Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


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I Am Enough.

For years I struggled with low self-esteem and with a persistent feeling of people rejecting or not liking me. Now, I know where my feelings of rejection came from–I remember vividly the day I was taken from my mother’s home, then placed in my Aunt’s home, only to end up in foster care. I remember thinking that I must have not been good enough, pretty enough, smart enough…just “anything” enough because no one seemed to want me. Then, I remember going from foster home to foster home, and ending up in a home where I never felt I belonged or was accepted. So, my insecurities years later were no surprise, as frustrating as they were. These insecurities and thoughts led me to not really have friends or close acquaintances throughout the years. I did not trust anyone; Nor did I think that anyone could really care about me. Besides, I did not want to open a door to possibly getting hurt. Even now, I think about the fact that I never had that “best friend” that many people around me have–that one you have known for 20 years and gone through many of life’s changes with–the one who knows ALL of your deepest, darkest secrets, and loves you just the same. Yeah, I missed out on that, and sometimes that hurts, but my childhood was just different from many others.

So rejection, fear, abandonment, low self-esteem, and this feeling of not being good enough constantly bombarded me through the years. At some point, I learned to open up enough to let people in, but even then, a small part of me would be looking for the slightest reason to run away. Then, when I finally had a few people who seemed to like me even a little, I began to cater to them, and I slowly lost me. I thought that if I was exactly what they wanted, if I never caused strife, if I did what they wanted, laughed when they laughed, thought like they thought, if I became their mirror image, then of course they would not walk away from me. Somewhere in those thoughts, I believed that I was not good enough to keep the right people around. So, I became a wallflower, always around, but hardly noticed–afraid to do anything that would make people walk away from me. I became a shadow of my shadow’s shadow, lost somewhere in the dark waters of unrealized potential and untapped dreams. For years, that was me. Then something changed for me. I got tired of being overlooked and of being someone else. The stress of trying to be liked, and people still walking away even for trivial reasons, and the realization of what is inside of me, caused a quantum leap into a new dimension.

I don’t remember the exact moment, but I know that one day I stopped caring about who liked me, who wanted to be around me, who was there one day and gone the next. I remembered that before the lost hopes and dreams, before the truncated childhood, and before the hurt had a chance to burrow into my heart, I used to believe…I believed that I could be whatever I wanted to be. I believed that I was lovable, beautiful, necessary. I believed that I did not have anything to prove to anyone but God. I remember years ago when I believed in me. I wanted that girl back, so I brought her back to stay. The reunion has been bittersweet and lonely, but it has been worth it.

Maybe you are now like I was, lost in the cacophony of noise brought on by trying to be everything else to everyone else, and maybe you are just now realizing that you lost yourself. Maybe you forgot that it is ok for you to speak up and express your opinions without fear of being discarded. Maybe you have gotten so far off track in trying to be “just right” for everyone else, that you don’t even know if you can get back to being who you are supposed to be. Maybe, just maybe, you have forgotten how to breathe and appreciate the amazing entity that is you. Maybe…but I have good news for you. As long as you’re alive, it is not too late. Now is the time to pull out every bit of power left in you–to stand up and no longer have to slink on the sidelines. This is the perfect time to rediscover who you are, and allow yourself to appreciate your quirky inconsistencies and even your insecurities, and even in that understand that it is those things which make you the priceless jewel that you are.

Life has a way of turning things upside down, but it also has a way of turning things right side up again, and sometimes that is up to us to do. Are you tired enough yet of being someone else? Then it is time for you to stand up and declare that, “I Am Enough”.

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Lifestyles of the “Not So Famous”

I have been writing for years….I mean, like years and years…since I was a little girl. I started writing professionally when I was in high school, and the rest, as “they” say, is history. I write because I love to encourage. I write because it gives me an outlet. I write because it makes me feel alive, and I am passionate about reaching the world beginning with the tip of my pen or the tap of the keys. I am undeniably a writer, and most definitely a motivator. Those facts are intrinsic; however, sometimes I get weary. Sometimes it takes everything to muster up a few words of encouragement. At times, I get serious writer’s block, to the point where I don’t write for weeks.  Then, maybe life happens, and I get distracted; Out of all of that though, one thing never changes, and that is that I am a writer.

