What Chains Are You Breaking

There is always something keeping you from taking that big leap of faith. Is it fear, lack of faith, bills, or not remembering why you even started this work in the first place? We sing songs that say that we want to break free from our chains or that we just want to be free, but we have not identified what we want to be free from. You have to be direct about your intentions and free yourself of the bondage that may be holding you back.

I know that I can start my own successful business right now. My apprehension comes in when I start thinking about all of the money I have invested in past projects that have not reciprocated financially. Additionally, I have a large amount of student loan debt looming over my head, heart, and handwork. So when I get energized to move forward in my personal projects I forget about those things, but when I see how much I put out every month to pay my students loans, I lose that fire and start thinking of ways to work harder and not smarter.

We have to recognize situations that drain us and not allow those things to control our thoughts and actions. At the end of the day, no matter how hard I work,  I will never pay off my student loans. The only way that I can ever rid myself of the debt I incurred to get two degrees is to work smarter and not harder. I cannot let the idea of defeat resonate in my mind and drain me of all of my energy every month. I have to pay it and let go of the idea that I could use that money to build an empire. Without my education, I would not be where I am today. I may not see the full return on this investment right now, but eventually I will.

Identify the chains that need to be broken. Name them. Decide that you will no longer be controlled by the thought of these invisible strongholds. Move forward in being excellent. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.

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What is Your Soul Telling You

My soul is telling me that my life is my own and I do not owe anyone anything. My soul is telling me that if I do not learn patience, then I will never get beyond where I am today. My soul is telling me that fear is an excuse to keep you from following your dreams. My soul is telling me that the more I pour into others, the more God will pour into me. My soul speaks to me and even when I do not listen, my soul continues to guide me in the right direction until I can finally accept my truth.

The power of meditation and silence allows you to stop going through the motions and truly find purpose in your movements. Meditation gives you an opportunity to explore your yesterday and prepare for right now. Societal pressures keeps us on edge and living with expectations, instead of appreciating and learning from our present place in life. Being in tune with your self, the universe, and your purpose is necessary to match your worldly experience with your spiritual journey. There are not two opportunities at this life, but one that is essential to making the world go round.

I have resisted against my own thoughts on the issues of church, raising my child, and caring for self. I have allowed tradition, how I was raised, and the opinions of others to push me to be someone who I do not desire to be. I tried to attend church weekly and although the structure was good for my son, I did not feel like I was giving him the best experience. I want to teach my son the word through life experiences. When you read Matthew 25:34-40, you begin to understand that God is not in a building, but He is in his people. We talk about serving God, but we refuse to serve his people. We skip over the homeless, the hungry, and the broken to go to church and seek the God that is right outside the church door. I do not judge those who attend church regularly, because there is power in the synergy of like minded people worshipping and praising at the same time. I simply have decided to walk this journey along a different path until God leads me to the church that He wants me to take root in.

I did a short video on my experience with God and in that moment so many of my lingering questions were answered. This woman touched my soul in a place that was hidden behind the chaos of everyday life. She brought me back to a place I have been fighting against, and assured me that I am where I am supposed to be and I was doing what I am supposed to be doing. My mission will not be complete until I do what I am supposed to be doing. I do not seek a following, I do not seek to be an example, I only seek to walk my ordered steps. There is something or someone out there waiting for me and I have to find them and pour into them. My purpose is to serve and to raise my son in a lifestyle of constant service.

My soul is telling me to do the work of the Lord until there is no more work to do. I am now looking forward to Sundays again and taking my walk to another level. This is not about anything but love. That is what my soul is telling me.

#ServiceSundays. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.

My Life Your Entertainment

Who I was when I began this blog is not who I am today.  Over the past year I have transformed into someone I never knew existed or would have believed existed.  The transformation that has taken over my life is indescribable.  I thank God daily for my struggles and my triumphs, because all of it has created this cosmic energy of compassion and love. I do not do any of this for others, but for a greater purpose that I am only beginning to understand.

I have been through some very high highs and some very low lows.  I have been blessed to be able to process and absorb so many lessons, because I am not ashamed of my circumstances or hiding behind who people think I am or who they want me to be.  I convey my shortcomings and downfalls with very little to buffer the reality. I am a constant work in progress and I hope that people are bold enough to love me for me and foster my growth through this process.  I love me so much that no external dislike towards me or my journey can fill any space in my life.  There is no room for negativity.

