7 Things You Didn’t Know About Laura Max

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Laura Max

I asked my readers to submit questions to continue to get to know me. I was thinking I would have to explain my favorite colors or hair products but ya’ll wasted no time getting straight into the deep stuff.

Here we go……

  1. If you were in a fire, and everyone you love was safe, what three items would you grab to save and why? (Question submitted by Jeisson C.)

First of all, I saw This Is Us and realistically I’m not running into any fire to save anything, since my family are all safe…. but hypothetically speaking, I would grab this large plastic bin I have that holds some of my mother’s belongings. There isn’t much in there but it means a lot to me. She was very spiritual, so it has a chanting book, a notebook, and other items that remind me of her and my childhood growing up with the influence of the Ashram. Then I would try to grab as many photo albums as I could. I have tons from high school, way before digital cameras so they feel extra valuable to me. I would have to use my third option to save something that belongs to Jayda, likely Callie, one of her stuffed animals.

 

2. If you had a super power, what would it be and why? (Also submitted by Jeisson C.)

If I could have any super power in my imagination, I would choose the power to change people’s mind. I promise I would only use it for the greater good of humanity, and only for really important issues. Best part about this power is everyone would love my initiatives and no on would disagree because, well, I would change their minds if they did. World hunger, war, racism? All things of the past. I think I would also use this power to help people on a more personal level. You want to go back to school but you’re not sure if you’ll be able to commit and finish? Yes, you can! You want to lose weight but you hate whole grains, vegetables and exercising? BAM! How you like them now? You want to quit your job and move across the country but you’re scared of the unknown? Not anymore!

 

3. How does it feel to control your own paycheck? (Submitted by Cedric F.)

Initially, I felt nervous about this. My earnings are now a direct reflection of my effort. There are no “benefits” in terms of 401K or paid vacation time. However, I feel really motivated by this also. When I work hard, money rolls in and that is an incentive to work harder, if and when money is the goal. When relaxation is the goal, I don’t have to ask anyone for permission. I’m creating a life I don’t need a vacation from anyway, so the responsibility that comes with this control is exciting! Let’s check in on this in a few months though (lol).

 

4. What is a defining moment in your life, other than being a mom and falling in love, that made you a better person? (Submitted by Mario C.)

Don’t you hate when you ask a specific question and the person answers something else? Yeah, sorry about that Mario. I cannot choose one defining moment because I feel like my life has been a culmination of little moments that are all guiding me to wherever it is I am supposed to be. I feel like growing up with spirituality has been a huge factor that’s helped to make me a better person. Falling in love has made me better, but more specifically the man that I have fallen in love with makes me a better person. He holds me accountable for the things I say which makes me a better communicator and more responsible. I know he has high expectations of me which helps me to keep growing. I feel safe knowing that when I fall, he’s there to get back up with me.

 

5. How does it make you feel about pursuing what you love? (Also submitted by Mario C.)

I feel GREATFUL! Greatful that I have the capacity and resources to truly customize my life. I’m sooooo greatful that I have support from my friends and family. I’m 32 years old and I could have sworn my parents opinions didn’t affect me anymore but I realized I was nervous when telling my step-mom about my new career. But after I nervously did, she was so happy and excited for me and it just pushed me further. I take my hat off to people who pursue their dreams despite doubt and criticism. I feel courageous but that is some next level fearlessness.

 

6. Since you’re a birth doula now, what was your own birthing experience with your daughter? (Question submitted by Stephanie L.)

I got pregnant with Jayda when I was 21 years old. I had a very stressful pregnancy, which began with my father asking me to move out, led to the strain of living in my daughter’s father’s family’s house and ended with an emergency cesarean procedure at just 32 weeks. I was completely removed from my body at the time. I didn’t feel my sky high blood pressure. I didn’t ask questions. I wasn’t empowered. I didn’t have one single doctor, but instead many rotating physicians and residents. My birth story was a complete mess. But that mess gives me an interesting perspective when working with my clients. I would never want anyone to experience their births the way I did. On August 15th 2007, Jayda was born 2 lbs 9oz. Tiny as could be but just as strong and healthy. She didn’t have anything to worry about except getting bigger and she stayed in the hospital for her first 5 weeks of life.

