ponder such words when things in life happen to us, often without explanation. We wonder quite often if this is our destiny or if we really are like the first explorers of the New World trying to navigate unfamiliar seas that come in the form of places, things, and people that are new to us.

Destiny is a very loaded word for me, I’ve often chased many pursuits and many careers wondering if what I was in fact doing fulfilling a higher purpose that I was set out to complete before coming here. I’d like to think in my every day interactions with people, namely family and friends, I am fulfilling this kind of manifest destiny of what I came here to do. There are days, however, I feel it takes all of me just to stay treading above water. Days like this I find it extremely easy to drown in feelings of “am I doing this right? This life thing?”. I think in many ways so many of us are preoccupied with fulfilling a destiny that maybe we’re overthinking it entirely. Maybe, by searching for our “destiny“ we are missing out on life’s blessings not to mention so many teachable moments that serve as lessons.

Deciding to leave a state you have lived in for the last 32 years of your life could either be seen as really brave or really foolish. You’ve established yourself haven’t you? Why would you leave everything you knew behind to chase some crazy dream that you’ve had since you were a kid? The thing about life and choices is that everybody is going to have a different opinion on them. The important thing is that you are in fact authentic. I think the key when it comes to manifesting our true destiny is in doing things that are in line with our higher self. The pandemic was hard, I fell into some serious writers block, struggled mentally and emotionally but emerged like a diamond from the pressure. A year ago this past June; Tom and I left New Jersey for good and are now proud South Carolinians.

This past year has been full of so many blessings; my heart is filled with gratitude and joy to be where we finally feel home. To see us thriving personally, professionally and spiritually in a way I’ve always dreamed we would is magical. My new city and my forever home is everything I could ever have imagined and more. Now that I’m settled I plan to focus more on this blog. I am living my truth; I’m also going to be posting links to my show ‘CarolinaFandomwhich I host with my buddies Jeff and Cowboy Joe. I’ve made friends, grown tremendously at work professionally and I’ve even had some visits from my family too. I think anybody who boldly can step out and live their truth regardless of what others may say or think of them is in its own way fulfilling your destiny. My 610 mile drive away from everything I’ve grown up knowing and loving in pursuit of a better life for myself and my family it’s authentic.

I thank those of you who’ve stayed with me and didn’t unfollowed me during my interlude from blogging. I am in such a wonderful frame of mind and I am happy to be back sharing my life, and thoughts with each of you!

Plans to Prosper: Decoding Jeremiah 29:11 in 2021

Good Afternoon Fan Friends,

2020 gave me a lot of time to think, which is both a blessing and a curse. The human mind is an exceedingly complicated thing-it can inspire creativity or it can cultivate fear which results in crippling anxiety. As a Christian, many of us turn to things like Bible study to make sense of words written over thousands of years ago. Knowing God is with us truly is balm on a chapped soul bitter and cold from the state of the world around us.

Even after the 2020 election had passed there was still so much debate politically as well as civil and social unrest. As Christians, many of us feel the damned if we do and damned if we don’t sense of dread when talking with our friends, family and colleagues. This mentality translates and transcends into our day to day with regards to speaking up on our thoughts and feelings.

2020 allowed me to really sit and ponder the Bible, searching for God in words his disciples wrote down has given me a sense of peace. It is important for me to speak about my faith, for me this is a huge part of who I am as a person. The passage today which I hope to help you understand a bit better comes from Jermiah; the verse being 29:11 which states…

“‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”—Jeremiah 29:11, New International Version.

If we take this verse at face value, it means that God has a plan for all of us, right? Yes and no. There’s often a tremendous sense of misconception shrouding this biblical verse and one of them them is: God has a specific “plan” for each individual.

See, God gave us this thing called “free will” that means that God lets people choose for themselves the course they will follow. Sure, he has a “plan” for all of us but we have the choice whether or not we live up to that plan. His words at Jeremiah 29:11 were addressed to the Israelites in Babylon as a group, and he had a thought in mind for that group—a future of peace. (Jeremiah 29:4) However, God allowed each person to choose whether to benefit from His promise or not. (This is highlighted in Deuteronomy 30:19, 20; Jeremiah 29:32). God also calls us to seek him by praying to him with a sincere heart (as highlighted in Jeremiah 29:12, 13) but he will never force us to have that relationship with him. Free will allows us to CHOOSE God or not-God is always there waiting for us to embrace HIS plan for us but we gotta shed the skin of sin and put our love and trust in him alone in order to achieve this plan.

