Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…

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After the Storm

“The sun’ll come out…Tomorrow,
Bet your bottom dollar, That tomorrow, There’ll be sun! Just thinkin’ about, Tomorrow, Clears away the cobwebs, And the sorrow, ‘Til there’s none! When I’m stuck with a day, That’s grey, And lonely, I just stick out my chin, And grin, And say
Oh!The sun’ll come out, Tomorrow, So ya gotta hang on, ‘Til tomorrow, Come what may, Tomorrow, tomorrow! I love ya tomorrow! You’re always, A day, Away!”

This song by Alicia Morton epitomizes life, especially when it storms. Last night, our area experienced some of the effects of Hurricane Zeta. We lost power. Some had property damage. Noises and heavy rain throughout the night made it hard to sleep for some. There is no way it seemed that the next day would be normal. As I got up this morning, outside it appeared gloomy. I could see debris strewn about. In my mind, it just made sense to be “this kind of day” after the storm; but then, it’s as if the sun read my mind. Out of nowhere, the sun peeked out of the clouds, and what was once a gloomy and disheartening sight gave way to a brightness and unexpected cheeriness.

The earth deals with storms and chaos, but without fail, the sun still rises. Even if it’s not the next day, it does rise again. Such is life. We may deal with some crazy situations, and it may not appear that the sun will ever shine again, but one day, things just get easier. One day you find yourself smiling again, hoping again, trusting again, loving again. One day, the hurt isn’t as deep. You stop expecting the worse. You embrace what’s next. One day…

I just went through, and still have moments of a tough time, but recently I realized a hope buried deep within me that makes me keep looking for the sun to shine. Find that hope within yourself, and know that whatever you’re facing, and no matter how dark things seem, the sun will shine again.

“The sun’ll come out…Tomorrow,
Bet your bottom dollar, That tomorrow, There’ll be sun!”

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After This.

I did a thing today…something a week ago I would never imagine I would want to do anytime soon. I created a maternity wishlist “just in case.” Not with any plans to be pregnant any time soon, or even knowing there would be another time, but I did it without bursting out in tears. Now, last week my husband and I lost our unborn child. The week before that, the doctor told me “there’s no heartbeat.” How quickly life shifts. Prior to that we were looking forward to our new baby, and although unexpected, we were excited to celebrate this new life. Yet, with just a few words everything shifted, and we had to accept that tragedy had interrupted our narrative.

I was originally in shock. Then that shifted to anger. From there was guilt and fear that I was the cause…then, there was an immense sadness that permeated the very essence of my being…but the cycle is not linear as emotions shift from day-to-day; however, in the midst of my own pain, I have found myself encouraging others.

Sometimes we do not understand the “why” of what we are experiencing. We may have questions. I did and still do. I joked that when I get to heaven I need to have a long conversation with God about this period of my life. But, while I am still on earth, I must continue to live acknowledging that pain has a purpose…and while I am sure the memory of this time will remain, the sharpness of the feelings won’t threaten to paralyze me…in time…

So, maybe you are dealing with a situation you never imagined, and you’re not sure how you will navigate this new territory. Well-meaning friends and family may offer you advice and words of comfort, and while you hear it all, you will still have to identify your best steps forward. While you move forward, know that you are strong enough to handle even this seemingly impossible place. On the other side of this heartache, pain, sadness, anger, fear…is more life.

One day, you/we will smile at the fact that you/we did indeed get through today. But, be kind to yourself. Love, allow yourself to be sad, but then to laugh again. Most importantly, embrace every moment. As I have said before you/I win.

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We Win

To all of you who are lonely, feeling overlooked, thinking you’re unnecessary, believing that you’re not relevant or heard…those who are givers, lovers, hype men and women, encouragers…to those feeling empty, unlovable, misunderstood, sad without a way to pinpoint your reason, unsettled, unsure, boxed in…you who would never tell anyone how you’re feeling because you don’t ever want to be a burden, or you just think no one would care or want to hear about it anyways…to you, I understand.

Life is difficult at times. Sometimes the depths of the feelings in your heart renders you speechless. Then, all of those emotions began to crawl over themselves until silently you are screaming, but outwardly, you appear calm and in control. But, I come for you today. Not as someone who just wants to encourage you, but as someone who has, even recently, walked in your foorsteps.