 

7. Which self-care practices do you subscribe to? (Question submitted by Nicole P.)

I love. love. love breathing deeply. I even use an app that helps guide deep breathing. It’s called “Calm”. I also love stretching my body, especially my neck and shoulders which is where I carry most of my stress. Warm baths with candle light are also nice. I bought an oil diffuser for my clients but I’ve enjoyed using it for myself as well. Mango and peppermint oils are my favorites so far. Sometimes I need to journal to practice self-care, especially when I’m having a hurricane of thoughts in my head that need organizing and sorting out. I write what’s bothering me, and the solutions. Sometimes the solution is just getting it out of my head and on to paper, and sometimes I need to take action. Either way, writing has been a saving grace for me.

 

Thank you all for your submissions and thank you for being supporters of my blog!

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Resigning into Passion

Resigning into Passion

All of the self-improvement and self-actualization that I’ve been actively working on for the past few years would be incomplete and almost insignificant if I didn’t change where and how I spent 40 hours of my life, each week.

Work was feeling like a jail sentence. Mid-way through the day, my mind would begin to wander. I would stare out the window and feel like the little mermaid “I wanna be where the people are.”

8 hours of my day was far too many.

5 days a week seemed unfair.

Commuting for 2-3 hours each day to arrive and want to be somewhere else just didn’t make any sense anymore.

*sigh, eye roll, teeth suck*


When I first began working in the field of developmental disabilities, it was because I was pregnant and I needed a job. Unfortunately, it never turned out to be more than just a paycheck for me.

I cared, I did well, I got promotions, and I now earn double my salary from when I first entered the field almost 11 years ago. I’ve worked alongside tons of great people, many of whom I call friends. I’ve had supervisors and co-workers who gave me the chance to shine and excel in my roles, and I did just that. I witnessed people in this field who were and are fulfilling their own passions and I witnessed far many more, drag themselves to work, to give mediocre effort because their hearts were somewhere else, often in a place that they knew nothing about yet. I usually fell somewhere in between.

Bureaucracy is a buzz kill. Arbitrary deadlines, meetings that should be emails, and paperwork all stood in my way from making an impactful difference, according to what that means to me.

Added responsibilities feel nice. Promotions feel nicer. Raises feel the nicest. But nothing beats passion. So after careful deliberation and planning, I have decided to resign from my position at ADAPT Community Network to pursue my passions of providing doula care, writing, and photography. I also leave the door open to discovering new talents and interests and I’m thrilled to finally have the time and energy to do so.

I’ve never before had the privilege to resign from a position and it was quite frightening to hand that letter to my supervisor… but after the feelings of terror left my body, I felt free!

I am free to spend my time in ways that ignite me and fuel me forward! I am finally working towards fulfilling my own mission statement, instead of someone else’s.

Freedom has its price. Being self-employed means the money that I pull in will be a direct result of my effort. That’s scary for someone who has only ever worked 9-5pm. This is a leap that I am not only willing to make but a leap that is required for my growth.

I have immeasurable memories of employment here. Some make me smile when thinking back and other memories remind me of why this resignation was inevitable and necessary. ADAPT Community Network (formally known as UCP of NYC) offered me invaluable experience that I will carry over as I continue to reinvent myself both professionally and personally and I am extremely grateful for every lesson I’ve received.

I am even more grateful for the opportunity to move on and out!

Farewell, ADAPT!

Hello Passion!

 

Me & Mine

Me & Mine

In the summer of 2016, I was preparing to go on a shopping trip at BJ’s with a coworker for our Fourth of July BBQ.

Let’s call her L.

