Surviving The Holidays While Grieving

Let me first start this off by saying this will be the first holiday season in years that I have had to deal with a significant amount of grief.
Secondly please know that I am not a licensed professional and the piece you are about to read are my personal thoughts and suggestions.

According to Webster’s dictionary grief is defined by “deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement.” “A cause of such suffering” but for me grief is defined by this overwhelming wave that often leaves me feeling like I can not breathe and that the grief itself will be the thing that takes me out.

I have learned throughout this journey that grief is truly a journey all by itself, there is no manual, estimated timeframe for recovery or a roadmap. Grief is YOUR journey, YOUR road to healing, YOUR way of processing. Grief comes in stages and phases and we will all get to a place of acceptance one way or the other.

I know that holidays can be a joyous time but for some it can also be a reminder of the loved ones who are not present at the dinner table this year or the loved ones whose laughter you may never hear again. So, with that being said I want to give you a few tips to help navigate those waves of grief, sadness and fear.

Tip #1: Acknowledge your feelings

For me I found that taking a moment to be present in my feelings during times of grief has been very beneficial. I am wired a bit differently than other people and my moments of grief tend to creep up after I have completed my “to do list” or went about my daily routine. In other words I am great at putting on a show for the public (masking my true feelings or sadness) and carrying on as if I’m okay. In reality it can be very damaging to not only you but in your grief process. When you take the time to acknowledge your feelings you are being TRUE to yourself, you are essentially almost reprogramming your brain and body and giving yourself permission to release, breathe and refocus. (Again this is my personal feeling)

Tip #2: Remove yourself if needed

If you feel the waves of grief taking over its okay to take a minute for yourself, I have taken plenty of moments to excuse myself from conversations, rooms or moments of sadness to refocus. Again this ties into tip number one, give yourself permission to feel everything you need to in that moment. Gathering with family and friends after a tragedy for some can bring back so many memories that you aren’t prepared to deal with and if you are anything like me showing pain, crying (like ugly crying, the type that gives you an instant headache) is not a moment you feel like sharing with a bunch of people but that doesn’t mean that you are exempt from those feelings. EMBRACE IT and know that the people around you will understand and you will feel better.

Tip #3: Remember the good times

If you can take that a few minutes of your day and discuss the good times, laughter or memories with someone you trust. I found that remembering their smiles, their laughs, the smell of their perfume or cologne (yes! I can recall some very vivid memories!) is very therapeutic for me. Oftentimes, you may not even be able to say their names or think of them for too long without feeling the waves of grief and know that its okay. You will be okay!

Tip #4: Say No!

If a family or friend gathering during a holiday season seems like something you can’t do just yet then just say no! I am learning that it is okay to protect your mental and emotional space and sometimes removal is necessary.

Like I stated before everyone’s grief journey is different and everyone copes in their own way. It’s our job to not only support those who are hurting but to also be respectful of their wishes and desires.

My Prayer for You:

I am praying that God gives you strength to endure and peace to know that he knows whats best. I am asking that God gives you a second wind and that once this season is over you can look back and see the strength you had/have. Know that God is right there with you, holding your hand and covering you every step of the way. I am asking that he surrounds you with a great group of supportive, caring and loving people who are not only willing to help but willing to carry you if needed.
Know that you are loved and you are not alone. YOU GOT THIS!!!

Wedding Planning 101

So you are engaged or you know someone who is engaged and wants you to be apart of their big day or they may need some advice. Well have no fear I will help you navigate through this next chapter in your life.

My engagement was very short and that’s because I knew what I wanted although I didn't know where I wanted to get married. My husband and I decided to get married in Lynchburg,VA which was were I spent majority of my childhood, its home for most of my family and where my father pastors.

During the engagement process I found that having a solid team on the ground and working with you is essential, you have to ensure that the people working with and for you see YOUR vision. I’ve always wanted an intimate, family oriented wedding meaning no bridesmaids or groomsmen for us. AND HONEYYYYYY that was thee best decision I could've made. My husband and I were able to focus on the tasks that needed to be completed and ensuring that everything lined up with our end goal.

