One Woman’s Perspective

As a young woman, there are many standards placed on you. Beauty standards. Body standards. Behavior standards. In some ways, your body becomes a cage of expectations and responsibilities. Though I believe as a woman, we should be able to move through this existence as confidently, fluidly, effortlessly and beautifully as the goddesses we are created to be, conditioning has created friction and resistance.

Sunbathing and meditating on July 4th at City Park

I was 10 years old standing in line at a churches chicken, gas station combo the first time I remember being gazed at like the last prime rib at a fourth of July barbecue by somebody’s old drunk uncle who hadn’t eaten in 2 weeks. The desirous look in his glazed over eyes was so horrifying I ran out of the store almost in tears. I’m not sure if I was taught this, but inherently I assumed responsibility. I was guilty of being a little girl, with a body that developed way too soon and wearing pants that were too tight.  I’m not sure when I accepted this ideology, but  every inappropriate look, gesture, touch or action I’d internalized as partially or majority my fault. At some point I had settled, as long as I was able to escape a situation without any perceived bodily harm, then I was ok, right? I had been sexually assaulted by men in powerful positions and between worrying about how much of the incident I had brought on myself and how badly their wives and children would suffer if I had exposed them, kept me silent. And we’ve been able to see recently, men saying and doing inappropriate things seems to have become a normal and certainly socially acceptable occurrence.

Being young and sexy caused much anguish. Rumors seemed to appear from thin air, without any possibility of truth yet somehow everybody and they momma, daddy, sister, brother, cousin believed and repeated like they were more present in my body than I was. I was judged and treated very harshly. Men only noticing my body and never seeing my heart or all the many different amazing things I had to bring to the RIGHT partnership. Women, their jealousy and projected insecurities made connecting much harder than it had to be.

At 21, I’d lost 60 pounds and was a size 8. I felt more beautiful than ever. Men looked at me as if I was the most beautiful woman they’d seen. They’d actually look into my eyes and converse without the undertone of Dayum, I wonder what you look like naked. It wasn’t long before I started receiving criticism from women, “girl you look sick”.

I learned a love hate relationship with my body. As a young woman, you’re expected to be beautiful. The epitome of everything aesthetically pleasing. And with my mom’s added wisdom, “being beautiful isn’t enough, and beauty alone will get you nowhere.” I graciously accepted that the best part of me isn’t easily seen. I journeyed to become as close to perfection as I could, which at times fostered an unhealthy self critic, especially when your understanding of greatness is largely shaped by things outside of yourself. I needed to be beautiful, but not too beautiful. Sexy but not too sexy. Smart and independent but not so much that you’d overshadow your man or make him feel like you’re a competitor instead of a contributor.

I was taught, that if I wanted to be respected and taken seriously, I needed to cover every curve extensively and tight pants was synonymous with whore. I learned that according to others, being sexy meant I had a lot of sex, which up until now, has never been the case. In college I’d lose sleep worrying about being perceived as loose or easy, because I have always believed sex should be reserved as an expression of the highest love and I’ve always desired and strived to share that type of love with one person. But since, I’ve learned that I am who I am and I move how I want to. That no matter how much I try to hide my sensuality, it is. And if a man or woman feels that my sensuality is grounds for them to disrespect me, they can easily get told where their opinions can go. And any man I decide to give my heart should know, that it isn’t easily given and they are obviously one in a billion.

*I’m not advocating for anything other than authenticity and actualization of one’s self. The ultimate goal is to be authentic, and to be so, I must gain understanding of myself and why I choose the things I choose. I must decide to be unbothered by anyone’s reaction or response to my authenticity because my existence in whatever form will be offensive or bothersome to someone. And we must embrace the things that offend us, the things that cause a reaction, it is these things we most need to analyze in order to learn our attachment to them.

See we have at least three types of people:

One, who does any and everything in a desperate attempt to get the attention they feel they lack by any means necessary.

Two, who has decided to conform to whatever is majorily a socially acceptable means of attracting attention.

Three, who has examined both the psychology of one and two and has decided to learn what feels good, right and comfortable for self regardless if it is what majority people will accept and NOT for the purpose of calling to oneself, something that is already present within.

