I am not here for The Celebration of Dysfunctional “love”

Daily Adventures

I don’t know what it is when it comes to relationships nowadays. I have realized that it’s kind of celebrated, expected or assumed that a Black woman is to be a “ride or die” and put up with countless of non sensical things from her significant other in order to be deemed a good girlfriend/ significant other.

It’s like we have to endure pain and put up with things as if that is supposed to be part of our love stories. As if  Black women are supposed to always be constantly waiting for someone else to get their life together to love them the right way. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that love is sometimes complex so are relationships and so is life and that relationships come with both good and bad, but there has to be a line.

I understand that people make their own decisions and can decide to partake in whatever situations they choose to, but what does not sit well with me is the celebration of Black women being victims in unhealthy toxic relationships as long as the end result is marriage.  As if the unhealthy and toxic magically disappears once vows are exchanged and a ring is put on someone’s finger.

What I am saying is you do not have to accept to participate in struggle love, in “less than” love, in “once in a while” love, and in dysfunctional love because it isn’t Love. No one has to.  Relationships are to be built with God at the center with genuine Mutual love and support. You absolutely do not have to continue the narrative. Abuse, constant pain and enduring does not have to be your love story just because Black women are strong and resilient.

Your story does not have to reside in you constantly breaking your own heart waiting for someone else to finally act right. There are people out there who will love you the right way.  You do not have to carry someone else’s brokenness and dysfunction on your back. Sometimes love is you walking away. It’s also you ackowledging how God values and loves you, and honoring that by loving and protecting yourself from being devalued by others. ( thank you to Angelo G. for reminding me of this)

Love,

Lori

 

 

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“I am Waiting on God?”

Daily Adventures

“I am waiting on God” is something I hear people say all the time regarding relationships, careers, and life in general. Putting our complete faith in the Lord is something I admire and something I try on a daily basis to live up to. But, it may be problematic when we use “waiting on God” to justify other things like:

  1. Not Taking Action

Have you ever said yourself or heard people say:” God will close this door if it’s not meant to be?” or “God will give me a sign” etc. though these are not completely wrong all the time, how many times have we allowed these to keep us from acting? I remember hearing a story that went like this:”

“A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.

Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”

The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.”

So the rowboat went on.

Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”

To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So the motorboat went on.

Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”

To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.

Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”

To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?” (Source: Here)

Sometimes we are this man. We don’t take action as if we are waiting for God to live for us or to act for us. I know this has also been me. Like “God would have closed this door if it wasn’t meant to be”, or “God will give me a sign” while I am sitting there not using the free will that God gave me to make the decision that aligns with His will. God gave us free will so I doubt that He will live for us.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 

Faith is also based on actions. If you are not asking, seeking, knocking like the verse says, you are blocking your own blessings by not claiming what God meant to do for you to begin with just like the man who was waiting to be saved, but never acted on it.

2. Not taking responsibility

Just like the man who drowned and ended up saying how God didn’t save him, sometimes we use this as an excuse to not take responsibility for us not acting or for not doing. God calls us to trust Him with everything, to give everything to Him, but He also calls us to act, to make decisions that will lead us to where He wants us to be. Faith is not passivity. Our relationship with God in my opinion should be a two-way street where we also act when we are called to do so instead of letting our fears or insecurities have us expect God to literally move us.

This got me thinking about any areas in my life where God is waiting for me to act on. Whether it be through my love life, career, academics etc. What about you? Any areas in your life you need to faithfully act on?

 

Love,

Lori

How to Create Beautiful Flat lays

PhotoStories, Thoughts

A flat lay is when you photograph items from directly above using objects (most of the time) to tell a story, display a brand, or both and more. Whether for Instagram or for your blog, good flat lays are very appealing. Here are 4 tips to creating beautiful ones:

  1. Choose a neutral background

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You can arrange your items on a white sheet of paper/cardboard/sheet etc. Or you can pick a background that is darker or in my case a wooden background. The above picture was taken using my patio’s wooden floors. You can also pick a background that has a neutral pattern like I have done below. I have used different sheets I bought from Michael’s for a couple of dimes and paired them together.

