Restoration

“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV)

Recently, I was watching an episode of “Property Brothers” on HGTV which happens to be one of my favorite shows. It is amazing to see the twin brothers, Jonathan and Drew Scott, restore and transform older homes into someone’s dream home. As I was watching, I began contemplating on how we as individuals also need restoration (it might seem like a weird analogy, but that is how I think!). Often times, we continuously pour into others (i.e., providing emotional support, sound advice, financial support, etc.), while at the same time, there is no one to reciprocate which results in us becoming physically run-down, emotionally overwhelmed, and spiritually bankrupt.

For the past several months, I had been extremely busy at work, involved in church activities, moving, and getting my new home in order. To put it mildly, I was overwhelmed with a capital O. Have you ever had the feeling you did not have anything else to give? Well, that was me. I love to serve others and I am a giver of my time; however, I have learned a valuable lesson–to pull back and restore myself by practicing self-care.

In an article titled, “Self-Care: 12 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself,” Tchiki Davis, Ph.D., provides the following strategies to implement self-care:

  1. Make sleep part of your routine. Sleep can have a huge effect on how you feel both emotionally and physically. Not getting enough can cause health issues.
  2. Take care of your gut. The types of foods you eat crucially impact the bacteria that live in your stomach resulting in negative or positive effects.
  3. Exercise daily. In addition to losing weight, exercise can boost your mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
  4. Eat right. Eating right can ward off weight gain or diseases and keep your mind working and alert.
  5. Say no to others; say yes to self-care. Once you learn to politely say no, you will begin to feel more empowered, and you will also have more time for self-care.
  6. Take a self-care trip. Getting away for a weekend every now and then can help you disconnect, relax, and be rejuvenated.
  7. Get outside. Spending time outside can help you reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and be more mindful.
  8. Let a pet help you. From giving unconditional love to providing companionship, pets can be beneficial for self-care.
  9. Get organized. Getting organized is often the first step to becoming a healthier you, because it allows you to figure out exactly what you need to do to take better care of yourself.
  10. Cook at home. At least once a week, consider making a healthy meal for yourself or your entire family.
  11. Read a book. Instead of scrolling your phone, read a book on self-care. It could improve your mood and also help you to stay more present and mindful.
  12. Schedule your self-care time and guard it with everything you have. It is extremely important to plan regular self-care time. Moments alone can help you to ponder the best way to move forward in your life and keep you grounded.

I would like to add one more strategy to Tchiki’s list:

Do not allow anyone to steal your peace. If someone displays negative energy, remove yourself from the situation. This includes your adult children, family, friends or whomever. In her book, “In Pursuit of Peace,” Joyce Meyer states, “One cannot enjoy life without first having peace. Without it, we live in turmoil–always worried, anxious, and upset about something.”

With being so busy, I had contemplated ending my blog, but every time the thought surfaced, a reader would leave a comment expressing how my blog continues to encourage them. I believe this was God’s way of letting me know quitting was not the solution. Please know, your comments minister to me just as my blog minsters to you. I appreciate your encouragement–it gives me the fortitude to continue doing what I believe God has called me to do.

This past week, I finally felt like I could breathe again. I now know the solution was not to end my blog–it was to restore myself and practice self-care. How many times have individual’s aborted their calling because they did not take the time to restore their mind, body, and soul?

On Sunday, after church, I went to my Zumba class, cooked dinner, and spent the remainder of the day watching Hallmark movies. I did not engage my brain in anything mentally exhausting–I actually took the time to be with me. We can all be in the business of restoration just like the Property Brothers; however, we should be restoring our temples which houses our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Let’s all practice self-care to avoid being run-down–let this be a season of peace and restoration.

Please watch the following message from my friend, Pamela Losada, a Health and Emotional Wellness Coach:

As always, I look forward to reading your comments, and please share with a friend.

 

 

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A New Season

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and time to to sew; a time to keep silence, and time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

(Fagus sylvatica)

After ending my two-month writing hiatus, I began contemplating and meditating on what topic to share with you. The word, “seasons” repeatedly came to mind. As I have entered into a new season of my life, I thought this topic was most appropriate. Just as nature’s seasons will change, so will the seasons of our lives. As Ecclesiastes states above, to everything there is a season–a time for every purpose.

