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You Should Go and Love Yourself

You Should Go and Love Yourself

For as long as I can remember, I have disliked things about my body.

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When I was a kid, I hated the gap in my teeth. My big lips. The acne on my skin. My kid belly. Even my feet. I was so self-conscious of myself, constantly playing the comparison game with people around me and on television.

As I got older, it only got worse. I told myself no guy would ever like me. My hair wasn’t cute enough. My clothes weren’t on trend enough. I was a nerd. I was a Christian. I didn’t go out. I stuck close to the few friends I had and created a place of safety.

Sadly though, that place wasn’t safety. It was just safe. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with safe and having legit friends who support you. But, I was afraid to do more or be different. And that’s where I crippled myself.

In two weeks, I’ll be 28 years old and I’m just starting to love myself completely. I’m just starting to come to terms with the fact that my backside and thighs are noticeable to people in good ways and bad. I’m just realizing that those big lips I hated as a kid are now a commodity people wish they had, and they’re beautiful. People love me for my quirky personality and it’s okay to be an outcast (in the eyes of “the people”).

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I had once convinced myself that this picture was horrible because of my teeth. No. It’s beautiful.

As the saying goes, there are people in this world who will love you for exactly who you are. But do you love yourself?

Those things you find disgusting about your body or your personality could be the very thing that others love about you. So what some dirtball told you that your looks aren’t up to their standards? Who are they, really?? They shouldn’t be up to your standards!

Psalms 139, verse 14 says “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” No one has to convince me that I mean anything to them once I have come to the knowledge that I am a fearfully and wonderfully made being, marvellously created by an awesome Creator. He’s one who makes no mistakes in what He does. And “my soul knows this right well”. Without a shadow of doubt, I know that I’m wonderful.

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I’m wonderful – gap teeth, big arms and acne included.

All these negative things that we tell ourselves isn’t anything but lies.

These things we say to ourselves about ourselves, are contradictory to what God has already said about us and what we should know about ourselves.

So instead of giving life to the negative voices already inside my head, I did what I could do to kill the voices that resided inside me for years. This isn’t to say that it’s something easy to do. Like I said, I’m 28 and I’m just now coming to grips with my greatness. What I am saying is that, I have decided to not walk around with bad energy about myself everyday. I have chosen to love myself. And you should too. You’re the only one who has to be with you all day, 24/7. And no one wants to be around someone who’s constantly tearing them down all day. Instead choose to find one wonderful thing about yourself everyday and hold on to that awesomeness. In the discovery of the small things, you begin to piece together how great you really are.

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Just be fun, goofy yourself! 

 

All my Love,

CJ

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In SUMMER! *insert Frozen soundtrack*

In SUMMER! *insert Frozen soundtrack*

Hey Fam!

So, last Thursday was the first day of summer. I was all excited about it until I stepped outside into 92 degree weather in humid North Florida. Seriously. Summer for us should have begun on April 21st, not June.

Nevertheless, I’m excited about this summer (and just the rest of this year period). 2018 has already taught me so much about life and how things can change in an instant and be wonderful and eye-opening.

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To get myself in the summer spirit, I went blueberry picking a couple of weeks ago. I was hoping for a warm day with some fresh summer breezes blowing through but uh….nature had other plans for me! I still was able to come to some realizations while out there though.

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  1. I’m not still enough. Though there were others in the fields with me, there was a certain stillness in the air that just made you clear your head, and talk through things with yourself and God. It was quiet and made me slow down, paying attention to what was around me. The beauty of nature…of what God created. We sing a song in church that says “mighty are the works of Your hands, Lord”. In that moment, I remembered that the same God that crafted this earth also made me. I’m a mighty vessel made from his hands. And I need to come back to my creator more than I do – to talk to Him. To embrace the stillness.

