Monthly Archives: June 2014

You Are Your #1 Fan!


Are you a sports fan? Many are, I know I am and I have favorite players in every sport I enjoy watching and following. There may be attributes I like about them when they’re playing and an added bonus is when they have wonderful attributes that go outside their sport into their every day life.

But my favorite player isn’t in a sport, I don’t get to watch them on TV. They don’t have a million dollar salary and make cool commercials. My favorite player is ME, and my playing field is life. And why shouldn’t it be? After all I see ME every morning when I get up, I’m with ME when I brush my teeth, take a shower, get dressed for work and head out the door. I’m with ME as I ride the train and when I get to my office there ME is.

We all should be our own #1 fan. There’s no need to depend on someone else to recognize the great qualities you have or the work ethic you present each day. You don’t need to wait for someone else to tell you you’re beautiful, smart, funny and dependable. You should be able to tell yourself that and repeat it often.

You can laugh at your own jokes, and berate yourself for a mistake yet turn around and be proud of yourself for recognizing your mistake, rectifying the problem and move on. You don’t need anyone else to point out your short-comings after all only you can determine the best way to proceed to make it a positive instead and besides they should be concentrating on their own issues.

In life we will meet all kinds of people, I hope you’re meeting a variety as it will add spice to your life. But none of them can hold a candle to you at being you. Only you can look in your eyes and see the depth of the story you’ve lived. Only you can look at your smile and count the laugh lines and love every one of them. Only you can peer into your heart and see the love you’ve shared and still have to share. Only you can commune with the spirit within you and watch it blossom. Only you can look at your hands and marvel at the work it has performed. Only you have walked in your shoes and traveled along winding roads many taking you to a welcome surprise and at other times sending you on a detour in order to avoid a catastrophe. And only you can continue to walk in your shoes.

Only you can see the real you, so why not be your #1 fan? Why not cheer when you hit a home run. Why not jump for joy when you’ve made a touchdown? Why not get delirious with excitement when you make a winning basket?  Why not pump your fist in triumph when you make that hole in one? Why not shake with giddy anticipation when you’ve swam that last few meters to touch the wall first?

Have I given you enough reasons to be be your #1 fan? I hope so. I got to run now I have to meet my favorite player for some well deserved R and R! Did I tell you who it was, of course I did, ME!

 

 

 

Knocked Down!….Get Back Up!


As with anything there will be times when life will throw you a curve ball. If you don’t think that’s fair then as I’ve often said, what planet are you on? This whole thing called life is a journey with its peaks and valleys, highs and lows, tears of joy and tears of sadness. There will be times of great reward and sometimes it will seem as disappointment has taken charge; but as long as your limbs are working and you still have the breathe of life flowing through your body you can do something to negate the disappointments.

If you have yet to experience the low parts, keep living, they will come. But, guess what? You’re in the driver’s seat. You can determine how much these events derail your plans by how you respond. I have yet to see anyone truly succeed by staying down when knocked down. Instead I see them re-evaluate their circumstances and then make adjustments. This is something we all should become pros at. Why? Because all those twists and turns add spice to our lives. I’ve heard of people when asked what do they want to do in life and without giving the question the serious thought it deserves they quickly respond “NOTHING”. Just as an exercise I tried imagining myself doing nothing. Guess what I discovered? The only time I could imagine doing nothing the one thing I saw was a casket! That image quickly eliminated any thought on my part of doing nothing!

I know that life is hard and for many it’s harder than most but you can still get back up when knocked down and fight for the life you want. I think back to May 2009 I’d been laid off from a job I’d been on for 16 years. Of course panic is the first thing I experienced but I also quickly realized that panic does not pay the bills. Sure I was fortunate enough to have a small severance to hold things together for a while during my search for a new job. Except instead of the curve ball lasting a few weeks it turned into 2-1/2 years.  And though the severance was long gone, unemployment depleted and nearly losing my home (twice), I refused to stay knocked down. During this time there were 4 things that sustained me and kept me from losing my sanity.

