I’M HAVING A BABY.

You read that right. Six months from now I will welcome a mini-me into the world. Don’t worry, he/she will be complete with my good looks, humor, and taste for fine salsa. Disclaimer: this is not a joke! I haven’t been vomiting the last six weeks without reason, and my radar for cute baby things is not from following celebrity couples and their budding offspring.

First, I’ll tell you that this hasn’t been easy. I’m a pretty strong Christian woman, who was primarily involved in a Christian club in college, and makes my relationship with God a high priority. When I found out I was pregnant, many things went through my mind: What will my Christian friends think? Is my reputation ruined? Does God love me anymore? Along with a bunch of other shameful and guilt driven comments towards myself. I’ve been battling with how much my life will change, and how people will see me. I haven’t given myself time to feel anything but shame and condemnation, mostly from myself. Biblically, I’ve messed up. Biblically, I’ve sinned and fallen short. I’ve been learning more and more about what reconciliation with God looks like and realizing that he does not love me any less and this does not change my worth in his eyes.

So what does this mean? This means a lot of doctor’s visits, resting when possible, and figuring out a lot of details in a small amount of time. This also means seeking encouragement from friends and family that everything will be okay, that people before me have had babies. That I’m not the first person whose journey looks like this, and I won’t be the last. I know that people’s opinions of me will change, that there will be gossip, and I might possibly lose a couple of people who will stand in disbelief.

BUT GUESS WHAT: I’ve had more people show me love in a new way I haven’t experienced. I’ve had tears rolling down my face from e-mails written by women who know the ins and outs of my heart. I’ve had my family frequently telling me that I am strong enough, that giants can be beaten. My boyfriend has been showing me more grace than anyone, especially when my emotions get to me and I can’t see where God is in all of this. Most importantly, God’s love has started to really drive out the fear and doubt. After seeing the baby’s heartbeat, my purpose has changed, and I’m singing in the midst of a beautiful storm.

Of course I wouldn’t end my blog post without an excerpt from one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite artists, Anis Mojgani.

So shake the dust
And take me with you when you do for none of this has ever been for me
All that pushes and pulls
And pushes and pulls
And pushes and pulls
It pushes for you
So, grab this world by its clothespins
And shake it out again and again
And jump on top and take it for a spin
And when you hop off shake it again
For this is yours, this is yours
Make my words worth it
Make this not just some poem that I write
Not just some poem like just another night that sits heavy above us all
Walk into it, breathe it in, let it crash through the halls of your arms
Like the millions of years of millions poets
Coursing like blood, pumping and pushing
Making you live, shaking the dust
So when the world knocks at your front door
Clutch the knob tightly and open on up
And run forward and far into its widespread, greeting arms
With your hands outstretched before you
Fingertips trembling, though they may be

Post Script: Hug your mother, thank her for loving you endlessly, share a memory or two. Remember, you are loved and cherished no matter what you come up against.

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Humans Aren’t Really Monsters….All The Time.

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Let’s take a second to revel in how beautifully cropped my little shirt is. I’m sure in this moment my mother was asking us to do something specific, and I denied her request as usual, looking at my brother for guidance. PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE. (If you get that reference, congratulations, you understand my obsession with Vince Vaughn).

On to the actual reason for this blog post. Recently I’ve witnessed so many things that have made my heart swell because humans, although we can be monsters, can also be gentle, loving, and kind. I was in the grocery store in Sun City, and an older gentleman had taken a slight fall in one of the aisles. I walked very quickly, along with about eight other people, to help this man up. Why do I love this? It shows selflessness. Were the tomatoes more important than helping this man up? No. My heart swelled because people have this embedded sense to help others. I believe this comes from knowing what needing help feels like, how embarrassing it could be.

