Here’s an excerpt from a poem that I wrote 13 years ago, during a time of intense personal agony:
I long to love me.
I want to hold me,
As much as I held him.
I want to console me,
Forever know me,
As I insisted on knowing him.
Now he’s gone.
I’m still here.
What does it matter,
And having known him?
Yes, the poem was inspired by relationship woes. But the bottom line is that I truly wanted to find love for myself. Let me tell you. I was going through my own personal hell, and it makes me emotional to read the poems and journals that I wrote during this era of my life. I do have to say that not all of that emotion is negative, so much of it is grounded in pride. I’m very proud of how far I’ve come since then. I thank God for giving me the foresight to know that the only way out of this angst would be for me to begin making myself a priority and loving myself. The phrase “love yourself” sounds so simple, but when you approach it, finding self-love can involve digging through a whole lot of ‘ugly stuff’. For many of us, the ‘ugly stuff’ includes extinguishing lies that we’ve been conditioned to believe about ourselves. It’s tragic for a woman, blessed with gifts, talents, and beauty to live life and never get to realize her hefty value. We can’t allow this to be our reality, so it’s necessary for each of us to identify and conquer the “ugly untruths” that continue to hold us back.
There are two “myths” in particular that I am determined to ban from my life:
Ugly Untruth #1
I'm Too Quiet/Don't Have the Personality to Shine
When I was younger, I allowed this to hold me back in so many ways. I have come very far, but there’s still a lot of work to be done in this area. Yes, I’m quiet. I’m very much an introvert, which means that I’m content with not being in the spotlight. My comfort zone involves a whole lot of quietude, just me and my own thoughts. I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m content with this, but I refuse to see it as a roadblock or even as anything negative. I do and will continue to move out of my comfort zone to reach my goals, to make my voice heard when I have a message.
Ugly Untruth #2
I’m not attractive
One of my cousins posted a childhood picture of me on Facebook recently. I looked at the picture and saw an adorable little girl. Why didn’t I feel that way, then? Why didn’t I feel that way growing up? I don’t know. I’m clueless as to the origin of me feeling that I wasn’t pretty. Low self-esteem is a terror. It causes you to minimize your positive attributes and highlight the negative (and create beliefs about yourself that are not even true). It was not until I had children and saw their beauty that I began to feel attractive.
Here’s How I’m Working on Loving Myself the Way that I Deserve
1. Change the language that I use about myself- I am very much a believer in the strength of positive affirmations. Being armed with uplifting bible verses, quotes, etc. is vital to combatting the negative thoughts and beliefs that I have held about myself for so long.
2. Forgiving others-Yes, I recognize the part that others may have played in creating the scars that have affected my life, but forgiving those individuals is necessary for my own growth.
3. Taking care of myself -mentally, physically, and spiritually. I am a work in progress in this area. I am working to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and I am sure that it would make me so much more content. People joke about New Year’s resolutions, but adopting a healthier lifestyle is certainly one of my resolutions for 2015.
4. Make myself a priority-we make no qualms about supporting and nurturing those around us. We have to save a portion of that ‘loving kindness’ for ourselves
5. Setting and achieving goals –there are not many self-esteem boosters greater than bringing a goal to life
I’m ready to love myself with no boundaries. What about you? What are some “ugly untruths” that you’re working on expelling from your life? I look forward to reading your feedback.
Charlene Frazier is a proud mom of two young men, Steven and Shareef. She’s also a bride-to-be (congrats!). Charlene is a transplant from NYC who resides in Manning, SC. She’s a very talented clothing designer, and is currently working on getting her brand, Until Then Creations, to the masses! Charlene is a woman with a beautiful spirit, giving heart, and charming personality. I know that you’ll be inspired by her story of healing from the scars of childhood that so many of us carry, and rebounding to become the resilient and ambitious woman that she is today!
A Childhood Familiar to So Many of US…
AC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
CF: Well, you have to know what you’re good at as a child to have those dreams. I had no hobbies, no interests.
AC: That’s so hard to believe, seeing this very outgoing personality sitting in front of me.
CF: This is the most outgoing I’ve ever been in my life
AC: What made you happiest as a child?
CF: Going to visit my grandmother and uncle. My grandmother was a seamstress and my uncle worked for Vogue as a designer. He would design clothes for me, very nice dresses. It felt like an escape from where I was ‘trapped’.
AC: What was your biggest fear during your childhood?
CF: In school I had a speech impediment-a very bad speech impediment. Because of it, I was quiet and withdrawn.
AC: What was your life like at home?
CF: It was me and my older brother, who was very popular. My dad always work and provided for us. I was the outcast. Most mothers give attention to their girls and do a lot for them, not mine. With her, I just had to make it work. I stayed out of the way and did what I had to do.
AC: Did your mom ever offer you positive encouragement?