Recently, I have been getting a lot of random encouragement to keep writing from some really unexpected places. My grandfather, who admittedly does not like to read books, just told me that he is blown away by my writing and my book makes him want to read. My friend sent me a message telling me that my words have power and are necessary…and more from others. Their words have lifted me up, and pushed me to be and do even more. Sometimes, in the midst of feeling like you are being overlooked, what you do may be even more far-reaching than you realize.

So, don’t stop being who you are because you feel unappreciated or not taken seriously. What is in you will not change just because you don’t feel like “being” it. It is still there. It is still waiting on you to walk into your full potential. Maybe you are not “famous”, and you do not have worldwide acclaim, but to who it matters, you are a “star”…and just maybe you are right where you are supposed to be, processing through the lifestyle of the “not so famous” to come to a place of wholeness and potency to where the very essence of your life’s purpose oozes from your pores even without you having to say a word. So, write…dance…speak…create…be…someone is still watching you…


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Bloom Where You’re Planted

My life is sometimes full of randomness. I can be walking down the street when a discarded tire on the side of the road gives me inspiration. A single word out of an entire conversation can get me daydreaming for the rest of the day (in the midst of my other work, of course 🙂 ) Sometimes, it just happens like that. It used to annoy me, this overactive imagination and mind of mine, but now I have learned to flow with it. So, one day as I was arriving home after a long day of work, I happened to glance at the tree in my front yard. I noticed that while it was blooming, it was not full-fledged in bloom like all the other trees in my neighbors yards. I began to compare the trees, and my tree was not as “good” as the others. But, then I remembered the Spring before, and I remembered that it had been in full bloom at some point. So, I began to think about what is needed for the tree to bloom (yes, all of this happened as I stood outside my car looking at the tree before walking in my house). For the tree to bloom, it needs sunshine, water, nutrients, and the optimum environment in which to grow. The tree had all of these things, yet it was slow in blooming. I then began to think of instances in life where things seemed a bit slow, and when it seemed that some things would never change, but seemingly within moments, things shifted. In that time, I took my attention away from those slow moments and focused on other things, and when I came back to the things that I was concerned about, the circumstances had changed. I think my tree will be the same. Right now, it does not look how I want it to look. It is not blooming as I believe it should be blooming, but it is in the midst of the process, and the end results will be beautiful. Life is like that sometimes–frustrating, daunting, not going as planned–but some way or another, things work themselves out. In the processing place, I determined that I will live my best life now. I will go after every dream that manifests itself in my life. I will have those things I desire. I will glorify God with my life. I will love, laugh, and experience all there is to offer. No, things are nowhere near perfect, and I do not expect that the path will always be smooth, but the end result of the process will be flawless and just for me. So, maybe you are feeling like my tree, not blooming where you are planted, and not seeming to be on the same level as those around you. That is perfectly ok, because though you are in the same environment, your process is different. What you need to bloom is strategically allocated just for you, so bloom where you are planted. Live your best life now. Experience new things. Challenge yourself. You CAN have it all and BE it all if it was given you to have and be. So, what’s stopping you?


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Replaceable

Not long ago I lay in my bed with tears running down my face, curled into a tight ball facing away from my husband. Before this, my husband was right in the bed behind me, but I had somehow curled away from him. Thoughts raced through my mind, and before I knew it, the tears fell over the rim of my eyes and cascaded down the curves of my face. Trying to pull myself out of my despair, I asked my husband one simple question…at least I thought it was simple…I asked him, “Would you miss me if I wasn’t here?” My husband, sounding utterly confused, asked what I meant. I asked him would he miss me if I were no longer alive. At this, I felt him perk up in the bed behind me, and he hesitantly asked me where that had come from. I did not want to talk about it, so I told him it was not important. He would not let it go, and eventually I told him that I felt replaceable. I explained to him how I felt that no one would miss me if I were no longer around. Then I delved into the depression I had been battling, and the feeling that no one really cared about me. I admitted to myself that suicidal thoughts can even touch those who are seemingly so strong, and I admitted that right then I was not strong enough. My husband’s next words to me were slightly angry as he asked how I could ever think something like that, then he switched to soothing and encouraging as he told me how much I mean to him and others. He told me that if no one else needed me or cared, he does, and he told me to never think such crazy thoughts again. Then he grabbed me from my tightly curled ball, and would not let me go until I stopped crying and relaxed…learning to trust and daring to believe again. Life happens. Sometimes we feel like no one really cares about us. Many times we smile and laugh, and we try to make people believe that we are worth loving, but take it from me: You are worth loving even if no one seems to believe it. But, first you have to love yourself. I had to understand that my life does have purpose, and that no matter how dark things seem, just like the night-time, the morning has to come. Maybe you are like I was, feeling desperate, lonely, depressed, and seeking a way out. Maybe your prayers have seemed to get only as far as the ceiling as you stare at it. Maybe the words you want to say are not coming out clearly. Just remember one thing…your life matters. You are necessary. You are loved. You are NOT replaceable. You may be fighting, but you are powerful, and with God’s help, you win. I win. Believe.


