You ever watch Ted Talks? There is this one guy I cannot get out of my mind.  His name is Tim Urban, and he held a Ted Talk that was entitled “Inside the Mind of a Procrastinator”. I identify with being a procrastinator so my curiosity was peeked. What can he possibly tell me about me that I don’t already know? Watching with a fixed look of criticism, my face began to soften when I heard points that I simply could not deny. But what got me, was when he brought up a calendar of a 90 year life that was fragmented in weeks. Ya’ll. It was NOT that long. And 90 years is definitely not the life expectancy. Sooo after about 14 mintues, he wrapped up his Ted Talk by stating he was convinced that we are ALL procrastinating something and a lot of those boxes (fragmented weeks on the 90 year calendar) are already marked…so what are we… you going to do now?

Messy Rooms

Talk about conviction. But just in case you’re not convinced yet about being in this procrastination cycle, here’s a scenario

The hamper is full of clean clothes that I have yet to put away… Hmm throwing my work clothes on this chair won’t hurt. I’ll be sure to remove it before I go to sleep tonight AND put the clean clothes away…. that I washed yesterday.

Why do we lie to ourselves 🤦🏾‍♀️…

Well the scenario above could have represented your actual room. Or maybe another “room” in your life. Where clothes get stacked up and you become overwhelmed at the mess YOU made. Thankfully, I have come to a place where I see that being transparent about my “rooms” have brought about freedom and healing…and organization. Yea I know…we ALL got some cleaning to do. And it can feel like the world is on your shoulders when you get to it. So if you’re anything like me you view the mess, take a few seconds to breathe, then walk out the room and do an activity you enjoy.

Wait…were you expecting something else? That’s why I tell people all of the time to not let Facebook posts, smiling pictures, or none of that fool you. I got a bad habit of letting things pile up and THEN dealing with it when trash seems to overflow into “another room”. This is reflective in my weight goals, health goals, assignments, cleaning, following up with people, and the list goes on.

Getting to Work

But the part that concerns me the most is when it flows into my spiritual life. The things I mentioned earlier are important, but it is not a simple “let me set aside two hours to clean” task. The scary thing is when spending less and less time with the Lord feels normal.

I am usually quick to responding when the Holy Spirit gives me a task to do. Go pray for Johny Boy. Buy that old guy a sandwich. Give that stranger a ride to his home. But it is a different story when He is calling me out of sin. It is one thing to acknowledge that you are in it, but the process of coming out is…well taxing. Sometimes it feels like it takes all of my being to turn away. (Honestly, it doesn’t have to be this way. My pride and entitlement slows it. A posture of humility is necessary for this.) Thankfully, I am learning more about deliverance and what it truly means and looks like.

If you find yourself in spiritual turmoil, practicing something YOU KNOW ain’t of God, I challenge you to look at that room. Not only clean it, because anyone can do that, but search deeper as to how this pattern happens this way in the first place. Stop YOURSELF in the tracks of destructive behavior. Don’t just get on the phone expecting a pity party or a lie that the sin was small. Because it is not. Don’t go to YouTube or social media to make you feel better about it. The things happening in the spiritual realm are bigger than you can ever imagine. So. Do your future self a favor. Look at one of those rooms. And let’s get to this unfinished business together.

To God be the Glory

Have you ever looked someone in the eyes and… shuttered? Almost as if they were looking into your soul? Goodness, if you haven’t, let me tell you – What a naked and vulnerable feeling. The common, immediate response is to look away. Drop the eye contact. Hide yourself again. Justify the disconnection you just made by running through the files of memories you’re convinced could surely scare anyone away. But maybe it didn’t happen like that for you? Maybe it was in the process of getting to know someone else. Thankfully, this is not an experience solely limited to romantic relationships either. The idea of being fully known can be a scary one. But in this season, the Lord has been challenging me to keep the eye contact and take deep breaths through the uncomfortable shutters.

To

Hey you! You continued reading. This means that you can either relate, are confused but kind of curious or you are probably nosey. Okay I was joking on the last one haha but just know you were supposed to be reading this at the time you were and I am glad you are here.

Now.

How did I get here in the first place

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We all have secrets. We all have a past. And there has been a point in everyone’s lives where something about us has been revealed and not received well at all. In a nutshell, we have all been rejected for something that we have genuinely portrayed. The damage could have been done in social settings, from your parents/caregivers, significant others, the list goes on. This rejection, if not dealt with, can manifest into some really messed up communication patterns and relationships. That’s what happened to me. I became clever at showcasing who I knew for sure would be accepted and only allowed maybe one or two people to see the unfiltered me. (Let us not fall into the trap of having the demeanor of “Everyone doesn’t deserve the real me!”. You owe it to yourself and your calling to be authentically who you are wherever you are. And of course, wisdom in all of your actions)

Wasn’t til about 2016 (the year I gave all of myself to the Lord) that random instances happened where I felt as if someone was getting to know me way better than my comfort level was allowing. I seriously held everyone at arm’s length and wasn’t even aware. Even my community at the time. Yea we definitely prayed for each other and the Holy Spirit would reveal things to those in prayer for me, making me feel exposed and seen, but I limited those experiences to ONLY when someone was in prayer for me.

 Y’all not expecting me to live this way 24/7 are you?? Feeling naked? And seen. And..exposed. Ha. No thanks.  

I mean, biblically, I understood the value in community, but it was not until about two months ago the Lord BLEW my mind as to how necessary community really was/is.

