The Importance of Sisterhood

I was very lucky to find a great friend early in life.  She is usually the first person I call when anything happens in my life.  Currently, we live on opposite sides of the country, she’s in California and I’m in Florida.  We met at church when we were about nine or ten years old.  We are the same age, our birthday’s are on the same day, different months (she’s in December, I’m in September), and we were born at the same hospital.  To say that we were meant to be is an understatement for us.  I only get to see her once a year but for us nothing has changed except a plane ride.

Over the years I’ve tried to form bonds with other girls/women but the friendships never seemed to connect well.  I think it’s mostly because of me though.  I’ve had some really bad friendships with some who claimed to be a friend but ended up doing or saying something that caused me to not trust them and to pull away.  I learned to keep my circle of friends very small.  Basically, it was just my friend Swayla and my sister.

Recently, I’ve come to understand that creating a sisterhood can be very important in a women’s life.  A sisterhood, community of women, can help to strengthen one other when a safe place can be created that allows women to openly and honestly share with one another.  Two weeks ago I was invited to a gathering at coworker’s house.  While she and I do talk periodically by phone, we don’t hang out or meet up regularly.  I am not one to attend too many get-togethers because I don’t want to open myself up to false friendships.  However, I wanted to support my coworker who was hosting because I find her to be very kind and genuine.

Surprisingly, I had a very nice time.  What stood out to me most that afternoon was the story my coworker told about a group of women she recently began working out with.  At a stressful point in her life, my coworker decided that she wanted to start working out to clear her mind and relieve stress.  After some research, she came across this group of women who met to work out together.  In this group, they not only support one another during work outs but have created a sisterhood to support one another inside and outside of the gym.  They support each others goals, hold one another accountable and regularly meet up to personally check in.

Through her story I learned three important aspect of building trusting, lasting friendships.

First, to find a friend, one must show themselves as a friend.

Second, connect with like-minded people.

Third, don’t be afraid to share your story because God didn’t intent for us to walk this journey alone.

As I have continued to read Craving Connection, I have learned what it means to be a friend and also how silence about my pain and struggles can sometimes push me into isolation and make me fearful of letting others in.  While I am not suggesting that you go out and blab your business to everyone in order to find friends but start small.  Look around the outer ring of your current circle of friends.  See if there is one or two women you could possible have a deeper connection with.  Invite them to lunch or coffee and hang out.  The more you are around them the more you may feel comfortable and this may help you to open up more.  Some friendships may simply be general and pleasant from a distance and that’s ok.  The overall goal is to not isolate yourself to the point where you are not reaching out or growing to your full potential.  Work on developing relationships that will stretch, support and encourage you.

 

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. – Maya Angelou

 

 

It’s Her Birthday

Today is a very special day for me. It’s my momma’s birthday! She would have turned sixty-six on today.  I lost my momma in June of 2015.  Even now, it’s still very hard for me to believe she’s no longer with us.  Grateful that she’s no longer in pain but so sad she had to go.

The months of November and December were her favorite.  She loved cooking so Thanksgiving and Christmas gave her the opportunity to go all out.  Feeding us and making a plate for anyone who stopped by gave her so much joy.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of both my parents but I think of them most often during this time of year.

Time is not always on our side and everything can’t wait.  There is one thing I can be whole about when it comes to losing my parents and that is we had no unfinished business at the time of their deaths.  I can mourn and be sad without guilt or feeling as if I should have said something or done something prior to losing them.

Be authentic. Love your family, love your friends.  If you have something to say…say it.  If you know you were wrong…humble yourself and apologize.  If someone hurt you, tell them and clear the air.  Remember…forgiveness is for you.  You walking around in hurt and anger is only further hurting you.

Missing my momma…

 

Life Is Like A Boat!

Jonah 1:15 – Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.

I read this passage during my quiet time this morning and it got me to thinking! Jonah boarded this boat headed in the total opposite direction that God told him to go, right?  Jonah was running and yet the other guys on the boat had no idea what Jonah he was up to.  What should have been a normal, easy trip to Tarshish turned wild as the sea began raging.  The other sailors weren’t certain but they had a feeling something wasn’t right and that maybe someone was in trouble with God, but who?

As they began tossing their cargo and trying to figure out how to calm the raging sea, Jonah said nothing.  In fact, Jonah was sleeping like a baby.  It wasn’t until the sailors woke him and told him to pray that Jonah became aware of just how dangerous a situation they all were in.  When they sat down to cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah, they asked, “what should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”  Jonah’s reply, “pick me up, and toss me overboard.”  They didn’t what to and they tried to go back to land but the raging sea only grew worse.  Finally, after praying, they threw Jonah over and the sea grew calm.

