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.

How To Rise Above It All . . .

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I can’t help but think that in some place in the distant past, there was a woman who was just like me. Maybe she had the same cocoa colored skin, the same kink in her hair with flecks of gray, the same fullness in her lips and uneasiness in her eyes that hoped for a better tomorrow.

Maybe she worked on a cotton farm or was a cook in someone’s kitchen. Or maybe she was a domestic and made beds, and tended to other people’s children for a living, or was even a seamstress or maybe she couldn’t work outside the home at all.

I’m thinking maybe in the not too distant past she would daydream like me and stare out windows, big and small wanting the world to be safer for her sons and daughters. Thinking if she smiled enough, was kind enough, loved the Lord with all her heart that the world around her might – just might – change.

If I could tell her something, I would tell her that I know her heart ache. I understand her pain, and while the craziness of the world may appear to limit her abilities because of how she looks and who they think she is, that she’s unlimited in the will of God.

I’ve been on my knees in prayer a lot in the past two weeks, desperate for answers, wanting to understand why there’s so much chaos in the world but slowly I changed the conversation with God. I’m not asking why anymore; I can’t. My mother wanted to know why, my grandmother wanted to know why, my great grandmother wanted to know why.

I cannot ask why anymore.

I know now that to rise above the problems of this world my place is to fall on my knees in His presence. And when I rise, I do so with the full armor of God.

I came across this beautiful song that summed up perfectly where my heart longs to remain. It blessed me so, and I hope it blesses you too.

Touch The Sky – by Hillsong United

 

You are a redemptive story ….

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“It’s been a long time since we’ve been alone,” my sister said to me as we got into her car. “Too long,” I agreed and fastened my seatbelt. Despite the grim reason for our road trip, our movements and demeanor were light.

We were headed to our hometown to pay our last respects to our biological father. I guess I frame it as “biological” because unfortunately, he was not a consistent presence in our lives. Our connection was at best was … biological. I’ve written about my life without him before. I wished for more, but it didn’t happen the way I hoped.

Join the conversation online #worthliving and follow @marydemuth on Twitter and Instagram

Join the conversation online #worthliving and follow @marydemuth on Twitter and Instagram

During the 2-hour ride, we caught up with each other’s lives, laughed a little and even found ourselves at one point listening to an audio book I started. I looked at my sister with great admiration. Next to me was a woman who was beautiful, resilient, and a creative soul with a family of her own. A far cry from the chubby little girl whom I played jump rope, chased seagulls and drank Pepsi in the hot Carolina sun with.

And then it happened.

The conversation we both managed to avoid from the onset of everything that happened.  We talked about what his death meant to us. More importantly, we talked about what his life meant to us. While we managed to make it to the ceremony and back home to our respective families, I felt that the conversation was far from over. I still had a need to explore my feelings about this. Around that time I received an email from the author Mary DeMuth who was developing a launch team for her newest book “Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love For You Makes You Worthy.”

Without thinking, I replied to her email and asked to sign up. I received an advanced copy of the book, and as I began reading, I found myself stuck on this sentence for days:

“I lived all those years of my childhood believing I was unworthy of protection, unworthy of affection, unworthy of attention, unworthy of applause, unworthy of nice things.”

– Mary DeMuth

Picture of Mary DeMuth's Book: Worth Living

Mary’s Book along with my FAVORITE mug.

I think I re-read that sentence well over a dozen times. Probably two dozen, if I’m completely honest. I highlighted the text. I rewrote it in my journal and stared at the words as if they were the beginning and end of everything for me. I never knew anyone else could feel that sense of worthlessness I did as a kid. There was always something in the back of my mind that made me believe I wasn’t worthy. It’s the thought by which I hinged everything and how I lived my life.

I revealed this to my dad in an intense conversation one day. I hesitantly explained that his lack of trying to be in my life made me feel like I wasn’t worth the effort — to which he responded with a weary, “I’m sorry, baby.”

But here’s my truth, I didn’t have the type of relationship I wanted with my dad on earth, but I have a heavenly Father, who took care of all of my needs. Every. Single. One. If I told you where I came from to how I live now … it’s only God. This I believe.

“Worth Living” helped me during this grieving period. The lies that we all believe about ourselves should be overshadowed by the ten truths she talks about in her book:

  • You are wildly loved.
  • You are more than a to-do list.
  • You are uncaged.
  • You are weakly strong.
  • You are secure.
  • You are beautiful.
  • You are chosen.
  • You are destined for impact
  • You are worth more than a paycheck.
  • You are a redemptive story.