Be

What does it look like to just “be”

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Ready for a quick praise report? So this will definitely be another in depth post, so no worries, but from the month of November to my birth month of February, I set a goal to lose 30 pounds. And I did! Silly me for thinking that that process was just a physical transformation. My weight was/is connected to so much more than my appreciation of sweet treats.

As glorious as this victory was, I was still sitting in bits of shame. I had made a weird verbal commitment to myself to not share about my weight loss until I was about 50 pounds down. I was so scared to let people in my life and in the cyber world know what I used to weigh. I wanted to be as far away from that number as possible. It represented so much shame for me.

This is where the subject of community came back in. I would update people in my community periodically about the weight I was losing every week, but I would never tell them the actual number on the scale. But one of my friends asked me one day what was it holding me back from just expressing the number when the number was obviously changing weekly. “I don’t know, it’s just weird. It’s no one’s business.”

I’m scared that the weight will come back and I will let everyone down

I’m scared that if men really knew how much I weighed, I would be deemed as unattractive/undesirable

I’m scared to admit that I feel as though I have messed up what the Lord meant as fearfully and wonderfully made

Woo. Let’s take a moment. That was a lot. But that was how I felt. The raw and honest truth I did not mutter but felt gnawing at my shield of protection.

But! Crazy thing is…I pressed in and said it. I even told my friend what my starting weight was and I will tell you guys because thankfully I am not bound to the shame of those numbers anymore. I was at my heaviest weight Summer of 2017 at 313 pounds. Like WHET. But I had reached 268 pounds by my birthday in February. (Still working on another goal and my weight is fluctuating, but I’ll keep you guys posted.) After I had revealed my weight, the rejection/disappointment/disgust I was expecting never came.

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Wow God. So this is why community is important. We literally experience your love through others. Your relentless, healing love.

Fully

But…aren’t there risks to being my full self?

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This freedom I got a taste of left me in awe of the Lord. The only thing I would have to exchange would be myself or “bad” parts about myself that I wanted to keep hidden. Talk about a word vomit season. There has not been a time in my life I have been so forthcoming about struggles and lessons I am currently learning. Even while I am typing this blog now. I love to share about what I have already mastered before I present it. But I will tell y’all, this stuff is HARD and I am so lost most days. I still run from the Lord’s love on some days because being in healthy relationship with people is hard and demands a part of yourself that does not have the right to be protected anymore. It’s exhausting some days, but the fruit connected to being fully who you are is so worth it.

I had to let go of the fear of risks that pertain to:

  • Not being perceived as having it all together
  • The judgment of other Christians who opinions I truly value
  • The Lord seeing so much of me that He turns away (Psalms 139- He will never stop chasing you and you can never leave His presence)

There are probably more that just did not cross my mind in this moment of time, but these are definitely the big ones.

Known

Once you’re known, freedom is available to you

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In some of my current classes, we have discussed when taking a look at the Bible one can conclude that knowledge is just about synonymous with love. You can find this terminology all up in 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 8:3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…), and I can go on but I hope you are getting the picture. But this deep love that is spoken for is usually always tied to behavior, acts of love, and other signs that a deep relationship is present. And since I have stepped into this realm of freedom, I can testify that there is so much freedom tied to a relationship where you can be authentically you and loved and the same time. That understanding gave me such a different perspective for so many other things surrounding me. It made sense to me why it seemed that people close to me stayed in toxic relationships. Though toxic, usually the other person in the relationship knew them, flaws and all. I will admit that taking a risk to let that tangible relationship go if you have never felt that before is beyond scary. There’s this unspoken security with full knowledge, so it’s understandable. But that relationship cannot be at the price of your peace, by no means.

If you get nothing else from this, understand this and understand it quickly: MAN will fail you. The only perfect form you find of this love is having a relationship with Jesus. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, that’s really what’s happening everyday as we form these empty connections to address deeper issues. The loud voice telling you that you won’t even be good enough for that kind of love, SILENCE him now. Jesus pursues us without even having the expectation to be loved back the same or at all. Wouldn’t tell you this stuff if I haven’t tried it myself.

Yesterday, someone squinted their eyes and told me, “Ashley, you look cleansed.” I laughed. Then I said, “Yea, I’m free.” Believe the hype. It’s available to you too.

To God be the Glory

***What about you? Have you ever experienced being fully known?

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Poem dedicated to underlying fears of rejection

Impatience is my best attribute in situations like this

Lazer stares at slow drivers

I’m disconnected from the feeling of the steering wheel underneath my fingers

Or the sound of the muffled engine

Matching the pace of my tapping index appendage

Back straight to not miss the changing light

…That doesn’t seem to happen quick enough

But

When it’s not me in control of the destination

Everything is different

I am no longer a driver trying to beat the time

I am a passenger trying to savor the seconds of my beloved

Trying to casually be as close as possible

In these situations, appreciation is my best attribute

The once glare is a subtle shy grin that only represents about 10 percent of what I feel

I think, “how sweet. Something intentionally put in place to stop time with you.”

I want more time with you

But the prideful sphere of my existence won’t allow me to speak.

The muffler is my mouthpiece projecting scrambled thoughts of anxiety and fear

Of ruining this moment

Too scared to ruin the peaceful silence

So I stare at the red light, thankful, for giving us something I’m too nervous to ask for

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“Located on your left and right are EXIT signs illuminated in case of an emergency. When it is time to exit, please do swiftly and promptly.”