CF: No, as a matter of fact, here’s a story. I was about 24 or 25 years old. The kids and I went to visit my mom. My brother and his wife lived on the 2nd floor of my mom’s house. On that day, they got into an argument and my sister-in-law asked me a question. I started to answer. My mother came in and said “How are you going to give advice? You don’t have a man yourself?” After that, I stopped visiting.
AC: See, these are the kinds of things that stick with us.
CF: So, I had the speech impediment. I didn’t feel pretty. And then there’s the relationship with my mother. So as I got older and because of all of these things, I just fell back and did not want to be noticed.
AC: What was the beginning of you rebounding from those childhood situations?
CF: My best friend’s mom is the person who helped me to feel better about myself. One day, my best friend whose name is also Charlene, told me that her mom asked her “how’s that pretty dark-skinned girl?” I said “come on now”, thinking that she could not have been talking about me. Both of them, Charlene and her mom, tried to convince me to feel better about myself. Together, we read and did the activities in the book The Purpose Driven Life. We were close and it was easy for me to open up to Charlene’s mom. We couldn’t get past the 5th or 6th chapter because when I told her that when I look in the mirror I see this hideous person, it broke her down. No matter what someone tells you, and how much you want to believe it, it’s not until you believe it yourself that you begin to heal.
I’m almost there. I’m a hell of a lot better than I used to be.
AC: Who’s your support system now?
CF: My friend Charlene and her husband are like siblings to me. Dealing with the tribulations of being a single mother, I can always count on them. They go out of their way to help me and my sons.
AC: What do you love about yourself?
CF: I can now say that I love my personality. I have a lot of people tell me that they love how outspoken I am. I think to myself “if they only knew me back in the day…”
AC: Just curious, what made you move to South Carolina?
CF: My father fell ill with dementia, so my parent moved here. My mother was also dealing with her own illness, sarcoidosis. I knew that taking care of my father while being sick herself was too much for her to handle. My heart would not allow me to let her come down here and deal with it all on her own, so I moved down here to help. Once I moved to South Carolina, I decided “forget it all, now I’m just going to be me!”
Nurturing Her Purpose…
AC: What is your biggest dream for your life?
CF: I would love to become a fashion buyer and jumpstart my clothing design business, Until Then Creations. I try to design clothing for grown women who want a good fit with that element of sex appeal. I like clothing designs that are classy, without the raunchiness.
AC: How did you come up with the name of your business, Until Then Creations?
CF: Don’t laugh. Jill Scott has a song called Until Then. I have been told that the words are crazy, but that phrase “Until Then” means a lot to me. It means that there more to come, just wait for it, it’s coming.
AC: When did you learn to design clothing?
CF: One year, my boyfriend at the time asked what I wanted for Christmas. I asked for a sewing machine. What’s crazy is that the sewing machine sat in the box, unused for two years. I got to the point where I just wanted to have something that I enjoyed doing for me. I took it out of the box, got some material, and started experimenting with it. I didn’t have any classes, totally self-taught. I just fell in love with it.
Her Motivation to Help Others…
AC: So far, what do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?
CF: Because I didn’t really have interests or know what I was good at as a child, I have always pushed my children to find themselves, find their talents. My experiences have also caused me to become involved in the lives of young people, encouraging them to live their lives and find what’s for them. My biggest accomplishment has been meeting people, seeing great things in them, and motivating them to the point that they eventually see their potential. I love it.
AC: So, what advice would you give to young ladies who are in the same position that you were in your youth?
CF: I would tell them to slow down. Having a boyfriend is fine, but keep your pants up and find yourself. Travel, figure out what you enjoy doing. Don’t allow anyone to push their expectations on you. Find that one thing that makes you happy and go full force with it.
AC: What’s your greatest hope for women and the lives that we lead?
CF: I would like for our women to stop basing our self-worth on a man. I hope that we can start looking at ourselves and value what we have to offer. I see those types of situations and it’s so hurtful to me. I never hesitate to give advice or offer whatever help is needed to young ladies who I see going in that direction.
What’s Next for Charlene…
AC: Are you where you want to be in life?
CF: I’m where I should be. What's great is that I know it will only get better. The people who are in my life now, we help to build one another, so I know that life is going to get even better.
AC: What makes you happy?
CF: Drawing in my book of croquis, being at work and daydreaming about what I’m going to sew that night. I love it when someone walks past me and being inspired by what they have on. I’m always thinking about design.
AC: What’s next for your business?
CF: I’m continuing to work on my clothing line. I also want to start a jewelry line. I plan to start giving sewing lessons to our youth, to have them do something that they are proud of. Giving back is so important, when you receive you have to give back.
AC: Wow, on that note, I have to thank you so much for being open and sharing your story.