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2. Pay attention to the lighting/Orientation

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Natural light is better to take flat lays so take your picture close to a window maybe or in a well-lit room in your home. Walk around to find the best lighting for your flat lay. The one above was still taken on my patio since natural light filters in. Make sure that your phone or camera is parallel to the surface.  Stand on a chair if you have to. (which I did to take those). If you are taking the flat lay for Instagram, Make sure you use the square option on your phone camera. If it is on your camera, you can do like I do by taking the photo as wide as you can so you can crop later if necessary.

3.  Make it Pretty

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Use your items in a way that looks good. Pair different items together while styling them in a way that is appealing. Use the way your orient your items along with which ones you  choose to pair. Do you want the focus to be in the center? top or bottom? Arrange your items accordingly. You can also choose to add a pop of color

4. Make a Theme/Create a Story

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Flat Lays tell stories. The items that you choose to pair tell the person seeing it what is it you wanted to convey. Can you come up with themes for the above picture? Comment them below.

Love,

Lori

What Camera Should I Buy?

Thoughts

                       This is probably the question people ask me the most on social media besides what camera do you use. Truth is, it does not matter as much as you think. Spending time trying to figure out what camera to get is a complete waste, IF time is not spent to further your knowledge in the basics of photography/videography  etc. When I first started my photography business, I had a cheap camera. I had a basic camera. No fancy lenses or fancy equipments.  I still managed to shoot engagements/ graduation/landscapes etc. with happy customers. Yes,  a professional camera has saved me time in processing, but none of that would have mattered if I had not taken the time to learn and develop a technique for myself. It is a learning process and a work in progress. I am also glad I did not have a professional camera to start with because it helped me learn the basics of photography and helped me figure out a lot of things using DIY methods.

I took these photos a while back. When I first started to consider venturing into photography as a business, and not as a hobby as it started when I was a child.

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Disappearing glass. No edits. 2012

 

Factors

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 There are some factors to consider though. Finding a camera that suits you or that you feel comfortable with is also important. I have very small hands for example so I need a camera that gives me a good grip regardless of how big it is. So I think a camera that is comfortable to you should be a factor.

A second factor would be the price. Buy something you can afford. Especially if you are a beginner that intends to make a business out of it down the line. Buy something you can afford and learn on. Later on when your business starts developing, you can upgrade your gear. I know people who spent a lot of money on cameras that they never ended up using because they didn’t/couldn’t figure it out, or because they were not sure it was a passion of theirs to begin with. Don’t break your bank account for something you are not one hundred percent sure of.

What you are using the camera for is also an important factor. If you are using it manly for videography or manly for photography, there are cameras tailored to work best in each or in both. This Post gives good insight about cameras that are well suited for videos  in different price ranges.

Now my advice to you is buy what you can afford. If you can afford a professional camera right away, good! If you can’t, don’t worry about it too much for now. Buy a decent one (Canon and Nikon cameras are usually the go to although there are others out there just as good like Fujifilm and Olympus) that is tailored to your needs, and spend time learning the basics and developing your technique. Later on, you can always upgrade your gear. At the end of the day, that is what makes the difference between the shots you take versus the ones someone else takes: Not the camera or the equipments used, but you and how you see things!

Love,

Lori

 

When The Shoe Does Not Fit

Thoughts

                      I walked into a store a few years back and saw these beautiful wedges. If you know me, you know heels aren’t usually my thing although I DO love them, I just always pick comfort over wearing them. I can do with wedges though! you know they are comfortable not as much of a pain as regular heels. Anyway, I saw them and instantly thought I wanted them. I wear size 6 in sandals and 7 in regular shoes, but we all know how sizing can sometimes not be accurate. I looked at the size of the wedges and realized they were a 6. I thought: “I am a size 6!” (except this wasn’t a pair of sandals). I tried them on anyway and they were super tight. They looked good on my feet, but super extra tight.   To be honest, they didn’t fit. I thought well I will make them work. I will break them in in no time and took them home.  Believe or not I didn’t only do this with shoes back then.

