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  • DEAR LOVE | Battling With Trust

    Trust – belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.

    That’s what Merriam tells me about trust. More simply defined than practiced though, right? Here is this huge word that honestly and truly is one of the biggest anchors in a solid relationship. Yet many, many, many of us struggle with trusting another person, myself included.

    Now that doesn’t mean that I am a crazy that’s acting a fool and never believing a word someone says or searching high and low to find things that don’t exist. But I can honestly say that at times I have been afraid to trust. Mine mostly reveals itself in a fear of being truly vulnerable in my relationship. Often times I fight against the feelings of expressing myself for fear of being too vulnerable.

    Nonetheless, lack of trust manifests itself in many different ways in our relationships. Women get antsy that men will never propose, Men are afraid that if they’re not prosperous their women won’t think as highly of them or respect them as a man. We often bring issues that we have had in past relationships into new ones and if we were hurt before, well, sometimes it is super rough for that next person.

    I want to encourage you though that just because you may battle with trust doesn’t mean that it can’t be helped. Sometimes people will make you feel like you are doomed if you battle with trusting another person, but let’s be real, it’s really hard! I mean especially with cell phones, social media and DMs being added to the equation. There is so much more that you seemingly have to trust your partner with now days than there might have ever been before.

    But here are a couple things below about trust that I think are important in regard to relationships.

    • Just like our relationship with God, it’s when we are present and given opportunities to see his goodness that we actually develop more trust for him. So essentially trust is earned. It’s not something you just start out with. So take your time in developing trust in your relationship. It’s okay if it’s not ALL there at first. It will grow.
    • Trust is scary. Period. Some of us think that there are supposed to be guarantees in relationships. There are not. And I think that once you get that in your head to know that getting hurt is a chance you take, you end up a lot better off. I mean I guess I could put that in a more sugar coated way but it is what it is. Loving someone is almost like a gamble, but you do your best to improve your odds in the selection process. Who you actually decide to give your heart to. Be aware of that.
    • People do dumb stuff. That is really something I have had to realize. Not only will my partner do dumb stuff that may hurt my feelings or make me uncomfortable, but I will too. We all make mistakes to a certain extent. I am not talking about deliberately being a jerk. I am talking about sometimes we say things or do things that we’re not necessarily thinking about that may not be pleasing to our partner. It happens, you communicate it, and do your best to move on with life.
    • Stop trusting people you never should have trusted in the beginning. You ignored every sign there was that this person did not have your best interest at heart, yet you still … It bugs me when people are so hurt when they knew from the jump this person was no good. Stop ignoring the Holy Spirit when it’s throwing up all types of warning signs. Use discernment.
    • Trust can be rebuilt. I don’t care what anyone says. I have SEEN it with my own two eyes. I have seen couples (married, because it is a little different when we are dating) that have been through the RINGER and have come out on the other side better than before. It is a process, it will be work, but it is possible. All things through Christ are. Even if it’s not a drastic thing, if both of you are willing it can be rebuilt. But it can’t if there is no remorse, no acknowledgement or changing of ways.

    I just want you to know that trust IS everything, but it can be difficult too. Don’t be afraid to feel your own way out in it. Trusting that you can jump off the cliff and you’re significant other will be there to catch you takes some building FOR SURE.

    Photo: Nellis Basson

    What are some of your tips on learning to trust? How has trust flourished or failed in your own relationships? 

  • WRITE | The Paranoia Love and Hip Hop Creates   

             

    I thought I might have been cured of my addiction to ratchetness on television with shows like Love & Hip Hop.

    But what I learned was that really the New York season just sucked and was easy to ignore. But the moment I saw previews for Love & Hip Hop Atlanta with Steebie and the whole gang, I was right back, excited about Monday nights yet again.

    I know, I shake my head at myself sometimes thinking, “how can you really be a respectable person and watch this crap?” But the reality is, I have grown endeared to those nutzo characters and sadly enjoy seeing the most ridiculous scenarios play out on my screen week after week.

