Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Ugly Truth

Accountability”. It’s a tough word to own. It’s not always easy to look at myself in the mirror and stare straight into the middle of my mess. To confront those things I said I wouldn't do again...that I did, again; the lies that I told myself to avoid confrontation with myself or with others; the self-sabotaging behaviors; the overcompensating for my weaknesses instead of owning them; the guilt. It’s downright scary to look myself straight in the eye and say "You messed up." It doesn't seem natural that I should accept my flaws instead of burying them if they don't fit in with the picture I want people to see. It’s disconcerting not to be able to dismiss things as unimportant and just explain them away. Yes…it is quite painful to see myself, exposed, staring back at me from clear unbiased eyes. It just makes me uncomfortable. And it should--because that's how I know I'm learning. Even though my mouth isn't catching up with my brain, I'm kicking myself and saying in my head "Don't be so stupid!"--and that's how I know I'm growing. I care that I look like a fraud--projecting a false, shadowy image onto the parts of me that want to shine. It’s important to me not to just feel better or to look better but to BE better. And that can only happen if I'm honest--with myself and everyone around me about the good about me and the not-so-good about me. Honest about where I'm flawed, and then thoughtful enough to fix it. It is only with eyes and soul wide open that I can see the holes in me, let them gape open, and dive way down deep inside them to figure out how they got there; then slowly begin to fill them from the inside out. Introspection, thoughtfulness, candidness--those are the tools I will start to cloak myself with daily until they meld onto my skin and begin to save me from myself. I will stand up and point the finger at myself--but instead of shying away from the accusation, I'll confront it head on and accept the consequences as an opportunity for growth—no matter how painful. I’ll ask myself the tough questions and LISTEN carefully to the answers I give. Remind myself that it’s harder to build and maintain the lie, than to just accept the truth of what has happened, what has gone wrong and what just…is.

I read something recently—a daily motivational email with an unknown source that happened to circulate to me—that resonated with me, because its message is very similar to these feelings of accountability. Although it’s directly related to failure, the same rules apply, and I can easily substitute the word “faults” for “failures”:

Owning failure
When you fail to get the desired results, what's the first thing you must do? Take credit for it.
If you don't take credit, you don't learn the extremely valuable lesson for which you've just paid dearly. If you don't take credit and own your failures, you'll continue to experience more of them.
Instead, go ahead and take complete credit and ownership of your failures. Because when you take full ownership of your failures, you fully empower yourself to successfully get beyond them.
What you own, you control. When you choose to own your results, then you put yourself in control of those results.
When you own your results, you can decide what those results will be. And they can be whatever you wish to make them.
Admit your failures, take credit for them, embrace them, and own them. When you willingly take responsibility and ownership even for the failures, you're positioned for magnificent success.

The sooner I can hold myself accountable for all the parts of myself, and move to acceptance; the sooner I can heal, and prove myself worthy of this amazing journey I’m being allowed to travel.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

PLPT GEMS - Meet Sunshine

Peace Love and Pretty Things is about the celebration of the depths and complexities of a woman's spirit and the potential that lies therein. Our new feature, GEMS, will showcase women who are tapping into their unique talents and breathing life into their dreams.

GEMS stands for:
Grace and
Encouragement for
Motivation and

The women who are showcased as PLPT GEMS embody the boldness and vulnerability that are required to step out of the box and offer something intimately personal to the world. They are accessible examples of women who are doing interesting things, overcoming challenges, expressing themselves and making a difference in a unique and beautiful way.

As they share their stories, we hope that you will read something that inspires you to reflect, laugh, cry, dare, question, create, understand, and most importantly - get involved. The world needs your perspective and your contribution. When you focus your energy on a goal that reaches beyond personal gain into a context larger than yourself, there are no limits to what you can create.

PLPT GEMS presents ~ Sunshine
Liberator. Entrepreneur. Natural Beauty Advocate.