Today in Starbucks, a little girl, probably five years old, pointed at me and told her parents I looked different from her. They asked her why and she said “because she smiles more than we do Daddy”. Here I was, thinking she was going to point out the color of my skin, or my hair, or something related to being black and having darker skin. Children have the ability to see past what adults seem to focus on. This also means that I was smiling in Starbucks looking like a complete freak on my computer (you nailed it, it was probably something Vince Vaughn related).

Nevertheless, let’s look at all the beautiful things humans are capable of. I want to jump for joy when I see others helping people across the street, or helping someone with directions because they are new to town. It all adds up, it is all positive. Do we get anything out of it? Not necessarily, but it makes the world seem more beautiful right? If you get the chance, please compliment someone today. Tell your server he/she is doing a great job. Pet that puppy because puppies need to be pet, and loved, and baby talked. To recap: People are beautiful, you are beautiful, life is beautiful, puppies are beautiful.

 

xx

Will I Be Something? The Answer.

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THERE I AM. The pink ranger for Halloween. I knew exactly what I wanted to be that year. I wanted to be fierce, I wanted to be powerful, I wanted to be recognizable. You’ve seen the movie, Kimberly doesn’t take crap from anybody, and ends up with Tommy (loving that ponytail by the way Tom).

If you know me, you know that writing is my favorite thing in the entire world. I’ve known this since I was younger. I knew this in high school, and I knew it when I picked my major in college. (fun fact: I was going to do Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, but then I wrote a story and it changed my mind). I am glad I made that decision. I met some incredible people in my English/Writing classes and some even better professors (shout out to Ted, both Johns, and Sean my homeboys). I loved what I was learning. Certain stories we read in class stuck with me, I made lists of things my writing professors would say so that I could use them later. All of these details further solidified my want and desire to keep writing.

But here I am, after college. After having moved to New York and back, wondering if poets are just poets. Wondering if I should have gotten a degree in something that leads to more worldly success. I’ve been hurt by comments about how useless a degree in English is. I have learned that those people aren’t pursuing what makes them happy, and I feel sorry for them. This doesn’t mean I don’t have a constant anxiety that what I love doing isn’t enough. Of course I’ll have a day job, of course I can’t just be a writer to pay the bills. I cannot express to you how much joy it brings me to write anything. Nobody is paying me to do it. I do it because I have a yearning to. Artists know exactly how this feels.

I’ll be honest. Sometimes I ask God why he gave me the gift of writing and not something else. I ask and I ask and I ask and I ask. Why wasn’t I incredible at math, or science, anything but this. Yet I still continue to write and see things that I turn into poems, and find ways to create stories out of the rubble. If there is something you want to be, go be it. If you are in a tough spot right now, trust that no matter the wreckage, you will get there. You will doubt yourself, and hate yourself for not being better, and wonder why you of all people have to fulfill this duty of creating beautiful things.

Keep creating. Take pictures, dance, draw, paint, write, teach, do. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Anis Mojgani, who really writes his poetry in a way that I can connect with. WAY BACK in college, at the beginning really I found one of his poems. You don’t have to listen to it, but I’ll leave you with the end of it to chew on:

“Will I be something?
am I something?
and the answer comes: 
I already am
I always was
and I still have time to be.”

I’m Okay With Being a Jesus Freak.

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You read that right. Jesus Freak. Bible Lover. Christian Gal. Gospel Guru. Of course, I’ve only been called a Jesus Freak and not the others, but I like to give people options.

Let me be clear in saying that photograph is pretty much what every sunday looked like for my brother and me back in the day. Frilly socks, pink bows, and my confused “why is he doing that” look. Let me also be clear in saying this post is about God. Yahweh. The Almighty. Jehovah Jireh (options, see?)

At that age we went to church every sunday like clockwork. Did I like going? Never. My brother and I would sit in the pew and fight until my mom yelled at us, or we got bored and looked at the hymns. I didn’t understand what the pastor was saying, and I most certainly hated getting up for communion. Once I got older, I hit up the church’s youth group, and in high school dabbled in some Young Life. It wasn’t until college that I started to figure out that I wanted my faith to play an integral role in my life. I realized in college that I could be Christian and not be boring (aka a cool Christian, aka CrazySexyCool shoutout to TLC, R.I.P. Left Eye).

