I get excited about going to cafes. This pic was one of my favorites in Tulsa, Okla. (It has since shut down.)
I used to go and sit and write for hours. Drink tea, stare out windows.(As introverts do)…and be pensive. I recall how hard it was being away from home, and my family.
Yet local cafe’s were my solace time.
And across the street is a beautiful park. Right in the middle of downtown . With a beautiful pond & waterfalls .
I have good memories here. Above is a pic of me on that park, enjoying the sun.
Tulsa was a pretty awesome city. I complained initially about moving there, but it grew on me. And the cafes and the friends helped immensely .
Once, my girlfriend had a birthday party here, and we all ended up singing and having a great time.
Tulsa taught me to Receive.
And to yield. To allow things to grow. And to learn how to be content. Receiving isn’t easy, if you can find things wrong. Sometimes it means just learning to be grateful.
And that’s a process, too.
Take the beginning or ending of your day, offer it up as meditative time, think of three things you’re grateful for, release them into the atmosphere, & say thankful. Do this for approximately six months, & watch your ‘life rhythm ‘ shift.
You will be amazed at your level of contentment. And how happiness flows.
I guess I’m back to journaling .. and sharing my heart with you all here…☺️
It’s really a wonderful season I’m in, so I wanted to share here some of those blessings and the mindset God gives me as I make shifts and transitions .
Ever felt like you had to go back to the place you were from to heal some of the things in life that you never really addressed fully? I think that’s why I’m back home after almost 27 years of being away.
Although a bit daunting, it also been a breather .. a releasing of sorts… an enlivened moment of peace, joy and security as I find my niche in anew city and try to reclaim my roots and my personhood.
‘Settled’ was one of my words for 2020, as I entered a new year, and the word “Rooted” showed up as I sought out the word. I am planning on being Rooted.. Or expecting on being rooted, I should say.. looking for roots and foundation in a way I never have… asking .. seeking.. finding… they are all good as the revelations flow and this discovery finds ME.
It’s going on my seventh month as a New Yorker again, and I’m quite delighted to be in a place of “Sincere Growth.” I’ve been planted in a great church that is concerned about my growth spiritually, and my purpose. It feels good. I love the smallness of it, and the people seem focused and ready to do exploits in God.
The pastor who spoke today spoke on getting ‘ planted ‘ and being with your tribe . I remember when I was in South Africa; although I didn’t know the people, it get so good to fool them for three mins of even, as I responded the South African language : when they said: Dumela Akai?“ (“How are you”? ) & if said firmly and loudly in response: “Kite!” ( pr.Keetay” ) -which means (Fine!)☺️💜It was as I was South African, they thought I was one of them. It was wonderful. And they were so kind to welcome me home.
‘Welcome home’ is such a blessing, they offer, when they welcome you back to the Motherland it does feel like home. Unexplainably, a place that’s foreign , could feel so familiar… And boy…was I welcomed! from the food to the parties, to the youth rallies, to eating the food, walking through flea markets, enjoying church services, having youth run up to me and hug me, and even in visiting foster homes as a social worker & speaking to youth about their dreams in schools.
As I contemplate on this journey, I also feel welcomed by God in N.Y. I feel His presence as being affirming, Loving, kind, as as I feel a shift in the familiarity, I feel “Welcomed.” By Him. He loves me.
And in this welcomed space is Healing. I’m just expecting it to be a part of the territory. I am.
Don’t be surprised what I share later this year as I become.
So… Have you ever encouraged people to the point you are more so encouraging yourself?
I happened to me, this week… yes it did. It seems like I’ve been giving everyone this word all week… and then.. it appears! Be Still.
But maybe God has been really speaking to my soul.
I had a vision or a dream the other morning. It was about My Grandmother , Mae. She was in my spirit this morning. Her resoluteness. Her certain magic. I saw an image in my mind of how she used to stand over her kitchen , & just look out and stare straight ahead… or look at her children and grandchildren while standing resolute at that counter… the only one still… the only one… quiet…
I used to catch her eye sometime and he’d just stare at me with a lil smirk, & say nothing.. yet she would smile… as though she had a secret. I know she didn’t do this with me alone, yet it often felt like she did. I felt like she was Present. And Happy.
