Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Aspire


….in 2014 I was challenge by a friend on a self-improvement “crusade” of her own to give the 2014 year a theme word that would encourage me, inspire me or keep me positive.  Due to the fact I could only use one word, I had to give it some thought. I decided to use the time to review where I’ve been, where I was going and my goals I decided on the word ”Continue". This was mostly determined by the path I had begun the year prior. I was determined to let myself live freely and without the chains that I permitted so many people to place on me. I spent the 2014 year operating in what it meant to literally proceed ahead. I learned what it truly meant to experience "reason, season, lifetime" in people, places and time. Therefore I “continue” to commit myself to learning, accepting change, embracing new perspectives and healing silently.

In 2015 I found out what the “My One Word” movement was about and it solidified my adoration for the concept of using one word to challenge you into action. You see I was never one for resolutions but I will set goals and plan the strategy to achieve them. About a month prior to 2015 I gravitated to the phrase being stated by those of the generation Y era which is “move around”. The phrase means literally what it states and is used when someone is involved in something that has absolutely nothing to do with them or their life. I live in a small city, for the time being, so of course the phrase was instantly a hit with me and making sure people knew to do if they didn't like me or my choices I made for MY life. I was kind of asserting my new choices a lot more aggressively than I should have so by 2015 I was directed to "Move around" by God! I had learned that just like others can't alter the wonderful events happening in my life I can't make them accept it! I ran across a quote by Aldous Huxley, when I was looking for a new email signature and it confirmed so much of what I had started to embrace. I make sure I focus because I now know..."there is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving and that's your own self".

Instead of just the one word theme for the year in 2015 I took on two, “Moving Around". Yeah I know, here I am making changes already with just a year in. Well I decided to make a conscious choice to move around negativity and remove myself from situations that weren’t beneficial. You know the kind you can see won’t end well if you don’t just take the high road. Nurturing this mindset afforded me the opportunity to learn the value of not taking everything personally, actively listening, incorporating alternative perspectives prior to making a decision or judgment. It also revealed to me that allowing someone else their feelings doesn't make them right and me wrong. "Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance" I now embrace the fact that everything said doesn’t need a response and taking a moment to pause gave way to the opportunity to be empowered or enlighten. I actually unlearned some ways of thinking as I placed one foot in front of the other to move around certain situations and/or people that were neither worth the time nor the stress.

 I wrote a note on my facebook page for “My One Word” movement, here is a portion of what I stated; “As we embark on another year’s journey like any year I look forward to the endless possibilities 2016 has to offer even though I know that pitfalls, snares and stumbling blocks are being formed. I've decided in 2016 I shall ASPIRE to be great despite of all of it! I will aspire to utilize what I've learned to first alter my own biases. I will aspire to step out further in Faith. I will aspire to be better each day even when I fail, so not to allow the fear of failure to cripple my progress. I will aspire to love in the face of hate. I will aspire to seek a calm center in the midst of anger. I will aspire to be honest about how I feel instead of being dishonest which only causes resentment. I will aspire to allow myself weak moments so that I can be Strong (have to read 2 Corinthians 12 to catch that one). I will aspire to continue to live a life that pleases God, protects my children and makes me Happy! #AspireToInspire

It’s been almost three months and I decided to “check in” my progress on the word I choose. I sort of wished I had picked the word “aspire” first but I understand that there is a process to this journey in acquiring knowledge, applying what you’ve learned and maturing. I’ve had to jump off quite a few cliffs of the unknown thus far, pushing me further out of my comfort zone. It's actually helped me accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself. I’ve been provoked by a few spirits of negativity and envy, there are some who don’t think I deserve to move higher in life. It’s unfortunate that some people actually believe they have a say in another person’s good fortune or they can hinder what's already been established. I can’t really say I’ve mastered the whole “I will aspire to love in the face of hate” with flying colors but I have been able to hold my tongue in the physical and speak to my God spiritually.  I hope one day I will have the perfect response that will allow me to inspire someone else to rise above engaging in petty arguments or irrelevant confrontations.

