Dear “Scared White People”

(Disclaimer- I proofread this post a dozen times and used Grammarly to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human. And I am not perfect. Thanks for reading and please share!)

Dear “Scared White People”,

Hi.  My name is Nyikia and I am a concerned black woman.  And just so I’m clear here from the start: This is NOT CLICK-BAIT and I’m not talking to ALL WHITE PEOPLE. Nor, and I can’t even believe I have to say this, racist.  I have the working knowledge to know that people of color have white allies out there.  Thank you for that and this letter isn’t for you.   I’m writing this letter to the “scared” or “concerned” white people out there because I’m growing quite worried (and pissed off) by your behavior toward black people.   I have listed a few examples to clarify:

1.) Calling the police when black people are waiting for their friends in the local Starbucks. (Happened in Philadelphia.)

2.) Calling the police when black people gather peacefully in the park to have a BBQ with friends and family. (Google BBQ Becky.)

3.) Calling the police when black people are going to view a house that is for sale. Even though the person is a real estate agent, and had been authorized to do so.

4.) Calling the police when black people check out of an Airbnb (with their luggage in full view) because you thought they might be burglars.

5.) Calling the police because a black father was cheering his son on during his soccer game. (Google Golf cart Gail)

And most recently, a man named Christopher Cukor called the police on Wesley Michel (a black man) waiting outside of an apartment building for his friend.  After asking Mr. Michel what was his friend’s name that he was waiting for (as if he’s someone’s authority figure), he proceeds to call the police to report a “trespasser.”  In a video, you can see Mr. Cukor’s son say to him, “Daddy, please don’t I agree with him, daddy.  Please don’t.  I don’t like this.  I don’t like this.  Let’s go.”  Mr. Cukor proceeds to tell the 911 dispatcher, “He appears to be African-American.”

(Side Note: Appears. Clearly, you can see since you’re standing less than ten feet away that this man is African-American.)

When Mr. Michel’s friend shows up, Mr. Cukor quickly changes his story to the dispatcher telling them that he was actually waiting for his friend.  As he had already been told by Mr. Michel before wasting the 911 dispatcher’s time with a bogus call.

I’ll stop here because, with the list and story above, I could go on and on with examples of your less than stellar behavior.   here is a consistent pattern of all the things that I wrote about.  This pattern of calling the police on people who don’t look like you.  Or who you feel are in the wrong place for their color.  Why is that?  I could understand if they were doing something that warrantied your suspicion.  But clearly, in the instances listed above, they were not.  The suspicion you had was based merely on the color of their skin.  What you THINK you know of how African-Americans behave.  And also, the prejudices you have acquired over the years due to what you THINK.  Now I understand that your prejudices could stem from a learned behavior passed down from generation to generation.  And some have come from outside sources:  literature, television, hearsay and most notorious the media.  I’m really trying to work with you “scared white people,” I really am.  But at a certain point in life, you have to take inventory of yourself.  Not everything you see and hear about people is true.  Even the cheeto in chief (aka America’s current reality star president) knows this.  Hence the term his administration loves to overuse, “fake news.”  Although in his case most of what we hear about him turns out to be absolutely true.  But that’s a post for another day.

Let’s get back to the task at hand.  I understand having a little concern for the unknown. Dark places, stray animals, emails from strange addresses and yes our fellow humans.  I grew up in the ‘80s with McGruff the Crime Dog, so I learned all about stranger danger. Whose lessons on safety I still use today.  But the one thing McGruff never taught was to be afraid of someone based solely on their skin color.  If you asked the average child today to describe someone that frightens them, I’m pretty sure a stranger’s skin color wouldn’t come up.  Unless the child was taught that type of racial bias in the home by their family members.  So why is it children are wiser in this regard than most adults   I work with children for a living, and I notice that they have a tendency of seeing people for exactly who they are.  Race not included.  When they judge you, they judge you on your merits.  Race not included.  When they are leery of someone, it is because of the vibe they get from the person.  RACE NOT INCLUDED.  The other day I was in a library waiting in line and this small Caucasian little boy kept looking at me.  I smiled at him and he gave me a really big cute smile back and then hid his face.  This went on and on for a few minutes until it was my time to go to the counter.  Was he afraid of me because I looked different than him?  No.  Was he afraid of me because my skin is brown?  No.  He just saw a friendly person who smiled at him, so he smiled back.  Children are usually both open and eager to get to know someone who is different than themselves.  They ask questions without assuming they know the answer.  Children just see a person much like themselves with zero prejudgments.