What does this plan mean for us today? It means that God’s plan involves each of us being the very best versions of ourselves and choosing to love and have faith in God’s plan rather than sin and rely on the ways of the world for personal fulfillment. God loves us and wants a relationship with all of us, even if we turn from him, free will prevents HIM from interfering with our right to choice unless we will it. Let me reiterate: we gotta chose to let God in to see his miraculous ways at work in our life and we MUST be sincere about it.

Another misconception in this passage is that it’s taken to mean that God will prosper his worshippers with material riches. This is NOT the case in the literal sense of the word, the word “prosper” found in some Bibles at Jeremiah 29:11 is actually translated from a Hebrew word that means “peace, health, and well-being.” Meaning you won’t get riches in the literal sense of angels coming upon you and giving you the next winning lottery numbers but you WILL be rich in ways that include the peace of mind in knowing whatever challenges you may face; you never face them alone for God is ALWAYS with you. In fact, if we look to the context this line is given, God promised to give the exiled Israelites not wealth but peace and welfare. They were promised that would continue to exist as a people and would one day return to Jerusalem-which was their ultimate goal.

This verse is, in a way, amplified in Proverbs 16:9 which states: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Which essentially means yes, you yourself plan your own way here on Earth but in order to get there God is asking you to simply put your trust in Him. God calls to us everyday as if to say: “If this is your way, if this is what will truly fulfill you on Earth trust me that I will make it okay in the long run, that I will be with you and guide you on your journey.” God offers us, freely and with no reservations, this promise to be with us. This selfless love is there to light our way in the darkness that can surround us here. All we have to do is let Him in…

What do you think this verse truly means? Leave a comment below and let’s chat!

October, November & December Update

Hi Fan Friends,

It’s been a few months since I’ve blogged (my sincerest apologies for the radio silence!). I’ve been trying to navigate life through these uncertain times. As many of you know, I’m very vocal on here about my battles with anxiety. This is utterly exhausting both mentally and physically. Being isolated from family and friends for months at a time (I haven’t seen my cousin Lisa in months) it certainly derailed many of Tom and I’s best laid plans. Writing and being more of an more frequent presence on here was definitely a consequence of this pandemic. It’s hard to feel motivated when you’re basically going to work and coming straight home all while bombarded by talk of the virus. Honestly, I’ve stopped watching television all together because even the commercials ads regarding COVID are so frequent that they’ve triggered severe panic attacks in me. I currently record anything I want to watch so I can fast forward through the media triggers.

Tom and I currently gearing up for Christmas but we’ve had quite a bit happen since my last update, so buckle up! Here we go!

1. The Aloe Plant Is Thriving

Success friends! I replanted my aloe plant and took care to follow all the directions given by gardening gurus on YouTube and blogs. The aloe plant has really grown in leaps and bounds. There was a time I was really worried that it wouldn’t make it, there were leaves which were so soft and almost mushy that I was nervous that something I actually managed to keep alive for 3 1/2 years was on death’s door. I’m here to testify that miracles can happen because my aloe plant is now getting plenty of sunlight and water once every two weeks. There’s this really great spot in my living room, next to the window, which gets really great sunlight and I think my little plant buddy likes it there.

2. Our Godson Henry Joseph Got Baptized

While this pandemic certainly kept us isolated from one another, we did have a bright spot in that we were chosen to be our youngest nephew’s Godparents! The church service was small and socially distanced but it was so great to watch our littlest nephew get sealed with the love of God and enter into the faith. I totally expected him to cry when Father Jim put the holy water over his head but he didn’t. Ya’ll he was looking up at us like we were all nuts. This was the first real time we got to spend with our nieces and nephews since the pandemic hit and it was such a breath of fresh air. Theres something really magical about being able to share your faith with your family and friends during these dark and uncertain times.

