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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The Storm

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:23-26 ESV

On September 17, 2018, I left home in the afternoon to go out of town for my job. I had no way of knowing that a couple of hours later a tornado would hit my community. This tornado followed Hurricane Florence that punched the Carolinas with a devastating blow a few days prior. The storms have now blown over, but the devastation and lasting effects are evident–power outages, flooding, downed trees, damaged homes, and fatalities. As I looked at the news and saw the destruction resulting from the storms, I could not help but to think of how the storms of life can leave emotional devastation and cause damage as well. I began to ponder about the storms we endure in our own lives–financial storms, relationship storms, family storms, grief storms, health storms, addiction storms, and those storms we endure in our professional lives. The aftermath of a major storm calls for massive cleanup, just as it can be very difficult to pick up the pieces after an emotional storm as well.

Last Monday, I dodged the physical storm; however, there have been many storms in my life that I have been unable to dodge. Thirteen years ago, I was facing the storm of divorce again. At that point in my life, it felt like a Category 4 hurricane had hit my life and left such emotional devastation that I was not sure how I would maneuver past it. I felt like a failure–marriage was the one thing that I could not seem to get right. I was excelling at everything in my life, but marriage. Today, I can honestly thank God because during this storm, I found ME! Before the storm of divorce, I could only identify myself as a wife and mother. Now, I can confidently say that I am a strong, powerful, empowered, creative woman who knows that possibilities are limitless. I am better emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially. Thirteen years ago, I could not have boldly expressed this. I believe God uses storms in our lives to draw us closer to Him and to make us better. Do not discount the storm–ride it out! Because of that storm, I have ministered to others through facilitating a Divorce Care Ministry and through my blogs all of which would have never existed if it was not for the experience.

In an article titled, “7 Promises of God for When the Storms of Life Hit,” Debbie McDaniel offers the following advice:

  1. Storms will come. Storms are inevitable and unavoidable, but God reminds us in His Word he will be with us in the midst of it all.
  2. Heed the warnings. Sometimes God provides us a way of escape from what’s ahead; we need His wisdom to know when to stay, or when to go.
  3. Be prepared. Often storms come on without much warning. The best way to stay spiritually prepared is to stay in close relationship with God.
  4. Know where to find refuge. When facing a storm, we instinctively know to find a place to be protected from the elements.
  5. The enemy comes in like a flood. The enemy will try to wreak havoc in our lives. He loves disaster. He loves it when we struggle. His whole aim is to steal, kill, and destroy.
  6. God is over the flood. God is still all powerful, over the floods, over the weather, and He’s not pacing heaven’s floors, but He “sits enthroned over the flood.” He’s still in control and He knows our way.
  7. Life comes back. Even in the face of huge loss and ravaging storms, hard times do not hold the final say over our lives.

As gospel musician, Douglas Miller expressed in his song “My Soul Has Been Anchored,”

Though the storms keep on raging in my life;

And sometimes it’s hard to tell the night from day; 

Still the hope that lies within is reassured

As I keep my eyes upon the distant shore;

I know He’ll lead me safely to that blessed placed He has prepared.

But if the storms don’t cease,

And if the winds keep on blowing in my life,

My soul has been anchored in the Lord.

I realize that sometimes in this life, we’re gonna be tossed,

by the waves and the currents that seem so fierce, 

but in the word of God I’ve got an anchor

and it keeps me steadfast and unmovable despite the tide,

But if the storms don’t cease,

and if the winds keep on blowing in my life,

my soul has been anchored in the Lord.

For those who are experiencing a life storm, I hope this blog post has been a source of encouragement. As always, please share with a friend and I would love to hear your comments. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:2




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Too Blessed to be Stressed

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet our heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any of of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”Matthew 6:25-27 NIV

As I grappled with what to write about this month, I settled on the topic of stress because of my own experience with the subject. My intent is to bring awareness as to how it can silently impact your body. Many of us lead hectic lives in a world where multitasking has become the norm. Our lives have become engulfed with work, family obligations, children’s events and activities, church affiliations, organizations, and countless other things. In a world of “busyness,” how can we minimize stress and the effects it has on our bodies?