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Freedom One Bar at a Time

IMG_2103.JPGPhoto capture in the midst of natural movement rather than “posing”.

When I first saw her, there was a quality I was drawn to. I was attracted to her honesty. Her blatant frankness without regard for other’s thoughts, perceptions, acceptances or interpretations. She cared very little for using what is known as “standard English” (even in her formal writings) and she uploaded pictures of herself mostly nude. She said and did things that I’d learned most men deemed unattractive and most women would turn their noses up at.

She represented an element of freedom that I wasn’t sure if I was acquainted with. I mean, I’ve always been a “free spirit” challenging most universally accepted ideals but I still had built my own cage, the bars composed of my own fears, and cultural, regional and religious concepts.
In recent months, I’ve begun examining and dismantling these beliefs that no longer serve me. They take up valuable space, they weigh me down and honestly need to be replaced with more loving, accepting and lighter ideas.
From a young age, I was lectured so much about what a lady was, that I began to think I was portraying something opposite of that. I was told that being sensual or sexy was wrong, however, I was naturally this way. Why did it take so much effort to be “right”? And why was right what everyone else agreed with? I feel if God wanted us all to be the same, he wouldn’t have created so many unique individuals.
I am uninterested in telling another person how they should live their life. I’m only concerned with loving, healing, accepting and elevating myself. Realizing I’ve come far very quickly, yet I still have much evolving to do. There is a love that is deeper, wider, higher and longer than any human has been able to materialize, and it is my goal to conduct and radiate as much of that as I possibly can. For myself and for others.
When one hates the level of freedom that another has been able to achieve, it is because they hate the cage they’ve built  and allowed themselves to occupy.
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Picture taken freshman year of college in my friend’s dorm room.

What I Learned From My First Failed Attempt at Organizing and Leading Black, Conscious, Intellectuals

The year was 2013 and I had just fought my way from the darkest of places. Rock bottom. Well, I wasn’t alone. I had Divine Love, my mother’s love, endurance and patience, my brother’s legitimate concerns, the prayers of a whole bunch of folks and a will. I can’t pretend that Yeshua and the Bible weren’t involved in my recovery, largely I attribute my resurrection to this consciousness.

As I was resurrected, I was re-connected to my compassion for people and my responsibility for impartation. I had always felt the pull. Now I was as ready to show up as I could be, being that readiness in my eyes will always be a day away. We are ready now for the lessons that present themselves, they get us ultimately to the place we need to be in space and time.

I enlisted a once close high school friend and told her the idea. To plan and host a community event that featured conscious poetry and expression. She knew some folks, I knew some folks and some folks just fit by Divine Order. We met, we shared, we planned, we performed.

The basis of our foundation was poetry, consciousness, intellect and a desire to act in the community, particularly in the lives of black folks. Black youth, black brothers, black mothers.

The tension rouse on matters of faith, religion, spirituality and to what degree the white man was inherently evil. Should we help a young white child if the opportunity presented itself? Honestly we talked about stuff that was probably way more irrelevant than we’d assumed. As I generally neglect to turn away a hungry mouth (regardless of my personal thoughts) if I have enough access to food. Possibly a fatal flaw or a redemptive quality, juries still in deliberation.

I, the youngest member was elected president though in the opinion of some, my paternal ancestry may have agitated some folk. I’m learning not to assume and trying not to think too much about things in general, especially things I can neither confirm nor deny.

We had an astronomical breakdown in communication. Some ppl got in their feelings. Some people went their separate ways. Some friendships suffered and some were severed. And some, possibly soared.

As I stand on the brink of another attempt to get some folk together on one accord here’s what I’ve learned, especially about my motivated, melanated companions.

  1. Build on your commonality. The VISION. Theres enough passion, compassion and generational understanding to sustain us through.
  2. Effective communication and mediation is a MUST.
  3. Conflict resolution need already be in place.
  4. Some conversations need not be had, especially before there‘s a concept of mutual respect and still possibly not at all.
  5. We must love, feed and support one another.