 I was offered a position to facilitate a sexual assault support group a month and a half ago. I accepted the position for a couple of reasons and one of those reasons being that it presented me with the opportunity for the whole 2016 year in aspiring to inspire others that seek a way to improve the way they are living life. I want to assist them in conquering the fear that has hindered them from trusting, forgiving, accepting happiness, living freely and unapologetically. I’m learning from them just as much as I’m encouraging them to apply the life skills I present weekly. 
 
By the end of the year I will have to recap the next nine months and I’m praying that I will have maintained or surpassed what I’m aspiring to do. It’s not as easy staying true to the things I’ve stated as it was to write them down J but my heart is in it because I know this will help more than just me, so I’m determined to continue moving around as I seek to aspire!

 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Taking a Break before I Break!


I’ve had quite the overwhelming past couple of week! Whoever told you that living happy and free means everything will begin to always go your way is not the best advice giver. Now, I don’t think I’ve ever been told that by anyone however sometimes I get these real “Mary Poppins” type of ideas in my head, oh and by “Mary Poppins” I mean like all things will work out magically wonderful because you are being positive and making priority lists!  I guess it stems from the hope I have that makes me believe things will always turn out right because I’m consciously and proactively choosing to put forth my most positive effort as passionately as I know how. I mean when you give your all it’s supposed to, right?! So when things don’t work out the way that I THINK they should due to all my passionate and hard work, I usually spend more time than I need to trying to figure out why? Or I tend to go overboard and analyze everything I did and didn’t do to figure out how I could have done it better. It sounds exhausting and let me just say it IS!!

I’m far from perfect but I love to give it my all in hopes that the things that I do turn out "perfect". I believe that’s why I’ve had a rough couple of weeks. I’m in the midst of spring cleaning which includes finish decorating my room and remodeling my kitchen. I’m preparing for my own college graduation as well as my daughter’s high school graduation this also means prom preparations. In a three month radius an open house/cookout is expected and I won't bother mentioning my other three younger kids schedules I’m juggling like most working moms that are also pursuing  higher education while staying involved in their kids’ lives all before making sure dinner is served between 6:30-7pm nightly.

I sometimes become so focus that I fail to realize I’ve placed too many “irons in the fire” until it’s almost too late. I don’t always take the “break” necessary when I know I should, believing I have enough in me to just keep going and it will be “ok”. I won’t list everything that happened because for one it’s tedious and secondly I don’t like whining…..well too much anyway.  However I am sharing all of this to remind myself to “Live the Advice I give”! I have to allow myself to STOP and breath! Taking the breaks necessary to regroup doesn’t mean failure or that it will never happen. I also have to be OK with being human like everyone else……dammit! (Ok I just laughed at myself because I really need to start owning that I am.)

While I was preparing for the support group I facilitate, I was looking for something on managing stress and feeling overwhelmed. I came across this article below by Tanya J. Peterson on stress and anxiety. It’s so well written and has a few very helpful tips that can easily be applied to everyday living.  One of the tips she has offered is to make a “To Done List” which I actually do this however I use the word accomplished! (I know “tomayto tomahto” right?)  I’ve always felt encouraged when I can physically see the fruits of my labor. I champion this suggestion because doing it always encourages me and feels like a “pat on the back”. I often have to remind myself to slow down and relax so not to become overwhelmed but there are times, like the last couple of weeks I forget. So I was reminded by my guy that “everything was going to be alright” during a time when my plans weren’t lining up the way that I wanted them to and now as I sit here processing last week and writing myself some affirmation notes, I came across this quote "Note to self: I don’t have to take this day all at once, but rather one step, one moment one breath at a time. I am only one person. Things will get done when they get done!” in other words DO what you can and let the rest……do what it do?!
I’m going to be a lot more proactive in living this advice I’m giving to you, so in the words of the wise-cracking Whitley Gilbert “Relax, Relate & Release”!

http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/08/overwhelmed-by-stress-and-anxiety-how-to-deal-with-it/

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What does surviving look like?


So back in 2012 I purchased me a new laptop for the purpose of having access to take some online classes.  After a great conversation during a performance evaluation with my boss I decided to try once again to pursue my undergrad degree. Like I've stated before I love learning new things and acquiring new skills so this gave me the opportunity to take the time to first begin researching best options on what to purchase. I also wanted to be sure I was getting quality not just a great price. I settled on what turned out to be a really good buy, I can say that now because had my funds been greater I would have invested in a MAC book but whatever.

