Menus and Maybes: This Holiday Season

Written by: Shenise Gatson

It's that time of year! 
It's that time of year.
It's that time of year

Can you hear it? 

How different these sentences sound when you place the emphasis on a different word?

In each phrase, the italicized word changes the tone of the sentence. Take a moment and consider these statements as if they were describing the holidays.

In the first phrase, excitement rings true.  I envision a person smiling happily as they plan their menus, guest lists and decorations. In sentence two, I hear the sound of a person who dreads what this season will bring.  In the last sentence, I envision a person reflecting on what a tumultuous year it has been. I can hear that person inwardly wondering, “Will the holidays bring more negativity to an already negative year?”

Photo by on

For many, holidays are a time for fun, food, fellowship and festivities.

For some, it’s a time for celebrating with loved ones and dining on delicious dishes.

For others, holidays are just a reminder of all that is missing from life.

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Moving Past Melancholy

Written by: Shenise Gatson

I wish I could say that I’m a woman that has it all together.

Someone that has all my T’s crossed and I’s dotted.

However, that is not the case.

There are some days where I am on point, then there are other days that….I scramble out of bed, realizing I have overslept for work. The kitchen is dirty. The laundry has not yet been folded. There’s a stack of mail piling up on my kitchen table, threatening to topple to the floor. I don’t feel like cooking and dinner is “whatever I feel like eating” (which is something delicious and unhealthy)! Yum!

food plate chocolate dessert

Photo by Alexander Dummer on

And there are many days where…it’s been a ROUGH day and a nice chocolate piece of cake solves the problem. And other days where binge watching Hulu TV keeps me satisfied and my mind occupied. There are some days where talking with my husband and playing with my baby girl helps me feel like the sun is shining when it’s raining.

Yesterday was one of my off days where the weather matched my mood.

It was pouring, raining, and flooding in some areas of Houston. I felt exactly like the rain sliding down car windows.

Life was, yet again, throwing me a curve ball and slapping me in the face.

Just obstacle after obstacle. When I got home yesterday evening, I felt stressed and worried by life circumstances. I couldn’t seem to relax and even my daughter’s sweet and playful gestures couldn’t get me out of my mental slump. I didn’t feel like talking about it. I just felt like listening to some slow music and eating comfort foods.

What do I do when my mood matches this “melancholy moment”?

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My Maze to Motherhood

Written by: Shenise Gatson

I never knew a lot about taking care of kids.

Growing up, I often shied away from holding newborn babies.

New mothers would often smile and ask me, “Hey, you want to hold the baby?”


Photo by Nicholas Githiri on

Although babies are absolutely adorable, my response would always be, “Um, well….They’re so little. I’ll hold the baby when he or she is a little older.” When people brought up the idea of babysitting or leaving me alone with a baby, toddler, or young child, my mind screamed, “Me?” and “Are you sure you want to leave them alone with me?”  

I pictured not being able to handle the situation, things going haywire and even the kid looking at me like, “What are you doing?”

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Nerve Wracking to Nail Biting: 5 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety

Written by: Shenise Gatson

I have a nervous habit. You can often find me doing it while sitting in traffic, watching a suspenseful scene in a movie or TV show, or waiting for news to be delivered.

I am that person who cannot stop biting my nails unless I cover them with nail polish. Once the nail polish wears off and fades, I am back to my nervous habit.

Whenever my two-year-old daughter sees me nipping the tips of my fingers, she says, “Mommy, don’t do that”. It’s funny because, when my daughter was younger, I used to make sure she kept her hands out of her mouth. Now, I can’t keep my fingers out of my mine. It’s also ironic because I’m a germaphobe too (a person who has an abnormal fear of germs). Some people would call my habit gross. Why do I bite my nails? I can’t honestly say.

