Hey Christ. Bye Passion.

2 years ago. If you would have put me in an empty room with a boombox, I swear I could have danced for hours. When I heard music, I saw movement instantly. Figures would began moving in my head. I could tell you if it was a solo, duet, group choreo; it was high key  AMAZING. I saw the moves, angles, formations, placements, visuals as if I was on the front row watching the show. I could dance all day. And that’s what I did. At one point of my college career, I was in three dance organizations. The co captain of a dance team, choreographer in another organization, and committed member in the last. I was maybe dancing at least 6 days a week. Along with a full load of classes. But dance was who I was. My passion. So I thought.

PARADIGM SHIFT IN 3..2..1..

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I gave the Lord complete reign over my life at the end of 2015. How I saw the world, our world, shifted. It was like a backdrop was torn in half and what was really happening behind the scenes was revealed. I had to know more. I was thirsty for truth. I needed to know that I was living my life “right”, and I use that word in quotation marks because…well…you’ll see why later.

Imagine this. There’s a big test you have to take in 24 hours. You have not studied at all. This test literally determines your future. And others’ around you. What are you going to do?

Most would say study. (I’m with ya pal). If you didn’t say study, umm, just come along with me.

If you’re studying, you remove all distractions in order to focus because the human race is depending on you,  right? Get alone. Silence the TV, Dre Beats, etc. Stop doing anything that doesn’t glorify the Lord.

Wait whet?

Ohhhh yeaaaa see that was added because that’s what I did. My dance life, in my opinion, in no way glorified the Lord and was a distraction to this new truth seeking process.

LORD GOOD. ARTS BAD.

prickly-cactus-female-hand-touching-51360635It just so happened that a lot of things I liked, according to YouTube (lol), was the devil’s playground. Goodness Ash, what is wrong with you.

I felt like my by-default sinful nature had ran rampant and no part of me was good. Anything after that 2015 point that I was naturally drawn to must be destroyed or silenced. My passion for the arts was on that list.

Okay wait Ash, what about praise dance?? Reenactments of Jesus’ life during Christmas?? Poetry about the Lord??  

Calm down people let me finish my post (haha).

I was not involved in any of that. I did mostly hip hop dance, some african here and there, and made a point to learn other styles. And I danced to some very raunchy music, but my argument was that I just enjoyed the beat.

It wasn’t just dance I turned my face away from, but any form of expression that did not outwardly say “Jesus is Lord, You are my universe”, I could NOT get with AT ALL. I stopped going to plays. I stopped watching movies. I stopped watching Spongebob LOL. I stopped listening to music, but the same 10 songs on repeat. Hopefully you’re getting the picture of how drastic of measures I was taking.

Side Note: Any new believers out there reading this? Stay away from YouTube. Until you are confident in the Lord’s voice, stay away from YouTube please. Thank me later lol

Anywhooooo

I felt…guilty. About everything I enjoyed. So to prove to the Lord He was really first in my life, I stopped everything. I wanted to align my desires with His as the scriptures would say. I felt the weight of the world in a sense that I needed to be perfect in order to reach the lost souls/ free of all worries because truth had come to realization in my life and I was satisfied.

MISINTERPRETATION 

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It went from silencing all distractions to get closer to the Lord to the process being translated into all dance was not good and any form of expression for any purpose other than glorifying Jesus was of Satan. That’s. It. And I still believe this statement, just in a much different way now. But that is another post. I became very judgmental as you would imagine and pretty close minded. I had completely lost the urge to dance again.

But one day I heard the song Oceans by Hillsong. This was probably in March or May of 2016, I really can’t remember. Just know that I was extra late on knowing who Hillsong even was.

I listened through my earphones while walking to get something to eat and I stopped in my tracks. That was the first song I had heard in months that ever made me feel like dancing again. I instantly saw the images moving in my mind again and this feeling started flowing through me. After I heard the song and basically saw a routine in my head, I honestly thought I was losing it. I pressed play again and the same thing happened. I thought it had left. That feeling of wanting to move. I was confused.

I wanted to cry. I thought I had messed something up and not prayed hard enough. I needed to pray harder so that this internal battle wouldn’t consume me. I tried to keep myself away from listening to that song, but I could not. I played it over and over and over and everytime that feeling did not fail to return. What is happening Lord? Why have you put me in a body determined to reject what is right?

UNDERSTANDING

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After long nights of prayer, it had become apparent that my interpretation was obviously a little off. Dance was a gift that the Lord had bestowed upon me. I was not to abandon it, but seek the Lord on how to go about using it. And all of the other forms of art I used to express myself in. The Lord had given me all of these gifts for the glory of His Kingdom. But in the legalistic manner I had taken with it, it was not the point I thought He was trying to express to me.

There have been a couple of times I have performed since then. I can’t even explain the euphoric feeling that goes through my veins on stage or the joy when I am one with a song. ESPECIALLY since it has been done for the glory of my Father.

I’ll be honest. I still can’t tell you I know completely what I am doing. And even in September of 2017, I battle with the idea of dance in my life even though it flows so naturally through my being. I can’t tell you if this particular artist is really of God or has strayed completely. I can’t tell you if rated R movies will send you to Hell or give you a clearer picture of how perfect our Father really is. I am in an in-between place in my life right now, but I can assure you I follow the sweet Holy Spirit that never fails me even when flesh Ashley is confused.

If I didn’t have a relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I would definitely still have the Lord in that box I wanted Him to stay in. Knowing that the Lord is truly limitless, I can put no restraints on His will or how He sees fit to make the world turn. All I know is that through my time of being near Him, He is one who wants the best for His children, even if it means being in uncomfortable places for a season.

