The Value of Self-Worth…

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“Your value does not decrease based upon someone’s inability to see your true worth.”

“How much is this?” I heard behind me. Without skipping a beat, the sales clerk said evenly, “Is there a tag on it, ma’am?” A few seconds of awkward silence passed and the woman responded unconvinced, “… but is this really the price?” The sales clerk and I locked eyes, and I offered an empathetic smile.

How often has this happened to us? We present our best to the world, and it’s somehow perceived that the value of it is negotiable. That what we’re offering may be too much for what they had in mind or not enough and does not meet their expectations.

It’s as simple as this, people either add or take away from your life and if they’re trying to devalue you then they’re not making things better for you. Having your worth questioned might not be obvious so be mindful of what is happening around you.

If you believe you have to shrink yourself to fit in, you’re discounting yourself.
If you are afraid of not being liked or accepted by an individual or group of people, you’re discounting yourself.
If you’re underappreciated in any scenario (and you know when you are) and yet continue to operate in that capacity, you’re discounting yourself.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past or what has happened. You’re the only one who can maintain your self-worth.

The adage is true; we do teach people how to treat us. When I finally made the decision to take better care of myself, I began attracting like-minded people. Ambitious people. And I find that the more I operate in a space that grounds me in His word, He sends angels to protect me and remind me of who I am.

My self-worth is not tied to what I see in this world.
Your self-worth is not tied to what you see in this world either.

So the store clerk? Well, it turns out she was the owner of the boutique and she said to the customer with the sweetest southern drawl, “ma’am, there is no discount. That is a good price and the price stands.”

She saw the value in the product she offered and stood her ground because she knew she was worth it.

It Really Is About The Journey . . .

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God is within her, she will not fail; God will help her at break of day.

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Collage of speakers and some of the attendees.

Psalm 46:5 (NIV)

“So, how’d it go?” my friend asked with wide-eyed enthusiasm. We both had events to happen the weekend of November 7 – she hosted her younger sister’s first baby shower, and I hosted my first women’s conference.

“It was amazing,” I started. “It far exceeded my expectations.”

The truth is my faith waivered the entire journey.

The. Entire. Journey.

Leading up to the actual event, I probably cried about once twice a day. At first they were tears of uncertainty. For a long time I felt like I was swimming in the depths of the ocean, I was full of fear. I thought I had nothing on which to anchor. I thought, maybe God did not give me the vision to start the Faith.Hope.Love. Mom Conference. Maybe I concocted the whole ding-dang thing, and I heard what I wanted to hear and not what He called me to do.

The tears then morphed into disappointed tears because I took a leap of faith and did something that I would NEVER do: I asked other people for help. I heard the word “no” too many times to count in the past ten months – I lost track after about the millionth time. I diligently called, emailed, Skyped and physically met with dozens of companies and people across Georgia and was turned down again and again and again.

It’s funny now but I realized toward the end of my journey that fear was going to be there regardless. It wasn’t something I could easily get rid of, fear would have to come along; I just couldn’t let it dictate how I operated my life. And the disappointment, well that comes with the territory. As a writer, you hear no a lot, I mean a lot because maybe the timing is off, or there’s no budget to support your project, or they’re just genuinely not interested, and that’s okay. I took the rejections personally, and I shouldn’t have. I felt like they were saying no to me, but they weren’t.

The woman-owned business or centric organizations that supported the inaugural event.

The woman-owned business or women-centric organizations that supported the inaugural event.

Truth?

My asks were misplaced. It wasn’t about reaching out to people and companies for help; it was about re-training me to turn to Him for my needs.

All of them.

When I realized that, my dialogue changed, I was no longer asking for help and my self-worth, my identity, my wanting to be brave was not tied to their response. Brene Brown says in Rising Strong that, “the most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness. We must reclaim the truth about our lovability, divinity, and creativity.”

I didn’t need their validation. I was on a mission from God, and that was enough.

And “no” eventually turned to “yes” – just enough of them. I aligned myself with several woman-owned businesses that sold their wares, and either discounted or volunteered their services.

Me (turquoise shirt) surrounded by the 2015 speakers and host. L to R, Diana Watley, Dr. Maria Barnes, Egypt Sherrod, me, Kendra Morman (host), Dr. Roxanne Donovan. Missing Tracy Nicole.

Me (turquoise shirt) surrounded by the 2015 speakers and host. L to R, Diana Watley, Dr. Maria Barnes, Egypt Sherrod, me, Kendra Morman (host), Dr. Roxanne Donovan. Missing Tracy Nicole.

The speakers were amazing, and so was our awardee. We honored a local businesswoman for her impact on influencing generations of Atlanta women. I proudly watched as everything unfold. I was touched when the attendees shared bits of their personal stories. I began praising God in the corner because He did it – through him I created a safe and judgment free place where moms felt they could rediscover themselves and lead intentional lives.

I wouldn’t trade the past year for anything. I’m emerging wiser and more resilient, and I look forward to doing it again next year.

 

Dr. Joyce Irons our 2015 Inspirational Award Recipient

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 Are You Without Your Emotions?