1. My Husband – Oscar was , is and always will be my rock. His support and encouragement kept me grounded. Plus just his example of his everyday life. You see my husband is in constant pain due to injuries while serving our country during the Vietnam conflict. But watching him as he continues his ministry of helping others I could only admire his determination to not allow pain to stop him from living. He was and still is today a very active man giving of himself so that others don’t suffer any longer than they should. He is always equipped with wise counsel and I am proud to be his wife.

2. Faith – my faith grew to a new level during this time. This too I can attribute to the support I received from my husband. As a minister’s wife you’d think well that should be a given. Who told you that? I’m a flesh and blood being with feelings and emotions but thanks to his teachings most of which were simply exhibited by his everyday actions I made it through that 2-1/2 years and came out stronger!

3. Family/Friends – there were a few friends and family that kept me grounded as well. They were my support system when I needed just a little bit extra. I think fondly of my sisters Sharon and Betty. Okay neither are blood sisters, Sharon and I just adopted each other and Betty (rest her soul) was married to my brother. But they each were lifelines to me and for me. Sharon helped me to publish my book as an audio book, I recorded it on my laptop, Sharon made the copies, I designed the cover and low and behold, “Journey to a Fresh Start, Releasing the Junk…Revealing the Jewels” was born. It’s now available on Amazon as an e-book or in print. But the point is I may never have done it had it not been for that time I was without a job. Now Betty, she’s my heart and I’ve never been as close to anyone as I was with her. And when a few months after losing my job Betty learned her cancer was back I was there to take her to doctors and help with the kids. Although this time the disease won I was in a position to be there for my brother so that he could continue to work and support his family. I realized then that had I been working I could not have been there.

4. Purpose  – my purpose was born 10 years ago when with the support of my husband Fresh Start for Women was birthed to empower and renew the lives of women affected by domestic violence, abuse and sexual assault. Conducting numerous workshops, seminars and retreats during that 2-1/2 years gave me something to look forward to leaving little time to feel sorry for myself and have a pity party. I still had a life and I was determined to it well. So though I was knocked down I didn’t stay down. I stayed busy concentrating on helping others and finally one day I ran across  a name in my phone, Ginger Hicks, I heard this small whisper say “call her”. Well I didn’t have a phone number but I did have an email so I sent her one.  That was in August 2011 and I’ve been working with her ever since.

This is my story of being knocked down and getting back up? What’s yours? We all have them and by sharing we can encourage others who may be going through. This journey has given me a recipe for surviving those curve balls life will throw your way. Hopefully it can help you. It is now summertime and although we must still do all the things we must in order to survive and take care of our families. There are times that the heat of the day drains you and you need replenishing. It is at those times nothing beats a cool glass of ice water to quench your thirst. It is in that vain I call this recipe, ” Living Water  on Ice”.

1. Look at Your Circle – make sure the people in it will be there during the long haul. If not start improving that circle now before it’s needed. Be sure to mix it up, variety adds spice and gives you choices depending on the need at hand.

2. Do Something – you can’t lie in bed, sit in front of the idiot box or eat your way through it. Do something, even if it’s helping someone else. You just might be helping yourself as well.

3. Renew Your Faith – even when current circumstances and evidence says you’re floundering and losing ground that’s when you need to grab hold of Faith and don’t let go.

4. Mix it all together, shake vigorously, pour over ice and drink slowly. Savoring the coolness as it quenches your thirst, cools your belly, calms the nerves, and put a smile on your face. And just to make it even better, why not stock up now. Then when life knocks you down and you know it will you’ll already have your recipe right at hand.

 

 

Honor Thy Father


On this Fresh Start Monday I want to deviate just a little to talk about fathers and Father’s Day. Even today fathers don’t get the recognition and honor they deserve. I know there are a lot of absentee fathers, men with no idea of what being a father means and then there are others that just don’t care. In either case it should in no means negatively impact the fathers who are present, who do all they can whether they’re in the home or living apart.