Not sure about you guys, but escape plans are comforting to me. To know I can escape when danger is imminent, near, approaching. Nothing is better for my over thoughtful and overly imaginative mind.

But unfortunately, there are no illuminated EXIT signs in everyday life interactions. Such as social situations that serve as a recipe for anxiety.

For those who are familiar with me may be a little surprised at that last statement. Ashley? Anxious? In social situations????? A social butterfly being anxious in social situations is a paradox.

Hello. My name is paradox. How are you?

I LOVE PEOPLE. AND CONTROL.

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I try not to be super repetitive in my posts, but for new readers (hey y’allll), I like to give a little background for context.

I’m a performer. Lover of the arts. Danced and acted in front of large crowds. Have given several speeches as well. In these situations, I am in control of how someone is viewing me. I can speak in a way that can manipulate specific emotions and so forth. I can sense what people want from me and can CHOOSE to give them that or not.

But in social situations where everything is pretty organic, it’s sometimes a hit or miss.

Okay let me be more clear.

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I graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. A predominantly white institution. So the black community became pretty familiar with each other pretty quickly. But whenever there were social events mainly just for us, such as a party, set, and especially a cookout, I felt consumed with anxiety. I never felt like I fit the mode. I was always self conscious about my weight, my hair, if so and so thought I looked attractive, if I should speak to x even though we’re not that cool but I don’t want them to think I’m “acting funny”. Stupid right? I wasn’t that comfortable with myself in the beginning. I thought I sucked at talking to boys. I felt really awkward and disconnected.

Basically

When my role is undefined in a social setting, I am anxious. Allowing people to think what they want without me providing a shield of defense, i.e. role, is pretty difficult for me.

But put me on a stage in front a crowd. And you would never know.

I HATE SMALL TALK

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Man. Small talk is something I honestly dread. But it is INDEED necessary. Lots of times, I just want to jump to the part of knowing someone’s insides and ways. Yes, patience is a virtue I am still trying to master.

Those who have met me would regard me as a pretty energetic and bubbly person. I love laughing and making friends. But there is a certain type of exhaustion that takes place when I have to pretend as though I am interested in something that I do not care for whatsoever. I just don’t like the part of the standard questions. How many siblings do you have? Where are you from? Get out of here, blue is my favorite color too! 

Again, I am in a position of allowing people to evaluate me without an established defense. First impressions about me are funny to hear about as time goes on, but the initial time of it happening makes me well….a little anxious if you have not guessed the pattern yet.

AFFECTIONATELY AWKWARD

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Control is the difficult part here as well. I enjoy love, like the next person. But in regards to showing it….Where is my EXIT sign!!??? I want to control when and how it is happening and that’s just…well….not how it works.

It is a very difficult process for me. The fear of rejection has been a huge part of my life, and it has been a process to uproot the spirit of fear out of my life. Deep down, it kills me to think people close to me would reject my love. So I choose not to really dig into that side of my life much.

*BTW. I’m being very honest in this post. And this fact makes me anxious haha*

I feel unsure in affectionate situations. I have been conditioned to believe I didn’t know how to “do it right”. Yea pray for me saints, I am a work in progress.

SO. HAVE YOU PRAYED ABOUT IT?

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Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Want to know something funny? But not really funny? I recently found out in my prayer life, while I was praying about my anxiety, that I unfortunately go before my Holy Father in anxiety as well. I try to push everything together quickly, and think of all the humans I have come in contact with to tell the Lord to protect them, and even more irrational anxious manners. I couldn’t believe it when the Holy Spirit revealed it to me. I rack my brain up with a list of things to tell God as if I am running out of time.

As if I only have a time limit with the Lord before He gets annoyed with me.

It crushed me to realize this.

Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants nothing more but to spend time with us.

I was angry to realize I had been putting the Lord in a category of regular humans who had rejected me.

In that prayer I just felt Him saying, “Slow Down. I’m Listening”.

I felt like a little girl who had scraped her knee, soon to get in trouble, so her only response was to quickly explain everything that that lead up to the injury.

But what kind of sense does that make? Would you punish your child for scraping her knee? The irrational fear of being pushed away for something I can’t control is something not only I struggle with, but several people I know and don’t know have bouts with it too. It almost makes me cringe to meet people with the same destructive habits as myself.

It’s hard to honestly believe at times, but God really does care about our anxious moments and the times we feel alone and the times we feel misplaced. I’m still trying to get it right myself, but be encouraged! God has placed His hand over me so many times with peace I couldn’t even understand. And it didn’t happen until I took the step to call out to Him. Allowing Him to love me through my fear ❤️

To God be the Glory

Raise your hand if you’re from the South.

Raise your hand if you grew up going to church more than once a week.

Raise your hand if the main concept  you held onto was to avoid hell at all costs.

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Here we go. The awkward stuff. Haha. But trust me. It won’t get too deep. This post is dedicated to the in betweeners/walk the liners/the juuusssstttttt enoughers. Basically, tight roping the line of sin. I used to be that way. Honestly, when I find myself not praying and reading regularly, I end up back in that area. I am just thankful that now I am able to snap back with the HELP of the Holy Spirit, and not in my own doing.

MY INTERPRETATION OF A GOOD CHRISTIAN

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DON’T SIN.

DAS IT.

And when I say sin, I mean don’t have sex and get pregnant. That was the big one. The unredeemable sin. I felt like I was doing great if I was making all A’s and avoiding boys. I hit the mark. The Lord will definitely honor my sacrifice right?

