Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


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Thoughts of My Father

I met my father over the Thanksgiving break. “Met your father?”, you may be wondering. Well, let me back up. When I was conceived, my father was married to someone who was not my mother, and for whatever reason, my father and I were separated early on. I have never really asked about that. To be honest, I never really wanted to know, but now I’m curious. Throughout the years, I have often wondered about my father. ¬†What does he look like? Do I have his nose? His eyes? His smile? His personality? Does he think of me? Was I wanted? So many questions, but time continued to pass. In most recent years, he and I have reconnected–not in person–via telephone. I have spoken to him briefly, and we kept mentioning connecting in person, but it did not happen. Finally, he told me that he and his family were coming to Georgia over the Thanksgiving holidays, and he wanted to see me. Nervous though I was, I was curious about him too, so I agreed. With my husband by my side, I went to meet my father.

We met in a mall with a bunch of people around us. In my head I had imagined the people parting like the red sea and everything around us fading to black as I met the man whom I felt was the missing part of me. Yeah, so much for storybook endings. It was nothing like that. Instead, I was met by my half-brother and father’s wife, along with my brother’s wife and son. They told me my father had walked away and we would keep walking until we found him. At some point we stopped and I looked up as they pointed towards someone they had identified as my father. I looked up and saw a man who was looking down as well. When we locked eyes, I saw him start grinning and he hurried down the steps towards us. Besides the locked eyes moment, nothing else was like the fairy tale I imagined. We were jostled by all those around us getting a head start on their Christmas presents. His family looked on making me feel like a fish in a fish tank–all eyes on us. But after we awkwardly embraced, we all began to walk and talk. He did not seem to know what to say to me, and I did not know what to say to him, so we used his family and my husband as buffers to the awkwardness. I observed his relationship with his family, and part of me got a bit depressed for a brief second. In that second, I realized I was the outsider.

So, the evening continued, and eventually I decided it was time to go. Mentally I was drained, and I hoped my relief did not show. I had met another part of me, and I did not recognize it. For years I had accepted the missing part, but when I was presented with an opportunity to embrace it, I was left disappointed. I used to always wish for those father-daughter moments: the dances, the meeting of the “boyfriends”, prom, my actual father walking me down the aisle at my wedding, the first father-daughter dance…the moments. I did not have any of them, but over time, the void was filled by others. I realized after meeting my father, that I lacked nothing for him not being around. Yes, he was not there for some important milestones. My memories, unfortunately, did not include him, but I am not less because I did not have him. I truly believe that God gives us each our own cross to bear, and a story that shapes the very core of who we are. God knew that my father would not be around, and that I would be a “fatherless” child, but He wouldn’t let me stay that way.

Maybe you have some things in life that you feel you missed out on. Maybe it is a mother or father, or maybe it is a missed opportunity. It may even be a mistake you made, or a relationship you wish you could rethink. Whatever it is, know that it is the moments that build you and make you stronger. Each moment develops the character that makes you a valuable asset to this world and to those who love you. You lack nothing. You are whole and beautifully mastered. We can never go back and relieve the things, people, and places that we feel me missed, but we can choose to live moving forward. Take joy in the moments of each day. Love those around you TODAY. Even in that, be thankful for new beginnings. My meeting with my father went nothing as I hoped, but it was a start. I am thankful for the chance to have a new start. Blessings.

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Delayed Childhood

Life can be strange, but wonderful at the same time. We all have different experiences and so many factors contribute to making us who we are at this present moment. Some of those experiences have been amazing and life-changing, while other experiences have been desperate, but still life-changing. Many of us remember tears and laughter, ups and downs, victories and setbacks–a constant cycle of “good” versus “bad” in the constant cacophony of a our individual worlds. Looking back, I see situations that, at the time, I perceived as bad, and I mean REALLY bad, but they ultimately worked out for my good. I also see situations that I thought were good that were actually wolves hidden in sheep’s skin, and I probably should have never gotten involved. Either way, the experiences shape us and prepare us for what is to come. So, as I began to ruminate on life and the roller coaster it has been, I realized that some things that I had going on now were due to my delayed childhood.