It is hard to feel so much, but be expected to function. Wanting to escape from it all becomes your daily thought. When you do peek out of your shell and try to express your hurt, hopes, heart, it’s not always received…so you find yourself crawling back into your corner. Looking out. Alone.

BUT, I am coming to pull you out. No, everyone will not understand you. Nope, people won’t always be there for you like you want them to be. No ma’am, no sir, sometimes people will not care about what you do or how you contribute to this world, BUT you are NOT insignificant. Every fiber of your being matters. Every intricacy, quirk, eccentricity, nuance, and “uniquely you” tendency matters. I KNOW it hurts to feel the way you feel and keep functioning, BUT I also know that those of us who feel the most are often meant to heal the most.

You were not created to burrow in your feelings contemplating how you can disappear. The answer is not to run away. Suicide WILL NOT be your escape. WE CAN DO THIS.

So, as you sit looking at impossible situations, feeling that your life has no value, and no one values what’s in you, I challenge you.

I challenge you to LIVE. Fight. Believe again. Go after THAT again. Trust again. Cry it out, but get up and feel what it is to WIN again. I can’t promise it will be easy. I won’t say you will never feel this way again, but I can say that each time you get up, you prove that you are indeed a force to be reckoned with.

I fight with you. I believe with you. We heal and we win TOGETHER. Now, get up.

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Can You See It?

Maybe if I just close my eyes, I won’t see it. If I can’t see it, it doesn’t affect me, right? It’s kind of like the Birdbox movie (spoiler alerts)…when they couldn’t see, they were seemingly safe; however, what about the sounds of what was happening around them? The feel of the winds blowing on their skin? The feeling that something just wasn’t right? In the movie, the others trying to force them to “see” were the enlightened ones. They knew of something “greater;” however, this greater in the movie was detrimental to those who gave in and took a peek.

Our world, like the movie, is going through an unveiling. People are beginning to acknowledge the underlying racial and cultural tensions that have fueled our society for years. Some would like to put everything back under the blinders and pretend that not seeing is the safest course. “Let things be as they have been,” they may say. But, keeping things under a pressurized lid, believing “it’s just the way things are” has created an untenable situation. The term “tired” has become synonymous with the daily lives of the unheard, the unseen, and the misunderstood. Things are changing.

Except in this scenario, unlike the movie, unmasking the years of misaligned and biased thinking is causing a shift that leads to the good of all and not the destruction of a few. Pulling off these masks of feined civility, softly veiled threats, unconscious bias, and outright hatred is causing a conversation long overdue. Finally, some are beginning to inhale and exhale as they breathe in the idea that new is on the horizon. Eyes that have been, for so long, hidden, are blinking in the sunlight of a new day which offers fresh opportunities.

The possibilities are endless, yet, the threats still remain. As we drink in the possibilities, some are still nervous that the current changes are a temporary band-aid to stop the hemorrhaging of emotions; but, there is a world that can be different for us and for our children…a world that welcomes and affirms, embraces and encourages, celebrates and defends, loves and respects, sees even the most seemingly unworthy person as valuable and necessary. It IS possible, but are we willing to see things through and challenge a deep-rooted system which worked for some, but was not good for all? Only time will tell.

The birds are chirping. They sense a change in the environment. Will there also be a change in you?

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A Better Way

Reason in the midst of chaos is almost an impossible request. Emotions are high. People are tired, angry, frustrated, hurting, in shock, scared…a system which should have protected all allowed for the destruction of a select group of people by a chosen few. The system is broken. Now, turmoil runs rampant in our streets, riots, protests, anger, oh the magnitude of anger. Through social media, many tell their tales of being fearful for their brother, uncle, husband, friend leaving the home, afraid that a seemingly innocent stop by the police could end in tragedy. A video, which I still can’t bring myself to watch because there are unfortunately entirely too many videos like it circulating around, shows a cop kneeling on a man’s neck for an extremely long time, even after that man no longer appeared to have life in his body. Oh, the anger.

But, why is there so much anger? Because “this” has happened too often, and “they” have gotten away with it. Yes, it’s the age-old racial tension that has been glossed over. Some would like to say it no longer exists and those who say it does are living in history. Others of us live the reality of being on the “less than” side of history. Our daily lives tell the tale of a history that society would like to gloss over and pretend it no longer matters. Then George Floyd again, like Eric Garner, said “I can’t breathe,” and the anger reached its peak.