EHH. A LITTLE SIN WON’T HURT

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But just like any other sin, it became difficult to just avoid. Especially if it’s just sitting in your face taunting you.

So I indulged in other things that I felt wouldn’t condemn me forever you know?

The “typical Christian college student” things.

Get drunk. Party. Get high a few times. The experimental piercings. And push the line of sex. Meaning, be all kinds of sexually immoral without intercourse.

I was at the point of where I wanted to be dedicated to the Lord but I wanted to “live the college life” too. So I did everything that satisfied my flesh. I would hear of my friends’ wild adventures and feel torn. How can I stay that “church girl” and have fun?

That question. That thought. It is what keeps many younger people from fully giving themselves to the Lord. It is what kept me from fully giving myself away.

FOMO- FEAR OF MISSING OUT

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After a while, the parties got old. I hated getting to the point of a “situationship” with a guy and knew the topic of sex would come up and I would have to end it. It was weird that the only way I could enjoy these social events, I had to be under the influence. I knew that I would have to exchange things for temporary happiness, and I got tired of it.

I thought that giving my life to Christ meant saying good bye to all of what I knew and made me kinda happy. I didn’t know what was on the other side, so I was scared. There were plenty of older people who seemed “fake happy” in the church and I thought that’s what I was signing up for. I knew it was the good thing to do, but I didn’t want to be sad doing it. I didn’t want to get in the swing of traditional Christian lifestyle then end up coming out of it because I wasn’t happy or fulfilled. I especially didn’t want my decision to essentially flip flop affect those watching me. I was just…lost and confused.

So.

I leaped. And I was scared out of my mind.

THE UNPOPULAR DECISION

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Some people thought I was radical. Some people applauded me for my “bravery”. Some people thought I was unreasonable and close minded. My family thought I was going to be a nun.

Despite what everyone thought

That leap was the scariest and most beautiful jump in my life. I gave Him all of me and honestly saw things with new eyes. It felt like I breathed new air. Jesus offered me an invitation and I took it.

No more straddling the fence. No more “well, this sin isn’t that bad”. Or “He knows my heart”. I was all in. And my life has been forever changed.

Now some can read this and argue what the Lord says biblically about certain acts or if something is sin or not. I’m not here to condemn or judge. I only changed with the intimacy of my relationship with Jesus. We can argue the Bible all day (which should not be done). But there are certain things that just didn’t feel right after I was changed. And what that meant for me is probably or probably not the same for you.

So if you’ve ever been or are at this point in your life. Just leap. Everything that’s happening to you is not a coincidence or you even reading this is not by a mistake. You will be surprised at how much the Lord wants to reveal to you and you only. Be encouraged. It won’t be the easiest. But it’s all worth it.

 

To God be the Glory

 

 

 

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I have heard some really great stories, read some awesome books, watched some amazing movies. But the plot would not be as engaging without a key ingredient.

Irony. Good ole irony.

And as entertaining as it is to see this term unfold in stories disconnected from us, it doesn’t always have the same amusing effect when it’s in the middle of our lives. Happening in real time. No rewind or redo.

Let’s dig into Google’s definition.

Irony: a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

Couldn’t have said it better myself Google.

Although I am fascinated with super dramatic books, musicals, movies, and plays that contains jaw dropping irony, it was an awfully uncomfortable moment of irony I experienced during my junior year of college. Can’t say that it was all that entertaining.  I was pretty angry. The role I had been playing for 20 years suddenly took an exhaustingly amount of effort to step into. There was no audience. There was no script. Loud Silence. It was simply me and my beliefs staring back at each other with blank expressions.

Junior Year

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By this time, I was pretty secure in my idea of God. The formula was simple. Believe in God. Don’t go to Hell. 

I didn’t have a prayer life, unless I felt guilty about not thanking God or desperately needed something. I only opened my Bible when the pastor said “Turn to…”. There were only two Gospel songs I honestly listened to in my spare time. I thought other Gospel songs were depressing. I went to church on Sundays and occasional Bible Studies. I was a “good” person. Well behaved.

Buuuut something started happening. I began meeting other people of different faiths and meeting people who I felt were EXTREME in Christianity. God also started placing some men in my life who I previously assumed were peculiar, but had a significant presence about them. They became very key in my later transformation. They would make humorous references to the Bible all of the time and seemed so content in life. They were very knowledgable and the amount of knowledge they had about Christianity really intrigued me. I was inspired.

October 2015 came and I started reading the Bible on my own.

Talk about being angry. I started in I Corinthians… don’t ask me why, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe I just opened the Bible and that’s where it landed. I felt like the entire book of Corinthians was condemning, unfortunately.

But I didn’t stop. I read II Corinthians next.

Still Angry.

The God I thought I knew seemed vicious. Unforgiving. Disinterested. Dismissive. Pissy. Quick tempered. And more. Everything I THOUGHT I knew was crumbling. This sucked. A LOT. I was confused.

The Real Irony

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November 2015 came and I was ready to give up the faith. I had been reading the Bible everyday and at a very fast pace. I was covering a lot of ground in the New Testament and a little in the Old. The peculiar guys I mentioned earlier (who are dear close friends now) , I followed them around asking several questions a day to get answers for what used to make perfect sense to me.

