Puzzle Pieces

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I was once asked, “What do you do when you have grown apart from your significant other?” Hmmm….that’s a good question. What do you do when your relationship has hit the ground and has scattered into what appears to be a thousand puzzle pieces?

Do you pretend like nothing has happened and continue to go along to get along? Do you rush to get the glue (love) to put it back together again, only to find that the bottle is empty? Do you shut down when you are at a loss for words because you feel he/she is not listening? Do you remain silent when you have grown weary of having the same conversations that seem to have resolved nothing? He cares about you and you care about him but outside of that, neither of you really cares anymore.

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Growing apart from the person you have spent what seems to be most of your life with is like slowly dying. It’s painful, scary and unexpected. Relationships are like puzzles. The longer you have been with someone, the more pieces you have to the puzzle. In life, these additional pieces could be a new home, more children, a job promotion and continuing education, to name a few.

When you have many pieces, it requires more of your time, more of your thoughts, and attention to detail. When working on a puzzle, you have to be intentional with every piece. Care must be taken when putting the puzzle together so each piece fits perfectly. To prevent your relationship from growing apart, get back to the basics.

Some of these basics are:

  • Spending quality time together.
  • A text message just to say ‘you’re on my mind.’
  • Saying thank you for even the smallest of things.
  • Purposely going out of your way to do something nice.
  • Keep your relationship a priority.

Remember it’s still the same puzzle or in this case, a relationship it just requires more of your time and energy to make it work.

 

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You Have to Fight

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Life will present us with many challenges. These challenges may come in the form of family, health and financial issues. When these challenges come, we are faced with what appears to be an array of choices. In my humble opinion, there is only one choice to make – stand up and fight.

I am not talking about a fist fight. I am talking about not settling for “no” as the final answer or when they say, “it can’t be done”, you find a way to make it happen anyway. I’m talking about when the doctor says nothing can be done for your loved one but you still believe by faith that they will be healed.wisdom-and-thoughts3

We must have a ‘no surrender, no retreat’ attitude, no matter what it looks like or what someone says.

I have faced these very same challenges in life and no it was not fun. I can’t even imagine what my life would look like today if I settled in a corner and just accepted the circumstances that found a way to cross my path at various stages in my life. To lay down and die to whatever you are facing is not an acceptable response.

Quitting is the easiest thing you can do. It requires no effort to simply do nothing. You need to figure out what your why is for doing what you are doing or living how you are living. Once you have your ‘why’, keep pressing on because you now have your fuel to fight.

 

If you have lived life just settling for what people want to give you and never have challenged what you have been told, I respectfully say you have never been free. I know some of you will say, “Well, I don’t like conflict” or “it’s no big deal anyway”. I want you to know that every time you don’t take a stance and you just go with the flow or say yes to something that you don’t agree with, you are saying no to yourself.

Today, I challenge you to take a stance. I challenge you to fight.

I’m Cleaning Out My Closet

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I was going to wait until Jan. 1, 2017 to give you this nugget. I want all of us to go into the New Year with our closets empty and ready to fill them with new and exciting people. Now, I know by saying people, you may be a little confused.

I am talking about cleaning your closet of mind-numbing, time stealing, always criticizing you but not doing anything type of people. You know the kind of people you make the mistake of sharing your dream or vision with and their response is ” why you want to do that?” or ” I thought that was just a hobby”. The craziest one I have heard yet is “When are you going to work a real job?”. This is because they don’t understand building your business and your brand is a job. I want you to put those folk in a figurative big green trash bag.img_4008

The next group of people we are taking out of our closet is those family members that feel you are stuck up and acting brand-new. This will be hard for many of you because it was hard for me initially. They feel this way because you no longer conform to those age old sayings of “well that just runs in our family” or “no one in our family ever……”.

The truth of the matter is your change and your success has made them uncomfortable. They don’t understand the way you think or talk and that your faith has given you the courage to jump into a world full of possibilities. Instead of rejoicing with you, they talk about you. Unless you call them or they need something like money, you don’t hear from cousin Pookie. Other folks who sometimes act this way are your childhood friends you have known since the 1st grade or close friends who you consider family. You know, the ones so close your kids call them auntie or uncle.