Thus, protests began, peacefully at first, but then the emotions turned into full-fledged rebellion. From peaceful protests to riots, stoked even by those who had no real reason to protest, but by the time anyone realized what was happening, emotions had taken over reason. Now we have reports of cities being overtaken and burned, but in the midst of these stories, the underlying heartbeat central to the cacophony is being forgotten: some of us are just tired of being tired. After a while, it makes more sense to try something different than what has not been working, even if that something different does not appear to bring about immediate change. At least it’s something, right?

I get it. I understand the anger and wanting to lash out. I live in the reality of being “suspect” because of my skin color and worrying about my family and friends on a regular basis. Stories about the various atrocities strike me to my core so much so that I fight daily against the suffocating possibility of PTSD simply by proxy. I want to strike out against a system that has failed so many of us time and again, but I want what I do to have a lasting positive impact for the generations to come. Oh, how I understand the anger, but destroying the society in which we want to claim our place does not leave us a place to claim. There is a better way…

So, as society is now coming to understand the anger of its minority citizens, this is a prime opportunity to seize our moment and show the strength, dignity, pride, resiliency, and potency of our minority collective power. Now is the time for us to accept genuine offers of partnership and draw on the communal breath of those tired of a society in which a select group lives a restricted lifestyle. Now is an opportunity for us to be proactive, clear in our expectations, and bold in our speech. Our words have power. Our history has led us to this place. It’s up to us to decide the next pages of this story. Will it be productive? Will it make sense? Will it leave us better? We decide.

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Between Two Worlds

Many of us find ourselves between two Worlds. The first world is the one based on what used to be–when things were “safe.” The second world is more uncertain. It is uncomfortable and unfamiliar terrain. As we stand perched between the two, we struggle with our identity. Will we go back to being the person we were before things “changed,” or will we have to readjust and accept that our new normal also forces us to be a new us? Many of us reminisce on the recent past as if we are our ancestors telling their great-grandchildren what happened “back in the day.” We remember the freedom to go where we wanted without having to think about what our choice could do to our families. We remember hearing someone sneeze and us quickly responding “God Bless You,” instead of everyone scattering to all sides. We remember what it was like to choose to stay inside. We remember.

We are forced to adjust, realizing that things will never quite be the same. For some, it’s just the way it is. For others, it is an unfortunate and annoying inconvenience. Still, for others, there is the tragedy of adjusting to a life in which a loved one may have been an unexpected casualty of this war. Between two Worlds, we wonder if we will ever feel as “free” as we used to feel. Will the sunshine feel the same? Will shopping in the store be a welcome distraction, or will it now have us hypervigilant about who is around us. No doubt about it, things will be different.

But, as we straddle the fence between the two worlds, no matter how much has changed, some things remain: The impenetrable ability of people to bounce back and thrive still holds true; the intrinsic optimism and hope for better will keep people striving to see what they desire; the will to survive will have us struggling through to see the other side. In this in between time, we will regroup. We will mourn. We will wonder. In the end, we will arrive in this new normal prepared to rediscover those things that make us smile, laugh, hope, love…

There is an “after this.” So, like many of you, I wonder how things will be in this new world. There is some trepidation, and I will be cautious while re-entering into society, but one thing I know is that there can be and absolutely is better on the horizon. So, prepare yourself. We’re going in.


Growth in Adversity

Our world is in the grips of a pandemic unlike anything we have seen before. Shelter in Place orders have been sent. Curfews have been established. Restaurants and businesses are shuttering their doors, temporarily for some, but indefinitely for others. People are panicked and searching for answers. In the midst of a tumultuous time, our world could use a glimmer of hope. Every day, the media recounts the rising number of people affected by the Coronavirus. The news is often bleak and dismal. There seems to be no light at the end of a neverending tunnel. Stores have run out of essentials-bread, milk, eggs, and surprisingly enough, toilet paper. It reminds me of Charles Dickens novel “A Tale of Two Cities” in which he writes, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”

As we look at all the negativity surrounding this pandemic, we see another narrative evolve; This narrative shows families coming together unintentionally for some much needed family time…married couples have a chance to reconnect…those of us who have big dreams that we put on the shelf have time to pursue the passions which life had begun to extinguish. That book…now, you can write it. That virtual class…now, you can take it. That teenage son or daughter you seem to always bump heads with…now, you can refresh your relationship. Yes, the extra time with family can get annoying or frustrating, and yes, too much of something CAN become a bad thing, but now we can pursue, reconnect, rediscover…a very bad virus is opening the door for some major rejuvenation in our society.