    But I noticed something extremely unhealthy about watching these shows and that’s the paranoia it probably creates about what men, and actually women as well, are really like. If you watched this show and never met a black man in your life, what would you think of black men? Well, you would think they clearly have drug and alcohol abuse problems, they have multiple baby mommas to whom they never pay child support, and they find some type of sick satisfaction in seeing just how far they can push the limits with the women in their lives.

    Honestly, it’s not much better for the women. You would think these women are easily manipulated, only in relationships for the money because clearly they’re not getting much else, and that most, if not all, have stripped at some point in their life to keep the lights on and will eventually pursue rap careers.

    If I was single and watched Love & Hip Hop, I would probably never want to date again. It’s terrifying when every man on the show has some type of slime ball nature. And being in a relationship and watching the show, might just make you side eye even a good man thinking that he has to have something up his sleeve because clearly there are no good men.

    It’s tough— would any type of functional relationship be entertaining to us at all? But clearly we desperately need some examples of this. From reality TV to the scripted dramas, the main characters’ love lives are constantly a whole HOT mess. How can we have any faith, any optimism that we can actually find something real in today’s society? Television’s reflection of black relationships are completely dismal.

    As much as we seem to think that we can separate entertainment from reality based on being adults, I can honestly admit that I think I am a better person when I am not watching this type of television. Sometimes I am upset for the people in the show that has absolutely nothing to do with me. I am adding stress to my life that I clearly don’t need but keep subjecting myself to. Art surely imitates life. Some of these situations have been happening and just gained more exposure. But in turn, I am sure life also mimics the art, if you can call it that.

    These shows make the prospects look bleak and I refuse to believe that. I know for a fact that there are great men out there, waiting, searching for someone. And vice versa great women out there that are looking for the real thing. But I can only help but wonder whether their enjoyment of something as simple as ratchet TV could possibly keep them from one another based on their loss of hope that the other exist …

    And I can't even wrap my head around the implications of what it means for outsiders who watch this who probably debate over whether Black Lives really do matter. 

    But something to think about for sure.

    Is it just entertainment? Or something we really shouldn't support? What do you think?

     

  • Journey of a NB | God in the Middle

    Relationships are not easy. I don’t think anyone is confused about that fact.

    But one of the things that I know for certain that helps to make certain things a little easier is having God at the center of my relationship. Recently my significant other and I joked about the fact that we’re not sure we would have made it this far without Him.

    But in all actuality, I don’t even see how relationships work without God. Not that I haven’t been in those relationships, but hey … they clearly didn’t work out. Lol. Nonetheless, one of the main reasons that I think it’s super helpful is because both people become accountable to God and not one another. So I am constantly thinking, “Are my actions acceptable in God’s sight?” And when I take on that attitude, I know that if I am pleasing God, I would hope to also be pleasing my significant other and vice versa.

    It also helps when you may have gripes about things you want your significant other to work on. Most often we are quick to run to tell them, when they may not even be receptive to it. Consulting God in those affairs can be amazing. Sometimes coming to God in prayer about your significant other can be way more beneficial than running off at the mouth or nagging all on your own. And many times in those moments, God has also gotten me together and showed me things that I could improve on to help the situation as well.

    It helps that we are seeking council from the same place. Often times when you are in unequally yoked relationships, you are seeking advice, council or what have you from the Bible, God, or maybe even a Pastor. Meanwhile, where is the other person getting their information? If I am seeking God and you are seeking society and what they think, how can we ever really find a medium ground? It works for me that at least we are looking in the same direction in times of tests and trials. Which I want to make sure to stress that you will still go through things. You go through all the same things that many couples face, but you become equipped with way different tools to handle those things.

