Category Archives: Society and Such

I Could Have Been Her. [Trauma While Black]

Every day on my way to work I come to a familiar (and awkward) intersection; finding myself face to face with the woman of “what could have been”.

Let me explain.

I work in a small town and often see faces of people from yearbooks past and find out what most I graduated with don’t – what happened to __________?! Back in college, one of my high school acquaintances and I became closer and began hanging out with each other more. This meant meeting each other’s families and knowing parents and cousins on a first name basis. I distinctly remember one special cousin in particular who would come up to the college to hang out in our rooms some weekends. Cousin and my friend were more like sisters really! She was still in high school (about 3 years younger than us) and I remember her being so entranced by the college life. She was tall, skinny and was a really pretty girl overall. She would LOVE getting into some of everything, asking a million questions and sticking her nose into everyone’s business. To her college was another world.

Well, as college progressed, my friend and I eventually went our separate ways and adventured into young adult life. This also meant we didn’t see each other’s families like we once did – including Cousin.

Fast forward 11 or 12 years, and notice a strange woman aimlessly wandering up and down the street not far from where I work. It’s common to see kids skipping school or people saving gas by walking, but I quickly noticed that this woman was different. Not wanting to be rude, I’d try to sneak a glance at her face, but it seemed every time I passed her on the way to work she’d be walking IN my direction, so I’d have to turn all the way around to see her face. One day, I decided to just throw caution to the wind and look around. What I saw broke my heart.

It was Cousin.

She had transformed into someone virtually unrecognizable. Her hair had been shaved. She’d picked up at least a good extra 80 pounds and she had the distinctive stare of someone who had suffered mental trauma. Growing up in and out of hospitals and meeting countless of my mother’s special education students, I have developed a knack for recognizing when something is “not all there” with someone. Cousin had that stare. Since then, I’ve studied her as I drive to work. I’ve even waved a time or two to no avail. Her blank stare and babbling otherworldly chatter leads me to speculate – what happened? What happened to transform this giddy, lively girl into a woman who may not even know where she is most times?

Did she have an accident where she sustained a brain injury that left her incapacitated? Did she have a surgery that went wrong? Did she experience a traumatic experience that triggered the onset of mental illness? Is she under a spiritual attack?!

Looking at her each week puts me into a reflective state of “she could have been me”. She could have been any one of us really. Think about your own life for a few minutes.

Have you experienced a heartbreak or trauma that could have made you “lose your mind”?

Were you ever involved in an accident or event where you could have suffered a brain injury?

Have you ever felt the weight of your problems plunge you in a spiritual darkness, constantly hovering over you?

The truth is YOU and I escaped those things. Cousin, unfortunately, didn’t.

Take time today to really check on your friends, families, and classmates. Offer them an encouraging word if you notice on social media (or in passing) that they are struggling with something. Encourage them to seek professional and spiritual help. Let them know that there is NOTHING wrong with investing in a therapist and spiritual counselor. There is still mass stigma in the black community regarding seeking professional help for trauma.  It’s one thing to not be able to afford it, it’s another to simply dismiss the benefit of it.

As long as I see Cousin, I will continue to thank God that while I could have been her, I am not her! I will continue praying for her…her family…that they get the answers and help they seek. I don’t truly know what had happened to her, but I pray whatever it is, she stays safe, that she doesn’t hurt anyone else and that we all count our blessings!

— Joc

 

ps. Here are some helpful recources for you if you want more information specifically catered for African Americans!

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/african-american

  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culturally-speaking/201111/why-african-americans-avoid-psychotherapy

  3. https://www.therapyforblackgirls.com/

  4. http://bridgehavencounseling.org/counseling/profile-of-omar-king/

 

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Final Verdict on My Recent Anti-Fibroid Diet

This past weekend I let you in on my exhilarating experience in changing my diet to knock out the painful symptoms of fibroids and menstrual cycles while having them.

Day 4 – For breakfast, I found that saltine crackers are working well, so I stick with a few of those. It’s a Saturday so my day is filled with running errands, taxing family members around town and editing more photos from the wedding I photographed the week prior. Thank God I was able to finish off the last bit of salmon leftover from earlier in the week. I was able to pop it in the microwave and go! I felt like I was drinking more tea than water over the past few days, so I opted to drink water instead.  In between running errands, I had some time to reflect on how amazing I felt compared to how I felt a mere three weeks ago. UNBELIEVABLE! For dinner, I wanted to try something different so I decided to get about a pound of lean ground turkey (93% lean), brown rice, and make a Thai curry bowl using the leftover pineapple I had in the fridge. I was a little nervous because I’ve learned that bad fats exacerbates pain and nausea from fibroids but I decided to jump off the food ledge anyway and it paid off BIG TIME! While I finished up more work around town, I had a sweet potato baking in the oven and after sprinkling some plain cinnamon and a dash of kosher salt gobbled it up like it was a piece of cake!