We are- My family- The Stenson’s- are a family that’s known for being Present.
So I wrote my families a letter and emails this A.M.:
“Let’s redeem that, this week.
Let’s be still enough to notice. “
Just exactly what my grandma Mae was praying and thinking deeply….contemplating… feeling…or feeling about her people in that place. In her kitchen,… just …Being Still . Will forever have me wondering.
I had a week sort of like this , this past week ,in quiet contemplation.
Yet I was blessed to find peace this week in being still. My grandmother visited me, this week. Mae practiced that regularly. Stillness. I believer this where I get that stillness from.
When I’m not still my mind and world turns upside Down .. Things are out of order …what ‘s important sort of diminishes and I get distracted.
My Priorities shift.
So in the spirit ofMae, I ask you to be still this week, spend time alone and with God and think… just be resolute … find resolve … find peace.
I looked up STILL in the dictionary and the word STILL meant” ‘ to be (current, to make motionless.)’
Whew, that just took me some place! In my book, Red Sea Situations, I wrote a chapter called ‘What’s Your Positional Stance?’ I recall several motionless nights…just siting there waiting on God. Not moving. No deciding, but waiting to hear his voice, look for an impression, let him decide my fate, etc… Then, I looked it up n the Hebrew language concordance to gather deep meaning… Being “Still” in the concordance means to: (relax, abate, withdraw, to let drop, refrain, or forsake.) Funny that I found words that pertain to such life-giving spiritual purpose. Intertwined with the words often my husband and I use to encourage one another: We always tend to say to each other:” Just Sit Back, relax and Enjoy the ride..”
Because our pilot, who’s sits in the heavens knows we are just co-piloting. We must know it, too. Life is too busy when we attempt to take over the reigns.
Being Still… is a gift . It can be such a ” wonderful adjective”, yes, I said adjective! Because… “Being Still.” Takes active intention, and quite a bit of WORK! So… Be Still and listen to your little soul while you do…
So it’s been a wonderful month, and over at the Mentor my Sister Blog, I’m celebrating a new identity . One thing I want to say though, it’s that
Here are a few incidents that happened during a grace -filled year for me and gave me a totally invigorating sense of newfound identity (it takes a while to establish that!!)
“Grace will take you places hustling cannot.”
I’m grateful to have started 2020 on a new and gracious time in my life. Here’s what I know:
1. Grace come disguised as Failure.
I took an exam, I flunked it- I find three part-time jobs and I maintained an income for a few months then, my money began to run out. ( Long story!) Finding myself one a new city, was scary and illusive. As I thought about returning to NY, I met my divine mate. In fact I’d been praying for him, for several months. I told God everything I wanted in a man and told him if he gave me that, I’d forever serve Him. (But to be honest, I wasn’t really expecting him.)
I am not the same I was when I lived in New York in 2005. Almost 20 years ago! Back then , I was getting divorced , I was hurting from another relationship that basically stripped away my dignity, and trying to remain friends with the guy who literally broke my heart and I thought my new future would begin with! (I realized I didn’t have to be kind , and I could forgive from a distance . I finally let that dysfunction go, thank God!!)
I was naive. I didn’t listen to my intuition , and I found myself feeling lost. As I left New York, I didn’t look back. I was ready for a new experience with friends and sisters who lived in Maryland, and they supported me through one of the toughest times of my life . Maryland grew me up. Though it was one of the toughest times, it proved my strength. I started a prayer group, decided to give my all to God, had awesome girlfriends, and a social network, but my career was not taking off, and my identity was taking a huge blow! Near mid October 2005; I had felt rewarded. I literally met a young man I Considered a friend- and I never expected to meet- and he wanted to know all about me- asking me in the same breath “What it would take to move me to Texas??” I responded by saying: “ a good job, and hey ,…maybe getting married…” ( What was I saying!?? I’d just gotten divorced!!)
