Staring 50 In The Eye And Not Blinking!

50 year old countdown

“I must learn therefore to let go of the familiar and the usual and consent to what is new and unknown to me. I must learn to ‘leave myself’ in order to find myself by yielding to the love of God.” -Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

I am standing at the door of 50 years old. While I have yet to knock on said door, I know that it will indeed open and the moving sidewalk upon which I stand will usher me inside.

With that said, I have a mixed bag of feelings about turning 50. Most of it is good, but some is a little off-putting. Let’s start with the off-putting:

1. Upon reaching 50, one realizes that for most life is more than half over.  It brings about reflections: a) At what point do I know what I want to do when I grow up? b) With half a lifetime gone what things do I still want to accomplish? c) What is my true calling in life?

2.  Slowly aging brings about lots of physical and mental changes. Weight loss does not occur as easily as it once did. The body does not readily accept the foods it once easily did. Dang it, why do I work twice as hard and eat half as much?! That’s a huge mental adjustment to make.   Also, why is it that I don’t seem to have the elephant like memory that I’ve always bragged about having?  What is father time doing to me?  My left ring finger experiences some swelling at the knuckle.  What the what?! That’s my wedding ring finger!  I can’t have it looking fat and swollen. Argh!!!

Now for the good stuff:

1.  I have a ton of friends joining the 50 club with me. It is exciting to see everyone blooming into their true selves.

2. The older you get the less you care about other people’s opinions.  This is quite a freeing space to be in. While some people’s opinions matter I no longer let them dictate my actions.

3. 50 is the new 30…well ok 35.  I know a lot of 50 year olds who look not only good but great.  You can tell that they take care of themselves body, mind, and spirit.

4. I still have half a lifetime to get “it” right.  Now that I’ve learned some valuable lessons I can apply them in my mature mind to reaching my dreams.

5.  Life is not that serious. Relax, have fun, and laugh… often.  (sometimes I have to stop and remind myself of this, but I know that it’s true.)

6.  You are only as old as you feel! So for me, this means I’m pretty young.  I’m silly sometimes even beyond my own belief. My 15-year-old and I watch a number of shows together.  Yup, I’m a youngun!

The bottom line is I have a hair more than three months until my big day.  I’m more excited than you can imagine.  While I understand that nothing magical happens on that day to make me a new and improved person, I just can’t wait to embrace 50.  It’s funny because at one time I thought of 50 like the bogeyman- something to hide from and be afraid of.  Now, I’m like the dance team in a stand battle and I’m shouting “Bring It!”

Thankfulness Every Day

thanksgiving never didn't and not

It’s that time of the year.  The time when people take time to assess all that they are grateful for.  I think that’s a beautiful thing.  It is through expressions of gratitude that our blessings increase.  However, I’m aware that the expressions of thankfulness should be a daily occurrence.

We have so much to be thankful for.  If you awaken in the morning you have beat the odds.  There are many who did not do so.  If you have a roof over your head, food to eat, warmth from the cold you are SO blessed.  In many corners of the world, including pockets of every city in America, there are people who are not in their right mind due to illness, who are homeless, and who do not have money to take care of their basic needs.

If you have health insurance, the doctor of your choice, and family and friends who surround you with love and support you are so far ahead of the game.  You have been shined upon.

I remind myself of all of these things often.  I find myself sometimes complaining about the smaller things of life.  This or that is not going my way.  Sometimes I forget that lessons come in many forms. It is through the challenges in life that many people experience their greatest growth.

Practice having an attitude of gratitude.  Be sincere in your thanks.  Not just on Thanksgiving Thursday but on every day.  The good life will only get better.

Spread love.

Do You Believe?

the belief cycleAnyone who knows me knows that I believe we all receive messages from God.  Last Wednesday night I was up to the very wee hours of the night in tears.  I had come to some revelations that I had really yet to face.  The pain was real as I pulled off the scabs to reveal the source of the pain.

So what happened?  Well, I was having a conversation with someone very close to me.  Within the confines of the conversation the person asked me a “normal” set of questions (for them).  I was upset by the line of questioning.  After hanging up I took a moment to reflect on the conversation.  My takeaway was that the person did not TRULY believe that I was capable of achieving greatness.  As I thought about it further, I realized (through my tears) that it was very possible that the other person did not believe in me because I did not fully believe in me.  Oh sure, I know that I can achieve anything I put my mind to.  I know of some of my accomplishments of the past, but when it comes down to truly believing that I can achieve great things and earn lots of money in the process the belief has just not been there.  I always thought “I need to marry a wealthy man to provide in the lifestyle I dream of” not “I will be very financially successful on my own and having a partner who matches that is a bonus.” 