1. What is your passion and what is your outlet for it?
My biggest passion in life is the liberation of minds! Especially the minds of African (black) women in the United States. We are the most manipulated and emotionally distraught women in this country. Our families are in jeopardy and as an ethnic group we Africans are on the bottom when it comes to so many things i.e. business ownership, home ownership, etc. We are at the top in so many other things, heart disease, obesity, depression, death at the hands of a member of our own ethnic group and consumerism. I believe this can be turned around when our women return back to their natural minds as the Queens we once were. My outlet for that is firstly my life! I try to be the change I want to see in the world. I aim to lead by example. As a result I have started my own Natural Products Business Peace Love and Sunshine Products where I sell all natural products which promote simple beauty. My blog is also an outlet Natural Hair…Natural Products, I talk about natural hair, but I also try to focus on natural hair acceptance. I focus on learning to look within for your beauty as opposed to feeding into media and societies lies that outward beauty is most important. I try to impart to my readers the beauty in natural hair (without weaves and heat) and how embracing it can be the first step in embracing themselves, their roots, their culture, and their purpose. I also put out You-Tube Videos with motivational information.

2. How did you get started? How did you prepare yourself?
This all started when I took out the weave I was addicted to, cut all of my hair off into a fade and decided to learn who I was underneath the fa├žade I had been tricked into buying. I decided to learn to hone my other talents and learn how to get through life on the merit of my intelligence, personality and drive. I let go of the idea that physical looks alone were going to get me where I wanted to be in life.Once I embarked on my new natural way of thinking, things just started to fall into place. My husband (who is my best friend) and I sat down and decided together what we wanted for our lives and we made a plan. We sat down together and we wrote out the goals we had for our lives. We made a wish list of the things we wanted and the accomplishments we wanted to make. Seeing the list prepped me to do the hard work that it would take to make our dreams a reality.

3. What obstacles did you have to overcome?
Self- doubt! Whenever we embark on something new, there is always that fear that we cannot do it. That fear is usually what keeps most of us at a job we hate, in a relationship that is not worth it, overweight etc. We doubt ourselves and our abilities and we are afraid to leave our comfort zones. Getting over myself and my own insecurities has been the biggest obstacle. What holds us back from reaching our full potential in life is our own self imposed insecurities, and fears. It’s usually nothing external, but more our own interpretation of the external things.

4. Is your passion your full time occupation? If not, how do you balance it with the your other responsibilities?
Yes it is! My husband and I decided we did NOT want to spend the rest of our lives working to make other people rich and working to help other people live their dreams. We wanted to live life on our own terms. As a result we decided to take a pay cut and I stay home and work on our business while he works outside the home. It takes budgeting, planning and sacrifice, but it is sooo worth it. However there is still some balancing going on because first and foremost I am a wife, keeper of the home and companion to my husband. Working for yourself can consume every hour of the day since there is always something that needs to be done. I have to learn to work and also take care of my other duties so nothing gets neglected.

5. How do you stay motivated and overcome doubt, fear and negative thinking?When I start to feel negative thoughts creeping in I know they are lies first of all. I know that it is simply my own insecurity coming to the surface, so I do things that help me feel better about myself and my goals. Going for a walk outside always helps (sounds corny, but it works) I live in a beautiful little cozy town on the water where there are trees and all sorts of birds all around. Going out in nature and seeing everything the Creator has made, always reminds me how he made me with the same care. Trees thrive (and live much longer than we do) relying simply on what the creator gave them. When I think about that I know that I too have everything I need within me already and that helps get me back on track. Also I am a strong believer in daily affirmations. I have them already written out and when I need encouragement I recite a few over and over. They are usually things like “I am talented!” “I WILL have a physical natural beauty supply store” “I am a great business woman!” It really helps to say these types of things out loud. The more I say these things the more I believe them, and the more I believe them the truer they become! And lastly I do not surround myself with negative people or people who are not headed where I want to go. Since I choose to be around supportive people, they help if I am down. They are always there to remind me of what I have already accomplished and they keep me going.

6. What advice would you offer to others who are searching for their purpose or are afraid to take the first step towards their dreams?
Turn off the TV! Start Reading! Start doing daily affirmations. Let go of the toxic people in your life who are doing the same things they have always done and have no desire to do anything new. Decide what you really want, decide you deserve it, and believe the only thing stopping you from getting it is you. Start thinking positively. You are in control of your own life, so start controlling it!