So why haven’t adults learned to do this already?  For people who are older and supposed to be intellectually smarter, we sure lack the intelligence of the average child. I’m going to take this time to let you in on something you should have already figured out by now: NOT ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE BAD PEOPLE.  That is shocking right?  I know the truth can be most times.  But I feel you really need to know and understand that fact. Let me be clear here, there are bad people in every race, gender, and country.  Being a bad person is not relegated to a racial thing.  It’s a personality and behavioral thing.  If I went around thinking certain things about certain races, then my belief right now would be that all white people are racist.  Out to get me, want to see me dead and think I’m lower than the dirt on the bottom of their shoes.  And clearly, that is not the case.

I have a suggestion on how to help you “scared white people” in working through your prejudices.  Provided you actually want to get rid of your judgmental nature and possibly make a few new friends.  BE OPEN.  Get to know more about the black people that you encounter in your everyday life.  Learn different things involving black culture and ask questions.  Take a genuine interest in getting to know a person that just so happens to have pigment darker than yours.  Those sounds like lofty goals, but it can be made easy. You can simply start by saying, “Hello.”  Easy enough right?  Have a friendly conversation with your black co-worker that you see all the time.  Get to know them on a level that’s based on common ground, common interest and a humane level.  You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll have in common with the average black person.  Everyone has that one family member that they don’t like in their family.  You avoid them at all costs at family functions until another relative asked you if you said hi to them.  You can easily bond over that.  Or how you love your kids to death, but could sometimes punt them like a football when they get on your nerves.  You can’t always judge a book by its cover.  You have to pick it up, read the description on the back or inside cover in order to learn what it’s about.  And the same goes for people.  All I’m saying is get to know someone who’s different than you before you judge them.  And for the love of God:

STOP CALLING THE POLICE ON BLACK PEOPLE FOR NO GOOD REASON.

With all love and sincerity,

Nyikia

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Support System of One

(Disclaimer- I proofread this post a dozen times and used Grammarly to help. If you see any mistakes, forgive me I’m only human. And I am not perfect. Thanks for reading!)
Someone I know has been dealing with a recent traumatic event in their life.  This person has been in therapy to seek help on how to deal with what happened.  And they also told me that they have been talking to friends for support as well.  Even though they have reached out to different people, they told me that they don’t feel fully supported. The therapist told them that she didn’t think they would ever be able to have a relationship again because of what happened.  And slowly, one by one, the friends have sort of drifted off in reaching out.  Let’s start with the therapist……If you ever have a licensed therapist tell you some negative bullshit as above:  GET A NEW THERAPIST.  As for the friends…..Sometimes that happens.  People go on with their day to day lives and forget to reach out.  That or they are busy dealing with drama in their own lives.  To put it simply, those around you may not always be there for you.

That’s when you have to learn to be your own support system.  Now, this is by no stretch of the measure an easy feat. It took me years to learn this lesson for myself.  Yes, I had a few family members and friends who were there to lend a helping hand.  And other times to give words of encouragement or a listening ear.  But when they weren’t readily available, I had to learn to be there and do those things for myself.  I grew up in a single parent home with a parent that was really never emotionally available.  I was super close with my grandma growing up, so there was someone giving me that emotional love and support I needed.  And that was fine for the time.  But as I grew up (and started seeing examples of my friend’s relationship with their parents) I realized that wasn’t enough.  I wanted, needed and craved that sort of attention from just one person.  And they just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give me that.  So what was I left to do?

I learned that if I was going to make it in this life, not only did I have to learn to trust others in their support, but I had to be MY BIGGEST SUPPORT SYSTEM.  What that meant for me was if I wanted to do or try something, I had to learn to talk myself up.  If I was feeling down about something in my life, I had to find a way to work through it.  I started writing.  I have kept a diary (I call it a journal now that I’m adult, Lol) since the age of about 14.  In there, I can be whoever I want. I can say whatever I want about whatever I wanted.  It’s a judgment-free zone.  It’s a place for my eyes, emotions, thoughts, and opinions only.  It’s a place where I can work out my issues in a healthy way.  It’s also the place where I can let go of negative energy and replace with more positive energy.  When I feel like someone is putting me down (like my parent used to do a lot) I would write in the journal how I felt about that.  And I would write how what they said was completely wrong and inaccurate.  Doing this over time allowed me to build my self-confidence and support muscles.  I learned to stand on my own two feet because I wouldn’t always have someone there to hold my hand.  I found my inner strength and more importantly my inner peace.  If that meant that I didn’t talk to certain people anymore, then so be it.  If that meant that I had to spend more time alone to work through my own shit, then so be it.  If that meant that I would limit the number of interactions with my parent, then so be it.  And let me tell you the last one is a doozy when you live in the same house, but it can be done.