The low self-esteem issues that I never dealt with caused me to be a hesitant and uncertain adult. I began to think I was not good enough and that no one could ever love me. I did not think that anyone would value my opinion or what I had to say. I shrunk back from attention believing that people would realize I was worthless, and begin to treat me as such. I did not believe in me. This was all because growing up in foster care, not everyone believed I would be anything. I remember the one foster parent who was talking to someone else (thinking I would not hear about it), who said I would not graduate college. Instead, I was supposed to end up pregnant and drop out of college; thus, in their eyes, becoming worthless. I remember that same foster parent telling my boyfriend at that time that he was too good for me, and me finding out just how low I was thought of by the person who was supposed to be my parent. Over the years and various homes, each time they sent me away, I felt I was not good enough. There had to be something about me that made me unworthy. No one wanted me. Or so it seemed. But then, HE wanted me. He showed me attention. He said nice things, but then he too showed me I was worthless when HE took my childhood innocence. HE cared about what he could get from me, but even he thought I was disposable. So, I grew up way too soon. I rehearsed what had been said and done. I believed it. So, when I finally came to a place of realizing that even I have a purpose, I denied it. What if what “they” said was true? What if I really am not good enough? What if I try and fail? What if no one cares? What if I really am as worthless as “they” believed I was. What if I fail God? What if no one values me? What if….? So, somewhere in there, I really believed that I was not enough for my journey, and that I was not built to succeed.

But piece by piece, God begin to put my “puzzle” back together. Here and there my confidence was built. One person at a time, my heart begin to mend, and I began to believe that maybe, just maybe, I was good enough to make it to the end. Peeking around the corner, I began to see the warm glimmer of hope. Timidly I stepped out on a faith road, and inch-by-inch, I began to make my way towards a tiny light I saw on the horizon. Then one day, I looked up from my travels, and I looked back realizing just how far I had come. But, then the reminders began. “Just because you made it this far doesn’t mean you will finish,” is what my mind told me. I had a Sherman Clump moment from one of my favorite movies when the memories became too much. Instead of giving in to the noise, I shouted within myself, “Yes, I Can!” So step-by-step I began to believe. As each memory resurfaced and each reminder threatened to envelop me, I fixed my eyes on the light and repeated to myself, “I Am Enough. I Am Enough. I Am Enough!”–until I believed it.

So maybe you are traveling on your journey, and everything in life tries to tell you that you will not make it. Maybe your childhood was delayed like mine and all of your stuff from then seems to be coming up now. I am here to remind you that YOU are enough. You can make it. You will make it. Even if it is an uphill climb and a daily mantra you have to recite, YOU have to believe in you, and know that if you can keep your eye on the light in front of you, you can succeed. Life can throw some hard blows. Things can be bitter and desperate, but they can also be enlightening and amazing. Bitter with the sweet, yeah, I know. But in the end, you win. So pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Set your eyes on what is in front of you, and refuse to lose. You ARE enough.


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When All Else Fails

I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I am a licensed Zumba Instructor. I teach at a well-known gym, and enjoy dancing around while getting in a great workout. There’s nothing like feeling the music pulse while you move to the music, and seeing the smiles on my students’ faces make the cares of the day melt away. So, teaching is another one of my escapes from “real life”; that is until my escape offers up some problems. A few weeks ago, I went to my class, excited to get started and teach some new choreography I had created. It seemed everything was going just fine until I went to log into the computer that, of course, had most of my music on it. For some reason, the computer froze and would not load no matter what I did. I had a whole lot of people staring at me waiting to get started, and after sending someone to get help, I was stuck like a deer in headlights trying to figure out what to do. Finally, I pulled out my phone and started playing one of my playlists from my phone. I had forgotten my portable speaker, so it was literally as loud as my phone could go, but we started working out. In the midst of giving my class directions, I was working on the computer (because of course my “help” had not arrived). Finally, I just unplugged the entire system and got it loading again. That is when my help showed up, but by then, I had gotten the system up and moving. In my head I had been sweating bullets, but on the outside, I was calm and collected because I could not let the class see me sweat.

Life is like this sometimes. We expect things to be working perfectly, so we stroll through life thinking that things will be just how they are supposed to be. Then, we hit a speed bump, and we can choose to stress out, or figure out a solution. This could be uncomfortable, especially if other’s are watching. It could be stressful, because maybe you don’t know just what to do. Those are the times when you pull on your inner reserve, and decide to make things happen in spite of the issue. No, my solution was not the best. I mean, who does not like the music bumping when you are trying to get through a grueling workout?!?! But, it was better than me standing still and letting life happen, thus taking my class down that frustrating road with me. So, when all else fails, keep moving. Find a way or make a way.

