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Category Archives: Be Encouraged

Philippians 3:13-14

May 8, 2016: My grandpa died.

May 16, 2016: I attended the funeral of someone I loved for the first time.

My grandpa and I talked regularly to catch up on our lives, or that’s what he led me to believe– he really just wanted to check in on his granddaughter.

On that Monday, I checked in with him one last time with a group of strangers I call family.  One by one we reflected on what he had done for each of us and, as these strangers expressed their grief in his passing and joy in knowing him, we bonded over his memory. Tears were shed, but you could feel the love he had imparted on his community and family during his lifetime. I couldn’t help but wonder if my death would bring the same reaction. It was evident that in his church, marriage and overall life he worked to make an impact on each person he came in contact with– even if it was just through a smile or “how are you?” I know I try to be as nice as possible and I’m almost always respectful, but would it matter if I left today? So as his niece, my cousin, expressed how wonderful he and his siblings were, I decided to make a genuine effort to leave my best, positive impact on this world.

I resolved to be kinder and more loving, to walk like a real Christian and read my Bible as often as possible because there wasn’t a day when my grandpa wasn’t enjoying the Word. They say people change people, and if ever there was a man who could do it it was Jesus, but my grandpa was His servant so I guess he could too. He sure changed me. My grandpa showed me that even when you’re sick and can’t do what you use to, you can still do what you can do. And, if he can be that example, I can do what I can do now without waiting.

My grandpa always encouraged me to go after my dreams. If there was an opportunity, he wanted me to take it and make the most of it. He taught me that you have to work for what you want, and that while you’re working– if you work hard enough– something extra may come through. My grandpa’s mission wasn’t to be the example he was, but his work led him to be just that.

Peace, love and fairy dust,

His Privy Princess

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Posted by on May 28, 2016 in Be Encouraged

 

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Society’s fork

Eating is the foundation of civilization– well it’s the foundation of my civilization– and the fork is the cornerstone.

The fork allows us to indulge in foods like spaghetti, salads, pastas, pizzas ( for those who prefer not to get their hands dirty) and a number of other family dinner specialties. But is that the only thing we use our forks for? Stories show that pitchforks have also been commonly used in the history of the human species. They were used as weapons by individuals who weren’t wealthy enough to afford better forms of defense, grasped by Satan in cartoon images and held high by mobs rallying to go burn a witch or other unwanted individual. And it seems we still haven’t put our pitchforks to rest.

The National Center for Educational Statistics states that, in 2015, 22% of students reported being bullied during the school year. Now we know the stories of a group of adolescents teasing and torturing one of their classmates out of boredom or hatred only for it to result in a tragic loss of some kind. However, what we don’t know are the stories that veer off the traditional name calling path. These stories are created through memes and other such posts, and are the societal pitchforks we call humor. They seem innocent and harmless, but behind them is a source of humiliation unknown to its audience.

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I ran across this photo the other day. At first glance, it may seem humorous, but ever considered who the person was? Or what they might feel when they saw the photo? Maybe even placed yourself in their shoes? I mean saying “we need to find it and kill it” is pretty strong language. This photo appeared in a Twitter post on June 2014 and ran across my Instagram feed May 2016. If this kid had dreams of stardom, I’m sure this wasn’t his idea of rising to the top.

With an increased population, larger communities and fast-paced lifestyle it’s easy to forget to “love thy neighbor”– let alone defend them– so viral bullying seems like a logical result. But with an increase in all those things, a lack of sympathy for a fellow human doesn’t seem to go along with the scenario. But apparently not everyone thinks the same, as one young lady chose to take it a step further and find the source of the ridicule and share it with friends.

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These kind of photos are passed around daily by teens,preteens and adults without the slightest regard for human emotions. The likes, lols (laugh out louds), omgs (oh my goshs) and emojis encourage their distribution in an effort to gain likes, followers, and advance one’s status by belittling someone else. We can’t allow this to happen. That lol comes at the price of someone’s parent, cousin, sibling and child. You wouldn’t lmbo (laugh my butt off) if it was you, so don’t lol because it’s not. By reporting these kind of derogatory posts, we can begin to eliminate them from our social media and put down our pitchforks.

