Part 2: The Big Shave

I have alopecia! This means I live with hair loss. The number of U.S. women experiencing some form of hair loss is 21 million. Relevant Research, Inc. International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery 7.8.2014 My scalp is covered with bald spots so I shave my head weekly.

My life changed the day I walked through the barbershop door with my husband holding my trembling hand. It was difficult to sit in the chair and whisper to the barber that I needed him to cut my shoulder length locs off. He looked confused. I knew if I repeated myself, I would break down so I just closed my eyes and listened for the hum of the clippers.

As I sat there that Saturday morning looking at a shop full of men and their sons, I was terrified of what they were thinking. One child innocently asked his father, �Why is that lady cutting her hair off?� That pained me to my core. I felt exposed and ugly.zIMG_0407e

Thankfully, my husband Don, came over to me and asked me if I was okay. I nodded my head and motioned for him to sit down. I did not want to lose it in front of all those men and boys. I silently watched each loc hit the floor, wondering what the guys were saying about me to each other.

After it was all done, Don gave me a big kiss on the top of my head in front of everyone. Since that act of love unraveled me, I walked out without acknowledging anyone, to include the barber.

I sat in the car sobbing for a good 15 minutes while Don comforted me with loving words. His words gave me a bit of strength. I was so hyper conscience of now being bald, for real. The more I thought about it on the ride home, the harder I cried. Don continued to affirm my beauty and how much he loved me. No matter how many times he said, I didn�t believe him.

I thank God my husband was sensitive to the fragility of my nerves and the raw emotions I was experiencing. His unwavering love that day assured me that he didn�t need me to have hair to be beautiful in his eyes. If only I could believe his words.

It took me three years before I shared with others that I had hair loss. I pretended I was bald by choice. Once I took that mask off, I was finally able to receive my husband�s love fully and without doubt. His love saved me during this identity crises and I am thankful he still loves me bald-head and all.

Share a time when your boyfriend or husband’s love carried you through an emotional situation.

I didn�t mean to quit my job; purpose made me do it.

As I sat in the parking lot of my good government job, I wrestled once again with going back home or going inside. I cried out to God and told him I couldn�t do this anymore. I hated my job with all my heart and soul and my supervisor was the absolute worst. She prided herself on making people cry and I prided myself on never letting her see me cry. I filed two grievances against her already but her behavior didn�t change. She had three years left before retirement and I realized upper management kept her there because of this. I knew I was wasting my time and energy at this job. Over and over again, day after miserable day, I sat looking at my computer screen wondering why I was even there. I had no purpose there. I was doing like most of my friends, working a job I hated. I worked nine to ten hour days just to have every other Friday off in conjunction with taking the opposite Friday off using up all of my sick leave. My friends made fun of me and always asked if I was ever going to work a Friday. I called them my mental health Fridays.quit job

Shaking like a leaf and sobbing uncontrollably, I called my husband from my car. I told him I was putting in my one week notice and he was speechless. I asked him not to question my decision but to trust that I heard God. Thankfully, he said, �okay�. I got myself together and thanked God for a husband who trusted me when I said I was making a faith decision. I went inside, sat in my cubicle and turned on my computer. �Once again, I was bombarded with yet more of her childish and condescending emails. I turned off my monitor and prayed. In the midst of me praying, I clearly heard, �I am with you. I will never leave nor forsake you. Before I formed you, I knew you. Be of good courage. Lean not to your own understanding but acknowledge me and I will direct your path.� I went to the ladies room to praise Him for His Word and the peace that came over me. I knew I was not serving my God given purpose at this job and that it was time to move on.

You see, I took this job because money was tight for my family and it was the first job to call me since being a stay at home mom for 5 years. My last home day care child left to attend preschool and people were pressuring me to now work a �real job�. While at home, I was happy and loving the children God blessed me to watch while their parents worked. I was able to homeschool my kids for 2 years during which time, we did not have money issues. I had peace with what I was doing and the families I served loved the atmosphere of my home day care. I was here when my dad was discharged from the hospital from kidney cancer surgery and was able to take care of him until he felt strong enough to go home to recuperate. I was available for my brother and his kids when they needed me most.

Sitting at my computer, I told God straight up that I was putting my trust totally in Him to provide for my family. I was so sure of this decision, I typed my one paragraph resignation within five minutes. It was Monday morning and Friday was going to be my last day. I had no idea what was in store for me as I took this leap of faith, but I knew it was time to trust God 100% and not myself. I said one more prayer in the elevator, hoping that I would not pass out from hyperventilating. That walk to my supervisor�s office was long but I made it. I handed her my resignation and she didn�t even acknowledge it, so I turned around and walked out of her office.

