Tag Archives: choices

The Burning Question… Who Are You?


On this Fresh Start Monday, I have just this one question…Who Are You? Now before you begin to answer this question let me set the scene for you: You’ve just entered a room full of very interesting people. Everyone is smiling, laughing and talking animatedly about a variety of subjects. You stand there observing as you’re trying to decide which group you’d like to join. Of course there are butterflies in your stomach and you’re fighting the urge to run and take flight in the opposite direction. But you hold your ground.

You tell yourself, “I can do this. I can make conversation with anyone.” Right before you take that next step you spot the way to the ladies’ room and quickly make your way in that direction. Once inside you stare at the person looking back at you. You think back over the last 20 – 30 years of your life and wonder where did all the time go? In your mind’s eye you see your children from the moment they were placed in your arms until the day you saw them off to college, the military or just across town to their own place. Fleetingly you think about the son or daughter you witness get married and begin a whole new life with another person. On that day you were filled with joy and dread.

Joy, because you’re so happy to see your child all grown up and beginning his/her own family. Dread because now you wonder, “What shall I do with all this time I now have on my hands”? If you’re blessed to still have someone to share your life with you still have that same question, “What are we going to do, now that the house is empty except for the two of us”?

Does this scene sound familiar to anyone? I’m sure it does, I know long before that time arrived I made a decision that has served me well. I decided that though I had a responsibility to my children and of course to my husband. I also knew I had a responsibility to myself as well. This meant I couldn’t totally wrap myself in the lives of my children or spouse for when the day came and they weren’t around what oh what would I do with myself.

Finding interests or hobbies outside of your immediate family takes work and it’s a process of trial and error. You don’t know what truly fuels your imagination or fill you with wonder and amazement until you try it. So you have to have an adventurous spirit. For me I discovered that I love to read, I like running, I love puzzles and I like acting. Not a whole lot but enough that I tried out and participated in a few plays in the drama ministry at my church.

In the back of my mind I also knew that still wasn’t enough. I needed just a bit more. It was then that I looked outside of myself and found my greatest fulfillment! Helping others gives me the greatest joy and when people ask who am I I can readily answer in any number of ways depending on the circumstances.

The point I’m making on this Fresh Start Monday is that each of us should know who we are. Not who others think we are, or base our answer on what we think we should be but exactly who we are. The best way to answer that is to ensure you don’t become stale and bored with yourself. If you’re bored with yourself, I promise others will be as well.

 

For me being a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, sister-n-law, aunt and friend are just a small part of what makes me who I am. I’m a complex individual with likes and dislikes as anyone else may have. But I’m unique to me. I can be happy with just my own company or I can be relaxed and comfortable in a room full of diverse people. I have opinions about the world around me and I have causes that are dear to me. I’m a writer, published author, speaker, workshop/seminar facilitator, evangelist and life coach. Together it all makes a whole me.

So what about you? What makes you tick, what fuels your passion? Do you have a cause that’s dear to you? Have you taken your life lessons and developed them into a new chapter filled with opportunity and promise? Have you ventured outside of your comfort zone and made new friends and developed new relationships based on mutual respect, trust and understanding? If not are you ready to? Do you need a little coaching and encouragement to make that transition? If so you just may be the perfect candidate to join a group of like-minded individuals participating in ‘From Adversity to Passion, A Guide to Your Divine Destiny and Joy’. If that’s the case visit the Fresh Start for Women event page and sign up. You won’t be disappointed.

Come on join the movement so that the next time the question is posed you can answer without hesitation. ‘I am ….’

Happy Fresh Start Monday everyone!

 

Loving Yourself Through the Pain of Domestic Violence


With this being Domestic Violence Awareness Month I’ve had this question asked by young and old, men and women. My response to that is, ‘if you love yourself would you harm yourself?”. That’s your answer. 100% of the time your response should be no. Then if you wouldn’t harm yourself and you love you why would you entertain the thought that love is supposed to hurt?

I realize that many of us grew up in dysfunctional homes in which verbal and physical abuse was the norm. Just because it’s what you saw doesn’t mean it is right. Of course rewiring your thinking will take work but it is worth it. Settling for less than what you deserve is not an option therefore put in the work to uplift your self-esteem. Redefine your boundaries so that you do not allow negativity to dictate your thoughts and actions.

