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7 Mistakes to Acknowledge and Overcome

I recently encountered a situation that made me really think about the primary lessons I have learned since going through the divorce process. It was both enlightening and eye-opening because it made me realize how much I have grown as a person as well as how I have embraced a new level of maturity in my womanhood. Allow me to share the seven mistakes to avoid. 

  • Feeling obligated to explain yourself to others.

As I got ready to post something on Facebook recently, I was trying to figure out how to word what I needed to say while justifying why I believed it. I realized that I was spending way too much time trying to fix my words to justify something that was not even that serious! I believe that explaining our decisions and actions is often an inadvertent way of seeking validation or approval. At the end of the day, those from whom we seek that validation don’t have to live with the choices we make for ourselves. Now, let me be clear. This isn’t about justifying negative, irrational or illegal behavior. We all need mentors and those whom we seek for guidance. This is about releasing yourself from the bondage of people pleasing and validation. Understand that you do not owe everyone an explanation for what you do, specifically when those people are not directly affected by what it is that you are saying and doing. Check yourself before you explain yourself.

  • Feeling guilty for choosing yourself.

As I have managed the relationships in my life, there were a few that were manipulative or co-dependent in nature. I realized that on more than one occasion, I became enmeshed with the other parties in the relationship and the interaction became toxic and unhealthy. As a result of the pressure and negative emotions that manifested, I realized that I was declining on a personal level and had to choose myself or the relationship. For the sake of my own sanity and safety, I chose myself. This didn’t come without opposition and resistance. Choosing yourself in a toxic situation is the healthiest decision you can make for your life. There are a myriad of reasons why we attempt to hold on to situations and people that we know are no good for us, but the reality is that if you are not good within yourself, for yourself and on your own, you cannot operate at maximum capacity in your relationships. Choose wholeness and goodness within yourself, and don’t feel guilty about it. There is no fulfillment in pouring into others when you are empty.

  • Not setting boundaries.

I’ll never forget the moment I realized the importance of boundaries. I had been dealing with a pushy and demeaning person who continuously expected things that I didn’t have the capacity or resources to give. It was stressful. I assessed how I could accommodate them, acknowledged where I couldn’t, and set boundaries. These were healthy boundaries for me, and strategic to protect myself from the toxic energy that they often brought into my personal space. They weren’t happy about it and even circumvented those boundaries a time or two. In time, this person came to adhere to those boundaries in spite of their lack of acceptance. Not setting limits can cost you financially, mentally, and emotionally. When you don’t set healthy boundaries, you get taken advantage of, are disrespected, and you are often pushed to do things that are outside your realm of comfort or even your safety. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and also to implement consequences when people fail to respect them.

  • Failing to prepare.

As I continue on my journey of self-improvement, one of the most common themes that continue to stand out is preparation. I love what happens in my life when I take the time to prepare for things that I know are coming. I have come to understand the importance of preparing for the unexpected, but I often find that some of my greatest lessons have come from situations where I failed to prepare. Often, I can quickly pinpoint where I failed, and take steps to properly execute the next time around. Other times, it isn’t so simple, and there is greater work to be done to bounce back. As I am unlearning the behaviors of a perfectionist, I condemn myself less and have become intentional about preparing for things that I know are coming along and doing my best to prepare for the unexpected. There is only so much we can do to prepare for the unexpected, but the awareness of it is a part of having a good foundation for success.

  • Dragging people who don’t want to “go.”

As we progress in our lives, we gain connections with people that are meaningful and important. While it is vital for us to surround ourselves with people with whom we can grow, the reality is that it doesn’t always happen this way. As we experience life, we sometimes outgrow a circle of people or friendships that we expected to last. There is nothing wrong with either situation, but you cannot stifle your life, your purpose or your calling for the sake of “taking others with you.” You certainly can’t make someone accept or embrace something that they are not ready for. However, I believe that we are sometimes called to invite others along to experience where we are going or what we are doing with our lives. The thing is, those people have to be willing participants and open to receive whatever exposure they will gain. If not, they cannot be forced. We all possess the same ability to exercise free will.

  • Carrying baggage.

If you’re a lover of R&B and Neo-Soul, you have probably heard a song by Erykah Badu called Bag Lady. The lyrics are a ballad of self-love, the melody a message of letting go. Have you ever had a moment when you just felt heavy? The burdens and heaviness of life situations are a real weight that can be felt both physically and spiritually. It can manifest physically as a result of giving up on yourself and making unhealthy choices like not being active or poor diet and overeating. Yes, that is a form of baggage.