Life is consistent rhythmical ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys, as well as sunshine and rain. Some life events are unavoidable and yet others are self-imposed by a string of bad choices–I have experienced both. I have withstood many seasons during my lifetime. There have been seasons of insecurity; there have been seasons of pride and accomplishment; there have been seasons of rejection and alienation; there have been seasons of great joy as in the birth of my children; there have been seasons of happiness as on my wedding day and yet, there were seasons of heartbreak as when I became a divorcee; there have been seasons of grief and heartache, and there have been seasons of peace and joy, just to name a few.

Last summer, my girlfriend and I took a trip to the beach. One morning while sitting on the beach enjoying the peace and serenity of the ocean, I prayed and asked God how I should move forward with my life. My youngest son had recently graduated from high school and I knew I was entering a different phase of my life. A couple of days after returning home from my trip, I clearly heard a voice telling me to sell my house. I know you might think I am crazy, but I knew it was God ordering my steps. I told God that I needed confirmation that this was what I was hearing and He confirmed it several times. I had raised my son’s in this home–my youngest son was two years old when we moved there. There were many birthday parties, Christmas parties, girlfriend gatherings, graduation parties, coaching sessions and happy times. There were unhappy times as well–it was where my marriage ended and it was where my mom took her last breath. Deep down in my spirit, I knew it was time for me to close that chapter of my life and begin a new one; therefore, I did exactly what that small voice told me to do. I sold my home of 16 years carrying all of the wonderful and not so wonderful memories with me. Sometimes, you have to let go of the old in order to move toward the purpose or assignment God has destined for you. I thank God for this new season–a new address, a new phone number, and a new beginning!

If you are experiencing sickness, grief, disappointment,  heartache, heartbreak, or whatever you are facing, know that it is only for a season and there is a new beginning right around the corner. “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalms 30:5). Be encouraged!

As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and please share with a friend.

 

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New Things

“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 42:9

I am definitely a creature of habit. As a result, I have committed to trying new things. I love visiting new restaurants, but the problem is, almost mechanically, I will order the same entree’ each and every time. Why do I order the same meal every time? It is safe and I like safe–I know I won’t be wasting my money or be disappointed. I came to the realization that it may be economically sound; however, it is boring and mundane. Although it may be a challenge, I am committed to experiencing something new on the menu.

Despite my mundane food choices, I have welcomed some new experiences. Because I am accustomed to patronizing the same grocery store (I know the exact aisle that contains the item I need), I decided to visit a couple of new ones in my neighborhood; I joined a new gym and exercise class called Pound–a cardio exercise session using Ripstix; and a few months ago, a friend and I took salsa lessons which I thoroughly enjoyed. These activities may not be mind-blowing, but they are unusual to my normal routine.

In her book, “Year of Yes,” Shonda Rhimes tells of a conversation she is having with her sister, Delores, while preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. Shonda is the creator, head writer, and executive producer of such television shows as Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. In her book, Shonda is telling Delores about some of the amazing opportunities she has been afforded. Delores, in turn, asks Shonda why hasn’t she taken advantage of the invites (to events, parties, talk shows, etc.) and added, “You never say yes to anything.” Shonda admitted the words were harsh, but true. Her excuses were that she was busy with two jobs, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal (at that time), and she was a single mother with three children. This was the beginning of her making a conscious decision to say “yes” to everything for one year resulting in the writing of her book. During that year, Shonda interviewed with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday and spoke on TED Talks where she talked about saying “yes” to the things she feared.