We both reside in Raleigh, NC so we had more phone conferences with the venues and wedding coordinator and a few in person meetings with the florist. Of course the wedding day is all about the bride so ladies please, please, please do not be offended when your fiancee takes a backseat and lets you handle 90% of the decision making. I learned the hard way, I used to get so frustrated when I would call my husband and just ramble on about wedding stuff and he simply wanted to ask me about my day. Looking back on everything if I would’ve been a bit more attentive I would’ve known that whatever made me happy on that day would ultimately bring a smile to his face.

Now he did have some ideas and opinions about things and ladies that is the time that you pull out your notebook, phone, wedding planning binder and a pen and get to writing. Pay close attention to the desires of his heart and even if you don’t see it lining up with what you want right then and there remember he is also getting married on that day.

Alright, Im done rambling so here area few tips on how to survive wedding planning.

Tip #1:Bridal Party Do’s and Dont’s

If you decide to have a bridal party ensure that you pick people who have been truly supportive of your journey with your future spouse. Ensure that each person truly wants the best for you and for your union. Remember that everyone will have an opinion but just know that this is your wedding. When picking out tuxedos/ bridesmaid dresses be mindful of the financial obligations your bridal party may have outside of your wedding requests or requirements. Do pick a tuxedo/bridesmaids dress that will compliment you NOT overshadow you. The bridal party is the accent to the beautiful masterpiece (my personal opinion). Do keep in mind the different body types of your bridesmaids and give them a guideline on your specific requests such as no cleavage showing, floor length vs knee length, jewelry pieces etc. Do not allow the titles “Maid of Honor” or “Matron of Honor” get everyone swept up in the does she love me more or less competition. (Believe it or not that does exist)
Do not get upset or agitated if another side of a person comes out during your wedding planning, weddings truly bring out a completely different side of people in general. Have a plan, keep communication lines open and do NOT allow a bridesmaid to bash another person in your bridal party.

Tip #2: Wedding Coordinator/Day of Coordinator and Bridal Attendant

Now listen closely, you will and I repeat you will need a bridal attendant and either a wedding coordinator or a day of coordinator. On your wedding day there are a lot of moving pieces and emotions and you need someone there who will not only keep you on schedule but also ensure that the vendors and venue is set up to your satisfaction. As I stated earlier having people on your team who are knowledgable, patient and see your vision will help your wedding planning process. We were so blessed to have an amazing team in Virginia who took the time to answer any questions I had and even making sure I wasn’t melting during our photoshoot. I was very specific on a few things and both of them were truly angels and I am forever grateful for their time and the sacrifice they made for us.

Tip #3: Guest Lists (Open Invitation wedding and reception vs Private Reception)

Now when my husband I first started planning our wedding we wanted to have a max of 80 people in attendance but we quickly realized that it was best to have an open invitation wedding and a private reception. We wanted everyone to be able to see and enjoy our wedding but we had a budget for our reception and feeding a lot of people is expensive. If you decide to have a private reception ensure that everyone on the guest lists once again truly supports your union and want the best for you and your future spouse. When it comes to the guest lists stick to your guns, if you say no then thats it. Again weddings bring out a different side of people and opinions are just that, opinions.
Now if you have a venue that holds 150 you may invite 150 and only 100 show up and guess what THATS OKAY! Your catering team and wedding coordinator will make the necessary adjustments.

Tip #4: Pre-martial Counseling (optional for some couples but not for us)