Becoming your biggest support system won’t happen overnight.  It takes a bit of time and that time varies from person to person.  Step by step, little by little.  You just have to figure out how that would work best for you.  Even though I’ve learned to become my biggest support system, it’s still a practice I work on daily.  Some days I still struggle and may need to lean on those around me who care.  And other times they are not around, so I have to lift myself up.  Sometimes you may not have access to a support system, so learning to be your own is even more important.  If you find others that give you the support you need, that’s great! But let them be your back up.  You have to be your own cheerleader, shoulder to cry on, positive person, and most importantly your own best friend.  Because no one is going to look out for you and love you as much as you would do for yourself.

Dear “Scared White People,”

(Disclaimer- I proofread this post a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human. And I am not perfect. Thanks for reading!)

Dear “Scared White People”,

Hi. My name is Nyikia and I am a concerned black woman.  I’m writing this letter to you because I’m growing quite concerned (and getting pissed off) by your recent behavior toward black people.  I have listed a few examples:

1.) Calling the cops when black people are waiting for our friends in the local Starbucks. (Happened in Philadelphia.)
2.) Calling the cops when black people gather peacefully in the park to have a BBQ with friends and family. (Google BBQ Becky.)
3.) Calling the cops when black people are going to view a house that is for sale. Even though the person is a real estate agent, and had been authorized to do so.
4.) Calling the cops when black people check out of an Airbnb (with their luggage in full view) because you thought they might be burglars.
5.) Calling the police on a 9-year old that was just buying something at the local corner store because you think they “grabbed your butt.” (Google Corner store Caroline)
6.) Calling the police because a black father was cheering his son on during his soccer game. (Google Golf cart Gail)

I’ll stop here because the list goes on and on with your less than stellar behavior.  If you notice from the list, there is a consistent pattern.  That pattern is the calling of the police on people who don’t look like you.  Why is that?  I could understand if they were doing something that was suspicious.  But clearly, in the instances listed above, they were not. The suspicion you had was based merely on the color of their skin.  And also, the prejudices you have acquired over the years.  Now I understand that your prejudices could stem from a learned behavior passed down from generation to generation.  And some have come from outside sources:  literature, television, hearsay and most notorious the media.  I’m really trying to work with you “scared white people,” I really am.  But at a certain point in life, you have to take inventory of yourself.  Not everything you see and hear about people is true.  Even the cheeto in chief (aka our current realty star president) knows this.  Hence the term his administration loves to overuse, “fake news.” Although in his case most of what we hear about him turns out to be absolutely true.  But that’s a post for another day.

Let’s get back to the task at hand.  I understand having a little concern for the unknown. Dark places, stray animals, emails from strange addresses and yes our fellow humans.  I grew up in the 80’s with McGruff the Crime Dog, so I learned all about stranger danger. But the one thing McGruff never taught us was to be afraid of someone based solely on their skin color.  If you asked the average child today to describe someone that frightens them, I’m pretty sure a stranger’s skin color wouldn’t come up.  Unless of course, they were taught that type of racial bias in the home.  So why is it children are wiser in this regard than most adults?  I work with children for a living, and I notice that they have a tendency of seeing people for exactly who they are.  Race not included.  When they judge you, they judge you on your merits.  Race not included.  When they are leery of someone, it is because of the vibe they get from the person.  RACE NOT INCLUDED.  Children are usually both open and eager to get to know someone who is different than themselves. They ask questions without assuming they know the answer.  Children just see a person much like themselves with zero prejudgments.

So why haven’t adults learned to do this already?  For people who are older and intellectually smarter, we sure lack the intelligence of the average child.  I’m going to take this time to let you in on something you should have already figured out:  NOT ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE BAD PEOPLE.  That is shocking right?  I know the truth can be most times.  But I feel you really need to know and understand that fact.  Let me be clear here, there are bad people in every race, gender, and country.  Being a bad person is not relegated to a racial thing.  It’s a personality and behavioral thing.  If I went around thinking certain things about certain races, then my belief right now would be that all white people are racist.  And clearly, that is not the case.

