Posted in Life as Bianca, My Lenses on Life

Mental Health Matters to Me

It would be foolish of me not to acknowledge that May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

A lesson God is teaching me is valuing my mental health. A wise person once told me, ” If you have heart issues, you take heart medication. If you have a headache, you take headache medicine. So if you have issues with your brain and mind, why not take care of that too?”

I’m not saying that you need to take prescription medicine (if you feel you need to, seek a medical provider for assistance and resources. no shame if you need it). What I mean is why not take care of your mental health? Your mindset matters in everything you do. The way you move matters based on how you treat your mind.

For me, it has been a journey. For many years, therapy was a dirty word…like rich white people problems or the 90s sitcom, Fraiser was my first impression of therapy. In the African American community and the Immigrant Community, therapy is taboo. You just learn to deal and keep moving and not look crazy. As a Christian, I was told to pray it away.

While it may work for some, it did not work for me. I wrestled with my own thoughts and buried it in the deepest parts of my being. I maintained a facade, a mask of sorts to hide my depression and anxiety. But even that temporary solution failed….

The pandemic really brought me to a head where I could not hide from my thoughts.

But God…

God gave me love and assurance in little things. I would cling to the hem of His garment and hope for better. He gave me the resource of a Black, Christian, female therapist earlier this year. It has helped getting out my feelings, doubts, and insecurities. I can explore different facets of my identity as a black woman and as a Christian. I have learned so much through speaking my truth and using the Bible to fight against the Enemy. My church family and my personal relationship with God helps me navigate my life. Therapy does not negate my relationship with Christ, it gives me more Godly tools to move in my daily life.

I tell my story because I want you to know: MENTAL HEALTH AND THERAPY IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. I don’t want you to feel shame nor guilt for taking care of your mind. Each person is different in their mental health needs. One is not any worse or any better. If it helps, it helps.

You matter.

Your sanity matters.

Your mindset matters.

Your life matters.

Your mental health matters.

Only you know what you need. Acknowledge what you need. It does not necessarily have to be in-person therapy, there is online therapy. You can get a gratitude journal, listen to soothing music, eliminate toxic people and create boundaries, etc, etc.

Just care for your mind. God gave you this body and this life for a moment in time. So make good use of your time. Take care of your mental soul.

Blissfully,

Bianca

Posted in Life as Bianca, My Lenses on Life

Sharing My Testimony

This was a big step. It was the summer of 2020 after the protests and outcries for justice was everywhere. I wanted to do my part. I sat in my stuff and said to myself, “I can’t hide anymore. I have to be uncomfortable and make people uncomfortable.” But it’s in the most uncomfortable moments where we grow. It was the self-therapy I needed to not hide the repressive thoughts of unworthiness in who I was. It was a release in putting myself out there as fully me. I shared my testimony of things and emotions I felt in my racial identity as a first generation American of Haitian immigrants and Christian.

Remember this is my experience and my story to tell. I own every part of the experiences that have made me who I am today. I grew from that moment and continue to grow. I am a work in progress and learning that my voice matters. So take this with a grain of salt and listen to my words.

Blissfully,

Bianca

Posted in Life as Bianca

My Own Advocacy

So in the past year, human rights and civil rights violations came at its peak. People were stuck in their homes and things were shut down. Almost every day, an unarmed black person was killed unjustly. Hate crimes and discrimination was rampant. There was a need for justice and advocacy.

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

In the mist of that time, my thought was “How do I advocate for justice in my own world?” I can’t hide from it. Though I can’t save the whole world, I can be effective in my community.

I’m not going to lie: I did not go to protests then and I was not donating to any organizations. I was an unemployed, post-graduate struggling mentally, physically, and emotionally.

For most of my life, I have struggled with racial identity. It carried with the statements of not being black enough, “acting white,” and selling out all because of the environments I interacted in. I wanted to help my community but I did not want to hurt my white friends. I always hid parts of myself to my white friends out of fear of losing them. So that was where I was the summer of 2020, at a crossroads.

But as I researched and listened to different sources, a revelation came: Not everyone’s advocacy for justice looks the same. You have find out your own personal way to advocate for other groups.

What a relief.

I did not have to do what everyone else is doing. I can be my own person and advocate in my own way. So what was that? Well, I started sharing my story and speaking out about my experiences with discrimination. I had a diverse following so why not give perspective. Why not be transparent of the experiences that shaped me.

For the most part, people listened and empathized with me. I choose who to give more knowledge to if someone personally reached out privately. I did not allow certain narratives to distort the work I wanted to do in educating others. There were some who did not want to understand and wanted to refute everything I said. I even had people tell me I was race-baiting or making everything about race. For that response, I blocked them.