It’s okay; breathe! It’s a lot to digest but who said cleaning out your closet would be easy.

Now the fun part, filling your closet with people who understand you and add value to your life. It should be mutual and they should feel that you add value to their lives.  They should give you constructive feedback to help you improve your situation and breathe life into your visions. These individuals will remind you that your failures are merely data collection and push you to keep grinding until you see your desired results. They are people who will listen to your ideas and not ask, ‘why?’ but instead say ‘why not?’

I am not being cold; I’m being clear. 2017 is quickly moving in on us. We have to be ready. We can no longer give our time and attention to people and things that don’t prosper us mentally, spiritually or financially. The hard truth is that the closet people are not buying your books, attending your webinars, supporting your events or providing a simple word of encouragement. Don’t feel bad about moving on from these folks. Join me today and start cleaning out your closet.

Give Her What She Really Wants

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When was the last time you gave your girlfriend or wife what she wanted? As men, when we think of a gift to give our wives or girlfriends, we usually think of something shinny and very expensive as a way to her heart. We think that if we come in the house with a tennis bracelet or a necklace shining bright like a diamond, it’s all good. If you are like me, you probably have your chest puffed out and feel like you are the man. Did you ever consider giving her what she REALLY wants?

Granted, I know women love diamonds and all those material things, but did you ever consider she wants something that is worth more than diamonds and pearls, or even a day at the spa? Imagine that there is something more precious than material things.

Wait for it………….

That thing that she would forgo all of that for is your time and attention. I know what you are thinking brother. I have been there. You’re saying to yourself, “I do give her my time”. If that is the case, let’s take a quick test.

You are in your man cave and your favorite team is on tv playing. There are three minutes left in the game. Your team has the ball at the 1st and 10, on the 50-yard line. They are down by 4. All of a sudden, your wife comes to you and says she needs to talk about something very important.

Do you tell her to wait until the game is over? Do you turn off the game to give her your undivided attention? You already know what my response has been in the past. I will admit that I failed that test miserably, time and again. I would ask my wife to wait which hurt her feelings. I didn’t see what the big deal was.

I finally learned in my 17 years of marriage that women are wired differently. They need non-material things, such as our time and attention. We men need to throw in a lot of communication just to round it out. Most women need these things for a sense of validation. Women need to feel valued by the men in their lives. When women don’t get this at home from us, it creates the potential to opening the door to emotional affairs.

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Please do not be naïve about this…. I was clueless about this need. There may be times when your wife or girlfriend is at work, out with her girlfriends, at the gym or running into the grocery shopping for a quick second, where there is some brother complimenting her on how she looks or dresses etc. She may brush it off initially. However, the problem evolves when she realizes she is not getting this attention from you. Instead of saying something clever like ‘my man thinks so too’ or ‘thank you’ and then going about her day, she may begin to entertain those words. Once that happens, oftentimes, she will unknowingly return to the source of her emotional “high” – the other man. This could potentially lead to a short or long emotional affair or even possibly, one of those “it just happened” kind of events.

I have first-hand experience with this, so I’ve been there, done that. My wife and I lived through this very thing and I am thankful we came out on top. My wife wrote a chapter in a book about this, where she chronicles her very own emotional affair in her debut book, Being a Wife Just Got Real: Things I Wish I Knew, Before I said, “I Do”.

So, I challenge you today, good brother, to get out of you comfort zone.  Turn the game off and listen to her. Trust me she will love you for giving her what she really wants.

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Being a Wife Just Got Real, Author – Tanya Barnett

 

 

She Wants to Be Free: Part III

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It’s been 2 weeks since she and her husband spoke about her cutting her hair. What was supposed to be her coming out day, turned into the revelation that her husband was not ready to let go of her hair. HER! STUPID! HAIR!!

She slouched further down into the tub thinking to herself, “This just cannot be my life right now. What happened to us? Why is this happening to me?”

She softly sobbed, “Tomorrow is my freaking 40th birthday. Why can’t I be free?”

“I cannot believe how selfish he is being. I don’t care what he says. Do you hear me? I’m cutting my hair and you will just have to deal with it!”, she shouted at the bathroom door as she threw bubbles everywhere.