But the week when I began to finalize the decision to stop calling myself a Christian and disown that belief system, weird things happened. I was thinking of how the conversation would go with my mom. What my friends would think. Simply trying to prepare myself for the backlash. But then I got angry again. How was it that the choice for me not to follow Christianity would be such a big deal when those who claim to believe in Him would do anything that they wanted anyway? I didn’t get it. I couldn’t tell the difference between His followers and atheists. Thinking of future responses to my decision, of course there would be some who would commend me for my bravery to say that I didn’t believe what majority believed, and then there would be others who barely read their Bibles that would try to preach to me about Hell. I had realized that there were hundreds of people following Christianity out of fear and had no idea what they were signing up for. It annoyed me. It disturbed me. Most of all, I was angry because that WAS me. But ignorance wasn’t bliss for me anymore. I couldn’t accept not knowing.

The Turn Around

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The week of my contemplation, I still had burning questions, but I just gave up on getting them answered. I was going to stop hanging around those new guys I had recently met. I wanted to be alone and start anew. On a mission to be an awesome friend so that my buddy would “accidentally” see her crush, I ran into them unexpectedly. It was an awkward surprise. I wasn’t going to tell them of my decision, and I was honestly afraid to. While waiting on my friend so that we could execute the “run into my crush on accident” plan, they began casually discussing the Bible again. But one of them said something that made me turn my head so fast I could have gotten whip lash. One of them were discussing a presumed account in the Bible of Jesus going to Hell to get some of the people. “What did you say?”. One of the guys began laying out scriptures for me, and I promise it felt like black ice was melting off of my heart. I could not explain it. I went to my room and cried. The next day was when I was going to call my mom and tell my friends. But that night and from then on, God has shown me things people would not even believe if I told them. Months passed, and I was completely transformed internally. It was a weird high that I always cried about. I was sold out for the faith and was all in. I finally understood what I had been missing.

Relationship.

I am still learning of all it really means to be a good servant and I still have to repent from time to time. But there’s no more doubt about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is real. He is love. And He fought for me to know who He really was and what He is all about. I experienced Him for myself and pray you open yourself to experience Him as well.

To God be the Glory

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Disclaimers:

  • This post is not to bash any male or female for their own personal preference in dating.
  • I understand the bias is on both ends of the spectrum, but I will primarily focus on males and their reactions.
  • Also, if you are someone who says, “dating is of the devil, we COURT around these parts”. Listen, just read all of it before you rebuke me, okay? Okay, cool.

Rephrased, this question is asking “Does my visibly larger size make you uncomfortable, disgusted or potentially the least bit ashamed if people were to think we were romantically involved?” Think about it. Does it? And this question can go for guys AND girls. You ARE entitled to feel and believe whatever you feel and believe.

This topic is pretty taboo in some circles, especially when there is a plus size individual present. Hopefully, people are aware that the plus size community is full of healthy love lives and are found attractive outside of what they can do for a person. And big girls/guys are not automatically at a deficit because of their weight. But OF COURSE everyone doesn’t see it that way. So let’s talk about it.

THE QUESTION

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The million dollar question. And we big girls have to ask sometimes, because somewhere in our upbringing, we realized that our size said more about us than just liking food. Somewhere during our timeline, we saw the difference in how smaller girls were treated in comparison to bigger ones. We’re not always interested in being that awesome friend, or someone to talk to when you’re bored, or that secret hangout buddy during odd hours. So as you can see, being upfront about this will save us the hassle of the run around. We really don’t have time for the guessing games, just as our smaller queens don’t either.  I do not want to generalize every plus size queens’ experiences though, but this story is told too often to not be happening to several of them.

And we get it. Some people are usually uncomfortable with questions as forward as these. You are confronting a lot about yourself in answering that question alone. Insecurities, prejudices, privilege, biases, etc.

Hmm let me see, what’s the adage? You’re darned if you do and you’re darned if you don’t.

Some guys could either risk embarrassment from answering honestly or feel trapped in a box if it is public knowledge that this okay for them (what has been gathered from personal conversations and readings). To date big girls. To actually find them attractive. And wait… no….GASP….SEXUALLY attractive!! You…animal!

THE INITIAL SHOCK

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Wait. That guy is attractive. And he’s holding HER hand. My eyes are playing tricks on me.

It’s 2017. And as much as we are trying to submerge ourselves in this all accepting, nondiscriminatory alternate reality, the media, our families and friends have played a big part in what we deem as acceptable and beautiful. We WANT to see a person’s exterior and think to ourselves that their interior is so much more appealing… But does that always happen? NOPE.

Especially the African American community. Or let’s say, my experience with the African American community. We are pros at summing up people by their appearances. We’ve even mastered it in the church. Buttttt that’s ANOTHER post haha.

You know, some men have been really frank with me in confessing their “first time” being attracted to someone of my size. And if you immediately thought “How rude!” yea, there’s a certain level of rudeness and honesty that is actually appreciated. When I really hated who I was, I wore those “compliments” as a badges of honor, as if I were an exception to the plus size standards. Almost like I was straddling the fence of beauty. I should have never felt that proud, and those men should have never felt as bound as they did before coming forth with the confessions. I may not know everything about the laws of attraction, but I do know that rejected people reject people. So these same men have some unpacking to do on their own as well.

THE WORLD’S RESPONSE

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Awwwwww look at them over there! He really loves her for who she is! How sweet!

He oughta be ashamed. I’m sure he’s just using her for sex. Disgusting.

How much do you want to bet that she paying some of his bills?? No way that’s genuine.

Any of this sound familiar?