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  2. Peace comes in the disconnect. One thing about it, you can’t pick blueberries and look at Instagram (especially not in that summer sun lol). I know summer is here and we all want to go to the beach, put on our swimsuits, eat a ton of good food, go on vacation with friends and post a bunch of photos. But for why??? (yeah I said it!) This summer, go on vacation or hang out with friends and take photos that you keep private. Better yet – don’t take any photos at all. Just enjoy the moment. I went to the blueberry u-pick with my boyfriend. Yes, we took photos (clearly). But we basically said, we’ll take photos for the first few minutes and then just enjoy our time after that. We’ll always remember that day as a time where we were away from every other distraction and were able to have a serious conversation uninterrupted from anything else but a passing butterfly.

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Call me crazy, but I enjoy finding those still moments. They bring the clarity to situations that a lot of us spend months trying to figure out in the midst of the hustle.

 

All my Love,

CJ

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Goodbye, Kate Spade.

Like a lot of people, I was taken aback by the news of Kate Spade’s passing. I’ve never been one to keep up with designers. However, when I thought of Kate Spade, I imagined someone full of life and joy. A quirky woman who wore glasses and had tickle parties with her daughter. She very well could have been that person, I don’t know. But, I would have never imagined she would be someone who would want to take her life.

I began thinking. Kate Spade had everything so many of us work for in life. She had a family. She had a successful business and career. Friends. Money. Power. Influence. Yet, there was still something missing for her. And that reminded me that the things of this world don’t matter if you don’t truly have peace of mind and Love.

We run ourselves down over relationships and jobs. But where’s the fulfillment really? Can you rest at night? Do you have energy to go throughout your day? Are you at peace with yourself?

So many people search for peace in this world. And in a world where there are more people depressed and feeling alone than there are people who care about them, I have no choice but to look to Jesus. In Him, I know I find peace and refuge. Also with His direction, I have found people who were placed in my life to help keep me above water. I don’t know where I would be without my support system.

My prayer in this time is that people will learn from Kate’s passing. If you’re feeling lost, find help. There are resources available outside of social media that can benefit you. If you know someone who has been depressed, reach out to them. Depression isn’t something that just goes away in this society. People can wear many masks. Pay more attention to the people around you. Your family members. Your friends who seem to have it all together. That coworker that struggles in the next office. Don’t ignore the silent cry. Lend them your heart. Write someone a kind note. Send a text of concern. Call.

In times of defeat, any sign that someone cares is worth the effort.

2018 Goal Update – Quarter One

Hey Lovelies!

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So yeah, this post has taken the whole month to get put out. *rolls eyes*

Again, I’m a walking example of what I talk about on this blog! Consistency is key! No matter what life throws at you and how sleepy or tired you are – MAKE TIME FOR YOUR PRIORITIES.

Moving on….

This is my 3-month goals update! (For my original goals post, go here) So April has rolled in and started out the second quarter of the year. It feels like I just posted my 2018 goals last week! Time is waiting for no one. But, it’s all the more reason why we should not “put off for tomorrow what we can do today.” Tomorrow will literally be five months from now, and you’ll look around like, “where’d the time go?”

So, here’s an update on my goals so far:

Love God Well
WINS: I have gone to every bible study class this year (I think…maybe I missed one?). Also, I’ve started working on events for the future. We had one in March that my commitment was a little piss poor on. So, I’m punching myself in the gut to give it a good effort for the remaining ones this year and next.

PROGRESSION: So yes, I started my KJV chronological bible plan. However, there’s a feature in the bible plan where you can “catch yourself up” if you’ve missed a few days. Let’s just say I’ve used that feature twice already. And as I type this I’m currently two days behind. But, I’ve progressed. Also, I’ve had it on my list to meet with the youth group for two months now. Three scheduled events have been cancelled. Let’s hope the one for April is the game changer.

Love yourself well
WINS: I finally listened to my sister (who’s basically a doctor) and got an appointment for a neurologist. I’m glad I made that decision. I’ve become a little more conscious of what I eat. Meal prepping has been a bonus in this category. I got a juicer for Christmas so it has been a useful tool the past 3 months.

