Category Archives: Dear Diary

Random Thoughts on Life

It feels awkward being caught between faith and feelings.  You’re in limbo between what your heart says and what your mind thinks.

The choice is yours and only yours — and I believe that is exactly what makes it such an uncomfortable place to reside.

 

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Life-Changing Lessons from A Broken Leg (Part 2 of 2)

(continued from Life-Changing Lessons from A Broken Leg (Part 1 of 2))

 

giphy (50)By the fifth day of week two, my voice was functioning at about 87% and while I was physically tired and still feeling icky, the week wasn’t overwhelming – UNTIL – I walked into my parents’ house to my mother running around frantic and my grandma sitting awkwardly in her chair grimacing in silence. Once I asked my mom what was going on, she revealed just seconds before I’d walked into the house, my grandmother had fallen while exercising and she was contemplating on whether or not to call the ambulance. Since my grandmother is mere months away from her 90th birthday, no chances were taken and in the ambulance, to the ER she went. Mind you, it was freezing cold outside and despite still being sick myself, I immediately began to pray and joined my parents in the trek to the ER behind the ambulance. My grandmother was struggling not to go into hysteria as fears and statistics began to bombard her head. Within the hour, we found out that she’d broken her leg/hip. We were ALL stunned.giphy.gif

 

If you know anything about geriatrics or have been around an elderly person, you know that for a healthy adult, the same injury that could take 4 to 6 weeks to recover from, could take an elderly person a year to heal. I basically spent the night in the ER before going home for an hour of sleep them back to work to finish up the week.

#LIFE-CHANGING LESSON B: you can plan all you want, but you will NEVER be in full control of the future. Tread wisely.

Getting sick totally changed every plan I had in a day. Plans that I had in place for months – including church choir duties – instantly crumbled into nothing more than good intentions. My grandmother (who has NEVER had a major surgery) at the ripe old age of 89 had her life changed IN AN INSTANT as her break required surgery. This further solidified the truth that I always really knew about life here on this earth – we’re not 100% in control of it. Your job, your health, your money, your family, your friends, your possessions, your status could all SHIFT in a nanosecond without any warning. It CAN be a scary reality, but it doesn’t have to be. Being at peace with this life-truth challenges me to give people their flowers while they’re living and treat folks with respect. It challenges me to love the people who are for me and show grace to those who don’t understand me. It prompts me to really be clear about what I want in life, and do what I can and need to live my best life.

 

Well…. it’s now nearing the end of week three and while everyone has been running around getting themselves together for Halloween, I’ve been making daily arrangements to pack for work while staying the night with my grandmother at the hospital as she recovers from her surgery.  I’m dragging from fatigue and I am seriously behind on photography work, but I love my grandmother and desire to do what I can to help.  While I’M still not at 100% health myself, I’ll tell you, the conversations had and the laughs shared between my grandmother and I have forever altered my faith in genuine family connection.

#LIFE-CHANGING LESSON C: family connection in its purest form is more important than anything in this universe (behind a relationship with God through Christ).

My entire life I have never lived in the same town as anyone on either side of my family. My nuclear family (dad, mom and I) have pretty much been ‘loners’ in a sense. This is the first time in my entire life that I’ve been able to physically see someone from my extended family daily, drop in to say hi, eat dinner together, watch a movie, and talk about random memories without the pressure of the sun setting. My love for my grandmother and appreciation for my family, in general, has grown exponentially. Growing up (before cell phones, the internet, and texting)  I depended on my parents to “remind” me to call my family; not because I didn’t love them, but because I would always wonder “what will we talk about? I’d rather just wait until we drive up and visit them.” Which is what would usually happen.  I actually did myself a disservice because while I would eventually talk to my grandparents, cousins, long-distance friends, I missed out on so many opportunities to connect. This week recovering with my grandmother has challenged me to continue to put the phone down when talking with loved ones (because there will be time to business later). It’s also brought on regrets that my other grandparents didn’t live long enough to know me as I am now. A woman who can converse, laugh, take care of, and be there for them as a friend. I can only give what I have to my family now. Which brings me to the last life-changing lesson I’ve learned in the past several weeks….

 

#LIFE-CHANGING LESSON D: I desire to be some man’s wife and somebody’s mama some day and if that has to be later than sooner, I’ll be okay. I’d rather keep moving forward and learn all I can before the next season in my life.

The past year as a single woman has ushered me into a period of reflection: What type of marriage do I see myself having? What type of wife and mother do I see myself being? What type of man do I TRULY see myself marrying? What do I need to work on personally?