2. Grace Comes As Risks of Faith.
He gets on the plane, with that being his very last question, before I see him again 1 month later, after he sends me a ticket to come and spend Thanksgiving on Texas. And since I didn’t have the money, I did!🤷🏽♀️🤷🏽♀️ Texas was warm, in November , enlightening, bright and sunny – and I was re-awakened!! While there it was calling me! I looked into apts. and found out I could live in a nice apt with cable, and a gym membership for less than $600 bucks! I decided no matter what, I’d move to Texas FOR MYSELF- and of this relationship didn’t work out, at least I’d have a good job.. .if I found one… so I set out to find a good job! Well that happened within before I got there; but after two months it folded . (Within weeks another job I’d interviewed on the phone in NY had called to see if I’d arrived!) ‘And I was SHOCKED! So with loads of prayer and a cautious mindset – I heard a still small voice say say: say: “Go and get your job!”
3. Leaping With God May Save Your Life.
It may seem odd , but I was literally leaping this entire year and it felt like the leaps were taking me far, so I jumped some more! I got a great job paying more than I’d ever made, I moved to my own place, cause I was trying to depend on no one… and my best friend ( who eventually became my husband), became my neighbor, confidant and spiritual partner, all within one year.
I finally realized I had met the love of my life and got married in March, of 2007 , and we set off that same year to building our dream house. I was in heaven. I learned three lessons about life and myself:
My Lessons Of Grace in 2005:
A. When you give God your all, put your heart on the altar and let Him love you and love you forward into purpose, abandoning all… He understands you, trust Him. Surrender. And His every desire- even after the pain and heartache, is to meet you, and meet you well. When you leap for God He leaps for you! Just make sure you hear from him, and you can measure up your thoughts and run those curious notions by someone who is just as strong in the Lord.
B. I learned that life is too short to be afraid.
The time to have courage and start all over is when you need to shift and someone is graciously saying “over here, come live on this side of the world.” Trust God and be in expectation. I’d had enough bad luck that year, and I didn’t want any more . So I quit all my jobs AFTER I got a dream job, and skipped town.
C. I learned that I was stronger than I thought. That I’m my best, when I believe it. And if all I have is belief, that’s enough to trust . And that was my motivation.
Looking back tat this I realized my faith was on overdrive. If I had not gotten hurt, my desires to move to a new state after my divorce would not have happened, I would not have found a blessed girlfriend community to catch me, and lead me; and I would not have taken an even greater risk on friendship and love, had this new move had not worked out. Had several of these disappointments had not happened,…I may not be were I am today: Happy.
I’ve made a career out of lots of jobs I wasn’t even sure I wanted, but they sure helped me decide what I ultimately needed, and wanted to do… and most of all, I found out my best friend ever – was ultimately meant to be my husband . The one person I entrusted my heart to after all this pain and heartache God had given to me as a gift, forever .
Identity & Worth . It’s a subject my sisters are discussing at Mentor My Sister. My platform online, that strives for authentic women and authentic connection.
Identity-what gives me identity
What I spend time with – tends to give me identity . We can desire material wealth, cars, … to be in relationship with people and we can make idols out of all of them.
I have value in relationships, so I will share what comes up for me as I make mention of my value of several relationships I have, currently. Mainly they’ve been friends familyand my spouse; but alsomentorship .
My Family has given me identity. Now that i live closer to them, I have more opportunity to be influenced by them. You see, whether I cherish them or not. It’s up to me to decide if I’ll carry out a legacy of good or evil.I always say, if there’s good, make it better . And if it’s not good, make it exceptional.
My Spouse is one who influences my identity . How we make decisions together, dream together… LIVE together makes a difference and influences my identity .l and my children’s identity as well.
Friendships influence my identity . Whether I choose mentors, leaders, friends who live models lives or just have the challenge of daily survival, I can learn from them. I make space for mentors and people to influence me. I need leaders to pour into my life, so I find out where they are, and I serve, or join them in their discussions, or create them.