I can count on one hand the number of commercials aimed at celebrating fathers. In comparison the number of commercials throughout the month of May leading up to Mother’s Day were plentiful. You couldn’t watch a show on television without at least 1 commercial shinning a light on mothers. This is a disgrace! Why do we allow it to continue?

To be honest the ones who must take the lead on this travesty and change it are the mothers? Why? Because we’re the ones with the major influence with our children. It starts at home. We all had or have fathers. None of us got here with just the labor of our mothers, so don’t file this fact away and not share it with your children and the world.

I don’t have to go any further than my own family to look and the various characteristics of a father. Let me start at the beginning, with my father; He’s been dead several years now but growing up I remember how hard-working he was, he never uttered the words I love you to us kids but I have no doubt we all knew he loved us. Of course each of us have our own memories of him, good and bad. I can only speak for me and my perceptions.

Daddy had his faults, over doing it with drinking was his major one. When he drank he and mama would fight, mostly with words but there were some instances when it got physical.  For me it made me learn early on to avoid men who drank. But his hard work also taught me that a man who says he loves me should be able to take care of himself and me. Daddy was protective of me in his way, boys were off-limits, he kept them at bay as much as he could. Even so in my eyes daddy was my hero and I loved him dearly. And for all the fussing and fighting I knew he loved mama as well. And when they grew apart and divorced he was still in my life as much as possible even when he moved back to the country where he was most comfortable.

One thing I give high props to is my mama’s ability to separate being divorced from him and yet not hinder him from continuing to play a role in the lives of his 5 children. This example she displayed served me well when I got divorced from my sons’ father. Because of her example I made sure to never say anything negative about their father in front of them, to them or in ear shot of them. After all children grow up and can make up their own minds about their fathers. They don’t need any help from the other parent.

I look at my grown sons and see how they’ve taken on the role of father very seriously. Each married women who already had children and they were and are treated as if they were their own flesh and blood children. I see how hard they work to be good providers, listeners, encourager and the number 1 fan for each child. They discipline when needed and even in discipline the love is never far behind.  Each have their own ideas of how to raise their children but I can also see a lot of the examples they learned from my husband.

He came into their lives at the age of 8 and 9. Naturally they were not thrilled to have this male in the family who was able to see through a lot of the antics that went over my head because I was so busy making a living to provide for them. And it didn’t stop them in the beginning from trying everything they could to make him disappear, like the time my oldest polished his shoes with Oscar’s brand new silk shirt. He didn’t discount their feelings but he did let it be known that respect for others was an important lesson for them to learn.

And now some 30 years later they are able to spend time with each other, talk about any and everything and it’s nothing for them to seek his advice. Yes their biological father is still alive and in their lives as well but I’m extremely proud of the relationship they have worked to develop with my husband, whom they lovingly call “pops” and at other times “paw paw”. They know they can count on him and if there’s ever anything they need if it’s in his power he can and will be there.

I look at my husband and I smile and I ache for him. Why? Because his relationship with his own children is complicated. Not because of his doing but circumstances beyond his control kept him away from them at a crucial time in the life of the children. And though he’s made many efforts to be there for ALL of his kids the relationships are shaky. It could be much better but it is hindered because of  the unwillingness of grown children to meet him where they are now.

I witnessed first hand his efforts to find his children, then once found work to build a relationship even to the point of bringing the boys to live with us when they were 12 and 14. But their minds and hearts had already been poisoned. So sad really for they all are missing out on a great man. It hasn’t stopped him from loving them or wanting the best for them. But I still see the hurt.

So you see mothers of the world, you yield great power. Use it wisely. Encourage a relationship between your children and their fathers. And if you’re a grown child still estranged from your father, stop….! Let today be the beginning of a new relationship. I’m not saying that it’s easy, or course not but then anything worth truly having requires work, sacrifice and stamina.