This behavior was all over my relationships with friends or boyfriend. I had this thing where I would realize that someone wasn’t actually meant to stay in my life or just meant to be there and I would hold on to them thinking I would/could make it work. This went on in almost every relationship I had to the point where I would bend myself backwards to “make things work” with people not meant for me to begin with.

Not loving myself and not knowing my worth in God, made me settle to trying to shape myself to fit people into my life rather than allowing the right people who fit into my life to come to me and stay. I was so bound on making shoes that weren’t meant for me fit that I was loosing sight of the ones God had just for me.

How Has This Affected My Relationships?

I wasn’t being One hundred percent myself making it easier for me to be confused about who genuinely cares and who doesn’t. As a result, it was actually hard to have meaningful friendships not based on just hanging out and joking or doing stuffs together. At the end of the day, not one of my “friends” actually knew who I was aside from things I do or superficial characteristics like “Being a nice person” or a helpful person. I was a people pleaser. I couldn’t say no without feeling bad about it sometimes despite my own well being. There is a fine line between being selfless and being a people pleaser. Selflessness comes from a place of love and service while being a people pleaser tends to come from not owning who you are.

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How  Has This Changed?

I wasn’t liking where my life was headed with this and it took time for me to actually really love myself and to own who I am. Knowing who you are makes you realize that you are not for everyone and that everyone is not meant to be in your life. And that is totally okay. Knowing myself and owning it made me not willing to make anything that wasn’t for me fit anymore. I grasped my identity in Christ and in society which led to me knowing what I want, who I want to be, and who God created me to be. That led to me not settling for anything or anyone less than what/who was meant for me. 

As a result, I have made meaningful relationships with people I truly cared about and people who genuinely cared about me. I also was willing to let anyone or anything that was not good for me go and it was totally okay with me. I am okay with saying no because I only say yes if I am not at the same time saying no to myself. I was confident in God and true to myself, beliefs, and morals. I learned to truly be selfless how God intended me while being myself.

Honestly, I prayed about it a lot. I realized so many times how it breaks God’s heart knowing that He made me and that I was not willing to be who He created me to be. I was not willing to realize whose daughter I was. God sent me people, answers, and the realization of His love through His word to help me through this. I am forever grateful.

Even though I knew in theory about all those things that God says about me and how much He loves me, I had to relearn them and fully grasp what they meant. God has made us in His image. He has redeemed us. He loves us. We can either create a temporary identity for ourselves or we can claim the eternal identity that is found in Christ.  

I am sharing this because if this at some point was/is also you, know that you are enough just for being yourself because you are “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  Find strength in God and in His word. Bring Him your worries so he may show you the way to go. You are so beautiful and loved beyond what you can possibly imagine! So whether it comes to shoes, things, people, learn to accept what is yours and what fits you and let go of what doesn’t. The unnecessary pain you get from forcing things is not worth it.

Here are some verses that I found helpful:

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”- Psalm 139: 13-14

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”- Luke 12:7

“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”- Genesis 1:26

Love,

Lori

 

 

I did ‘Something New’ Every Day for Three Weeks: Here’s What Happened

Daily Adventures

 

Routine has always made me feel stuck or just plain annoyed; so to spice things up a bit, I decided to do something new every day. One new thing each day for a couple of weeks. Little did I know that it would last three weeks and still going on today.  It went from simple things like eating a different dish to stepping out of my comfort zone and talking to strangers. This is definitely something I will keep on doing every time I seem to fall in a monotonous life. Here’s what happened:

  1. I found new places

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From taking a different way home or a different bus or just walking around, I found different  locations for photo shoots (I’ll even post about them, if you are living in Gainesville it could help you out). I couldn’t believe I had missed them before!  I also found a new Pizza place that I intend to try as soon as I am able to because pizza is life!