I am not where I want to be, but I have a vision.  I move with a purpose, for a purpose, and on purpose.  I have spent this Lenten season focused on my energy and understanding the process of attracting what I want and need in life.  I am careful about who I allow in my presence, because it is important to maintain a certain level of energy in the work I do daily.  Keep watching because I will not stop until I have completed my assignments.

Be Excellent.Be you. Do you. Tell you own story. On your own terms.

Self-Reflect or Suffocate

People used to have to tell me that I acted inappropriately or ugly when I used to blow up and go off on people. Many times with reason, but wrong nonetheless. Even though I still cut up, not as often of course, I immediately know that I lost control. The ability to self-reflect has come with age, experience, and accepting that one of my flaws is my temper.

Much of my anger came from many of the issues I dealt with growing up and feeling so out of control. Once I got professional help to process those issues, I was able to grow as a person and learn how to control my emotions. I would react negatively in a situation and immediately reflect on how I could have handled the situation better.

This process has made me understand my triggers and be honest with myself about myself. Many of us live in a state of denial of who we are and how our habits, attitudes, and outlook control our progress. We want to lose weight, but refuse to admit that we eat too much. We want to be prosperous even though we brunch too much and save less. We want to be in healthy relationships, but haven’t dealt with pass issues that are barriers to being a whole person.  I have or am guilty of many of these things myself.

You have to see the worst in you just as much as you see the best in you. Your ability to self-reflect accelerates your progress. Everything is a learning process, but you shouldn’t have to learn the same lessons over and over. Life is so much like school. You learn the lesson, you take a test, you pass or fail.  If you pass, you move on to the next level.  If you fail, you go through the lesson again until you get it.

Self-reflect.  Be introspective.  Look at yourself in the mirror.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Be Excellent at Being You

Think of how you feel when a person goes above and beyond for you.  Think back to a moment when a stranger paid for your meal or held the door open, even when you were walking slow.  Reminisce on a time when you received excellent service and how that made an impression on you.  Then think of all of the missed opportunities you had to change the trajectory of someones day or life by simple going the extra mile.  Many of us operate in mediocrity, but expect excellence from others.  You attract who you are and too many of us are operating below our capabilities.  There is so much more that we could be doing, but we are waiting for someone to tell us each step to take.  We are looking at everyone else’s material blessings and wishing for their life, without ever thinking about the sacrifice that they had to make to obtain those things.  We focus on getting more without giving more.

“Excellence is a continuously moving target that can be pursued through actions of integrity, being frontrunner in terms of products / services provided that are reliable and safe for the intended users, meeting all obligations and continuously learning and improving in all spheres to pursue the moving target.”  This summer was a life changing experience for me.  I woke up and realized that if I wanted more and if I expected more that I had to give more.  I had to step outside of my comfort zone and stop holding onto the things that I had accumulated over the years.  I had to release what I was cherishing as my current accomplishments and reach higher.  I realized that I had reached a level of mediocrity, but I still wanted a greater return.

Relationships are constantly evolving and even if the growth is not happening at the same time, one person cannot stop growing while the other person catches up.  I realized that I had to step up in my relationship and give more even if I felt that I always gave more.  It is easy to exalt our perfections while we magnify another person’s flaws, forgetting that we have things to work on ourselves.  Operating at a level of excellence means that the bar is always being raised, no matter how high you have gone.  I have to work on being a better mother, wife, friend, and family member.  Even where I am strong, I can be stronger.  Where I am weak, I can build and one day add that to my strengths.

Dream jobs are not always obtained but many times they are created.  Instead of seeking the perfect position, be excellent where you are and either continue to look for the next opportunity or create the opportunity in a place you love.  We are constantly disappointed by unrealistic expectations.  We expect our next position to be “the one” that leads to a magical experience and constant promotions.  We go in with a sense of entitlement, instead a willingness and openness to learn.  Even after being in a position for a significant amount of time, you still have to work excellently in order to show your consistency.  Never feel that you are above learning or beyond teaching.  People follow those who desire to learn more.  They follow those who have an ambitious spirit that is greater than their personal aspirations.  Be an excellent follower to show how you can be an excellent leader.