As we exited the company vehicle in the parking lot, she shared with me that she was sensing a female presence from the afterlife. It wasn’t until this moment that I knew my coworker was a Medium.

I’m skeptical of all things mystical. I believe that too often fraudulent people claim false abilities and prey on others who are in vulnerable or emotional positions.

But I didn’t ask for this contact. It was being presented to me.

We began discussing some of her other experiences in communicating with those who have passed on. She told me countless stories of their interactions while she was in museums, or near grave sites, where the dead often linger. We discussed high profile unsolved cases of which she was sure she knew the answers due to her abilities. L told me of how she never charges anyone to enlist her help. This put my mind at ease a bit and helped me to trust her more.

After telling L of those nearest to me who have died, she assumed the woman who was joining our shopping trip was either my mother or my grandmother. I clung to the idea of my mother trying to communicate with me and I needed to know more. I hadn’t after all, seen her since I was 8 when breast cancer put an end to her life.

BJ’s was too loud, L said. We should reconnect another time and do this in a setting where she could concentrate better and work at her full capacity. L was also moving across the country the following month. The clock was working against us.

The day before moving, in between her last minute errands, my fiance and I met with L in a park in the Bronx. We sat down at a bench amidst all the sounds of passing trains and traffic and the normal distractions of the boogie down. The setting was still not ideal but it would have to do.

We sat and I was asked to lead….. What questions did I have?

Shit. I wasn’t prepared.

I didn’t have any questions to ask, so L took over sharing with me things that my mother was sharing with her: Paint Jayda’s room pink and keep her into music- Jayda hates pink but loves to sing and plays the violin. My father was the love of her life- good to know. Name my next child Josephine- we’re hoping for a boy, but OK.Put her photograph back up on the wall- I had recently painted the walls in the room where my mother’s photo was hanging and hadn’t put her picture back up yet. This particular detail of our meeting intrigued me the most.

Before we parted ways, L told me that, my mother was hugging me and to expect a dream with her soon. I felt nothing and I so desperately want to feel my mother’s embrace. I was somewhat disappointed and confused by what was revealed to me as some of it had significance but not all of it.

When I returned home that evening, while looking through old pictures I saw and then remembered that the living room I grew up in with my mother, was pink. Was L really on to something here?

That day, I didn’t have any questions, but since that day I have many. Meeting with L prompted a drive in me to learn more about mother. Whether or not the encounter was truly authentic, I’ll never know but the consequent events have changed my life and that’s for sure. I decided to begin a research project by interviewing people who knew and loved my mother.

I first interviewed my mother’s childhood friend who is also my God Mother. Then I interviewed my dad, who was my mother’s ex-husband. Thirdly, I interviewed a close friend from my mother’s adulthood. I’m learning so much that I never knew I never knew!

I’m no longer afraid to confront my emotions while hearing the stories of a woman I barely got to know.  I’m excited to continue this project and I still have several more interviews to conduct. I don’t know what all will come of this. Blog posts? A book? We’ll see what I’m inspired to do once the research phase ends.

My mother lived in Italy for many years, pursuing her passion for acting and this August I will be visiting Italy for the first time so as you may imagine this trip holds great significance for me.

When my mother passed away, many including myself thought that I handled it well because I didn’t speak about it much but there are simply no words to match the pain in a little girl who loses her mother. This pain is now transforming into intrigue and appreciation…. stay tuned.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mommies and mother-figures, here and beyond

And I would like to wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to my own…

Yvonne Southerland

Yvonne Holder

Baci

Vonny

Mommy

(Baci is an Italian word which means Kisses and is pronounced “Bah-chee”)

Dear Mr. West

Dear Mr. West

Dear Mr. West,

May I call you Ye?

Hey Ye. I am a fan of yours and have been for over a decade. You are gifted beyond comprehension. You are an innovator and you have pushed the culture since you entered the scene. I consider you to be a major public advocate for black people due to your lyrical content and upbringing.