Mentorship . Being mentored and mentoring others has brought great value in my life . I really enjoy having conversations about life with other leaders, friends and women who desire authentic relationships.
Here are a few mentors in my life
Here are three places I’ve learned from other in my life :
1. Trees .
I was in South Africa in May, of 2003 and i was teaching in a classroom about dreams. A teenager said to me: /“We Are All Like Trees.” I resounded after that encounter , because I realized I’ve always loved trees. The strength , growth and resiliency tees represent inspire me. I have never seen trees the same , since.
2. My African Heritage Family.
I found identity in my African Heritage family. There’s a woman I know named Joyce Shabazz. She created a forum of people and a platform about people regaining their culture and heritage and finding value in what they see and experience, again.
I attended for five, maybe six years a platform that help me transcend racism, my thoughts about my identities as wife, female, being oppressed, internalized oppression, my inadequacies about being African American, and I re-claimed myself.
The process and journey has been amazing. I’ve gained new international friends and I’ve learned new experiences I’ve gleaned and kept treasures forever sealed in my heart. I’ve come up a lot, and now I mentor others on perspective.
3. My Worth –
Where have I found worth and value?
What foundations have I established my worthiness upon?
For years I pondered this. Growing up in an alcoholic family, My vision of myself and who I was was altered. It wasn’t my truth. It was an attempt to destroy my truth . I once was a girl of low self – esteem, insecurity and felt very inadequate . However I no longer espouse those characteristics .
And today, I have evolved. I was determined to change the depiction of what my worth and value set as a template from birth to 20 years of age. Once I gained a determination of the will and had mentors in me that saw in me the greater good, and encouraged it- I realized I could truly be my best self. I reached for opportunities to be better: attended a historically black college , Howard University, experiences ethnicity in a new way, was determined to learn about my heritage, visited South Africa, ignored and distances myself from hate, and envy and people who represented this at all costs… and read books galore on the subject of identity , esteem and intrinsic value. And maybe my trips back and forth down the road to African Heritage, or a constant re-evaluation of my life purpose ; or maybe my trip to Africa all influenced me in major ways.
Or maybe it was the fact I didn’t allow Opportunity to pass me by.
Perhaps I reached for it with eager anticipation, and it became my friend. My mentor . My tutor.
As I look back on my life, I’ve had my share of unhealthy relationships. I believe the hardest part during this season of life for me was discerning was what was really “healthy” and what was really “unhealthy”. I don’t really know that Ii had been taught that by example.
I believe I was simply unaware. Looking back, I wish i had spent more time with my younger self to determine who I was and what I desired in life, in order to have clarity about what I needed in a relationship.
I had not defined for myself what I needed, and valued and had not committed completely and wholeheartedly that those values were essential for me to thrive and to grow & thrive, in life .
Looking back: I am thinking of my journey saying to myself:
“What in the world was I doing?!”
Yeah, and it makes so much sense now that I know who I am …what my self -worth needs in order to thrive and be connected to another human being. I know what it means to be loved, and ‘in love.’
So I am going to share some thoughts on being in a healthy ‘vulnerable ‘ relationship, that helps us to thrive and be our best selves in our relationships .
I have decided to approach it from a vulnerable place, because I just like to be transparent . Vulnerability requires trust. And if you love someone vulnerability should be an essential part of helping that relationship to grow completely as individuals and also as a couple. Vulnerability with your partner should never be considered a weakness. You should continually be moving towards fruitfulness and transparency and greater love.
Here are a few things that being vulnerable in a relationship teaches you:
1. Vulnerability teaches you to ask for help. You increase your connectedness to others and learn to empathize with them. It’s essential for growth.
2. Being vulnerable teaches you the unknown parts of yourself. You develop a sense of resiliency and it challenges your authenticity – your heart mind and soul. It also helps you to be more self-aware.
3. With vulnerability, you develop a new appreciation for self-care. Self-care is essential to a certain level of awareness and patterns with yourself. Being able to address them with honesty, help you to grow in vulnerability.
