Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…

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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.

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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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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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Sometimes when we take a look at our lives, we may not be satisfied. Maybe we are not married with 2.5 children and a dog, or maybe we are divorced and now single. Maybe we had a baby out-of-wedlock, or maybe we had a baby with someone else while married to another. Maybe we made a horrible mistake and did someone terribly wrong, or maybe we responded the wrong way when someone did us wrong. Maybe we said the wrong thing, thought the wrong thing, or looked the other way instead of offering assistance when we could have. Maybe, just maybe, we have not been perfect, and maybe, just maybe, that made us think that we are undeserving of some things. Or maybe I am the only one who has felt that way.

When I look at my life, I can directly pinpoint the times I have messed up–and I don’t mean like a little “white lie” type mess up, but the kind where lives were disrupted, and I almost contemplated taking my own life rather than face up to the misery I had caused. Yes, I have messed up that bad. After it was all said and done, I felt that I had been disqualified from the good things in life. I could not fathom having a clean heart again and enjoying life. It was unthinkable that one day I could escape from the prison of my own mind, and live in the freedom of being forgiven. Because of my mistakes, I thought that I deserved whatever bad came my way, and me not receiving some of my greatest hearts’ desires just had to be the punishment that I endured. I was afraid to trust, afraid to believe, afraid to hope. I disqualified myself. I forgot about this God that I said I believed in–the one who said that I could be forgiven. I put aside my faith, in a backwards sort of way doing penance for the wrong I had done. Every bad thing that came up in my life, I took it as a rightful consequence for the person I had been. I was broken. Miserable. But fooling others.

Then one day, I understood that while there are consequences for every action, if something is meant for me it will happen regardless of what I have done. I began to understand that the rest of my life does not have to be a makeup session for one or two mistakes. I hesitantly began to believe in the desires of my heart, and expect them to come true. I peeked out from behind my prison walls, and began to hope, finally beginning to understand that the very things that I thought had completely made me unworthy, had actually been what qualified me to appreciate the blessings on the way. Because I had struggled, I could help someone else find their way out of the swamp of despair.  Because I had almost lost my mind, I could now be a compass for someone whose life is foggy. Because I had endured, I could offer strength to someone who feels a little weak. Because I failed, I could show others how to succeed. Because I was “that”, I could show others how to be better.

So now, though I am not proud of everything in my life, I am grateful for the lessons that they taught. I am grateful for the love that was brought out of me because people loved me in the mess I was in. I am better today than I was, and I am stronger because I refused to give up–even in the worst of times. If you are going through a rough time right now, where maybe you have disqualified yourself from receiving good things, it is time to get back up. We all fall, but what determines our future is our decision to either get back up, or stay down. I challenge you to stand. I challenge you to be more. I challenge you to be qualified.

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Embracing the Unexpected

I have heard many talking about 2016, and discussing the turmoil and craziness of the year. From deaths, to the election, to things going on in our personal lives, many of us are just ready for 2016 to move out-of-the-way so that we can have a “fresh start” in 2017. I get it. 2016 has been a lot in so many ways, but it has taught many things as well. In the picture above I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic when I randomly stopped right in front of these trees. If I had not looked up, and was strictly focused on my drive or the frustration of the journey, I would have missed the random beauty of the shock of red right outside of my window. That moment struck me deeply. Why? One, because it was unexpected. Two, because it made me re-evaluate some things in my life. 2016 has been a year of the unexpected, and I have not always gone with the flow. Like many of you, I have fought against what I did not expect. It was not until I began to reverse my typical thought process and embrace what I have not expected that things began to get easier. If nothing else, this year has taught me that life really does happen, and like a mantra I have always said, sometimes you really do have to flow with it. By releasing the pressure and steering into the flow, there is undiscovered beauty in that place. If we never have to deal with the unexpected, how do we know that we can handle it? If we never feel overwhelmed, how do we know that we can bear whatever comes our way? If we never feel lonely or frustrated, how can we understand when someone else comes to us feeling the same way, and expecting us to help them find a way out? If we never feel hurt, how will we know that we can overcome? Some things are unexpected. Some things we would rather not detour to experience, but life happens that way. Swim with the current. Don’t fight it because that usually causes more trouble. Just know that there is a lesson in every battle, and victory at the end of the fight. As 2016 draws to a close, don’t allow the uncertainty of what is to come, to rob you of your excitement of what a new year can bring. Remember, in the unexpected can be a blessing.

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The Essence Remains

Fall is one of my absolute favorite seasons. I enjoy watching as the trees change colors, and although I do not particularly care for cold weather, I love pulling out my fall boots and getting my hot chocolate ready for the cooler weather. Fall also signals the coming of Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are two of my favorite holidays. When fall comes, I start my baking craziness (prompting my husband’s serious side eye as I go crazy in the kitchen). Fall is just the beginning of all kinds of greatness for me. It has not always been that way, but it is now. Recently, I went on my morning hike up a mountain near me.  This is nothing unusual, but on this particular morning, I took a closer look at the scenery all around me. I paid attention to the trees. I looked at the insects that were still running around in nature. I especially focused on the changing colors and the view around the mountain. I noticed, upon my perusal, that there were leaves of all different colors. Beautiful, luscious, fall colors. They captivated my attention. Upon closer inspection, I saw that many of the leaves were the same, just different colors than they had been throughout the year. For some reason, this was a particularly poignant point for me. As I studied the leaves, I saw the varied colors, but one fact remained; No matter what color they changed, they were still leaves. Their environment dictated that they change. It appeared that they would die off never to return, and yeah, that seems to be the case on the surface; however, as I thought of it more, I understood that leaves will always remain. The cycle of their life may make them seem obsolete. Shifts happen, but when spring comes again, so will the leaves. This made me think of our lives and how things happen that make it seem as if we will never recover. The “colors” of our lives change, and maybe it does not seem as beautiful as the fall colors, but there is an amazing undercurrent to that change. All things really do work together for our good. I have seen my life shift all around me. Things have happened that did not look good, and definitely did not feel good, but one fact remained; that is the fact that who I am in essence will always remain. Who I was created to be, what I was created to do, the lives I was created to touch, none of that changed as my life went on around me. So, embrace the seasons of change, and know that when it is all over, you will still remain.image-32205

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Above It All

Daily life can be inundated with things that can so easily get us off track. Before we know it, we have slacked off of tackling our goals. We have allowed what others are doing to become our daily entertainment, and somewhere along the way we may have forgotten that we too have things to do. Then, we may start believing that what we are supposed to be doing does not matter anymore. Maybe we believe we’re unneccessary. Maybe what we have to say, and what we are meant to do is irrelevant. Maybe it’s time for us to pack things up and find something else to do. At least that’s what we think. But, if it is our purpose, how is it so easy to put it away? Life happens. People are fickle. Emotions are temporary. One thing that has to remain constant is our dedication to who we are. That is regardless of anyone or anything else. Admittedly, I have had my moments lately-moments where I got so frustrated at the seeming lack of support, or I started comparing myself to others. I had to come to a realization though that I am peculiar. Who I am and how I do things is unlike ANYONE else on this earth. My voice was specifically created for people who will hear me. In the same token, you are set up to reach those meant for you to reach. Never settle with being less than you are. Instead, challenge the complacency when it threatens you. Challenge the low self-esteem and doubt. Hold on to your victory. You have gone through too much to back down now. Stay above it all.