Admittedly, while trying to get things together, a couple of people left because they did not want to wait until things worked out. Yeah, that happens in life too. But, the ones who stayed around had the best time, and made the hiccup inconsequential. They encouraged me. I encourage you. Pay it forward.


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Just Keep Running

So, this weekend, I called myself making up for the times when I have been slacking in my personal workout routine. I had been teaching my fitness classes all week, but I had not been weight lifting like I used to, so I agreed to workout with my husband on this past Saturday. Now, why in the world did I agree to that?! My husband’s nickname is “the hulk”. He loves weight lifting and is amazing at it. I enjoy weight lifting, but nowhere near on his level. So, I decided to be crazy enough to join him. It felt great while we were working out. I remembered my love for weight lifting, and it was awesome just being in the gym with him, but I forgot the after effects of a grueling workout. That next day, my body was tight in places I had forgotten existed. I was shuffling along and sore, and I tried my best not to move too much because everything hurt. EVERYTHING! Sunday night, hubby was talking about running the next morning. Before I knew it, I had blurted out that I would join him. Again, what was I thinking?! So, the next morning at 5:30 we headed out for the run. Now, I had just BARELY rolled out of bed because it felt like my entire body had locked up, but I was determined to run. As I stretched, I second-guessed my entire life in that moment, and visions of me falling face first on to the pavement flashed through my head. Yet I pressed on. As we began to run, I slowly shuffled along behind him, just content to at least follow his lead. My legs groaned. My muscles tried to lock up and rebel, but in my mind I was telling myself I could do it. Step-by-step I grunted, groaned, sweat began to pour profusely down my face and back, but I kept going. I realized along the way that my body did not hurt as much anymore, so I picked up the pace. As we ran, things became easier. I still felt a throbbing ache in some areas, but I figured I had gone too far to quit. Before I knew it, we were headed back home. As we came up the final hill towards our house, I felt such a huge sigh of relief. That’s when hubby decided we would run PAST our house to the end of the road, and then turn around and come back. I stared at the back of his head without saying a word, but I kept going. Then, it was over. All of the pain, the heavy breathing, the moments when I thought I would pass out…it was all over. I had made it to my final destination. It may have hurt. Things may not have felt good along the way, but I picked up momentum, and eventually the pain could not stop me from racing towards my goal.

Life is like this. Sometimes things just hurt. Sometimes you cannot believe that you can take one more step and move forward. Maybe the “hill” seems insurmountable. Maybe that thing they did to you made you hard-hearted and unrecognizable. Maybe life has beaten you up so bad that it seems whenever you move, it is with more difficulty, and sometimes it’s just easier to roll over and “sleep” rather than face the world. I get it.. I have moments when I don’t want to put one step in front of the other, when it seems easier to ignore what is going on that facing the problems head on. Sometimes my own doubts and fears get the best of me, but there is more to life than this. Maybe, in those moments, we need to get so focused on the end goal that we press through the pain. Maybe we need to remember to keep running forward because if we just keep running, we can make it where we need to go. Maybe…I just know I learned something about myself that day. In the midst of my hurt and pain, I kept pressing. Yes, that was on a physical level, and I know that emotional pain sometimes goes much deeper, but if we can apply this principle to our physical pain, it only makes sense to make it work for our mental/emotional as well.

So, I challenge you to keep running. Push through. Finish Strong.


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Growth in Hard Places

Someone asked me how my book writing was going. I reluctantly admitted to them that I hadn’t been writing for various reasons…lack of support…feeling unneccesary…and the list goes on. They said to me that I should not let it go. In my mind, I admit I wondered if it was even worth it to write, but then I remembered that I don’t write for attention or applause, but to encourage and motivate. One person being encouraged is enough. So, I choose to keep doing what I am meant to even in a hard place. Sometimes it is in the hardest of places that great things grow. I remember hiking up a mountain in my area with a friend of mine. When we got to the top of the mountain, we noticed vegetation growing out of the rock at the top of the mountain. We could not fathom how the vegetation was still lush and green, and growing in, seemingly, an impossible place. But, despite the impossibilities, the vegetation still grows. It doesn’t need a lot to keep growing. No one waters it daily, but it’s still there, and it provides beauty in the stark landscape. It serves it’s purpose even when unnoticed. So, maybe you have been struggling to continue being and doing who you are supposed to be, but don’t let hard times stop you. Prove the impossibilities wrong.


