Identity in My Community.

Last night was amazing. I spent an hour and a half in community with folk in my church community. Some were members  of my church, and others were not.

We all had three things in common: Purpose, Passion And Potential. Our desire is to reach for this, collectively.
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Some just wanted to be in a like-minded community of women. I’ve found community rests in sometimes taking risks. Being around people we don’t know – and spending time listening and sharing stories and perspectives. I’ve found this to be my peace and my passion.

Most recently I stayed in a spiritual community for two years that nurtured me , something awesome. It’s called Propel Women. (Propelwomen.org) I spent two years with this group and decided only recently I’d begin my own group  of like-minded women, and impact another community through my church.

Last night we did this, and I fell in love again with the “spirit of community “.  only this time I led the community. How empowering and enlightening to be on the other side. Last night I gained new wings. Again. Yet perhaps that’s what happens when we take risks. Again.  We learn to fly, or better yet, SOAR.

We learn how to navigate the skies.

I’ve been in other communities that have helped shape my character. I’ve spoken about them here and here. The one most prominent was where I met my husband. This was in a loving community full of people of color who were seeking to unravel the pieces surrounding our identity and my history as a ‘people’ in America. We were seeking empowerment, and it came from unraveling a philosophy burnt deep in the fibers of slavery and how slaves were made. Every time I spent time in this community, I was transformed. With a passion, every year I found refuge there. (I really don’t want to take time to reference the document, because that identity is no longer my identity; but it set the stage for my ancestors who suffered abuse and neglect and disenfranchisement at the hands of it’s slave owner.

Unraveling those pieces with my sisters and brothers helped me to see my true identity. Recognizing I could begin from square one, helped me sort out  and filter the lies and deceit that were embedded deep in my psyche & my ancestors believed; then released me to live a life empowered with my own significance and influence, and recognize the places within that needed healing, nurturing and were long forgotten and ignored.

Once I realized this, I was born again. It set the precedent for what I allowed to be in my life. And ‘whom’ I allowed myself to be in relationship with. My old identity didn’t exist anymore. Only what God saw in me, and I allowed myself to partake of -was my identity. Selah.

So here’s what I now know:
This side of life – is only half of who I am. Doesn’t make me a half of a person, just makes me realize that wholeness is a journey, and I CANNOT DO IT ALONE.

I am not the same.

Now, my hope is, the women in this photo, will not be the same, either.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Love on Yourself a little, today.💕

Is I have committed this year in 2018 to writing about 💎 Diamonds my online course and writing about the gems therein. To make it even more exciting, I’m challenging myself to write a book on how I got to the “Other Side” of pursuing me.”stay tuned as I share more on this journey, & eventually provide links to the course.

Developing An Identity is Like Making HUGE Spiderwebs.

Spiderwebs
A Brighter Light. by JennRene Owens

Sometimes finding our selves is like making a spider web. It’s intricate, detailed, contemplative and sometimes involves a lot of work.

I think I began this journey quite honestly, at a young age. Maybe even before age eleven. Eleven was when my life changed. My Dad decided to live differently. To become a man and dare to love and trust his family. I became an aunt, (of two) in 1978, that summer I turned eleven. It’s the year o began being an example for the next generation. And at eleven my father came home a new man. He stopped drinking. And I stopped crying myself to bed every night living in fear of what might happen.
Eleven is the number of inheritance.
Ironic? (Nah.)

We have hallmarks of our identity: the first time as a young lady you get your period; the first time your graduate; the first time you get a real boyfriend; the first time you get your own apartment; or marry someone , or have a baby and become a parent…
But what about when you first “do the work?”( What work? – yet they say actions speak louder than words, right?)

Doing the work looks like becoming emotionally , mentally, and physically responsible. Sometimes it means creating emotional safety, in order that you cultivate safe relationships, with the people surrounding you, as well.
What does that look like? Developing trusting relationships, being forgiving and having forgiving friendships; and tolerating and loving on folk we don’t even like. It involves being spiritually mature about things, because it is  the right thing to do. Choosing to being honest in accepting  others and being open enough to hear the truth about ourselves and tell others the truth, choosing to speak the truth, in love. I used to have the hardest time dealing with conflict. Then I took a few courses and learned about the skills I needed and began to practice them. To my surprise, they worked!☺️

And the journey to my road of personal growth and development began. I must admit, it’s taken years to pull the layers off. Yet my age has helped me develop into someone “ I “ can trust. And if I can trust me, and my actions, that’s true empowerment. But I will l never let anyone treat this soul negatively again. Stomp all over this mind, this will and emotions til they die again. No, not I.