Do you live a very routine, mundane life? You get up, get dressed, go to work, come home, have dinner, attend to the needs of your spouse and/or children, and go to bed only to start the routine all over again the next day. How about trying something new and different? In an article in the Huffington Post titled, “A Look at the Incredible Benefits of Trying New Things,” Larry Alton, CEO of Alton Enterprises, provides the following benefits:

  1. Overcome fear. Fear is the one thing that keeps us from trying new things. We’re afraid of the investment, consequences, and worst-case scenarios. What if I don’t like it?
  2. Get to know yourself better. We think we know ourselves, then we try new things and realize we have unique likes and dislikes that were previously unknown.
  3. Stimulate creativity. When you try new things, you put your brain into unique situations that force it to really think. This stimulates creativity, which eventually rubs off in other areas of your life.
  4. Make you more marketable. Your desire to try new things should be centered on you and your life goals. A commitment to forging new life experiences makes you more marketable to the world.

Alton offers five things to try this summer:

  1. Learn a new sport. Maybe it’s time to learn a new sport and physically challenge yourself in ways that you haven’t before.
  2. Travel solo. Solo travel is highly beneficial. It teaches you independence, allows you to set the itinerary, and provides life lessons on how to handle different situations.
  3. Go speed dating.  You’ll experience a whirlwind of emotions and may learn something about yourself along the way.
  4. Cook for a week. Try cooking every single meal you eat for an entire week. From this experience, you will learn new skills and will come to appreciate the patience and rewards that come with cooking.
  5. Start a side hustle. Try starting a new side hustle this summer. Turn your skill into a business. Your business acumen will increase and you will have fun being innovative at the same time.

As I agree with numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5, number 3 will take some convincing. If I ever experience speed dating, I will definitely include the experience in my blog! I challenge you to make this your “Year of Yes” and do something you have never done before, whether it will be visiting a new store, restaurant, exercise class or whatever it is–just try something new. You do not have to do anything death defying such as bungee jumping or parasailing–new things can be something simple.

I hope this blog has ministered to you as it has simultaneously ministered to me. I will challenge myself to release my boring, routine habits and say “yes” to new things and experience many of the opportunities life has to offer. How about you?

As always, I would love to hear your comments and please share with a friend.

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Failure is a Teacher

“When people fall down, do they not get up? When someone turns away, do they not return?” Jeremiah 8:4 (NIV)

Happy New Year! It is a new year and I am excited about the many new opportunities and experiences this year will bring. I have set several goals to accomplish this year and the first one is to obtain my securities license. I shared with you in my last blog that I was one point shy of passing the exam. I believe we learn from our failures. Failure is not a life sentence–it is an experience where we may have fallen a little short. In actuality, we do not know how many exams our doctors, nurses, attorneys, professors, or bankers failed before they became successful. Nor, do we know how many obstacles a married couple of  30 years had to go through before it became a happy successful partnership. Society tends to share successes, but tends to avoid sharing the difficulties and failures. I truly believe what God has for you–it is for you. If you did not pass the exam, receive the home loan, get the new position, or the relationship did not work out, it was not for you at this appointed time. In due season, it will come to fruition if you persevere. Romans 8:28 (NKJV) states, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God; to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Over the holiday, my niece and I traveled out of town. In between our girly chatter, we listened to Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming,” on Audible. In the book, Michelle describes how she fastidiously studied and prepared for her bar exam. Several weeks after taking the exam, Michelle called home to ask her father to check the mail to see if her exam results from the Illinois State Bar Association had arrived–they had. She asked her father to open the envelope and read her the results. Her father informed her that she had failed. Michelle was crushed because she had never failed a test in her life. I have to admit, I felt much better about my failure after hearing of Michelle’s shortcoming. Just think, if Michelle Obama had given up after failing the bar on her first attempt, the trajectory of her life would have been drastically altered. She would not have been strategically placed at Sidley Austin Law Firm where she met Barack Obama who became our 44th President of the United States; in turn, we would not have experienced her as our First Lady.

What if Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, Michael Jordan, or Steve Jobs decided to quit after their failures. All of their contributions to this world would have been nonexistent. In an article titled, “15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way to Success,” Sebastian Kipman shares what may have been considered their epic failures.

  • Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore. During a Harvard commencement speech in 2013, Winfrey quoted, “There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”
  • Disney’s former newspaper editor told him he lacked imagination  and had no good ideas. Disney quoted, “I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because, I’ve never had any fear in my whole life even when we’ve been near collapse and all of that. I’ve never been afraid.”
  • Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Jordan’s famous quote stated, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
  • Before founding Apple with Steve Wozniak, Jobs was a college dropout; was a fired tech executive, and an unsuccessful businessman. Jobs quoted, “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”

An article written by the Power of Positivity provides “10 Things to Learn from Failure:”

  1. Failure builds character. Failure teaches us more about ourselves and builds character better than success ever could.
  2. Failure creates opportunity. How many times have you failed at something only to discover another opportunity? Maybe it was a failed relationship that lead you to someone great. Maybe it was a job that didn’t suit you and led you to a better one.
  3. Failure is a great teacher. Failure has a way of showing what your strengths and weaknesses are while motivating you to correct them, in any area of your life–academics, play, relationships, etc.; often the driving force behind success.
  4. Failure instills courage. Most people are scared of failure–failure requires courage. Whether the failure experiences was anticipated or not, you’ll need to toughen up a bit to get through it.
  5. Failure teaches perseverance. When experiencing failure, its very easy to give up. It takes guts and determination to keep driving forward.
  6. Failure spawns creativity. Nothings spurs creativity like failure. Artists and creators know that if something doesn’t work out, they must tap into their vast reservoir of creative talent to create something truly unique.
  7. Failure requires motivation. The most successful people are simply the ones who didn’t give up. Finding the motivation to believe in yourself and press on is vital.
  8. Failure is acceptable. In the midst of failure, it is never a good feeling. Failure is acceptable–lack of effort is not.
  9. Failure encourages exploration. As Steve Jobs demonstrated, failure causes you to explore other avenues. When one things doesn’t work out, seek another.
  10. Failure teaches and strengthens resilience. Through the discomfort and uncertainty of failure, one will be better able to take on any of life’s challenges as they come.

During last year, something may not have gone as planned. In 2019, I come to tell you–get up, dust yourself off, and get back on that horse and try again. I have failed at relationships, exams, didn’t get the position at work, and at times failed as a parent; however, I will never stop trying. Abraham Lincoln once stated, “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” So, let’s try, try, and try again. This is your year–let’s do great things!

As always, I would love to hear your comments and please share with a friend.

 

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The Waiting Room

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

If you have lived in this world long enough, I am sure you have waited for something a time or two, such as a deferred dream of owning your own business or home, writing a book, obtaining a degree or license, or even starting your own blog. These periods of delay are known as waiting rooms. Do you become frustrated because of the delay or do you become more determined to endure through the process? In his book, Know Your Why: Finding and Fulfilling Your Calling in Life, Ken Costa stated, “I have noticed over the years that people fail not because of a lack of dreams but because of a lack of determination. It can be difficult to endure the tediousness of the waiting room, and those who lack the determination to see it through often walk out in frustration.”

Costa reminds us of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, where Dr. King spoke of his dream of racial justice in the United States and worldwide. Dr. King was determined to see his dream fulfilled; however, there had to be numerous times in his life when he felt like he was stuck in the waiting room. Dr. King knew he had a calling from God, and he refused to let that dream die–even when it seemed impossible.

Being transparent, I want to share with you what sparked this blog post. I believe my calling is to offer financial assistance/advice to those in need. So in order to show myself approved, I had been copiously studying for my Securities Industries Essentials Exam (SIE) exam–one of the exams needed to obtain my securities license. I had been on lock down for days studying my little heart out. On the morning of the exam, I was very confident that I would pass. To make a long story short–after taking the exam, I was one point shy of passing the exam. Did you hear me??? ONE POINT!!! For anyone who knows me, I am an over achiever and failing is not in my vocabulary. Needless to say, my ego was severely bruised. However, I have to tell you when I finally got over myself, God gave me the topic for this blog post. He reminded me that my life is not my own–my calling is to use my experiences to help others. For now, I am in the waiting room until my dream comes to fruition. “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Philippians 4:11 NKJV)

I look forward to retaking the exam and I am confident that I will pass on the next go around. Just to think–if I had passed, I would not be writing this blog post nor being a source of encouragement for my readers. I am very grateful for supportive friends who served as my source of encouragement and talked me off of the ledge (as one of my friends so vividly stated).