 

Day 5 – Yesterday was the fifth day of my diet and it had the potential to be the most challenging yet. Up to this day, I had “max control” over prepping my food, but Sundays are usually the days where I not only eat two meals a day (before and after church), but I usually eat out with my family to bond. Of course, it felt like I was swatting down offers to try ‘this fried food’ and ‘that buttery roll’, but I made it through! I ordered the baked salmon with grilled mixed veggies and asked the waitress to leave off the lemon butter sauce (which no doubt would’ve tasted SO good!!! Uggghh) I also opted for a plain baked sweet potato with cinnamon instead of my beloved Caesar salad (the rich, creamy dressing is a no-no when it comes to cramps).  When I heard my grandma ask for brown sugar my heart lit up! After a quick Google search, I found that BROWN sugar does not complicate cramps like processed white sugar does. I IMMEDIATELY flagged down the waitress and asked her to add a small side-cup of brown sugar to my order. MAN OH MAN was I a happy camper! Not only was the salmon ON POINT (not as good as mine though.lol) but the brown sugar was the sweetness I’d been craving ALL DOGGONE WEEK! I didn’t even care that everyone else was drinking sweet tea and I had ice water.

 

So now I have neared the end of my little ‘experiment’ and I must say I am in PURE AWE of how God can heal us through FOOD of all things! This week has been the first in a little over 2 years that I have not experienced nausea and cramps during ‘lady week’ and if I will bare the honest truth to you all — I almost cried last night from the joy of it all. There is nothing like experiencing the warmth of the sun after battling through a cloudy, violent storm. So many dots are connecting in terms of behaviors, symptoms, and happenings. While I would’ve preferred not to have experienced the pain at all, I am grateful for what I’ve learned in spite of it and here are my main takeaways:

#1 FOOD… CAN… HEAL! Saying that humans complicate things is a gross understatement. We do it in the worst way and in every way! God is God. Elohim. The Creator of this whole kit-n-kaboodle we call a universe. He created us and knows what is good for our bodies — which is why He created certain foods with certain properties. While I enjoy the convenience of many processed foods and the speed in which I can have them on my table and the length of time they can be preserved in my panty — I now know without a shadow of a doubt, that it is not worth trading organic healing food properties for convenience. Will I drop EVERYTHING and start a farm tomorrow, never to eat at ChickFilA again? Probably not. But I will keep striving to steadily chance my lifestyle so I can make choices that keep my body happy and healthy.

#2 Being mindful of what you consume during your menstrual cycle can make or break your experience. As previously mentioned, the discomfort I experienced this past week was virtually nonexistent. By carefully choosing foods and drinks that were not only healthy but fibroid fighters, I traded in a bedridden week of sickness and gut-punching pain for a fancy-free week of effective productivity.

#3 Fibroids are the worst, but they don’t have to be. When I was diagnosed with having fibroids, I didn’t really know what to think or how to feel. I just knew I didn’t want them. I can honestly say that this week I felt shift internally and won’t be surprised if, after more time walking in this healthier lifestyle, my fibroids shrink away into oblivion. I have a few doctors appointments coming up so we will see how I’m doing! I know women who have had fibroids simply starve themselves off and never had to deal with them. I know women who have opted to have surgery instead. Either way, I am hopeful that fibroids won’t interfere or ruin my life. As long as I focus on living the best life God has for me, and praying for His guidance when it comes to making the wisest choices for ME — I will be alright. I will be BETTER than alright!

As I petitioned before, please keep me in your prayers as I continue to better myself and share the journey with you!

— Joc

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The Silent Marriage Killer

I was scouring the internet for topics that we could discuss at my love/dating event The Opposite Sex Revealed 4 (visit HERE details & tickets) and I came across this article by Derek Harvey called “The Silent Marriage Killer More Deadly Than Sex & Money—I Wasn’t Ready for This…” Here’s how it read:

Just after my wife and I got married, we attended a seminar on aiding the rehabilitation of human trafficking victims, particularly those trafficked for sex. (I won’t get into all that…that’s another story for another day.) In one of the presenter’s talks, he asked the audience what the biggest cause of divorce was. Since I had just been through premarital counseling, I pretty much felt like an expert at marriage. I shot my hand up quickly to answer the question, and blurted out, “Sex, money and communication!” …then looked at my wife next to me and grinned. Too easy.

“Wrong,” the presenter barked back. “Those are symptoms of the real problem.”

Ouch. Embarrassed much?

