Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…

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Silent Tears

Sometimes you just hurt. Not that surface kind of hurt, but that deep-down, soul-wrenching, unexplainable hurt. That hurt that seems to invade every facet of your life until you find yourself drifting through each day, pasting on the appropriate smile, and saying just the right things. But that pain deep inside is there as a constant reminder that things really are not as they seem. I have been there. “Where is there?” you may ask. There is where you silently cry as your significant other sleeps beside you. You soak the pillow with your tears, feeling lonely even in your togetherness. As you cry, your body shakes as you try to control the sobs from breaking free and disturbing their sleep. I mean, they wouldn’t understand anyways, right? There is trying to describe to someone you love how you feel, attempting to rid yourself of this vast feeling of going nowhere and mattering to no one, and them responding, “Well, you have a good life, right?” as if that makes what you are saying and how you are feeling null and void. Yeah, they missed it. Or, maybe you search through your mind polling the many phone numbers in your phone, but not one catches your attention as someone you can call and have them talk you out of this lonely place. 

I mean, when you look at the surface, life is great, right? You have everything you need and some things you want. You have a loving partner, maybe family and friends, even some children sprinkled in there. You are the one everyone depends on to encourage them and be there for them, but sometimes you want to shout “WHAT ABOUT ME?” On the surface, you have it going on,  but no one knows you’re struggling with being a hamster running around the proverbial wheel of life, seeming to get nowhere, but running because that is what you were told to do. The days spent building up others’ dreams while you see yours collecting dust on the shelves are tough days, but you grin and bear it. You have no choice, right? Working a 9-5 you hate because your family has to eat, right? Pushing others to be great when you want to give up. Yeah, I know what “there” is. But even with all of this that no one ever sees, you manage to make life look amazing. 

That is because even with all of that, it really is. Even with the soul-searing pain, at least you can still feel. Even with the loneliness, at least you still function. Even when it seems no one on earth understands or cares, there is still One who knows just what He is doing every step of the way. Maybe you are in the place I described. It is a ROUGH place, it is, but it is not the end. You may feel like giving up. Been there. Suicide has crossed my mind several times. That is not the answer. That is only hurting others because you hurt. Next up, getting in a car and just driving…disappearing like you see in the movies. Yeah, that would not work. Eventually someone would find you or you would just get tired of running from yourself. Well, maybe if I turn my back on God who doesn’t seem to care anyway, and I just do whatever I want, that will change things. Nope. Same issues just masked by “good times” which are really camoflauging empty moments. 

Sometimes just acknowledging the feelings is the first step. Acknowledging that you are broken and hurting, feeling unnecessary and overlooked, seemingly unproductive and thinking you can be easily replaced, yeah, that is the first step. Unfortunately, this may be a journey you take alone. It may be the roughest journey you ever embark on, but in the end, if you can acknowledge it, you can beat it. So, yeah, maybe there will be a few nights, weeks, months, of tear-soaked pillows…Maybe your phone will become useless as you can’t figure out anyone to call, but in the end you win. Let the silent tears flush out the bitterness and the hurt. Allow yourself to be in the moment, and know that as long as there is a tomorrow, there is another chance for things to get better from here. It has to get better. It just does.


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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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Dare to Hope

It’s that time of year again. You know the time. When New Year’s resolutions and promises for a new year begin. Some really mean what they say and take the necessary steps to ensure that the new year yields results. Others are more talk than action, and they start out meaning well, but as life and old desires battle, often their good intentions lose the fight. Gyms and churches are packed in January, but by March there are empty classes and empty pews/seats. We always mean well, but sometimes we lack the follow-through. As 2018 approaches, I, like everyone else, have taken stock of my life. I realize the things I have not done that I promised in January I would do. I see the areas where I slacked, even the areas where nothing was accomplished. I’m not proud of it, but I acknowledge it. My resolve, I will finish what I have begun, and I will become all that I am meant to become. That is the only resolution I will make for the new year because everything I need to do is wrapped up in that simple statement. 

One thing that I have struggled with, as 2018 quickly races to take over 2017, is the promise of dreams coming true. I struggled with this because it seems like each year I would hear someone say, or I would tell myself, Grace this is your year. In the same vein, year after year, these hopes didn’t happen. So eventually, hoping can become too heavy a burden to bear. I found myself just saying, “You know what? I’ll be fine if this thing and that thing doesn’t happen. Others have dealt with it and lived. I can and will too.” I was choosing to prepare myself more for the possibility of these things not happening for me, rather than the possibility of them actually happening. I did not want to create an environment of hope, then be let down again. Now, these things I hope for are not things I can do myself. I can’t just wish them in to existence and they come to pass. No, these are things out of my control. Ooohhh, control…yeah, that thing I hate to lose a handle on. So, as 2018 has approached, even as people have said 2018 is my year to have certain things, I have battled. I have doubted. I have put their kind and hopeful words on the shelf. Why? Because it hurts to hope. But, I realized that life without hope is not really living at all. 

So, as I prepare for what is to come, I choose to hope again. I believe that certain things will come true for me, whether in 2018 or beyond. These things not happening in my timeframe does not mean that they won’t. One thing is for sure, when waiting on something to happen, we cannot become stagnant while waiting. Get busy. Create the life you desire. Pray more. Worry less. Live happy. That way, when what you have hoped for comes to pass, it is welcomed into a full and prosperous environment. 2018 will be an AMAZING year filled with opportunities, open doors, advancement, great life-changing moments, some ups and downs, but definitely more joy than pain. Embrace your new year even now, and when the new year finally arrives, you will be ready for all the endless possibilities of a fresh start. Dare to dream. 😊


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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.