Earlier this week, you said some things and upset a lot of people. The first comment was about loving Trump. At first, I didn’t know why you would choose to align yourself with him but only when hearing more about your love for the world did I really begin to understand. You said you love every person that has ever lived. Well, that would certainly include Trump. As I move my consciousness into more aware states, I’ve stopped hating people; people who have hurt me and strangers alike. I feel the next step in my progression will be to move from “not hating” to “loving”. So, I get it, or at least I’m hopeful that I’ll get it soon.

The next so-called outrageous comment you made was about slavery being a choice. The public did not want to hear that but I agree. The same way that some slaves chose to escape and rebel, others chose to stay. I’m disappointed that you didn’t further explain your point because you are being crucified alive for stating a fact but I’m more disappointed in the public for not listening to the words you said. Many made assumptions about what they thought your comment meant, and many are wrong. I think most of the confusion comes from people ignoring the definition of the word choice: an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.


What “Slavery Was a Choice” doesn’t mean:

Africans liked slavery

Slavery was an easy choice to make

Running away was easy and didn’t result in death

Africans wanted to participate in slavery

Africans were not mentally/physically manipulated into becoming and remaining enslaved

Colonizers are justified in enslaving Africans

 

What “Slavery Was a Choice” does mean:

When presented with the options of remaining enslaved or attempting to achieve freedom, many enslaved Africans chose to remain enslaved generation after generation.

 

Where is the lie?


 

If folks can acknowledge that some chose to escape and revolt (ie Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Toussaint Louverture, Charles Deslondes to name a few) then why is it such a struggle to understand that the vast majority chose not to? I am certain that people are committed to misunderstanding you. Are black people afraid of the notion of accepting any sort of responsibility in the discourse of our history?

You’re being labeled ignorant, mentally unstable, off your meds, insane, a coon and that you are suffering from Stockholm syndrome. The hashtag #mutekanye is scary to me. People are talking about boycotting your businesses, all because they don’t understand you and maybe they just aren’t ready to understand.

I would like to draw a comparison to a modern idea that may be easier for people to digest. A woman who is a victim of domestic violence has a very difficult decision to make. She can either remain in the relationship and continue to face abuse or she can attempt to leave and potentially face more abuse, financial instability, isolation, homelessness etc. It may not feel like a choice especially when you throw manipulation and lies into the mix and it is a terrifying decision to have to make. It’s like being caught between a rock and a hard place. The options aren’t ideal, but the options are there. Many women chose to stay in an abusive relationship out of fear. Their fear is legitimate and the consequences of their decisions are real.  Similarly, many Africans chose to stay enslaved out of fear. The notion of slavery being a choice doesn’t remove any responsibility from the whites who participated in slavery any more than it removes the responsibility from the abusive husband in the above example. Regardless of the choices made on the part of the victims, the abusive acts were heinous, disgusting and inexcusable.

I believe you were commenting on the choice of many to remain enslaved, not passing judgment on it.

I thought about whether I wanted to share my feelings on this subject. I thought about my new career and how I’m marketing and promoting myself. Do I want to be aligned with someone who is under such scrutiny? Do I want to be brave? Do I want to speak my truth? I saw and felt such a lack of support in your direction, and I had to say something. I am inspired by your bravery.

Thank you for your thought-provoking comments. Be strong for your storm has just begun.

 

 

Sincerely,

Laura Max, a fan, a supporter and an admirer

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God Talk

God Talk

The most arrogant thought I’ve ever had is that there is no God. See, I’m a cynic by nature and at times painfully sarcastic. I used to get kicks out of telling my elderly, Mississippi born and raised, God-fearing grandmother, that there is no God. Not only was there no God, I would show up to her house for the weekend without any clothes for church, a fact I would conveniently not reveal until Sunday morning. Boy, did her blood boil. Between that and my other comments about never wanting to learn how to cook because my future husband will cook for me, she disapproved of my ideology, to say the least.