Peace, love and fairy dust,

Privy Princess

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Be Encouraged, Be Pensive

 

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In a Trance

In a Trance

Twenty-one. It’s an age of joy, laughter, freedom and inadequacy. You either don’t drink enough or you drink too much. There’s too much business and not enough “business ;).” It’s the age where everyone’s married, has kids, is successful, just came back from Europe and felt the need to post it to the latest social site… and then there’s whatever you’re doing with your life for the day. It’s the age when you want to crawl under your blanky, hold on to the plushy of your choice, close your eyes and wake up 30, flirty and the thriv– Stop! You’re too old for that. Is it just me or have I made a U-turn into high school, where chicks have cliques and over powdered faces slice into you like ham at the deli– STOP! Open your eyes. Everything’s gone and it’s just you and the noise, but this noise is different. It’s calmer. You’re at the oasis. The place where bodies of water stretch before you, seagulls fly ahead, bikinis hug your confidence and nothing else matters. It’s the warm blanket and plushy of the universe. Lay on a towel, sit in your chair or immerse yourself in the serenity of tranquility, either way nothing else matters.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Oasis.”

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Be Encouraged

 

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I knew I could

I work out twice a year: once for Thanksgiving and once for Christmas— unless you count catching the Black Friday sales as a workout. I’m a girlie-girl. I love pink, shopping, dating, and hanging out with my girlfriends— but that’s not the extent of who I am. Like every other human being I’m complex, but my father didn’t see it that way. As a misogynist—a person who hates, mistrusts, or mistreats women— my father made it clear that I had only one role in life. To do whatever a man tells me.

If it didn’t involve getting married, preparing for marriage, or doing what he wanted there was no point in the activity. So when I stated that I wanted to learn how to ice skate at the age of six his reply was simple. “You’re not ready. You’re not mentally disciplined.” In layman’s terms “You’re not smart enough.”

I saw athletes as superior beings. They were pretty, strong, accomplished, they were above the influence of others, and I wanted to be one of them. However once my dad left his ideas stayed with me through freshmen year of college, so I never asked to play a sport again. But I stayed adventurous and goal-oriented, so when a women’s rugby player invited me to practice I agreed.

Arriving in boot cut jeans, a V-neck pink shirt and a black purse I walked towards where the team was gathered. (I must mention that my Big, my big sister in my sorority, had come along for safety reasons—she thought I’d get crushed or something.) I had no intentions of playing that night. I simply wanted to see what rugby was, and go from there. The player who invited me was happy to see me, but having to practice left me in the hands of an injured player, Alyssa, who attempted to explain what was happening on the field. When I finally began to understand the simple things, like throwing and running, she went a bit deeper. “Do you have running shorts?” she asked. “I have yoga shorts. I can run in those, right?” She showed a bit of amusement— I took that as a no. Here I was a girl who had never even touched cleats, and preferred yoga shorts over running shorts because they had that cute fold over band. I wanted to break free of the stereotypes shared by sorority and girlie-girls, but I hadn’t even broke free from the influence of my father.

I arrived to the following practice in Nike Air sneakers, a pair of sky blue running shorts, zebra spanks and an old middle school shirt. My whole ensemble, minus the shirt, belonged to my friends.

We began stretching and the team chatted for a bit before getting into practice. Once the stretches were over the coached walked towards me and we exchanged some military-like banter.

“What’s your name?”

“Hannah.”

“What sports have you played?”

“None.”

“What team?” She hadn’t heard me.

“Never.”

“Perfect.”

She turned away and walked back to the field of uncertainty. If I was nervous before, I was very well peeing my friend’s spanks now. Was she being sarcastic? Did she like the fact that I was fresh from the concrete? Was I in over my head?

She called for the girls to gather round and gave instructions for a drill. I began to follow the slimmer girls to their designated area— “You stand over there with Alyssa,” coach says.

She’s scared for me to.

Over the course of the next few weeks I asks questions during practices and try to get to know the girls— who giggle and chat during breaks but will knock you to the grown on the field. They try to be as helpful as they can—the coach still isn’t letting me play—but I decide that I can do this.

Now that I’ve decided to completely join the team, my first—and most important—order of business is to get my outfit together for practice. My cleats, gym bag, and shorts have to be perfect. I start my online search by opening tabs for Target, Walmart, Dick’s and Amazon. After a few hours of browsing I order my cleats and rugby shorts and am pretty satisfied with how little I spent. However I still don’t have a gym bag, so I take to the magazines. I look at the best styles and brands to see what I like, and I settle for a bright pink and gray Champion Gym bag—which I also got for a steal. I even brought a flavored mouth guard. (Fruit Punch— they were out of bubble gum.) When my cleats and shorts arrived I was beyond excited—well not so much for the shorts. They had an elastic waistband with a drawstring—a big no-no for fashion.