As I was leaving home one day to go to the grocery store for some essentials, I took a moment to look around at the stillness. No one else was outside. The air felt like it was holding its breath, but not in an unappealing way. I felt an expectancy, a hope, a promise for the future. I saw how the flowers were still blooming and the trees were beginning to show their colors…and still, the ground was opening up to yield the next flowers which will add color to the world…I saw us, the world, after this.

Things will be different. We will have to readjust to a world that was ravaged by an unexpected pandemic. Some will have to reconcile the loss of loved ones with the thought of continuing in a world without them. I’m sending prayers up for you. In all, however, the world will resume. Just as the flowers, trees, and bushes know to blossom every Spring, our world has the capability to heal and walk in the new awareness this pandemic brought to light. Don’t let this “opportunity” pass you by. Grow from this. Take advantage of it. Come out of this better, stronger, more loving and kind…you owe it to yourself, and a better you makes for a better world. Use wisdom. Be safe. Grow.

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Corner Chronicles

*This post translates in a different way from my typical blogs. I went with it because I believe all things happen for a reason, and maybe someone needed to hear this come out in this way.*

I see you over there hiding in plain sight, secretly looking around, wondering if anyone notices you. I see you tentatively step out, hoping to be seen, but quickly stepping back into your corner when no one looks your way. I feel your repressed pain emanating in waves from where you stand, pressed into a corner, comforted in knowing that at least no one can get to you without you seeing them first. Inside, you desire to be seen, to be loved, to be appreciated, noticed, but outwardly you present as confident and content. “After all, if no one cares to see what’s really going on, why should you have to tell them.” At least that’s what you convince yourself to believe. You sit in your corner and you wonder time and again why it feels like you’re overlooked and unnecessary. Why is it that no one seems to notice you unless they need something? If you weren’t there in your little corner, would they even miss you? You watch as it seems life keeps passing you by. Others are appreciated. Great things happen to “them,” but you sit holding the pieces of a heart yearning to be seen, to be wanted, to be celebrated. To everyone else, it looks like you have it “going on.” You know you’re hurting. But, where do you turn in a world that seems to only be concerned for itself? You tried praying, but even in that you felt as if your prayers only reached the ceiling. You tried expressing, but that only went so far. You tried to massage a hurting heart by staying busy and filling your empty moments with busy work, but that busyness only piled onto the hollowness and echoed as it all fell to the bottom. So, you retreated to your corner. You’re not ready to give up on the world, but you can’t find your place in it. What do you do with a life that doesn’t seem necessary to anyone around you?

Well, I see you, trying to mask your pain under the facade of confidence. I see the hurt, the desires, the strength for everyone else but yourself. I see your propensity to give and give to others, at the expense of yourself. I see you. I see how many times you were ready to throw it all away, to drive and keep going, to disappear and turn off your phone. I see you. Those times you were so frustrated, but others needed you to be level-headed, so you buried your frustration. I see how you have wanted to jump up and down to get people to really care about you, but instead you kept loving and giving out of a place of emptiness. Functioning on fumes, you’re somehow still standing. “If “they” only knew how close you were to giving up, would they care?”

But, I see how each time you contemplate giving up, you take another breath. You wipe away the tears, and you stick your chest out. You declare to yourself, “If I can just make it one more day, I will be alright.” Then, you take just the tiniest step out of the corner, determined that you will not go down in defeat. I SEE you winning.

You are NOT alone. Just the fact that you’re breathing makes a difference in this world. Who you are, the essence of your being, the purpose in your body, makes the world better just because you are here. Yes, the encourager sometimes needs encouragement. The giver needs to be poured into. The lover needs to be loved; but, you made up in your mind that no matter how low you feel, you WILL NOT be defeated. So, I celebrate your victory. I give you a standing ovation for choosing life. This moment is not the end for you, and I anticipate every joyful moment to come due to the wealth of tears you have sown. I see you living victoriously. So, right there in your little corner, I see you as victory. Can’t wait to celebrate with you.

