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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Just BE

How many of us are living the life that has been defined by someone else? How many of us are breathing stale air and reminiscing on forgotten dreams? I continuously question my purpose, my passion, and my place in this world. I decided to stop chasing after the “American Dream” and to focus more on being. Being present, being passionate, being happy, being grateful. I am no longer here to operate in the narrow halls of societies definition of life, but to expand my presence to cover as much space as possible.

We get so caught up in trying to obtain something that we miss out on the experience, the lessons, the journey. We wish for the end at the beginning and refuse to appreciate the process.  The struggle is real, but it is also the place where we grow the most. We plant a seed and we want it to grow right now, but in reality there is an entire process that has to take place before the seedling can even breakthrough the soil.  Even after seedlings have broken through the hard ground, they are not ready to be harvested.  There is still more cultivation of the crop that has to take place.

The work that it took to prepare the ground, till the ground, and protect the crop is tiresome.  If any steps are missed, all of the handwork that you put into the harvest will be wasted.  At every step of the process it may not seem that the work that you are putting in is worth it, but you have to remember why you even took the first step down this road. Be where you are. Be in that moment. Be aware. Be awake. Be engaged. You are here for a reason that is greater than this moment. Just BE.

Every step may not be easy, but every step is worth. Make sure you are walking in the right direction and not going backwards because you cannot see what is next. Take a moment and be grateful. Count your blessings. Express gratitude for your today.

Just BE. 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.

Believing I Am Beautiful

I remember being teased a lot for many different reasons.  I was teased for being a church girl, not having a perm, my hair being short, being dark, being chubby, not wearing the flyest clothes or having a boyfriend all the time.  Do not feel bad for me.  I did my fair share of teasing and it was not just in defense of myself, but as a way to mark my territory.  I was very good at hitting you where it hurt and laughing about it loudly in your face.  Despite being teased all through primary school, I think the words that always hurt the most were those that came from my father.

My father would say things like, “I hope you don’t think you are cute, because you are not?” or “You are so fat.” or “No one will ever want you.  You are going to turn out just like your crackhead mother.”  or  harsher words that cut much deeper and left internal scars that took years to heal.  Looking back at my pictures, I was actually pretty thin.  I was in ROTC and the marching band, which forced me to workout a lot and we never had a lot of food to eat, so it wasn’t like I over ate.  He said those things to hurt me and to control my perception of myself.  His words always stuck with me.  When I looked in the mirror I saw someone who was ugly, fat, and never good enough.

I was the late bloomer.  I was shaped like Taylor Swift my freshman year of high school but the following summer the Lord saw fit to allow me to blossom.  As I started to become more shapely, my father’s words became harsher and cut deeper.  By this time, my stepmother had moved back to Connecticut and I only had my girlfriends to help me get through these fragile years.  Thankfully, many of them had older sisters and their words of wisdom helped me to appreciate the young woman I was becoming ,but that only helped on a superficial level.  I understood that I was physically changing for the better but my self-esteem remained the same.  Low.  The foundation of your self-esteem is built at home and my home was filled with destructive words instead of words of love and power.

I never realized how hard I was on myself until my sophomore year of college.  I cannot pinpoint the moment or the exact set of events that led up to my epiphany, but I remember being in the car with my friend and she turned to me and said, “You look different.  You look very pretty.  I don’t know what it is but you look good.”  I remember that moment so vividly and I looked in the mirror and there wasn’t anything different about me except the fact that I had decided to just be happy.  I made the conscious decision to stop being so critical of myself and pointing out all of my flaws because I wasn’t going to change.  I learned to accept myself and find the beauty in my being.

My journey towards a happier me was slow and riddled with pitfalls, mistakes and setbacks.  I reached a pinnacle of happiness the year I prepared for my friend’s wedding.  I set a weight loss goal and focused on cleaner eating.  I worked hard at my job but I was also having the time of my life.  That year was amazing from start to finish and I vowed to only go higher from there.

When I look in the mirror I still notice my flaws but I don’t use them to deconstruct myself down to the studs.  I see an issue with my skin, I go and find a treatment regimen that will clear it up.  I don’t like how I look in my clothes, I prepare a workout regimen or set a running goal and stick with it.  If I am ever unhappy, I try to get to the root of the problem and deal with it accordingly.  This is the new me.  The me that arrived in 2005 and believed that I was beautiful because I am.

Our words changes lives.  Our words empowers.  Our words destroys.  Use your words wisely.  Build up yourself and those around you.  Be proud of who you are and work hard to be better each day.  Believe that you are beautiful.

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.

It is No Longer Just the Cost of Living but the Quality of Life

I am getting older and I am longing for a change of pace.  Although I live in the “suburbs” of DC, I still feel the pressure of the rat race every single day and it is exhausting.  I am longing for a simpler life that we can afford.  I want to expose my son to everything the world has to offer, including being apart of a tight knit community where people know your name.

We have been discussing moving to Houston even before we had our son and now it comes up in conversation more and more.  Houston is a great place if you have never been but what I love most is how every neighborhood has everything you need.  You drive outside of your suburban community and you arrive at the shopping center that houses your needs in a 4 block radius; Target, Krogers, Marshalls, Nail salon, Chuckie Cheese and great food! Although these seems like nothing, it helps to center the activities of that community into one central location.  You go to the same grocery store every week and you begin to connect with those who work and shop there.

I love DC and all it has given me over the past 11 years but something here is missing.  I know that every where we go there will be traffic, weather to complain about or disconnected aspects of a community but DC does not give me a feeling of being home.  The growth of the city is focused more on the young, hip and rich and less on working class families.  At one time I felt like I did not belong any place else, suddenly I feel completely out of place.

Some of it has to do with having a kid.  Strollers don’t fit into these cute shops and restaurants and people aren’t interested in hearing your baby have a temporary melt down in their cool, chic eatery.  Some of it has to do with having student loans.  I owe a mortgage in student loans and the pay off date doesn’t exist in this decade or the next or anyone close to that.  Some of it has to do with coming full circle.  Although I was born in Connecticut, my formative years were in Houston and I still have so many friends there.  I felt home when I was there and when I go, it always brings a breath of fresh air.

At this point in my life I am no longer focused just on the cost of living but on our quality of life.  Even if Houston is not our next stop on our journey, I know that our current location is coming to an end sooner than later.  I have accomplished more in these 11 years than I could have ever dreamed but there is so much more in the world and I think I could get a better view from a different place.

The book of life is full of chapters and subchapters.  This chapter of my life in DC has been long and filled with so many amazing memories.  I sense that it will be closing soon with all of its many subchapters finally coming to a complete end.

A new beginning is on the horizon and I am ready.  I don’t know when.  Maybe not today or tomorrow but soon.  Be you.  Do you. Tell your own story.  On your own terms.