To God be the Glory

 

 

 

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Escape Plan?….. Check !

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“Located on your left and right are EXIT signs illuminated in case of an emergency. When it is time to exit, please do swiftly and promptly.”

Not sure about you guys, but escape plans are comforting to me. To know I can escape when danger is imminent, near, approaching. Nothing is better for my over thoughtful and overly imaginative mind.

But unfortunately, there are no illuminated EXIT signs in everyday life interactions. Such as social situations that serve as a recipe for anxiety.

For those who are familiar with me may be a little surprised at that last statement. Ashley? Anxious? In social situations????? A social butterfly being anxious in social situations is a paradox.

Hello. My name is paradox. How are you?

I LOVE PEOPLE. AND CONTROL.

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I try not to be super repetitive in my posts, but for new readers (hey y’allll), I like to give a little background for context.

I’m a performer. Lover of the arts. Danced and acted in front of large crowds. Have given several speeches as well. In these situations, I am in control of how someone is viewing me. I can speak in a way that can manipulate specific emotions and so forth. I can sense what people want from me and can CHOOSE to give them that or not.

But in social situations where everything is pretty organic, it’s sometimes a hit or miss.

Okay let me be more clear.

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I graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. A predominantly white institution. So the black community became pretty familiar with each other pretty quickly. But whenever there were social events mainly just for us, such as a party, set, and especially a cookout, I felt consumed with anxiety. I never felt like I fit the mode. I was always self conscious about my weight, my hair, if so and so thought I looked attractive, if I should speak to x even though we’re not that cool but I don’t want them to think I’m “acting funny”. Stupid right? I wasn’t that comfortable with myself in the beginning. I thought I sucked at talking to boys. I felt really awkward and disconnected.

Basically

When my role is undefined in a social setting, I am anxious. Allowing people to think what they want without me providing a shield of defense, i.e. role, is pretty difficult for me.

But put me on a stage in front a crowd. And you would never know.

I HATE SMALL TALK

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Man. Small talk is something I honestly dread. But it is INDEED necessary. Lots of times, I just want to jump to the part of knowing someone’s insides and ways. Yes, patience is a virtue I am still trying to master.

Those who have met me would regard me as a pretty energetic and bubbly person. I love laughing and making friends. But there is a certain type of exhaustion that takes place when I have to pretend as though I am interested in something that I do not care for whatsoever. I just don’t like the part of the standard questions. How many siblings do you have? Where are you from? Get out of here, blue is my favorite color too! 

Again, I am in a position of allowing people to evaluate me without an established defense. First impressions about me are funny to hear about as time goes on, but the initial time of it happening makes me well….a little anxious if you have not guessed the pattern yet.

AFFECTIONATELY AWKWARD

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Control is the difficult part here as well. I enjoy love, like the next person. But in regards to showing it….Where is my EXIT sign!!??? I want to control when and how it is happening and that’s just…well….not how it works.

It is a very difficult process for me. The fear of rejection has been a huge part of my life, and it has been a process to uproot the spirit of fear out of my life. Deep down, it kills me to think people close to me would reject my love. So I choose not to really dig into that side of my life much.

*BTW. I’m being very honest in this post. And this fact makes me anxious haha*

I feel unsure in affectionate situations. I have been conditioned to believe I didn’t know how to “do it right”. Yea pray for me saints, I am a work in progress.

SO. HAVE YOU PRAYED ABOUT IT?

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Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Want to know something funny? But not really funny? I recently found out in my prayer life, while I was praying about my anxiety, that I unfortunately go before my Holy Father in anxiety as well. I try to push everything together quickly, and think of all the humans I have come in contact with to tell the Lord to protect them, and even more irrational anxious manners. I couldn’t believe it when the Holy Spirit revealed it to me. I rack my brain up with a list of things to tell God as if I am running out of time.

As if I only have a time limit with the Lord before He gets annoyed with me.

It crushed me to realize this.

Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants nothing more but to spend time with us.

I was angry to realize I had been putting the Lord in a category of regular humans who had rejected me.

In that prayer I just felt Him saying, “Slow Down. I’m Listening”.

I felt like a little girl who had scraped her knee, soon to get in trouble, so her only response was to quickly explain everything that that lead up to the injury.

But what kind of sense does that make? Would you punish your child for scraping her knee? The irrational fear of being pushed away for something I can’t control is something not only I struggle with, but several people I know and don’t know have bouts with it too. It almost makes me cringe to meet people with the same destructive habits as myself.

It’s hard to honestly believe at times, but God really does care about our anxious moments and the times we feel alone and the times we feel misplaced. I’m still trying to get it right myself, but be encouraged! God has placed His hand over me so many times with peace I couldn’t even understand. And it didn’t happen until I took the step to call out to Him. Allowing Him to love me through my fear ❤️

 

To God be the Glory

 

 

 

ANYTHING. but sex.

Raise your hand if you’re from the South.

Raise your hand if you grew up going to church more than once a week.

Raise your hand if the main concept  you held onto was to avoid hell at all costs.

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Here we go. The awkward stuff. Haha. But trust me. It won’t get too deep. This post is dedicated to the in betweeners/walk the liners/the juuusssstttttt enoughers. Basically, tight roping the line of sin. I used to be that way. Honestly, when I find myself not praying and reading regularly, I end up back in that area. I am just thankful that now I am able to snap back with the HELP of the Holy Spirit, and not in my own doing.

MY INTERPRETATION OF A GOOD CHRISTIAN

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DON’T SIN.

DAS IT.

And when I say sin, I mean don’t have sex and get pregnant. That was the big one. The unredeemable sin. I felt like I was doing great if I was making all A’s and avoiding boys. I hit the mark. The Lord will definitely honor my sacrifice right?