We started premarital counseling fairly soon after we got engaged, we wanted to establish a sure foundation and discuss things that may not have come up in our everyday conversations. Now some couples feel as though there isn’t a need for it and thats okay but we truly enjoyed our sessions and learned a lot. Some topics we discussed were effective communication, problem solving, future family plans and finances. We were counseled by an amazing pastor and first lady who were referred to us by my father in law. Pre-martial counseling (in my opinion) gave us the biblical tools needed to endure the spiritual and natural attacks our marriage could face.
Marriage is truly a gift from God and I have enjoyed every minute of it but we were not naive to the attack from the enemy and the ever changing views/ideals of this world. We wanted the tools to succeed before we even prepared for the battle. Now there were some really deep conversations that we had in each session and it was a safe space to discuss any fears, worries or insecurities. I learned that that same feeling of safety, acceptance and honesty I felt there was the same environment I wanted for my home. We both desired to have a peaceful household, one where we can come home and lay it all out on the floor if necessary. Premarital counseling gave me the opportunity to create a level of intimacy so that when I was feeling raw or vulnerable I knew that my husband would not only be attentive but willing to open up and share with me as well.
All in all do not base your decision on seeking spiritual guidance on others opinions, this is a decision that you both have to make together.

Tip #5: Honoring the loved ones who are no longer with you

Now this is a very touchy topic for me, I endured a ton of heartache and loss this year and I really wanted to honor each family member (one both sides of our family) without bringing the mood down.   I wanted to honor each loved one for the love, light and lessons they taught us and I had this amazing idea!!!
After talking it over with my husband we decided that our grandmothers would carry a single white rose to represent their deceased spouse and anyone else that may have passed away. There was something so touching about our matriarchs leading the way as they both have done in our lives growing up.
Know that however you chose to honor your loved one is your choice and your choice alone. Either way take comfort in the fact that they are in a better place and are smiling down from heaven.

Tip #6: Do not stress out!!

I know it’s easier said than done but stressing out isn’t helpful. Your wedding day will be everything you planned for and more if you just breathe. Know that everyone you have chosen to help oversee, participate and celebrate with has your best interest at heart.

Tip #7: Turn your phone off and enjoy your wedding night

Simply put, enjoy those first official moments alone as a married couple! Social media can wait!!! And anybody who needs to get in touch with you will know how to reach you if there is a TRUE emergency.

2019 Q&A

Its time for another Q&A, first let me start off by saying welcome! If you are new here thank you for taking the time to read my latest post, for those who have been around for a minute I appreciate you and love the fact that you have stuck around.

As the holidays are approaching and the year is coming to a close I wanted to answer a few questions and give you a few life updates.

  1. Where do you live?

    I currently reside FULL TIME in Raleigh, NC with my amazing husband. I have been living in Raleigh full time for almost six months I am enjoying getting back into the routine of regular life. Yes, the normal routine of going to work everyday and coming home everyday excites me.

2. What tv shows are you currently watching?

Well chillleeee I am so behind on tv shows but I will share what I have been watching.

  • The Oval
  • Sistas
  • Black Love
  • Ready to Love
  • Dublin Murders
  • Power
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • How to Get Away With Murder
  • The Office
  • Atypical
  • The Crown
  • Love and Marriage Huntsville (the drama... the drama.... whewww)
3. What albums or artists are you listening to?

As usual its been a great year for music and my ears are pleased!

  • Refiner by Maverick City Music
  • Take the World by JOHNYSWIM
  • Bless Jesus by Dontezz Foster
  • More Than Enough by Dontezz Foster
  • All in His Plan by PJ Morton
  • Freedom ft Kim Walker-Smith by Jesus Culture
  • Your Words by Tori Kelly
  • Hear Us From Heaven (Album) by All Nations Worship Assembly
  • Yearning for your love by PJ Morton
  • Triggered by Jhene' Aiko
  • HOMECOMING (the album) by Beyonce'
  • Settle Here by William Murphy
  • Abba by Leon Timbo and Northern Lights United
  • Say So ft JoJo by PJ Morton
  • Gumbo Unplugged (album) by PJ Morton
  • First Began by PJ Morton (My Wedding Song!!! *insert all the tears and nonstop smiles*)
4. What have you learned in 2019? (brace yourself...)