Never underestimate your value.  Many times we feel that we need to do more in order to have access to the perfect opportunities.  That is usually not the truth.  Many successful people simply get an opportunity and make the most of it.    They are calculated and strategic with their moves and leverage the opportunity to maximize its value.  Networking and connections will lead you to your dream job before obtaining all of the degrees in the world.  We have to believe that we have the capabilities to be the best and never doubt our skills, experiences, or our drive.  Strategy + patience + willingness to learn = success.

If you think that you are ready for the next level then keep learning, honing your skills, and showing how driven you are.  Make the connections and be ambitious, but never get too far ahead of yourself that you lose track of where you are going.  Let people know how talented you are, but never boast or become egotistical.  Stay humble through this process and watch the doors fly open.  Your time is coming.  Be patient and learn from those who are where you want to be.  Do not envy or question others success, but use their mistakes to guide you away from any future pitfalls and as a blueprint for your moment.

Be strategic. Be patient. Be willing to learn.  Be successful. Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Listen to The Silence, It is Telling You Something

I rarely watch TV because I cannot take the noise.  Between my son, the dog, the iPad and everything else that is going on in my house and in my head, I am very sensitive to unnecessary noise.  Despite desiring a quieter environment, I fill my quiet space with social media and news that keeps my emotions high and thoughts constantly running through my head.  Although I think that I am relaxing, I am actually creating more tension within myself by attempting to think through so many of the issues that are happening daily.  My spirit kept telling me that I needed to fast from social media, but I did not see social media as a reason for me not being able to decompress and think through some very important personal issues.

So, today I decided that I am going to take a break from everyone’s updates and adventures and just listen to the silence.  I woke up early this morning to let the dog out and ended up not being able to go back to sleep.  I immediately filled this quiet time with social media updates that I had missed while I was sleeping.  Much of what I read was humdrum, a few thought-provoking posts, but most of it was not going to help me solve much of what I am dealing with at this moment.  I realized that I spent an hour just thumbing through the various sites and could have used that quiet time to pray and think.  I closed my applications, turned over my phone and went into a moment of prayer and meditation.  I dozed off and woke back up still very tense, but those few moments told me that I needed more quiet time.

My husband always says that I spend too much time in my phone, but I take his comments lightly because I feel he is being judgey.  While in law school, he saw my levels of productivity when I took a break from social media and my levels when I was actively engaged in social media.  He has a perspective that I don’t and instead of me being open to his opinion, I talked myself into thinking that I was perfectly balancing my consumption of social media and my quiet time.  His opinion has some validity, but I had to get to this place on my own time and own accord.  So, today I am here, listening to the silence.  I am allowing the words of my mind to run its course without having to fight against the images or updates I am reading.  I am taking a step back from the flow of life and taking a deep breath.  I am inhaling strength, power, and self-control.  I am exhaling stress, doubt, and fear.  I am inhaling success, favor, and productivity.  I am exhaling failure, missed opportunities, and laziness.  I am inhaling patience, kindness, and empathy.  I am exhaling impatience, bitterness, and selfishness.

I am releasing the toxicity that has been built up and cleansing my soul for something new.  Greater may be ready to enter into your life, but you may be filled with so much noise and negativity that there is no place for the energy needed to get to the next step of your journey.  Everyday there are new lessons to be learned but there has to room for them to take root in your heart.  Many of those lessons cannot be learned from listening to others but listening to the silence.  The silence is speaking and it is telling you something.  Do you hear it?

Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Manage Your Stress Successfully

I deal with my stress in many ways.  I run, I read, I sleep, I cry, I do yoga, I eat Talenti, I tweet, I blog, and I call my friends or my family.  Sometimes when I am extremely overwhelmed I scream so loud that my throat itches afterwards.  That always makes me feel better but I don’t use that method too often.  Some of these methods are great means of managing stress, while others are not so great.  The most content people in life are those who are able to manage their stress successfully.