Not only was I given a sharp lesson in humility, but what followed changed my life. I was about to be told the best piece of marriage advice that this young, prideful, newly married man-boy could’ve ever asked for.

He continued…

“The reason marriages end in divorce is because of one thing…unmet expectations.”

*mind blown*

My newly married man-boy brain couldn’t handle the revelation. I don’t remember much of what was said after that. I was too busy thinking of all the unmet expectations I was already experiencing after being married a month.

Since that seminar six years ago, I have seen the pain and frustration that plays out from having unmet expectations, not just in marriage, but in all relationships. It’s a deadly venom that flows to the heart and wreaks havoc in relationships.

But having unmet expectations isn’t just a marriage problem. It’s a life problem.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re single, married, working, unemployed, old, young or [insert demographic here]. Having unmet expectations is lethal to everyone. No one is immune.

So…what’s the solution?

I’m a math guy. I ‘heart’ equations. I love crunching numbers and thoroughly enjoyed algebra and calculus in high school (although I probably couldn’t do a calculus problem to save my life now). So I came across an equation.

EXPECTATION – OBSERVATION = FRUSTRATION

Here’s what that means. Below are two hypothetical situations played out…

EXPECTATION

When I come home from a long day at work, I EXPECT my wife to have dinner prepared and ready for us to sit down and eat as a family. She’ll be wearing an apron with no food stains on it (because she’s perfect like that) and her hair will be perfectly done up. Meanwhile, my 16-month old daughter will sit in her high chair and eat with utensils…never missing her mouth, which makes cleanup a breeze. After we all finish eating at exactly the same time, we’ll head out into the Colorado sun and go for a nice family stroll, while the butler (you read that right…BUTLER son) cleans up the kitchen and prepares our home for evening activities.

OBSERVATION

I come home from work thirty minutes late, and dinner hasn’t even been thought of…much less started. Because of this, my toddler is screaming her head off, signing “MORE! PLEASE! EAT!” When I search for my wife, I find her working on a design project trying to meet a deadline that’s technically already past due. When I ask what’s for dinner, she glares at me the way only an overworked, overtired work-from-home-momma can glare (it can scald your pupils…so the legend goes). After picking up my toddler, I make my way into the kitchen to find an abundance of NO GROCERIES. So, being the manly chef that I am, I set my eyes on cheese and bread. “Grilled cheese!” I exclaim. I put my daughter in her high chair as an influx of rage bursts from within her. I quickly grab the apple sauce pouch to appease her. It works…for now. I get to work on my grilled cheese sandwiches. Everyone eats. The kitchen is left a mess. Toys are scattered throughout the living room just waiting to break someone’s ankle. My wife and I collapse on the couch, avoiding eye contact and avoiding volunteering to clean the kitchen. I could keep going but…you get the picture.

FRUSTRATION = The difference between the two.

Quite an elaborate illustration, I know. But I’m trying to paint the picture of what our expectations can be like versus what life is actually like…what we observe. (DISCLAIMER: In no way was that illustration indicative of my actual life. It’s either not true at all, or highly exaggerated…or spot on. The jury’s still out.)

Antonio Banderas says it best,

“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.”

The fact of the matter is this: In life, we often have expectations that go unmet, and we’re often frustrated because of it.

But we don’t HAVE to be.

Here’s the answer: Let your OBSERVATION take precedence over your EXPECTATION. Period.

In other words, go with the flow.

Some would say to not have any expectations at all. But I wouldn’t go that far. I think healthy, realistic expectations that are communicated are good to have. They’re something to reach for.

But when you come into a situation and your expectations aren’t met, let your observation take the lead. Discard your expectation in the moment and deal with reality at hand.

Tired of being frustrated? Then set aside your unmet expectations and face reality head on. Then, after the fact, have a conversation with whoever is involved about what you expect and why.

In what ways have you dealt with unmet expectations? How have you positively handled facing reality? What other ways have you combated frustration? 

What do you think? How do you feel?

You can check out more from Derek here: http://faithit.com/silent-marriage-killer-derek-harvey/

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<3 Lovely Advice <3

giphy (21)Health:

    1. Drink plenty of water.
    2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
    3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
    4. Live with the 3 E’s – Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
    5. Play more games.
    6. Read more books than you did in 2010.
    7. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
    8. Sleep for 7 hours.
  • Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

giphy (9)Personality:

  1. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  2. Don’t have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
  3. Don’t over do. Keep your limits.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  5. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
  6. Dream more while you are awake.
  7. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  8. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
  9. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
  10. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
  11. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  12. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
  13. Smile and laugh more.
  14. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.giphy (20)

Society:

  1. Call your family often.
  2. Each day give something good to others.
  3. Forgive everyone for everything.
  4. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
  5. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  6. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  7. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.giphy (5) 11

Life:

  1. Do the right thing!
  2. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  3. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  4. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  5. The best is yet to come.
  6. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

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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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I Finally Figured Out Why So Many Toxic Men Were Drawn To Me

This afternoon, as I’m perusing Facebook looking for great content to repost, I come across an article from Bolde.com titled “I Finally Figured Out Why So Many Toxic Men Were Drawn To Me”.