The morning finally arrived. She should be excited about her milestone birthday, the BIG 4-0. She didn’t have any plans to celebrate it, though. All last week, her girlfriends repeatedly called and texted her to let her know they were treating her to a day of shopping, then grabbing dinner and finally, going out to a concert. She told them she wasn’t feeling well – in theory, she wasn’t really lying. None of them knew what she was dealing with. All they knew was that she has the best weaves and wigs money could buy, but they didn’t know why she paid so much for them.

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My wife a few months before she cut her hair completely bald.

She is so disconnected from this day, that she haphazardly gets dressed in her favorite sweatpants and a baggie t-shirt, grabs a bowl of chocolate cookie-dough ice cream and lies on the couch to catch up on Netflix. She is seemingly numb to her surroundings and wonders if she should have just stayed in bed today.

She sees her husband excitedly walk into the family room with his keys in his hand. She rolls over on her side to give the appearance that she dozed off. “Hey babe”, he says, as he walks closer to her to plop down next to her. “Let’s go get breakfast at your favorite spot to start off your birthday”.

She lets out a defeated sigh, rolls her eyes and reluctantly agrees. She is just not in the mood to explain why she really doesn’t want to go. She is not even remotely in the mood to celebrate her birthday. Despite her husband’s attempts to pump her up and get her thoughts on the idea of going out the house today, she could care less. The only thing she wants; he would never approve of.

After much begging from her husband, she acquiesces and goes upstairs to get dressed. She stands in the mirror and runs her fingers through what is left of her hair. Out of her drawer, she grabs a beautiful head-wrap she received from her best friend for her birthday. While standing in her closet and looking in the mirror, she feels the flood of tears fall as she ties it to cover her bald spots. She whispers to herself, “Next week, I won’t have to do this. I’m going to the barbershop on Monday.”

As they drive to the restaurant her husband tries to make small talk. She pretends to be interested and says the occasional, ‘uh huh and really?’. Feeling depressed, she presses her cheek to the cold passenger window and stares out. She finds herself engrossed in watching birds fly effortlessly up in the clouds. Her mind slowly drifts to thoughts of freedom from the world’s perception of beauty.

She didn’t notice the car slowing down and coming to a complete stop. She quickly snaps out of her trance of solitude to notice they are at his barber shop. She immediately freaks out and starts yelling at him. “Really? Are you really going to get a haircut right before my birthday breakfast? This is the most insensitive thing you could have ever done to me. You know this could have waited until another day. Thank you for officially ruining my 40th birthday! I will never forgive you!” She slams the door and starts walking away. She didn’t care where she went, she just knew she had to get away from him.

Her husband gets out of the car and runs to her. When he finally catches up to her, he is out of breath. She’s puzzled because sees that he has tears in his eyes. Then she sees he has a big smile on his face. He grabs her, holds her tight, kisses her on her forehead and says, ” No, baby. We are here for you. Happy Birthday!” In the middle of the parking lot, she finds herself standing there in shock. Her brain tries to process what he just said. Her tears begin to flow. He softly kisses her on her lips and gently grabs her hand. As they walk toward the barber shop door, he says, “I love more than anything and I want you to be free”.

The why behind She Wants to Be Free

My wife was diagnosed with Alopecia in 2010. She had locs that were in the center of her back but each day another one fell out. She went to the doctor to see if it was due to stress. She told me that the doctor said she she had alopecia and that she would be receiving shots, taking pills and undergoing numerous tests. She said did not want to do any of that and I immediately told her I had her back no matter what. When she decided to cut the remaining hair off, she said,“let’s go to the barbershop”. My reply was, “If this will make you happy, let’s go.” I knew it was a painful decision, so I was right there with her every step of way. She needed my support. To be honest, I did not have any insecurities because I knew in my heart that it was just hair.  img_0066

Unfortunately, many men don’t see the women in their lives from the lens of compassion. Because of this, so many women suffer with hair-loss in silence. I’ve heard their stories, I’ve seen them cry.

I wrote She Wants to Be Free to help men embrace their wives’ or girlfriends’ decision to cut their hair and be free of drugs and wigs. I wrote this piece because I want to encourage women to have the courage to have a real conversation with the men in their lives. I wrote this piece because I want YOU to BE FREE.