  • To simply put life is precious and we are here to accomplish and fulfill the destiny God has for us. There is no way to add any extra time to this thing called life, when God calls your name its time to go (That has truly been the hardest thing to wrap my head around). 
  • I learned that marriage is a gift, and if you are blessed enough to find or be with someone who cares for you in the way Christ does FIGHT FOR IT! Marriage is work but babyyyyy it's worth it especially if you make the decision to stand with this person through life (every valley and every mountain).
  • When you are hurt or going through be honest, tell someone, seek help if needed.
  • There is no timer on grief, its a process. Ride the waves of grief, let it out! (Currently learning how to navigate extreme, overwhelming and sometimes breathtaking waves of grief)
  • Some people don't deserve a seat at the table so don't invite everyone, some stuff you have to just work out with the LORD and a therapist. 
  • Your mental health is just as important if not more than your physical health.

5. Favorite Memory of 2019?

  • Packing my bags and getting on my flight from NY-RDU (New York to Raleigh) it was the most freeing experience of my life (check out my last post "Why I Left the Aviation Industry" if you need some context to the statement above)
  • My proposal was one of the books!!!! My hubby proposed to me on May 8th (my Aunt Debbie's bday) surrounded by our family and friends, when I tell you it was tears..... honeyyyy I cried!!
  • Marrying my husband on July 6th, yes we tied the knot very quickly after he proposed. Listen ladies when you know what you want (in regards to your vision for your wedding) everything will line up. I planned our wedding within a month and it was absolutely breathtaking. 
  • Last but not least the two memories that I think of daily are the last moments I shared with my Aunt Debbie and my Grandma. God knew exactly what I needed although I couldn't see it or understand why. Although those moments are very private and sacred I will share this, I am thankful for every ounce of love I received from both of them. They were truly angels on earth and I am reminded of the wonderful pillars of strength and dignity they were. Both of them are amazing and beautiful. (their spirit lives on within me!)
6. What are you looking forward to in 2020?

I am excited about growing (spiritually and mentally) and building a lasting legacy with my husband. I am looking forward to healing, rest and peace.
I pray that the remainder of this year is nothing but amazing, joyous and exciting for each of you. Take time to love on your family and friends and keep fighting for your dreams!

Life Update #1: Why I left the aviation industry

Photo By: Patrice F.

I know what you are thinking, "Girl you know how many people would love to be a flight attendant?" "Wait? You left?" "Why did you leave?" or my FAVORITE one "Girl...that was the best job ever, you could've retired with amazing benefits"

While all of those statements and questions are absolutely true and warranted to put it simply I wanted more for myself and I needed to truly do what made me happy. I started flying August 4,2015 for a regional carrier based out of Raleigh, NC. I kind of fell into the aviation field by chance at the time I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life (career wise) but I knew I needed financial stability and a change of scenery. I originally wanted to join the military but that quickly changed once I got to MEPS and they started yelling at me. (Yeah, I couldn't do it. haha)
I had a pretty decent job at the time but I wasn't happy so a dear friend of mine suggested that I look into becoming a flight attendant. I did a bit of research and began applying, now mind you I was terrified of flying so exactly how all of that worked out I couldn't tell you. I got hired at this regional carrier and relocated to Raleigh and began to build my new life. I stayed with that carrier for two years I met some amazing people and learned a lot about being on my own and the importance of taking care of myself (emotionally, mentally and physically).

I eventually left that carrier after I was offered another flight attendant job with a bigger airline but this time I was based out of New York! I interviewed with the company in April (2017) and I remember walking back to my hotel room while I was on the phone with my dad and I kept saying, "Dad, I really want this job, I think I got it!" Luckily, for me I did get it and off I went on another but adventure with an amazing support system at home and a loving boyfriend (He's my hubby now!!!!)  I made the decision to commute which meant that I would keep my apartment in Raleigh as my permanent home base and live in New York part time. Now I have always had a special place in my heart for New York and the busyness of the city but honey after living there for two years, I can say it's a great place to visit but I couldn't live there full time. I'm a true southern girl at heart, I need my sweet tea, my car, adequate parking, Wal-Mart I just needed space.

It took a major toll on me commuting back and forth from Raleigh to New York just about every week. Luckily my family and friends were always encouraging me but to be honest depression creeped in. At one point I was ready to pack up my whole life and move back home to Virginia and live with my dad until I figured it out. Now mind you this is what I wanted, I prayed for this job I put in the work, I sacrificed holidays, family events and my time for this job. I gave up a lot and God gave me exactly what I asked for.