This woman arose again.

She figured out when she left this country, touched the hearts of youth and  led   them to dream again, she had purpose.

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She found out when she traveled over 8,115 miles to chase her dream and GOT THERE, she was on to something. That life and purpose was worth pursuing and she through these actions could BECOME ALIVE.

And help others to keep living too.

When she looked in the eyes of those young people, heard their pain and hurt, and complete desperation, see he youth follow her around as she was hope; when saw them living without parents and brothers lost in other countries saying:”I’ll come back for you”– trying to make a living to help them survive- but never return… these 13 & 18 year-old youth – thriving in their communities, despite the threat of their peers committing suicide daily; and seeing THIS woman come from another land and tell the miracle of her journey, and how God really DOES fulfill our dreams… and believe her….

It was time to LIVE.

And build that “web”. That meaningful large, connection that harnesses hope, no matter how far you are apart in the world, and speak the same language that helps people believe, past themselves. Webs that carry weight, identity, purpose and ingenuity, strength and capacity. Webs that offer hope, healing and love.

This trip to Africa changed my life , and purposed me further into my destiny and my identity. I went home and began establishing my business. It had gone international, and I was beginning to share that I had spent time with youth and encouraged and mentored them through my business: OtherSide Enterprises, LLC. ( See Africa video here.)

And so Identity wins. It speaks loudly, and saves lives, it rids desperation and offers us hope, it fuels our purpose and “makes our name great.”

( Genesis 12:2 )

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.”

I Am Enough Because I Am Wise.

 I Am  Enough Because I Am Wise.

So what does it really mean to be wise?

Does being wise mean… to be humble?

Does it mean we should consult with someone else who has  good advice, can problem-solve, help us manage our lives better or may give good counsel?

Or does it mean simply having good sense In knowing how to respond?

Perhaps.

…Or maybe it means being still enough to take care of our lives  because we care enough about our lives to be safe, discerning and aware.
Perhaps where I am wisest is when I spend time in the presence of friends. I have wise friends. There is a scripture in the bible that says : “The is safety in a multitude of counselors.”
I love that scripture. It has resounded over the years with me. I have realized over time that perhaps the best  acumen, has come from experience as my  teacher. With my experiences, I have  gained such rewarding treatment and insight from friends who in my own personal struggles, when I needed such wisdom, – sowed complete love for me,  and their wise actions and advice, benefited me greatly as I endured my situation.  The intuition  and  inspiration was on an entirely different level and  completely humbling.   As a result, I have  compassion for  them an for others who have experienced similar situations. It led me to  write my book, Red Sea Situations.

I believe one of the most humbling  situations I experienced, was  a friend who helped me when I had no where else to go. She had always told me, because she knew I was going through a hard time no matter when or what time it was, whenever I needed a place to go, I could just stop by. One night i thought I was close to losing it, and i knew if I didn’t get out of the house,  I would .  So indeed, I  went over and it was about ten fifteen pm. When I arrived at her  door, her husband answered, he smiled, and  didn’t say a word. All  he said was: “She’s  is upstairs, go ahead on up.”  (Can I say I just admire a  man who allows his  wife’s friend to come over so late in the evening , so she can support her?)Clearly, I had been crying, and I slipped past him. When I go to the top of the stairs,  I heard her talking to her boys  in a very sacred moment, and she said , “Come on in,Jenn.” She was there with the two of them, they were about three and six years old, and  she was hugging on them in bed. She made space for me, and  welcomed me in me bed with them. We didn’t talk much that night, we just laid there in quiet and peace. Her boys smiling and  she interacting and mothering them, and I quietly watched them enjoy and love on one another. I never felt so welcomed. to this day, our bond is unbreakable.

Now, this has nothing to do with me, and my wisdom. However, my friend’s wisdom in this moment taught me how to be wise.

Her wisdom taught me how when I am at my lowest point to embrace someone in love and just acceptance, is the very best  action of love. For me, wisdom and love, really are not far  apart. In fact, they are cousins. I  also found out that I don’t have to know all the details, I just need to love on them.  There’s a time and a season for everything, and sometimes knowledge isn’t necessary. She didn’t know, and still doesn’t know what I was experiencing that evening, but what maters is that I  knew she was there, and that she loved me. To me, that’s agape love. The God-kind of love. From this one action, I have found that I can love people without words, in such an amazing way, and that it involves just seeing that their soul is so worthy of love. This type of ‘friend -awareness’ has allowed me to be the same kind of friend.