I am a high-strung, Type A, Virgo.  All of this makes dealing with stress important because I find stress in very minor things.  For example, I hate that my husband does not put away his clothes that I have sorted, washed, folded and placed in his room.  This brings me so much anxiety because I want everything in the right place all of the time.  I understand that may not happen with kids around and I have dealt with that by putting all of the kids toys in the basement.  My husband does not see the big deal in clothes being in a basket for weeks at a time and no matter how many times I explain my feelings on it, he still does not see the big deal.    I had to come to grips with our different outlooks, close the door to that room, and put that at the bottom of the list of things to worry about.

I always stress about not being a perfect parent.  Some things that helps me to be a better parent is to count down before reacting.  This allows me the time to assess if it’s really worth getting worked up about.  Many times I have to remind myself that children will be children and they don’t mean any harm by throwing your iPad on the floor when they are upset.  They really think it is fun to just jump off the last two steps onto a wooden floor and they don’t know that they could crack their skull.   There are plenty of books but not enough time to read so you live, learn and call your friends who have older kids and can help you through these rough patches.

The only way I can properly work through my daily stressors and the others that life may bring is by digging deeper into each situation and finding appropriate solutions to each problem.  The simpler issues I can resolve quickly but others take a lot of thought and time.  I can easily (took a few years) not worry about the basket of clothes but I have to actively work on being more patient with everyone around me.  The stress of life can show up in your health and in your lack of success.  Stress kills physically and will kill your dreams if you let it.

Life is full of stress and we have to be prepared to deal with it in order to get the most out of each day and every moment.  The time we spend stressing could be used in developing ideas and plans to get you through the current phase or to get to the next level.  The stress we allow to build up inside of us can cause digestive problems, fertility problems, urinary problems or a weakened immune system.  Finding a healthy way to manage stress will enhance your life and your positive perception will create better outcomes to situations that could have ended disastrously.

I am actively working on managing my stress and making the best of every situation.  We are all a work in progress but learning how to address certain aspects of our lives will help us in the long run.  This is an individualized journey, so how you best deal with your stress may be completely different than mine but having readily available methods will ensure your progressive success.

Find your inner peace and work hard to stay there.  Rid yourself of negative energy, people or situations.  Be positive.  Stay encouraged.  Encourage others.  Be kind to others.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

A Purposely Driven Life Requires Patience

A constant reminder of the virtues we must possess to become successful.


We are so used to the right now narrative.  The feeling of instant gratification.  The reward of instant satisfaction.  But when you are living life on purpose, driven by your purpose and fulfilling your purpose, you must remain patient.  All of the unimportant things (bills, others perception, or your personal disappointment) do not matter if you do not have sound mental, spiritual and physical health.  All other things can be remedied later, but right now, you have to simply be grateful for the things that are easily lost in the quickness of life.  A friend had to remind me today, not my will but God’s will.  Which also means His time.

In due time.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Toddler Discipline: Be Ye Always Ready

The Guest Room is filled with amazing women who are sharing knowledge and empowering others through their own personal experiences.  An educator and mother of a busy 2 year old shares some advice on disciplining a toddler.


 

Children need love, especially when they do not deserve it. –Harold Hubert

As a mother of a rambunctious, energetic, inquisitive two year old I am forced to admit that there is no one way to raise a child. I can also reluctantly admit that I do not have all the answers. I can use my Masters Degree in Education to teach my child everything he needs to know to prove proficient in Common Core Learning Standards. I can use articles and different theories to potty train him. I can use my mother’s advice to teach him how to be a kind a loving man. I can call on my pastor for words of wisdom on how to raise a strong man of God. However, all of the education, advice, and encouragement seem to quickly vanish when my son asks for a “pop” (lollipop) at 8am, I explain that he can’t have one, and he reaches up and slaps me in the face. Only God can hold my hand and tongue when after spending 2 hours getting us ready to go out the door my son asks for juice, pretends to drink it for 3 seconds and then launches the majority of the contents drenching me from head to toe.

Anger, aggravation, frustration propel me to give him a “pow-pow”, pluck, or pinch. However, as an aware and educated mother I have to remind myself that my reactions to his negative toddler behavior will shape his actions. I don’t want him to slap a kid in preschool that takes his toy. Or pinch a child in school who spills juice on him. I am not saying that I don’t slip up a time or two and lash out, however, for the most part I try to adhere to the following when it comes to disciplining my toddler.