PROGRESSION: I have budgeted every month with EveryDollar and an Excel spreadsheet, however, I have went over in one or more categories in January and February. March was my first semi-balanced budget. April seems to be on track so…let’s pray! I’d say I listen to Dave Ramsey on YouTube twice a week instead of three, but that’s only because I’ve switched to more podcasts. So I’ll probably just listen to his podcast instead of the YouTube channel. We’ll see.

PROGRESSION: It’s April and I’m just now establishing a sleep schedule I can work with. I have been prepping my day the night before. However, the early rising is still an issue (probably because of that not-so-established sleep schedule). Made some lifestyle adjustments, so looking forward to better outcomes with this during this quarter.  

PROGRESSION: By now, I should be on book #4. I’m still on book #2. Literally have no reason. Just lazy. However, I did join a local networking group for young professionals so I’m excited to meet new people and not be SO closed in. I think I have identified a place I’d like to volunteer – just need to visit the center before finalizing that decision.

PROGRESSION: Clarity & Strength is off  to a decent start, but posting 2-3 times a week – not yet.  Also haven’t touched Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator yet but it’s still in the plan. My future career literally depends on it. Pray for me.

 

Love others well
WINS: This is the section I’m most proud of! I’ve been doing pretty good at remembering birthdays this year (and not because Facebook told me). I actually bought my brother a physical gift this year. Not a gift card to a restaurant. GAME CHANGER. We did have our first “family fun night” back in January, but now that it’s a new quarter, it’s time to do it again! Another game changer, I welcomed a healthy romantic relationship into my life. He’s awesome. Talk about words having power!
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(Brother-in-law Ellis doing the honors)

PROGRESSION: I’ve visited and called my grandmother a few times, but not nearly as much as I’d like to. She’s my only baby left. Have to step this one up.

PROGRESSION: My “friend-guy” had to remind me once about my commitment to putting my phone down when I’m around people I care for so that has definitely been a big help. Also, my Granny brought it up to me when I sat with her one day so it absolutely reminded me to put it down.

 

As you can see, there’s a lot more progression areas than wins, but nothing that I’d call a fail. It’s not that I don’t have time for certain things. These things just have to become more of a priority in my mind first for it to stick. The past two weeks, I’ve been doing my favorite thing – evaluating me. My habits. My thoughts. My commitments. All the things I said I would do to make my life great this year. I’ve got a new fire under my tail, but I pray it stays lit. You never know who’s watching you or what lives you can change if you stay consistent and remain faithful to your goals.

Tell me what you’ve progressed in this year so far! I’d love to know.

All my Love,

CJ

Some Times Are Harder Than Others

Rough days. Overwhelm. Shootings. Illness. Frustrations. The state of the USA.

Some times are just harder than others. When these times come, if feels like they last a bit longer than the good times, but they don’t. I’m reminded of my last blog post that emphasized there being a season for all things. This may be your season of triumph and victory. Days are good and things are prospering. For some of us, this may be our season of testing. Can we keep the faith? Can we stay encouraged?

Life is not meant to knock you down, but build you up into the person you were destined to be. Life is meant to sharpen your skills, reveal your strengths and enhance your talents so you can use those things to help others.

Today’s post is simply a note of encouragement. No matter what season you’re in, don’t give up, persevere. No matter which season you’re in, the other one is just around the corner.

Embrace the Season

Tuesday marked the start of a new season. Spring.

Here in Florida, birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, the wind is churning. Seasons are changing.

Just like the seasons of our environment change, the seasons of our lives change. We know it’s upon us. We can feel the weight and the pressure of transition taking place.

There always seems to be a point during the transitioning phase that I realize I’m transitioning into a new season.

Sometimes, the transition is light and sweet. It kind of just eases upon me like a loving summer breeze. And then there are times where everything comes crashing down like the house on the Wizard of Oz (you know, after the tornado has dragged it for a while and Dorothy’s not in Kansas anymore). Everything that can go wrong will and it feels like a domino effect. I have a tendency in this season to be 10x more cranky, 10x more unbothered, and 20x more irritated. I know this because Tuesday was that day for me.