Families don’t see eye to eye on everything, but truth remains, blood connects us and that can never change. I myself don’t take too kindly to excommunication, specially over pettiness. And in my humble opinion, anything that tries to come between love is petty.

I’m excited for this new wave, this actualized understanding and the will of some folk and who ain’t gone take it lying down.

We ready.

Singleness. Relish the Moment.

I’d sometimes find myself in relationships with men that would have me tongue-tied. I’d get so excited and overwhelmed that my ability to articulate myself would sometimes lie down and take a nap. I’d think my experience on stage and camera would make me exempt from this foolishness, but somehow, it didn’t.

I’d be inside myself, and outside myself all at the same time. There were times that I had to write my feelings down to read or remember them. I think in different instances the fear of saying something that would make me look dumb or something that would disappoint him contributed to this lack of finesse.

I’m extremely goofy. People often ask if I was born blonde. I enjoy having fun, laughing and being silly. I actually am a big kid in many ways.

In these types of relationships I don’t really feel the sentiments are equally distributed. It’s so funny how my male friends, the ones I can be myself around, all have a fondness for me that these others don’t seem to share. The more I travel down this alley of thought, I realize I do enjoy my male friendships and I wonder what the problem was with the men I dated. But, like most things, it was probably a combination and not one specific thing.

Do I think butterflies are necessary for a successful, sustainable relationship? No. I do think respect and admiration is. Physical attraction, I think in some instances can grow overtime. And overtime, is this something that is drastically important anyway? Appearance changes. Interests change. Sometimes character does as well. The thought of that is sort of scary.

Sometimes, you immensely enjoy the presence of someone and you never want that to end.

Singleness, it has it’s challenges. It has its perks, so I’m told. Take moments to appreciate the stage you’re in currently. Appreciate the beautiful things about yourself. Love on yourself, the way you’d want someone else to. I’m always trying to figure things out, including myself. I know that will take forever, and a few days. Strive to be the best person you can be.

I’m notorious for wishing I was further along. Rushing. I guess I think if I hurry, I’ll have more time. I finished college early and sometimes I think I might’ve elected to get a GED if I’d known it would’ve knocked two years off of high school. What I’m saying is, it’s hard to stop and smell the roses if you’re focused on where you think you should be, rather than where you are. The biggest and best part of the journey is the process. If we woke up and magically all of our dreams and ambitions were upon us, with out the process would we appreciate them? Would we be mature enough to handle them?

During this present stage I have to learn and seek ways to appreciate, enjoy and gain as much as I possibly can, for when it is time to move, I want no regrets.

Our Interactions and What They Reveal

Recently I had an argument with a friend, someone I connect with on the basis that we share similar interest. As we were having the argument, and I was trying to explain my point of view and what I meant by actions rather than what was perceived, I was reminded of some things.

How painful it is to be misunderstood. Growing up I was often misunderstood and I hated it! I was naturally empathetic and didn’t understand that because I am, doesn’t mean everyone else is.

I’m reminded of a much older gentlemen who found me on Facebook a few years back. He liked the humanitarian in me and we began to connect on our mutual love of community involvement and wisdom. We’d converse on these topics and everything was cool, but when he’d mention making me his “heir” or that he was the most high god, we’d argue. I’d tell him his words were blasphemous and he’d get heated and we’d end up hanging up on one another. I’d block him, and it would be months before we’d speak again. I never intend to completely dismiss a person; I’m not 100% sure why that is or what combination of things contributes to it (that would be an interesting exploration). He was a wise man in ways. He was alone and deteriorating, by his own admission. I suppose I never really considered his mortality. I saw a man who used to be a pastor. A man who said his family had ostracized him because of his views. I saw a person, who loved ppl, who was needy in ways, who was arrogant in ways, misguided, and like everyone else needed a friend. I could at least do that. But when we argued, I never thought about love or how Jesus would respond. Never thought about the easy friendships I have with others who don’t share my same spiritual views. I just thought about how wrong he was, how I felt he snuck his views on me. It wasn’t a basis of our friendship. It never occurred to me that maybe he wasn’t extremely forthcoming because he was afraid I’d ostracize him as well.  It never occurred to me that I could’ve been and should’ve been better to him until I went online recently and noticed he had died. And now I think of all the possible conversations we could’ve had. How I could’ve responded instead of how I did. How I could’ve been more compassionate, instead I was judgemental.