3. Our Eldest Niece, Elsie, Turned 11!

They tell you when you’re a parent “enjoy it while it lasts because they grow up so fast”. Well, this Childfree Auntie CAN attest this is true. The girl who made us “The Cool Aunt and Uncle” turned 11 during the month of November. Once again, it was a small family party which we got celebrate something fun and exciting during these scary times. I don’t know what blew my mind more; that fact that she’s almost as tall as me or that she asked for makeup (we got her a glitter eyeshadow palette). I am not ready for how quickly she’s heading towards becoming a preteen. Sometimes I wish time could slow down just a little BUT I can’t even begin to tell you just how proud Tom and I are of this beautiful, smart, funny, kind and creative young lady! She’s truly a beautiful soul and we are so blessed to call her our niece.

4. We’ve Been Staying Home & Staying Safe (Thanks Be To God!)

While the pandemic has certainly reeked havoc on my mental health, I am trying to stay positive by focusing on my little family and counting my blessings. After being laid off during the first wave of the pandemic, I was very fortunate to find full time work back in July and since Tom was able to work all throughout the pandemic as well, financially we are in much better shape than others‘. My heart goes out truly to those who are still struggling to pay their bills and feed their families. Also, while some families have found that quarantining together has put a strain on their relationship, I find that Tom and I have really loved being able to be alone together. I know I’ve gushed about my husband plenty of times on here, but I’m truly married to my best friend and there’s no one on this earth I’d rather walk through life with than him. During this whole quarantine Tom and I have whipped up many of our restaurant favorites here at home and done “at home date nights”.

To Wrap It Up…🎁

With Christmas on the horizon and new year on the way, I hope to be inspired and find more and more things to update you on as we go through this journey called life. For the new year I am optimistic that I will be able to post weekly videos on this blog as well. It is something I’ve wanted to implement for a really long time but with everything going on in the world I decided it was best to delay that step until there were things that I could actually vlog about! I’m hoping once things go back to normal I will be able to post about more exciting things and adventures.

I do want to take this time to thank you for staying with me during this unprecedented year and during these uncertain times. I promise you even when I seen silent I’m not going away. And I thank you for following me, for caring about me, and for your comments which have motivated me thus far to keep writing even and especially when I feel like I have nothing to write about. Sometimes, the amount of love I receive from all of you is so amazing I have to pinch myself to realize people out there care about what I have to say.

So thank you, THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart for giving me an audience, and platform to speak on. I hope that you will stick around for many, many years to come!

Saving My Aloe Plant

Happy Saturday Fan Friends!

Earlier in the summer I started a series to see what someone like me (who kills plants on a regular basis without even trying) could grow and what I could not. The pineapple plant which I tried growing from a pineapple crown was less than promising. I’m not sure if I just picked a bad pineapple or once again my uncanny ability to kill everything I touch just kicked in. During both of those posts I mentioned my aloe plant which I had kept alive for close to 3 1/2 years. It was a reluctant gift from a friend, a woman several years older than me who is also child free, but has much better luck with plants.

I remember her handing me this tiny little plant and saying “Not even you can kill this.” Flash forward to this year, I decided it was time to repot my plant. I was very meticulous in my mission not to disturb it or stress it out and to follow the exact directions my friend had given me. While I initially felt like this was a success, it wasn’t due to the fact that I had the pineapple plant next to my aloe plant and therefore I gained another problem. That problem would be gnats. Yes, gnats. An entire family of them to be exact that began making a home in the dirt of my aloe plant.

This really ticked me off and so began a civil war within my own home: Brittany and Tom vs. the Gnats. Spoiler alert: The gnats were winning. Tom and I tried everything from a Hydrogen Peroxide bath to gnat traps. We killed easily about 200 a week but it still wasn’t helping the problem. We needed to pull out the big guns. That would be my mother-in-law, Carol, who is an absolute expert in plant health and care. As a nurse, my mother-in-law plays an intricate role in the health of her patients but during her free time she’s also an avid gardener. I’ve been with Tom nearly 13 years, we were friends since our mid-teens even before we decided to upgrade from friends to significant others. Tom’s family is basically like my second family, I considered them family long before we made things official and tied the knot in 2016. During my tenure as a member of the Schmidt family I knew if anyone could help me salvage this plant it would be Carol.