I became annoyingly aware of the transition and I immediately began thinking: how can I better handle this seasonal change than I have in times past? How can I condition myself where this frustrated, unbothered, snappy version of Cortney doesn’t come out every time a new season of life comes up? I shouldn’t begin to freak out every time life brings about change.

Spring brings pollen that swells my glands and smothers us all.

But do we die? No!

We keep going outside for more because at the end of the day, it’s only for a moment. The reward of this new season is much greater than the suffering we have to endure for it to get here.

As the seasons transition in your life and you find yourself in a funk, here are a few ways to combat that negative energy:

 

1: Take a deep breath. It’s not rocket science, really. Sometimes we’re just always on and on the go that we don’t take the time to just “chill” (even for 5 minutes). As those moments of pressure build up and cause life to seem unbearable, we can wreak havoc on our bodies because we don’t stop moving.Take a moment to just breathe, cry it out, or work it out (#gymlife) and embrace the changes that are happening around you. It’s ok to break for a moment.

2: Talk it out. Find your “person” who can deal with the outrageous, irrational version of you and talk through your frustration. About 95% of the time, the talk alone helps ease the pressure. Bonus: This person can tell you when you sound like a whiny four year old and you won’t debate them.

3. Clean it up. A ton of frustration can come from seeing the same things lie around the house or office everyday. Take a couple of hours and just clean. Purge your way to a better head space. Trust me. I don’t even like to clean. It works.

4. When all else fails, take a day. You’d be amazed what a full 24 hours of uninterrupted rest, relaxation and meditation can do for you if you tried. With a new season comes new opportunities, new challenges, and new adventures. You have to be ready for them. Prepare yourself. It may seem corny to some, but taking a day (or even half a day) to center yourself, be with God and pray for strength, peace and wisdom for the upcoming season can be the thing to make or break your ability to thrive in it.

 

Ecclesiastes 3, verses one declares, “to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

I believe that spring is a season of new beginnings and renewal. So much joy, light and growth can come from this season. However, if you’re feeling funky and can’t shake it, there’s a purpose for that feeling. Don’t run from it. Embrace it. And then do something about it that will benefit you and those around you.

 

All my Love,

CJ

 

Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love

Welcome back friends! Last week was rough, had death in the family and some trying circumstances, but I’m back. All my love, CJ.

 

Where I’m from, March 12th is a day of remembrance for a true saint and friend.  

Melvin J. Ray

Not only was March 12th his birthday, but it was also the day he and God decided he didn’t need to be here anymore.

 

Melvin was the life of the party when there was no party. Every single person he came in contact with was impressed by him. There was no one he would not help; no atmosphere he would not change. He was literally an angel sent from God to remind us that there IS a God. Melvin Ray showed us what it meant to truly be good, be kind, show love, have fun, be merry and EAT!! And he loved God with all his heart (not to mention he was one of the best guitarist on this side).

Today is simply a day to express gratitude for the legacy of Melvin Ray and thankfulness for the brothers God gave me.

I only have one brother by blood. However, because of Melvin I have multiple spiritual brothers that I do my best to love and annoy. I care more about their lives. Their hopes. Their dreams. Their character (when they let me….they really try to avoid me when they can lol).  At the end of the day, you never know when you won’t be able to make those memories or share their lives with them. So I cherish them.

We should take cues from people like Melvin Ray and esteem no one person higher than the other. Love our neighbor. Be true friends that stick closer than a brother. In these days and times, friendships thrive where family members fail.

Melvin taught us all to love on the people around you. Do less talking (especially ABOUT them). Show people you care. When they’re gone, you’ll wish you had. In this generation, we have a tendency to call each other “bro”, “sis”, “bestie”, “best friend”, “homie”, or “fam”. But what does that even mean to us anymore? What value do these people truly have in our lives? Do we let people in?

Usually, no. We can’t trust each other. Secretly, we don’t even like each other. But weren’t we put on this earth to help save each other? To work together? To operate in unity and in strength for the glory of God and the edification of the brethren?  

It makes you think.

CJ
P.S. Shout out to my super-aggy, secretly protective drummer genius brother, Steve.

And Bobby and John! *laughs*

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