When you delve into the actions and decisions you make and you find what they mean, how they affect others; how they translate to others on a surface level, it can be discouraging. But when you dig deeper and you think about what those decisions reflect about you, inwardly, that can be even more damning. Once you start to pick apart yourself, your beliefs, thoughts, actions; what they mean; how and why they came about; it can be discouraging or disappointing. As someone who strives to be sincere, strives to be accepting, understanding and loving I realize there were are times I missed the mark. And either you hit it or you don’t. There aren’t any in betweens.

Sometimes you look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see. But it’s important that you keep looking until you love it. Yes, as humans we are forever works in progress, forever learning. Some lessons are more expensive than others. I hate learning at the expense of others. Once I recognize it, I try not to pay for it again.

Though we know stretching can be painful, it’s necessary for growth. Situations, relationships and experiences we find ourselves in are often a representation of ourselves. Something we need to learn. Something that needs to be revealed. A prompting for rising. Let’s get to the root.

Happy Journeying!

Beautiful. SINGLE. Woman.

single-woman

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I have some pretty awesome women in my family and many of them aren’t married. And since many young girls are groomed to desire marriage and family, I’ve feared having the same fate. Being alone. Its funny, cause as I look at the beautiful unmarried women in my family, they are anything but alone. But often, women are made to feel alone, or lacking if they aren’t married and don’t have children.

But any awesome woman, who is unmarried is in many ways exercising choice. Their are plenty of options for them I’m sure, but many women would rather be alone then be with a man who doesn’t meet at least their minimum standards. And it seems the men who don’t meet these standards are abundant.

Among other things, the fact that women outnumber men has caused a great shift in dating. Either men are oblivious or they have just become accustomed to being a rare “hot” commodity, if you will. There are many women, who fear being alone. Many women who don’t feel whole or complete without the accompaniment of a man. Many women hoping to validate their worth or complete their “perfect” picture through a relationship. Some times it seems the popular suggestion is that a women isn’t a women if she doesn’t have a man and a family.

I’m sure their are really good men out there. Men who know how to treat and love a woman. Men who will selflessly care for a woman. Men who respect and value women. However, there are so many men who either have abandoned this notion, or maybe have never been taught how in the first place. Maybe its a combination of their past hurts and their dealings with women who are so desperate for love, that they teach them to devalue women. Maybe there is just as much euphoria that comes with being chased by a woman as their is when finally catching up with the man of your delusional dreams. Either way, somehow the tables have drastically turned and it can be scary.

I’ve been single since college, and that has been 7 years. Since then there have only been two men, really 1 that I would’ve heavily considered. One of those men, I later found is next to worthless, being that he is now engaged yet be trying to hit my phone like he crazy. The thought of being the fiance’ to a man who will attempt to connect with other women is sort of unsettling.

I’d rather be alone, than to be with a man the belongs to plenty of other women. I’d rather be alone than to be with a man that doesn’t value me, or that doesn’t know how to value me. Somethings are teachable, but some things are completely self-explanatory. I’d rather be alone than to be with a man who doesn’t respect me. I’d rather be alone than be with a man who doesn’t love me selflessly. I will selflessly love, respect and value him all the same.

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Personal Growth Journal 1: 90 day challenge check in

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The first week of the year has been, progressive. I can see my growth and that feels great. I can identify where I need to make improvements and I know that I’m more than capable of making those improvements. I’ve decided the first 90 days I will not eat any deliberate sugar and I’ll write 15 minutes each day.