EHH. A LITTLE SIN WON’T HURT

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But just like any other sin, it became difficult to just avoid. Especially if it’s just sitting in your face taunting you.

So I indulged in other things that I felt wouldn’t condemn me forever you know?

The “typical Christian college student” things.

Get drunk. Party. Get high a few times. The experimental piercings. And push the line of sex. Meaning, be all kinds of sexually immoral without intercourse.

I was at the point of where I wanted to be dedicated to the Lord but I wanted to “live the college life” too. So I did everything that satisfied my flesh. I would hear of my friends’ wild adventures and feel torn. How can I stay that “church girl” and have fun?

That question. That thought. It is what keeps many younger people from fully giving themselves to the Lord. It is what kept me from fully giving myself away.

FOMO- FEAR OF MISSING OUT

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After a while, the parties got old. I hated getting to the point of a “situationship” with a guy and knew the topic of sex would come up and I would have to end it. It was weird that the only way I could enjoy these social events, I had to be under the influence. I knew that I would have to exchange things for temporary happiness, and I got tired of it.

I thought that giving my life to Christ meant saying good bye to all of what I knew and made me kinda happy. I didn’t know what was on the other side, so I was scared. There were plenty of older people who seemed “fake happy” in the church and I thought that’s what I was signing up for. I knew it was the good thing to do, but I didn’t want to be sad doing it. I didn’t want to get in the swing of traditional Christian lifestyle then end up coming out of it because I wasn’t happy or fulfilled. I especially didn’t want my decision to essentially flip flop affect those watching me. I was just…lost and confused.

So.

I leaped. And I was scared out of my mind.

THE UNPOPULAR DECISION

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Some people thought I was radical. Some people applauded me for my “bravery”. Some people thought I was unreasonable and close minded. My family thought I was going to be a nun.

Despite what everyone thought

That leap was the scariest and most beautiful jump in my life. I gave Him all of me and honestly saw things with new eyes. It felt like I breathed new air. Jesus offered me an invitation and I took it.

No more straddling the fence. No more “well, this sin isn’t that bad”. Or “He knows my heart”. I was all in. And my life has been forever changed.

Now some can read this and argue what the Lord says biblically about certain acts or if something is sin or not. I’m not here to condemn or judge. I only changed with the intimacy of my relationship with Jesus. We can argue the Bible all day (which should not be done). But there are certain things that just didn’t feel right after I was changed. And what that meant for me is probably or probably not the same for you.

So if you’ve ever been or are at this point in your life. Just leap. Everything that’s happening to you is not a coincidence or you even reading this is not by a mistake. You will be surprised at how much the Lord wants to reveal to you and you only. Be encouraged. It won’t be the easiest. But it’s all worth it.

 

To God be the Glory

 

 

 

The Irony

 

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I have heard some really great stories, read some awesome books, watched some amazing movies. But the plot would not be as engaging without a key ingredient.

Irony. Good ole irony.

And as entertaining as it is to see this term unfold in stories disconnected from us, it doesn’t always have the same amusing effect when it’s in the middle of our lives. Happening in real time. No rewind or redo.

Let’s dig into Google’s definition.

Irony: a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

Couldn’t have said it better myself Google.

Although I am fascinated with super dramatic books, musicals, movies, and plays that contains jaw dropping irony, it was an awfully uncomfortable moment of irony I experienced during my junior year of college. Can’t say that it was all that entertaining.  I was pretty angry. The role I had been playing for 20 years suddenly took an exhaustingly amount of effort to step into. There was no audience. There was no script. Loud Silence. It was simply me and my beliefs staring back at each other with blank expressions.

Junior Year

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By this time, I was pretty secure in my idea of God. The formula was simple. Believe in God. Don’t go to Hell. 

I didn’t have a prayer life, unless I felt guilty about not thanking God or desperately needed something. I only opened my Bible when the pastor said “Turn to…”. There were only two Gospel songs I honestly listened to in my spare time. I thought other Gospel songs were depressing. I went to church on Sundays and occasional Bible Studies. I was a “good” person. Well behaved.

Buuuut something started happening. I began meeting other people of different faiths and meeting people who I felt were EXTREME in Christianity. God also started placing some men in my life who I previously assumed were peculiar, but had a significant presence about them. They became very key in my later transformation. They would make humorous references to the Bible all of the time and seemed so content in life. They were very knowledgable and the amount of knowledge they had about Christianity really intrigued me. I was inspired.

October 2015 came and I started reading the Bible on my own.

Talk about being angry. I started in I Corinthians… don’t ask me why, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe I just opened the Bible and that’s where it landed. I felt like the entire book of Corinthians was condemning, unfortunately.

But I didn’t stop. I read II Corinthians next.

Still Angry.

The God I thought I knew seemed vicious. Unforgiving. Disinterested. Dismissive. Pissy. Quick tempered. And more. Everything I THOUGHT I knew was crumbling. This sucked. A LOT. I was confused.

The Real Irony

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November 2015 came and I was ready to give up the faith. I had been reading the Bible everyday and at a very fast pace. I was covering a lot of ground in the New Testament and a little in the Old. The peculiar guys I mentioned earlier (who are dear close friends now) , I followed them around asking several questions a day to get answers for what used to make perfect sense to me.