How many people do you have riding in your boat that’s causing the sea of your life to rage? We so often spend time trying to figure out why things in our lives are “raging” and why situations just won’t go right.  At times like this, yes, it’s great to look within ourselves to make any necessary corrections but we also need to take a closer look at the people in and around our lives. Just as God was calling to Jonah and the crew on the boat inadvertently got caught up in his correction, we, too, can sometimes get caught up in God’s correction of others.

Our sea of life could be raging because of a relationship, friendship or acquaintance.  We may not be able to cast lots but we can pray for God’s direction and ask him for clear eyes to see if those in our lives are right for us.  Then to calm our sea, we just may have to throw some people overboard.

Keep calm and trust God…:)

Welcome 2017

As 2016 has come to an end, just like my winter break, I spent a few moments last night and today reflecting on my life this past year.  To be perfectly honest, I am just grateful to be alive and as far as I know healthy.  I have my family, I have a job, I have a roof over my head and I woke up this morning in my right mind. Can’t ask for much more than that.  While I didn’t reach all of the goals I’d set for myself in 2016, I did make some very big gains in my personal, profession and spiritual life.  Of course, there were some good times and a whole bunch of not-so good times but all in all it was a very good year.

I am just as equally proud of my bad days as I am of my good days.  Over the years I have come to understand that without bad days I would never learn how strong, dynamic, resourceful and creative I am.  All the things I say I can do and will do won’t mean as much if I don’t have some struggle along the way.  I put forth every effort to live the life that my parents dreamed for me and one that will leave a legacy/impact that will make those around me proud to have known me.  I don’t always get it right.  I don’t always handle challenging situations appropriately.  However, every morning that God wakes me up, I open my eyes with prayer in my heart and I am grateful for another opportunity to get it right.  I’ve learned how to say, “I’m sorry” even if I may not be in the wrong because my relationships with my family and friends is important to me.  I’ve learned to forgive even when I don’t necessarily “feel” like it because I know forgiveness is for my betterment and well being, and not someone else.

There are so many things to look forward to that I didn’t spend too much time looking back.  We want to reflect not dwell!

Expecting great things in 2017…:)

 

 

 

 

Why I Pray

Why I Pray

After spending about fifteen minutes complaining about her life and all that was going wrong in it, she asked me, “how do you stay so positive?” My response, “I pray.” Then she asked, very sarcastically, “why, why even bother?”  To say that I was shocked or even bothered by her asking why would definitely not be telling the truth.  To be perfectly honest, I am no longer bothered or agitated when people question my ability to stay positive or, in this case, why I bother praying.  I actually thought it was rather ironic that she would question my positive attitude amidst her complaining, frustration and negative attitude.  Now, are there times when I’m not so positive…absolutely.  But those times are happening further and further apart.  The older I get, the more I come to realize what is really important in my life.  For me, that is my faith, my relationship with God, my family and my true friends.

Each day I wake up, turn on my television or browse the internet, I am being constantly fed the negativity that has begun to blanket this world.  Here and there, I will find a few newsworthy bright spots.  However, it seems that the negative definitely outweighs the positive.  So here is my response to her “why” question: The way I see it, I can continue to contribute to the negativity of this world by complaining about all the things that are going wrong with the world, with my life, with my job, my family, etc., and in the process negatively impacting my own health and peace of mind or I can pray.  I can pray for peace, positive outcomes, a clear heart and mind.  I can pray for my family, for my children and for my students.  I can pray to see the goodness in others rather than assuming the worst about them.  For me, prayer helps me to keep the truth about my real identity in constant, unbroken focus before me.  Prayer also makes me aware of all of the resources and strength and protection God has already placed at my side.  It works for me.  It may not be for others but if you find yourself in a constant negative state, you might want to give prayer a try.

Know your worth…:)

 

 

 

So…I Joined a Gym

Twenty-sixteen is off to a great start! Although I am one of those people who set goals for just about everything in my life, I am not one of those people who make new year resolutions.  Every year my intentions are pretty much the same…to make my new year better than my last.  Granted, I wanted to slim down another ten pounds this year, I had no intentions of joining a gym to do it.  To be quite honest, I think the last time I had a gym membership was like fifteen years ago.  I was living in Atlanta at the time and I think it was Lifetime Fitness that was popping up everywhere.  My friends and I thought it would be a great idea to join because back then big fitness centers were starting to put tv’s on their stationary machines.  So, our great idea was all the rave until one by one we all started making excuses as to why we couldn’t make it to the gym.  One missed gym trip led to another until eventually going to the gym was a distant memory.  What wasn’t a distant memory was the contract I’d signed saying that I would commit to a one year membership.  Even though I’d decided not to go, that did not mean my monthly charges would stop and with more than six months left on that contract, Lifetime Fitness was going to get their money!