4. Vulnerability teaches you to walk in realness. There’s a level of authenticity that comes from sharing honestly with others and you choose to listen, share and engage differently.
5. Vulnerability teaches you to connect better to your emotional self. Knowing “why” you’re angry; “why “ you’re sad, and why you’re emotional and choosing to do continual, intentional self-evaluation – helps you notice yourself on another level.
6. Being vulnerable allows you to have a better relationship with Grace. Not everyone understands grace and how to live in congruence with it; but what vulnerability teaches you is that grace is something we can ‘expect ‘ and ‘choose’ and live with intentionally, despite how we feel about life and how they occur- that things will get better, we will overcome ; and life can depended upon to operate in a full circle, that’s complete .
7. Vulnerability teaches you to be grateful and share your thankfulness. Appreciation comes in several selfless acts. When you share openly, of what you’re thankful for you’ll find people appreciate you, and consider the same blessings . Is this something that is reciprocated in your relationships? If not, it’s something to consider.
8. Vulnerability teaches you to be patient with yourself . When you push yourself past your limitations and you learn how to deal with successes despite being frustrated. You teach others how to be patient , as well.
9. Author and spiritual leader Spencer Kimball says that “Humility is royalty without a crown.” Humility is learned by truly being vulnerable. Being able to acknowledge your weaknesses and to grow in wisdom and grace daily with intention, are life’s truest blessings.
10. Vulnerability teaches you the most meaningful thing in life are learned by “pacing yourself ” through life. When I ‘slow my roll’ , I am informed, I am clear, I make room for more. Vulnerability leads me into the experience of “more”…
11. Vulnerability teaches you to release. It helps you to recognize when you’re burdened or heavy, and that relationship , or situation needs to be let go. Maybe you’re carrying more than you should, if you have not yet recognized the value of letting go. When you choose to really ‘ think about what you’re thinking’, choosing to let go of weight that causes anxiety and stress helps us find a way to cope with our inadequate thoughts and insecurities. That’s truly being vulnerable.
Well …. we’ve come to the end of this segment. what have you learned that’s new today? Take one element of vulnerability and commit to trying something new in your relationships and trusting yourself to grow just a bit more.
Months later . A cross country trip; two months off of work, and just trying to adjust to cold weather. I’m convinced cold weather just isn’t my thing. Maybe it’s for the very tough people who can handle the whipping winds, the blowing snows, the windy rain, and the breezy and cool evenings.
The wind is so very different in New York than in the Midwest. I used to know when’s the wind spoke to us in Oklahoma, because it was usually at its highest peak, around April and May. It’s seasonal and expected.
Wind here comes suddenly, and unexpectedly, and sometimes it really moves me inside when I don’t want to be. In fact, sometimes I’m downright angry it’s so windy.
On another note, …I’m looking for the right hat, and I’m so frustrated I haven’t found it yet.
Well, I guess I’m over my rant. One thing I can appreciate about the weather now is the beautiful trees and gracious hills of New York, and the beautiful fall colors. I’m learning the beautiful views exist in everything. Even if it’s the not-so-kind weather .
I don’t remember being quite in awe about a drive through the country as I was, about a month ago. This view just captured me through my car window.
So…I’m still here.
I’m recognizing there’s beautiful moments in small things and being home again after 15 years or more- is about fun with the family . I mean , I can’t take back moments like this ( below) , with my siblings ,and parents. I celebrated my birthday this week. I’m fifty two . And this is what fifty two looks like on me.
So I’m not complaining, just grieving some of the old. And maybe some of the things I took for granted. Like the sun always shining, mild weather that often made you feel snug and warm inside, and I lived near a river and water and anytime I needed to breathe, I’d go right outside my window and breathe .
I loved the Tulsa, Oklahoma weather more than I knew and the mellowness of the skies and wind, obviously – after the Spring storms came through and blessed our space with tornadic storms.
I’m learning loving means leaning on the good and making the meaningful moments count, despite it all….
So ,…I’m still here. Just have to find myself in nature, again.