For the past nine months, my life has been very stressful dealing with grief, my job, church obligations, preparing for my son’s graduation and for his next phase in life. I am sure you have heard the cliche–“To blessed to be stressed.” Well, it is definitely easier said that done. I know I am blessed, but I was still stressed.

In January, I was sitting in my hair stylist’s chair expressing concern for my unexpected hair thinning–the back of my hair had become “paper thin.” I told my stylist that I thought the thinning was due to a change in the weather. She laughed at me hysterically–I really did not think it was funny. She was blatantly honest stating that I did not realize how much stress I had been under and I refused to admit that it was stress. I have to confess that when something is bothering me, I will suppress my feelings and work myself into a state of oblivion. I don’t consider it stress–I consider it busy. Masking emotional pain and replacing it with multiple tasks was my usual modus operandi (MO). I want to believe I am always in control of a situation; however, the loss of my hair was concerning and had definitely caught my attention. Although I did not feel or look stressed, it had manifested through my hair causing the thinning. Yes, stress was the culprit of my hair loss. Although, I practice mindfulness, the stress had taken a toll on my body. As a result, my stylist cut several inches off of my hair to make it healthy again and I decided to make some changes to better balance my life which included a lot of “me time.”

In an article in Women’sHealth titled “9 Ways Stress Messes with Your Body,” dated May 1, 2017, Ashly Oerman offers the following symptoms of stress and how to mitigate the effects:

  1. It makes you exhausted. Stressing out triggers your brain to release the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream which quickens your heartbeat, gives your brain more oxygen, and releases extra energy to help your body deal with the stress. Frequent stress can cause your brain to limit the amount of cortisol it sends into your bloodstream causing you to feel lethargic.
  2. It messes with your libido. Chronic stress can impact your body’s production of estrogen, which keeps your reproductive system in working order. In times of stress, concentrate on eating a healthy diet and cutting back on processed foods to help ease this symptom.
  3. It makes it hard for you to poop. Chronic stress can impact the hormones released by your thyroid glands, which regulate your metabolism among other things. If these hormones get derailed, it can lead to constipation.
  4. It makes you break out. When you are really stressing out, the level of sex hormones, called androgens, elevate causing acne to flare up.
  5. You can’t remember anything. Traumatic stress (stress that occurs when you feel a threat to your life or a loved one’s life and feels like intense fear or helplessness) seriously impacts your hippocampus–the area of your brain where your memories are stored. This kind of stress causes the hippocampus to actually shrink making it difficult to remember facts, lists, the entirety of an event, or long gaps of time (from minutes to days).
  6. It screws with your manicure. If you have a bad habit of picking or biting your cuticles, it might be how your anxiety is manifesting itself. Picking at your fingers can lead to an infection since you use your hands for most everything.
  7. It makes you gain weight. A University of Kentucky study found that dieters who learned stress-management tactics were more successful at losing weight than those who did not. The connection between reducing stress and losing weight could be that it helps to cut back on stress-related binge eating.
  8. You could lose some hair. A increase in androgens can also cause your hair to shed more than usual, usually three to six months after a super stressful situation. This unfortunate side effect should only be temporary, and a balanced diet can help the cells in your hair follicles heal back to normal.
  9. It makes your back ache. When you are stressing, your heart rate and blood pressure rise and your body pumps out hormones to assist with your fight-or-flight response. This combination can cause your muscles to constrict and intensify the aches you get from sitting at a desk all day. You can combat stress-related back pain by standing up every hour and stretching.

Have you experienced any of these symptoms? If you have, stress could possibly be the cause. As we continue to lead our busy lives, be sure to include proper diet, exercise, and down time–take the time to stop and enjoy the simple things in life. For me, I am planning for more reading, writing, relaxing and more trips to the beach this summer. Remember, we are most definitely too blessed to be stressed!

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


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