I cried and I cried as I realized that I have been holding me back.  You see the Universe will not bring to you what you can not envision.  Sure, I can find pictures of fabulous homes, jewelry (my true passion), and cars to place on my vision board.  Yes, I love the idea of them and I want them.  BUT, the pictures on the vision board are devoid of me and the pictures in my mind have been also.  I have just admired the pretty pictures.  I have not believed I would/could/should be in those pictures.

So what happens next is where God begins to speak to me.  The message comes at me- hard, loud and clear.  I leave the day after this call to go to Atlanta to attend a sales conference for my Visalus business.  What is the theme of the weekend?  You already know don’t you?  BELIEVE.  Yes, I am about to get it from all angles.  So I sit on Friday night as I listen to dynamic speakers and my company’s co-founders ask “Do you believe in yourself enough to do what is required?” The tears again flowed. I was being hit with the same message from the night before.

SOOOOO… obviously the message of the weekend for me was that  a big change is in order.  It seems like a tall order, but maybe not.  You see I do know and understand the power of belief.  On yesterday morning I missed my 7:00 a.m.  flight out of Atlanta.  Now this wouldnt’ve been a problem except for the fact that I was supposed to appear in a church production on yesterday afternoon.  I called the airline en route to the airport and was told that I should go and request standby on the next plane which was leaving at 10:30.  She said there was “plenty of room.”  I arrived and went to ticket counter to be put on standby.  Done.  Now we’re cooking.  Arrived at the gate (mind you this is now 8:00 a.m.)  and was told by the gate agent “this flight is full.  As a matter of fact it’s oversold by 4 people.  I don’t know why they told you it was open, but I’ve known that since I got here at 6:00 a.m.  I’m gonna have to give vouchers to get people off this flight.”  WOW! She also advised me of the next flight times and confirmed me on a 8:00 p.m. flight home.  What did I do?  I texted my play director and babysitter to advise of the issue and I waited patiently.  I purchased a muffin.. and I waited.  People began to board… and I waited.  Gate agent asked for people to give up seats… and I waited.  I reached out to my team in Atlanta… and I waited.  She called me over “there’s a good change I’m going to get you on”… and I waited.  I counted how many people took the vouchers… and I waited.  It’s now very close to takeoff.  She calls a lady over to give her a seat assignment and then turns to me and says “I’m sorry.  I needed one more person to give up their seat.  I can’t get you on.”… and I waited! I didn’t move… and then I heard her walk around to the boarding door and say something about lady waiting on standby.  She and the lady come back around to the desk and she says “she’s gonna give you her seat and take a voucher.  Here’s your boarding pass.  Go get on the plane.”  The moral of the story?  I never stopped believing I would get on that plane.  Even when she told me that all seats were gone, I didn’t move.  I KNOW how to believe in things outside of myself.  I need to apply that inward.  It is time to have unmovable, unshakable faith in me and all that I can achieve!! I can show you better than I can tell you.  Watch what happens next!!

HOW MANY TIMES???

dont' give up

There is a verse in the 18th chapter of Matthew in  the Bible where Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother who has sinned against him.  His question: “Seven times Lord?” and Jesus answers not seven times but seven times seventy.  This piece is not religious but that question got me thinking over the weekend.  I know if you are anything like me you often find yourself asking “how many times?”

I am a mom so I find myself asking “How many times do I have to tell you to do the same thing over and over again?  How many times do I have to tell you not to do that? How many times are you gonna ask me that same question?” and the list goes on and on and on.

But this piece is not about being a mom.  It is about being a “me.”  There are many times when we grow frustrated with life and our circumstances.  It is in these times that it may help to remember “7 x 70.”  Now is the answer really 490 times?  I doubt it.  The true answer is: as many times as it takes.  Funnily (my own word) enough the amount of times is probably FAR less than a random 490.  It takes 21 days for something to become a habit.  That sounds really doable when compared to 490 doesn’t it?

Let’s look at other examples where we can apply this notion to motivate ourselves to move forward:

1.  How many times will I keep trying to master something new?  As many times as it takes!  You can learn a foreign language in far less time than 490 straight days.  So, keep going!

2.  How many times will I pick myself up when I’ve fallen down?  As many times as it takes! Anyone who has succeeded at something has failed at something else.  Often times it is through the failures that the knowledge comes for the great success.  Even the great Michael Jordan absolutely SUCKED at pro baseball.  Does that diminish his greatness as a basketball player?  Absolutely not! It highlights the fact that he is human and as such has limitations.