What I am about to say will sound extreme, but just hear me out. The “dating the big girl” phenomena is almost like coming out of the closet in certain aspects once someone openly admits, verbally or non-verbally, being okay with it.

Mind you, I am 22. So age and maturity played a huge part in my rationale.

People will stare you down. Be surprised if you’re affectionate in public. Some people honestly watch in disgust. They give nicknames to men who prefer plus size women. Chubby Chasers. It’s pretty ridiculous.

BIG GIRLS. YOU WORTH IT GIRL.

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If you identify with being a big girl, plus size queen, chubby princess, or all of the above, you are worth it girl. You are worth the love that an upstanding man has to give. One who is grounded in love for the Lord, his family, and himself. You are worth the wait if you are choosing to abstain from sex until marriage. You are worth the extravagant proposals you see on social media. You are worth being called beautiful everyday. Coming from someone who had to fight for yearssss to realize this, please believe me when I tell you, YOU ARE NOT MISSING OUT ON ANYTHING! Just because someone says they like you doesn’t mean you have to jump at the opportunity, even if the opportunities aren’t as frequent. There is danger in placing your worth in another individual. Man will fail you EVERY TIME. Do not place hope in those things that are perishable. I know this may sound like a lecture/sermon, but I want everyone reading this to know that the love that God has to give you outweighs ANY DROP of love an individual has to give you in this lifetime. He’s not a selfish lover either. God’s love has a way of breaking down walls you didn’t know existed. But, you’ll have to see that for yourself. I’m just the messenger =]

To God be the Glory

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First off, let us take a moment to appreciate our God-given skin, crooked smiles, uneven hairlines, chubby cheeks, tight or big eyes, big or small noses, for some, asymmetrical faces and…well….all of what we are naturally. This is me. Without makeup. Without fake hair. Without the long lashes. Without the fresh cut (haha). And I could have very well placed a filter on this picture or took it from another angle to make my face look slimmer and so forth (come on saints, you know what I am talking about!! lol!), but as I have articulated in the past, I have freedom from the bondage of “needing” something on me to be complete. And if that is NOT how you feel, this may not be the blog post to read yet. No point of decorating an internal mess to mask it from the masses. He sees you. And wants to fix it. BUT if you are here and can attest to makeup simply being an outlet of art for you, WELL KEEP SCROLLING! =]

NOW……WHAT YOU REALLY CAME FOR

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This is a zoomed in picture of my golden child eyebrow, a.k.a my well behaved brow, model child brow, just awesome. It has only been brushed with a spoolie (which is the picture to the right). And if you do not own a spoolie, maybe it is time to rethink your life….LOL joking, but seriously, these are pretty essential.

LET’S GET STARTED!!

DISCLAIMER: STEPS 1 AND 2 ARE COMBINED IN THE 2 PICTURES BELOW

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*Okay, there will be a lot of photos, BUT, I wanted to show actual photos in case you wanted to pull this post up on one of you makeup hauls! Zoom in if need be =] *

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For my eyebrows, I choose to use a MAC eyebrow stencil in the color SPIKED. I feel as though I have more control with this type of eyebrow tool when it comes to darkening and outlining.

With this pencil, you will outline your desired brow shape. You will first go along the lines of your natural brow shape BUT it you’re like me and do not have symmetrical eyebrows, you have to get kind of creative. In the picture below, on your right, that is the eyebrow that I am showcasing above. I have to manipulate my eyebrow that is on your left in order for it to look like the right. So the eyebrow (and you will find this out soon if you haven’t already) that you deem as the more “perfect” brow, outline that one first, and try to mimic on the next. Even if it gets messy, meaning you are filling in parts above your natural eyebrow line to create the desired shape.

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AFTER OUTLINING AND FILLING IN…….

Step 3

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This concealer is heaven sent!! Any concealer that you purchase should be a shade lighter than your actual skin tone. I use the shade COOL TAN. These concealers are sold at several beauty supply stores (and online) with testers to try on the back of your hand. To be very exact with the “cleaning up” and “outlining” of my eyebrows, I use a concealer brush (the brush with the orange tip) and a blending eyeshadow brush (the brush with the brown fluffy tip) to blend the residue of concealer in my skin.

NOW THAT THE EYEBROW IS ON FLEEK…

Step 4

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I PRIME my eyelids with the concealer above and cover it with L.A. Colors setting powder in a shade similar to COOL TAN. This is to make the eyeshadow colors pop more. Dust off the excess powder.

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Now, this section will not be long at all. Eyeshadow is NOT my greatest area soooo I will breeze through this pretty fast haha. This palette is WONDERFUL for many looks and gives you earthtone colors. A tip to get colors to stand out on the creases of your eyes, spray setting spray on a smaller concealer brush then pat brush on desired color and then apply. The brush that comes with the palette is really great for application as well!

EYESHADOW IS COMPLETE! SO NOW…

STEP 5

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MY HOODED EYELID LADIES (I am in that group as well)!!! The wing look is VERY MUCH desired now but you HAVE to be strategic in doing so!! *video tutorial of that coming soon* I use the liquid liner first THEN go underneath on your waterline with the MAC longwear eyeliner crayon in NOIR/BLACK.

How to tell if you have hooded eyelids? Go back to the first picture of my bare eyelid and notice how there seems to skin that doubles and droops over while my eye is open. If that happens to you (and it varies as to how much), then you have hooded eyelids.

MY FAVORITE PART….LASHESSS!!

STEP 6

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YALL. THESE. LASHES. ARE. THE. TRUTH.

