An Honest Poem

I was born on a chilly October night, 26 years ago.
I’m 5’6, with brown eyes, and black hair and my weight is none of your business.
I’m not a dog person, and I’m allergic to cats.
I’m kind of like a baby jumping spider, cute but creepy.
I’m a good writer, listener, and I can carry somewhat of a tune.
But the thing I’m most talented at is avoiding my problems.
I’m an absolute pro at it.
If there’s a problem, I run in the complete opposite direction.
I run to my books and hide from the world.

In books, things happen for a reason.
The plot is set, the character’s path predestined.
Real life isn’t like that.
I could have never predicted the path that my life has taken.
I barely recognize myself these days.
I’ve abandoned everything that used to define me.
So if I’m no longer the student,
the youth leader,
or the devoted churchgoer.
Then who am I?
That is the million dollar question.
Sometimes I feel like I’m 10 different people from one day to the next.
Which one is the real me?
Or are they all me?

I’m prone to melancholy.
Have been for as long as I can remember.
I’ve daydreamed about wandering into a field during a thunderstorm and being dissipated by a lightning bolt.
Like the end of the movie “Powder”.
My therapist calls this a suicidal fantasy.
I call it what happens when I’m alone too long in my thoughts.

I feel broken.
But I’m a Christian and we’re not supposed to say that.
Isn’t that why God sent his son?
So that I can be whole?
Well me and God aren’t really speaking as much as we used to.
I try not to dwell too long on the state of my faith.
If I do, a pain so deep radiates through me that I can barely breath.
I’ll just sum it up in one word, unraveled.

I attempting to date.
Me, the perpetually single girl.
I was always waiting to be better, more prepared, more successful, more perfect.
I always wondered if anyone could ever truly understand and love me, with all of my chaos.
So far it’s been a huge bust.
I was catfished, but isn’t that a millennial rite of passage?

My name is Tawni.
I love indie rock, Mexican food, and spending time with friends.
Even though I don’t know if I really have anything in common with any of them.
My hobbies include:
fighting my inner demons,
pretending that I’m fine,
and overthinking everything.
Nice to meet you.


A week ago I stumbled across Rudy Francisco’s spoken word piece “My Honest Poem” on Facebook and it moved me. You can watch it here and read it here. I thought to myself, I should do one too! It was definitely harder than I thought it was going to be but at the same time oddly cleansing.

 

Photo by Anders Jildén on Unsplash

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I Am My Own #Goals

Life has literally taken a bat to everything I held dear, so while I am rebuilding, all of my goals are under construction. 

When my friend Terasha thought up this blog challenge “I am my own #goals” I inwardly groaned. The phrase brings to mind someone who is out there getting things done personally and professionally and doesn’t need to look to social media for their goals in life. Personally and professionally I’m flailing and I have been guilty of coveting the lives of people on social media who seem to have it “together”. Life has literally taken a bat to everything I held dear, so while I am rebuilding, all of my goals are under construction.

I’m trying to be okay with being on this undefined road. They say there is something to be learned from every season of your life and I want to give myself the chance to learn from this experience. What I’m learning is that just like seasons change, goals change too. You could be moments from the finish line and realize this wasn’t the right race for you. And that’s completely okay, there is no definite map.

I’m discovering that comparing yourself with others is pointless. We scroll through our feeds seeing our peers sailing through life, living out their dreams or so it seems. Social media only shows a slice of that person’s life, not the whole pie. That person may have fought, cried, and bled to get to where they are. They could be terribly unhappy while still smiling in their Instagram post. I can’t compare my entire life to a slice of someone else’s. I have to figure out what is right for me, and what I want to accomplish and I won’t find that on social media, I am my own #goals.

Photo by Nolan Issac on Unsplash

New Year, Better Me: Pursuing Peace in 2017

It seems that some people have been put on this earth just to try my patience. But it can be done, I’m not saying I’ll never be offended. I’m only saying that I can control how I respond to the offense.

 

 

 “For the one who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not]. Must keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from speaking guile (treachery, deceit) He must turn away from wickedness and do what is right.

He must search for peace [with God, with self, with others] and pursue it eagerly [actively—not merely desiring it].”

1 Peter 3:10-11  AMP

 

I am on the pursuit for peace. Peace with God, peace with myself, but mostly peace with others.
Since I’ve been at my current job I have struggled with some difficult personalities, that’s nothing new in itself but when coworkers offended me I would hold on to that offense. I’d let it fester, replaying what they said in my mind over and over. Eventually it would turn into resentment, negative thoughts towards that person, and ultimately unforgiveness. I’d eventually move on but it would take some time, a lot of prayer, and a lot of scripture.

But what if I didn’t have to do all that?  What if I could save myself the time and stress and not let it bother me at all?