Two days later, I received a phone call from the local public schools to ask me if I could take a long term substitute position. It was for a first grade classroom teacher and would be for at least three months. I excited shouted, �YES!� and thanked her profusely. I called my husband with the good news and he was once again, speechless. I actually called my supervisor and told her I needed the rest of the day off. I was overwhelmed that God came through for me once again. I had no idea this leap of faith was setting me up to be an entrepreneur. It was in this classroom that God showed me my purpose: to be a blessing to children. In trusting God, my nonprofit, Forever Free Books was born.

I didn�t mean to quit my job; purpose made me do it. I found that when you seek God in every area of your life, He brings your purpose out of you. We have a mission on this earth and so many of us live our lives trying to live up to other people�s expectations. This leaves us empty and void so we become shopaholics and addicted to things that aren�t good for us. I am speaking from experience and it was a miserable existence. �Now, I�m not saying, that living a life of purpose is easy, that would be a lie. What I am saying is that living a life of purpose gives you a sense of wholeness that is unexplainable. It�s something that can�t be faked. It is something others can see without you opening up your mouth. Purpose will make you do things that don�t make sense to the average person, your loved ones or even to you. This is where your faith has to kick in and take over. I am thankful that since taking that leap of faith, God has placed some amazing women in my life to help me walk out my purpose. That�s the beautiful thing about God, He will give you the tools you need to fulfill the purpose He has given to you to be a blessing to others. If you are feeling empty, pray and ask God, what your gift to the world is. He will reveal it to you. Your life will never be the same, you will have peace and you will be free to be who He has called you to be. I promise.

Lessons I Learned From The Wiz


That movie is my all-time favorite. As a 7 year old girl, I was mesmerized by the music and costumes. I ran around my home singing the songs at the top of my lungs. I knew the dance moves like how I knew the dance moves to every New Edition music video years later.

The Wiz was my first experience with positive black images in a movie. The family dinner scene was my favorite and thinking of it, brings tears to my eyes. There was such love emanating from the matriarch towards all of her loved ones. You could feel family unity in that entire portion of the movie. Those were the days.

I loved the scarecrow most of all, and not because it was Michael Jackson�s character, but because of the gentleness of the character. Imagine my happiness when I found out my parents were taking me to see it live. We saw it on stage when Stephanie Miles was Dorothy.�At the show, I sat on the edge of my seat the entire time and fell in love all over again.

When the movie came out on DVD, I immediately purchased it to share with my, then 7 year old daughter. She didn�t care for it
, but I watched the DVD often from my own enjoyment. Several years later, I was able to introduce my youngest daughter to the movie and she instantly connected with it. Here I was with a 2 year old, singing my heart out to the songs and working on the choreography once again. She�s 15 years old now and still pulls the DVD out to watch by herself. I love that.

Needless to say, when I found out the WIZ would be on television, live, I was elated. I set my DVR to record it in case I wasn�t able to watch it at that very moment. The excitement and anticipation I had was almost too much to contain. My daughter reminded me often to make sure it was set to record.

When we watched it together, we sang, once again, at the top of our lungs. Needless to say, she were pleasantly surprised to see iPads, the Nae Nae and the Quan in the movie. You know that gave us an energy boost. We had the television volume set up high and danced in the middle of the family room together. My husband and son were quite annoyed that all of this was going on while they were trying to watch football on the television in the basement.

In the midst of watching The WIZ, God started speaking to me. I thought, �Wow, God! Really? You want to show me some things about my life through The WIZ? That�s cool.� These are the things I learned and I hope they bless you too.