But here I am, out of college, being a timid Christian. Afraid that I will lose my friends if I talk about Jesus too much, or mention how God is working in my life, or want to celebrate answered prayers all the time. I fear too much what other people think of me. I always have, and most likely always will. I believe a lot of people know that I am a Christian, but rarely do I ever talk to them about it. Rarely do I ever talk about my faith as much as I should, or in the way I should. Church on Sunday is great, but my relationship with God is more than that. It is daily. When I look at my life from the outside, I see that I’ve been holding back. Apprehensive about being a light to the people in my life.

I just want to love people. ALL people. One time someone came to me and said there is no way they could be welcomed into a church. That broke my heart. It broke my heart because we, as Christians, need to be better at loving others out of the love that’s been given to us. NO MATTER WHO IT IS. Let me repeat that: no matter who it is. Everyone is welcomed. Everyone has baggage, everyone is hurting. We need to learn how to love people in the way they need to be loved. You hate ice skating, but your bff opens up the most in the rink? LACE EM UP and get out there! You suck at board games, but your co-worker always has a killer setup by the end of Monopoly? Take the risk. I’m not saying put yourself in situations where you are miserable. (And if you suck at Monopoly I feel sorry for you). Just think about the people around you and how you can better serve them. Listen to people, make them happy, do things for them because you know Thursday is their favorite day, and it might be your least favorite. Don’t RUSH people. Take it easy. Love is patient.

I feel as though God’s message of love is being pushed further and further away by Christians. Well lemme tell you something honeysistagirl, I’m here to love you. I’m here to let you know that God loves you. That’s right, all of you. The parts of yourself that you hate? HE LOVES THOSE PARTS. The mistakes you’ve made? Forgiven. The hurt you’ve been feeling from other people? He understands. I cannot tell you enough times how loved you are. You have purpose, you have value. You have love to give.

If I have to apologize every day for the way Christians are treating others I will. It is not okay, and it will never be okay. I love you regardless of your situation. If you want me to tell you something I love about you I will. If you need me to pray for you I will. If you need me to tell you every day that you are loved despite what other Christians say, I will. God has changed my life, and although it has been hard, I am still loved.

and THAT’S the Gospel truth.

xx

It’s Okay To Be Weird, I Promise.

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(childhood pictures are always a good thing to get people’s attention. So do it).

The first thing I notice about a person is their eyelashes.
If people are talking to me, 80% of the time I’ll be typing the words with my hands subtly.
I like to walk up to people and say “You have a nice smile” and then see them smile. (I’m serious).

Does this make me weird? It seems fairly normal to me. The list of things that I’ve been told make me weird could go on. I’m okay with that. I’ve come to embrace my idiosyncrasies. A lot of the normal things happen in my head, and then when I try to explain them to someone that’s when it appears weird. For example, a lot of people already know that I whip out my British accent in places I’ve never been before. Why do I do this? It is fun and challenges people to listen to me more closely. It also sometimes gets me free things. If you are with me, I will warn you before hand and ask you if you are able to do it so my cover isn’t blown (cut to that scene in Inglourious Basterds where Donny Donowitz and Omar have to kill the doormen without error). You think I’m kidding, but I’m serious.

If there is a type of music you like that none of your other friends like, BIG WHOOP. Listen to it anyway. Is there a certain way you eat your food, fold your clothes, or dance? Keep doing it. Dance how you want. If you dance wide and make a lot of space for yourself, even better. Being weird makes you unique, and prevents you from being boring. I like to pretend I’m leading a militia into battle if I’m driving and there are a pack of cars behind me. Same thing goes for walking into a department store or grocery store. MOBB DEEP.