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Embrace the Weird

I’m just a bit quirky…ok, maybe a lot quirky, but who’s really measuring? lol. I am the one in the room with a bunch of people who can choose to be extroverted and talkative, but who most likely will find the best corner to sit and watch others. I am that person who really does not care to say much, but finds it weird to be in the ¬†midst of people talking, so I try to interject a little just to say I tried. I am that “weird”. Now when I use weird, it’s not in the negative connotation that many think about. My “weird” means peculiar, different, not like the rest, set apart, intentionally and innately comfortable being one’s self. That’s my weird. For years I tried to be different. I tried to be someone who everyone would embrace. I got hurt time and time again when people didn’t seem interested in me, but only what they could get from me. I shut down, opened, up, got hurt again, and shut down again. Cycle after cycle, my weird got me in trouble. That is until I decided to embrace the weird. Even now, I don’t always fit into the crowd. I often have nothing to say when everyone else has so much to say. Sometimes I just don’t want to talk or be around everyone, but sometimes my responsibilities force me to; however, that does not mean that I have to blend in with those around me. Just as in romantic relationships, there is someone for everyone. So, I choose to embrace those who embrace me…love those who love me…and be kind even to those who don’t understand or accept me. This life is too short to spend it being anyone or anything but who God created each of us to be.

So, if you are struggling with fitting in…struggling because you feel like the odd one out (which you just may be), struggling because “they” seem to like “everyone else” better than you…frustrated because your circle is small and the number of those you can really trust is even smaller…I get it. But this is an opportunity for you to get to know the intricacies of yourself, understanding that not everyone was meant to be “the life of the party”. Some were meant to stand out. As the saying goes, there really is a lid for every pot. Stop letting what people say and think change you into something that makes you dislike yourself. Embrace your weird. Embrace who you are. Enjoy being different. That makes you amazing. Some will like you. Some won’t. Some will love you. Some won’t. Some will understand you. Some won’t. Even so, it’s not your job to make anyone embrace you. Free yourself.


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Speaking Into the Silence

Lately, I have been a bit discouraged. Yes, even me…the motivator, the one who encourages others, the one who always has positive things to say and pushes others out of their low moments, yes me…and it has been one of those times when only those who are closest to me, or those who cared to really pay attention, have known just how discouraged I have been. Built in to the discouragement has been hurt, disappointment, let downs, and being looked over–a convoluted concoction of negativity. It almost made me give up, not just “throwing in the towel”, but burning it to the point where the thought of doing what I am supposed to do does not rise again. At least, those were my thoughts. Even the most optimistic people get down when it seems support is overwhelmingly lacking, when it seems “everyone else” gets the attention you wished you could, or even when those you count on to be there when you need them have better things to do. We are definitely all human, and no matter your purpose/passion, you still have a heart that can be hurt. So, I contemplated giving everything up, figuring no one would miss what I have to say or what I do, and just when I got to that point of give up, I heard something within me say “Speak to the silence”.

My first thought after that was, “Why should I? What difference will it make?” But when I thought about it more, clarity began to come. I began to remember the times when I have literally thought I am writing, speaking, or advocating to myself due to the lack of response, but then from nowhere someone would comment or write to me telling me how something I said had touched their lives. I then began to remember the times that even writing down what I was feeling was cathartic for me and got me out of my feelings. From there, I thought about how many times I have not responded to something others have said or written, and how they too could be feeling like I have recently felt, but the fact was that their words had meant something because I remembered them. So, as I thought, I realized that while the silence can be deafening, there is still life in the silence. There are still listening ears and watching eyes in the silence. Lives can still be changed, and passions can be built just by me deciding to do what I am meant to–even when I feel unheard and unseen.

Maybe you have felt that you are unnecessary, or that your words mean nothing. As you look around, it seems others have support, but you are alone…and maybe if that is the case at the moment, know that you were built for this. Who you are and what you do is necessary for SOMEONE on this vast planet of ours, and if you stop speaking/writing/motivating/marketing/encouraging, you will miss your opportunity to put an imprint even on that ONE person’s life. I know the process is difficult. I understand wanting to be embraced and encouraged. I also understand wanting to just sink into the background not thinking you will be missed, but keep speaking even when the silence gets deafening. Keep being even when it costs everything within you to be. Keep believing when everything around you makes it seem that what you are believing in and for will never happen. As long as you are alive, there is a possibility of having everything your brilliant mind could ever imagine, so get back to speaking to the silence. One day, there won’t just be echos, but a response. Keep going.