Cry Pretty

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I’m a crier. Oh lawd, I am being so serious.

Everyone shows emotions differently, but that’s okay. You may call your best friend when you’re stressed. You may hit the gym for a good sweat session. You might pour your favorite glass of Cabernet and grab the container of Ben & Jerry’s out of the freezer while carefully trying not to spill either on your white couch (this is a talent ok, trust me). You might eat Hot Cheetos knowing how terrible they are for you. You might do all of the above (guilty).

You may cry. There’s really no wrong or right way to do it.

But hold on.

Why am I even talking about this?

I’ve been feeling like a basket case of emotions lately and I’m seriously considering investing in a good waterproof mascara. I’m a crier. I feel better when I cry! I don’t always have a meltdown or anything.  Just a frustrated tear after feeling defeated, a happy glisten at my eyes because I heard some fantastic news, or a hysterical, tears streaming down the cheeks because I’m laughing with the person I love at our favorite television show.

Now sometimes I do have a breakdown. Like full-on, ugly tears, expensive mascara running breakdown. If I feel comfortable enough to do this around you, you’re stuck with me for life!

Heck, I cry at weddings. At funerals. At baptisms even. Then I look around and realize no one else is crying. I’ve even apologized for crying before! Used to, I figured okay Ang, you’ll grow out of this. You’ll be an adult.  Younger Ang didn’t know what being an adult was like.

In essence, a whole lot of stuff where the tears are justified. And so are the glasses of wine.

Nine months ago, my life was a lot different. I had a different job, lived in a completely different city, had different friends, and so much more.

Fast forward to now and things are like day and night kind of different. Between then and now I’ve cried plenty of tears (and gained a few pounds).

One day at my current job, I broke the streak. I cried over something that happened that I felt was going to be the end of the world.

One day I sat on my bathroom floor crying until I made myself sick. It felt like the end of the world.

One day I let myself be vulnerable and ugly cry in front of someone I love deeply. It felt like the end of the world.

Spoiler alert! It wasn’t the end of the world.

It’s ok to be a real, functioning human who had some pretty heavy stuff happening.

Lock ‘em up is what many of us do. We press them down, stifle our feelings, suppress any emotional expression. We tell our friends to do the same. Chill. Relax. Put on your game face. Try to be cool no matter what is happening in your life.

Many of us have the impression that emotions are bad. Some were raised in families where people didn’t express much emotion. No one ever said it was wrong to cry or to get too excited about something. But then again, no one ever did.

When we suppress our emotions, it weighs us down. It’s as if we are lugging around a heavy bag with us wherever we go. We all know what happens if we have to carry that bag for an extended period of time: The longer we carry it, the heavier it feels.

So it is with an overwhelmed soul. The longer we bear it, the heavier it feels.

Friends, let it go today. Call a friend, make time for a workout, pour your favorite glass.

Have emotions and don’t ever be ashamed of them.

Ange_Sig

 

The Thief of Joy

 

comparison blog

More than 80% of women…

believe they’re not good enough.
feel they don’t measure up in some way.
are sure they fall short when it comes to their looks, success in business and relationships.

80% of us!

Yep. I am one of them. As a young woman, the comparison game is real. From real life to scrolling through my Instagram feed there’s always someone who appears happier than me, skinnier than me or more successful in their career than me.

Even the most confident of us still play the comparison game in our minds.

You have to let go of both “more than” and “less than” in order to be free. Easier said than done right?

We’re all here for a reason, we’re each moving along on our journeys with perfect timing, and you are meant to make a difference in this world like only you can.

When your ex starts a dating a girl that is just “so much prettier than you” (not possible), your boss mentions how the person before you did a better job, or you try on your new swimsuit and it doesn’t fit on you quite like the size 0 model online, remember you value simply because you exist.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

There are days that this could not feel further from the truth for me. Days I wake up and feel incomplete, crushed by the world and my own insecurities. I’ve found myself in those moments, where I believe I’m simply falling behind everyone else who appears to have it all figured out.

Why is it so easy for me to silence the inner knowing that I’m actually capable and great?

Because I’m human. And I’m pretty sure you are, too!

These ideas, that’s all they are CRAZY ideas, are ruining our lives.

Everyday we have a choice:

Will I make choices in my life from “not good enough” and “she’s better than me”?

When you’re struggling the most with shame and self-doubt, try to remember that you’re not alone, and that no matter what television ads, and your old high school bullies, and the mean voices in your head may say, you are enough as you are. Right now.

I am so much more than what they allowed themselves to see. I am more than they could see. And I’m probably more than they could handle. I am so much more than what I have been conditioned to believe. I am enough.

You are enough. You are a thousand times enough.

