Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


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Good Enough

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m just not good enough”, and you believed it deep down on the inside of you? Have you found yourself comparing yourself to someone else’s greatness, and finding your own self severely lacking? When was the last time you looked at yourself and said, “I am good just how I am?” Are you still thinking? That long, huh? Yeah, I understand.

I had a discussion with someone not long ago, and he reminded me that in the whirlwind of all that I do, I had lost the capacity to consider myself. I helped everyone else. I got pleasure from seeing others happy. But when he asked me what makes me happy, it took a while to think about it. Caught up in everyone else, I realized that part of my drive to make everyone happy was so that they didn’t look at me and see that I was struggling. I didn’t want anyone to see that I didn’t think I was good enough to live up to the big dreams God put in me, so I pushed everyone else’s vision, supported everyone else, encouraged everyone else…and somewhere along the way, I forgot about me. It is easy to do. Sometimes, we get so great at hiding our need from others that they begin to think we don’t need anything from them, and they become content allowing you to push their vision while yours gets dropped off on the side of the road. It’s not totally their fault. But as I spoke with this person, I began to remember the dreams I had put on the top shelf, not totally out of reach, but far enough away so that I wasn’t bothered by the sight of unrealized dreams.

I understood again that if the dreams were given to me, then I am good enough to function in them. It is timeout for losing the essence of me trying to be everything else for everyone else. Not to say that we shouldn’t support others and help push others, but not at the detriment of losing ourselves in the process. So maybe you have allowed yourself to believe that you’re not good enough, pretty enough, old enough, young enough, popular enough…destroy the lie. You ARE good enough. Now own it.

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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.


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Do I Really Matter?

A question as old as time itself…and an answer that can be heartbreaking…this question often reverberates through our minds. It makes sense because we are only human, but sometimes acknowledging the fragility of our humanity does not offer us solace when the answer to this question leaves us wanting. What happens when you ask yourself this question, then you look around at the “evidence” in your life, but you can’t find anything that seems to lean towards the answer being a resounding “yes”? Do you just stop trying? Do you give in to the depression that waits just an inch outside of your proverbial bubble? Do you even dare to keep believing that you will see everything your heart could ever hope for? Do you?

For some reason, I have been in this place of wondering if who I am and what I do matters? With all that I give, and in each of my businesses, I have still wondered if I am talking to and encouraging myself. Seeming lack of response, and watching what seemed like everyone else supporting others, left me in a low place. I stopped writing. I stopped encouraging. I stopped hoping. I hid myself in plain view, but I was not me. The funny thing was…no one seemed to notice. That left me even deeper in the hole of depression until those old thoughts of just disappearing and never coming back began to resurface. Yeah, those negative and dismal thoughts that are only supposed to apply to anyone else but a motivator…those thoughts. I was in a rough place.

Finally, I couldn’t take that place anymore, and I cried out to God hoping that at least He could see me. He could. He never left. I just stopped believing. So, piece by piece, I began to rebuild my broken heart and shattered dreams. No, no one came to my rescue, and yes it still feels at times that no one cares, but who I am and what I do is about more than just me. If I don’t write, who will miss being encouraged because I didn’t do it? If I don’t speak, who would miss hearing the very words that could save their lives? If I don’t mentor and coach, what young person will grow up believing that they don’t matter? If I am not me, someone else is affected. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, that one truth remains.

Your life matters, and maybe you get tired of giving and not seeming to receive, but keep believing that one day things will look so different. One day you will look back at these times and thank God you didn’t quit when it was easier to just walk away. There is something so magnetic and necessary about you, so don’t allow life to lie to you. Your circumstances are not bigger than you. The hurt can’t conquer you. You MATTER.


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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.


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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.