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The time spent with my grandmother has answered virtually every question on the list. This week I did things I NEVER thought I’d do and sacrificed comforts that I would rather not give up – but I did them out of my love and respect for family. I’ve confirmed in my heart that if I’m going to be some man’s wife and somebody’s mama, I want to BE present. I want to nurture, support, and comfort my family – even if that means sacrificing reasonable comforts of my own. While it took some time to reacclimate to the ‘single life’, I realized that aside from my ex-boyfriend and I having different ideas, I’m single at this very moment for another purpose – to help take care of my grandmother and to grow more into the woman I say I want to be. If I were married right now, there is NO WAY I’d be able to learn all that I’ve recently learned because I’d be splitting my time with my husband and taking care of my own home. If I was a mother, I’d be doing the same. My mind, and time would be split IF I weren’t in the space that I’m in now. While I do desire to be married before I’m 90, I’ve realized that if I say I truly want to be the best wife I can be and marry the best husband for me and be the best mom my kids could ever ask for – I have no choice but to keep moving forward, take the lessons I’ve learned, get back out there/apply them, and leave the rest up to God.

If you see me around town this weekend let me know what your thoughts are on what I’ve had to say. I know I’m not alone. I’d love to hear your story and cheer you on in your journey to a better you!

 

Be blessed, Joc

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Life-Changing Lessons from A Broken Leg (Part 1 of 2)

These past two to three weeks have been what I would consider ‘life-changing’.

On November 16, I caught a terrible virus from a family member and overnight I was in Urgent Care getting a shot in the ‘hip’ and contemplating if I could push through the work day or not. It turns out (per doctor’s orders.)  I was forced to call it a day HOPING I’d get better soon so I could get back to work.

It turns out, God didn’t plan it that way.

Tuesday afternoon brought on a new symptom (other than the sinus drainage and a terribly scratchy throat/sneezing) ……. one large order of VOICE LOSS! Nevermind that my job as an insurance agent requires me to TALK 95% of the time! ** insert a “what are you telling me LORD?!**

With one fell swoop, my entire year supply of sick days was wiped out and I was forced the following Monday to return to work, with a hazmat mask on, barely being able to speak above a scraggly whisper.d21b601d09f254a6301b0c4004f8045b.620x400x1

Most of you who read my blog know that I’m a freelance photographer and will undoubtedly feel my pain to know that in addition to being out of work and running out of paid sick leave, I also had to reschedule a slew of fall special shoots I’d already rescheduled due to an emergency family conflict. I was calling on the LORD (in my heart) heavy now! Appearing unprofessional and flaky was NOT my goal when I initially set up these shoots months earlier.

**in a 60-something year old black pastor voice** Somebody turn to your neighbor and say BUT GOD!

Thankfully God heard my cry and blessed me with my go-to videographer-friend Rashaad (who is my second photographer on weddings and events) and allowed him to be off work so he could step in for me.

# LIFE-CHANGING LESSON A: Be thankful for the good people God has placed in your life and be good to them.

One of the things that bothers me most as a business person is when a situation legitimately makes me appear as unprofessional or unknowledgeable. I love photography. It will always be in my heart; and while there will always be people who will try to “get over” on me or dislike my art, I don’t always take it well when “life” happens and interferes with how customers perceive my business.  This is why I’m thankful to have someone like Rashaad on my team and I always try to be a good as a friend as he is to me. He didn’t have to take on those shoots for me. He could’ve said “well to heck with you, I ain’t got time for it!”, and watched as I crashed and burned – but he didn’t. The importance of true friendship and partnership was illuminated to me in this moment. I was inspired to try and be there for my loved ones when they really need me (although I may not be able to help all of the time.) God divinely orchestrates certain relationships to help us live our best lives and live great.

 

Back to the sickness.

By the fifth day of week two, my voice was functioning at about 87% and while I was physically tired and still feeling icky, the week wasn’t overwhelming – UNTIL – I walked into my parents’ house ….

(to be continued)

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Life lessons I learned from Miss Lucy

Lucy. Lucy, Lucy, Lucy.

She’s the friend every woman has but doesn’t really like. Whenever she comes to visit, she’s a pain in the butt and literally saps every bit of energy you THOUGHT you had stored up. The only time she doesn’t come around is when you have a kid, but then she’s right back at your front door after they’re home a month or so.

imagesIf you haven’t guessed by now, Lucy is the menstrual cycle that comes ‘round every month. The two of us have had a hate-hate relationship since I was in middle school and it’s only gotten better because I know once I hit my fifties she’s outta here! So I can deal with her for another 20 years or so.

Anywho, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had SERIOUS issues whenever Lucy came to visit. More than normal – to the point my little twelve-year-old body could turn from a shining example of happy-go-lucky youthfulness into a tangled pretzel of agony in a matter of seconds.

As I’ve approached 30 years living on this earth, Miss Lucy has brought more bounce to the ounce as the pain has doubled, my energy has gotten freakishly low, and a myriad of other oddities have found themselves sneaking into my life.Menstrual-pain-470x219

When my natural instinct has always been to quit my job, curl up in a ball, and sleep all day; Lucy has forced me to pull it together, pray, and get through!