None of us is perfect. So why are we expecting parents to be perfect? And mothers, why when relationships fail you choose to disavow the importance of a father’s love? Why does society as a whole choose to negate the role of a father?

Even God tells us to honor our fathers and mothers, it is a commandment filled with promise, “that your days may be long upon this earth” (paraphrase is mine). It did not say honor mother only which is what we as a society have done for years. It says honor father and mother.

Won’t you this day commit to a renewed relationship with your father? The reward is tremendous and if your father is no longer alive but the estranged relationship still affects you negatively, write him a letter, pour your heart out to him, forgive if necessary and then make a choice to start fresh!

A Healthier You, Mind…Body… Spirit


These last few weeks we’ve been learning about making a successful ‘Fresh Start” and it seems to be working according to feedback I’ve received. Well it’s time to concentrate on an important element of this entire process. In many ways we’ve been doing it all along but let’s get real I’m just scratching the surface. There’s so much more involved so I don’t want to give anyone the impression hat this a walk in the park because it really is not.

Today I want to break down just a little the 3 areas you should be working on to be all that you can. It requires your undivided attention. This is one of those times where it’s okay to be selfish! Why? Because to be of any value to anyone else you have to be of value to yourself. Therefore, let’s look at being a healthier you…Mind…Body…Spirit.

Mind – In many ways the mind is a mystery, there’s so much going on in there and if you’re not careful you could get overloaded with irrelevant, unimportant stuff and miss some great opportunities to expand your mind. There’s an old saying and idle mind is the devil’s workshop, What it’s really saying that if you’re not actively improving, feeding or stretching this organ you could find yourself in predicaments you’d never have gotten yourself into if you’d only used that mind! Think about it, each day should open you up to new experiences, new people, new opportunities. of course this means you must be determined to surround yourself with the right type of people. After all why surround yourself with people going no where, wanting nothing but a good time, no dreams or aspirations. Now if that’s what you’re looking for as well, then forgive me and please stop reading this blog, it’s not for you.

People should feed your thirst for learning, even little people can do that, if you take the time to hear what they’re saying. These little beings has the wisdom of a child and can teach you to be child like again in order to continue to learn. The minute you say ‘no one can teach me anything’ you’ve pigeonholed you in a place I wouldn’t wish for anyone. You might as well pick out your suit or dress and make your funeral arrangements. Why? Well you might as well be dead, dead people have no need to learn, no need to breathe, no need to eat, laugh or cry.

So besides the people in your life, visit a library, a museum, an older person with wisdom waiting to share,. Learn a new language, take up a hobby, meet new people different from you. All with the purpose of having a healthy not stale mind!! Can you do it? I know you can!

Body – we have so much now days that we have become too sedentary which leads to disease…Dis- Ease. Your body is no longer serving you well because you’ve not served it well. I visited my sons yesterday and noticed some of my grandkids were outside running around in the yard. It put a smile on my face because normally you’d see kids glued in front of the TV, a game, computer or some other thing that didn’t require them to move. Watching my granddaughters running put a smile on my face for it made me remember how much I used to love to run. Now aching knees, excess weight and just plain being out of shape has deprived me of something I so enjoyed! But it’s not too late! I can work on this body. I can start by walking 30 minutes each day at work during my lunch hour, and because I’m in an office all day I need to make a genuine effort to get up and stretch. Sitting all day for 9 hours except to go to the bathroom is not good for me or you!

Here’s also where honesty comes into play. You may need to pay a visit to the doctor to get an idea of just where you stand physically and then with the support of your doctor and loved ones come up with a plan to get that healthier body.  I’ve already made that commitment to myself. I know it’s not going to be easy and I know I may fall off the wagon sometimes but I must get back on it. I wan to enjoy life and not just exist in it. Don’t you?