The first two days I did eat sugar, but I’m happy to say since then the only sugar I’ve consumed has come from fruit or coffee creamer. I’m progressively getting better with this no sugar thing. That is amazingly encouraging. Moving forward, I’m not going to drink anymore coffee with creamer. Yesterday I had two expresso shots from Starbucks straight. So if I decide to consume caffeine, I’ll have to find ways to do it without added sugar. Cakes and other obvious sweets haven’t been as hard as I thought. I’m a sweets fanatic so I’m a little surprised at how easy it has been. Out of sight, out of mind. I avoid places where I may be tempted to purchase or eat these things. I even have turned down FREE cake! To be fair, it was king cake and I’m not a big fan. But I did turn down Krispy Kreme Donuts and I do like those. I haven’t had a soda in 9 days! I have been drinking water with no calorie sweetener. After a while, I’ll stop using it as well. I’ve already started. I’m so excited! Progress gives momentum.

Writing for 15 minutes a day hasn’t been as successful. One day last week I let 3 days pile up and ended up writing over an hour. I’m not complaining, cause it was an amazing writing session and I didn’t want to stop but I had to go to sleep. That was an amazing feeling though. This week I actually let 5 days go. I may implement writing muliple times a day. If I’m in a waiting room, instead of looking on facebook, I can get 10 minutes of writing in. I tried that this week at a restaurent. It worked well. I enjoy writing, for some reason it feels great. 

Recently I signed up for a lot of ventures. All things I want for one reason or another. yesterday, as my head felt like it was about to explode, I decided to shift my focus. I decided instead of feeling overwhelmed, instead of thinking about how I feel and why I can’t do something, I’ll think about the many wonderful reasons why I should. Instead of saying, “I got too much going on”, I’ll say, “I have to generate and maintain better focus.” Stop blaming my lack of handling task well on the task on my action.

Let me geek out for a second, self-reflection, gaining revealation, insight and growth is exciting. It makes me happy! I just started a class that goes through John Maxwell’s “Today Matters” and discusses different points in the book. I’m GEEKED UP!

Anyway, have a great day! Love you, always.

Amazing Love: the Kind That Makes Time Still

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https://m.soundcloud.com/shera-phillips-1/amazing-love-the-kind-that

Love, one of the essential parts of life. Most everyone needs to love and to be loved. I’ve wanted to love and be loved ever since I could remember. I’m sure it can’t be normal for little girls to dream of getting married, right? I’ve always wanted to be married and thought it would have occurred by now. Life, has a way of showing us something completely different from what we want or expect.

Love for me has been elusive. Always right beyond my grasp. I want the spark. I want the fire. I want the best friend. The one I can be exactly who I am around. No judgement, all acceptance. Someone who can tell me their deepest and innermost thoughts unafraid, because they know I’ll love them regardless. We can joke about dirty underwear and be weird and awkward.

They say the mutual spark thing only occurs rarely. That mostly one feels much more intensely than the other. This has probably been the case for me a few times. It’s so weird to me, because I don’t understand how one person can feel so strongly a connection that’s merely one-sided. And if what I’ve read is true, then what is the likelihood that I’ll meet someone at the right time, and they’ll feel exactly the same as I do? Someone who is just as excited to be with me as I am to be with them.

This raises so many questions. I’d love to develop a friendship and mutual respect first. And I realize that most of my choices in love were caused by things deep within, things that needed to be dealt with. And that even being aware that these things exist isn’t enough to change a course of action.

But this thing we call chemistry, this chemical reaction one has to another, what is it? In my case it isn’t just a physical thing. There are many factors that are more than physical that cause a biological reaction to occur within me. Intelligence, ambition, drive and compassion tend to be among the list of prerequisites. How is a person physically attracted to things that can’t be seen?

The last time my heart was shattered, it took roughly 3-5 years to overcome it. I spend much time in retrospect, which I’m sure prolongs the process. I hope, I’m able to bounce back faster this time. And even more-so than that, I hope I can learn how to allow God to be the center of my next and hopefully final relationship.

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New Habits- 90 Day Challenge

90-day-1.png www.instagram.com/sheraphillips

Last year was pretty fulfilling in many ways. I saw many of my goals be met and exceeded. I learned and experienced a lot. While each day I generally have the same goal (jn addition to my other goals), to be better than I was the day before. While I still will spend time in prayer seeking what my goals should be for this year, I do have something specific that I want to accomplish.