What I’ve Gained From Charlene’s Story
1. As parents, we have to be very careful to feed confidence and hope into our children. Let them know their worth and their limitless potential.
2. Life becomes so much more enriched when we find out interests and talents (our purpose), and we take that time to nurture that purpose.
3. Surround yourself with people who will support you and offer positivity in your life. Forgive and pray for those who can’t seem to do so.
4. Be sure to give back what you have received, and motivate others to find happiness in their own lives.
Thank you, again, to our very first Gem of the Month, Charlene Frazier. Let us know how this post has inspired you! Don't go without leaving your comments, and be sure to share with others who may also be moved by December's Gem.
Take a look at some of Charlene's designs!
Cue the scene—you’re sitting among your loving family at a holiday celebration. The atmosphere is festive...filled with laughter, recounting old memories, and enjoying great food. Everything is going absolutely lovely…and then the questions start. So, have you found a special guy yet? What happened to that nice young man who came with you to the cookout this summer? It goes on…and on…and on. You begin to feel like you’re being questioned at a congressional hearing and you just don’t have the answers. Of course your family loves you-they want the best for you, but you’d think that they would realize how frustrating this can be. I admit, when I approach the holidays, still not in a relationship, the thought of what family members will have to say, the questions that they will ask, causes me a bit of anxiety.
We celebrated Thanksgiving at my mom’s house this year. To be honest, being single was not at the forefront of my thoughts. I enjoyed being among my beautiful nieces and nephews, the great food, watching holiday movies, and then it happened….my brother asked “Where’s Malcom X (his nickname for my ex-boyfriend, who’s Jewish, not Muslim, smh)?” I screamed on the inside but replied, very calmly “Who?” “Your boyfriend, Malcolm X”. I decided to make it very short and sweet. “I have no clue where he is and I don’t have a boyfriend”. I guess my facial expression made it clear that I didn’t want to discuss it any further, so the festivities continued on with no one else mentioning my relationship status. Why must we go through this? This led me to wonder if being single during the holidays is as big an issue for other ladies as it has been for me.
I wondered if being single is more of an issue during the holidays than during the rest of the year. Do family and friends tend to make it an even bigger deal? How should single ladies keep from feeling that there’s some void during the holiday season? I asked these questions of several fabulous single ladies. I hope that their responses are as enlightening to you as they have been for me.
On Being Single During the Holidays...
Keasha G.—being single doesn’t cause me more concern during the holidays, but it is highlighted most during this time of year. Sometimes my desire for a mate is more intense because I’m at the age where my friends are either married or have children so I feel left out sometimes.
Aretha W.—Yes, being single during the holidays does cause me to feel lonely, depressed, unattractive, rejected. The holidays are the number one time of year that a person likes to feel loved, comforted, and appreciated.
Lemonica M.—Being single probably causes me less concern during the holidays than the rest of the year. I see it as one less person to stress over when it comes to Christmas gifts, lol. I now take this time to enjoy myself and to get myself together-working towards meeting and exceeding the same standards that I look for in a mate.
Davida W.—Being single during the holidays SUCKS MAJOR! LOL…but seriously, it’s not fun, but I deal. It’s not more of an issue during the holidays because it’s like “welp, I’m single again this Christmas…best time of the year…blah blah blah…” To me it’s no different than any other “single” day. I’ve been single for six years, so I’m used to it.
Davida W. shares a hilarious story of how family members can make an issue of our singleness…
My mom and dad used to get on me a lot about being single. Here’s an example—my parents and I went out to dinner one Sunday. My dad asked where I see myself in 5 years. I gave the typical “working a good job, paying mortgage instead of rent” answer.
Dad: No husband or children?
Me: Dad, I’ve told you before, I’m not getting married
Dad: Why? You can’t say that because you don’t know
Me: Yes, I do know.
Mom: Well, I think you have to put yourself out there. I want you to bring somebody to the Christmas dinner and be happy.
Me: That’s the thing. I AM happy.
Dad: You got to give me some grands, so you have to get a husband.
Me: Trust me, I don’t need a husband for that *started singing* “That’s just my baby daddy!”
They both looked at me like I lost my mind.
Me: Well, alright! How was service this morning?
How Singles Can Avoid the Blues During the Holidays…
Aretha W.—Family and friends help me to cope and conquer loneliness during this season by doing things together and showing their love and affection for me.
Toni W.—My family tells me that when it’s time, it will happen. I have a great support system. I use this time to pursue what makes me happy.
Lemonica M.—Single people can avoid feeling down about their singleness during the holidays by enjoying, appreciating, and spending time with those who are currently in their lives. There are days that I get lonely, but I quickly find SOMETHING to do. Besides, being a mom doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to dwell on it.