When the day finally arrived, I laced up my cleats for practice. I imagined learning how to run in them would be like learning how to walk in pumps, so I didn’t want to wait until my first game. I was finally allowed to join the ranks and go through some drills. We did some passing of the ball. I tried to focus more on getting it to the other girl than making it spin—the other girls had no problem doing both. The coach wouldn’t let me participate in tackle drills because I hadn’t taken my concussion test, so I passed the ball back and forth for several weeks.

Then the glorious day arrived. I wasn’t sure how to tackle correctly, and although I knew I could pack a punch the girls on the team were a lot bigger and meaner than me—and I had begun to feel like some had a strong dislike for me.

“If I have to explain it to you one more time I’m gonna slap you.” Suddenly this 100 pound girl—whose hair was kept in a long-flowing ponytail and whose voice sounded as sweet and harmless as can be—became a menacing tiger because I wasn’t sure where to go on the field.

To top it all off, in the course of my month worth of practices three girls had been injured—for a girl whose never broken a bone the thought of doing so was terrifying—I hadn’t told my mother I was on the team, and I had no insurance. Yet when the time came for myself and another player to tango I was more than ready.

I wanted to show them what this girlie-girl could do.

So when the whistle blew, signaling for us to start, I sprinted to the goal watching my opponent charge toward me with every intention of taking me down. Her hair was pulled back, sweat dripped down her face— but she didn’t bother to wipe it away—she wore Under Armor tops and bottoms to every practice—the stuff made for the best of athletes—she was dedicated, and she was strong. She had been on the team for about a year and was known to have a passion for the sport, but in my head she was just another player. She grabbed me around the waist and tried to pull me down. I did my best to keep moving, but after a few steps I was pulled to the grass. It was amazing. I got back up and got in line to do it again.

Once practice had ended, and we were all ready to go home I couldn’t help but smile. I had walked the forbidden fields of freedom, and— although I hadn’t completely overcome my dad’s voice in the background— I had managed to survive it.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Be Encouraged

 

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A child’s laugh

A child’s laugh

Last night I had one of the best moments of my 20 years of living. It didn’t involve shopping, or my boyfriend, or any of the usual aspects women of my age worry so much about.
It was the embracing of my inner child.
Now don’t get me wrong, I watch Disney movies just as much as any other 3- year- old, but last night was a different kind of inner child. It started off like a regular night. I went to bible study, and once we had ended the study with a closing prayer a little person called for my attention. Because I’m so use to the call, I didn’t hesitate to answer it. It was one of my beloved princesses waiting to tell me about how she was getting her hair done for school (she’s like 4 or 5, so hairstyles shouldn’t be a big problem at her age, but more on that later.) Anyway, we talk and she asked to play a game on my tablet. (Here I have to include that because I’m so use to having kids around me, I have at least 4 child friendly games on my tablet and phone. You can never be too prepared.) I let her have my tablet and sat down with her to watch her play the classic game of Tic-Tac Toe, but as she started to play a little boy came up and wanted to play too. I allowed the two to play the game together and before I blinked twice I was surrounded by 4 children competing in a game of Connect Four. They cheered each other on, accepted their loses humbly, and moved through my collection of kids games with ease.
No surprise right? Kids are attracted to electronics like ants to an outdoor picnic. And that’s true, but there was one kid in the group who wasn’t playing: a fifth child who simply enjoyed cheering and encouraging their peers. It was me. I completely embraced the moment and enjoyed the group of youngsters hovering over my tablet figuring out the game of Pac Man. I cheered and got just as rowdy as them, and I won’t apologize for it. See when the little princess had called for my attention, I was bee lining for the door and on my way home (perks of living across the street from your church).

I didn’t want to talk.

I didn’t want to smile or hug.

I just wanted to get home to talk to my boyfriend. 