Remember ye not the former things,
neither consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing;
now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?
I will even make a way in the wilderness,
and rivers in the desert.    – Isaiah 43:18-19

Where people are in life has a great deal to do with their decisions. Many of our decisions are made unconsciously through habit and underlying beliefs. With that being understood, there are some habits I have that I want to crucify and I plan to focus on eliminating bad habits and cultivating new, fruitful habits.

I was inspired by watching a video on Facebook. A young asian girl recorded herself learning to dance over 100 days. I went on to watch a few more of the same type of videos, people learning a new habit or skill over the course of 100 days.

I’m going to make two commitments over the course of 90 days and I will chart the experience through writing, video journaling. I’ll call it the 90 day challenge.

Two habits and 90 days will allow me to pick up 8 new habits this year and still have 5 days off.

Starting on January 2, 2018 I will not consume any sugar and I’ll write everyday for 15 minutes. I’ve been striving for these two habits for a long time. I’m ready to start.

No sugar for more specifically means:

  1. No soda
  2. No cakes, pies or ice-cream

This excludes any fruit and I’ll start using some types of artificial flavor, but eventually none of that either.

Writing everyday will hopefully occur in the morning, but experience has taught me that sometimes that doesn’t happen. I like writing all times of the day and night. I can’t wait to make writing an everyday habit without any exceptions.

90 days, NO DAYS OFF! Let’s get it! I welcome you to join me and if you care to share, I’m interested to hear/read what habits you’d like to cultivate.

To my loves, I hope you enjoyed your family time/time off and that this year you’ll see new heights in your professional, personal, financial and spiritual relationship with God.

I’d love to hear from you!

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He changed my heart

 

I’ve always considered myself Christian, even before actually having a unique encounter with God which caused me to change my entire perspective on everything. I grew up in the church and most of all my values aligned with Christian doctrine, whether I abided by them or not. My mother had a great deal of influence on me and though I recognize that my admiration for her won’t let me regret it.

When I was in elementary school, I was often teased and bullied. I’d ask my mom how to respond and she always said, “pray for them”. This was frustrating as a child. I didn’t see how praying for someone would stop them from hurting me. She taught me to treat others how I wanted to be treated, regardless of how they treated me. While this could be hard to learn, I still subscribe to this ideology. I sought to understand others and compassion helped me to forgive easily. Maybe I should say let go instead of forgive. I think there’s a difference. When you let go, you acknowledge (within yourself) that someone hurt you and rather than deal with it, you let it go and pretend like it was nothing in effort to move past it. This habit ensued avoiding confrontation but also caused me to harbor discomforting feelings subconsciously.

Before my encounter with God, I tried to treat others the way I wanted to be treated regardless of how they treated me.  I “let go” of things people did and said to me easily. Much of this was motivated by my desire to be accepted. After years of this I realized it wasn’t working for me. It led to depression and I think may have even contributed to a subpar self-view.

Since becoming a true follower of Christ I’ve learned a few truths that have empowered me to truly live joyously in spite of undesired circumstances.

  1. Give without expected anything in return. Often, I tried to be “nice” or “friendly” but why? Is our generosity linked to what we expect to receive back? I used to be puzzled wondering how I could be so good to others only to have them stab me in my back. With this new perception, I give what I can because I truly want to, because I’d want it to be given to me and because it is what Jesus would do. I have no expectations of the person on the receiving end.
  1. Someone’s blatant rejection of me isn’t a reflection of me but of them. This truth is liberating. There were people who rejected the Truth because they felt it threatened their popularity and livelihood. People will reject me for reasons I’ll never know. What’s for me, is for me.
  1. One of the most important things, it ain’t about you! We get boggled down in depression when our worldview is centered around us. What we don’t have, what we can’t do, what others have done to us, what others have in comparison to us. The quicker I learned how selfish it was of me to sulk in other’s wrong doing against me, the quicker I was able to get up out that sunken place. I had to shift my focus.

An actual encounter with God will challenge everything you thought you knew. God had to change my heart. And He’s still working on me! Which of these three truths resonated with you most?