1. BE YE ALWAYS READY.

More often than not you can beat a tantrum to the punch. Knowing what sets your child off and what makes them go bananas is half the battle. The other half is trying to avoid those situations. If you know your child runs around the supermarket, put them in the shopping cart. If you know your child goes straight for the sweets as soon as they enter the kitchen, put them on top of the refrigerator or in the cabinet. Its not being a punk to try and appease or change according to your child’s needs, its called being a great parent.

2. DISCONNECT FROM THE TANTRUM/BAD BEHAVIOR

Most of the time we react to negative behavior physically out of embarrassment, frustration, and anger. However, when you take yourself and your emotions out of the equation you are able to see the tantrum or behavior as a cry for help. Children, especially toddlers, don’t have the same communication skills adults have so often times they resort to tantrums or simply doing what they want despite your objections because they can’t express their desires. Take a step back and look at the situation through kid lenses and I bet you’ll be slow to react with physical punishment.

3. ENGAGE YOUR CHILD IN COMMUNICATION.

Give words that your child doesn’t yet have to their feelings. It shows them you care and understand what they are going through.

4. EXPLAIN WHY THEY CAN’T HAVE/DO WHAT THEY WANT IN AS LITTLE WORDS AS POSSIBLE.

One thing I’ve learned with my toddler is he tunes me out when I talk too much. So a simple, “It is too early for a lollipop. How about a muffin?” will suffice. No need to explain the sugar levels, and how rotten their teeth will be with excessive candy intake. They are not listening!

5. MOVE ON!

The attention span of a toddler is nowhere near that of an adult. Usually when they want something, it’s a feeling of the moment. After they get over the disappointment (sometimes coupled with a falling out on the floor) they move on. You should to. There will be many battles over the course of 18 years, don’t drag them out any longer than necessary.

REMEMBER: Children need love, ESPECIALLY when they do not deserve it.

 

Courtney Edwards is a mother, teacher, real estate extraordinaire making her way through life one breath at a time.

How to Raise the Perfect Child

At every major stage or milestone of my son’s life, I always call another parent who has just experienced this stage or a parent who has experienced it multiple times with their own children, to hear their thoughts on how I should proceed.  I go in expecting to get very sound advice, specific steps on how to get through this stage alive and advice on alternative methods.  Generally, I find that my expectations of myself and my son are too high.  The reality of what is to come is something that cannot be pinpointed to any particular plan that will make the next few weeks or months easier or perfect.

I asked my friend about potty training and she advised me that children will do anything for one M&M.  That put my entire experience and expectation into perspective.  Potty training is not easy, or a science and different for all children.  I realized that I just have to find what will push my son to go to the bathroom consistently and eventually he will form a habit that will become his norm.

The more I talk to other parents about their experiences, I realize I have to just relax.  Children are very smart, but they have not figured out every little thing just yet. Duh.  It takes time to get them to fully comprehend things that we assume we learned easily.  Everyone is looking for the answer to questions that have no answers to them.  What works for one family, may not work for you because the dynamics in your household is different, or your schedule is different or your child is just on their own timeline.

I see a friend’s daughter who articulates so well and suddenly it is my mission to get my child to articulate well.  Someone tells me that their child was potty trained at 18 months and suddenly I am on a mission to get my son potty trained before his 2nd birthday.  I hear of a child who has learned 4 languages by four and suddenly my son needs to be put in an intense class to make sure he has another language on his baby resume. There are specific skills that your child needs to acquire to ensure that they are hitting their milestones & that they are ready for the next stage in their life, but much of that comes with time, patience & allowing them to evolve naturally.

All of these anxieties come with trying to raise the “perfect child.”  We want our son to experience everything that we did not and give him opportunities we wished we had growing up.  In the haste to make his life experience greater than ours, we have to make sure that we are letting our child be perfect in his own right.  Everyone thinks that their child is perfect because they are.  They are all special in their own right and it is the little things that make you smile that makes them perfect.  That is why this little gift was sent to you.  Not for you to control their every move but for you to watch the beauty of life evolve through their eyes.  Their perspective on life and things are so different and the hope that they inspire for a better tomorrow is what we all need to survive some of our hardest days.

My child is already perfect.  The person who needs to work on becoming a more perfect person is me.  Be you. Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.