My connection to Mary was a divine connection. I’m convinced of that. I wanted to endorse her book in this way because I believe with all my heart that God gives you what you need when you need it. Worth Living was a beautiful reminder to me that I am a redemptive story. I am worthy of God’s love, and so are you.

Mary’s also planning on hosting a conference this fall called, The Re-story Conference, go here to learn all about 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

It’s time to rethink your story

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Read. This. Book. If you have not read Liz’s book, Big Magic … please do.

“…You have treasures hidden within you – extraordinary treasures – and so do I, and so does everyone around you. And bringing those treasures“…You have treasures hidden within you – extraordinary treasures – and so d to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think small.”

From “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert

“Why would you even do this?” my friend said completely unconvinced. I was hurt. Her words stung because I’ve been venting the successes and challenges of orchestrating an event I’m planning to her for months. Recently I revealed some lessons learned about this process, and she exploded with frustration. “Seriously, I love you but you think too big.” The conversation from that point was a blur. All I heard was, “you think too big.” For a nanosecond, I let her words sink in and then I had to remind myself that thinking big has always served me well.

The lesson I shared was faith and self-love are important — they’re vital, but it’s hope that lights the pathway. Hope anchors us, it propels us forward. Hope clears the path. What I know for sure is that anything you’re thinking of doing right now in this moment with your life has always been with you. You may have just discovered it, but it has always been planted in you. In Christianity, we’re taught that “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”1 In Jewish culture, it has been said “Even if I knew that I would die tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today.”2

So why would I even do this?

  • It’s because instead of waiting for something miraculous to happen in my life, I know that I’m the miracle, and it’s my responsibility to make it happen
  • It’s because I’ve got to believe that I’m more than my current circumstance
  • It’s because I’ve got to be an example to my children that waking dreams do come true
  • It’s because I define success in my life, and my journey is my own

What do you think? Why do you think big? or not?  I want to hear from you.

Delicious Uncertainty

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“Tell me all about it,” Judith said with wide-eyed enthusiasm, we met at a function a few months before and finally reconnected. I knew she was a good person right away; I felt it in my bones. Both Judith and I are planning events in the same season, and we’ve tried to be supportive of one another. But I hit a snag in the road, my ticket sales stalled and I felt stuck, so I reconnected with Judith for some advice.

“It’s going okay,” I mumbled trying to convince myself taking a quick sip of my coffee. I decided to come clean and leveled with her. “Look. Truth is, I don’t know if I’m doing this right.”

She listened intently and even finished some of my sentences.

“I called, met with them and then…”

“…You didn’t hear back, yeah I know,” she said nodding.

A wave of relief came over me.

“Yes, exactly! What am I doing wrong?”

“Nothing. You seem like you’re doing the right things.”

And then she described the challenges she was facing. As she continued, my body rocked with nervous excitement. She understood. She really understood. I had found a kindred spirit in Judith.

We both left our coffee meeting that day recharged and a little less deflated. And I left with another understanding. I realized I’m living with uncertainty. Oh, the agony of uncertainty. The not knowing. The elongated pauses. The appearance of nothingness.

It’s awful.

Getting from where you are to where you want to be seems thrilling when you have a plan. I thought I packed appropriately for anything. I was even ready to deal with shame gremlins that told me I couldn’t do it, but uncertainty … it’s awful.

Did I mention that?

So there in the middle of the coffee shop, I pulled out my notebook and tried to shed some light on my situation. Without thinking I wrote:

  • I am certain I am doing the best I can.
  • I am committed to this cause.
  • I am certain that I will see this through, even it’s just me and my husband sitting in a conference room.

I then realized that it all tied back to a seed I planted earlier this year. I said my one word would be resilience. I knew then I needed to learn how to bounce back, how to cope with stress and adversity, my stick-to-it-ness. I needed to work on my “grit” muscle. Well, here it is!

Me and my big mouth!

It sounds good when you say it, living it is just, ugh. I won’t say it.

Cheryl Strayed said it best in, Wild, she writes, “I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”

So here I am feasting on delicious uncertainty while flexing my resilience muscle. I see fear over in the corner but I won’t let that bastard win.

How do you cope with uncertainty?

Here’s a promo video completed for the conference, let me know what you think. And if you’re on Google, subscribe to the channel.

Giving Yourself Permission To Dream . . .

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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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