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Worth the Wait

We live in what many have called the “microwave generation”. Everything seems to come quickly. You want hot food? Warm it up in the microwave. You want money? Try this opportunity and that marketing ploy to get money fast. You want a good relationship? Try the plethora of online dating sites guaranteeing perfect matches? You want to be happy? Go online and shop for more things and spend the money you got through your “get rich quick” scheme. Now, these things are not necessarily negative things to engage in, but they sometimes make us forget that some things do not happen overnight. Many times, the things that have longevity are those that have been cultivated; and the people you see who seem to have “made it”, many times they were working under the radar for a decade or more until their time came to be recognized. It is difficult to feel like you are not seen, or to feel that no one appreciates who you are and what you have to offer, but keep believing. Your time will come too. The amazing thing about you is that you have been pushing through a process that may have sometimes threatened to take you out. Someone else may not have made it through your process, but it was perfectly designed just for you. You have triumphed and cried. Laughed then cried. Danced and cried…and maybe you’re getting tired of the cycle. I understand. Just know that your processing will benefit many because you have been time-tested and process-approved. When it is your time, those whom you are meant to reach will tell you that you are well worth the wait. So, in this time of waiting and wondering if what you have seen will ever come to pass, know that there is a spot in the horizon of time that has been reserved specifically for you. Don’t give up in the waiting area when your name may be the next one to be called. You are relevant and soon the process will make sense. Keep pushing.


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Depths of My Mind

I learned something today. Want to know what it was? If you’re still reading, I assume you do, so thanks for joining me. 🙂 I learned today that I am not crazy, and that’s just as I thought. Today I took a Trauma/Brain class, and in the class we were discussing the effects of Trauma on the brain. We talked about how trauma can be chronic and something that can change the very nature of our DNA, as well as how we think. As we delved into the topic, I began to remember things that happened to me as a child, and I began to understand the reasons behind some of my actions since childhood. The trainer asked us to give examples we could think of regarding some of the effects of trauma, and as people in the class gave their guesses on what the effects could be, I remembered vividly my lived experiences.

I remembered being separated from my mother and being put in foster care. I remembered, even before that, before I was taken away from my mother–the environments in which we lived and in which my brothers and I developed. I even went back and thought about the big, black snake that caused me so much fear as a young child. Most vividly though, in the discussion of how certain experiences change our DNA and how we think, I remembered the molestation. I thought back to the first time my brother’s friend got a little too friendly, then to another time when a friend of the family tried to show their “love” for me, but it would not go as they planned, and then to another time when my supposed “cousin” at one of my foster homes tried to make me feel good…and while I longed for love and attention, some part of me just knew that none of this was right. But, it all came from somewhere. There were others, but those experiences specifically gave me a distinct distrust for men, and even for anyone who claimed to love me. In the depths of my mind, I began to think that no one could just love me without first wanting something from me. I even thought that maybe if I let people “love me” the way they wanted to, I would feel something other than empty. My experiences changed my life, and they made me weary, but they also left me vulnerable.

So vulnerable, in fact, that I made many mistakes as an adult because I really just wanted to be loved, and when I did not feel loved, I took whatever I could get. I hurt others because my voids were so deep that it did not allow me to understand how others could feel. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to feel something besides empty, but the emptiness grew.

