Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now…

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I’m already living my New Year’s resolutions. I know I’m a little ahead of the curve (okay, way ahead of the curve it’s not even Christmas yet) but I couldn’t wait until 2015. This year went by incredibly fast, and I’ve learned so much during my 40th year on this planet.

I’m not teeming with Christmas cheer or goodwill (although I’ve got my fair share); it’s just that when something clicks, and I get it, I get it. Earlier this year, I made a promise that my 2014 journey would be about self-acceptance. I’m happy to report that my mission… was not accomplished.

You read that correctly. Not accomplished. Nada. Nein. Nope.

Self-acceptance, I’ve learned, is a process based upon choices we make every day; it’s not all or nothing. The question I had to discover the answer to was: could I continue to love and accept myself no matter what happened? Could I treat my failures and successes the same?

It’s not easy.

There’s a beautiful book written by Maya Angelou that reminds Unknownus about the beauty of life, and how to appreciate the curves and bends that we’ll encounter on our journeys. I read the book 15 years ago and recently re-read it and even still, Maya’s words continue to inspire me. So I’m living my new year today, and I know for sure there are three things to which I resolve…and there’s no going back:

    1. I know that I cannot be everything to everyone all the time. I won’t do it to myself, anymore. As helpful and as giving as I try to be, I know that for the sake my sanity I must create boundaries for myself.

2. I know that how I live my life is an extension of the type of person I endeavor to become. I’m constantly changing, growing, learning every day and the moment that I stop learning is the moment I cease to exist. I cease to be a good example to my children. I cease to be a helpmate to my better half. I cease to be a supportive sister and friend. I know that I get to choose every day I wake up. I chose. I decide.

3. I know that I can live a life full of intent and be kinder to myself. I read a quote by Diane von Fürstenberg that said, “when a woman learns to become her own best friend life is easier.” I get that. I love that. I get it now. The same grace that cover the people that I care about also covers me.

You know I’m okay with not totally getting the self-acceptance thing right. I still have some growing to do, and I’m learning that my desires for my life changes with each passing day. I’ve got a lot more living to do; I’ve got more questions to ask.

What about you, dear heart? Was there anything significant that you learned about yourself this year? Anything you’ve learned to accept about yourself? Or sage advice for anyone looking to make changes?

They Say It’s Always Darkest Before Dawn…

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“Change is inevitable, right?” I laughed with my friend, my voice trembling with uncertainty as I opened the blinds of the kitchen window. It was dawn and the only time of day that we could have a long overdue conversation to catch up on family and whatnot without interruption.

“Everything around me has been screaming change for months,” I whispered closing my eyes in exhaustion; each word I spoke felt like it carried weight.

She sighed in agreement because in the past three months alone I have been directly impacted by the death of a friend; heard about breast cancer diagnosis of two moms in my circle; survived a kerfuffle at work; and a homicide on my once quiet street.

Nothing but nonstop fun for this girl.

“Yes, like it or not…change is inevitable,” she responded bringing my thoughts back to focus. “Do you feel caught in the middle of everything that has happened, like you’re being pulled between the light and darkness?”

Interesting question because during the same three-month period, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Oprah Winfrey while attending her Life You Want Tour in Atlanta (a total bucket list moment), saw Bishop TD Jakes and other phenomenal speakers at the Woman Thou Art Loose Conference earlier this month, and finally made a decision about something that has been hanging over my head since July.

I began singing softly into the cradle of the phone, “You call me out upon the waters…,” she laughed knowingly because I was singing the lyrics to a song that we dubbed our anthem for 2014.

She joined in.

“No… ” I finally responded interrupting our duet. “I don’t feel caught between anything because I’m always surrounded by light, when I keep my eyes on Him.”

Listen: If we use our surroundings as an indication of the condition of our lives then, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. On the surface, it could appear to be two extremes when both good and not-so-good things happen, but it’s not. That’s life happening to you; it’s not your life.

Now admittedly, the not-so-good things did slow me down, and I got away from many of the things that brought me joy. But somehow the light got in; I sowed seeds without even realizing it. I bought my tickets to Oprah in January; I bought my tickets to Woman Thou Art Loose in March, and since July my environment has been constantly reminding me that I just don’t fit in the places that I use to … and that it’s okay.

A decision was inevitable.

Life, death, sickness, good health, transition, changes, transformation, they all challenge us every day. And every day that we have another opportunity to wake up and fill our lungs should serve as a reminder that His grace is sufficient.

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“Your grace abounds in deepest waters/Your sovereign hand Will be my guide/Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me You’ve never failed and You won’t start now” Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), Hillsong United

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Living My Life Like It’s Golden…

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It’s ‘Why Not’ Wednesday and today’s no fail message is about standing in the sun. Goodness abounds when people around you are doing well. That is to say when good things happen in the lives of the people we care about we are instinctively aware of their happiness. We also become happy.

We’re so good at supporting our loved ones that we have enough faith –an overflow of faith actually– to believe nothing is impossible for them. We believe in them even when they doubt themselves. We may even say:

“There are so many educational options today, you can go back to school.”

“That is a great idea; you should start your business.”

“Hang in there, losing weight is never easy but it’s worth it.”

