Your Destiny Is Too Important To Give Up . . .

“Waiting on the other side of temptation, waiting on the other side of this test is everything you ever dreamed, everything you prayed for, everything He promised you.”  ~Kevin LeVar, Your Destiny

What does it take for true transformation to happen? I’m talking about change that helps you remain authentic to who you are, shifts the narrative of your story while running the risk of creating discomfort and possibly alienating the people around you?

I mentioned a few months ago that I’m embarking on a new adventure, and just the mere thought of it made me nauseous. Well, I’m doing it. I mentioned earlier this year I started a media company and now am undertaking my first big endeavor.

I’m hosting a one-day women’s conference this fall in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Uninvited Guest

When I began writing the business plan for the conference several months ago, the “shame gremlins” as Dr. Brene Brown calls them came from everywhere. Shame gremlins exist for one reason only: to keep us small. To prevent us from living whole lives, to stop us from stepping into our destiny. I heard overwhelmingly:

“Who do you think you are?”
“Nobody’s going to come!”
“Who’s going to speak at YOUR conference?”
“How are you financing this?”

Little did those shame gremlins know, I’ve been in what Dr. Brown describes as ninja warrior training mode because I knew they would show up – they always do.

While I haven’t defeated all of the gremlins, I’ve successfully eliminated quite a few of them and managed to quiet the others – for now. I put my intention out into the universe, and you know what happened? People began to show up. One by one, day-by-day, and it’s been an amazing experience.

Why The Conference

As a mom of 4 and with a child with special needs, I take Conference postertremendous pride in caring for my family. I love my children. I love my husband. But there was emptiness in me that I couldn’t explain. I thought through this blog I could carve out a little niche for myself, and while it did help, I still felt something was missing. When I began talking with my other mom friends and listening to their stories. I heard the same lament over and over again:

“No time for me.”
“Love my family, but I need a break.”
“I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I DID have time to myself.”

…and that’s just skimming the surface.

I didn’t know what to do initially with these stories; I mulled over it for years — 2 years exactly, and then I got my answer. I decided to create a platform where women could feel comfortable talking about their stories. I wanted a judge free zone, where the common denominator was self-care for moms.

The transformative aspect in all of this is that my circle of friends and associates get to see me in a new light. Some don’t understand it; most of them do. For the former group, taking on the risk of owning a business and now managing an event is crazy and stressful. They know I have a demanding career and major responsibilities at home.

I get that.

For the friends in the latter group, they understand that gnawing feeling inside which tells you that you’re capable of doing more with what you’ve been given. It’s the…

“I’ve got to try this”

“no regrets”

“all or nothing”

“I’m all in”

…talk that we often give one another and yet when it’s time to act upon it, we do nothing.

I’m done talking.

I’ve got to try this. No, regrets. It’s all or nothing. I’m all in.

I’m extending my warmest invitation for you to take a look at the conference site. Sign up for the newsletter to stay connected and learn about other moms and their stories and even share your own. You never know who YOU may inspire.

I’ll see you there.

The Parents

knowledgemaven:

Incredibly powerful story, please read.

Originally posted on Carter Library:

Morning_sun_coffee_newspaper_table_590Today, my mother is dead 13 years. One of the last things I promised her was that I would look after her husband. “When I’m gone,” she said, “he will have nobody.”

A few years later I was sitting in my mother’s kitchen, in her vacant chair, having coffee with her husband. I remember it was about nine in the morning and he was telling me how he needed some help in the house. “I had me an old n***** woman once …” he began, and I set my coffee cup hard on the table. He dipped his head, laughed, and tapped me on the arm. “Oh kid, lighten up,” he said, “I don’t mean nothin’.” A few minutes later he offered me a Little Debbie snack cake and told a joke. “There was this n***** …” the joke began. I said, “Knock it off, or I’m leaving.” He kept…

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You Put Your Right Hand In, You Take Your Right Hand Out…

I stumbled across an interesting image on the blogosphere some time ago. It’s the picture of two different sized circles, the smaller of the two is labeled “Your comfort zone” and the larger one labeled, “Where the magic happens.”

I’m pretty sure you’ve seen it.Komfortzone

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are different versions of it, but the message is the same.

Several weeks ago, I wanted to see what would happen if I left my comfort zone only for a minute and the result was not what I expected.

I wanted to start a Twitter chat.

Seems simple enough, right? You pick a hashtag, a day of the week, tell folks about it and then you’re up and running.