Here’s my point: Celebrate those little things, and if they make you an outsider you shouldn’t see it as a negative thing. I mean, I find Middle Eastern men super attractive, and for some reason that’s weird. Really, I find all cultures and people beautiful because they are different. Oh the things we could learn from people who are not like us! Keep counting your steps, singing while waiting for the microwave to stop, or making decisions based off of even numbers. It is okay to be weird, and to be looked at, and to be questioned. To end, here is a list of five other things about me you might not know/find weird:

1. I love a good drum solo at a stop light.
2. Multiple times a day I will look off into space as if I was in Parks & Rec. (look, it makes my life more interesting).
3. I am an avid watcher of video game walkthroughs on Youtube.
4. I am still very VERY upset that they got rid of the lemon Jolly Rancher.
5. Contrary to popular opinion, I think Steve Buscemi has a “I just woke up from a nap and have been through 4 million other things, but dinner is ready for you” type of look that is very charming. (Javan, I know you’re gonna fight me on this one, but my original statement stands).

Always stay weird.

xx

Where Are Your Real Friends?

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This picture really has nothing to do with the post, but what I need you to understand is that I’ve always been fierce (peep that biggie smalls stare)

Moving forward: Some of my friends have to go. Some of your friends have to go. I am no longer keeping in touch with people who don’t want to keep in touch with me. You deserve friends who are going to be responsive. I’m very tired of trying to keep up because I feel bad. If there is no reciprocation, chances are you really don’t matter to that person or need them. Look around at your life and figure out which people are there for you, especially during those in between moments of life.

I have always been a people pleaser, a “I will text these people because they are my friends and that’s my job” type of person. The one who tries to ask how you’re doing, but in turn receives a stale response. But Charyse, what happened to sticking it out because you love them, because you care about them? You are right. If that works for you, go ahead and run your well dry by the time you are 25. I’m choosing to walk away.

And let me make something clear: There are people I haven’t talked to in a long time, but when I do, we are the same silly people as before. Don’t get your lifelong friends confused with friends who don’t have time for you and use the excuse that you’ve been friends forever. I have a picture of my best friends Rhonda & Kayla sitting on my window sill. They have been there from the beginning. I may not talk to them often, we may be in different places, but I never doubt their friendship.

Find friends like that. Keep them in your life. Let go of the people who find you dispensable. If that leaves you with three or four incredible friends, you are going to be okay.

xx

You should call your mom more than twice a year.

I get it, you’re busy. You have class, you have work, you have tons of friends
who are blowing up your phone with text messages about going to the club on friday night. You are killin the instagram game right now and your followers are expecting a new picture on time. Hey, maybe you and your boothang live thousands of miles away from each other so skyping for three hours is your only option. I GET IT (but not particularly because I do not have a boothang, but feel free to holla atcho girl).

All of those things are great, and a lot of them are helpful in getting through the day, but do not get so caught up in showing yourself to the world and being busy that you forget to call your mom or dad. They would love to hear from you even if it was for ten minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I know not everyone has the relationship with their parents where they can just call and talk to them. However, I talk to my mom nearly every day, and if not, she’ll leave a message which usually consists of “Hi, it’s me. I’m home, call me when you get the chance. Love you, bye”. Like clockwork. She says I love you every time, and I know that every time she means it. Is that so hard? nah.

This is why twice a year won’t work (and before you scoff just hear me out playa): Calling your parents should not be a reminder on a sticky note on the side of the fridge where nobody can see. Yes, you are young and thriving and life is hitting you every which way. We can write a paragraph about our day on Facebook (why are you doing that, stop), and meet friends for lunch, and study for hours because finals determine if you get the guillotine or not. It is interesting that we call our parents if something is wrong, or if we need something, but we can’t just ask how they are doing. We need to be better ladies and fellas. Our parents deserve better. They need to know that we love and appreciate them. (And don’t act like you don’t love your momma, because you know she gives the best hugs and will ball out in the kitchen to make your favorite meal).

Good talk. Now go make that call.

xx