On a lighter note,

I am wise because I am clever.

Cleverness is not  a word I use very much n my vocabulary, yet I find very attractive. My husband is rather clever. It was attractive to me from the first day I met him. And his cleverness tends to rub off on me at times. Cleverness involves, quick wit, charm, and  wise words, and at times a bit of playfulness. Perhaps the playfulness is the most fun. Being clever involves finding  a certain resourcefulness from within. It’s understanding how to use integrity to teach someone by not reacting. It also involves  not  stooping to a level of  personal embarrassment or  ignorance  because someone else does. Not allowing their impulsivity, unkindness and lack of intellect, to move me with words. I think I learned how to be clever once I  decide din my mind I didn’t care what others thought about me. It was freeing.  I decided that once I had made up my mind, and it made sense and I had  filtered it through my wisest  friends, and they were in agreement, it was well. And no one’s opinions mattered. My clever quick wit would then pounce back on others when they had comments  or opinions about my  actions in which they did not agree. I admire folk who can take judgment and  crush it as soon as someone swings it at them, and  keeps on  walking without shame or resentment because they are confident they are in a good place.

I am wise because I am contemplative.
Contemplation is one of my favorite things to do. As an introvert, I tend to find myself when I contemplate. Whether it involves speaking to myself, my heart, and pondering the actions of my day I find rest in re-evaluation. If I don’t do re-evaluate, I become restless.
What is in this restless space? Unawareness? A lack of purpose? Dis-alignment? Is that why when I am not looking within, I falter?
I get nervous, my anxiety peaks, or I have a loss for words? I prefer contemplation in order to help me rest. I may not have even realized the extent to which I depend upon what I call : “finding center” Laraine Herring in the book: “Writing Begins With Breath: Embodying your Authentic Voice”, says after the basic needs of food air, water and shelter are met, most of our actions and behaviors stem from a need for love, compassion, understanding and emotional safety.” I find that interesting, because that means if this is true, most of what I seek, when I look within, is about finding self love.( Read about  my  self love and being enough in another story.)

I must say however; some of the most unwise persons have hurt me. have been unreasonable,  inattentive ungraceful and  ill-mannered people I know, because they lacked compassion.   Indeed, perhaps this scripture measures up when wisdom is most attractive: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psalm 85:10)

jennifer

My Natural Hair Story/Journey

If you’d ask what’s the one thing that helps me to feel alive…its my hair.  I a absoooooolutely  love  having   locs that are free …MOST of the time, and  it  feels  good to   just have natural  hair that GOD made… and  see how the journey  helps me to be free  with the  growth and  I am  intrigued most of the time to  see what God does with it, next!

Washing my hair can be a source of pure pride. I actually have this sort of “glee” inside when I wash it, because I am often each time I am reminded of my spiritual journey. Perhaps because i researched a bit, and found hair is symbolic of several things: power, pride, shame & glory; and I even read some place it is relative to being thought of as: “the external soul”. Deep.

So.. Here’s my “Hair Story :

Over the past 8 yrs, I’ve wrestled with my hair. Its been quite a journey. “Should I cut it? Should I keep it long?” Will I know what to do with it when it grows out of control?” i now know that growing out of control was just an illusion, and I had issues with what people thought. So glad hat has subsided, and been buried in the ground. My hair has a preserving effect. It has kept me strong and delighted. hopeful and observant. And Telling. (Yes, with a capital ‘T’.) Because there is a certain “earthi-ness”, that comes with me, and I simple adore. I don’t like being categorized or placed into any one’s spectrum. I love to be brave, and have recognized the strength in being a brave soul. It’s been a journey, of sorts. A blessed one, indeed. One that has matured me, delighted my soul, kept me sane, and I can easily trace back to major sentiments and transitions in my life.

One of them being on the heels of a return from S. Africa, and a love for the people and how their hair were often personal & cultural statements about their lives, and mirrors to their soul. I now realize the ‘wrestling’ was not just with me, it was with my soul. And my lifestyle. And my choices about how I LIVED my life. I have realized where this new hair journey began for me, began with several new beginnings, and with each new beginning, I feel that much more resolve.

