Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Reflections

I have very few pictures from my childhood. Let alone with my Mom. This one of us is during the stay after my birth in the Hospital. 

Though my childhood has very few fond memories and was filled with lots of emotional, physical and mental abuse, I choose to reflect on and remember the things that have made me who I am today.

I am grateful for the skills my Mom gave me in a strong work ethic. She taught me to play the piano having had 12 years of lessons herself. To cook from scratch. To sew all my clothes. To appreciate the value of saving money and not buying something I could not afford. To reach out and develop friendships by writing letters every single week to an adoptive Grandma Potter and to one girlfriend. To be a friend to everyone and not just the gals I wanted to have as friends. To love the process of learning. The opportunity and choice I had to create an internal culture of choosing to be positive in the midst of an ugly, painful, and devastating environment. To stand strong even when I was being torn down on every level. To believe the importance of having courage even when there is no hope of change. To be willing to ask questions even when it challenged the leadership and authority of my parents. To not back down. To be a woman of strength. 

#2015MothersDay #CreateTheLifeYouWant#LiveWithGratitude #FocusOnTheGoodThings

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

if only I could say the right words

Do you ever have something you want to say to a friend, either in person or in a written format and you don't know how to say it?  Or maybe you just feel that you just don't have the right words?  

Maybe sometimes you know.  You know you don't know how to say it and you know you don't have the right words.

Or maybe you feel you have the right words but you don't know how to convey it to the person you want to share them with in a way that they will understand.

Many times in getting to the message you want to convey, you have to spend time finding the right words.  It is generally in these situations when you are trying to learn how to say something that you will actually give it more thought.  You try to figure out how to say what you feel needs to be said.  You contemplate what the message is that you want to say.  Sometimes it is what you feel should be said, even if it is hard to say.  

Sometimes as you give it thought, the words come and it flows.  Sometimes it takes thought and prayer to find the answer.  Sometimes it comes out all wrong.  Sometimes what you were wanting to convey gets totally misunderstood and taken the opposite way you were intending for it too.  Sometimes what you say just flat out gets taken offense to and makes you wonder why you attempted to communicate at all.  

When you feel there is something you want to share with a friend, there is a reason for that.  Don't second guess yourself.  Be willing to explore the reason you want to share this and build on that.

Sometimes in trying to find how to express it, we have to work through emotions.  These emotions can be Pain.  Hurt.  Discouragement.  Frustration.  Sadness.  Anger.  Resentment.  Or they could be Love.  Joy.  Peace.  Kindness.  Courage.  Faith.  Hope.  They type of emotion doesn't mean the words are any easier to find.  It only shapes the message that you are trying to formulate.  And sometimes you have to work through the emotion before you can figure out the message.

Communication is a tool that deeply develops relationships.  Yet many times when we feel we don't know how to say it or don't feel we have the right words, so we stay silent and the emotions will build.  This usually only makes the communication more difficult, not less.  It generally only creates frustration when we do not feel we can share to be understood, even if its our fault for not being able to communicate effectively.

I want to encourage you today...
The message you are trying to convey may not be done with the right words or in the right way, but do it any way.  Try.  Again.  And again.

Communication is very important to me!  And yet, as much as it is, sometimes it is a difficult process with some people.  I want to stay focused on the reason communication exists is to interchange thoughts, opinions, views and information.  It doesn't mean I will always do it right.  Either in the right time or with the right words, let alone the right method (in person or written).  Nor does it mean I will always be understood or received when I do.  It means that I have attempted a method to share something that is important to me.  It means I am willing to open up a part of my heart and let you into my mind.  Staying focused on this dynamic and being willing to communicate even if I don't always have the right words or say it the right way, gives me the ability to grow and continue to use this critical element as a part of building a relationship.

How do you find what you want to say?  How do you know you have the right words?  What method do you use to improve your communication styles?