Easier said than done I know. It seems that some people have been put on this earth just to try my patience. But it can be done, I’m not saying I’ll never be offended. I’m only saying that I can control how I respond to the offense. I can choose to not to let it take up valuable real estate in my mind. So instead of reacting negatively and harboring resentment and unforgiveness, which is sin, instead I can rise above the anger not letting it disturb my peace.

“Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger,
And it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment]. “

Proverbs 19:11 AMP

I love that verse. It’s my honor and glory to overlook an offense. Nothing is gained from harboring resentment, but by letting it go God can be glorified. How you ask? Well we live in a world that LOVES confrontation. Just watch any reality TV show or scroll through your Facebook feed. There is plenty of videos of fights and vague venting. The world feeds on strife and discord. So when an employee comes for me, they are expecting clapback but I’m not going to give it to them. Instead of reacting with attitude I can peaceably communicate my concerns, rejecting worldly behavior and embracing Godly behavior.
If the conversation does not go as planned, or I don’t think a consensus was reached. I must not take that anger home with me because it will lead to sin.

“In your anger do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Ephesians 4:26-27

On a less spiritual note, letting someone disturb my peace gives that person power over me and that is just unacceptable. I won’t let trivial work stuff control my mood or my day anymore.

One thing I have done to help with my pursuit of peace is write down Proverbs 19:11 on a sticky note and tape it to my desk. Whenever I start to feel irritated or frustrated I read it. I’ve also added asking for peace to my daily prayers.

I’m interested if others have struggled with offense and peace. What helps you get through it?

Goodbye 2016, We Won’t Miss You.

We have to live the best lives possible… The world is crazy and there’s no way to know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Let’s make 2017 the year we shrug off all our fear and anxieties, live passionately and purposely.

via Daily Prompt: Hopeful

 

2016 was an interesting year to say the least. The terrorist attacks in Europe and Orlando, the deteriorating situation in Aleppo, the shootings of black people by police and the shootings of police in reaction. Then there was the election, Brexit, the deaths of many pop culture icons, and that whole killer clown thing.
The general mood of 2016 was that it was a terrible year, that things are worse than they’ve ever been. Personally, this past year reminds me of that saying “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Because it’s always been this awful it’s just that now social media and 24 hours news cycles keep the bad news constantly in our faces. Black people have been killed unjustly for hundreds of years, wars where civilians are killed happen plenty, and America has seen it’s fair share of questionable presidential candidates. Death, lawlessness, hatred, murder are and have always  been apart of our world.
So what can we learn from this? What can we take from 2016 into the new year that’s beneficial?

We have to live the best lives possible… The world is crazy and there’s no way to know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Let’s make 2017 the year we shrug off all our fear and anxieties, and live passionately and purposely. Do the things that make you incandescently happy, offer your hand to a neighbor in need. I’m not talking about another meaningless resolution but an actual life change. Let’s not waste one more moment not loving our lives, because this is our only shot at this. Those people in war torn, impoverished countries could only dream of the opportunities that we have right in front of us.

This is not only a call to action to you but to myself as well. 2016 challenged me mentally, emotionally. I found myself depressed by the world and my place in it. I thought to myself “The days are passing so quickly, am I making the most of my time? ”
In the new year I vow to spend less time doing things out of obligation and more time doing things because I actually want to. I want to continue nurturing my gifts, and exploring my passions.

So what’s calling your name in the new year?

2017 is going to be a roller coaster so buckle up, put your hands up and enjoy the ride.

28 Days To Healthier Me: Becoming a Fit Girl

I lost a total of 8 lbs during the challenge and I feel awesome. It taught me some very good habits, I wanted to share what I learned.

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For the last four weeks, I have been participating in the Fit Girl 28 Day Jumpstart challenge. This challenge came at the perfect time for me, I was struggling to eat healthily and felt lost in this whole “getting fit” idea. Fit Girl provided a meal plan for all 28 days of the challenge, a workout guide, a fitness journal and a plethora of tips and tricks to make it work for me. I think that was what I loved most about it all, the meal plans came with options to substitute foods that I didn’t like or even replace the whole meal. Even the workout guide was optional, if you chose not to follow it they recommended working out 30 minutes every day doing whatever you want. I lost a total of 8 lbs during the challenge and I feel awesome. It taught me some very good habits, I wanted to share what I learned.

  • Meal prep is your friend.
    Though it’s kind of a pain in the behind, prepping your meals on Sunday night for the work week is so worth it. I am a full-time student and have a full-time job so I am quite busy during the week. Fit Girl gave instructions for meal prep for all 3 meals. I often didn’t cook my dinner completely but I would at least slice up the veggies I’d be using so they’d be ready to go. I usually spent a couple hours in the kitchen on Sunday which was tough but, not having to put a lot of thought into what I was going to eat during the week was one less thing on my plate.