On the other hand, sometimes spiritual heaviness can be more devastating and difficult to manage. Whether you carry those burdens as a result of personal issues or because you have taken on someone else’s, the reality is that if they are not handled appropriately, the damage can be long-term and even devastating to your wellbeing as well as those around you. While some burdens are good for the sake of you interceding on behalf of those who may need prayer, there are some burdens that you are not meant to carry. You must learn to discern the difference.

  • Not allowing yourself to go through the “process.”

There are some things in life that you will not be able to escape. There are conflicts, situations, and people that we must encounter and experience to learn and grow. Growth requires a “processing” of those experiences. This requires you to take strategic steps to understand what happened and to glean knowledge and positivity from those experiences. When you don’t allow yourself to do this, you stay stuck and may even harbor negative emotions like bitterness and unforgiveness as a result of not allowing yourself to move forward. You may also repeat mistakes time and time again as a result of not taking the time to understand what happened. Give yourself permission to process what happens in your life so you can move forward and be productive.

It may take some time and a few bumps along the way to embrace these things and productively execute them, but don’t give up on yourself. You are more than worth the investment of your time.

4 Lessons from Daddy

As Father’s Day is coming to an end, I am grateful to have been able to keep it together today. For my new subscribers who are not aware, my father passed away on August 1, 2016. Although the grief process is sometimes difficult, my journey of grieving my father has been full of peace, happiness, and great memories. Rather than languish in sadness, I decided that I would take joy in being able to remember him. That decision has served me well. Those difficult days of grief are very few and far between.

In my father’s passing, I learned so many beautiful things about who he was. If you ever met him, it didn’t take much to realize that he was a hardworking man, he was generous, and he LOVED working on cars.

A few months before he passed away, we spent an afternoon together as he performed some preventative maintenance on my car. We drove to a nearby Advance Auto location where he picked up parts that were needed. As we conversed, he shared a story of how he had done some work on a vehicle, for which he never got paid. Although I knew my dad could hold his own, I was disappointed and asked why he let people get away with not paying. He looked at me with tenderness in his eyes and said, “I know the good Lord will take care of me.”

To this day, those words touch my heart. As a woman of faith, I certainly know and understand God’s provision, but to hear my dad express that he wasn’t worried about his livelihood just because one person didn’t pay was such an honorable thing to me. My dad was a simple man. As long as he had what he needed, he was good.

On the other hand, what I love about the story that he shared is that he didn’t bother with chasing someone down to pay him. This didn’t just speak to his level of faith, but it spoke to a level of maturity as he was a man who knew how to pick his battles. This resonates with me because often we feel justified in fighting battles that have already been won. We have to learn to let go sometimes.

In the aftermath of my dad leaving his earthly body, I was blessed by the outpouring of love and resources. There were people literally looking for me to make a contribution towards his final arrangements. There were others who, in making contributions, made statements to assure my brother and me that they gave because they knew my father to be a generous man. Hearing this was comforting and reassuring because as I mentioned, my dad was a simple man. He didn’t have much, but what he did give made a difference in the lives of those who were on the receiving end. We are often encouraged to hold on to what we have, but my father was clear on the principle of giving and the fact that he would always have what he needs.

My dad lived what he taught me much more than he had to explain:

  • Be generous.
  • Walk in faith.
  • Pick your battles.
  • Live a life worth remembering.

If Daddy were here today, we probably would have enjoyed a day outdoors with some food on the grill, good drinks and maybe even a card game. I rest in the peace of being able to remember him and the things he loved to do, and I’m grateful to carry on the legacy of servitude and generosity. I hope these lessons give you something to consider as you continue on your journey. Be blessed. 🙂

3 Things To Remember About Following Your Dreams

As a kid, I grew to love reading and writing. In third grade, I along with my classmates had an assignment to create various poems. Our teacher took each of our compilation of works and created a spiral bound book. Over the years, I managed to keep mine. It became a prized possession. It was a reminder of something I created, an accomplishment that I wouldn’t soon forget. I had always envisioned that I would become a writer, I just didn’t know what the path would be to become one. Truth be told, I have always been a writer. It is a gift that took me years to acknowledge and embrace. My life changed the day Mrs. Gilbert passed out those completed poetry books. That day, I received what I would come to know as my first publication. That day, a seed was sown in me, and that book became the manifestation of the gift that I share with you today.

Whatever your gift is, you probably already know what it is. You feel an incredible sense of purpose when you do it. You are often complimented on how well you do it. You are most fulfilled and usually content when operating in it. No matter how bad things get, you may put it down for a while, but you always pick it back up. Here are three things I realized about the process of seeing your dreams come to pass.