I ran across this program in the photo gallery on my laptop which allowed me to create mini movies. I could gather photos, add songs, add text to sort of narrate, change transitions like in PowerPoint and best of all cut, splice and edit video to make it all one. I was in heaven!! This laptop had given me a nice little pastime so when I needed an escape I created a mini “movie”. Now I'm no Steven or Spike but I still love the work I put into the three I did, I shared with a few of those I knew wouldn’t mind me bothering them about viewing them.

The one below is probably the first one I did during a time when I was struggling with figuring out how to manage a household budget and everything that comes with maintaining a home on my own. I had to figure out a lot on my own however so much of my support and inspiration I received assisted me in my research and encouraged me to keep going. The songs are reflective of what I listen to a lot at the time and how I was feeling.

While reviewing the video last week, I decided to alter some of the words and quite a few of the pictures to reflect more of the happy place I’m in right now. This is mostly reflective toward the end where I’ve added what/Who I Love. I didn’t know three years ago I could be here; a couple of months away from graduating and entering into the next stage of my educational goals, loving a man who’s been a JEWEL of a friend and consistent source of spiritual and emotional support, living a life on my terms no longer anyone else’s.

Being able to survive a long painful divorce, character assassination, isolation and lies takes strength, perseverance and courage. I fought hard to get through more than just what was happening around me by others but the battle within me on how, when or should I respond. It wasn’t easy killing the anger, suffocating the bitterness and pushing pass but often losing to resentment. John Pavlovitz stated “If not your physical self, the much deeper one; the one you sit with in the quiet, the one who lays beside you in the middle of the night, the one who allows you to sleep, the one who sees into you and knows whether or not you did all that you could do to make this world less horrible while you were here.”  I knew in my heart where the real work was needed, the work that mattered, the work that would Free Me! I focus on my character because I wanted to be able to live with me when the dust settled. I liked who I was but I knew if I was going to Love me I was going to have to make some changes. I’ve embraced the new and allowed the old to move on, for me that’s what surviving truly looks like.


Friday, March 4, 2016

The Day I "Opened" my eyes!!


As I stated previously I would be posting some of the things I've shared on social media. This happens to be one of my favorite shares, because I learned so much and conquered more than the fear of height. It's one of my "40 New Things" I did during my 40th birthday year. Once I get this mini slideshow converted I will post but for now....I hope I'm able to bring you into my moment of "actualization" as Kurt Goldstein may put it......(Side note: My main picture is from this trip I'm talking about and of course my favorite shot of me owning my line)
 
 
God Blessed me Greatly with having some of the BEST fun EVER in Punta Cana!!! I still have 10 things left to do in my quest to do 40 NEW Things celebrating my 40th year! One thing I'm MOST proud of is Conquering "fear" and going Zip Lining!!! I was so "ready" in my mind but when I got up there and they told me it was 12 Lines to do and the longest line was 800 meters AND I would be going across a river and over trees.....all that "readiness" sort of oozed out of me....I watched a LONG line of people go before me even kids(yeah like little kids too could have been a midget tho), but when my time came I damn near passed out! The guide tried soothing me but I wasn't NO GOOD!! I felt a panic attack coming and I damn near cried......ok I did cry a little but it got real up there in the mountains this wasn't no damn Disney ride!! It's all shuck and jive until you get to that ledge look down and then Alllllllllllll the way across and then at the little bitty a$$ line that's "suppose" to carry yo big butt to the other side.....I know I know.....no one was forcing me. I looked at it like this.....My whole life was like this zip line. I allowed self to talk me out of doing things I really wanted to do because I either allowed fear to enter in or overthinking! The guide said "I've been where you've been! On my first time out I was so afraid too, but I promise after you go you won't be afraid anymore" he then asked me was I ready? I told Jesus I Love you and then shook my head yes.....he was RIGHT! After the third line I was damn near joggin up the mountain to get to the next line. I got to line #11 and I said to the guide "I Got this one and then the LONGEST line to do!!" He looked at me and said "No! Senorita...dis is de longest line!" Fear came right BACK and sat down for "dinner". Nervousness and irritation washed over me because he knew damn well he didn't have to tell me that was the longest line!! Now on the longest line you have to do two hands on the harness, which means there is no holding the line whatsoever *insert Hell NAW face* ....which means NO Brakes *insert You Got to be Kidding me face* and NO added "security" *insert Why am I doing this again* face.