I came across these eyelashes a few months ago and my eyelash game has never been the same 😂 💁🏽 They have multiple styles in case you feel as though these eyelashes are too dramatic or not dramatic enough for your taste! They are very affordable and one pair lasts a long time (if they are taken care of properly).

WITH THE STEPS OUTLINED ABOVE

YOU GO FROM THIS

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TO….

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THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME FOR THE FIRST PART OF THIS SERIES!!

TO GOD BE THE GLORY

Growing up, you had those friends who would always smother people with hugs, strangers or not. These friends would go out of their own way to touch you and let you know how much you meant to them. “I love you” rolled off of their lips just as easy as the next breath. And if we’re being honest, these people are still the same way today lol.

It is fair to say that we put these people in the “affectionate” category.

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But then you have those friends who just didn’t like to be touched or loved on at all. Rarely do they ever show too many signs of emotions either. It had to be a big deal, such as graduations, someone leaving for a while, those sorts of things. It is done when it really means something to the other party.

We put them in the “unaffectionate” category.

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My category. Or shall I say, former but most familiar with category.

If you have been keeping up with my posts, you can concur that I am a pretty friendly person, social, talkative, and love getting to know people. So how is it that someone so social did not enjoy being touched or loved on by others?

If you don’t deal with it, it will deal with you. The IT ladies and gentlemen isssssss…..INSECURITY! I know I bring this up a lot, but I am a living testimony of how insecurities and low self-esteem will blind you and make you think something is there, that is not. The two things that I am typing with right now, the two things you’re using to hold your phone, is something I have hated about myself for a long time. My hands.

Wait, did I read that right? The girl don’t like her own hands?

YES, you read it right unfortunately, and NO, I did not like my hands for a very long time. The size of them. The fact they would get sweaty when someone held them for too long. The fact I was labelled as “heavy handed” when I really tried to be gentle. These hands have broken so many things growing up. They have accidentally hurt people close to me.

Ok, so it’s okay to laugh now. I know I’m describing myself as Godzilla or something, but that is what I felt like. A monster with these huge things.

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Let me remind you of who I am. 5’10” plus size female. My father is 6’4” , played basketball, and as you would guess had very large hands and feet. Guess who inherited those things from their dad =]

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I am not sure why, but it was always a thing for my peers growing up to measure their hands against other people’s hands. I quickly noticed that girls were associated with smaller hands and feet and men were associated with larger hands and feet. Whenever anyone randomly wanted to measure their hands to mine, I snatched my hands away, folded my arms and made up some excuse of “Ion know where yo hands been??!” or “Personal space, please??”. This usually made them back off for a while. I just got tired of hearing the gasps of people watching to see that my hand was the same size or even bigger than some of the boys’ hands in the class.

MY SHAME GOT REALLY BAD..

I remember in class we were doing popcorn reading with one of our assigned books. I was probably in 9th grade at the time. It was a book discussing the descendants of slaves in Mississippi and this particular scene was about the family’s grandmother who cooked everything. Before I would have to read anything out loud in class, I preferred to skim over it so that everything would flow out naturally. I was so annoying haha. But my part happened to be the portion of the author describing the grandmother’s characteristics, including her big and rough hands from always peeling food and doing hard labor.

I froze.

What if they laugh? What if they look at my hands and think that was the perfect description of me?

Yea it was bad. I switched my paragraph with a friend to avoid embarrassment.

Even if a boy liked me and tried to touch me, I would do anything to distract him from holding my hand.

I feared that a boy would stop liking me because I was man-lier than he had previously assumed.

Sounds ridiculous and extreme, but it was the truth.

FAST FORWARD TO COLLEGE..

I was pretty comfortable with myself, but I had made it up in my mind long ago that I would not be forward with affection so that I could avoid rejection. At the time, I really didn’t know that that’s what my body was doing. I thought I was just wired to love through words and not the physical.

THEN WHEN I ACCEPTED CHRIST TO REIGN AS COMPLETE AUTHORITY IN MY LIFE….

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It felt like another person was released through me. IT WAS SO HARD NOT TO HUG PEOPLE. What was happening?!! Ashley was now giving people hugs, telling them she loved them, and just all other crazy affectionate things. Seriously, you can ask my friends haha. The affection that I was trying to suppress all of those years had no choice but to burst forth when I accepted the Lord’s love for me. In Him, I felt/still feel accepted and loved completely as I am. So it did not matter who rejected my affection from that point on. I knew that they were simply shying away from what/who was in me. I didn’t take it personal anymore. But the process of truly submitting all of my life to Christ transformed me. Being stand offish was no longer my defense mechanism. It felt good to finally show people love and allow people to love me. I relinquished control and let the Lord show His love through me. Although the devil intended for me to stay in this bondage of hate for my hands, the Lord placed His hand on my life and broke chains I didn’t even know existed. “I love you” is no longer taboo for me. I thank God that I am not the same person. Do I still have times when insecurities flare up? Sure I do. But I am a witness at how His love can change your direction and make you see yourself towards how He created you to be. Fearfully and wonderfully made.

To God be the Glory

What is a “great” personality? Half of my motive for answering this is so that I can stop putting the word great into quotation marks..honestly..truly.. I am referring to a charismatic person, one, who is more times than not, warm, accepting, cool, fun, optimistic and all of those other great adjectives we hear about. Or maybe let me put it this way. When you’re around this person, you just “feel” better in one way or another, for some odd reason. (Oooooo I see you smiling! Who you thinking about??? *aggressive eye emoji inserted here*) . We all know one. Or more than one.  And I am one of these people. Not in an imperious way though. I have consciously tried to master this in the earlier years of my life when I struggled with acceptance. Now, it kind of comes naturally.. Enough about me (for now)

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So what’s so great about great personalities.