I am grateful for my hair journey today, the maturity, the resolve, the growth of my life and person-hood, and the courageous young woman it has helped me to become as i delved a little deeper in my soul, noticed where my life was going, considered what ‘beauty’ and Nthabi, looked like… (my African name). I have found my life wrapped up in my hair these past eleven yrs, and I am proud to say the woman I was then, I am no longer. My hair has evolved with me. Even my confidence, my refuge in this past year, and often my awakening.

Selah. 10-29-31.

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August 28,  2017.

Recently I changed my hair color and found my personality changing with it. Feels good to have options that add to your livelihood and manner of being!

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I Am Enough Because I BELONG.

Friends.

How many of us have them! ( I used to love that song the rapper sings and I used to love it so much I think because I actually loved having friends. ) Listen to the beat here I used to listen to in high school and tell me what you think.

To be honest, I keep my circles small. Yet I love every now and then to chat with a good friend and catch up.

Recently , a few friends and I started working on  a   project  called : “Women Who Belong”.    Oftentimes, women  tend to not  participate in group of women due to a lack of trust: or simply because they often  believe they  “don’t  belong.”  It hurts me when  women are left out of the  equation.   ANY   equation.   Any  relationship,  any time they  are hurting or  sad because  they  were forgotten or  sad  about something or  just wanted to belong to  something and someone    didn’t  feel  as if they were worth it,  so they  left them out.

I  am  also a   very strong advocate   against  cliques. I’ve been hurt by them and I wish they were never even a thought.  Often without much consideration, people who create cliques,  are often not aware they are in them. I also believe cliques  are  so demeaning. I wish everyone knew  when they were being a part of one, though.  Sadly enough, they dont.

Luckily, I am a girl who’s been kind of eccentric and figured out with time I could create my own communities.

I have found overtime that creating my own book clubs, my own writing groups and mentoring groups have just brought some really interesting women into my life, and cherished relationships I may have never found, otherwise.

They  say  cousins are our  first  friends.  We love  each other  so unconditionally, because we  are friends by the nature of being family, first. Recently, I been connected with a cousin-as -friend. And she’s really neat! She treated me to Wendy’s with her daughter and we had the best time catching up. Sometimes reaching out is not as complex as we make it to be. We just have to take a few risks. And of course, have a desire to “be”.

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So here’s the deal about belonging:

1.It’s not complex. Just ask someone you like to spend some time with you, and if they don’t, keep asking til someone does!

2. What’s your hobby? Do you have other friends who like to do the same? Invite them over with the hobby to share. I have one friend who just likes a good movie every now and then. So that’s what we do go watch a good movie.

3. Try http://www.Meetup.com. It’s a major network online that connects people with  their hobbies and  interests. It  has been a place where I’ve showcased my awesome writer groups,  and found interesting people  desire to blend in, visit, laugh and share. If you’re not the ‘leader-type’ , try  out a group that’s already existing, and find your hobby.

4. FInd a  group to belong to in the community. Libraries always have good symposiums and  showcase things happening in the community. Get out a visit them! See what you like and say hello to someone or ask a friend to go with you!

 

4 Reasons Not To Live with Regret.

So… I remember a time in my life when I was really  indecisive.

I remember I was trying to please others so much, I forgot about myself.  In that process, I  made  a lot of decisions that  didn’t give much regard to my life, or  emotional safety. What I wanted out of life, was on the back burner.  I basically lived for the enjoyment and delight of someone else, because I thought that was how you  show you love  someone. I was so wrong. I had love all confused. And because of that, I had so much inner conflict, insecurity and so much  doubt inside of myself. Discord was often in my relationships  and I just had no peace with anyone, so I stayed away from people, mostly. As long as they were not talking about my life, then I was okay with them. I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do and if they offered without my asking,  then I was ready to run from them, even thoseclose to me, and who mean a lot to me.

When you don’t have peace inside, everything you do or don’t do,  feels like a mistake. You second guess yourself all the time, and you cannot trust your instincts. And when you ignore your instincts, man… you are in T-R-O-U-B-L-E!  I operated in this way so often, I didn’t know who I was , or whether I was coming or going. That means I was lost. After a while, I became so hopeless,  I just lost hope altogether. I was just existing. I apologized for everything,   I had many qualms with people  and the places where I was in life. I carried resentments and as a result, I  was  just plain miserable. I was annoyed to the point  that accepting annoyance was how I lived. But I was so blind to this fact, I simply endured it. It became the norm. I was living with regret. When I looked up  the word regret I  found in the thesaurus these words: ”  to prey on the mind…have a weight on the mind; leave an aching void.” That’s what regrets feels like. Sorrow,  pain, hurt – all the time, and  guilt.

