Pushing Through

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Fifteen years ago today I lost someone who was very special to me; she was my mother and she was as sweet as a Cherry on a tree. Normally around the anniversary of her death, I get sad, although I miss her all the time.

Throughout the following 5 years after her death, I searched for instant satisfaction to fill the void, yet nothing materialist satisfied me. No matter how many clothes, shoes, cars, or furniture I purchased I was still searching, but was unaware of what I was searching for. Eventually, drugs and alcohol became my artificial friends.

Meanwhile, I would hear my mom’s voice saying to me as she had always said “Dear, whatever you do, be the best that you can be, and always look up to where your help comes from.” I knew I could do better, but I could not; I was only living on the surface. My spirit was willing, but my body was weak (Matt: 26:41, NRSV). So I asked God for help.

In fact, God did for me what I could not do for my self. I just needed to ask for help and to trust that there was a power greater than myself who could help. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36, NRSV).

Therefore, I will rejoice in the Lord and thank him for the remembrance of my mother. “Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14, NRSV).

I was certain that I could not survive without my mother. What I have learned is that she is always with me. What a blessings to cherish her memories.

I would love to hear how you survived a loss.

Beauty on the skin deep!

 

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Yes, yes, yes, that old saying “Beauty is only skin deep.” But let’s take this a step further. Some of us go to great lengths to beautify ourselves. Constantly worried about how we look to others. The question is “Do we capture anything in our self that goes so deep, that it will take a province of great knowledge within to understand?

In other words, our beauty is on the skin, but deep. Let us not worry about what others think of us. No one else knows our struggles. No one can determine what we need to feel adequate and complete. Sure we can acquire outside sources like sponsors, therapists, clergy and the like to guide and steer us, but ultimately our answers lie within. That right there my friend, is beauty on the skin, but real deep. Once we come to accept and know who we are, our beauty will shine much so, that others cannot help but to see us.

To uncover or to discover our beauty we have to be willing to dig deep. So often we have buried those things that were painful to admit, such as an abusive relationship. Somewhere in the midst of our hurt, we tuned out of life and reality.  We pretended that all was well. In fact, we were drowning in sorrow, hurt, pain, isolation, remorse, and guilt. 

But please do not be discouraged. We can pick up the broken pieces when we become willing; one piece at a time we start to mend. Once we get a glimpse of what is happening, our old self will tell us “What are you doing? You cannot leave me. You are all those things that you have believed to be true for so many years. Stop trying to change, because you are who you are.”

But oh no! We have to stay strong for self. We have to be willing to go to any lengths to mend the broken pieces, one piece at a time by being honest with self. Announce our needs to self and to others. Believe we are worthy and act accordingly. And eventually we will heal, if we stay determined. Sure we will doubt our self, but please do not give up. Take a risk on self, and see that self is well worth the work. Let our beauty shine on, bright as the skin deep.

ABCs of Life

A. Aspire to be the best that we can
B. Break down barriers that prevent us from being the  best that we can
C. Count our blessings
D. Do not allow fear to prevent us from achieving our goals
E. Excel in all that we do to better our world so others can benefit too
F. Failure is not a crime. Try until we exceed
G. Gratitude is a must in all things
H. Have hope and faith that we can succeed especially when the benefit surpasses the effort
I. Implement positive affirmations daily
J. Justice is a byproduct of determination and hard work
K. Kindness trumps meanness
L. Love has no boundaries
M. Mercy cannot be measured
N. No means no
O. Outstanding ability to admit faults and try again
P. Push no one but ourselves
Q. Quit complaining
R. Reserve the right to change our mind
S. Stand up for justice
T. Think positive
U. Understand and don’t underestimate our potential
V. Victory does not necessarily mean we will be in agreement with the results, but in the long run we will know that we did benefit from the outcome
W. Wear life like a loose garment
X. Xs can be informed teachers
Y. Y not read this list daily
Z. Zeal for life is optional

Grace

This song (click on link in comment section) takes me back to the days of insanity. Today I can listen to this song with an intent ear and know that I am not where I use to be. I want to think that the people who can relate to this song are those who survived during this time. Many times I said a foxhole prayer. I would even bargain with this so call god. I would say “Okay God, if you are real, then you will get me out of this jam, and I will believe that you are real.” That happened so many times that I would bargain, over and over again, only to receive the same results. Null and void. I took my last drink and drug 10/3/2002. I give all the credit to a power greater than myself. I go back and forth with what I believe, but I know only grace is the reason I am here today. An abundance of grace and the willingness to have the willingness to do the next right thing and that was to put down the needle, the weed, the pills, and the drinks. All mood altering drugs had to go. I no longer serve a god that is punishing. I have a loving God who wants nothing but a good life for me. I had to change my concept of the god I was raised with. I no longer fear that god. I have a God that is kind, loving, forgiving, understanding, funny, a sense of humor, and a great deal of patience. No more guilt trips for me from anyone. I heart my sobriety!