       2. I met new People

I got lost taking a new bus to work. It ended up working out because I saw some places I had never seen before and I met someone new on the way. This guy who was on the bus helped me find my way. I also had tea with this lady I met while having lunch and ended up learning about her going to medical school, switching her major three times and getting the job she wanted. It was a great conversation about pursuing what you love. Funny enough, during that time where I was looking to do something new, new experiences seemed to follow me around!

3. I discovered new things about myself

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From buying/ making a different dish for lunch/diner, I found out I actually like food I thought I would hate. I also found out that having a full on good conversation with a stranger is something I enjoy. It made me realize that very often we don’t give ourselves the benefit of the doubt because we are too afraid to try new things or we don’t want to get out of our comfort zone to actually give other things or people a chance. I am very mindful so I don’t end up putting my own self in a box.

4. I felt more confident

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Being able to fully choose to do things I had never done before gave me confidence in knowing that I chose to do this so I can only fully assume the consequences or the outcome. I volunteered myself to train another coworker on using a machine I have used before for testing and did well. It was a wonderful experience although I did get rejected a few times if I am keeping it real. I asked a stranger to photograph her and she said no for example. I am currently learning to not take rejection personally by willingly putting myself in situations where I know I will be rejected. I will let you guys know how it goes.

When was the last time you guys did something new and what was it? Let me know in the comments!

Love,

Lori

 

How I Keep My Prayer Journal

Thoughts

I have been asked about prayer journals since I have published 3 Reasons Why You should keep a Prayer Journal. I know it took forever, but I usually pray before I post anything and if I don’t “feel” it, I will not post it. Whether or not I actually know what I will write about. Anyway, I am sorry it took so long! Let’s get to it.

My prayer journals are usually journals I use to keep track of my growth with God and of my relationship with Him along with my conversations ( prayers) with Him. To be honest, it doesn’t have to be an actual journal in my opinion. It can be on your electronic devices, but I personally like to write and to have a physical journal so that is what I go for. Really, this is all about you and your preferences, but here  is what I include in mine:

  1. The date and even the Time

I didn’t use to do this, but I found it to be very useful to know the exact date and time when I was feeling a certain way or what I was talking to God about. It doesn’t matter that much, but personally I think it’s useful when looking back and realizing how God has been leading me.

 

2. Learned today Section

This is going to sound silly, but I usually write what I have learned on that day or what I have improved or not improved on. I don’t mean on an academic point of view, but about life in general. For example, I may write that today I have learned  or was reminded of the importance of humility and write how I have come to this conclusion. I have found that little things like that go a long way. I would write what God has put in my heart that day and anything that I feel is worth putting on there. That way, I also remember to thank God in my prayers for a particular improvement or pray that He helps me in this particular area so that I may be more like Him. For example, patience is a big thing for me. I have none whatsoever when it comes to certain things; sometimes even little things. So, time and time again I would write that I need to improve on my patience because I felt irritated because of this and that. It is a good way to acknowledge feelings and things that need work. I would then pray to God that He gives me the patience necessary to be able to love a little more like Him every day and that He teaches me how to do so. It is a work in progress, but I am getting there with His help.

 

3. Bible Verses

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I also like to include any bible verses or anything I read that day or that week that spoke to me or that I need some light on. That way, I can remember to ask God to open my heart and mind, and send me His holy spirit so that my mind, heart, and soul can grasp what he wants me to take away from a particular passage. I find this to also be a way to remember and keep in my heart what I have learned from reading a particular book.