    Often men are seen as so strong and domineering, but another thing I love about my significant other’s relationship with God is that he believes in something bigger than himself. See when we believe that we are in control, we are harder on ourselves. We can begin to take the weight of the world on our shoulders. But I find comfort in knowing that he sees God as his provider, as the master of his fate, and so he leans on God and takes a lot of the pressure off of himself. Yes he still has to be diligent, make decisions, and do his best to be guided by the Holy Spirit, but still, he knows where his help comes from.

    I could go on and on about the goodness of God and how he has transformed two imperfect people.  He has helped us grow into something really special as individuals and together. Our growth has been tremendous and though we have both been willing, it is nothing that we could have done on our own. I look forward to growing even more and reaching new heights. I feel so much comfort in knowing that in keeping my eyes on God that all things, including my relationship, fall right into place.

     

  • WRITE | How to Not Go Crazy

    It’s funny, one day I was complaining to my BF about people always putting me in charge of things. I was just like “Why is it always me?”

    He looked at me and laughed and said because you put yourself in that position.  He said I am a “get it done” type no matter what and most people will see that and then put me in charge of stuff. He said that it’s hard for me to play the background especially if I think I can do something better or faster.

    And so just like with anything he tells me about myself, I denied, denied, denied. Haha! I feel like I always fight his thoughts at first and then God gives me these a-ha moments where I always have to come back and say, “You were right.” So talking to my mom one day, I was explaining how my best friend is supposed to be planning a little girl’s night get together. She hates entertaining, but I was doing my best to let her take the reign. As I was talking to my mom I said, “Oh I will probably just have it since she’s dragging her feet,” and no short after that I gasped and held my chest. This was the big one. This was the revelation that I am always trying to take charge of something and I realized that my best friend exploits that in me because she was trying to get me to do it the whole time! She’s so smart!

    But it was in that moment that I decided, “NOPE! I’m not gonna do it to myself.” I am not going to be the person who can never sit back and just say, “It’s your turn!” I had to learn that for my sanity. I am in charge of enough of my own things. I honestly don’t need ONE more thing to be in charge of. There it was, the moment I had to return to him and say, “I see what you’re saying.”

    I am learning things fiercely about myself! Maybe it’s because I’m slowly creeping up the ladder to 30. But I am surely learning how to bring more peace and sanity into my life in various ways. It is SO necessary. I am always here, always there, always doing this, building this, and let me tell you I am tired. I am all about working smarter not harder these days. But it took time. It took time for me to learn that just because I don’t have an event scheduled doesn’t mean I am available. Occasionally, I simply need a mental health evening, or an evening to clean my place, or an evening to sit on the couch and eat popcorn and watch Being Mary Jane. Whatever the case, I had to learn to schedule time for ME, MYSELF, and I and be able to say NO to people trying to impose on that time.

    I am also desperately trying to learn to focus! I’ve noticed that when I am not enthused about doing something at work, I do 20 million other things that distract from it and none of it is productive for my own pursuits or otherwise. So I took the notifications off my phone. All of them. I might not even know you’ve texted me. SORRY. But again my sanity is so important to me. J I also sometimes put the phone under my desk just so I can concentrate on the task at hand. I also set time limits. I will work on one thing for two hours, the next for one, whatever schedule I have to set. It’s the little things that help me feel like my life is not completely all over the place.

    Lastly, I started to have a better morning routine. I am a better person all around when I take the time to pray and chat with God about it all. I also have the opportunity to journal, and in general just take quiet time for myself in the mornings. This has become a priority no matter what else is going on. Except maybe this Thursday when I have to get on a train to DC at the crack of dawn, but you get the picture.