 

 

She Wants to Be Free: Part II

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“Will he let me go?” she thinks to herself. The last obstacle to beginning her transformation is her husband. She rehearsed all day what she would say to him when he got home. She knew her husband loved her. All she could think about was how he used to compliment her on how lovely her long hair used to be and how he liked the way she styled it. She remembered how he would never want the stylist to take too much off when she would get it trimmed. The thought of telling him she is getting way more than a trim at the barber shop, has her imagining him going into cardiac arrest.

Feeling some anxiety, she begins to have second thoughts and starts to think, “Well, maybe a wig is not that bad after all”. Then she comes to herself, free means totally free. Operation Haircut is back in motion. It’s five o’clock. She hears his keys rattling in the door. It’s her husband coming in from work.

She takes a deep breath and walks to greet him at the door. After the usual peck on the lips followed by, “how was your day?” her husband prepares to unwind for the weekend. She says to him, “Honey, we need to talk”. She proceeds to talk about her alopecia.

The WIGS!

The SHOTS!

The MEDICATIONS for hair growth!

The WHAT IFs?

The WHAT NOTs?

LIVER TESTS!

KIDNEY SCREENINGS!

It was all overwhelming for him to hear it. Imagine how overwhelming it is for her to experience it.

Her moment of truth finally arrives. She strategizes how to share her escape plan with her husband, all the way down to making the appointment with the barber. She says one last silent prayer. Like a sports car that goes from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds, she blurts out, “Honey, I want to cut my remaining hair off and wear it bald.”

Feeling a sense of relief that she was able to get it all out, all that she is waiting for is her husband’s blessing. He immediately falls into the supportive husband role. However, it is not in the direction she had hoped for. He tells her, “Babe, its okay. I love how you look in the wigs. With the shots and medications, you just have to give it time. I’m sure they will work at some point. The doctors have you take the test just as precaution. I don’t really think there is any risk. If there was, why would they give you the shots?”

Just as he was about to continue with his, “Girl, I got your back” speech, she cuts him off. “I appreciate you encouraging me through all of that but the truth is, I don’t want to put on another wig or take another series of shots or get my blood drawn again for anything related to hair. I am comfortable and confident with my decision to cut my hair off. I’M READY.”

Silence falls over them like a blanket. He slowly lifts his head and looks her in the eyes. With a pained look on his face, he gently replies, “I’m not”.

 

Visit my blog, next week, for part III.

She Wants to Be Free

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She wants to be free of taking pills. She wants to be free of receiving shots that only God knows what is really doing to her body. She wants to be free of the vain imaginations that run through her mind of ‘what people would say?’ if they knew what she was really hiding. She wants to be free of the hot wigs and gels.

Why does she do this to herself day in and day out??? One word: HAIR. You see, she has alopecia, an autoimmune disease, where her body’s immune system mistakenly attacks her hair follicles. In laymen’s term, she is allergic to her hair and is losing or has lost her hair. She is BALD.

For years, she, like many other women, viewed her hair as part of her identity. She believed that her hair made her attractive and gave her a youthful look. She struggled with her identity as a woman because of her lack of hair. After finally coming to grips with the fact that she is more than just her hair, she met with other women who had accepted the fact that with alopecia – it is what is it. They decided that they would not let it define them as women. Alopecia would no longer make them run and hide.

With this new found confidence, she made the decision to truly be free. She sets an appointment to get what little hair she had left cut off. She is determined to embrace her new journey with poise and grace. When she gets off the phone with the barber, she is smiling deep within her soul. She is confident that the barber will complete what she feels will be her much needed butterfly transition, thus freeing her.

However, a few seconds later, she pauses in her tracks. Panic grips her and she begins to gasp for air.  In all her excitement, she realizes one thing she didn’t consider. Will HE free her?

 Visit my blog, next week, for part 2.

To learn more about making your hair/life transition, you must pick up a copy of Butterfly Transition by author Diana R. Ramsey. I can personally say, this book touched my wife, who is bald.

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Butterfly Transition, Diana R. Ramsey