But the week when I began to finalize the decision to stop calling myself a Christian and disown that belief system, weird things happened. I was thinking of how the conversation would go with my mom. What my friends would think. Simply trying to prepare myself for the backlash. But then I got angry again. How was it that the choice for me not to follow Christianity would be such a big deal when those who claim to believe in Him would do anything that they wanted anyway? I didn’t get it. I couldn’t tell the difference between His followers and atheists. Thinking of future responses to my decision, of course there would be some who would commend me for my bravery to say that I didn’t believe what majority believed, and then there would be others who barely read their Bibles that would try to preach to me about Hell. I had realized that there were hundreds of people following Christianity out of fear and had no idea what they were signing up for. It annoyed me. It disturbed me. Most of all, I was angry because that WAS me. But ignorance wasn’t bliss for me anymore. I couldn’t accept not knowing.

The Turn Around

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The week of my contemplation, I still had burning questions, but I just gave up on getting them answered. I was going to stop hanging around those new guys I had recently met. I wanted to be alone and start anew. On a mission to be an awesome friend so that my buddy would “accidentally” see her crush, I ran into them unexpectedly. It was an awkward surprise. I wasn’t going to tell them of my decision, and I was honestly afraid to. While waiting on my friend so that we could execute the “run into my crush on accident” plan, they began casually discussing the Bible again. But one of them said something that made me turn my head so fast I could have gotten whip lash. One of them were discussing a presumed account in the Bible of Jesus going to Hell to get some of the people. “What did you say?”. One of the guys began laying out scriptures for me, and I promise it felt like black ice was melting off of my heart. I could not explain it. I went to my room and cried. The next day was when I was going to call my mom and tell my friends. But that night and from then on, God has shown me things people would not even believe if I told them. Months passed, and I was completely transformed internally. It was a weird high that I always cried about. I was sold out for the faith and was all in. I finally understood what I had been missing.

Relationship.

I am still learning of all it really means to be a good servant and I still have to repent from time to time. But there’s no more doubt about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is real. He is love. And He fought for me to know who He really was and what He is all about. I experienced Him for myself and pray you open yourself to experience Him as well.

 

To God be the Glory

 

 

So Do You Date Big Girls Orrrr

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Disclaimers:

  • This post is not to bash any male or female for their own personal preference in dating.
  • I understand the bias is on both ends of the spectrum, but I will primarily focus on males and their reactions.
  • Also, if you are someone who says, “dating is of the devil, we COURT around these parts”. Listen, just read all of it before you rebuke me, okay? Okay, cool.

Rephrased, this question is asking “Does my visibly larger size make you uncomfortable, disgusted or potentially the least bit ashamed if people were to think we were romantically involved?” Think about it. Does it? And this question can go for guys AND girls. You ARE entitled to feel and believe whatever you feel and believe.

This topic is pretty taboo in some circles, especially when there is a plus size individual present. Hopefully, people are aware that the plus size community is full of healthy love lives and are found attractive outside of what they can do for a person. And big girls/guys are not automatically at a deficit because of their weight. But OF COURSE everyone doesn’t see it that way. So let’s talk about it.

THE QUESTION

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The million dollar question. And we big girls have to ask sometimes, because somewhere in our upbringing, we realized that our size said more about us than just liking food. Somewhere during our timeline, we saw the difference in how smaller girls were treated in comparison to bigger ones. We’re not always interested in being that awesome friend, or someone to talk to when you’re bored, or that secret hangout buddy during odd hours. So as you can see, being upfront about this will save us the hassle of the run around. We really don’t have time for the guessing games, just as our smaller queens don’t either.  I do not want to generalize every plus size queens’ experiences though, but this story is told too often to not be happening to several of them.

And we get it. Some people are usually uncomfortable with questions as forward as these. You are confronting a lot about yourself in answering that question alone. Insecurities, prejudices, privilege, biases, etc.

Hmm let me see, what’s the adage? You’re darned if you do and you’re darned if you don’t.

Some guys could either risk embarrassment from answering honestly or feel trapped in a box if it is public knowledge that this okay for them (what has been gathered from personal conversations and readings). To date big girls. To actually find them attractive. And wait… no….GASP….SEXUALLY attractive!! You…animal!

THE INITIAL SHOCK

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Wait. That guy is attractive. And he’s holding HER hand. My eyes are playing tricks on me.

It’s 2017. And as much as we are trying to submerge ourselves in this all accepting, nondiscriminatory alternate reality, the media, our families and friends have played a big part in what we deem as acceptable and beautiful. We WANT to see a person’s exterior and think to ourselves that their interior is so much more appealing… But does that always happen? NOPE.

Especially the African American community. Or let’s say, my experience with the African American community. We are pros at summing up people by their appearances. We’ve even mastered it in the church. Buttttt that’s ANOTHER post haha.

You know, some men have been really frank with me in confessing their “first time” being attracted to someone of my size. And if you immediately thought “How rude!” yea, there’s a certain level of rudeness and honesty that is actually appreciated. When I really hated who I was, I wore those “compliments” as a badges of honor, as if I were an exception to the plus size standards. Almost like I was straddling the fence of beauty. I should have never felt that proud, and those men should have never felt as bound as they did before coming forth with the confessions. I may not know everything about the laws of attraction, but I do know that rejected people reject people. So these same men have some unpacking to do on their own as well.

THE WORLD’S RESPONSE

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Awwwwww look at them over there! He really loves her for who she is! How sweet!

He oughta be ashamed. I’m sure he’s just using her for sex. Disgusting.

How much do you want to bet that she paying some of his bills?? No way that’s genuine.

Any of this sound familiar?

What I am about to say will sound extreme, but just hear me out. The “dating the big girl” phenomena is almost like coming out of the closet in certain aspects once someone openly admits, verbally or non-verbally, being okay with it.

Mind you, I am 22. So age and maturity played a huge part in my rationale.