 

Lesson # 1 – Pain is inevitable in life.

On a scale of 1 – 10, the pain I endure every time Lucy pops in to say hey is about a good — umm — CHILDBIRTH! Now I know I’ve never had kids before, but I’m pretty sure the pain I experience is as close to childbirth as I can get! I’m talking pain where your entire body writhes, pain that lingers every time you sit up, pain that makes you want to throw up and pass out. Yeah. That type. Regardless of how much I hate pain, this experience every trip around my body’s sun keeps my attitude in check. It reminds me that I am human and as unfair as it may seem, I’m not the boss of everything. The only thing I can truly control is my response to negative experiences during this life of mine. I don’t have to let painful events or happenings warp my view of the future or kill my hope….I can just deal, choose to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and push through!

 

giphy (31)Lesson #2 – I need God.

Maybe this should’ve been listed first. My oh my – the need for God has been scribbled in jumbo marker ink all over my entire existence! To experience the emotional ups and down, energy plummets, and nausea has taught me to lean on the everlasting arms of Abba Father! There is absolutely NO WAY in this entire universe that I would be able to make it through anything without Him. I need the strength only given by God through my salvation through Jesus Christ. I as a mere human do not possess the strength necessary to DEAL with half of the stuff I’m able to day in and day out. I’m don’t agree with “we’re all gods and goddesses” – naw, we are image bearers of God, but we ain’t Him ya’ll. HE made our bodies as they are. HE gives us that extra burst of juice we need to push through the pain. HE whispers to us “keep going, I’m with you” when life gets too hard to deal with. I (and my body) are physical testaments that the help of God is what’s allowed me to not check out.

 

Lesson #3 – Resilience is my spirit animal.

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I’ve always said that resilience is the primary name of my game. Since birth, I’ve had to bounce back from some pretty tough hands, and regardless of what I was dealt, found a way to grow from the experience. When Miss Lucy comes around, there is nothing “prissy or missy” about her. She is a savage Amazon warrior who plays rough and keeps you on your toes. One month, I may be out of work for a week. Over the course of several others, I’m fine. Some, I’ll have close calls and just pray my way through – but in each situation, I’ve found out that I was better than I was before. Whether it’s becoming stronger mentally, getting much needed rest physically, I’m able to emerge from Lucy’s visits happier and more renewed than I was before she came. Sure, I may be running on emotional fumes the first day or so after she leaves, but eventually, I get my mojo back.

 

Lesson #4 – There is never a time creativity can’t come out to play.

giphy (19)What I mean by this is, balancing the consequences of mother Eve’s idiotic decision-making skills has caused me to be creative in figuring out ways to stay working, making money, and functioning at a normal level. Whether that’s taking cat naps in my car or ignoring phone calls to sleep for 5 hours or create a makeshift anti-nausea tonic from ginger, carbonated water, and pain pills – my creativity is usually called to light. You always think of using your creativity to manipulate photos, paint, or create kiddie forts; but you never think of how creative you have to be when it comes to maintaining life balance!

 

I’m about 98.72% sure that reading this post has been one of the most oddly interesting things you’ve done today, but don’t let the lessons escape you. Though Lucy has taught me these things, they are still applicable to every aspect of life.

Be blessed ya’ll

  • Joc

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Comparisons and Idols = #RelationshipKillers

Soooooooooo it’s been awhile since I’ve spilled my thoughts onto these digital pages so let me commence to spillin’…..

17038467_3267564373568_7968188302165185448_oOver the past few months, I ‘ve been gearing up for the website relaunch of my non-profit event The Opposite Sex Revealed. (I’m excited to official be able to say non-profit). At its core, The Opposite Sex Revealed (The OSR for short) is an annual panel forum hosted in Wilson NC that allows guests to dress up, enjoy positive and fruitful conversation while getting their deepest questions answered about and BY the opposite sex!

Naturally, all of this relationship and marriage talk has me in the mindset of — dun dun dunnnnnn love! Seeing as how my last relationship ended going on six months ago (it ended on pretty awesome terms, complete with mutual understanding and all — I’m blessed ya’ll #unicornbreakup) I again found myself single, back in a space where I began to observe the dating world around me.

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One thing I’ve found (that didn’t change during the year and some change I was in a relationship) was the fact that COMPARISON and IDOLATRY have nearly saturated the entire sphere of love and marriage. What I mean by that is this: think about how dating must’ve been in the early 1900s compared to today. Today we can get a date with a swipe, we screen physical attributes before even meeting the person, and with our ability to travel, can carry on a relationship with someone a million miles away! If we feel they don’t fit in our life — on to the next. Before dating as we know it came into existence, there were no computers, cell phones, apps, access to world travel, and most people didn’t move from within 50 miles of their hometown. Many people (especially African Americans) didn’t go to college; let alone own a car so chances are you found your future spouse in the supermarket downtown or crossing the street.