Flash forward to 2016, my niece and nephew began going to the gym last year.  They are always talking to me about their workout experience and using each other to stay motivated to go.  I have a co-worker who happens to go to the same gym as my niece and nephew.  After talking with my co-worker one day, she invited me to get a free pass and to go to the gym with her, so I did.  Two workout sessions and one Zumba class later, I had somehow arrived at another gym membership. One really great thing about this particular membership is no long term contract.  I can cancel at anytime!

So what’s the difference between this membership and the one you had fifteen years ago?  Great question!  Beside the “no long term contract”, my response would be: my commitment.  Fifteen years ago I’m sure I thought being able to go to the gym with my friends to workout and hangout would be fun.  But the moment my friends began dropping out, so did I.  I had no commitment.  My so-called plan to get fit was contingent upon what my friends did or didn’t do. Today, the older and wiser me understands that doing what’s best for me, my life and my family can not be contingent upon what others do, think or feel.  What’s really cool about this whole membership thing is how everything kind of fell into place.  One day I was talking about it, then when I tried it I realized how much I enjoyed it, found out my insurance covered some of my fees and that in itself was motivating.  I had the money and could afford it in my monthly budget.  So, why not give it a shot?

When I got home and thought about the whole thing, I realized that some of the best things in life happen to us when we didn’t over-plan, over-focus or over-analyze them.  Of course, we can’t always simply throw caution to the wind and do what ever we please, when ever we want.  Some things in life need to be planned, budgeted and organized.  My point today is, don’t feel the need to over-think every single decision you make.  God is really and truly the designer of our lives and there are those times when He lines things up just right so that doing them aren’t a burden or hassle but are placed in a special order to enhance our lives. More often than not, we don’t have to go out of our way to reach our goals.  True, we must work towards them and work hard but we don’t have to create some ideal setting in order for our goals to happen.  If our goals line up with God’s plan for our lives, He will make sure to lay out a path in front of us to reach them. Will that path be straight and peaceful, maybe or maybe not.  As long as we keep the eye of our hearts open to God’s will, calling and purpose for our lives, we will see and be able to walk in the path God has laid out for us.

 

Getting healthy in mind, body and spirit…:)

The Chance to Start Anew

I love the picture that comes up with my posts.  The picture of a wooden pathway, trees, a beautiful, clear sky with no end insight.  I took this picture on a vacation to Captiva Island, Florida two years ago.  It was a beautiful day and as I walked the island I came across this path and just snapped a quick picture with my cell phone.  Turns out, this is one of my very favorite photos.  It makes me think of life and God at the same time.  Life is a journey, and even though we may not be able to see around the next twist or turn, it’s our faith in God that helps us to know that there are clear skies ahead.

In May of this year, I started into a very unexpected turn in my life.  I lost a brother who was very near and dear to my heart.  Less than thirty days later I lost my mom.  I traveled to Rochester, NY for my brother and then to San Francisco, CA for my mom.  I was away from home for more than thirty days so to say that I was totally spent and burnt out by the time I got back home is an understatement!  Although school was out for me, my family still needed me.  My kids still needed to be picked up and dropped off, my love still needed to be fed and out the door for work, laundry still needed to be done, bills still needed to be paid and the grass still needed to be cut.  There was really no time to simply sit and decompress.

By late August I was so exhausted that I didn’t know whether I was coming or going so I decided to take a few days and simply do nothing.  And I mean do nothing!  I sat on the couch with the television tuned on Netflix and a book on the coffee table just in case I needed a change.  Don’t worry, I made a crock pot of taco soup for the kids and ordered a pizza one night so they could be fed and at least have a meal variety.  My love was absolutely great!  He kept the kids as busy as possible so that I could just check out for a few days.  I remember talking to a really good friend during my life check out days.  When he asked me what was wrong I told him that with all that had happened, I just couldn’t seem to get my mojo back.  I was simply not myself.  I was doing all the right things and taking care of my responsibilities as a parent and life partner but I wasn’t present in my life.

He told me two things that helped A LOT!!  One, he said that sometimes we all just need to take a few moments for ourselves because life isn’t going to stop for us and two, don’t forget to pray through it.  Simple words but yet they meant so much.  A few days after that talk another friend and her husband took me to see the movie War Room and just like that the unexpected turn I had been walking in started to straighten out just a little and I could see clear skies ahead.  My mojo isn’t all the way back but it is definitely on the up swing.  I am so glad and so grateful to God for always being a shining light in a dark tunnel.

On my friend’s advice to pray through it and from watching War Room, I picked up Fervent, a new book by one of my favorite author’s Priscilla Shirer.  Of course, it is the inspiration for my next book study!

Enjoy your weekend and no matter what’s going on in your life today…pray through it.