“I agree, you should ask for a raise – you deserve it.”

It truly is important to surround yourself with positive people.

Consider this for today: every now and again, we need to turn the mirror of veracity on ourselves and provide the same love and support that we offer to others to ourselves. The same shine we deem worthy for our loved ones is the same shine we should give ourselves.

It’s not bragging.

It’s not boasting.

But it is necessary.

The best love we can provide to anyone is a demonstration and commitment for the love we have for ourselves. Authentically doing…living…being our best self and showing ourselves grace and mercy begins the circle of gratitude that surrounds us all.

You deserve to shine.

Stand in the sun.

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The best defense is having a great offense…

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It’s ‘Why Not’ Wednesday and today’s no fail message is about fortress building. Could you imagine having to stand in front of an audience of strangers to share the most intimate details of your life?

Impossible or easy?

Now imagine standing in front of an audience of people that you do know, family, friends or otherwise to share the same information.

A walk in the park? Or would you rather get your teeth pulled?

In both instances, we may be compelled to shield ourselves and build a fortress to protect us from hearing potentially harmful responses and reactions.

You may think:

Sometimes I feel inadequate as a mom. Brick.
I’m battling anorexia. Brick.
I’m old, and no one listens to me at work. Brick. Brick.
My finances are a mess. Brick. Brick. Brick.
I appear happy, but I’ve been depressed for years. Brick. Brick. Brick. Brick.

It can go on and on and on and before you know it you’ve imprisoned yourself with a barricade of shame hoping to hide your vulnerabilities.

Consider this for today: Not a day goes by that we aren’t tempted to fortify ourselves in some regard, either by virtue of perceived necessity or just sheer none of your business. No one wants to reveal those things we’ve worked so hard to conceal, flaws or failures…even the bruises.

Instead of creating a barrier around you, dismantle it by telling your truth and place shame under your feet. Stand tall on your vulnerabilities; those things that you consider your weaknesses are really your biggest attributes for an authentic life. It’s part of your life experience; it’s not who you are.

No, to shame.

No, to fear.

No, to doubt.

Yes to truth.

Yes to light.

Yes to life.

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Who’s Watching The Watchers…

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It’s ‘Why Not’ Wednesday and today’s no fail message is about remembrances. We truly are living in interesting times, from the fires in the Pacific Northwest and uncivil rights in Missouri to a continuous war in the Middle East… and all this is compounded by anything you are growing through in your personal life.

Interesting times indeed.

Whether we realize it or not, history is being recorded, time is still marching forward and yet the prevailing frailties of the human condition do not delude us. Because of them we can still serve justice — we can right wrongs; we can choose not to look the other way, we can lend a hand to families in need of assistance, and we can choose how we respond to sheer terror.

Interesting times indeed.

Consider this question for today: How do you navigate the world when things around you are unjust, unfair or uncertain? I’ve said this before: no one wants human hurt to go unnoticed. What we do today will stand as the legacy of truth for our future. I watched my grandmother and mom; my children are watching me…who’s watching you and what truth will you tell when asked to remember?

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I Really Thought I’d Be Much Further Along By Now…

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It’s ‘Why Not’ Wednesday and today’s no fail message is about gaining momentum. Do you remember as kids when running a race, we often took a few steps backward thinking it would help our stride and propel us forward? It seemed logical and instinctive in our juvenile minds that this was a surefire way of getting the boost we needed.

It’s funny how something so clear as kids somehow becomes a hindrance in adulthood. Then, it meant getting ready to run our race, and now taking a few steps backward could be interpreted as … we are not in the race.

But take heart – you are a contender.

In the stride of life there will be setbacks, and getting off our intended path or having to sit on the sidelines for a while or even taking 2 giant steps backward does not mean that you cannot win your race.

The word “backward” should not be made synonymous with a denial… and a step back is not a failure… and not being where you thought you would be at this point in life does not mean you failed.

Stepping back allows you to take a look at the big picture.

Stepping back allows you to confirm your direction.

Stepping back allows you to regain your sanity and composure.

Stepping back, intentional or not, adjusts your timing.

Consider this for today: If you find that you have to take a few steps back to get closer to your goal, do it with the confidence knowing that it’s only temporary and it will help push you forward in the long run.

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If I Allow Myself To Receive Feedback…Will It Make Me Vulnerable?

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It’s ‘Why Not’ Wednesday and today’s no fail message is about acceptance. Why is it that we run from compliments and run toward criticism? Is it because it’s easier to believe the worst about us?

When we reject compliments, we discount ourselves and demote the significance of any contribution that we’ve made.

Acceptance of criticism, on the other hand, if they are not constructive, further depletes any value and self-worth we hold in high regard.

But here’s the rub, they both are necessary for growth.

Consider this for today: compliments and criticisms are a gift and when genuinely given is a demonstration that you are living authentically.

Compliments say that you have qualities worthy of noting.

Criticism says that you’re growing.

Compliments say that you’re on the right path and here are a few words of encouragement.

Criticism says that you’re not afraid to fail and try again.

Choose to believe the good about you, choose to endeavor to improve, and choose to open yourself up to receiving love.

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