I have a suggestion on how to help you “scared white people” in working through your prejudices.  Provided you actually want to get rid of your judgmental nature and possibly make a few new friends.  BE OPEN.  Get to know more about the black people that you encounter in your everyday life.  That sounds like a lofty task, but it can be made easy. You can simply start by saying, “Hello.”  Easy enough right?  Have a real genuine conversation with that co-worker that you see all the time.  Get to know them on a level that’s based on common ground, common interest and a humane level.  You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll have in common with the average black person.  Everyone has that one family member that they don’t like in their family.  You avoid them at all costs at family functions until another relative asked you if you said hi to them.  You can easily bond over that.  Or how you love your kids to death, but could sometimes punt them like a football when they get on your nerves.  You can’t always judge a book by its cover.  You have to pick it up, read the description on the back or inside cover in order to learn what it’s about.  And the same goes for people.  All I’m saying is get to know someone who’s different than you before you judge them.  And for the love of God:  STOP CALLING THE POLICE.

With all love and sincerity,

Nyikia

 

Clean up the milk and move on…

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human and not perfect. Thanks for reading!)

If you read last week’s post, then you know that I love listening to a podcast called, “The Read” hosted by Crissle and Kid Fury.  In the episode called, “Cheerleader”, Crissle spoke on her depression, seeing her therapist and the advice given by the therapist.  The therapist compared negative self-talk to running a race. (See last week’s post for full description.)  Crissle’s therapist went on to give an example about forgiving your past mistakes.  Her therapist said, “Let’s say a child spilled a cup of milk.  Are you going to every time you see that child, every day for the rest of their life be like, remember the time when you were 5 and 38 days and you spilled milk?  And I had to use three of my good Bounty’s to clean it up?  And replace my eight ounces of milk.  Are you going to drag that baby for that?  Or are we going to clean up the milk and move on with our fucking lives?”  From that moment on, Crissle decided that she had to clean up the milk in her life.  She would stop blaming herself non-stop and start looking forward again. Bam!  It hit me like a ton of bricks!  Is that what I have been doing the majority of my adult life?  Bitching over milk I spilled when I was young, naive and didn’t know any better.  Constantly berating myself over and over for situations that no longer exist and couldn’t be changed anyway.  Being my own biggest critic/ hater has always been a real hotbed issue for me.  After hearing the example that Crissle’s therapist gave her, I fully comprehend what my problem has been.  I have a lack of compassion for myself.  Isn’t that a fucked up thing to find out about yourself.

My understanding and heart is always so large for others.  I am able to fully support others with mistakes they have made in the past with my encouraging words.  But when it comes to having those same words for myself, there’s been little to none.  It is as if I don’t allow myself space to make mistakes or bad decisions.  For some reason, that is not allowed in my world.  For me, it’s not so much that I’m trying to be perfect.  I know this will never happen.  And that is completely all right with me.  Trying to be perfect, looks like a lot of work that I simply wouldn’t be dedicated to doing.  So where does my lack of self-compassion stem from?  Why is it that I can be so kind and uplifting for others, but not myself?  I am very skilled at stopping someone from beating themselves up.  I’m also very good at telling someone to have more patience with themselves and quick to say, “Everyone makes mistakes.”  Sometimes I can see the potential in others way more than I can see it in myself.  I have given myself far too much cruel kindness.  That is clearly something I would never do to another person.  Maybe I thought I was helping myself by giving cruel kindness.  By reminding myself of unpleasant situations I have been through, this would somehow help me to never to make those mistakes again.  By constantly replaying situations and poor choices, I would somehow learn to never do it again.  I found that this is unacceptable behavior and an oxymoron that simply makes no sense.  So what are the steps I plan on doing to change this behavior?

Step 1- Acknowledge that I am not compassion with myself.  Seems easy enough right?  But until one can admit to themselves that they have a problem, the situation can’t be fixed.

Step 2- Accept that mistakes have been made.  I’m human and humans make mistakes.  Some of the mistakes I made were necessary in order for me to learn and grow.  They taught me to make better choices and to listen to my gut.  Without making certain mistakes, I wouldn’t have become the person I am today.  And right now, I think I’m pretty awesome.  🙂

Step 3- Change the thought.  When NENE just won’t seem to shut her negative pie hole, I have to quickly remind myself of how awesome I am.  I begin to think of all the accomplishments that I have made over the years.  I will speak positive affirmations that prompt my brain to go down a more optimistic path.

