Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


Leave a comment

Life Check In

So, how are those New Year resolutions going? Are you sticking to them, or has life succeeded in influencing you to kick them to the side? For me, life has been something else, but I intentionally didn’t make resolutions knowing that life will take that as a challenge sometimes. Instead, I declared that this year I would be “better.” This means that as much as I may have gotten off track last year, as long as I don’t do what I did last year, I qualify as being better. Now, to some that may seem to be a low threshold; after all, not doing what you did before does not make you your best, right? Wrong. Continuously striving for better gets you ever closer to that elusive “best;” however, if I can never see improvement, it is much easier to get stuck in the mire of “not good enough.” I refuse to be stuck.

So, no matter how far off from your resolve you have wandered, I have some breadcrumbs to get you back on track. Each day that seems a bit off, strive to do the next day differently. The beautiful thing about life is that there are numerous chances to start again from right where we are. It’s up to us how many times we take advantage of the fresh start. So, maybe this first month of the new year has challenged you and won, but tomorrow is another day for you to fight back. Are you ready?

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Tangled Up

I was minding my business when a colleague approached me asking for a favor. I used to automatically respond, “Sure, what do you need?” Not anymore. I have gotten myself into some sticky situations by automatically agreeing. 🙂 So, as I waited for her to tell me what she wanted, she held up a tangled necklace and asked if I could fix it. Now, staring at the mess in front of me, I wondered how in the world she thought I could fix it, but she had faith in me that I could. So, I watched myself (kind of an out-of body experience) reach out my hand to accept this jumbled mess. I told her I would get to it in a bit, but as I stared at the mess before me on my desk, I could not resist at least trying to get it right. The going was intense. Every time I thought I had fixed the mess, another tangle seemed to appear out of nowhere. At some point, I felt myself getting frustrated and almost deciding that it was not worth trying, but I kept going. When I heard myself in my head giving myself a pep talk, “Slow down. You’re going to get it. Just one loop at a time.” the chore became more of a puzzle. I love puzzles, so that worked for me. Finally, I got to the last knot, and I began to hurry because the suspense was almost over, but then it seems the necklace got more tangled. So, I remembered my advice to myself and I slowed down. After what seemed like forever, I finished untangling the mess, and came out with a beautiful necklace. Now, I am patting myself on the back for a job well done.

As I untangled the necklace, I thought about how life happens, and sometimes the decisions we make or the decisions others make regarding us leave us in a bind. We get tangled up and frustrated, and many times it may seem that we will never be able to straighten out the knots and twists that life has brought to us. But, just like the necklace took time and patience to untangle, so do our lives. The great thing about life is that things can always get back to “normal”, but it is the twists and turns that make it a bit more interesting. Even when our lives get jumbled up, there is always an opportunity for us to get ourselves together. Just as I had to help my colleague, sometimes, we have to help others untangle their lives. Even if it is left to us to fix the “mess” of our lives, we have to remember that some messes can’t be fixed immediately, but they take time, patience, and some setbacks. The blessing is that when we work to fix it, we appreciate the finished work.

Maybe your life has seemed like that necklace. A mess.  Tangled up. Confused. Maybe it seems impossible to fix. But, I challenge you to take it one “knot” at a time. Keep working at it. Don’t give up when things seem to get more difficult. Just keep in mind the image of what you want your life to be, and work towards that goal. After all, we are all “a mess”, but we don’t have to stay that way.


Leave a comment

My Truth

I am socially awkward. I am that one who CAN talk to everyone in the room, but probably won’t. The wallflower that is vibrant and vivacious, but would rather stay to myself. That one who loves everyone, but still gravitates to seeking my own company. I used to wonder why God gave me the personality He did. Why did he make me quiet and observant as opposed to outgoing and the life of the party? Why couldn’t he make me to be the one with a whole lot of friends and associates, rather than the one with very few friends and even fewer associates? I have watched those who seem to be well-liked by everyone, and I wondered about their secret. Then I tried to mimic who they were, but it made me feel fake and out of pocket. Eventually, I came to realize that the me the way God created me to be would have to do.

If you think about it, all of us having the same personalities would make for a very bland world. No differences. Same way of doing things. There is a place in society for all of us. For the quintessential wallflower, the gregarious life of the party, the easygoing in-the-moment participant…all of us. Now, I know that our lives sometimes shape who we are. Looking back at my childhood, my experiences shaped me to be unnaturally suspicious of anyone I encounter. Trusting someone is not always first on my list. Then as I grew older, my own mistakes led me into hiding. I used to think, “What if they knew all the things I have done. The wrong I have done to others…THAT mistake? Would they still think I had value?” But that is a mindset that has to be broken. Our lives lead to us portraying ourselves in certain ways, then we project that on others and stop being true to ourselves. I decided I would live my truth.