7. Name someone who has inspired you and why.
Malcolm X is a great inspiration for me. Seeing how he started off lost and going with the flow of life never thinking anything was wrong with what he was doing (basically being controlled by society) and then to have a rebirth and completely turn his life around, is amazing to me. It shows me that no matter where we start, we can still finish where we want to. No matter how much we have messed up or how much time we have wasted, or damage we have done, if we just decide to do things differently, we can. We can reinvent ourselves! And also because he was not afraid to speak the truth. He stood behind what he believed in no matter who was against him. I find strength in his courage! (There is sooo much more I want to say about him! I can really relate to him and I hope my life inspires even one person the way his life has inspired me).

Where you can find me:

Store: http://peaceloveandsunshine.etsy.com/

Blogs: http://sunshinelovespeace.blogspot.com/ , http://www.naturalhairnaturalproducts.com/

Social Network: NaturalSunshine.com Where Natural Hair is the Norm!

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/sunshinelovespeace

Sunshine, your words are inspiring and your message is so necessary. Thank you for sharing with us. PLPT celebrates and supports you. xoxo
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

You are what you say

So, here I am. Awake. Aware. So many things that were out of focus have finally become clear. I’ve found my voice, and I’m not afraid to use it. As a result, things are falling into place in my life. All is not perfect, but life makes sense now. I am no longer a victim of circumstances waiting for my good to be given to me. I feel powerful – in the sense that my happiness now belongs to me and not to the world.

New found girl power aside, outside influences and old habits still threaten to barge in and crash my peace party. It's my choice to decide what influences I will listen to and what energy I will feed. My choice. My emotions. My reactions. My responsibility.
No matter where I go, there I am.
You see, there's this woman that I spend most of my time with and no matter where I go or what I do, she comes with me and she talks to me. That woman is me. So, it's up to me to set the tone for our conversations and keep myself engaged with uplifting ideas to fuel my decisions and actions.

I’ve listed here some of the affirmations I use to counter negative feelings when they come up. I post affirmations EVERYWHERE. They replenish me when my positive energy is running low. You should try it.

Everyone benefits from diversity of opinion. The world would be a painfully boring place if we all had the same thoughts and opinions. There’s no need to get defensive when someone disagrees with you. People have a right to express how they feel. You don’t have to take their ideas on as your own, and you don’t need validation from anyone. Learn to listen. I mean really listen, not just be quiet while you think about what you will say next to prove that you are right!
Don’t compare your life to others. Thou shall not sweat your neighbor. You have no idea what their journey is about. I don't know what keeps you up at night, but everyone has something. The joy is in the ride, my friend. It takes courage to trust where you are and find value in your own personal experience. Every human being draws the situations and people into their lives that they need to find understanding and awareness. Difficulties are opportunities, so don't think you are being punished if things aren't going your way.
Practice confidence and faith and your fears and insecurities will have no power over you. Living in fear creates more of the situations that we fear. I used to think it was just me, but I’m learning that many of us are afraid of the very things we say we want! Success, money, responsibility, relationships. We think we’ll screw it all up! Don't let your mind play tricks on you. Find the courage to ask the questions, say what you need to say, do what you need to do and don't worry about the outcome. It works.
The Kingdom of God is within you. There’s no need to look outside of yourself for a miracle to transform your life. What you seek you already are. Instead of lamenting what you think you don’t have, take what you are and what you have and make it work for you. Believe that you have divine inner vision and strength to create the life you want. When we sell ourselves short through self-destructive thoughts and behavior, we are in effect blocking our own inherent magic.
The only effective way to change someone else is to change yourself. This is a game-changer folks! There's nothing wrong with improving yourself to get what you want out of life. Sometimes we think we are selling out if we change. I say that's hogwash. You owe it to yourself to take a step back, look at yourself and make adjustments that will improve your effectiveness as a human being. By nature, I'm non-confrontational, but I've learned that if I want to be heard and respected, I better speak up make it known that my voice matters. You got a problem with that?
Whatever I need always comes my way. No matter what seems to be going on, learn to trust that life is always leading you towards your greatest good. If you are doing everything in your power to make something happen and it's still not working out for you, perhaps that is exactly what you need. Maybe getting that job, perfect as it seems, would hinder your ability to learn something about yourself. Maybe a miracle solution to your financial solutions sounds like a dream come true, but it could deprive you of a healing that will lead you to a more fulfilling life.
Think about what you say to yourself and learn to direct your thinking. Speak love and prosperity into your life, and don’t give fear and worry the time of day.
The following books will help you infuse yourself with positive energy and direct your thoughts towards peace and happiness. Now go forth and be lovely. I see you.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Power of Positive