 

  • Cooking at home is best.
    I enjoy cooking, but I usually don’t feel like it. I am a fan of quick meals like Lean Cuisine or Stouffers but those things are high in sodium. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked as much as I did for this challenge. I now have a favorite knife and don’t sulk whenever a recipe calls for a food to be finely diced. Cooking at home gives you control over what exactly goes into your food. Also cooking your own food gives you a sense of pride. You put a little extra love in plating it and savor it a bit more when you’re eating it.

 

  • Treats are sweeter.
    When you’re not eating junk on a regular basis when you do eat it it’s so much better. I’m not a huge sweets eater my Achilles heel is salty stuff especially french fries. Two weeks into the challenge I treated myself to some french fries and it was so good. Not just because of the taste tasted but also because I had been working hard and deserved it. If you’re a sweets person Fitgirl recommended eating a little bit of dark chocolate that was at least 85% cocoa.

 

  • Cheat meals, not cheat days.
    Like I mentioned before I allowed myself weekly treats, these treats were usually a part of a cheat meal. Fit Girl recommended cheat meals over cheat days which makes sense if you think about it. So let’s say you decide to eat a big buttery and fatty food for each meal. You could easily go over 2000 calories in a day and be in danger of putting on a pound. That’s literally the opposite of the goal. If you instead have a cheat meal, for example, you have a big breakfast, you have the rest of the day to burn some if not all of it off.

 

There’s a still long a road ahead for me, motivation to exercise was a constant throughout the challenge. I was always glad I did it but the actual getting up and doing it was tough. I didn’t workout every day like recommended but I averaged 3-5 times a week which for me is a feat. Going forward I plan to diversify my workouts, so I don’t get bored and want to stop. I want to try cycling, kickboxing, and add some type of dance centered workout to the mix.
I wish I could say all my bad habits are gone but my serial snacking is still an issue. Laziness and lack of self-control are also still lingering. Fitgirl has given me a good basis on which to rebuild my eating and exercising habits. So when the New Year rolls around and everyone is making their fitness resolutions I will already be a step ahead.
As I go forth into this life change I will remember this one thing:

“Fit” looks different on everyone. So there’s no point in wishing and wanting to look like someone else or coveting another woman’s body because we’re all different. We all have different body types and carry our weight in different places.

I recommend the Fit Girl 28 Jumpstart Challenge for everyone who is new to fitness and needs a place to begin. They’re starting a new challenge January 2nd here’s the link!

“A Letter To My 16-Year-Old Self”

Word of warning it’s not going to go the way you think it is, so whatever ideas you have about what your life will be like at 25 throw them out of the window. It’s not going to happen. Don’t panic though, it’s all good.

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Yours truly at 16

 

Dear Tawni,

Your 25th birthday is coming up very soon, wow, quarter-life. Well let’s just hope there’s no crisis, honestly I think you went through that at 23. Also what was our 16th birthday like? I honestly don’t remember. Anyways I bet I know what your thinking right now as you roll the memory around in your head. I have no life and no friends, I wish my life was like Lizzie McGuire or some other teenage heroine. I feel for you, but please know it’s going to get better. So don’t worry about what those douche bags at school think, trust me they don’t matter one blip to your life. You feel  you’re lacking in some ways in comparison to them, but your not. Most of them are making terrible choices right now that will effect their lives in the future. Pity them, don’t envy them. Your not the average teenager, your an onion, you have lots of layers and that’s great. It’s what’s going to make you the woman we are today.

Word of warning it’s not going to go the way you think it is, so whatever ideas you have about what your life will be like at 25 throw them out of the window. It’s not going to happen. Don’t panic though, it’s all good. It took you awhile to figure out what you were doing but you made it, thank God. Literally, thank Him. If not for him I don’t know who we’d be right now. A flipping hot mess I assume. I kind of wish I’d known him when I was your age, maybe things wouldn’t have been so hard. Oh well there is no turning back only going forward.

So let me tell you some hopeful things about our future. Firstly, we have friends and a social life! Finally, someone other than our parents knows how funny and clever we are. We have passions and hobbies! Yes, we write, we go to beacoup  concerts, we’e creative, and we like kids! Who knew?! Our taste in music is super eclectic and awesome. We’re still a bit of a loner and introvert, doesn’t look like we’re going to grow out of that. But it’s okay we love that now. We’re not as shy as we used to be, we’ve made 5 speeches and public speaking no longer makes us sick. Not to say that we’re completely cured of our social anxiety though. I felt a little anxiety just asking for the wi-fi password in this coffee shop. That’s another thing we go places on our own now, like coffee shops and restaurants. We no longer give a crap about the opinions of strangers in public places. If you haven’t guessed already, yes we’re still single. Quality guys are still a rarity sorry to tell you but you know it’s going to take a very special man to keep our attention. We’re still figuring out this whole being adult thing, but Dad, Mom and our friends are helping us out. It is not what it’s cracked to be, it’s tough. But you get to call your own shots and that has yet to be unsatisfying.