Bada bing! Bada boom!

Well, it’s not that simple. You see, for every Twitter chat happening there are probably dozens more going on at the same time, on the same day. At least that what I told myself as I took the first step.

So, I didn’t do it.

Then something happened. It was like I was on autopilot. I came up with my hashtag, picked a day of the week, time, and decided upon a frequency.

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I’ve been on Twitter, every Wednesday from Noon to 1pm Eastern Time at the hashtag #wymnchat.

The first time, I was pretty sure I would be talking to myself. I started tweeting, and before I knew it, someone showed up.

Recap of first Twitter chat  - we learned so much.

Recap of first Twitter chat – we learned so much.

The second time, I was still unsure but pressed on, and it was nothing but crickets for the first 10 minutes. Then someone showed up, and then another person. And then something said to me, look around you’re outside your comfort zone.

It’s pretty awesome out here – not quite magical but there’s still time yet. After all, that’s what it’s all about.

Join me for #wymnchat next Wednesday. I hope to see you there.

 

Photo used with permission.

Giving Yourself Permission To Dream . . .

I’m still on my resilience trek, and it’s pretty amazing. I’ve fallen down all over the place, tripped on my shoelaces, and even locked myself out once or twice.

See? Amazing. It’s okay; you can laugh.

That’s not the interesting part, what has turned out to be quite serendipitous are the women that I’m meeting along the way. Moms who are professionals and entrepreneurs or working from inside the home, they have all been my “sisters in arms.”

Looking around, I’ve seen women in different phases of life. Some are ahead of me, having raised their children or finished their careers and are trying to create their second life. Some are in the thick of it – like me – with multiple kids and a profession or business, and are realizing that work-life balance is a crock. Truth is for some of us, our work is our life, and integration is the key. For others, they’re just getting started and have erroneously pick up what so many of us believed when we began our mommy trek – that we were no longer a priority in our lives. Everyone else comes first; mom’s needs come last.

Again a crock.

I was recently in a precarious situation where I stood back-to-back with a mom. Failure was imminent, it surrounded us, or so it seemed. When we took a minute to assess what was going on we determined that the situation was really our own doing. I’m speaking metaphorically, of course.

We created the obstacles. We created the enemy.

We weren’t fighting anyone – we were fighting ourselves.

We thought we had evolved beyond the mommy guilt but realized that we still held on to the baggage we picked up at the beginning of our respective treks. There was an unspoken lie that attached itself to the foundation of the life we were creating; hindering us from becoming the women we’re trying to be. We bought into the notion that sacrifice means pursuing our dreams and ambitions stopped as soon as our children entered the world. Or if we fought to keep the embers of the dream alive, it was no longer something aspirational rather a burden that reminded us of what we couldn’t do.

Would it be selfish to take a few hours each morning to write or exercise or make homemade lavender soap? Would it be okay to take my career in a completely different direction and run the risk – not knowing how it’ll end? Would it be okay to start dancing again, go back to school, take art lessons or even move across the country to an unfamiliar place?

Only you can decide that. I just know that you do yourself a grave disservice if you don’t give yourself permission to savor the possibilities and all the wonderfulness that dreaming brings. And worse still – if you don’t act upon it in some regard. If you do nothing, it creates resentment and regret and the “what ifs” start playing target practice with our self-confidence.

When we dream, we honor our souls. When we dream, we evolve ourselves beyond the present moment. When we dream, we move closer to what could quite possibly be our life’s purpose. When we dream, we inspire our families to dream. The thing to remember is to bring them along for the journey.

What about you? Now that you can make your dreams come true, what are you going to do?

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This Is What Trust Looks Like …

They say things far away from you seem bigger than they really are. I think there’s truth to this because I’ve found that the longest distance is usually between where you are and where you want to be.

How do we make the connection? What will the end bring? What’s the process to get there?

  • Losing weight
  • Starting a new job
  • Waiting for a test result
  • Purchasing a new home
  • Growing that business
  • Reconnecting with an old friend

I think part of it — a large part actually – comes down to trust and where your trust is.   I had an interesting conversation with two of my sisters this week about trusting yourself. They had what seemed to be varying opinions, at first. My older sister said that she didn’t trust herself, rather she trusts the Christ in her completely and wholeheartedly. My baby sister said that she had to get still to hear what comes out of her Spirit.