So now, when I say I am a wallflower, it is not out of fear of what people think about me. It is because I have learned to speak when I have something to say. But, I am the one in the gathering who will most likely be off to myself. Not antisocial. Not standoffish. Just comfortable in who I am. It took years to get here, but it has been worth the journey. Spend time getting to know yourself, and being comfortable with who you are. Your experiences shaped you, but they don’t define the rest of your story.


Leave a comment

Dream Killer

“Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?”

This is one of my favorite short poems by one of my favorite writers, Langston Hughes. It says so much in such a succinct way. Every time I read it, it challenges me to think about my dreams, and consider what has happened to them. Have I let them dry up or fester? Are my dreams rotting or sagging, or are they on the verge of exploding? Have I stopped believing?

It’s easy to stop believing. When life comes at you from every angle…heartache and pain…friends and family walking away…emotional anguish…feeling unsupported and unseen…loss of loved ones…it can seem that your dreams move further and further away until they are gathering dust on the top shelf of the deepest crevices of your heart. I have felt the pain of dreams seeming to dry up. One moment things seemed to be going in the right direction, but then it seemed like out of nowhere, nothing was working. Whatever I tried failed. No one could really understand when I talked to them about it. I was on the proverbial island all alone with my thoughts, and my thoughts were not the best companion. I saw before me the vast horizon in which I had cast much of my hopes on this particular dream, and then I saw myself almost being catapulted in the opposite direction of my dream. Then I saw how repeated failures and attempts, and repeated frustration brought me to the verge of calling it quits. To that point where you say, “I just don’t care”, and you throw in the towel. I started trying to convince myself that my life would be so much simpler if I just decided to give up on that particular dream. I would have more time, more freedom, less stress, less people watching, and I could get back to my life before I decided to believe. Oh, how simple it all seemed BEFORE this dream. So, that was almost the end.

But then I remembered the purpose placed on the dream. My dream was not to benefit just me, but to influence and change the lives of those connected to me. I had to throw some “water” on that dream and give it life. So, as much as I did not want to, I decided to breathe into the dream again. Now, things have not turned all the way around. Some days, I long for the more “simple” times, but I know there is a mission to tackle. Someone is waiting on me to walk into my dream world so they can know that it is possible. It is possible. Living in dreamland IS possible. Maybe you are like I was right now. You have watched as your dreams have seemed to shrink or turn to dust. You have tried everything you know how to get them to breathe again, but it seems that maybe you should give up on this dream. Don’t. If it was placed in you to believe in, then keep standing on it. Dust it off and try it all again. Some things don’t work right away, but we have to believe that they will. We have invested too much to let our dreams explode, so what do you need to do today to revive that dream? Get to it.


Leave a comment

Good Enough

Well, we made it. We jumped out of 2017 and propelled forward into 2018. For some, there is excitement and anticipation. For others, there may be some trepidation. Either way, here we are, and there is no going back. If you take an honest look at 2017, I am sure you see things you would have done differently. Maybe. I know I saw some things, but realized I can’t change a thing. Guess that means it is best to live from here, right? 

Thinking about the opportunities of the new year, I thought through all of the things I have been tasked to do. I thought about the speaking engagements, the travel, the blogs, the networking, the conversations, the expected growth, and even though I have always encouraged others, I found myself not truly believing that I was up for the task. Yes, me the encourager I did not believe I was equipped to function in the realm given to me. It almost brought me back to growing up when I did not believe I was enough, so I allowed other things to fill the voids. This left me worse off than before. I remembered feeling incompetent and unnecessary. I remembered…I wrestled…I struggled. Silently. Telling no one, but fighting a battle. Only, this time, I refused to lose. 

This was not my first time in the ring, but it was the first time I truly decided that I would not quit. The battle raged on and on. I wanted to give up on myself, BUT I said this time had to be different. At some point I looked up, and I realized that I was no longer in the defensive position, but I had begun to wage war on what was fighting me. I could not lose. I didn’t. I came out of that battle stronger, more intentional, determined. I understood, again, that I have everything in me to be ALL that I was created to be. I am enough. I am capable…so are you. 

Maybe you are in a battle like I was. Maybe you are looking at the layout of your year, and thinking that you come up short. Maybe 2017 was rough and damaged your self-esteem, belief in yourself, passion…I get it. I was there. But, now is the time to reinvest yourself into being. Begin to speak to yourself and believe that you can be and do EVERYTHING that is in your heart to do. You’re pretty enough, talented enough, loving enough, capable enough, worthy enough,  good enough…You are. So, don’t allow 2018 to put you off of your game. Put your dukes up and get ready to fight for what you believe. It won’t be easy. You may get knocked down in a few rounds, but what matters most is that you keep getting back up. This really is your year to believe in you and get rid of the history that tells you you’re not good enough. Will you choose to give up or win? You decide.


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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”.