The reality is, I was unhappy before I got the job and apart of me felt like getting the job would make me happy. The first year and a half that I spent in New York was truly the most uncomfortable, unnerving, unhappiest time in my life. There are truly no words to describe the spiritual and emotional attack I was experiencing, it affected me in more ways than I even knew. BUT God never let me fall, I never went without, he always made a way and through it all I learned some valuable lessons.

Being a flight attendant can be very lonely, there are often times when you are just sitting and waiting on the next assignment. I can not even begin to tell you how many Netflix shows I had binged watched, and how many times I just picked up the phone to call my family just so I could have someone to talk to. My commute kept getting harder as the months and years started to go by, I was experiencing homesickness and anxiety about flying back to New York. Often times I would stay cooped up in my apartment for days just waiting on a flight assignment (trip) I didn't have a desire to explore the city or do anything fun because I was paying two rents, buying groceries for two places and just trying take care of myself.

Although I had amazing roommates nothing and I mean absolutely nothing was helping. I started applying for jobs back in Raleigh pretty soon after I got to New York and nothing seemed to work out. I figured that God had me in New York and at that company for a reason so I just decided to wait. As I said before I wanted this job, I prayed for this and in my heart I was wondering did I move too fast? Did I make the right decision? Why did I do this to myself? I was failing to realize the blessing in all of it. I was growing emotionally, I was constantly stepping out of my comfort zone, I was being stretched and most importantly I was given a chance to meet amazing people and experience things I had only dreamed of.

In the beginning of June (2019) after a difficult start to the year (more on that later) I told my roommates that I was leaving. I received a mixture of responses and to be honest at that point I figured it doesn't matter if anybody is happy for me I am finally doing what's best for me! I had to come to terms that although I am leaving the industry my struggle wasn't or isn't always something that others can relate to. My reasons for leaving were probably something that others could get through and I made it perfectly clear that I wanted to do this for me, my family and for the life I wanted to have going forward.

I am so thankful for the four years I spent hearing the stories of my passengers, comforting mothers who are going to bury their children, holding babies who refuse to sit down, giving mini tours to the toddlers who want to touch everything in the galley. Petting every dog that came onboard, attending to medical emergencies, having heart to heart conversations with my coworkers on a red eye flights, trying to desperately fight for holidays off and every sunset and sunrise at 35,000 ft. I do not regret leaving the industry without my time there I wouldn't have realized my true strength.

To my fellow flight attendants continue to fight for your dreams and enjoy every moment.

Life Lessons: Chapter 29

It gives me great pleasure to share with you my annual life lessons reflection piece. 
Chapter 28 was filled with amazing lessons, peaks and valleys. No matter what came my way I am so thankful God carried me through.

  • Listen with the intent to understand 
  • Nothing is handed to you
  • Being consistent speaks volumes 
  • You can not do & be everything for everybody 
  • Silence is golden 
  • You may not accomplish every goal you have set but keep trying 
  • Do not lower your standards for anybody 
  • Never give up 
  • It’s YOUR dream, it’s okay if others don’t see it the way you do
  • Chart your own course in life
  • People can change 
  • “When its meant to be it happens gracefully, there’s no force.” -Unknown
  • Never force someone to be something they are not
  • You will be let down by others
  • Forgiveness comes from within
  • Its okay to FEEL everything in the moment 
  • Your plan will not always work out & that’s ok 
  • You can start over
  • Guilt & shame has NO POWER over you 
  • Freedom feels good
  • Make an effort to do the work 
  • Healing starts within 
  • Laziness gets you nowhere 
  • In everything you do ensure you did your absolute best
  • Comfortability can stop you from progressing
  • God only made one YOU and no one else can bring what you bring to the table
  • When you show up ensure you walk with authority -James C. (dad)
  • Life is precious, enjoy every moment 
  • “It’s the small things” -Aunt Debbie