Ange_Sig

The B Word

B Word

 

As many of you know, I recently entered the world of non-profit work. I have been with this organization for two whole months now. Time goes by quickly when you’ve got work to do and lives to change.

In the communications industry, people tend to shy away from nonprofit work. They tend to only focus on the amount of work, but never the impact of our work. As a staff of four amazing women currently, the workload can be intense as we set out to improve the quality of life for all children in the state of Alabama. But at the end of every day, I know the work I put in is for the greater good — and for that very reason it is all worth it.

In the organization I work in, we try not to say the word busy. We instead are diligently working, actively engaged in our work, engrossed in the issues our children are facing or just plain HUSTLIN’.

So, for the past two months, I have been trying to shy away from the word busy. We are so caught up in this lifestyle of being busy, heck, we even make it seem glamorous. We get so busy we don’t have time for the things that matter most — loved ones, our relationship with God, self care and a good night’s sleep.

Maybe you’re a type-A overachiever. Or maybe you inevitably end up with a to-do list that won’t end. These days, just about all of us accept our busyness with combination of pride and exhaustion.

Busyness brings worry. The more I worry, the less I look at Jesus and more and more at my situation. Instead of saying “God, I have a lot on my plate right now and I could use your strength to help me get through today,” I rely on my strength. Worldly strength that tends to get me nowhere but burnt out, tired and falling asleep on my laptop in bed (who am I kidding, I do this always).

Busy can beat upon us like a drum. When those closest to us have stopped asking for our time, it’s because they know we are too busy for them. That’s crushing to the heart. We all need “waiting” time, whether we think we do or not. Waiting time is when we say adamantly, “It can wait!” and we step back and do what is really important.

I’m here to remind you (and myself) not to get caught up in the kind of busy that edges out intentional living. Sometimes your busiest, hardest-working, least-restful periods of your life are not your most purposeful, or even most productive.

I know deep within my heart that being overloaded is a way for the enemy to distract me from those most precious to me. The storm that rages inside me is shouting, “Slow Down!” and demands my attention. But if I heed that call, the Creator of peace will shower me with a peace that surpasses all understanding if I just trust him. The fragrance of grace and mercy will overflow in me when I come to peace with being less busy.

One thing I have to remember on a daily basis is that wait is not an ugly word and “busy” is not a spiritual gift. After all, God says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Isn’t being still waiting? When you have a personality like mine, it’s hard to be still, but it is only during those moments alone with God that I can truly feel a peace that surpasses all understanding. Busy is the enemy of joy. Busy steals precious time. Busy robs my blessings.

Ange_Sig

 

New Year, New Me?

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As 2017 comes quickly to a close, (no really, where did this year even go?), and I begin to think about 2018 and my goals and dreams for the year, the things I want to happen, the relationships I want to flourish, the tasks I want to cross of my list, God is telling me to slow down. He’s telling me to slow down because a year from now I’ll be sitting here writing the same thing. Wondering where the year has gone while I look back on photos of the memories this year holds.

You see, it is so easy to get caught up in the list making, the telling God what you want or need to happen, the thoughts that sound something like, “If only this could happen in 2018, I will be truly happy.”

Trust me, I did it about five minutes ago. I know where you’re coming from. This year has been a year of change and learning. Learning a lot about myself. Learning that the joys in this life come from the people you share the simple, small things with. Joy doesn’t come from getting a new home or a big raise. It comes within the day to day moments spent drinking your favorite coffee or seeing your sweet baby take their first steps.

God is telling me “I bless you far more than you dare to ask.” See God has a good sense of humor. As I write my monthly goals, budgets, and to-do lists for the upcoming year, He’s laughing because he knows He already has every single item already checked off the list. God is telling me He’s going to bless me with things I couldn’t even fathom to scribble in my 2018 planner. Things and people and moments I will never know I needed until God places them in my life. All my worries and concerns are already taken care of for the next year, God has already worked them out before they even settled into my heart.

Now I’m not saying anyone is in the wrong for planning what you want to achieve in the next year or setting resolutions-nope, not at all. But I am telling you God has spoken peace over every single thing already.

This year has brought some amazing things my way-most importantly some amazing people that bring my life so much joy and laughter. I get caught up in stress and boy do I forget to cherish them and all they do for my life. I don’t give them, or God, enough credit for the impact they’ve made on my life.

Friends, instead of spending your last few days of this year huddled over the budget sheets and color coded lists, worrying about how to become the “new you,” relax and relish in all that God has done for you this year-both big and small. All the times you felt like you were never going to see the other side of that dark hole, but here you are, on the other side. See God doesn’t need or want there to be a new you, He loves us just as we are.

Sit back, because God has your back and He’s going to bless you far more than you could ever imagine in 2018. Don’t dread the start of a new year, be thrilled to tackle it with God by your side.  I am so excited to see what He has in store for myself and each of you.