Monday, May 4, 2015

reflections {5 Years Ago Today}

Today I am reflecting on events that changed what I had on my agenda and going on in my world 5 years ago...and remembering the reasons and ways I had courage through the event...and I feel called to share with you some of my reflections.
My brother, 5 years younger, who had been in Texas for 5 months after my mom sent him out to me unannounced on the bus, was now laying in a hospital bed, after laying 22 hours in the following state and having been found: unresponsive, on the floor in his bedroom, saturated in bodily fluids, with a large burn from his cell phone battery eating into the skin on his leg from a reaction between urine and electronics, after his 8th (known) attempt at suicide and overdosing on all his medications in his possession.
I was presented with choices to go see him and talk to him even if he didn't hear me, respond to me, recognize me, want me. I was presented with family members who stated this was all my fault that I hadn't done enough or the right stuff to help him since he had moved to Texas. I was presented with church family who thought they knew the reasons why my brother continued to struggle and who said he was stubborn, arrogant, unruly and obnoxious. I was scheduled this day for the photo shoot for my website and everyone told me I should cancel and forget this.
I chose to listen to my inner voice and went to see my brother every day before work, at lunch and after work. Even when people told me it was not worth my efforts. Even when people told me that he didn't care.
I listened to voicemails of encouragement and voicemails of people tearing me down. I read words from people who knew I was in pain and trying to have hope and I read words from people who had no clue what they said only was a slap in the face to the trauma and pain that I knew first hand me and my siblings had experienced. I still went and had my photo shoot done and smiled to the world knowing I would choose today to still have courage and be who I felt God called me to be: A woman of Faith. A woman of Courage. A woman of Generosity. A woman of Love. A woman of Strength. A woman with a Voice.
I listened to music, particularly one song, on I drove down the road with tears streaming down my face, in the shower with my face lifted to the heavens praying God was listening, curled up in bed with my pillow curled up against my stomach and heart seeking answers through prayer...I sang. I memorized the words. I sang it loud. I sang it in tears. I sang it every day all day long to make it through the dark days. I sang it in the moments when I felt my heart would explode because of how close I felt to God. I sang it because it was the theme of my life in this moment.

And though the storms may come, I am holding on to the rock I cling...

I will life my eyes in the darkest night... 

I will walk with you knowing you will see me through...

How can I keep from singing your praise?  How can I ever say enough?  How amazing is your LOVE!  How can I keep from shouting your name?  I know I am LOVED by the King and it makes my Heart wanna SING!
- How Can I keep From Singing by Chris Tomlin
I decided I would sing this message acapella the following Sunday at church. Yes, I broke down with some tears in the middle between verses, but I swallowed hard and pressed through it. I wanted my message to be heard. I wanted people to know why I had peace. I wanted people to know that even in the midst of extreme pain you have a choice. And that because of this choice, this is why I pursued life with my whole heart. That I was going to be intentional about how I lived. That this is why I cared about showing love to someone who didn't want it and yes, maybe didn't deserve it by certain standards, but who needed it desperately. Why I made effort when everyone else told me it was pointless. Why I let my actions be defined by courage and not by fear. Why I would not quit.
My story is filled with many like this...that are being written in my I shared a part of my story with you. Why? Because I want you to know that you have the power within you to choose. You get to choose whose voice you are listening to. You get to choose when, how and who to love. You get to choose to be a light. You get to choose to fight with all you got. You get to choose to be different. You get to choose what matters to you. You get to choose how your story is written.
Mine was ugly for years. I felt in bondage to people, things, religion, and work. I believed lies. Yet, the courage I had to create something different created a process in me to make choices that have changed my world.
You are not stuck. You are not a victim. Unless you listen to the voices that tell you you are. You are not anything anyone says you are, unless you chose to believe them. The power doesn't belong to someone is yours, if you want to claim it and live it!
How has your story created you to be who you are? Who do you want to be? What choice are you making to create the life you want?