Keasha G.—Single people have to learn to live in their singleness. If you want to take a trip…go. It’s also important to practice gratitude. It’s easy to pick out the one thing that you do not have, but that one thing is in the shadows of all of your other blessings.
Davida W.—I usually go and mingle with my girlfriends (I have a regular circle of 4). Now that they have significant others and/or children (yes, I’m the only one who has neither), I think a bottle of Moscato and strawberries, my blanket crocheted by my mom, and all day marathons of A Christmas Story should suffice.
I TRULY appreciate these ladies being so open and candid with their responses. Here’s what I gathered from it all:
For some singles, the holiday season can bring about just a little anxiety.
We can attempt to fill that void by appreciating the here and now—our families, friends, all of the blessings PRESENT in our lives.
We should live and appreciate life and not define its value by our relationship status.
Attention family and friends—we know that you mean well. However, we know that we’re single, so no need to remind us of it…take it easy on us.
Is being single during the holidays an issue for you? I look forward to hearing your feedback. Please be sure to thank Aretha, Keasha, Davida, Lemonica, and Toni for their awesome inspiration!
Happy Holidays All!
I have come a long way! I can honestly say that I’m a big girl now. Never in my life have I been as confident as I am right now. It’s a feeling I’ve never enjoyed before and I absolutely treasure it. So, in celebration of my resolve to come out of my shell, I decided to do something that I’ve dreamed about doing for a long time—modeling! I saw a Facebook post about auditions for an upcoming show and I just had to do it. I couldn’t miss that audition. This is a huge deal for me—evolving from a shy girl who didn’t realize the strength of her voice, who thought she was not very attractive at all to becoming this much more self-assured woman who’s determined to live a fulfilled life.
See, this is what this post was SUPPOSED to be about. It was going to be a celebration of my decision to start living outside of my comfort zone and live life on my own terms. I was going to include all sorts of exclamations and hash tags about how good it feels to nurture my own interests and to finally do what’s necessary to realize my dreams. No, it’s not about that. This post is really about a picture. Yep, one picture that rained on my parade.
After getting the call confirming that I had been selected for the fashion show, I was on cloud nine. It’s all that I have been talking about. I’m sure that my family and friends are pretty tired of hearing about “the show”. We had our first rehearsal last Sunday. I was a little nervous, but I was quickly put at ease once I realized that I was among a group of very positive and supportive women. We went through a few walking exercises and I felt that I did pretty well (especially for a newbie). By the end of rehearsal, I was hyped and absolutely looking forward to our next session. Before saying our goodbyes, I asked for a group picture because I definitely wanted to write about my awesome experience and have a visual to go along with my post.
After getting home, I settled in, and was ready to load the group picture into my photo gallery. Well, I had not looked at the picture beforehand. When I did..my..jaw..dropped. I felt completely deflatedL. What I was seeing in this picture is not the way I “thought” that I looked. I felt that I looked huge and awkward. Well, give that little monster called self-doubt an inch and he will take a mile. That’s exactly what happened. I started to wonder…well…if I didn’t LOOK the way that I thought I had maybe I didn’t perform as well as I was thinking. Am I really ready for this? Am I fooling myself? I was crushed. Sometimes that’s all that it takes, one little “thing”, one little setback, to steal your joy.
I was certainly in need of a pep talk from the girls. At work the next day I had to tell them about “the picture”. Was it really as bad as I thought? Well, my girls, being the authentic women that they are J agreed that it wasn’t my best shot (gotta love a girlfriend who tells you what’s real and not what you want to hear in the moment). However, they certainly didn’t see it as the tragedy that it had become in my mind. The conversation quickly moved from the picture to their concern with me doubting myself over something so small. The encouragement that I received was priceless, but I knew that I had to come to terms with this on my own. I should not have been so easy for my confidence to be crushed.
After getting settled in at home that night, I decided that I needed to take a look in the mirror (literally and figuratively). I took the time to look at my physical self and meditated on those beautiful qualities that I have earned as a woman who is strong and resilient and determined. How could I allow this great era in my life to be railroaded by that little monster called self-doubt? The answer…I can’t allow that to happen. Here’s where I am now—I am resolved to live in this moment, to bask in all things POSITIVE that are occurring in my life. There is no question that I can do this and I will. Yes, it’s time to rip that runway!
All of us deal with situations in which we’re not as secure as we should be. What do you do to win back your confidence? I look forward to reading your responses!
SIDE NOTE: Though I didn’t like the way that I looked in the photo, I think the other ladies are absolutely gorge’! I had to post this pic! Aren’t they giving the camera all kinds of FIERCE?? I love it!
Antoinette C. is a blogger who delights in all things that foster unity and growth in women. After all, if the woman is happy and fulfilled, so is her family and community. Through Truly Charmed, Antoinette will introduce you to women who have inspired her, and who will, hopefully, do the same for you! Here's to your charmed life!