When I was 8 years old, my mother died of breast cancer. After her passing, I moved in with my father and step-mother. We loved each other, but somehow the love got lost in translation. Strict rules for a defiant pre-teen, mixed with hurtful words such as “You’re not my mother!”, led to pain for all. I was already a quiet girl, and the loss of my mom led me to talk even less. I was taken to therapy but I just didn’t want to discuss the elephant in the room. I buried feelings of sadness for years and years to come.

I became pregnant with my daughter at the age of 21, which lead to more turbulence on the home front. I was politely asked to go reside where the baby was conceived. The relationship with my daughter’s father, as well as with subsequent men, was nothing short of something very appropriate for a young girl, stumbling around, without having learned how to handle her trauma, and thus causing more.

In my mid-20s I dated a guy and I could have guessed that he wasn’t “The One” if I was being honest with myself, but I wasn’t too invested in authenticity those days. At first, things were different, which meant that things were great. Wow, I thought, I can talk to this guy for hours! We laughed and taught and learned from one another. He was the first man I dated, who I also considered a friend.

The relationship, albeit refreshingly unique compared to those before it, was still riddled with deceit and disappointment. We first met and connected at work but after he started a new job, we began to only see each other monthly, despite living less than an hour away from one another. He would flake on plans, not call back, and not show up. A few years into our relationship, it became clear to him that I was taking things more seriously than he was and it became clear to me that his disruptive behavior was a reflection of his own dissatisfaction in life and that it had very little to do with me. As I began to Google “How to be Happy”, “Tricks for Happiness”, “Helping Loved Ones Through Depression”, he began to end things with me. I was learning these secrets for happiness in order to teach him, not even knowing that I was really teaching myself nor how valuable these lessons would soon be.

The break up was tough. The collapse of ideas I had so longed for, brought me into the darkest days I’ll ever know. Suicide ideation, prescription drug abuse and self-neglect took over for far too long.

Until July 16th, 2014, when I saw the snail. Walking past a Brooklyn bush, there slugged a snail. Small and almost unnoticeable, yet it caught my eye. I snapped a pic and posted it on Instagram with a caption that came to me as my fingers swiped along, “A snail! I declare this a sign of excellent health, prosperity and good fortune because that’s the typa stuff one declares when choosing happiness! Happy Wednesday y’all” I didn’t know I had chosen happiness until the decision was made. And as sneakily as depression cloaked my life, it had been lifted up by this arbitrary symbol of everything I needed. A symbol sent from God, fortified by all I had learned while trying to help my ex.

I do not believe in coincidences. Each person in my life is here for a reason, even when I can’t see what that reason is. Every heartache has taught me as much as I was willing to learn. Meeting a man, who I loved and thought I could save from depression, in turn, saved me from my own hidden depression. I began practicing the things I was intending to teach him. I wrote my Happy Lists. I asked myself what did I enjoy about my day, every day and then I made sure to do those things more often. I complained less and showed gratitude for every. little. thing. Forcefully at first, but then it came as a new way of being.

Afterward, I began proudly calling God by name because I was truly beginning to feel his grace and it was hard to keep in. When I say “Praise God!”, please believe that I am on my knees giving thanks. When I say “Look at God!”, I am truly marveling at his miracles. With God’s help, I can now see blessings that have always been there. With God’s help, I can now see beauty in things and in people where I once saw none. With God’s help, I see that there is God in me, and that I have a purpose and a calling and gifts to share with the world. With God’s help, my eyes, ears and heart stay open to the testimonies of all God’s children, because you never know who will share a word that will change your life.

I will not say that God has completely taken depression from my life. Some days are easier to see light than on others, but through God I don’t miss a single lesson, which gives my pain a purpose. I’m grateful for the storms I’ve endured because they make the sunlight that much more divine and through the grace of God, I am walking on sunshine.

(First posted @ www.link2usmag.com)

Nice For What?

Nice For What?

Balance is my absolute favorite word and concept. Its simple. The answer is seldom in this OR that but can commonly be found in this AND that. I love exploring all the various manifestations of balance.