Step 4- Forgive myself. This one will truly be the hardest to do of all the steps. I’ll have to learn that I’m still a good, smart person, who has flaws. No more or less than anyone else, just flaws. My past choices or decisions do not dictate how much I have grown. They also don’t determine my future. I will give myself a pep talk when I think of a mistake and move on. I will not dwell on choices and things in the past that can’t be changed.

As long as I’m walking the Earth, I will make mistakes.  It’s an important fact of life that I must remember.  I will acknowledge when I have done so, learn from said mistake, forgive myself and move on.  Because I’m tired of beating myself up over old, spilled milk.

Who am I?

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help.  If you see mistakes, oh well, I’m only human.  Thanks.)

Last week I found out that I’m going to have to have surgery.  It’s the kind of surgery that women pray they never have to go through.  Especially if they wanted children.  To hear the news from the doctor was devastating at first.  But not for the reason it would be for a woman my age who is childless.  See, having a child was never really in my life’s plan.  I always said I never wanted children because I didn’t like them.  But as the years went on, I came to find out that that was not true.  After working as a Teacher Assistant (a job I fell into) I had a vivid realization.  I freaking love kids!  Ages 3 to 5 is my favorite group to work with.  But I also find enjoyment in working with older kids as well.  I say all this to say:  Getting pregnant was never on my to-do list.  When I found out where babies came from as a young child, the appeal or desire died that day.  (Insert laughing emoji here)  Seriously though, I thought I would never be a mother.  And honestly, I’m ok with that.  I figured that if the universe wanted me to be a mom, then a child would be sent via adoption.  So to find out that this surgery might possibly remove any chance for me to become a mother biologically, made me feel weird.  Even though as I stated I had no plans for this.  Several questions I never had to think about before popped into my mind as well.  What would I feel like afterward?  How big will the scar be?  Will this completely kill my sex drive?  And most importantly:  Will I feel less like a woman?

The last question really got me to thinking about how I truly viewed myself.  Why have I tied up my womanhood in my reproductive system?  Just because my body can hold life within it, am I not less than because mine may not be able too anymore?  After pondering this, I came to a resounding answer.  Hell no!  Regardless of the outcome of my situation, I will still be who I have always been.  Me.  Yes, this will be a big change. Yes, this will take some adjustment on my part to get used too.  And yes, my mind and body will need time to heal.  But this change is necessary for my well-being and health.

Why do we sometimes began to feel less than ourselves when a sudden change occurs in life?  I’m sure there are people who have worked in a certain field for years and then lost that position.  Now they don’t know who they are if they can’t be that (fill in the blank) they were for 20 years.  There are people who have been in relationships for so long that when it ended, they didn’t recognize themselves anymore.  They have questioned who they were without this person in their life.  Often times when life comes to shake things up, sometimes we start questioning who we are.  I say all this to say, that sometimes we hold onto the idea of who and what we are based on exterior things.  Or even worse, what society dictates what we should be.  Both are destructive behaviors that we must diminish from our lives.  Knowing that I have to have this surgery made me look at myself in a different light.  Which definitely was not healthy for me mentally.  This is a change I that I never actually thought I would have to go through.  But this is happening so I must accept it.  I finally remembered that who I am isn’t wrapped up in my body and what it can and cannot do.  That actualization gave me a sense of freedom.  Freedom in knowing that I’m still the same woman I’ve always been.  If not stronger for actually having to go through this.  And with any other future dramatic life change, I will always remember who I am.  Strong, brave, smart, funny, kind, big-hearted, loyal and a positive thinker.  And truly that’s all that matters.

Late To The Game or Early To A Breakthrough?

I always thought that by the time I made it to the age I currently am, I would be a lot further along in my life’s journey than I am.  I also thought that I would have all my shit together by now as well.  Fun fact:  I have been proven wrong on both points.  The fact that neither of those things is true, bruises my ego a little on a daily basis.  So much so that I’m actually a little embarrassed to even admit it.  But I never hold back the truth on this blog, so there it is for the world to read.  I thought that I would be further along because I thought I knew what I wanted at a young age.  At 18, I wanted to move to New York City, go to the Fashion Institute of Technology, graduate and become a world-famous designer.  By the time I turned 25, the only thing that I still wanted was still to move to New York City.  Now I really don’t want any of the things I did at 18 or 25.  I decided to go back to college in 2010 to study Journalism under the guise that I would become a Fashion Journalist.  Since I know longer wanted to make clothes, I wanted to write about other making them.  A little more than halfway through my studies, I took a creative writing class as a filler for a semester.  After two months in the class, I had made a big career change.  I no longer wanted to be a Fashion Journalist, I wanted to be a writer.  But not just a writer, oh no that’s too small of a dream for me.  I wanted to be a New York Times Bestselling author.  Hell, why not?  The thing that gets me (aka pisses me off a bit) is why couldn’t I have figured all of this out at 18, 25 or hell even 30 years old?!  And now instead of NYC calling my heart, California seems to be calling my name more and more. But I digress.