It was the call of innocence that made me decide to stay a bit longer, but I tell you she helped me more than she knows. That night I left the church uplifted and energized because I had relaxed and stopped worrying. I embraced the child in me with a group of Pre-K through 2nd grade kids, and while their parents and church goers looked over to see what the excitement was all about I looked up at the adults from my spot on the floor with a smile that only those kids could share.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Be Encouraged, Be Yourself

 

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How to handle my mother and maybe yours too

How to handle my mother and maybe yours too

I’d first like to say I understand I’m only 20, and therefore I’m new to this whole adult thing.

With that said… Let me live my life. Thank you.

I love my mother to pieces, but sometimes she can go from caring to controlling in a heartbeat. As a college student I meet guys– some I like but most I don’t. In fact, since I’ve been in college I haven’t mentioned a guy because the one I liked needed to past a few tests and the rest didn’t exist in my world. So when she met this new gentlemen– the aforementioned male past the test– I expected her to be a bit surprised but not crazy. I got crazy.

Since she’s met him she has:

  1. Told him he’s not in the church and gave him a pamphlet (within an hour of meeting him)
  2. Expressed her dislike of him not being in the church– for two weeks now.
  3. Expressed that she will not attend our wedding (should he not join the church).
  4. Continued to discuss marriage (despite me insisting that she doesn’t).

Again I understand this may seem normal (minus the whole church thing) given that I am her baby girl, but I still get irritated by her constant worrying about my future and marriage decisions. (I mean neither of us have mentioned marriage; we just started dating in April.) So here’s how I stay calm– hopefully these methods hold up for the next 11 weeks.

  1. Remember I’m the daughter– not to mention the youngest daughter– and that means she’s extra worried and extra protective.
  2. Given that my dad’s out of the picture she’s forced to take on two roles, so she is going to get a bit rowdy to say the least.
  3. She cares and only wants the best for me.
  4. Some of what she says is good advice.
  5. Nodding and going with it makes it go by faster– sometimes.
  6. DO NOT mention him unless she does.
  7. Breath and count to 30 to stay calm.
  8. Staying busy keeps her from asking questions.
  9. Reassure her that I will be okay and I can handle this.
  10. Allow her some room to be a mother. I am still her baby girl.
 
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Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Be Encouraged

 

Against all odds

I went to college.

“BY definition, foster children have been delinquent, abandoned, neglected, physically, sexually and/or emotionally abused … two-thirds never go to college and very few graduate … those who do have an uncommon resilience,”  said New York Times in October 2013.

Five of those listed apply to me. Four applied to me from first to sixth grade. One applies to me now. I guess you can say that I’m abnormally resilient because even after it all I still smile, and laugh, and believe in myself and others.

I was physically abused from the age of six to eleven, sexually abused from age ten to eleven, and by age twelve I was homeless at no fault of my own. (The only upside to being homeless was that the abuse stopped– or at least it did for me. My mom took what I wasn’t getting.)  I was placed in foster care a week before my twelfth birthday, and I only had my younger brother to keep me going. We didn’t see my mom for a year and when we did we had to live with my grandma. Yet through it all I smiled and didn’t complain.  Now I’m a college sophomore majoring in journalism. But I didn’t avoid all the stereotypes.

I was a run away for about 3 days- left all my purses and shoes at home, so I had to go back and get them. (That’s how they got me– packing light has never been my specialty.) I lost my virginity younger than most of my friends. When the guy and I broke up it hurt more than I could have ever imagined, and I lashed out even more. (It was the whole not having a father complex I suppose.) My lashing out got me into a lot of trouble and by the time I turned sixteen I had learn more affective ways to express myself.

However, I learned a little too late and it resulted in me getting raped a few days after my sixteenth birthday. It was the beginning of my sophomore year in high school.  I was broken for a few months. I still smiled and everything, but being raped again brought back horrible memories. I felt like that was what my life was always going to be: abuse and let downs.

Thankfully I had a great family– literally and figuratively speaking– and they helped me through it all. Many didn’t think I was going to make it through high school– let alone graduate with scholarships. The idea of me not being pregnant seemed nothing short of a miracle to many, and of course people questioned my influence as a young lady in a church, but I kept going. I kept smiling. I kept encouraging, and I kept my head up. I got through it all and I’ve made it where I am now. Believe it or not I’m thankful for the experiences I’ve had because I can help those in the same position(s) or heading for the same trouble. I’m now a single college student, without any children, a lot of great friends and even better dreams, so I would say that the New York Times was right– I am pretty resilient.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Be Encouraged

 

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