Science and God

Technology and Art

Brute and Brain

Light and Dark

Sweet and Savory

Compassion and Action

Strength and Grace 

Strength and Grace 

Strength and Grace

Strength and Grace

This last one though. I was constantly given the opportunity to exercise a balance between strength and grace and I was failing more than I was succeeding. Weeks ago I sat down to write some profound breakout piece about why and how to balance these two beasts.

This is what came of it…

balance.png

… and that’s all.

I wasn’t feeling very balanced that that day. Or these days in general really. Over the past few months I have experienced such a rush of adrenaline and confidence as I’m bursting into areas of life and myself that I’ve never touched before. I feel powerful and creative and I want to show it off.

Nice for what? Oh hey Drake.

What perfect timing he has. Days after my disaster of an attempt to document strength and grace, Drake releases what I hope will become the 2018 Summer anthem for all women. His video represented every type of boss woman from the board meeting CEO, to the student, to the mommy of two. I got goosebumps when Zoe Saldana was shown with her babies because motherhood is one of the most under and misrepresented hustles of them all. I’m here for this. I thank Drake and his team for developing a voice that is paying homage to the unapologetically strong and ambitious woman.

This song is directed at people who don’t add to your recipe of success and who serve as distractions, at best (sometimes known as f*ck boys). If you’re fortunate enough to have a team, then you understand the importance of their influence on your personal strength. Those who motivate, ground and cheer you on. Our supporters and our contributors. Those who wake up early with us or those patiently waiting for us to get to bed. Behind every strong woman is a team of people who deserve recognition. This song wasn’t about them. My note wasn’t about them either. But shout out to them. 

Love yourself outloud, show off your hard work and accomplishments and don’t let anyone make you feel as though you are shining too brightly for their taste. Your strength and perseverance is changing your life and you may have no idea who else you are motivating. Be a light so that others may also shine…. and thank the lights standing beside you.

How’s that for balance? 

63 through 66

63 through 66

7/17/14

3:42 AM. I lay motionless. Hearing only the steady breathing of my sleeping child. She represented everything right with the world. At six years old she was inquisitive and curious; kind and gentle; energetic yet thoughtful. I never understood how she managed to be balanced in a world so reckless and unreliable. She must have been born with a predisposed tolerance to chaos and madness. I offered her little relief. She is wonderful in spite of her mother, what a resilient little thing.

She inhaled deeply and let out a quiet sigh as she exhaled. Another trickle of sweat rolled down my temple.  63. That’s how many sweat beads had found it’s way from my pores to my now soaked bed sheets by route of my body. Like small well-mannered track stars, who let their opponents finish before they began the same course.

I thought of getting out of bed, taking an ice cold shower, changing the sheets and giving sleep another chance. I thought of how I would need to call out from work again as I certainly was in no condition to rise and shine in three hours and tackle another day in the office. I thought about how I had already called out from work one time each week in the past month and how supervisors were beginning to watch me suspiciously.  I thought about how it was now too late for an Ambien. I thought about how it maybe wasn’t too late to roll and enjoy a blunt. At least then my daughter and I could both enjoy inhalation, although in very different ways.

Food. I should eat. It had been maybe four days since I felt motivated to open my mouth. Chew. Swallow. Repeat. What daunting tasks. This grumbling stomach didn’t make sleep anymore of an achievable goal than explaining to my daughter why bad things happen to good people, why I happened to her.

64. I closed my eyes again, trying to remember a time unlike now. Live in the present, often advice for those seeking happiness but my present was where I wished to be furthest from. The future is unknown and frightening, but the past was a place of certainty, security. Less favorable memories were easy to forget or alter to my liking, which sometimes made life confusing. Confusing yes, but bearable.

65. 66. These two were neck and neck. Hope stretched her arms around my torso, seeking a comforting embrace. All she received was a cold, near lifeless shell where her mother should have been.