How? Start by letting go of the past and redesigning your future. Easy? Of course not! Doable? Absolutely! You have to take the first step and that step is acknowledging that you are worthy of true unconditional healthy love. Find a quiet room and sit down with pen and paper and describe your ideal relationship. Be specific leave nothing to chance. Now ask yourself, “Am I in this type of relationship now?” If the answer is no then you have two choices. 1. Have a conversation with the other party or 2. if you already know that it’s a lost cause then it’s time to put an exit strategy into place.

In the first choice there’s the opportunity to make changes that are beneficial for both parties. Lack of communication leaves the door open for misunderstanding, mistrust and unhappiness. Set aside time to really talk. Turn off the radio, video games, sports, news, television and cell phones. Pour a glass of wine or a fresh cup of coffee and talk. I mean really talk. Be sure it’s a 2 way street, this means one listens while the other speaks. Listen intently, give eye contact and have an open demeanor. Crossed arms signals your defenses are up and you’re only half listening. Then acknowledge any areas you may need to improve upon. It could be as simple as having a date night. But it could also mean you may need a third party to help you. In either case the goal is to renew, reignite and rekindle a relationship that’s been limping along. That is if you’ve both decided it’s worth saving!

On the other hand if you know it’s time to leave then be wise and plan your exit. You can find some excellent information in my free –book, Exit Action Plan: 10 Steps to Leaving an Abusive Relationship to help you .Even if your relationship is not an abusive one the tips inside are still useful. Having a plan is essential for success. Once you’ve extricated yourself don’t jump right into another relationship. Love yourself enough to give yourself time to heal and rediscover the unique individual you lost.

We all heal at different levels so don’t compare your situation to anyone else. You’ll know without any doubt when you’re ready to try again. Next time don’t repeat the same mistakes listen to that quiet inner voice when it signals something is not right. Guard your heart and only give it when you know it will be loved, appreciated and cherished. Above all remember to ask yourself, “Does Love Supposed to Hurt?”

Holding On and Pushing Through


Have you ever had a day when it was so difficult to get out of bed? Did it seem as if the effort was too much and you just wanted to have an I’m not feeling it day? I can readily admit that I’ve had my share of days like that. There were some I knew the root cause; such as when I was laid off and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t find another job. Some mornings I’d awake and say to my self, “why bother it’s just going to be another day like all the rest.” I can vividly remember how my body reacted to such doom and gloom. I’d have headaches, tears would be just at the brink of spilling and of course cold sweaty feet!

Now another time I can remember was just within the past year. I’d been in an accident in which I shattered my wrist and was black, blue and green all over the top half of my body. To get out of bed every morning and prepare for work was such a chore. To bathe took better than 40 minutes. To put on a bra one handed took dexterity I didn’t know I possessed. That’s just to make myself presentable to get to work! Once there I had to find a way to sit in a chair for 8 – 9 hours, then figure out the best way to do my job one-handed. It seemed like the weeks to get to some semblance of normalcy took a long time to appear. So how did I push through? I’m so glad you asked!

In the first instance, I started to think about helping others instead of wallowing in pity. Of course I had someone to kick me into gear on those days when even that didn’t pull me through. I can’t say enough about the husband God blessed me with! He knew when to push, prod, hold my hand, encourage or simply life my spirits by reminding me that our God wouldn’t put any more on me than what he’s already prepared me for. I’ll admit there were some days in which the flesh just didn’t want to hear it. The important lesson is that even so I would tamp down that NEGATIVITY and accept what was offered.

Eventually it became easier and easier to think outside of myself. By doing so I found myself in a position I will always be grateful for. I got to spend a lot of time with my sister-n-law before cancer won and took her away from us. I got to spend lots of time with my niece and nephews as they struggled to deal with their grief and loss and naturally be a shoulder for my brother as he did his best to continue, after all he didn’t have the luxury of staying home. He needed to get back on the road and provide for his children. Had I been working none of the above would have happened. My life was richly blessed because of the experience. And though I miss her dearly I know she’s where there’s no more pain. Though her physical body is not here her spirit and her love remains.