People will stare you down. Be surprised if you’re affectionate in public. Some people honestly watch in disgust. They give nicknames to men who prefer plus size women. Chubby Chasers. It’s pretty ridiculous.

BIG GIRLS. YOU WORTH IT GIRL.

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If you identify with being a big girl, plus size queen, chubby princess, or all of the above, you are worth it girl. You are worth the love that an upstanding man has to give. One who is grounded in love for the Lord, his family, and himself. You are worth the wait if you are choosing to abstain from sex until marriage. You are worth the extravagant proposals you see on social media. You are worth being called beautiful everyday. Coming from someone who had to fight for yearssss to realize this, please believe me when I tell you, YOU ARE NOT MISSING OUT ON ANYTHING! Just because someone says they like you doesn’t mean you have to jump at the opportunity, even if the opportunities aren’t as frequent. There is danger in placing your worth in another individual. Man will fail you EVERY TIME. Do not place hope in those things that are perishable. I know this may sound like a lecture/sermon, but I want everyone reading this to know that the love that God has to give you outweighs ANY DROP of love an individual has to give you in this lifetime. He’s not a selfish lover either. God’s love has a way of breaking down walls you didn’t know existed. But, you’ll have to see that for yourself. I’m just the messenger =]

To God be the Glory

 

 

 

So Ashley, what products do you use? Pt. 1

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First off, let us take a moment to appreciate our God-given skin, crooked smiles, uneven hairlines, chubby cheeks, tight or big eyes, big or small noses, for some, asymmetrical faces and…well….all of what we are naturally. This is me. Without makeup. Without fake hair. Without the long lashes. Without the fresh cut (haha). And I could have very well placed a filter on this picture or took it from another angle to make my face look slimmer and so forth (come on saints, you know what I am talking about!! lol!), but as I have articulated in the past, I have freedom from the bondage of “needing” something on me to be complete. And if that is NOT how you feel, this may not be the blog post to read yet. No point of decorating an internal mess to mask it from the masses. He sees you. And wants to fix it. BUT if you are here and can attest to makeup simply being an outlet of art for you, WELL KEEP SCROLLING! =]

NOW……WHAT YOU REALLY CAME FOR

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This is a zoomed in picture of my golden child eyebrow, a.k.a my well behaved brow, model child brow, just awesome. It has only been brushed with a spoolie (which is the picture to the right). And if you do not own a spoolie, maybe it is time to rethink your life….LOL joking, but seriously, these are pretty essential.

LET’S GET STARTED!!

DISCLAIMER: STEPS 1 AND 2 ARE COMBINED IN THE 2 PICTURES BELOW

 

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*Okay, there will be a lot of photos, BUT, I wanted to show actual photos in case you wanted to pull this post up on one of you makeup hauls! Zoom in if need be =] *

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For my eyebrows, I choose to use a MAC eyebrow stencil in the color SPIKED. I feel as though I have more control with this type of eyebrow tool when it comes to darkening and outlining.

With this pencil, you will outline your desired brow shape. You will first go along the lines of your natural brow shape BUT it you’re like me and do not have symmetrical eyebrows, you have to get kind of creative. In the picture below, on your right, that is the eyebrow that I am showcasing above. I have to manipulate my eyebrow that is on your left in order for it to look like the right. So the eyebrow (and you will find this out soon if you haven’t already) that you deem as the more “perfect” brow, outline that one first, and try to mimic on the next. Even if it gets messy, meaning you are filling in parts above your natural eyebrow line to create the desired shape.

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AFTER OUTLINING AND FILLING IN…….

Step 3

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This concealer is heaven sent!! Any concealer that you purchase should be a shade lighter than your actual skin tone. I use the shade COOL TAN. These concealers are sold at several beauty supply stores (and online) with testers to try on the back of your hand. To be very exact with the “cleaning up” and “outlining” of my eyebrows, I use a concealer brush (the brush with the orange tip) and a blending eyeshadow brush (the brush with the brown fluffy tip) to blend the residue of concealer in my skin.

NOW THAT THE EYEBROW IS ON FLEEK…

Step 4

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I PRIME my eyelids with the concealer above and cover it with L.A. Colors setting powder in a shade similar to COOL TAN. This is to make the eyeshadow colors pop more. Dust off the excess powder.

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Now, this section will not be long at all. Eyeshadow is NOT my greatest area soooo I will breeze through this pretty fast haha. This palette is WONDERFUL for many looks and gives you earthtone colors. A tip to get colors to stand out on the creases of your eyes, spray setting spray on a smaller concealer brush then pat brush on desired color and then apply. The brush that comes with the palette is really great for application as well!

EYESHADOW IS COMPLETE! SO NOW…

STEP 5

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MY HOODED EYELID LADIES (I am in that group as well)!!! The wing look is VERY MUCH desired now but you HAVE to be strategic in doing so!! *video tutorial of that coming soon* I use the liquid liner first THEN go underneath on your waterline with the MAC longwear eyeliner crayon in NOIR/BLACK.

How to tell if you have hooded eyelids? Go back to the first picture of my bare eyelid and notice how there seems to skin that doubles and droops over while my eye is open. If that happens to you (and it varies as to how much), then you have hooded eyelids.

MY FAVORITE PART….LASHESSS!!

STEP 6

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YALL. THESE. LASHES. ARE. THE. TRUTH.

I came across these eyelashes a few months ago and my eyelash game has never been the same 😂 💁🏽 They have multiple styles in case you feel as though these eyelashes are too dramatic or not dramatic enough for your taste! They are very affordable and one pair lasts a long time (if they are taken care of properly).

WITH THE STEPS OUTLINED ABOVE

YOU GO FROM THIS

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TO….