So the guide said "Don't forget you control your ride" and with that he pushed me off and there I went! Yikes!!  When I turned 40 I told myself I was going to enjoy living more and care LESS about things/people that don't matter. I no longer wanted to take for granted the days God gave me....so during the 800 meters ride, I did something I didn't do on the other 10 lines......I really just enjoyed the ride, I looked around, appreciated the view, looked down at the river but when the wind blew my body to the side instead of panicking I remembered the guide telling me, that I controlled my ride.....so like MY Life I took control of my ride! ;o) Line #12 was a cake walk.....I don't know why this became sort of a metaphor for the new stage of my life but it did and I appreciate how God gave me that because it encouraged me to continue to do what He's allowed me to do and that's really to just Enjoy Living! I had an AWESOME time in Punta Cana!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

ReRouting

    I shared "rerouting" on my Facebook page back in June 2015 after returning to my current but temporary, place of residence from a trip great home. I had an amazing weekend with all of my first cousins as we celebrated a weekend we titled "Cousin Love". I was sitting on the plane reflecting on how wonderful the weekend was and thanking God for allowing us to come together to celebrate having fun through laughter(way too much if that's even possible), dancing, playing old school games we played as kids together, eating together, going to a movie, worshipping together and visiting the gravesite of two cousins that are no longer with us. We all proactively worked hard to keep the weekend positive and without old drama, new drama generational drama etc. We captured almost every moment on camera even out game of Red Light, Green Light.....which I'm compelled to state I won! :)
     God gave us a valuable priceless weekend that we will forever cherish! So I sat there on the plane smiling at my brand new memories and allowing the good feelings to surround me like the best hug received from your mom when she's "acting weird" and wants to say I Love you! I thanked GOD for helping me get to a place in my life that I could contribute and enjoy such a trip. I wrote this in the air while descending after observing absolutely everything around me but yet only focusing on certain things that seem to stand out the most.  
     I don't get to spend as much time on social media as I once did, however when I do I often write a "blog" as I've been told by so many. I try my best to keep my post simple but it's often difficult for me. I sometimes have moments when I feel like I better write that down and I know it's just for me due to my personal reflecting. I also know that there are moments when I must write something down and share it. Because I like investing in others that will encourage someone else to move pass a place that continues to shield the happiness that lies so closely ahead of them. I've being sifting through a lot of my previous thoughts and studies to see what I would like to share or what I'm lead to share. I'm no guru by any means, just a woman that's lived a life making mistakes here and there. Learning from my failures and my triumphs. Growing from my mishaps and accomplishments. I've become a huge believer in passing on all of what I've learned.
Rerouting
     "The flight that I was on had to be rerouted  due to a storm. The pilot stated in order to get through the storm we were going to take a different path but we'd get there. Of course this meant we were going to be delayed some time in getting to our destination but we would still get there. As  I listen to others sigh and complain around me I was alright because I had prayed, He'd get me home safe. So if it was going to take more time, I'd wait patiently, after all I just had one of the best weekends ever. When we finally started to take off I watched the wings shift to accommodate the difference in altitude as the plane went higher. I began to reflect on my life; where I am today and how long it's taken me to get here....funny thing but in that moment I remembered my prayer some years ago.
    I begin to reflect, I could see how things had to be "rerouted" in my own life to get me through the inevitable storm that came. At the time I didn't see the size of the storm but my "Pilot" did. I remembered sighing and yeah I complained some but I eventually embraced the storm before me. I acknowledged that there were some adjustments that needed to be made inside of me to accommodate the new altitude(people/places) in which I was being prepared for. The lesson learned: I know there will probably be other storms to come however the difference now is I know how to patiently wait and even though there maybe some people and location changes. I may not get there as fast as I would like....I Will Get There....at the time I was destined to be there.  #JustReflecting #ThankingGodforEverything #JustLanded"

LatriceRenee....