Growing up in an alcoholic family, I realized this was the norm for me, ( living with annoyances) which is why I didn’t recognize it when it occurred in a daily basis in my life and relationships. (I know, crazy… right?) But we  do this, because we tend to go with what’s familiar and yet become so comfortable with it, we consider it to be  normal?  How does this happen? You recognize you were annoyed and miserable, yet every single day you find comfort with it? I think deep down inside I knew I was miserable, but I didn’t want to admit it.  I was living with a denial and a numbness that honestly, felt very good, because if I didn’t have to acknowledge it, then  I thought  it was not bothering me. But then, after 11 years of depression, it finally caught up  with me. I was at my wits end.My mental health took a toll on me and I knew I had to change something.

One day my spirit cried out to God, and revealed I was  living with sorrow. I had much so much REGRET about the  situations I found myself in life, the  decisions I had made and  I was suffering from so much sorrow. I was  sad about my life  and I felt trapped. I felt responsible for things I wasn’t even responsible for. The adults in my life blamed me and I took on their issues and their grief to the point, I had no resolve, no contentment and no harmony in my life. It took a lot to admit I was sad. I was really depressed and I had chosen to live like that for  several years. Living in regret.

I remember one morning I spent the entire morning with God in prayer on my back porch.  I was angry, bitter and I was hurting. I was also very stubborn and God used a lot of my grief to help me to recognize  some of the things I held on to were because of pride. I remember  crying out to God with so much pain and  telling God I was  ‘fed up’ and I wanted a new life, and new hope, and a new way of being and doing. As I sat there,  I had a vision in my head of the  image of the woman in the  Bible with whom they  cast stones . (John 8)   These people brought her to Jesus to be condemned. Jesus response  to her accusers was to write on the ground. No one knows what Jesus wrote. But her accusers all left after Jesus  wrote on the ground. He then said : “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”  I envisioned Jesus as I sat on my porch (with my eyes closed);  write in the ground for me.  As He  wrote, He basically wrote some things  that only I saw, of course.  But what he wrote reminded me of what He desired for me to have.His promises.  I saw that He had much greater intention for me to have good, in my life. I believe it was like that with her accusers, as well. What was important was not what He wrote, but what He said and how what he said, made me feel.  I didn’t feel sorrowful any longer, I was no longer troubled, I was no longer hurting and burdened deeply with regret, and  I  became decisive. I knew instantly that I deserved more, I wanted more and  that I could have more; and I made the decision to do it.

 John 8:7, 10,11 “But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” NASB

Jesus dealt with this woman with such tenderness and grace, that she was in awe.  All the accusers surrounding her also  were also surprised, but they must have understood, because they left too. If we condemn ourselves, with LIVE WITH REGRET.  My relationship with God has taught me I am not worthy of punishment for the  decisions I have made.That’s why he died for us. Once I repent, ask God for help, receive it, then move on. then  comes release. Just like it did for the woman in John 8. This is very important. It’s necessary for living with a clear conscious.

That day on my back porch, I contended with Jesus, in my soul . But I learned three things after my wrangling with God:

1. I had to let go of my past.

2., I couldn’t live in the condemnation, because if I did, I would accept the guilt and regret from my past.

3. I learned I had to move on, because  HE didn’t condemn me, and so I had to stop condemning myself.

4. I had to forgive myself.

When you cannot forgive yourself, you don’t remember to be kind, nurturing and self-loving. You forget to  forgive yourself. It took years for me to forgive myself for  things in my past, even after I made a decision to live a better life and leave those things behind I knew I was worth more, I knew I deserved more, but it didn’t make me leave the situation or change anything. Here’s what made  the difference: accepting  God’s forgiveness and allowing His love for me to redeem me.  For me, this was what unraveled  the love confusionI learned that if I  accepted God’s love first  and  allowed this to be my foundation for loving others and BEING LOVED… then I would be alright.  Once I was certain God has forgiven me and wanted more for me, I began to  move towards freedom, and I never looked back. I fond resolve. But I have to give God my regrets. 

People are often amazed by how much peace I seem to have.  Let me tell you, I am not perfect. I still struggle, even. And although I have peace , now…  It took a very long time to get here. After I  got through the muck and the mess of my own regrets, I was able to stand again on my own two feet.   Of course,  some of the way, God carried me to be honest. But I made it to the other side. Now that I am here, it ‘s pertinent I tell the story of how I made it here, so others could be set free as well.

Amen & Selah.reflection