    And you may think this post is all over the place but let me reel it in. It started with realizing that I clearly have a problem with stepping into leadership roles I do not want. And that made me realize there were a lot of other things I needed to evaluate about how I was living my life and packing it with unnecessary confusion and seemingly going slightly crazy.  Maybe it’s just a natural progression of getting older, but I no longer want my life to consist of chaos. The hustle and busy bustle with a lack of productivity is detrimental to sanity and success. To produce all that I plan to in life, my mind and heart need to be clear and I must orchestrate the best practices to maintain that starting with one of the easiest things to do which is learning how to say “NO.” People will use you up, period. You are the only one responsible for you, responsible for your sanity and your peace.

    Has someone close to you told you about qualities or characteristics you have that you didn’t want to face at first? 

  • DREAM | We All Can Win

    After a good convo with a fellow blogger, I thought about the whole idea of sharing information and inspiring others while working to achieve your own dreams.

    Sometimes I realize that people are so tight with information that it almost feels like you shouldn’t ask. But the reality is, you should. No one got to where they are without any resources or without ever asking someone “Well, how did you do this?”

    I often indulge in articles and resources that others share to help other bloggers and I always think of how great it is that they would offer certain tools free of charge. Of course it helps them in certain ways whether it will drive you to their paid content or help their traffic for brand partnerships, but nonetheless I have gotten great info that I use to improve my blog.

    So, in thinking about the people who have helped me, how can I then turn my back on others that are simply looking for information? There are a few things that seem to kick in when someone asks for help. One, we worry about the competition. If we tell someone else, will they utilize the information in a way that makes them more prosperous than us? Well the thing is, people can have every tool you use, but it doesn’t mean that they will use it as effectively. You are the only you. The flavor that you bring to a project can’t really be duplicated and if something similar can be made, it won’t withstand.

    Two, we think that people should have to work and scrap and struggle to gain their success. Yes, there is a certain amount of work that we all should be willing to put in to achieve our dreams. I surely don’t want anyone to treat me like Google. Quite frankly I have spent a lot of time on Google learning a lot about everything. But when people are really looking for guidance and the next steps, we owe it to the universe so to speak to help the next generation along. And I am green in a lot of the things that I am trying to do. But I do have something to offer to someone who may just be looking to start writing, because I am past that part of it. Though there are tons of other things I am trying to learn to get to the next step. Think about the people who helped you, it will open your heart to want to help someone else.

    The reality is, we can be open with each other. Though we must use our discernment of course, because let’s be frank, some people do not have your best intentions at heart and do want to take your ideas and pawn them off as their own. This is the risk that we take when we share our creativity in the age of social media and the internet. But I think it’s fairly easy to spot the takers vs. someone who genuinely is looking for assistance.

    Also, never underestimate the knowledge of your peers. Sometimes we want to reach out to those at the top of our field, but creating a community with a bunch of other people in your field on the rise can sometimes be a lot more fruitful.

    You also get to decide what to share. Sometimes you can give people either an overview or a couple things to get them started. Point them in the right direction and let them utilize their own “know-how” to use the tools effectively. There are tons of people who have helped me and I don’t take that for granted and I am not afraid to say it. You’ll never find me acting like it was all me! LOL. I work hard and I think other people should too, but I do believe in pulling each other up. I believe we all can win and that there is enough out here for all of us!

    Have you ever felt conflicted about sharing information about how you got your job or tips in your field? 

  • DEAR LOVE | Be Their Biggest Cheerleader

     

    I work in the entertainment industry and with creative people in general on varying levels. One of the things that is most often a point of contention is their significant other not really understanding the business.

    The late hours, the social aspect, and chasing down checks can sometimes throw both women and men for a whirlwind. But I am here to tell you that if you are not supportive of your significant others’ career, I have not seen that ending fare too well.

    The reality is we all want to feel validated and supported. All of us. Tell me, what is it that I really have to understand about accounting to love an accountant? But hey, if you are dating an accountant, you get out there, you support them, you listen to them talk about itemizations and deductions even though it may make you want to jump out the window. That’s dramatic, I know, but you get the point.

