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.

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.

Your Destiny Is Too Important To Give Up . . .

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“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.

This Is What Trust Looks Like …

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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…

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“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.

Believe me, I’m flawed.quotescover-PNG-73

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