 

4.  Prayer

This is my favorite part. I would make sure I read what I previously wrote down so I remember exactly what to thank God for besides the usual millions of things and I would pray about what I need to work on, where I have failed Him etc. I would also give thanks for what I have learned from a particular bible verse or what I need His help understanding.  To me, it is usually a conversation, as personal as it can get. I usually write “Dear God” to begin. This part is all up to you! Just open your heart to your father and be sure that He listens!

 

These are the four things I include in my prayer journal. Since I like to keep things organized, they are indeed in this very order, but as I said before, it is all up to you! I am sharing how I keep mine to maybe give someone else an idea. I hope you found this useful! Let me know in the comments!

 

Love,

 

Lori

To My 18 Year Old Self

Thoughts

This text I wrote in my journal last year and added things to it. I wanted to document how things have changed and I wanted it to be a reminder to be grateful for every single change good or bad. For Christ has carried me through it all. Maybe these are things I wish someone told my 18-year-old self, but anyway that’s not the point. Why am I posting this besides the obvious reason that I can and want to? Well the purpose was and still is to document the journey and if this helps a 18, 19, 20 or whatever year old somewhere, I’d know that it served its purpose:

You will forgive your dad and your mom will become one of your best friends! How crazy is that! Moving is not as hard as you think. It’s going to be okay. You’ll adjust. You always do.

You’ll find love, you’ll lose it too! only to finally learn that love is God and love is in you so you can never lose it. That heartbreak is not the end of your world. It’ll be okay. You’ll be okay. You’ll learn that the best way to love someone is to love them in a way that lets them feel free. You’ll like that guy, but you’ll also learn to let him go voluntarily because you’ll learn that chaos is not love. You’ll also learn that the right person does not come with heightened emotions and messiness, but with calm and peace of mind. I repeat it, love is calm, reassuring and peaceful. Don’t mistake chaos and dysfunction for love. 

You’ll learn how to say yes and mean it and how to say no without regrets. You’ll learn to let go. You’ll learn to be and love yourself. All of it.  Girl! You’ll even cut off all your hair at some point!  In fact you’ll do it twice! Don’t worry about wearing hats to cover it up because you will absolutely love it! You’ll love every bit of yourself all the time even that scar on your right shoulder!

You won’t ever care about what people think of you and you’ll let go of fear. You’ll travel and visit places you never thought you would. You’ll graduate and go somewhere you never thought you would. You’ll find work. The perfect one for you too! You’ll move out of your mother’s house and learn to “adult”.

You’ll learn photography and so many other things! I know you love learning so get ready for this! You’ll even have a blog! Keep up with your writings! You’ll see why some day. oh and you’ll learn praise dancing and you’ll love it so much that even when you’re tired you’ll still go to practice! I know you want to learn sign language now so don’t give up on that just yet! You’ll figure out what you want to do and you’ll love it.

You’ll lose friends, but you’ll find new ones too. Most importantly, you’ll find the right ones. You will grow apart from most of your high school friends and that’s okay. You’ll learn to speak up, to walk in your truth no matter what. And you’ll learn to stand up for God, your beliefs, and others. You’ll be braver than you ever thought you could be. The earthquake and all you’ve been through will leave some scars, but you’ll learn how to make the best of it.

People will still sometimes treat you wrong, but forgive them. Forgive a lot. And sometimes, speaking up and saying how you feel clears up a lot of misunderstandings. So say how you feel and explain more.

oh and you’ll meet God! I mean much better than anything you’ve experienced with Him before. You’ll get re-baptized and become Adventist like your mother! Who knew right?? But Trust God! He knows what He is doing! When He tells you to do something, don’t ever question it! Do it right away! You’ll fail Him still. You’ll get away from Him at some point, but hang in there! He never leaves your side and it gets better. You’ll eventually find your way back.

You’ll still make mistakes, but you’ll learn from them. Go easy on your mother, she is trying really hard. Your brother will still be your partner in crime so don’t worry. There is so much that you’ll learn and I could go on forever, but let me not ruin this for you more than I already have!

Love,

Lori