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THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME FOR THE FIRST PART OF THIS SERIES!!

 

 

 

TO GOD BE THE GLORY

 

 

Affection? What is that???

Growing up, you had those friends who would always smother people with hugs, strangers or not. These friends would go out of their own way to touch you and let you know how much you meant to them. “I love you” rolled off of their lips just as easy as the next breath. And if we’re being honest, these people are still the same way today lol.

It is fair to say that we put these people in the “affectionate” category.

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But then you have those friends who just didn’t like to be touched or loved on at all. Rarely do they ever show too many signs of emotions either. It had to be a big deal, such as graduations, someone leaving for a while, those sorts of things. It is done when it really means something to the other party.

We put them in the “unaffectionate” category.

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My category. Or shall I say, former but most familiar with category.

If you have been keeping up with my posts, you can concur that I am a pretty friendly person, social, talkative, and love getting to know people. So how is it that someone so social did not enjoy being touched or loved on by others?

If you don’t deal with it, it will deal with you. The IT ladies and gentlemen isssssss…..INSECURITY! I know I bring this up a lot, but I am a living testimony of how insecurities and low self-esteem will blind you and make you think something is there, that is not. The two things that I am typing with right now, the two things you’re using to hold your phone, is something I have hated about myself for a long time. My hands.

Wait, did I read that right? The girl don’t like her own hands?

YES, you read it right unfortunately, and NO, I did not like my hands for a very long time. The size of them. The fact they would get sweaty when someone held them for too long. The fact I was labelled as “heavy handed” when I really tried to be gentle. These hands have broken so many things growing up. They have accidentally hurt people close to me.

Ok, so it’s okay to laugh now. I know I’m describing myself as Godzilla or something, but that is what I felt like. A monster with these huge things.

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Let me remind you of who I am. 5’10” plus size female. My father is 6’4” , played basketball, and as you would guess had very large hands and feet. Guess who inherited those things from their dad =]

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I am not sure why, but it was always a thing for my peers growing up to measure their hands against other people’s hands. I quickly noticed that girls were associated with smaller hands and feet and men were associated with larger hands and feet. Whenever anyone randomly wanted to measure their hands to mine, I snatched my hands away, folded my arms and made up some excuse of “Ion know where yo hands been??!” or “Personal space, please??”. This usually made them back off for a while. I just got tired of hearing the gasps of people watching to see that my hand was the same size or even bigger than some of the boys’ hands in the class.

MY SHAME GOT REALLY BAD..

I remember in class we were doing popcorn reading with one of our assigned books. I was probably in 9th grade at the time. It was a book discussing the descendants of slaves in Mississippi and this particular scene was about the family’s grandmother who cooked everything. Before I would have to read anything out loud in class, I preferred to skim over it so that everything would flow out naturally. I was so annoying haha. But my part happened to be the portion of the author describing the grandmother’s characteristics, including her big and rough hands from always peeling food and doing hard labor.

I froze.

What if they laugh? What if they look at my hands and think that was the perfect description of me?

Yea it was bad. I switched my paragraph with a friend to avoid embarrassment.

Even if a boy liked me and tried to touch me, I would do anything to distract him from holding my hand.

I feared that a boy would stop liking me because I was man-lier than he had previously assumed.

Sounds ridiculous and extreme, but it was the truth.

FAST FORWARD TO COLLEGE..

I was pretty comfortable with myself, but I had made it up in my mind long ago that I would not be forward with affection so that I could avoid rejection. At the time, I really didn’t know that that’s what my body was doing. I thought I was just wired to love through words and not the physical.

THEN WHEN I ACCEPTED CHRIST TO REIGN AS COMPLETE AUTHORITY IN MY LIFE….

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It felt like another person was released through me. IT WAS SO HARD NOT TO HUG PEOPLE. What was happening?!! Ashley was now giving people hugs, telling them she loved them, and just all other crazy affectionate things. Seriously, you can ask my friends haha. The affection that I was trying to suppress all of those years had no choice but to burst forth when I accepted the Lord’s love for me. In Him, I felt/still feel accepted and loved completely as I am. So it did not matter who rejected my affection from that point on. I knew that they were simply shying away from what/who was in me. I didn’t take it personal anymore. But the process of truly submitting all of my life to Christ transformed me. Being stand offish was no longer my defense mechanism. It felt good to finally show people love and allow people to love me. I relinquished control and let the Lord show His love through me. Although the devil intended for me to stay in this bondage of hate for my hands, the Lord placed His hand on my life and broke chains I didn’t even know existed. “I love you” is no longer taboo for me. I thank God that I am not the same person. Do I still have times when insecurities flare up? Sure I do. But I am a witness at how His love can change your direction and make you see yourself towards how He created you to be. Fearfully and wonderfully made.

 

To God be the Glory

 

The Double-Edged Sword of a Great Personality

What is a “great” personality? Half of my motive for answering this is so that I can stop putting the word great into quotation marks..honestly..truly.. I am referring to a charismatic person, one, who is more times than not, warm, accepting, cool, fun, optimistic and all of those other great adjectives we hear about. Or maybe let me put it this way. When you’re around this person, you just “feel” better in one way or another, for some odd reason. (Oooooo I see you smiling! Who you thinking about??? *aggressive eye emoji inserted here*) . We all know one. Or more than one.  And I am one of these people. Not in an imperious way though. I have consciously tried to master this in the earlier years of my life when I struggled with acceptance. Now, it kind of comes naturally.. Enough about me (for now)

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So what’s so great about great personalities.