So here is my promise to me:

  • I will walk 30 minutes each day at work – Monday through Friday
  • I will dance with my husband on Saturday nights for our new date nights
  • I will dance while doing the laundry and other household chores
  • I will drink 10 – 12 glasses of water every day
  • I will limit my sugar intake (this includes sodas,, candy, etc.)
  • I will give my body at least 8 hours of sleep each night
  • I will include more fresh fruits and vegetables in my diet

I know my body will thank me for it. So what do you promise your body? How can you help you have a healthier body? Please make your plan and then work your plan. I’m going to give my self a month to make this a good routine and to celebrate I’m going to go running with my granddaughters!

Spirit – Your inner being or whatever name you’ve give it needs to be healthy as well. For me this means spending quiet time where there’s only me. I commune with God and allow myself to be taught. I want that connection it is as important to me as breathing. I’m also blessed to have a man of God as my husband, covering and teacher. So I have no excuse! I can only speak for myself but that time is so precious. I’ve neglected that vital part of me more times than I care to admit. But today I vow to make a change. beginning with the moment I open my eyes. For there are so many who never get to see another new day.  Each day should fill me awe and gratitude. I have to feed my spirit as well, doing good for others feeds my spirit and makes my heart sing, Sometimes it’s just a kind word at just the right moment that can uplift the spirit of someone else. At other times it’s that knowing you can’t explain that reaches deep within your soul and causes you to wonder at this vast universe.

Will you take the challenge today and make you a Healthier You Mind…Body….Spirit?

 

 

 

 

Turning Adversity Into Passion


All of us at one time or another have met with adversity. How we responded determined whether we are defined by it or whether we used it to suddenly create a passion which fuels us and encourages others. Webster’s dictionary defines adversity as a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune.  It can be tool used to strengthen us and show us just how much stronger we are in our faith, ability, perseverance and commitment.

There are all types of adversity; the loss of a job, a serious illness or the loss of a loved one due to a senseless accident or other unexpected situation. The loss of a job could be the catalyst to spur an individual on to discover the entrepreneur within.  A serious illness could turn you into an advocate for change or research. The loss of a loved one could spur you on to fight for better laws, or new ways for prevention so that another doesn’t have to suffer as you have. It all depends on how you deal with adversity.

For me my major adversity came in 3 parts, first at the age of 13 being gang-raped and never telling a soul not even my parents until I was 42 years old. Phase 2 arrived when I was kidnapped in my twenties and taken to a secluded location and assaulted. Phase 3 arrived due to my own choices for life partners resulting in domestic violence, low self-worth and self-esteem issues rating in the range of less than dirt. For a very long time adversity had an iron grip on my life preventing me from being my true unique and loving self. There was of course a mustard seed of faith in me that there was so much more to my life than the dreary existence I was currently laden with. This mustard seed of faith began to really grow in 1984 when God decided I’d been in the wilderness long enough and sent someone with the ability, compassion, fortitude, conviction, determination, understanding and most importantly unconditional love to break down my walls. The blessing for me is that this person is not only my greatest champion, best friend and strongest ally he’s my husband! The one God chose for me!

Twenty years after that initial encounter my vision, mission and passion was born in the form of the nonprofit organization Fresh Start for Women. In September we will celebrate 10 years of serving the community, empowering and renewing the lives of women affected by domestic violence, abuse and sexual assault. We also help teen girls to discover their own roadmaps for success including learning to set boundaries, goals, and knowing the warning signs that can prevent them from suffering needlessly in an abusive relationship.

This is my story of overcoming adversity. What will your story be? How can you turn that adversity into a positive instead a negative with its stigma of shame and regret? I know it’s in you…it’s in all of us. You just have to be willing to embrace it! The only thing standing in your way is you. So move over, don’t let life live you instead live life to the fullest, abundantly and with joy.

I’d love to hear your stories of triumph. After all your story can be the inspiration and encouragement someone else may need to take a leap of faith. So today’s Fresh Start Monday assignment is to start the process of turning your adversity into a passion or as the old saying goes, taking lemons and making lemonade and I love myself some fresh squeezed lemonade!

Get to stepping, I’m rooting for you.

Your blogging friend,

Joyous Janice