Helping Others

Good grief. Who in the world wants to help another when our load is already bulging at the seams?

No. Most people are inconsiderate, selfish, and all about me, me, me, me, me. Until hard times come a knocking at our door.

Sure it is easy to feel that we are not good enough to receive help, or we think we have nothing that can help anyone else. Most times we have been a loner, or we are too ashamed of our past and want to keep that to ourselves. We would just rather stay in our lane and allow others to handle their own stuff. But what we fail to realize is we are all in this together. Can we not see that our experience can help someone else, regardless if we have been down a path that we are not proud of?

I remember well of being a naïve’ young girl. Our neighborhood was very diverse with Hispanics, Whites and Blacks. At the time I did not realize that we were neither rich nor poor. We were all family who reached out to help one another in need. That might have meant sharing some pie, or providing a hand to repair a broken automobile. Life seemed hopeful because we hinged on one another. What happened?

Somewhere along the way white flight, red-lining, and hurt from slavery became prevalent. Old friends became distant. Some people had doubt and others had reason, yet both were rampant. Sadness gloomed overhead. The ability to see clearer was magnified. Hearts throbbed at the learning of discrimination and racism. Still, we long for common ground, and as a result we can help one another.

We do not have to allow society to dictate the outcome. We are still people who can make change. I read a statement that said “Everything is the same, yet we can make it change.” Yes we can. We the people are the change that we want to see and it starts with us by helping others.

Keep it simple. Let us invite someone opposite of ourselves for coffee. Ask the question “What are you afraid of?” Listen with intent. Then reverse the roles. Admit to one thing that we know we are racist about. Share that with someone that we do not know. I know that can be frightening, but the fear will be cut in half just by sharing our thoughts.

We have to start somewhere. Take a chance and that person that we will help will be us. Overtime barriers will come down and we will feel good about us as a people.

Holiday Blahs!

I haven’t blogged in a while. Most days I have been comatose; family with threatening illnesses, death of a dear high school friend, and the death of a close friend’s young husband. The anniversary date of the death of my last parent is nearing, and I resigned from a vocation where I carried sunshine, in spite that I was illuminated more than I provided.

I have come to realize that irritable, restless, and discontentment are captivating words that can make one re-evaluate the meaning of life.

I gave away my shoes. I recognized that they were not doing me any good. They were hoarding my time, my mind, and my closet. I became fully aware that giving away things that at one point that meant so much to me, no longer provided me comfort. I had a lot of shoes. I was preparing myself for the known; that we die with stuff that others have to care for.

I was scared. I am still scared, but not as much because I gave away my shoes. I walked through the fear of the known. Most times we want to believe that it is the unknown, but I was treading familiar territory. I wanted to fulfill the curiosity that I have had for a long time. “Why do people die with so much stuff?” I imagine we are afraid to lose something that we have. But guess what? The moral of this story is that I did not drink or drug because I was scared.

Alcohol and drugs do not solve our difficulties. No. No. No. Mood altering substances keep us living in a false hope, “a comforting myth,” as a friend once said. Life is tough. People die. “Someday, we will all die my friend! True, but on all the other days, we will not.”

Live life like there is no tomorrow. Eat some pie. Take a walk. Call a friend. Read a book. Sleep in pajamas for the day. Kiss with eyes opened. Make love. The holiday blahs will pass. The sun will truly shine again!

Finding Joy in the Middle of Grief

Have you ever found yourself coming to grip with your emotions, to realize that you have been comatose about what has been going on around you? For instance, one day we realize that life is not as fun anymore. We haven’t taken the time out of our busy schedule to just laugh and to enjoy the beauty and scenery around us?

Well today is the day to take notice.

Grief comes in many forms: A child grows to maturity to leave home for college; Our aging parents are now our children to care for; Our best friend forever (BFF) takes a journey to another life where we are not welcomed yet; The passion we so enjoy and love has to take the backseat while we care for a loved one; A neighbor moves and the new neighbor likes to nuke the lawn to an unrecognizable era. Oh yes, grief comes in disguise like a thief in the night. So subtle and yet so damaging to the soul.

Leap forward into conscientiousness. Grief is not avoidable, that is, if we are human with a heart.

Finding joy in the midst of grief is not easy. Yet, joyfulness has to take precedence to avoid health issues to our body, mind, and our spirit. We have to take time to care for self in order to help and to appreciate others.

Serenade our heart with gladness. Know that we are truly blessed beyond measure. Grace adorns us but we cannot fathom. If only we can know that the Lord can slow us down and ease the paining of our hearts, then we will be nourished.