Carol mixed some new potting soil for my plant and with a new pot I felt absolutely ready to allow my little plant the opportunity to grow bigger and healthier. What I didn’t realize being somebody who is not an avid gardener, was that my poor plant had suffered because of these gnats. The roots seemed to be slightly rotted and so I took it upon myself to dig it up, lightly dab it with a paper towel and re-pot it in damp soil. As you can see the leaves which are in the picture look very healthy there even seems to be some new growth inside the plant so once I removed the parts of the plant which were rotted and dying, I replanted and made sure it was secure in the soil. It is my hope that the roots will regrow and that I can save this plant, the only living thing I’ve managed to keep alive in my time taking care of plants.

I love how I’ve been pacing in front of it since I replanted it, as if hoping that by staring at it I will basically will it to grow and remain healthy. Now it’s in God’s hands and I hope it survives.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

On this day in History: Sandra Day O’Connor Becomes the first Female Supreme Court Justice.

Hello Fan Friends!

If you know me personally, you know just how important women empowerment is to me. I basically look for any excuse to write about badass women and today is no difference. On this day September 25th 1981; Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was first appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan. Justice O’Connor began her term and remained until 2006.

During her tenure, Justice O’Connor oversaw many important rulings, including the infamous Bush v. Gore, the case that put the end to challenges on the results of the 2000 presidential election (ruling to stop the ongoing Florida election recount and to allow no further recounts). O’Connor is even more notable because she always felt a responsibility to demonstrate women could do the job of justice. In a male dominated Courtroom, she certainly showed she could to the job as well as any man. She faced some minor bumps in the road, including the lack of a woman’s restroom near the Courtroom.

Following her retirement from the Court on January 31, 2006, Justice O’Connor has continued her judicial service by hearing cases in the United States Courts of Appeals. In recognition of her lifetime accomplishments, President Barack Obama awarded Justice O’Connor with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on August 12, 2009.

Have a Day, Justice O’Connor! Thank you for playing such a crucial milestone in women’s empowerment and history. Today I celebrate and applaud you.

Exhaustion: A Short Artful Story

Hello Fan Friends!

Today’s post is going to be a little different. Today I am going to be sharing with you my artwork and also a short little story that goes with it. The goal of this post is to shed light on some thing millions of Americans suffer with: anxiety and depression. I’m hoping that the short story reaches somebody who can relate to it and gives them hope to keep holding on. Even if it’s for an hour even if it’s for another minute, just keep holding on… Without further ado here is my short artful story: Exhaustion

She was pale with exhaustion. Depleted, debilitated, and deeply fatigued. She took her coat off and stood in the rain. It drenched her from head to toe but she felt nothing. Numb. Her soul was as saturated in stress as her body was in the moisture which condensed from the atmosphere. The rain fell slowly, meticulously with acute visibly in separate drops. She could probably count every drop if she wanted to but she couldn’t find the energy to do so as she lumbered through the door with great sense of heaviness her petite frame.

She collapsed in her doorway, with nothing to say. Eyes blank, face drained of color and expression, the only thing that told her she was alive the rapid thumping of her heart and the slow churning of her stomach. Her coat, dark as a raven’s wing, lay tossed beside her-much like her dreams for a fulfilling career. Her long, crimson hair pooled around her like a curtain of blood to mask her anguish. The vinyl flooring is cool against her feverish skin and she wonders how long she could lay here before someone worries and calls her name…

She is spent and her spirit is weathered but yet she is never alone. She has the love of a family, significant other and friends but it is Christ right now who is beside her who loves her the hardest in this moment: he dwells in her heart and gives her the strength to rise from her spot on the floor.

“I can hang on,” she says, “for one more day, for one more hour, for one more minute…”

She says this repeatedly, it’s a mantra she repeats daily and hourly while somehow getting by and living to fight another day taking each moment minute by minute as the years rolled on…

-Fin-

If you or a loved one is suffering from depression or anxiety please know that you are not alone. Christ wants you on this Earth as much as your loved ones and I do. if you ever need someone to talk to please feel free to call the crisis hotline at: (855) 942-3414. It’s important to shed light on the dark shadows that dwell in many American’s (as well as countless of people around the world’s) minds. Stay safe everyone and God bless.