In therapy, my therapist told me how my purpose is being a bridge. My experiences are unique but no less black nor less white. I was just Bianca. I have always interacted with different people in my life and that is nothing to be ashamed of. So why not use that skill to bring people together. To find common ground and open eyes, hearts, and minds.

If you are struggling in how to be an ally and advocate for others, find what works for you. You know yourself well to know what you can handle. Everyone does things different and that is just fine. Do what works for you.

Sources I look to for news and ways to advocate is the NAACP, AND Campaign, ACLU, and Human Rights Watch. I am looking to expand my horizons so tell what you use as sources. It is a start. But do the research for you will get a worldview to personally and effectively serve your community.

Lastly, You and I can do our best. A win for me is when a person tells me, “Thank you for sharing. I will consider that in my own life. What you said made me think in another way I never thought.” Change starts with the heart. My form of advocacy is to tell my experiences and listen to others to cultivate a heart change that creates stronger allies. Remember we are stronger together and every little act towards justice can make a bigger change.

Blissfully,

Bianca

Posted in My Lenses on Life

I Exhaled: The Verdict Aftermath

To exhale is an amazing feeling. An intense need to release is human. Our bodies want to feel real. The painful trauma of watching George Floyd’s need for breath haunts me. It took the breathe out of me. Thinking of “I. Can’t. Breathe.”

Being me, a black female of Haitian descent, there are times where I must remind myself to breathe. Though I could tell you the scientific and anatomical methods we breathe, I’m not. The emotional toll of injustice in the country is hard to live through especially when it is your own. Every day feels like a new tragedy, another brother or sister murdered in cold blood and there is no justice for them nor their family. It’s like you almost have to talk yourself out of getting justice because the system tends to diminish our struggle. You can’t breathe in the systems and institutions that make it difficult to breathe.

It makes me numb and hurts to my core. I think of all the people I love who are black. I have a black brother and a black father. It is hard to see them walk out the door. You pray they make it home safely and when they come home, I exhale.

Today, I was shaking when I came home and saw the television on the Derek Chauvin Trial. My body felt a whiplash of anxiety. Nothing can prepare you for a verdict. No matter how many times I tried to calm down, my heart and soul was scared. Chest hurt, pit in my stomach. It’s the stuff that makes you still and unable to function.

But Justice came in that moment. Guilty, Guilty, Guilty. Justice came for the Floyd family.

Then I exhaled.

It’s a weird feeling. You are relieved for justice, sad George is not alive, frustrated at the timeline for justice, unsure if there will be more change, anxious at the sentencing stage, worried if this is the last time justice will be served, empowered that real change is coming, and EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN!

But I will exhale today for George cause he could not. While I am here, I will breathe another breath.

Inhale and Exhale.

Blissfully,

Bianca

Posted in My Lenses on Life

The Silver Lining to the Current Presidency

I know what you may be thinking: And what may that be, Bianca?

The silver lining is I see who people really are.

I feel like prior to this era, people’s prejudice would show it’s ugly head every now and then. I had faith in people. I thought the best in people especially Christians.

But once the current president ran, I started to see where people stood and people’s tolerances. I really started to see who people really were.

Maya Angelou says “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Usually people’s first reactions is really how they feel.

When the current president would say or do something unbecoming, the people that I thought would be outraged would make excuses or be silent.

What? I thought you were better than that.

Then, I would see how people really thought through their social media. The racist propaganda against Obama and promotion of the current president’s rhetoric. The mean-hearted comments. The videos displaying hate. The articles of angry rhetoric and division. The “us” against “them” attitude.

I’m not saying everyone should think the same. We can have disagreements but it should not turn into name-calling and empty, divisive rhetoric. 

Now, I am guarded when I encounter people. I watch people’s actions much more than the words they say.

What you talk and how you walk matters to me.

A backtrack from what you say originally speaks louder to me.

Yes, no one is perfect. But sometimes the evidence can be overwhelming.

I love and befriend from a distance. I try to take the high road towards ignorance. I post God’s Word because it cannot be disputed. I try to live as an ambassador for Christ in a lost and dying world.

I will not be perfect but I try to be who I say I am.  To live what I preach.

Blissfully,

Bianca

Posted in My Lenses on Life

My Lenses on the Immigrant

This is not about policy, nationalism, or border control. This is not about deportation or ICE. This is not about what administrations have done. This is not about who deserves to be here and who does not. This is not about criminals, amnesty, overpopulation, merit-based vs. open immigration. 

This is about human decency. This is about loving your neighbor as yourself. 