With the car accident again I just wanted to wallow and tend to my aching body. I didn’t know how I’d make it through but before I knew it the aches and pain got more bearable and the task of caring for myself was made easier by a wonderful angel that resided in my home. Yes, you guessed it! My husband for even through his own pain he took care of me, got me to work, picked me up, prepared meals and kept a smile on my face even when all I wanted to do was cry.

I think you can see the formula evolving right? Of course you can! Several weeks ago I talked about the importance of expanding your circle of people surrounding you. So if you aren’t blessed with a husband, wife or significant other then those other people you’ve carefully allowed in your circle should be a source of strength, encouragement and faith-building.

Speaking of faith building. There’s a song with the words, “I need just a little more Jesus,”. This come to mind because my husband and I were listening and singing along with the song while sitting stopped behind a few other cars waiting for the traffic light to turn green when out of no where we were rear-ended. This happened six weeks after my initial accident. Now my husband and I both were suffering but through it all we have persevered; and though we still have some issues we haven’t stopped! Sometimes things happen just to try your faith. We’ve had to encourage each other and help each other! Together we’re stronger than if we had tried and do it on our own.

Yes I’m extremely blessed. I don’t take it for granted for I can easily look back at the old me of years ago and marvel at the change in me. Yes it has a cost but doesn’t anything worth having have a cost. You have to hold on and push through to see the gifts of Grace, Mercy and Peace. We all have faith in something the only question is what does your faith produce? Only you can answer that. All I can do is encourage you to continue to hold on and push through, something amazing will happen!

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.

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

Being Thankful


I want to start today’s Fresh Start Monday by first thanking the men and women who have sacrificed the ultimate so that you and I enjoy the freedoms we have today. Let’s all take a moment to reflect on what life for us would be like had they not done so. And now that brings us to today’s topic…Being Thankful.

So often life throws us so many curve balls that we’re so immersed in catching, avoiding, redoing or whatever that we tend to forget to be thankful. Each of us regardless of where we are in life should have something we’re thankful for each and everyday. If anyone reading this doesn’t agree then my heart aches for you. You see none of us woke up this morning on our own power, so to open our eyes to a day we’ve never seen before is a thankful moment.

When you jumped in the shower and the water ran down your body while you lathered up with your favorite soap or body wash, didn’t it feel wonderful? And when you stepped out of the shower and wrapped a clean towel around your body while you looked in the mirror and brushed your teeth. Were you thankful?

As you looked in the closet to choose what you’d wear were you thankful? Or what about when you made your way to the kitchen and opened the fridge? You stood there deciding on your choice of food to start your day, were you thankful? These are things you do everyday and I’m certain if you’re like me you’ve gone past someone you know didn’t have it as easy as you that day. I’m not talking about those who’ve made that choice to be where they are I’m talking about those who because of circumstances they weren’t in control of have had to do things a little differently than us. But even they still have cause to be thankful. Why? Because they too have been presented with a new day in which they can be thankful for the opportunity to make a new choice, a new decision or choose a different road. It still boils down to their choices.

And yes, I know for some that is a huge challenge so I in no way am trying to belittle the trials they are going through. But back to you and I. We have already started our day better than most. You’re headed to a job, career or your very own business, isn’t that worth being thankful for?  You know that at the end of the week or whenever your compensation time comes around you will be paid for the work you’ve put in. Again another reason to be thankful. It allows you to take care of your necessities and maybe a few wants and if you fall a little short well you’re able to add to it depending on what you want. You can add another job, or turn a hobby into additional funds. It’s up to you.

Let’s not forget about the people in our lives, our spouses, significant others, children, parents, siblings and other extended family members, the list is a long one. There are mentors, friends and the like and don’t forget about your enemies! They serve a purpose too, one being helping you to remember to be thankful for the people in your life who are in your corner and love you just as you love them. I’ve only made a small list I’m sure yours can be as large or small as your universe happens to be.

The point in this little exercise is that we all have something(s) to be thankful for and we should not let the sun set on the day without acknowledging it. After all as my husband is so fond of saying “tomorrow is not promised to any of us for tomorrow never comes until it becomes today!”