I tend to agree with them both, and I wanted to come up with a way to visualize this. I needed to see it in my mind’s eye.

How do you know when you’ve completely trusted God and are not leaning on your own understanding?

I’ve got a couple of lofty goals set for this year, and the mere thought of them scares the bejeezus out of me.

Seriously, I get nauseous thinking about it.

Have you ever done this, dream so big you scare yourself?

There were two thoughts that immediately came to mind after I wrote my goals; the first was, “Yes! Let’s do this.” The second was, “Who do you think you are?”

In other words, “Yes Lord I trust you, but I have some concerns.”

What can I say, I’m human.

Then inspiration struck, and I was able to see it. I was able to see clearly see what trust looks like.

Imagine that you’re participating in a relay race, you’re second out of three runners and your leg is up. The first runner plants the baton firmly in your hand and without hesitation you push hard against the earth, a little unsure but still giving it your all. Rounding the corner, you see the anchor runner in position. As you approach, you extend your arm forward and try to make the connection.

Success. You’ve handed the baton off.

That’s trust. That’s faith.

I figured that my inspiration came from Him, so my goals come from Him. My responsibility is to train so that I’m ready for the race. I read my Bible, pray, meditate, try to be a blessing to others so that when it’s time for me to hand it back to Him I do so without hesitation. However, when I don’t condition properly, listen to the world and care about what they think, allow doubt and fear to creep in – I hesitate and rounding that corner becomes an even greater feat.

The connection seems harder to make. The goal seems far away.

So today, I’m in training. I’m getting ready for my race.

What about you, dear heart? What metaphor would you use to describe your trust in God?

Never In My Wildest Dreams…

“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” — Psalm 46: 5, NIV

I’m rocking a new word for the One Word 365 Challenge. The goal of this challenge is pretty simple, ditch the New Year’s resolution list and focus on one word that will define your year.

No pressure, right?

Last year it took me a few days to mull over the challenge. How could I choose a word to define a span of time that’s yet to happen? What if I wanted to change my word later – is that allowed? Trust me, I had about a million more questions and finally decided for 2014 my word would be, self-acceptance.

And what a year it was. I stayed the course, even when it was extremely hard to embrace me just as I am – and all my imperfections.

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I failed many times last year – many, many times at many, many things. The difference however was that I began to question myself. I decided to dig deeper because I needed to know why. Why am I not getting this? I did some real soul-searching trying to get to the root of the failures. Have you done this? Have you ever peeled back the layers on something personal to you to find a deeper meaning?

I learned that you just leave well enough alone. That if you fall, you just get back up and try again.

We seriously need to re-think that.

While you’re flat on your back pause a moment and ask the question: how did I get here? Why did this happen? What should I do better next time?

I didn’t do that before. I just jumped back in and kept trying; all the while questioning my purpose and His plan for my life.

The sentiment is sweet, but it just didn’t make logical sense.

See, it’s one thing to fail at something that you’ve never tried before. It’s a whole other ballgame when you consistently fail at something that you’ve done again, and again, and again… well you get the picture.

I have failed at friendships, diets, and business even at times parenting. And honestly, I don’t think I probably will ever be perfect at any of those things because I’ve decided once and for all not to embrace an ideal about them.

Fair-weathered friendships come and go, but I’m blessed to have a few women who I can call on if I need an ear or a hand and I would gladly do the same for them.

No more diets. I have an advocate/friend who’s a fitness expert, and her motto is: Decide and Commit. She’s right. Just simply do it, make the changes that you can keep for life.

Business? Well, I’ve been in my career for 17 years. Wow, did I just type that? So, I’m using some of my award-winning experience for myself. I am officially a small business owner.

And parenting, there are no perfect parents but there are perfect moments we share with our children. We used the past Chirstmas holiday to teach our children a valuable lesson about giving. It was hard for them but they bounced back just like their father and I always do.

There’s a word for this. It’s not brave, although I did contemplate this word again this year. And it’s not consistency – this was a close runner up.

The word is resilience.

Learning to try things from a difference angle, recalibrating as necessary, knowing that my falling doesn’t mean that I’m a failure. That’s resilience. That’s my word for 2015. What about you? What are your plans for this year? Have you chosen a word? Or words or even drafted a list? Share them with us.

Happy New Year! I pray that all of your heart’s desires are fulfilled and exceed your wildest expectations this year.

xoxo
Cece

Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now…

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…

“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.

————

“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…

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…

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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