    It’s the same with the entertainment industry. It’s not for the faint at heart believe me. But when you see the way your significant other lights up when they talk about paint or textures, or the 808s and melody, you should be able to experience some of that joy right alongside them. This love thing, takes compromise and it takes learning how to be less and less self-absorbed. If all you can think about when your loved one is presented with new opportunities is how it affects you, then there is something wrong there.

    For instance my BF travels a lot. If I constantly worried about what that meant for me, it would eventually become a drain on him. He is also away from me. So he has that to worry about and me complaining on top of that. At the end of the day, he and God might be the only two people that want him to win more than me. I believe in him without a shadow of a doubt and I know that the sacrifices we make now are all working together for our good in the long run. That doesn’t mean that I am immune to missing him or wishing my schedule would permit me to travel alongside of him, but ultimately he knows that he is supported in what he has to do.

    If you are not cheering the loudest, there is someone else who may be. Don’t let the loudest encouragement come from someone that’s not you. Men and women love to feel appreciated, praised, and have their egos stroked, let’s be honest. Get off the pride horse and be that for them. It keeps them going and can be such a great help for them to achieve whatever it is they are striving for.

    Support comes in different forms too which is important to remember. Saying you support someone and actually helping them are two different things. Cheerleading takes being there with poms poms at their events, games, shows, company parties, and whatever else. Don’t be the phantom BF or GF that no one ever sees. Because guess what? You don’t exist when people never see you. And it could mean everything to your significant other that at the least, you showed up.

    So be there, listen to them, and maybe even help them actualize their dreams. Anyone can share a bed with you, but to share your dreams, aspirations, and life goals, well that my friend is something worth fighting for.

    In what ways do you look for support from your significant other? Tell me in the comments below!

    I personally love that he’s at all my events. Helping me in whatever capacity I need. Even sitting at the bar at Dear Love Brunches while we girl talk! LOL.

     

  • First | Episode 4, S2 - The First Confession Pt. 2

    I’m convinced after watching this episode that Charlie (William Catlett) and Robin (Jahmela Biggs) are magic on screen together.

    My goodness their chemistry is everything! I was literally “awwwing” and “ohhhing” this whole episode from the second he joked about her drooling on his chest. They are so easy with each other and kudos to them! The acting is everything.

    Charlie and Robin are still in their “unofficial” stage. But we both know they’re both playing games. Robin goes to check Charlie at his basketball game while the typical ninja all of us have dreaded,“Corey” cones over with the infamous “How  you doing?” I cringed, that part was so real! You ever sitting somewhere, see a guy and start praying he doesn’t actually come over to talk to you? Ha! Okay it’s fine if it’s just me.

    Then our magic couple heads to the beach where my heart melts in all kinds of ways. First, I just got really happy to see two beautiful brown people on my computer screen. It just felt really refreshing to see them play, splash each other, tease and then sit down to have such a legit talk.

    “Sometimes things don’t work out until you’re ready for it.” Charlie says about the back and forth he and Robin have been through. This was so important to me and sooooo true! So many times we want things and will even jump into them knowing that we’re not ready. But honestly, when it’s meant to be, it will be. I believe that for sure. Robin admits that sometimes their timing is just off. You ever felt like that with someone? Somehow I think their “off” timing is the perfect timing. There’s tons of other important, greatly written gems in there, but watch it for yourself!

    You know if you have been watching since the beginning that Charlie and Robin actually have a long history since they were kids. Robin asked what Charlie wanted to tell her when they were in the same spot in college and he puts it all on the line letting her know that he wants to be her “Maaannn,” in my Martin voice.

    Of course she’s scared. Scared that it won’t last. Scared of what they’ve been through and afraid of what comes with submitting yourself to the process of loving someone. And then she confesses! It’s her turn to tell Charlie she loves him. And I think she may have succeeded at surprising him.

    Can you feel the first moment that someone told you they loved you? The moment when it gets quiet and it all starts to make more sense. Your heart beats a little faster because dang it, you have no idea what the future holds, but somehow, some way, you know when you know, that this may be the very last time, you hear “I Love You” for the first time.