OPPORTUNITIES SEEM TO JUST….OPEN UP

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One day you’re having a conversation with someone and the next day you have a job. You could have been simply talking about the joy of making pies with the elderly or the commonality of the euphoric feeling after seeing a superhero movie. But it is not what you said; it is HOW you said it… your timing…and how you made that person feel. It’s an…. art almost.

 

 

ALMOST DRAMA FREE

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Now there are some people who are just determined to not like you because other people are drawn to you. But besides that, you’re most of the time seen as a confidant, mentor of some sort, or everyone’s close friend. You walk into a role or roles in people’s lives without asking. And since you are someone that matters to people, it is a low probability of them trying to ruin that.

And of course there’s more, butt that was not the point of this blog =]

Ok so now that my least favorite portion is out of the way. The cons.

YOU’RE SO DARN LIKABLE

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I had to ask myself, Wait is that bad? Ehh, it depends. I remember watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Lisa was blaming Will for being just too likable. And Will responded, “Oh darn, that’s a character flaw.” I laughed out loud literally and not the fake smile scrolling through social media. Then, I began to think about it. People LOVE to feel loved, appreciated, respected, and valued and people with great personalities usually know the things to say or do to spark those feelings in other individuals. It’s human nature -> when you find a source of those “good feelings”, you return to it. And expect more. And can end up abusing it if not careful. People then like to soak you up for their own good, and leave you dry. You’re definitely likable alright, but you never know for what reason until the relationship takes its course. Now if my self-esteem hadn’t been worked on while mastering this great personality, I could have turned into a people pleaser, but thank God I know how to say no and learned self-care. You then have to become strategic when guarding your peace. When I say strategic, I mean you have to choose days when you will simply focus on yourself and what you like to do. You have to avoid places sometimes because your energy is automatically expected and it’ll be a disappointment if your “charm” was not put to work. There are more scenarios, but you get the point right?

YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL FRIENDZONER     

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Ok so this one could just be me, but I am going to elaborate because it matters. What does it mean to be a professional friendzoner? Do take note that not everyone with a great personality is a friendzoner, buuuuttt those who friendzone usually have a great personality. I mean think about it. A friendzoner is nice enough to allow their rejection of you rest in friendship so you’re not completely devastated (bahaha). But a professional friendzoner has experience in the friendzoning business. At least 5-7 years under his/her belt. You say something or do things that either discourages the other person from pursuing/having hope in you or you have no idea how to even let the other person know you are actually interested. There are more complex definitions, but let’s stick with that. Now in my training to master this great personality, my confidence was low in the beginning. If I knew I didn’t look like the most wanted girl, I had to develop some skill to keep people’s attention. So if the guys didn’t “see me like that”, maybeee they eventually will with what I say. (around 12 yrs old at this time) But I quickly got discouraged with that thinking, and said “Hey, I at least want to be able to communicate and make friends”. BINGO! I did that. And well. Too well…I could not see beyond anyone looking at me besides that good reliable friend. Unless the gentlemen DIRECTLY said “Ashley, I am interested in dating you”, I missed all of the signs in the world. I mean there could have been a billboard…I digress. And of course they wouldn’t know that I liked them because I just knew how to talk to people. I knew how to keep up great conversation. I was a great listener and so forth. Flirting was not in my repertoire and I missed that class in my teenage years. I didn’t really know how to single a person out and make them feel special because…. I talked to everyone the same. I friendzoned out of familiarity, even when I really liked someone.  Don’t worry; I’ve gotten a little better (haha) And if you’re anything like me, your friendly manner also gave people the wrong idea unintentionally. Sigh, I just like people man.

OK, you guys knew it was coming! Let’s throw being a believer in the mix.

Along with that great personality, AND being a believer….Now you’re stuck feeling

YOU CANNOT HAVE ANY BAD DAYS

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Your great personality goes from something you mastered to you exuding the joy of the Lord. Which is NOT bad. But if not careful, people will put you in this happy go lucky Christian box and assume if you are not showing your best side and entertaining the entire room, your relationship with God is rockkkyyyyy. “I thought you were a believer?” “Are you not glad God woke you up this morning? I mean isn’t that what you tell me??”

There can be a lot said about people thinking you turned into a jubilant robot after giving your life to the Lord, but I think I’ll just do another post on that…another day.

So for those who are reading this and thinking “Oh come on, howwww dramatic can you be right now!? So are you upset that you have a “great” personality?? ‘Sucks’ to be you huh??”

LOL. No. BUT. If you are one who heavily leans on that awesome friend/person that can just brighten up your day with two words, just be mindful of possible things going on in their lives you have no idea about. Be considerate. Don’t abuse these people with your never ending problems. Ask them how are they once in a while. AND if you are someone who can relate to what was described above, make sure you have someone in your life that you consider to be awesome so that “this greatness” is not a one way street. Someone that can uplift you as well. Or recognize it in yourself because YOU my dear friend are hard to come by. Most people suck. Just being honest.

I’m just thankful that God placed some amazing people in my life who were able to see past my “great personality” and pride and all the other flaws to love me unconditionally.

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To God be the Glory

Bare & Exposed

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I wrote this to merely share an experience. An experience that went beyond me, to speak volumes for me, before I could. Although the previous sentence sounds a bit invasive and silencing, this was all of my doing, and sort of a social experiment.

I am sitting in a chair anticipating the moment. My name is about to be called. I am about to graduate from college! A place where my purpose in life was confirmed through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and those who were around me helped to affirm that as well. My peers and professors saw me as the dancer, the leader, the “girl who co-lead Bible Study”, the student on several executive boards of organizations, the disciplined student, the listener, the counselor to a few, and much more. I had reached a milestone in my life that millions never got a chance to reach. And this chapter in my life was about to end…. But what is scaring me, what is actually on my mind is what I look like….and what I am about to look like. And no, I do not mean the Is my makeup okay for the photo op afterwards?” “Will this cap stay on my curly wig??” “Do I look like a whale in my cap and gown??” type of questions. I was passed this portion of anxiety.