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It’s ‘Why Not’ Wednesday and today’s no fail message is about shifting perspectives.

Have you ever heard the expression ‘separate the wheat from the chaff’? It essentially means that you separate the things that are useful and purposeful from the things that are not worthy.

Often times we become our emotions, internalizing them and using them to describe who we are – not our current state of being. Or we become our problems, and tie our identities to them, forgetting that it’s only (and always) temporary. When these things happen, we focus solely on our emotions or on our problems.

Who are we without our emotions or problems?!

Consider this for today: while it’s never easy to objectively assess your situation, it is possible.

Try to understand as your emotions change or problems arise that it is your current circumstance and it does not define your self-worth. In other words, practice keeping the good stuff (i.e., the lessons, the relationships, the stillness, the connection to God) and forget the stuff that does not serve you.

Shift your perspective.

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‘Why Not’ Wednesday asks the question: if you couldn’t fail, what would you do? 

30 Rock Redux

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“No one forgets the truth, they just get better at lying.” – Revolutionary Road

There are nuggets of truth everywhere you look.  In innocent conversations with children, in watching elderly couples hold hands during their morning walk, in selfies (self-portraits), and even in the Starbucks drive-thru.keep

Venti, non-fat, no foam, no water, 6 pumps, extra hot, chai tea latte, please.

Seriously?

There are even nuggets of truth in the media we watch. I know, by and large mediated messages have gone through the spin cycle, and we are presented with versions of truth and reality that are supposed to represent truth and reality.

Apparently they’re not the same thing.

It can be confusing if you’re not paying attention.

The same can be said about getting old and growing old.

Apparently they’re not the same thing either.

I don’t know what it is about milestone birthdays or birthdays with digits that end in zero that bring about introspection. Could it be that it’s a period in your life where a reflective pause is instinctive; it feels like a natural extension of what we should do; or is it a learned behavior because our culture is so age-sensitive?

Regardless, as I have approached my 40th birthday today, I realize that I ROCKED my 30s. I can say proudly that I:

  • Renewed my relationship with God;
  • Married a kind man;
  • Gave birth to incredible children;
  • Rekindled my love for writing; I am a writer;
  • Learned to take professional risks without having to endure personal sacrifices;
  • Started volunteering, and mentoring more, and
  • Learned to say EXACTLY what’s on my mind without fear of judgment or repercussion.

I’m not perfect. I also:

  • Failed miserably at diets, over and over and over…
  • Started running, gave up and am trying again
  • Would not adapt to new fashion trends (I refuse to wear ‘stripper shoes’ – platform heels, sorry, not going to do it);
  • Failed at friendships, some were toxic, but I lost a good one;
  • Received my first rejection letter from a publisher (actually, I’m quite proud of that);
  • And at times I allowed fear to stop me from moving forward.

See? Not perfect.

Today, I wholeheartedly:

  • Embrace my age – 40 is not the new 30. 40 is 40, and I’m alright with that.
  • Cherish where I am in life – I started with HUMBLE beginnings. HUMBLE.
  • Choose to forgive myself and those who have wronged me every day (Luke 7:47).
  • Accept compliments and pats on the back because I deserve them.
  • Look fear square in the face, and while I may still be afraid at times, I won’t let it stop me.
  • Prefer a simple cup of tea.

Tell me, on your last milestone birthday (or even as part of your New Year’s Resolution) what truths have you learned? Are you living them?

Back In The Saddle

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“Courage is being scared to death — and saddling up anyway.” — John Wayne

Walking into a gym full of incredibly fit people is probably one the biggest vulnerabilities of my life.

Image used with permission iStockPhotos.

Image used with permission iStockPhotos.

I feel exposed. I’m wearing my issues for everyone to see.

I recently paid a visit to a large fitness chain, and before I could inhale to say three words, three people approached me.

Yikes!

I had the script laid out in my mind: I’m looking for a personal trainer.

One of the associates asked me to follow her to her desk. As we sat, I took in my environment; the music blared with an intense repetitive rhythm, people were standing around talking casually, and one lone soul was giving it her all on a treadmill.

The associate’s desk was in complete disarray, papers were scattered everywhere, and there were a series of crumbs that led to a half eaten muffin.

Wow.

At my protest, she took my personal information. “It’s just to get you in our system so we can start your tour,” she assured me between bites of her muffin.

Sure… and Candy Land is an actual place, lady.

I decided to be a good sport and go along for the ride. You never know, I thought, maybe I could learn something new.

I did. I learned what I didn’t want.

I realized that she wasn’t hearing me. She too had her own agenda and was looking for a sale. I, however, was looking for accountability. I knew it wasn’t going to work.

So I left.

It wasn’t the muffin’s fault.

Surprisingly a day later, I found a fitness boot camp with personal trainers in proximity to my home.

Sweet joy.

While it’s hard enough to look at something that you really want to do and muster up the courage to get started; it’s another thing to have done something, lose your way and then find the courage to start again.

And so I’m back.

Back to working out.

Back to actively writing again (I had a terrible bout of writer’s block).

Back on track.

Giddy up.