    And then they end with the perfect song from Alex Isley. “Into Orbit,” which sent me to download the EP, The Love/Art Memoirs.

    Last but certainly not least because we sure love Brock in all his poetic finesse. We see he may have worked Tinder out to his advantage.

    Next episode is May 6th!

    What did you think of the latest episode? Watch below and comment! 

     

  • #Write_On 30 Day Challenge

    Who knew that April was the official "Letter Writing Month?" Not me apparently! LOL. But I happened to stumble across a blog post on Paper Source's website that was all about their 30 Day Challenge in celebration of this amazing month that fits perfectly into everything I believe in! 

    So! I wanted to participate in a way that was authentically WriteLaughDream! I want to send you a love note this month! I mean we always get bills, solicitations, etc., in the mail. Here is an opportunity to get something pretty and lovely, that I am sure will make your day a lot better! 

    If you are interested in receiving a love note, please email your mailing address to info@writelaughdream.com! I promise, nothing funny. I am literally just going to send you an awesome note that hope continues to encourage you! 

    Clearly Egg Press, Hello!Lucky and Paper Source are folks after my own heart! To keep up or join in, follow the #write_on hashtag. 

    Doesn't anyone write love letters anymore? 

    With Love, 

    Ashley

  • WRITE | A Journey in Journaling

    I mentioned in an Instagram post that I recently finished my very first journal ever in life. I have had journals since I was a kid.

    I absolutely love them and hope to one day design them. But I've always had half written ones that I never saw through to completion, probably since about 5th Grade. And apparently I am not the only one! Lol. So I wanted to take some times to talk about a few things that helped me in my journey in journaling!

    • Picking the right time. I used to always try to write in my journal at night. But when I am sleepy, I am sleepy. So that really did not work for me one bit. It wasn’t until I decided to start writing first thing in the morning that I was able to find a rhythm.
    • Try Writing Challenges. I love GG Renee’s #30Layers30Days challenge. It consist of daily writing prompts in 30 days and can break up the monotony of coming up with your own ideas.
    • I LOVE Journal shopping. Find one pretty enough and you’ll desperately want to use it! I’ll probably never need to buy another journal in life, but sadly I will. Stores like Marshall’s and Ross have amazing journals and for great prices.
    • Get quiet. Many of us can’t journal because our minds are too busy. Meditate, pray, do something to quiet your mind so you can live with your thoughts long enough to get them down on paper!
    • A good pen. Yes I am such a nerd. Lol. But I like to have the right pen. You have probably never noticed but the paper in journals really vary. Some are acidic, some less, some recycled paper. I know, too deep, but different pens interact differently with those surfaces.

    Journaling is a great way to document different things in your life. When I read old journal entries I love to see what state of mind I was in and how much my mind state has probably changed since the entry. It’s also a form of release for sure. Just a way to get out daily ranting.

    I also found that because I write for my blog all the time that I needed to be able to write just for myself. It helps to open me up to ideas and it’s a great release without writing for an audience all the time. It also gets me into the habit of writing every single day, which can be a challenge at times.

    So just go do it! Stop making excuses as to why you don’t journal and just do it. Finish it. And I promise it will help you in your writing. And hey, if you are looking for a great journal to start, head over to the WLD Store and grab a Dear Love Journal! (Shameless PLUG haha!)

    Happy journaling! 

  • Upcoming Event | The Writer's Muse

    Excited to host my first writing workshop! The Writer's Muse was created to help writers expand their creativity by learning how to be inspired by everything!

    I distinctly remember being young and honestly only writing when I was angry. It wasn't until I took a class entitled Poetry as Performance at Temple, that I really feel like my writing opened up. 

    Life should be our creative influence, our muse! 

    Register Here!

    *Only 15 spots available, so don't wait to register.