I knew that after my day of graduation, I had a decision to make that would affect something so pivotal in my identity. I was cutting my hair. To a low fade. No color added to “soften” the look either. What.are.THEY.gona.THINK!? “They” included family, friends, and potential male suitors. With just a few of the titles I had mentioned above, I knew that I held a certain place in lots of people’s lives and it made me nervous to shatter an image they had of me. So fast forward to Memphis. I am sitting in a chair anticipating the moment. My name is about to be called. I am about to cut off all of my hair.

THE LEAD UP

Hair was always very important in my family, as it is in many African American families. I remember the days of the burning relaxer, or the soreness of the scalp after sitting for hours for individuals, or the headaches after wigs being tightened a little too much for a little too long. Did not matter how I was feeling or what was happening in my life, my hair was to be tamed and admired. Yea I said it, Admired. If there was nothing cute on my person that day…week..(there were  some rough college weeks) I lived for the compliments of my hair. It made me feel good. I put a lot of time in styles and spent a lot of money on my hair. Many do not know, but I have a scalp situation called seborrheic psoriasis. It is not fatal and it was NOT the cause of me cutting my hair. But with this condition, my scalp is very dry and dandruff are my shoulders’ best friend (ew, I know right). When I heard of people going days without washing their hair or rarely dealing with dandruff, I thought wow, what does THAT feel like. I know I am sounding pretty dramatic right now, but I basically have to wash my hair about every 3 days. I am PUSHING it when I wait until 4. It is not that bad of a condition, but it has always made me self-conscious about how others saw my hair and scalp. I had to be very selective on hairstyles or I could run the risk of scaring people thinking I had lice or something. So long story short, my hair was my pride and joy for it felt like an accomplishment for my hair to be praised with all of the work I had to put into it.

To add to the scalp insecurity, I have struggled with body image just about all of my life. Plus size, heavy set, fat, whatever you want to call it, that is the body type I identify with. Because of this insecurity, I focused primarily on the neck up. I loved, and still love, my face and the grade of my hair. If I put my energy into those two, surely no one will pay attention to the rest of me. Irrational thinking, I know. But if I was able to ignore my body, then I just expected everyone else too.

You might be thinking, Well Ashley if you loved hair so much, why is it all gone? Sigh, let’s keep digging shall we.

SO WHY??

I was asked this question a lot. And that is understandable. It was pretty abrupt and seemed “out of character” for someone like me and my hair history (haha, hair history really tickled me). So to cut it all off without warning—I get it. I get the confusion.

Homegirl must be going through.

Wow, she’s so brave.

You know what, I don’t usually like when women cut off all of their hair, but it’s real nice on you.

Wow girl you got the face for it, couldn’t be me!

 

 Just to name a few responses.

 

But when people would ask me, I could usually tell if they wanted the sugar coated version or my real answer. Just like when people ask “how are you?” in passing, they are NOT expecting the real answer to slow them down from their destinations. A simple “fine” would suffice. Just like a simple “Trying something new” suffices for most people. And trust me, I am not salty about that. Repeatedly explaining it gave me a sense of accountability with my reasoning (good ollllleeee accountability).

 

Earlier, I discussed my body image insecurity briefly. God has a funny way of reminding you that it is impossible to fall in love with Him and His people…and forget about yourself.

 

Mark 12:30-31 NIV Love the Lord with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind and with all of your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

 

And that is what I have tried to do knowingly and unknowingly since I decided to give Him all of my being in December of 2015. Cutting off my hair meant I couldn’t run from ME anymore. I was forced to face who I was and what I felt about myself. Some readers who have interacted with me may be a little confused at this point. “But Ashley is so confident, I don’t understand”. “But Ashley lead the Bible Studies with so much authority, I knew for sure she was confident in who God had created her to be.” “But Ashley has encouraged ME to be a better me.” But Ashley….But Ashley….is human. Is flawed. Is imperfect. BUT loves the Lord with all of her and allows Him to use her/me as a vessel for His people. Trust me, I am not here to brag on my reputation, for none of the glory belongs to me, it belongs to my Father.

 

ALMOST THERE…

I played multiple scenarios in my head to brace myself for impact. Impact of reality- I was going to be a 5’10” plus size female with no hair. There was no way I could “hide” from myself anymore. I could no longer distract the men in my life with my various and unpredictable hairstyles from my excessive weight gain. But the beautiful thing in releasing something so important to you, whether it be hair, food, control over your destination, whatever, God is able to show you just how much it is not needed to be whole. I didn’t need it to be beautiful. I didn’t need it to be accepted. So as the compliments and criticisms continue to pour in, I see that I have never been happier with a hairstyle before now. I am not sure how long it will be this length and I am not sure if this is how it will be forever, but this experience altogether has pushed me to see myself more as my Heavenly Father sees me. It has also pushed me to write to you all. To challenge you to literally “let go” and let God show you more than what you bargained for.

To God be the Glory

 

Hi there. I’m glad you decided to join me

This is a wonderful moment. You are reading my very first blog post. Yea, YOU! I mean, how cool is that!? If you head to my About page, you’ll get the information on the why behind this creation and what you can expect from it. But for now, just relax with your phone in a comfortable position or from whatever you are reading this on, and slide to my real first blog post hehe. Again, welcome =] Oh I left you something down below, you have officially found the party *cool emoji inserted here*