I believe that one of the purposes of life is to learn the lessons.  You can not learn all lessons by skipping through the poppy field.  Most are learned through hardship and struggle.  So as you sit there knocked down but not out pick yourself up that one more time.  Brushing yourself off gets easier every time.

3.  How many times must I listen to my coworker tell offensive jokes/be a negative Nelly or Ned or watch them get projects/promotions that I feel belong to me? As many times as it takes for you to learn the lesson of why them not you, to discover that this job is not your passion, to learn the skills you need to learn to move forward.  Sometimes we don’t see ourselves the way others see us.  Look in the mirror.  Recognize your shortcomings.  This will help you deal with the offensive person and will most likely give you the rocket power to propel forward.

4.  How many times must I challenge myself?  As many times as it takes! There is great reward in mastering something new or outside of your comfort zones.  The sense of accomplishment is tremendous.  Why is the reward so great?  Because it is NOT easy!  If it were easy everyone would do it!  But you, my friend, are not everyone.  You are very uniquely you and as such you have a unique purpose in life.  Find your passion- that thing that makes you tick, makes you get out of bed even when you don’t want to and then put on your cape and go conquer.  Will it be challenging?  Oh yes! Will it be worth it?  Oh yes!  Will you have it to give it many times before you get it right?  For SURE!  How many times?  Frankly I have no idea.  Count on the fact that you may lose count… and then STOP COUNTING and just do it.

If you are worried about how many times you missing part of the lesson.  You are probably taking some of the joy out of the journey, and you for sure will make the process longer (or at least feel longer) in your mind.  We generally think of how many times in a negative context, but I propose that if we master the art of just plowing through to our destiny then these may instead be your questions:

1.  How many times am I going to grant myself a vacation this year?

2.  How many times will I get to show my loved ones I love them?

3. How many times will I watch attend my kids’ sports event?

4.  How many times will I be the one there to kiss the boo boo instead of hearing about it afterward?

5.  How many times will I be there to comfort a friend/loved one in need?

Your quality of life will change my friends once you are willing to do the things you don’t want to do for as many times as it takes.

Spread love! Peace and Blessings…

It’s TIME… To Handle Your Business

I know that it has been a long minute since you’ve seen a blog but that does not mean that this blog, or you the readers have been far from my thoughts.  Sometimes circumstances force you to take a break, but I will never be gone too long.

As many of you know, most of my blogs involve me having a conversation with myself.  Today is no exception.  This blog has been composing itself for about 2 weeks and the message is painfully obvious (side note: I began this blog on 5/10/13; sadly it is still relevant enough today for me to continue from this point.)

You may be aware that I believe that God/the Universe speaks to us in many ways.  Sometimes a thing becomes so obvious that it is pretty hard to ignore the message or frankly to pretend that you can’t discern what it is.

So here is the message I’ve been receiving: It’s time … to handle your business! It began as a whisper quite a few months ago, by July it was quite audible and now it is shouting from the rooftops.  I mean really, it’s that loud.

How can God/the Universe be shouting at you?  Well for hard heads like me that is often times what is required.  I can see people around me doing something, making it look relatively easy (or at least worth the effort) and if not completely ready I respond with “Yeah… but not yet.” So then, the picture becomes even more clear.  You are surrounded by people who are who are doing the thing you should be doing, excelling at it, and seemingly grasping it at a much faster rate than you.  “Yeah… but not yet.”

So for the seriously hard-headed God becomes really serious.  He knocks away whatever crutch, support system, excuse you could draw upon and says “What about now?”  So finally, hard-headed ole me is forced to admit “It’s time… to handle my business!”

What are the things you procrastinate about until given no choice?  Do you learn the lesson and take less time in the future to get the message?  Do you realize that your hesitation is purely a result of your fear and pres s onward knowing that fear itself has never killed anyone?  Trust me, these and more are questions I wrestle with.  But in the end I recognize that sometimes I am my own worse enemy, block my own blessings, get in my own way, and am the stumbling block to my own success.  I’m sure there are other clichés you can add, but it doesn’t change the facts or the circumstances.  Change is rarely easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not necessary.  Most importantly there is a tremendous growth opportunity in changing as required.  Sometimes you just have to do it. We miss 100 % of the shots we don’t take.

This post is very personal, but it is not for me alone.  Someone reading needs to hear these words.  Someone needs to understand that most people give up right before their breakthrough.  You are not most people.  You are a winner, so It’s TIME… to handle your business!

“Ain’t No Need To Worry What The Night Is Gonna Bring. It’ll Be All Over In The Morning.”