This issue is very close to my heart because I am the daughter of Haitian immigrants. I am a first generation American. Even though my citizenship is never questioned, I don’t think for one minute that this issue does not apply to me.

I am not the person I am without the sacrifice of my parents. Like many immigrants, they worked hard even in the face of discrimination and doubt. They provided for their families. They mastered a language that is not their own. They came to America for a better life for their descendants. And I am a result of them. 

If you did not know, the Bible is filled with immigration that stemmed from a great migration, displacement, wars, etc.  Even Jesus Christ was an immigrant, born in a foreign land and fleeing death in his first years of life.

We are all strangers that were once lost but found with Christ. 

No race is better than another.

We must treat strangers as we would like to be treated. Yes, even the bad ones (love your enemies..it’s in the Bible).

If you think this is hearsay, the Bible explicitly says how to treat a stranger/immigrant in your land:

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”-Leviticus 19:33-34

“‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’- Deutoromony 27:19

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.-Deutoronomy 10:18

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.-Hebrews 13:2

Separating families, discriminating against them, telling them to “go back to your country,” the physical and emotional abuses during detainment. demeaning, racists behavior towards them is NOT of God. Anyone who condones that behavior is on the side of evil.

Remember did God treat you in a discriminatory way when you first came to Him? You aren’t all that to be honest…you are actually dirty, filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) before Christ came. Just saying…

God calls us to love immigrants where they are. To clothe, feed, shelter, and care for widowers and children. God shows us how to be His hands and feet to these communities. It varies on how that looks in your personal journey. I’m not saying you need to give immigrants everything you have but have humility. How would you want to be treated in a foreign land?

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.-Galatians 3:28

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,-Philippians 3:20

In the grand scheme of the Gospel, your citizenship to heaven does not depend on your national origin or ancestry. God loves diversity. Every tribe and every tongue will be with Jesus someday….even the immigrants will be there. It depends on your heart and how you treat God’s people. That’s all.

Blissfully,

Bianca

Posted in My Lenses on Life

Society’s Lack of Blissful Truth

Our society is turning to a place where  “fake news” replaces facts and truth is distorted. People are posting and saying inaccurate information without any credible sources or resources. Truth seems irrelevant depending on who it affects.

To God, good is good and bad is bad. The truth is what it is. God does not give favoritism to the rich and powerful. God does not care about one race more than another. God does not distort truth whenever He feels like it. 

To know what is true and false, one must practice discernment. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines discernment as the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. 

As a Christ-follower, I am responsible for what information I take. And so are you. I have to filter what I watch, read, and listen to. There are people in the world who give information to get a rise from vulnerable, uninformed people. There are people who want to discredit, defraud,  distort, and downplay.

But truth is not a Bianca thing. God talks about discernment and wisdom.

My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion;  they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.-Proverbs 3:21-22

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.-Proverbs 11:22

Blessed is the one  who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the  way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,  but whose delight is in the law of the Lordand who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked!  They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.-Psalm 1

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.-Ephesians 4:29

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.-1 Peter 5:8

So think to yourself, is what I am saying or doing edifying or unwise to my audience? Is what I am saying or doing kind or mean? Would what I say or do be something Jesus would do? That is my process when I blog, post, and live.

It does not mean be weak or hate everything but question and realize that there are liars out there.

God’s Word should prevail. Man’s word will disappoint and will fail somewhere down the road. 

God warns that there is a major deceiver who steals, kills, and destroys. So be watchful and sober-minded because the days are evil. Know the truth in God’s eyes.

Blissfully,

Bianca

Posted in My Lenses on Life

Unapologetic Courage

 

 

cf872bb0d611a9c9f158b5c07f77566cIt takes courage to be unapologetic.

You’re not the norm.

You’re not in your place.

You decide that you are better than your circumstances.

You decide that you are not inferior, subordinate, impotent, and unimportant.

Some believe in division and evil dominance.

Nevertheless, you persist.

You are nasty.

You are revolutionary.

You speak, act, and walk, in your truth.

You are not the norm.

You are the resistance.

Courage

Blissfully,

Bianca

Posted in My Lenses on Life

Politically Speaking

Now I know what you are thinking…another post about a conspiracy theory, party baiting, how much I don’t like “fill in the blank.” Friends, it’s not that kind of post. It is more of my perspective as an African American voter and law-abiding citizen.

If you did not know already, I am a Democrat and a Christ-follower. Go figure…

Former President Barack Obama will always hold a special place in my heart. Not just because he was the first African American President. He is the first president I ever voted for as a college freshman. I remember early voting with my mom and being so excited to be a part of the process. My mom picked me up from college to bring me home to vote. After voting, I rushed to my mom and said, “Mom, I did it! I voted for the first time!” Not even going to lie but I got an applause from people still waiting to vote. (really cool).