 

Ange_Sig

College Exams

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It’s that time of year. Yes the holiday season. But also time for college exams. Whether you’re a freshman or senior, every semester when final exams roll around, the stress is still there. You would think as you get older, you would feel more prepared. But as the classes get harder, so do the exams. If you’re anything like me, you might let the stress get to you. When I’m stressed, I am STRESSED. Here are a few things I used over the years to make it through the dreaded finals week.

  • Write out every exam. Whether it be a test or presentation or final paper, write it in your calendar just as you would any social event.
  • Write out each chapter covered on the exam as well any articles and PowerPoints, or book chapters going to be covered on the exam. Then, see how many days before the exam and divvy up the chapters and PowerPoints and articles evenly to look over and study.
  • Index cards. You’ve probably been using these since high school, but they’re also good for managing your days. Make each index card into one day. Use them to keep track of meetings, class times, phone meetings, due dates, and daily to-dos.  It’s easy to pull out the stack of cards and see if you have time to schedule a study session at Starbucks or not. And for some reason, having separate cards (as opposed to one spread per week in an agenda) makes you realize how much time I actually have to work on things.  Basically, it keeps things in perspective.
  • Make sure your desk (or study space) is organized. Keep your laptop, glasses, iPad, index cards, and Sour Patch kids (anything but chocolate) within reach.
  • Take a break (that doesn’t involve eating food). Many times while studying, I would get bored and just start snacking for no reason. I’d walk to the kitchen, grab the snack, walk back to my desk, and inevitably continue working while eating whatever snack I chose. That really doesn’t even count technically as a break! Give yourself a manicure, go for a walk, read a (non-school related) book. Definitely avoid napping and online shopping during breaks.
  • Use an app to lock you out of apps on your phone or sites on your computer that you don’t need to be on while studying or writing a paper.

I could give you all the tips and tricks in the world, but the most important to remember is your identity isn’t in making an A+ on every project, presentation, and final exam. If you don’t make that A+, it is not the end of the world (although it will feel like it for a little while). Your identity is in your purpose here on Earth and the greater things you’ll do to further the Kingdom of God. So color code your planner, get a good Spotify playlist going, and grab a good cup of coffee (or two) and get to studying!

Ange_Sig

 

Hugs

Do y’all like hugs? My sister doesn’t. She’s one of those people. She cringes up when you grab her in a big ole’ hug (I’m sure she’ll love me telling y’all that). As long as I can remember, she’s been that way. The rest of my family however, we’re the hugging kind.

Hugs transfer energy and gives someone an emotional lift. It can say things you just don’t  have the words for.

Sometimes you just need to give a hug. Or to receive one. Someone gets married? Give em’ a hug? Haven’t seen your best friend in forever? Give em’ a hug. When someone dies? You offer their family and friends hugs.

Next week marks the anniversary of a season of grief my family and I entered into. A season where we got used to a lot of hugs. Between the funerals and visiting with family and friends, it was one after another.

One year ago, my feisty grandmother, Dorothy passed away. One of my fondest memories of her is when I would get to her house and she would be sitting in her old, worn down chair that’s probably been there since before I was born, with an afghan across her lap and she’d say “Come here and give me a hug, AJ.” Before I’d leave, she would say the same thing. Her hugs felt like home. They were warm and comforting.

One month after her death, my precious niece passed away. My sister, you know- the one who hates hugs, had to get used to them quickly. We had spent days together before the funeral and hadn’t exchanged a single hug. But after the services, I walked up to her crying and she just embraced me. That’s something I will remember forever.

The very next month, my Grannie- Miss Virginia, went to Heaven as well. Her hugs felt like Sunday mornings and Christmas dinner all wrapped into one.

Just a few days ago, a high school classmate passed away in a tragic car accident. Our small class of forty people gathered together. Most of us hadn’t seen each other in years. We came together to celebrate his life. We came together to comfort each other. At the graveside service, his brother spoke words I will remember for the rest of my life. He said recently, they had exchanged one of four hugs in their entire lifetime-something he would cherish forever.

I’d give a lot to hug those people one last time. I challenge you today, to hug someone you love. To give them one of those hugs that you’d remember forever if you never saw them again here on this earth. You know the kind I’m talking about.

Sometimes in the middle of darkness, it’s hard to see the other side. But as a child of God, we have to remember, the battle is the Lord’s. There is joy in the middle of sorrow. There is peace in the storm. There is hope for tomorrow. Even as the storm of tragedy and grief are raging around you, stand and know you have not and never will be forsaken.

Who brings light to the morning? It’s no other than God, and as surely as the sun rises, God will come and bring joy and peace.

 

Ange_Sig

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