  • Dorothy, identity crisis: She was in a new place but wanted to turn back. She wasn�t willing to give her new life a chance. Her desperation to turn back led her into big trouble and heading in a new direction. That was a place where she was not able to leave easily. She then longed for the very place she initially despised. How many times have you done that? I know I sure have and regretted it every time. What are you trying to hold onto that needs to be released in your life? The other day I clearly heard, �you have to release something to receive something�. What/who do you need to release to move forward?
  • Scarecrow, no self-worth: He was surrounded by naysayers and folks who wanted him to stay stuck. He eventually believed their lies about him and the lies became his reality. He sang �You Can�t Win� with all his heart and believed the words to the song. It wasn�t until Dorothy came along and told him otherwise that he have an epiphany that he had value. I�m learning that I have to surround myself with positive and forward thinking people who will encourage and propel me to a better future. It all starts with belief. Who is speaking into your life? What are they saying? Is their voice bigger than yours? Is it bigger than God�s?
  • Tinman, heart issues: He thought he needed a heart but he already ha one, he just didn�t know it. He shared how the �witch� changed him from a person to his current state. He believed he did not have the capacity to love. He too needed a surrounding change. He was put in numerous situations where he had to activate the love he already had to save Dorothy. At the end, he realized that love was in him, he just had to act on it. Are you holding onto pain and hurt from the past? What has made you put up a wall to your heart? Who do you need to forgive to begin the healing process? Is it yourself?
  • Lion, fearful coward: He needed courage to overcome his daily life circumstances. He was afraid of everything and everybody. He, too, needed to see that he was not defined by his situation. Lion is who I related to the most. I had to realize that God has given me the grace to endure and overcome everything that comes my way. I found my voice when confronted a supervisor who literally harassed me daily. Once I spoke up for myself, she stopped. Doors began to open and eventually I found the courage to quit that job. Then I found courage to start a nonprofit. As I took steps towards what God had for me, I had to dig deep to grab courage and to rely on faith to get me through those scary times in my life. What are you fearful about when it comes to moving forward in your life? What is one simple thing you can do to get you closer to becoming an overcomer?
  • The Wizard, phony fraud: He gave the appearance of being ferocious, all mighty, dominating and one to be feared. Everyone in OZ knew to stay away from the wizard because of his reputation. In reality, the wizard was lying to himself and others. He used scare tactics to hide his insecurities and to keep others from getting close to him. Having been a failure made him resort to lying about who he was. Once the veil was removed, we saw immediately that this person used deception to be accepted and even worshiped. I remember being in Germany and surrounded by some mighty women of God. I quickly took on their mannerisms and their way of doing things. Soon after, my husband would check me on what I was saying and doing. He continued to remind me that I was not being true to myself by mimicking them. I didn�t want to do it but I felt that if I didn�t, they would think I was not as holy as they were. I praise God I have a husband who set me straight and eventually those friendships faded. Are there mannerisms that you display that are not the true you? Are you doing and saying things that are not you? Pray and ask God to free you from that. Be the REAL YOU! Your blessings come to you this way.

Quick recap:

  • Leave the past in the past. Let it GO!
  • Exchange the devil�s lies for God�s truth about you. His truth will set you free.
  • God is LOVE! Love is your foundation. Let it fuel everything you do.
  • Take courage! God is with you! He will never leave you nor forsake you.
  • Stop playing charades! Be authentic. After all, you were created in His image.
  • Once you find out who you are and where you belong, you now have an obligation to help others. You are blessed to be a blessing for such a time as this.

You can win!

When Pain Becomes Purpose

As I was shopping the other day, I heard someone shouting my name from down the aisle. I looked around and there was this lady smiling at me and calling my name. I timidly walked over to her since I did not recognize her. She had a big smile on her face as she clearly knew who I was. I was running the memory machine for those few seconds as I got close enough to her but I was drawing a blank.

She said, “OMG! You are Tanya’s Xchange!” I immediately thought to myself, “who is that?”, but it quickly registered that is what she was calling me. She grabbed me and hugged me, so all I could do was hug her back. I felt extremely awkward and nervous, so I came clean and told her I had no idea who she was. She proceeded to tell me that we never met but how my website and social media messages have blessed her tremendously.

It took everything within me not to cry. I had no idea the girl who was always, but barely chosen last for kick ball and dodge-ball would be an inspiration. I was� overwhelmed that the years of pain and shame I felt behind being a 19 year old pregnant, collegeIMG_0446 drop-out and baby mama reject were building me up for such a time as this. The years of asking God why I had a marriage from “hell”, made this one moment in time worth every minute of it.

I asked her name and listened intently as she shared her current, painful situation. I offered her hope and encouragement and asked her to join the Facebook support page, Being A Wife Just Got Real, to find a prayer partner to pray with her through her trying marriage.

We hugged again as we parted ways. Each step to my car, was a struggle to hold back the tears. Once I got in it, the floodgates opened. I cried in my car as I thanked God for using my pain for purpose. My pain made me a stronger woman who is now, giving to hope and a bright future to other women. God pricked my heart to run back in the store to give her a copy of my book. I prayed that God will give her the strength to get through her tough time so she can eventually help someone else through theirs.

How have you turned your pain into His Purpose? If you have already, I would love to know what it was?