OPPORTUNITIES SEEM TO JUST….OPEN UP

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One day you’re having a conversation with someone and the next day you have a job. You could have been simply talking about the joy of making pies with the elderly or the commonality of the euphoric feeling after seeing a superhero movie. But it is not what you said; it is HOW you said it… your timing…and how you made that person feel. It’s an…. art almost.

ALMOST DRAMA FREE

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Now there are some people who are just determined to not like you because other people are drawn to you. But besides that, you’re most of the time seen as a confidant, mentor of some sort, or everyone’s close friend. You walk into a role or roles in people’s lives without asking. And since you are someone that matters to people, it is a low probability of them trying to ruin that.

And of course there’s more, butt that was not the point of this blog =]

Ok so now that my least favorite portion is out of the way. The cons.

YOU’RE SO DARN LIKABLE

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I had to ask myself, Wait is that bad? Ehh, it depends. I remember watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Lisa was blaming Will for being just too likable. And Will responded, “Oh darn, that’s a character flaw.” I laughed out loud literally and not the fake smile scrolling through social media. Then, I began to think about it. People LOVE to feel loved, appreciated, respected, and valued and people with great personalities usually know the things to say or do to spark those feelings in other individuals. It’s human nature -> when you find a source of those “good feelings”, you return to it. And expect more. And can end up abusing it if not careful. People then like to soak you up for their own good, and leave you dry. You’re definitely likable alright, but you never know for what reason until the relationship takes its course. Now if my self-esteem hadn’t been worked on while mastering this great personality, I could have turned into a people pleaser, but thank God I know how to say no and learned self-care. You then have to become strategic when guarding your peace. When I say strategic, I mean you have to choose days when you will simply focus on yourself and what you like to do. You have to avoid places sometimes because your energy is automatically expected and it’ll be a disappointment if your “charm” was not put to work. There are more scenarios, but you get the point right?

YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL FRIENDZONER     

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          ……   

Ok so this one could just be me, but I am going to elaborate because it matters. What does it mean to be a professional friendzoner? Do take note that not everyone with a great personality is a friendzoner, buuuuttt those who friendzone usually have a great personality. I mean think about it. A friendzoner is nice enough to allow their rejection of you rest in friendship so you’re not completely devastated (bahaha). But a professional friendzoner has experience in the friendzoning business. At least 5-7 years under his/her belt. You say something or do things that either discourages the other person from pursuing/having hope in you or you have no idea how to even let the other person know you are actually interested. There are more complex definitions, but let’s stick with that. Now in my training to master this great personality, my confidence was low in the beginning. If I knew I didn’t look like the most wanted girl, I had to develop some skill to keep people’s attention. So if the guys didn’t “see me like that”, maybeee they eventually will with what I say. (around 12 yrs old at this time) But I quickly got discouraged with that thinking, and said “Hey, I at least want to be able to communicate and make friends”. BINGO! I did that. And well. Too well…I could not see beyond anyone looking at me besides that good reliable friend. Unless the gentlemen DIRECTLY said “Ashley, I am interested in dating you”, I missed all of the signs in the world. I mean there could have been a billboard…I digress. And of course they wouldn’t know that I liked them because I just knew how to talk to people. I knew how to keep up great conversation. I was a great listener and so forth. Flirting was not in my repertoire and I missed that class in my teenage years. I didn’t really know how to single a person out and make them feel special because…. I talked to everyone the same. I friendzoned out of familiarity, even when I really liked someone.  Don’t worry; I’ve gotten a little better (haha) And if you’re anything like me, your friendly manner also gave people the wrong idea unintentionally. Sigh, I just like people man.

OK, you guys knew it was coming! Let’s throw being a believer in the mix.

Along with that great personality, AND being a believer….Now you’re stuck feeling

YOU CANNOT HAVE ANY BAD DAYS

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Your great personality goes from something you mastered to you exuding the joy of the Lord. Which is NOT bad. But if not careful, people will put you in this happy go lucky Christian box and assume if you are not showing your best side and entertaining the entire room, your relationship with God is rockkkyyyyy. “I thought you were a believer?” “Are you not glad God woke you up this morning? I mean isn’t that what you tell me??”

There can be a lot said about people thinking you turned into a jubilant robot after giving your life to the Lord, but I think I’ll just do another post on that…another day.

So for those who are reading this and thinking “Oh come on, howwww dramatic can you be right now!? So are you upset that you have a “great” personality?? ‘Sucks’ to be you huh??”

LOL. No. BUT. If you are one who heavily leans on that awesome friend/person that can just brighten up your day with two words, just be mindful of possible things going on in their lives you have no idea about. Be considerate. Don’t abuse these people with your never ending problems. Ask them how are they once in a while. AND if you are someone who can relate to what was described above, make sure you have someone in your life that you consider to be awesome so that “this greatness” is not a one way street. Someone that can uplift you as well. Or recognize it in yourself because YOU my dear friend are hard to come by. Most people suck. Just being honest.

I’m just thankful that God placed some amazing people in my life who were able to see past my “great personality” and pride and all the other flaws to love me unconditionally.

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To God be the Glory