Refrain from those things that bring havoc into our spirit, like gossip and/or a tainted past. Refresh in the newness of exquisiteness like a gentle walk in the park. Perhaps listen to the soundtrack of a favorite artist. Settle in with an adventurous book that brings laughter. Or just dig in the dirt as if no one is watching, and pretend to hunt for those hidden treasures.

We are loved. We might have time on our hands today, but grief will eventually catch us. Let our joy be known to the world. Put a stride in our glide. The grief will not necessarily dissipate totally, but we try to divert the sadness. We take time for personal discipline. We accept that our relationships are our gifts and not our possessions. We lean upon one another. We just might help somebody find joy in the middle of their grief.

A New Beginning

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Have we heard lately, “what we think about ourselves is not always accurate?” Sure there are those blatant traits that are obvious, such as a person of color, or a person with an academia degree. Yet, what I am thinking are those negative and not so pleasant thoughts such as “I am a loser. I am not smart. I am stupid. I will never recovery from the horrible decisions I have made in life.”

There comes a time in life when everyone deserves a second chance. Sometimes we have to give ourselves a third and fourth chance. In fact, we are worthy to give ourselves as many chances as we need to make a difference in our life and the life of others.

Let this be the season that we take risks on self. After all, if we have been to the school of hard knocks, we have earned the…

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A New Beginning

Have we heard lately, “what we think about ourselves is not always accurate?” Sure there are those blatant traits that are obvious, such as a person of color, or a person with an academia degree. Yet, what I am thinking are those negative and not so pleasant thoughts such as “I am a loser. I am not smart. I am stupid. I will never recovery from the horrible decisions I have made in life.”

There comes a time in life when everyone deserves a second chance. Sometimes we have to give ourselves a third and fourth chance. In fact, we are worthy to give ourselves as many chances as we need to make a difference in our life and the life of others.

Let this be the season that we take risks on self. After all, if we have been to the school of hard knocks, we have earned the opportunity to a better life; one that can restore us to sanity. Unquestionable not all opportunities are fair. Not all our needs are satisfied in a sense that allow us to feel grandeur about who we are. Economics and social class play a huge part in why ventures are not distributed equally. We live in a world that is broken. However, we can find peace within self, and we can live in solace, in spite of the chaos around us.

We do not have to succumb to violence towards self and others by using drugs, alcohol, and negative behavior that can lead to regret and remorse. To only find ourselves repeating that same unwanted conduct the next day. There is a solution. We can always turn to love–to love ourselves and others, while working with what we have. We are worth a new beginning.

Let us take that chance today. We are greater than we think. The more we feed ourselves positive affirmations, the more we will come to trust in our abilities to accomplish what we believe to be impossible, if only we can believe. Let us have the willingness to at least glance at those negative things that are blaring in our hearts. If we get honest, we can change those things that need to change. We can admit our faults, and make restitution. What a blessings when we choose self at the top of our priority list. Let this be the time for a new beginning in a trying and difficult world. We can do it; one day at a time.

When Prayer Is Not Enough

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Have you ever been at a place of dreadful fear, countless restless nights, and severe discontentment with life? Yet you have a conscience contact with a higher-power and you pray, but prayer does not seem to rectify your troubles soon enough?

So often the reason is we want to control the outcome to a situation, opposed to doing the foot work, letting go, and allowing the solution to reveal itself. We have the belief that we know what, how, when, and why the results need to unfold to our conviction. And when they do not, we can become insane.

There are supplements to our dilemma. When we share our fears openly with another, they are slashed in half. A trusted confidant is imperative; someone who will allow us to be authentic, and will not judge our thoughts. Plus it is healthy to lament our dissatisfaction to our higher power. Amazingly, these can bring us comfort.

In hindsight, if we are honest, most likely we can recall times that what we thought and what exactly happened, were a blessing we did not have the final say in the matter. This is cause to keep in mind that our higher-power will do for us, what we cannot do for ourselves.

As a result, prayer can bring other solutions, if only we pray.

Savoring Love

Many of us missed out on the prerequisite of Love 101. That tender stroke that caresses our heart, to know that we are loved and that we can share our love.

We live in an environment that promotes opposition. Sports, socio-economic class, religion or no religion, war, no war, just to name a few. Most times we are in competition with our self and with one another. We are constantly trying to juggle life, so we can obtain those things that we desire. As a result there is strife.

Yet love can bring us harmony. This is an inside job. If we love ourselves enough, our love will spread out to others. We do not have to antagonize our self or one another to feel victory. We do not have to have shame of who we are. There is no need to blame others so we can feel adequate with where we are. What a blessing to allow people to live their lives and we live ours. That is love.