Let me pause to say that I don’t advocate we shun everything technological and move to the Amish Country, but what I AM saying is, perhaps we should take into account that many of the elderly couples we see married 30, 50, even 70s years didn’t have access to the countless dating options we have today; thus they were put in a situation where the dating pool was simple and the lessons in love were hard. 

I think this is one reason why there were more long lasting marriages “back in the day”. Yes, I’m aware, some people just married for security. Yes, I’m aware that some just married to keep their families together. Yes, I’m aware that many marriages of old were arranged. Yes I’m aware that some people just got married to the first person they dated because they felt “stuck”. I’m not talking about those.

giphy (13)I’m talking about the simple courtships that blossomed into fortified “ride or die” marriages through faith and the mindset to love through the tough times. Without the distraction of a million potentials crossing their eye gates every 3 nanoseconds, they were more likely to stick with the 80/20 rule and work through the minor issues and flaws that fell in that 20%. 

Now-a-days, singles seem to fall into two categories:

GROUP A- They are afraid of commitment and often break up over minor flaws for fear of making the wrong choice. With so many potential mates out in the world, they are frequently going back-and-forth on whether or not they are dating the right person. They DO value marriage (or at least long-term companionship) but are often looking for a unicorn ….so they stay single as they float from person to person, refusing to FEEL like they’ve “settled”.

GROUP B- They have no current desire to commit or get married. They can be found consistently playing the field and have no problem changing from person to person until the time “feels right”.  They often believe love is flawed and have no real faith or hope in it anyway, so they just see where life takes them.

The clash of these two groups in cahoots with the “many options” we have and the idolizing of #marriagegoals without the willingness to put in the work has made for ONE BIG DISASTEROUS POOL OF BROKEN HEARTS AND COUNTLESS SINGLES!

What do you think?

Be Blessed,

Joc

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Things Fall Apart – Minute Inspiration #GodReigns

leap-of-faith_724_482_80Many times God allows things to fall apart so we can realize just how much we need Him to not just survive, but thrive in a world that’s crumbling down all around us. To set our minds on the flesh/world is death, but to set our minds on the spirit is life. Many people justify (in their minds) not believing in God due to the constant tragedy going on around us. If it’s constantly raining and freezing, does that not make you appreciate the sunny days that much more? If you’re dealing with sickness or tragedy, does not a smile from a child or the presence of a butterfly create a silver lining in all that’s going on? We may not understand His reasoning with our finite minds, but that’s where faith comes in. Faith allows you to conquer a situation that would otherwise defeat you. God is real, He is sovereign, and He is there with His hand of love outstretched waiting for us to grasp and hold on to it IN FAITH! Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. ‪#‎GodReigns‬ 

— Joc

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God Brings Peace — Psalms 23 In Real Life

I haven’t even had the mental energy to write  this month because of all the ‘life’ distractions looming around every corner. Given what they COULD be, my distractions aren’t really that bad; but when you have to juggle your day job, personal work, family time, friend time, AND church time — things can get a little overwhelming! In my opinion physical tiredness kicks rocks when compared to MENTAL fatigue.

This year has been a period of change for me. I’ve been placed in some uncomfortable situations and have been faced with making tough decisions regarding — life.  You can imagine a computer with a gazillion tabs open at one time….yeah, that’s a visual of my mind juggling all of these day-to-day decisions.

After having my mind racing a mile a minute every single day, yesterday, God lifted up a scripture from the pages of the Holy Bible allowed me to experience it in real life. It was Psalms 23.

After a pretty busy day at work, and going off of fumes from the busy week before, I was MORE than happy to walk through the doors of my front door. Not only was it raining a tsunami outdoors, it was still sticky and hot, so I gladly walked to my room and kicked my shoes off. I sat there for a bit trying to remember if I had anything I needed to work on.

Did I have any pictures to edit? Nope.  Did I need to work on OSR stuff? No.  Did I have to schedule anything for Next Up? Not really.

After going down the list I decided to take some time and spend it with God. So I did. I gently took out my bible, and looked up passages that dealt with my current problem of focusing on God instead of my busy schedule. After reading, I felt more at peace than I had a a LONG while, chatted with God for a while and feel asleep peacefully to the calming sounds of the beating rain outside the safety of my room walls. I truly felt that I was living out Psalms 23 and that God was leading me beside still waters and allowed me to be restored with uninterrupted sleep.

This morning I feel energized, at ease, and more focused. I know this doesn’t mean life will cease and I will be able to sit at home and do nothing but sleep, but yesterday was just the renewal and spiritual refreshing I needed to get me through the last half of this year.

When’s the last time YOU’VE lived out biblical scripture?

– Joc

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