1. Your gifts will make room for you and lead you to opportunities that will be in alignment with your purpose.

2. Walking in your purpose leads to the manifestation of your dreams and the things that you hope to accomplish.

3. Walking out your dreams is fulfilling and allows you to be content with your life. It is no easy feat, but it is more than worth it.

The first step is recognizing your skills and abilities so that you can pinpoint what your “gift” is. You can do this by making a list of the things you do well or complete a self-assessment. When you KNOW what your gifts are, you are prepared to walk in your purpose.

Assignment: Take time to pinpoint and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses.
Figure out how those strengths tie in with your gifts and abilities then take time to see
how they align with your goals and dreams.

Reflection: You were created with purpose and for a purpose. Don’t let that escape you.
Everything that you will do on this Earth, whether positive or negative, starts on the
inside of you.

enCOURAGE

I have always loved words. I was an avid reader when I was growing up. Because of the time I spent with books and the various publications around my grandmother’s home, I came to recognize the magnitude that words have when

they come together. As I matured in life, I began to have a deep appreciation for the words that came into my mind and spirit to share. 

Over the years, as I have conversed with others, I found that I often had a positive outlook that overshadowed the stories and situations that others shared with me. My natural inclination has always been to share something positive

 or provide an anecdote that would evoke inspiration and encouragement in others.

I kept noticing a pattern of words that people used to respond to me:

“You’re so sweet.”

“I feel so inspired.”

“That was really encouraging.”

It took me years to embrace the words that were said to me. One day, a specific word came into my mind and 

hit my spirit like a sunburst:

Encourage

As I broke down the word in my mind, I realized that this word was a big deal. Not because it is an impactful thing that sometimes happens unintentionally. People have to be open and receptive to be encouraged. This was a big deal because I realized that the most impactful part of this word was the letters C-O-U-R-A-G-E. Encouragement is about helping others to see courage within themselves. It sounds so simple, but this is big!!!

The act of giving support in a way that will impart or evoke courage or hope is a big deal because it helps people to go and do things both small and big. Things that change their world on a personal level, and things that change how we live and thrive on this Earth. That is an amazing thing!

I thought about the many different occasions when people would share the positive impact that my words had on them. I accepted that being an encourager is etched into my being. I can’t help it. I’m reminded of the woman who got baptized because my faith walk inspired her. I remember when my daughter was nervous about walking in a wedding and pushed herself to be bold after I gave her a pep talk. I realize that I had a friend who wrote a whole book after we reminisced about growing up in the country and eating honeysuckles.

It is an honor and privilege to be called to encourage others. This is an element of inner beauty that I have come to embrace in such a great way, and as a result of my pouring out, I have been infilled with so much more. I cannot reduce encouragement to mere words. Encouragement is the result of a synergy between one whose spirit seeks hope and one whose spirit radiates hope. Throughout life, we will all have the experience of being on either side. 

Cheers to the encouraged and the encourager. 

How to Get Your Breakthrough

A few years ago, I created a meme about breakthrough. It was during a Vision Board event that I gained the inspiration for the words that were shared:


I thought about the question I posed: “What if your ‘breakthrough’ required a fight from you? A push? A shift?” I realized that there really is no question on whether the breakthrough requires action.


The reality of breakthrough is that although there is beauty in the outcome, it is often an ugly process to get through. No matter the circumstance surrounding the need for a breakthrough, the hopelessness, despair, and limitations can suck the life out of you. It’s quite a process.

But, I want to encourage you. I have learned the difference between giving up and letting go. I have learned that at the moment where I feel like giving up, that is the moment where I have to pick myself up and thank God for the goodness and provision that I have. When we are at rock bottom, there is only one way to go: UP!!


On the flip side, it is absolutely necessary to learn how to see the good in every situation. Yes, even the darkest of moments. It was very painful to lose my dad so suddenly, but the beauty in losing him was learning so many great things about him. The blessing is in being able to remember the good times, and even in my moments of grieving him, I LET myself release what I’m feeling in that moment so that I can move on with my life. Bottled up grief never served anyone well.

In essence, to receive a breakthrough, you must do exactly that: BREAK THROUGH.


Like the pearl wrapped in the oyster, it came as a grain of sand, but one needed to BREAK THROUGH the shell to obtain it.


Like the butterfly that transitioned from being a caterpillar, it had to form in that cocoon in order
to BREAK THROUGH.


LIke the plant that started as a seed under a pile of dirt, it grew towards the light in order to
BREAK THROUGH.


So, whatever you’re going through, keep going. Walk in faith knowing that your situation is
temporary, not permanent.


But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. – Romans 8:25