**CLICK**

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I wasn’t a fan of the profanity, but the points were spot on!

1. I WAS TOO NICE. 

2. I GAVE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. 

3. I WAS THEIR HOPE OF CHANGE. 

4. I WAS A FIXER. 

5. I AM TOO EMPATHETIC. 

6. I HAD GIVEN UP ON LOVE.

7. I DIDN’T HAVE HEALTHY BOUNDARIES. 

8. I WAS A GOOD LISTENER. 

9. I WAS TOO LAID-BACK AND EASYGOING. 

10. I DIDN’T VALUE MYSELF. 

11. I STAYED IN SITUATIONS LONGER THAN NECESSARY. 

I won’t take time going through the details, but I will say that this article speaks to my mindset in my late teens – early twenties! EVERY LAST POINT! I don’t know what’s wilder — the fact that there is someone out here who could put a “name” to my mindset, or the fact that someone just described my little dating life to a tee — either way, this is good!

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Take some time to check out the full article: http://www.bolde.com/finally-figured-out-many-toxic-men-drawn/

Blessings, Joc

 

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Wives Submit to your Husbands…

Ephesians 5 verse 21-33 is a popular piece of scripture that’s almost ALWAYS used in Christian counseling or when giving advice to individuals getting serious about dating for marriage.

Wives submit yourselves to your husbands.

The majority of us tend to stop at there at verse 22 but no one really focuses on what follows in verses 23-25:

“For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.  As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” (NLT version)

This talks about SACRIFICE. Jesus gave His life up for the church.

So yes, a woman should submit herself to her husband BUT he should be making sacrifices for her.

How can a woman be expected to submit to a man that she can’t respect?! The answer is simple. You can’t respect a man who:

  • Cheats with other women
  • Doesn’t work and isn’t out looking for a job
  • Expects his wife to support the family
  • Abuses his wife

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If you’re a guy thinking about marriage or are currently married, you’re not the “man of the house” if you just boss everyone else around! That’s not the way it’s supposed to be! A godly man does SO much more than that! He protects, provides, and sacrifices for his wife and children.

As a man, you only command respect if you:

  • take care of things concerning your family
  • are responsible
  • do what needs to be done so your family is taken care of
  • get out and work (even if your wife makes more than you)
  • are a good parent
  • put your family first

 

Anything else will get a…….

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Ladies catch a lot of flack for their struggle to submit to their husbands (yes I’ll acknowledge by the time we get into relationships we’re used to doing things our way) but rarely are men challenged to adopt a lifestyle that truly reflects a lifestyle worthy of submission.

So if you’re a woman dating a man who constantly cheats on you or abuses you in any way — you need to get out NOW! It’s not going to get better. Marrying him will only bring it out.

If you’re a woman dating a man who is always bouncing from job-to-job because he simply doesn’t want to work or if you’re married to a man who ups and quits his job out of nowhere — get help now! True, women can do these things but shouldn’t be expected to keep the house, raise the kids, AND take care of things outside the house. If you’re a woman who insists on doing that then fine. But just know it shouldn’t be EXPECTED of you if you want your relationship to mirror what God calls it to be. There needs to be balance! A man is not living up to what a true man is if he expects YOU to be the only one holding a steady job and providing for the family as a woman. No ma’am. I’m not knocking him if he makes LESS money than you  — that’s doable — at least he’s showing that he’s willing to work to support his family. But if you’re dating or thinking about marrying a man who just simply refuses to do anything but spend money — GET OUT NOW! If you’re already married GET COUNSELING NOW!!!

If you’re a woman dating or married to a man who expects you to change the tires, mow the lawn, drive the broken down car when he drives the new one, fix the leaky faucet, pay for the meals, pick HIM up and take him to work because he doesn’t feel like driving — GET HELP NOW! This behavior is not worthy of respect. Yeah if you’re married it’s not as easy, but with prayer and ACTION it’s possible for your husband to see where he needs to step up.

If you don’t, then you just signed yourself up for a lifetime of unnecessary stress that you as a wife shouldn’t have to take on.

Please know that this is not to slander men or badmouth them but it’s just something I noticed I thought needed to be addressed.

Be blessed,

Joc

 

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