Eventually, I had to step back, do some serious inventory and think about it.  Why exactly aren’t I where I thought I would be?  And why aren’t I where I think I should be?  For me, the answer wasn’t crystal clear at first.  After a few years of reading different self-help books and listening to positive podcast, it finally hit me.  My mindset wasn’t right for the goals and dreams I had for myself.  How can I expect to be somewhere more positive than I am if my mindset isn’t on the same page?  Impossible.  It took years of growing pains, long conversations with people, late nights of reading, prayer, and meditation to finally get it.  I also think part of the reason why I’m not where I thought (or would like) to be is that what I want has changed.  And more importantly than that, I have changed. My self-confidence is stronger than it has ever been at any point in my life.  And I work daily to strengthen it more than the day before.  My career goals are truer to who I am now.  My focus, drive, and desire for what I want are on warp speed.  Now if I could only stop wasting time and energy beating myself up about the slow start. (Insert emoji with the lady with the hand over her face here)

Now I’ll be candid here, my mindset isn’t always 100% completely aligned with my goals. When I say this I mean that there are days when the New York Times Bestsellers List seems like nothing more than a pipe dream.  And then there are days when I think something I’ve written is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.  Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch, but you see where I’m going with this.  If my mindset isn’t completely aligned with my goals, then my goals won’t come to flourishing.  Since what I want hasn’t appeared in my life, then I would beat myself up about not achieving that goal.  Never.  Ending.  Cycle.  Good news: I finally figured this out.  Bad news (sort of):  Trying to figure out how change this destructive, non-productive pattern of behavior.  I have learned that when I try to do too much at one time, I freak out and then fail miserably.  So I take baby steps, my friend.  Baby steps.  It started by acknowledging that there was a change that needed to happen within me first.  That’s usually the hardest thing to do.  Honestly, it sucked that my change had to take so long to manifest, but it was necessary in order to grow strong enough to go after my goals.  Once I knew that I had to change, then I figured out the how.

Instead of the constant complaining to anyone who would listen to my whining, I started having actual conversations.  Meaning I would talk about what I wasn’t happy about, but I would actually listen to the feedback I was given in return.  Not only would I listen, I would give a significant amount of time to what the person said.  And then from there, I would apply the advice to help improve myself and my life.  As I stated earlier, I started reading books about mindset and positive thinking. I started with a book called, “The Secret.”  I know some people have issues with this book, but it helped me tremendously.  It helped me learn to see the glass as half full instead of half empty like how I was raised to see it.  It always taught me to be more grateful for all the things I have in my life.  With gratitude comes a better attitude. So corny, but so true.  I listened (and still do) to positive, motivating podcast as well.  Some of my favorites are The Marie Forleo Podcast, The Lavendaire Lifestyle, and The GaryVee Audio Experience.  Really love Gary Vee because it keeps it real, tells the truth and doesn’t sugar coat shit.  And someone like me appreciates that.  I surround myself with as many positive people as I can.  And the funny thing is, I have met some great amazing people online who have helped me to be more positive as well.  I try to avoid as many negative people as possible.  But sometimes that’s hard when it’s a family member, a friend or maybe even a co-worker.  I just keep my conversations with them to a minimum.  It’s the only way I can survive.  And I think the most important that I’m learning to do (and working on daily) is forgiving myself.  Forgiving myself for past mistakes, ideas, attitudes, actions, and non-actions.  I have this terrible tendency of living in the past and replaying mistakes in my mind.  I am learning to work through that, and let it go.  Nothing I can do about it now, it’s over.  The only thing I can do is learn and grow from it.  So even though I may not be exactly where I thought I would be.  Or even have my shit together, I’m still here fighting the good fight.  I’m not giving up on my dreams or myself.  Clearly, I’m still here for a reason.  And I’ll do everything I can to make sure that that reason is fulfilled.