Many years have passed since the molestation and since the moments that stole my childhood, but the trauma was still there. I have noticed through the years that I have reacted a certain way to people and situations, and I have seen things a certain way because of my past. Ideally, I could snap my finger and change the circumstances of my childhood, but that is not realistic; however, I have learned to be intentional about changing my mind in specific moments. Now that I have matured, I have come to understand that my life has purpose, and every experience has built me into the woman I am today. I am perfectly imperfect, and my experiences have grown me in a way that I may not have if I had not gone through what I did.

Sometimes things happen that we do not understand, and many times we act without delving into the reasons why we respond to others and situations. Traumatic situations change us, and they scar our hearts/minds. We have to remember, though, that we are not our pasts. We are more than what happened to us. We are no longer that person who was powerless. We are valuable and loved. We deserve love, and we deserve it in the right way. Acknowledge your past and the effects it has had on your present, and work to change your behaviors as you can, but also give yourself some slack when things trigger a memory. There is more. YOU are more.


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Birthing Pains

Infertility. That word alone inspires fear and doubt. It changes lives. It disrupts plans. I know it did for me. I remember years ago when I first got diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I remember the doctors telling me that something had to be wrong for me to not have been pregnant yet. But, I pushed that aside, and I went on in life as if nothing was wrong. It bothered me subconsciously, but I put on a brave front. I continued encouraging others. Life went on. Recently, I went to a new doctor, and she again talked about my PCOS. She was incredulous at the fact that almost nine years into my marriage, I had still not conceived. She brought up that curse word again: Infertility. This time though, the word gave me more grief. I began to automatically think about the fact that maybe I would never conceive. I immediately wondered what I had done wrong for my body to betray me in such a way. Maybe I did something I should not have. Maybe something was wrong with me. Maybe I was not good enough…fertile enough…woman enough. Woman enough…yeah, that one hurt. You see, I thought that being able to conceive makes one a “real woman”.

As others around me conceived, some of them not even wanting to, I found myself drawing deeper and deeper within myself. I cowered behind my pain, but I put on a mask of happiness and joy, and made everyone think that life was perfect. But it wasn’t. I wanted so bad to have a child. Well meaning friends and associates would often tell me that my time was coming, and I was “next”. They asked randomly if I was pregnant, or if I had tried all I should to conceive. Unbeknownst to them, each question/well-meaning inquiry reinforced my belief that I was not woman enough. What woman cannot conceive on her own? Not a real one, I answered myself. Negative pregnancy test after test, let down after let down, and  every menstrual cycle that decided to show up, I began to question God more and more until I got to a place of being angry with God. This one thing so greatly desired, I had been denied. “Why God?”, I cried. I thought that life was really just unfair.

But somewhere along the way, things shifted in me. I don’t even know when the shift occurred. I just know that one day, the hurt was not as deep, and I was actually looking forward to my life as being an amazing wife to my amazing husband–even if it were just he and I for the rest of our lives. I began to look forward to my “freedom” and to learning more about myself, as well as exploring all else I had not tapped in to. While the desire is still present, and the hurt is still there, I learned to live in the midst of the “birthing pains”, as I came to call them. The hurt has now become just a dull thud in the corner of my heart. In this place on my journey, God reminded me to live. I remembered that there is more to me than having a baby. I have a purpose. I have people to touch. I have a life to lead outside of being a mother. Life can still be fully lived, and I remembered again that I am “woman enough”. I am not broken because I have not conceived. I am not less than anyone else because I have not been blessed in that way. My path has just been different. Maybe one day God will see fit to allow me to be a mother, but even if He does not, my life will be full and happy, and lived well.

I don’t know what you’re dealing with that you haven’t told anyone. Maybe you’re hurting in a place that you believe you will never recover from. Maybe even your close friends do not realize the extent of your hurt, but know that God knows all. If you don’t believe in God, I hope to convince you otherwise :-), but know that life is not over because of that one thing you may not have. Every obstacle, every pain, every setback, and every moment of frustration is all a part of the “birthing pains” to your purpose. You never know the lives you will touch because of your experience. So when you are ready, remember that it is time for you to live again. Don’t allow life to make you settle for “just good enough” because you cannot have your greatest desire. Live in expectancy of greatness. Love, laugh, live fully. There is really more to you than this moment…