Election Night 2008: I wish I could say election night brought the same excitement but it was not. I was sitting in my dorm room waiting for the results. When they said the projected winner is Barack Obama, my roommate left the room, slammed the door, and went to another friend’s room to express how livid she was. Me, I was secretly doing somersaults in my head. I did, however do a victory dance to “Walk It Out” for about a minute until my roommate came back. You see, I went to a Southern, Baptist Christian College where Jesus and traditional, Republican values reigned supreme. It was already enough that I was a minority far from home but I was a Democrat. There were some Democrat students who were bolder and were openly happy with Obama. But that caused tension. So I was afraid because I thought that I would lose friends and be looked at differently.

After election night, the day was full on tension between students. But a moment of relief came when a classmate said “So how do you feel about having someone who looks just like you running the free world?” It was not mean or condescening but more like he was intrigued. I conjured this response, “Seeing Barack Obama means I have no excuse to fail in life. I can do anything..be anything. Anything is possible.” But even after that conversation, I decided to hide my political party from people and rarely speak politics.

Reelection 2012: I transferred and graduated from a Military College (I was a civilian student). There was a little more diversity but not enough to freely share my views. I was involved in Christian circles where once again, not going to express my individual political prowess. I was a minority far from home and secretly a Democrat. On election night, I remembered “not caring” about the results but I was nervous. I went to the gym that evening (rare moment). I came to my dorm room and continued to wait for results. 4 MORE YEARS! I messaged my secret Christian, Democrat friend on FB. I even celebrated with another female Democrat in our dorm hall (“She said our candidate won! You are a Democrat right!?! I said “Yes!”). Such a relief.

My “coming out of the political closet” occurred as a law student. My law school had a diverse group of ideas from all walks of life. It was a relief to find people a lot like myself. So, I declared it on Facebook. I was learning the law and was really getting convicted about where I stand on issues. My faith was growing as well along with my political views.  I was a grown woman doing life. Why do I need to hide what I believe? My experiences have shaped me. It’s who I am. I had to stand in my truth. Once I did it, it was relief. 

Fast forward to 2018, it was important to stand in my truth then because now, I stand bolder. There is a lot of adversity, division, discrediting, and discrimination among people. There is less empathy and more hate. Facts seem relative. More name-calling and discrimination. I am not afraid of what I believe. I am not afraid to speak my mind and speak biblical truths as well. And you know what: God did not say that I had to be a Republican to reach heaven so there. 

As an African American, the media likes to talk about our votes, what’s going on in “our community,” etc. An interesting question I have heard is “What has Obama done for our community?” You know what I think: Besides a few legislative victories, he has shown me that I can truly be anything with hard word and dedication. His life was not easy but he made it. So, I can make it. Yes, I can. YES. I. CAN.

Conjure

Blissfully,

Bianca

Posted in Life as Bianca

Blissful Lessons As Intern Bianca

My prayers were answered in May. I became a law clerk for a private firm in Jacksonville. In addition, I signed up to volunteer intern at Legal Aid. After a month as an intern, I thought I might share some lessons.

  1. Never underestimate your skills. I came in thinking I was going to do “legal work” because I thought that is why they wanted me. Then, the office manager said how I would be helping  with legal blogs and marketing tasks…WAIT WHAT!?! I was frustrated at first.  But I realized that in my interview, I said that I was a lifestyle blogger to stand out but who knew that my supervisor would find that as an asset. She published my legal blogs on the firm’s social media page so people are seeing my work. Alrighty!!
  2. Give your best work no matter what the task. So I did legal blogs my first few weeks and did some legal research for my supervisor’s website. But then I got a legal assignment. So the same time and effort I put into my blogs, I kept the same momentum in writing.
  3. Learn. Disclaimer **Just because you go to law school, it does not mean you are an expert in everything*** With my first legal assignment, I was learning as I went along. So you will always be learning on the job which is a good thing but that is a life thing. Since no one is perfect, we are all learning. You have to start from somewhere.
  4. Be flexible. Some days will be busy, some days will be slower but still put your best work and face forward.
  5. Get to know the people you work with.
  6. Have personality.  It is a balance. I am still learning that balance to be professional and not too sweet. That is why I suggest #5. Learn the dynamics before you “show” yourself. But always maintain politeness and curiosity..it never goes out of style.
  7. Try.

So this is life and lessons as an intern.

Blissfully,

Bianca