So how are you feeling about life now? Are you excited yet? Well get excited because there is a light at the end of the tunnel. From now on every time you look in the mirror remember that you are beautiful, talented, loved, and that there’s a great big world out there waiting for you to put your stamp on it.

Love always,

Me ❤

 

What The Mountain Taught Me: The Climb To A Wake Up Call

This activity was supposed to bring us together strengthen our bond, make us more aware of each other. But I felt no bonds of sisterhood, I just felt fat.

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I am overweight. I’m not just saying that because I’m insecure, it’s a fact. According to BMI (body mass index) a woman my height, which is around 5″7 should weigh a max of 153 lbs. Well friends the last time I got on the scale I was way past that, actually according to those numbers I’m obese. I have been since probably about 7th grade. In school I felt my weight really limited me, I was always last in gym class. Always the most out of breath, even the girls who smoked seemed to be more fit than me. This is why I was so glad to leave gym class in the past once I graduated. Since then I never felt like my weight kept me from doing anything. I was actually starting to love my “curves”.

About a month ago my confidence took a big hit. I am a part of what some would call a “life group”in my church. We are a group of girls in our 20’s who study the Bible together, spend time together, serve our community together, we just do life together.

stone-mountain-background
Stone Mountain, GA

On this particular evening we were climbing Stone Mountain. For those who don’t know Stone Mountain is an enormous boulder sitting just east of the city of Atlanta. When I found out this is what we’d be doing I paused some. It had not escaped me that I was bigger than all the girls that were going, but since I knew most of the group was not attending I decided to go in support for our leader who is a good friend of mine. I would come to regret this decision.

When we got there I found that not only were we climbing the mountain we were going to be doing an activity as we climbed. Our group leader pulled string from her bag saying that we all had to keep one hand on the string as we climbed. We were going to be forced to stay together the entire way up, if one girl stopped we all stopped. The point of this was to strengthen our bond because of one of struggled it was all our job to help her.
My stomach dropped, no doubt I would be the slowest person. I had climbed the mountain once before and it was not easy for me, I stopped multiple times.

It became very clear to me about 15 minutes into the climb that this was not going to be good experience. The girls had gotten to a pace that was too fast for me. I knew I had to stop and take a rest soon. Stone Mountain is not a smooth climb, the trail is rocky and is consistently uphill. It’s an ideal cardio workout, I knew this because my chest was tightening the higher we got. I had to stop a few times and even have the girls slow down. I could see their frustrated expressions and I was filled with humiliation. I prayed our leader would let them go out in front of me so I could go at my own pace and not slow them down but no that would undermine the whole activity.

The girls-bless their hearts-tried to give me words of encouragement but I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted to be left behind so I could do this on my own without their attention. As we closed in on the steepest part of the mountain I felt as if I was going to pass out at any moment. But I was determined to get to the top, I had suffered so much already I would get the reward. Half way up the steep area I found myself unable to catch my breath. My breathing became very rapid and labored. “I think I am having an asthma attack!” I thought to myself. I regained my breath eventually after sitting and sipping some water.
With that scare the majority of the girls thought it was time to go back down. I and a few others wanted to keep going. They let me be the deciding factor, I relented and started back down. No longer required to hold onto the string we all scattered as we went back down.

This activity was supposed to bring us together strengthen our bond, make us more aware of each other. But I felt no bonds of sisterhood, I just felt fat.  All the confidence I had gained in the years since high school had dissipated in an 1 hour time span. I had never felt so limited in my body or so low in a long time.
Unintentionally I had become the example the activity was meant for. I was the girl who was struggling, who needed “help”.

The rational side of me knew that I had nothing to be ashamed of, we are all at different fitness levels. And if some of the girls were frustrated who cares? This is what I had to hold onto as I nursed my wounds when I got home that night.
One thing though nagged me more than anything, I had to get serious about my weight. I obviously needed to be more active.

Since then I have started working out more often and researching different ways to be active. I am discovering that finding the time is harder for me than the willpower. But I am determined to live a healthier lifestyle. My confidence is not what it was. Most days I’m fine others day I’m not, I’ll get there.

~

I want to hear your thoughts! Have you ever felt shame because of your body? Or felt like you were unable to do the same things as your peers?

 

 

 

*photo credit