Are your dreams and pursuits in limbo? Trust me–anything worth having will not come easy. As 2018 comes to a close and we begin a new year, I encourage you to stay steadfast and determined in whatever your endeavor may be–stick to whatever you believe God is calling you to do. Remember, it is the waiting room where He is preparing us. “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 NKJV)

Wishing you a warm and safe snowy Sunday. Also, since this will be my last blog for the year, I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! As always, I would love to hear your comments and please share with a friend.

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I Won’t Complain

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearer.” Ephesians 4:29 NKJV

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the nail shop and found myself seated beside a chatty little woman. Normally, my nail time is my peace time, but for some reason, I decided to strike up a conversation with this woman. She was having her nails polished in black, all except the ring finger which she requested be polished in gray with a ribbon painted on it. Out of curiosity, I asked her was she getting the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness. She replied that she was getting a purple ribbon for her cancer. At the time, I did not know what the purple ribbon symbolized but whatever it was, this woman was owning it. I now know that it symbolizes pancreatic cancer. During the conversation, the chatty little woman told me her name was Christin. She shared that she had recently been diagnosed with cancer and her prognosis would be revealed at her next doctor’s appointment on upcoming Tuesday. Christin shared with the nail tech that she may have to return to have the nail tips removed if surgery was imminent, but for now, she was going to enjoy being pampered and getting her nails done. Christin also went on to share with me that she also had a brain disease. I was sitting there looking dumbfounded at this extraordinarily positive woman who seemingly didn’t have a care in the world. There are not many times that I have been left speechless, but this was one of those times. I was in absolute awe–I could only say to her I will pray for your recovery. She told me thank you, but that she will be fine because she was too stubborn not to make it. Christin admitted that she had her moments, but she wanted to be strong for her kids. I cannot imagine what she was going through, but I admired her strength, courage, and for not allowing her adversity to enthrall her life. I have no idea if Christin was a Christian or not and it doesn’t matter to me because she was a walking testimony–her actions ministered to me.

As I thought of Christin, the scripture that came to mind was Proverbs 3:5-6–“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” After that encounter with Christin in the nail shop, all of my problems seemed so minute and superficial. I was also reminded of the song, “I Won’t Complain,” by gospel songwriter, the late Rev. Paul Jones. The lyrics state, “All of my good days outweigh by bad days so I won’t complain.” Ironically at the age of 30, Rev. Jones was murdered, but his legacy still lives on encouraging others through his song.

In a blog titled “How to Keep a Positive Attitude in Adversity,” Michael Kold provides the following five tools when facing adversity:

  1. Take time to go for a walk. When you take a walk and give yourself time to think and breathe the fresh air out in nature, it can often work wonders.
  2. Focus on your goal. One of the greatest challenges in adversity is the fact that it shifts your focus. Write your goal down for your immediate future while thinking about how to reach it. When you do this, it will change your attitude.
  3. Focus on solutions. Far too many people focus on problems rather than opportunities for solutions. Instead of talking about your hard times, start talking about the available solutions. Stop asking why you have adversity, and start thinking about how you can change hard times to good times–redirect your focus.
  4. Be inspired. You have the opportunity to change your focus by doing things such as talking to a good friend who can cheer you up. You can also read a book or listen to an inspiring audio book about people who have succeeded. This will make a BIG difference in the way you think when you are faced with adversity.
  5. Remind yourself that nothing lasts forever. Nothing lasts forever, and at some point, the circumstances in your life will change so things go your way again. When you remind yourself of this, you ignite a hope in yourself. A hope that slowly but surely will change your attitude.

Despite what I go through, I know that my good days outweigh my bad days and for that I am grateful. I want to thank Christin and the legacy of Rev. Paul Jones for being a reminder that what I may be currently going through could be worse. If we continue living, we will face some type of challenge; however, it is how we choose to see that challenge that will make the difference. Christina did not see a death sentence–she saw an opportunity to be a living example of how to maintain a positive attitude in the midst of adversity. Be encouraged!

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