This week I was tested on the concept of worry.  I am so glad to report that I’ve obviously learned the lesson and passed the test.  I encountered a situation.  What made me most anxious was the amount of uncertainty involved.  Uncertainty, for me, means lack of control. I do not like feeling that a situation is outside of my control even though I often realize that it is.  But I sat back in this instance and thought “don’t worry about it.  Just don’t worry.”  It’s funny that when the lesson is clear, all of the answers come clearly.  So, here’s what came to me with crystal clear clarity.

No matter what happens in life, worrying is not going to change the situation or the outcome.  It will only serve to drain your energy, foster negativity, and possibly cause or contribute to physical malaise or illness.  Now I’m not suggesting that we don’t encounter situations in life where one potential outcome is very bad or detrimental.  I’m simply suggesting that worrying about it is not the best solution.  What should you do instead?

1.  Prepare for the worst- Ask yourself  a) what’s the worst than can happen?   Once you know the answer to that question, ask yourself  b)what can I do to repair things  if the worst thing occurs?   One of the most interesting facts of life is that the worst that can happen rarely does.  We worry and we stress thinking about how bad the worst thing will be… and THEN it never occurs.  So we have spent days, weeks, months devoting a lot of time, energy, and attention to something that never comes to fruition.

But, in the rare instance that the worst that can happen actually occurs you need to be ready with guns blazing.  The diagnosis is what you feared most?  You are not able to keep your home?  Your family member is guilty of what they’ve been accused of?  In  the case of a medical diagnosis, worrying is the WORST thing for you.  You are in a fight, often times for your life, and you have to be ready for battle.  The worst that can happen is that you have the illness but understand that this is NOT the worst thing.  You are still ALIVE and now you have to put on your armor, surround yourself with other warriors (at least in spirit) and you have to fight for your life.  And trust me, you can not fight and worry at the same time.

2.  Recognize what is outside of the realm of your control.  Sometimes we worry about things that are outside of our control.  Let’s face it.  Some of us are professional worriers.  We spend our time worrying about other people’s lives, jobs, relationships, children, etc. There are several things that may be in play a)some people need to learn the lesson the hard way or b)”you’re gonna learn today” may be in play.   Even our children, whom we always seek to protect, must learn their own lessons.  As much as it may hurt us, we have to allow others to follow their own paths and learn their own lessons.  Worrying about the outcomes of certain lessons, while perfectly natural, is not going to lesson the pain sometimes involved for the other person nor help.  You can only work on orchestrating your life.  Let others follow their own paths.

3.  Be proactive- instead of sitting around and waiting for the worst that can happen think about what you can do NOW to prevent the worst from happening.  Spend your energy there.  You have work to do.  There really is no time for worry.  Make it happen.

Solutions 1 and 3 may seem in direct contrast to one another.  I contend that they are not.  I’m suggesting that you do whatever is within your power to prevent the worst thing from happening.  However, because everything is not always within our control, the worst may happen (or what appears to be the worst at that time).  If that occurs then you must go to solution #1.  Now that this has occurred what can I do to change the circumstances?  There is always something you can do and technically worrying is not DOING anything.

You are blessed with the life you have been given.  It is your most precious gift.  Don’t spend any time on wasted, fruitless effort.  Life is for the living.  See everything as a blessing and an opportunity for growth and change.  Once you realize the truth of this, you begin to really internalize the notion that there is no need to worry.  It’ll be all over in the morning.

Family Matters

In meditation this morning, on the tail end of hurricane Sandy, I began to reflect upon the concept of family.  As I lay there, I realized that there is a difference between relatives and family.  Relatives are those people to whom we happen to be related by blood, either closely or distantly, but whom we don’t really know.  I was thinking about some first cousins of mine.  One in particular I couldn’t name her children (except for the oldest) and I’m certain she couldn’t name mine or pick them out of a lineup.

I’m not saying that this is a good thing.  I think that it a sad state of affairs. I have other first cousins for whom I could not name ANY of their children.  Family should know each other better.  But I guess all of your relatives aren’t always family.  You just don’t really know them like that- especially if you come from a larger family that is somewhat spread out.

Yet, while I was thinking on the subject I realized that some family is not made of relatives.  They are the family of our choosing- friends whom we value as much as family and love like siblings.  We know not only their kids but extended family all by name and maybe birthday.  They are there when we need them when we call and often times even when we don’t.

In my last few moments of reflection I came to some conclusions.  There are some relatives who I need to get a little closer to.  It is even time to check in with some of my family whom I haven’t hollered at in a minute.  But the bottom line is my little vagabond family (those blood relatives and those not) are mine.  I love them all to pieces.  It is very important to treasure those we love and to let them know exactly how much they mean to us.  Life is precious and short.  Nothing is promised.  Living life to the fullest, for me, involves spending precious time with my family and enjoying every minute of it.