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Spring Forward

Today, we mark the occasion of “spring forward.” We celebrate more daylight time. Unofficially, we begin to say goodbye to Winter and we look forward to Spring. Outside, the weather is changing as leaves find their way back to branches and color begins to infuse the world with a sense of vibrancy and life. Things are changing. Outwardly, we’re optimistic as we look forward to time spent in the sun, festivals, warm breezes and cool treats. Things are changing.

But, what if all of these changes are only happening on the outside? What if all around us things are looking brighter, and to the person watching us, things couldn’t be better…but inside our hearts and our minds are still curled up in the freezing grip of a self-imposed Winter season? The dichotomy of our outward self warring with our inner being sometimes makes life interesting. Which self will win?

As I thought about the approaching Spring, I put myself in a self-reflection mode. I began to peruse the pages of my life, and I parsed out the things that I am not happy about, the things that don’t make me smile, the hidden doubts and fears that all but the very astute miss…I thought about the part of me that presents a perfect front, when inside I just want to be accepted, understood, wanted. I walked through my own mind and saw the times I thought I wasn’t good enough, and saw where I had spoken positive things, but the words didn’t reach my heart. I saw, for the first time in a long time, me, and in that place, I accepted every bit of me. I accepted that I won’t always get things right, and sometimes I won’t love the space I am in; but, I also accepted that my permanent place is not in lack or misunderstanding, but in a place of love, power, and the expectation of seeing everything my heart desires. Me is a beautiful place.

So, as this Spring approaches, I challenge you to do some Spring cleaning within yourself. Clean out the “dust” from your corners, and clear out the cobwebs that threaten to keep you in a tangled up place. Be willing to embrace who you are–every flaw, every doubt, every fear, but know that you are MORE than those things. As this Spring hurries to greet us, prepare yourself to expect on a new level, live on purpose, love deeply, and smile frequently.

Spring forward from within, and watch how your world unfurls to greet you. Things are changing…

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It’s In Me

A few days ago, I was sitting in a restaurant with one of my clients. As I sat, it felt as if someone was staring at me. With a quick glance around, I noticed an older gentleman looking my way. I acknowledged him, but then continued on with my client meeting. As I continued to share with my client, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the gentleman leave his table and head towards ours. In my head, I was not sure why he would be approaching the table. Honestly, I was prepared to show him my ring finger so he could understand I wasn’t open to being approached in “that” way if this was his intention. I mean, you can’t be too sure when a stranger approaches you. 🙂 His actual intentions blew my mind.

As he drew near to the table, he greeted us and then turned directly to me and began to ask questions. He asked me what I do for a living, and I told him that I am involved in several things, one of them being an inspirational speaker. At this, his eyes lit up, and he said to me, “That’s it. That’s what I sensed in you. There is an aura about you that draws attention, and I had to come over here to see what it was about.” From here, he proceeded to tell me, a complete stranger, about his hopes and dreams, and what he wants to do. At this point, I am completely in awe at this interaction. It felt surreal, and it caused me to pause within myself for just a moment. Here I am, functioning in a completely different capacity, but this man sensed something in me that had him interrupting my meeting to tell me about it. As he continued, a part of me rejoiced, while another part of me wondered why I had ever doubted the part of me he was able to see.

When you function in a certain capacity, sometimes you doubt whether you are effective. At least, I have. Sometimes you wonder if your purpose has expired, and you consider throwing in the towel, believing that no one will miss what you do and who you are. You become a comparison analyst, looking around and seeing that others seemingly do what you do, and do it better. You watch as others “flock” to someone else, and you determine that maybe you will let things rest for a while. Oh, maybe that wasn’t you, but it was me. But, that man reignited the flame in me. He reminded me that Grace is not something I made up. Me as the writer, speaker, encourager, uplifter, motivator, adjutator, lover…is just in me. Even when I am not specifically functioning as such, there’s just something about me…

Maybe you have doubted yourself…maybe who you thought you were came under attack because of life. It’s now time for you to be revived. There are many who may seemingly do what you do, but they are NOT you. They can’t touch those whom you can touch. They are not meant to encourage those you are meant to encourage. There is only ONE you, and you were created to be uniquely, naturally, and amazingly you. So write, speak, function, be. It’s in you.