I believe it is a nervous habit, but also connected to my anxiety.

grayscale photo of woman covering her mouth using her hands

Photo by on defines anxiety as: “Distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune”.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:

a) Apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill a state of being anxious

b) An abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it

c) Mentally distressing concern or interest

d) A strong desire sometimes mixed with doubt, fear, or uneasiness

I have had moments in my life that were uncontrollable and unfortunate. As a person who likes to control things, I found it frustrating that I could not keep tabs on many of the things that were happening to me. As a result, my excessive worrying and anxiety spiraled out of control. I looked for ways to cope with those realities. Usually, when my anxiety was on the rise, my nail biting was not far behind.

To someone out there… may also be suffering from anxiety due to some factors in your life. Whether yours is mild or major, remember these five things:

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The Struggle is Real

Written by: Shenise Gatson

Calm Ocean and Pastel Sky Good Morning Quotes (1)

I came across this quote while surfing online one day. It hit home for me. I can’t tell you how many times this year I’ve thought to myself, “When am I going to get out of this obstacle?”

Have you ever had a moment like that? When you wanted to fall down on your knees and yell to the sky, “Okay, enough is enough. I am not built for this!”

Or maybe your cry or prayer was, “When are things going to change for me? Are things ever going to get better?” It seemed like I was going through this phase of hitting my head against the same brick wall over and over again. I told myself, “I am thirty-two years old! Why am I still dealing with this?”

For every one of us, our struggle may be different. For someone, the struggle may be finding a stable career path. For another, it may be recovering from a failed marriage. For yet another, it may be trying to get on track financially. For some, it might be trying to lose weight, get healthy and combat illness. For many others, it might be trying to find their soul mate in the dating world. For another woman, it may be rebuilding emotionally after infidelity in a relationship.

When it seems like your life is going around in circles, don’t give up.

woman in red suit jacket sitting near brown surface

Photo by Godisable Jacob on

That’s exactly what I did.

I gave up.

The struggle is real because, sometimes, I give up and have to pick myself up daily.

I even went through a period where I was being sabotaged on the job and being passed up in my career due to favoritism. In addition to dealing with that, my financial reality and goals were not lining up. On top of that, my parents fell ill. I fell ill right behind them.When they passed away and life was in shambles, all my hope was gone. I even went through a stage of comparison. I compared myself to others, jealous of what they had. Although I was happy for their blessings, I wanted to receive my own.

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4 Ways to Avoid Comfort Clichés

Written by: Shenise Gatson

Pink Photo Flower Facebook Post

August 17, 2015

May 26, 2017

February 9, 2018

You never forget the dates. You wear them like clothes. Like the skirt you put on in the morning. Like the shoes you slip into every day. Through days of pain, through moments of sunshine… you remember.

– Author: Shenise Gatson (excerpt from Understanding a Grieving Soul)

On the dates listed above, my life changed forever. I lost my parents and my mother-in-law. Nothing could have prepared me for level of devastation and pain that comes from losing a parent. No matter how many times you experience loss, it still hurts. Because of my experience, I have a strong connection to individuals who have experienced loss. Lately I have been consumed by this need to encourage others to support grieving people.

In life, we all have moments when we feel bad for what someone else is experiencing but sometimes we do not know how to support them. When an unexpected, emotional or unfortunate event tackles someone we know, our heart goes out. Especially when that person has experienced loss.

We wonder…how can I help? What can I do? Sometimes words fail us. We fear reaching out because we are unsure of what to say or do. Often times, when people feel uncomfortable or awkward talking to a grieving person, they fall into the trap of using overly used phrases (clichés) to fill the awkward silence.

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Before “I Do”

Written by: Shenise Gatson

Dazzling dress. Check. Beautiful bridesmaids. Check. Sentimental songs. Check. Valiant venue. Check. Does this list sound familiar? The journey to a woman’s wedding day is often filled with check points. The bride-to-be is on cloud nine as she happily plans the biggest day of her life. While these moments are often joy-filled and promising, it is important to make sure you and your spouse have check-listed some very important areas.

man and woman looking at earch other

Photo by Jasmine Wallace Carter on

A friend once asked me, “What advice do you have for a woman looking to get married? What are some important factors to consider before marriage?”

I pondered for a minute, then gave her three valuable insights and lessons I learned in my own relationship.

Make sure you and your significant other are on the same page in these three critical areas:


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