I’ve received some news recently…news that has the potential to be scary and stressful, to drive me into a crying, hyperventilating frenzy and push my thoughts off the deep end—if I allow it to. Despite the disturbing nature of the news, there is a silver lining and a positive spin. So despite my mind’s desire to focus on the negative aspects of the situation, I am determined to focus on the positive because that is the only way I’ll make it through this situation. It will be a test of my faith, but a test I am happy to take and prepared to pass with flying colors. In order to stay positive, I’ll need to spend time in quiet meditation, pray, journal, practice yoga, exercise—all the things that help to keep me centered and focused. A favorite blog of PLPT’s, The Affirmation Spot, posted a great exercise for countering negative thoughts. I wanted to share them, in case there’s a situation in your life that calls for the power of positive thinking as well.

“Here are four things you can do to handle and live more harmoniously with common negative thoughts. They form the word CALL.
Counter – counter your negative thoughts with tools like affirmations. Persistent negative thoughts can be countered and changed by offering a positive alternatives.
Accept – accept that you will have negative thoughts and it’s OK. You’re human afterall. No beating yourself up.
Listen – listen to your negative thoughts. They may provide insight into where you need to focus your self-improvement efforts.
Laugh – some of your negative thoughts really are pretty funny when you get enough perspective. Lighten up and see the humor in the way your mind works.
I’m not saying don’t try to transform your negative thoughts into something positive. I’m just saying that when they want to come out and play, CALL allows you to say, ‘Bring it on!’”

CALL is designed to handle more common negative thoughts, but it can certainly be applied to all situations in life that cause worry, fear, self-doubt or depression. You may not be able to see the humor in more serious situations right away, but you can Counter, Listen and Accept to a level that allows you to see inside yourself and flip all those negative thoughts, feelings and perceptions upside down. When life steps up the negative, trying situations and it feels like they get harder and harder to deal with, step your positive up a notch as well. Embrace the power of positive thoughts in your life in a way that is overwhelming and all-consuming to the point where you do so without thought or effort. I’ll be right there with you--spending time in quiet meditation, praying, journaling, practicing yoga, exercising—keeping myself centered and focused.
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

PLPT GEMS - Meet Dria

Peace Love and Pretty Things is about the celebration of the depths and complexities of a woman's spirit and the potential that lies therein. Our new feature, GEMS, will showcase women who are tapping into their unique talents and breathing life into their dreams.

GEMS stands for:

Grace and
Encouragement for
Motivation and

The women who are showcased as PLPT GEMS embody the boldness and vulnerability that are required to step out of the box and offer something intimately personal to the world. They are accessible examples of women who are doing interesting things, overcoming challenges, expressing themselves and making a difference in a unique and beautiful way.

As they share their stories, we hope that you will read something that inspires you to reflect, laugh, cry, dare, question, create, understand, and most importantly - get involved. The world needs your perspective and your contribution. When you focus your energy on a goal that reaches beyond personal gain into a context larger than yourself, there are no limits to what you can create.

PLPT GEMS presents ~ Dria
Writer. Story-teller. Torch carrier.

1. What is your passion and what is your outlet for it?
I have more than one, but the most overwhelming, the one that haunts me if I don’t tend to it, is language. I am a writer ALL the time—it’s nearly a nuisance (thank God my sisters are little geeks and will discuss literature with me for hours, if I want!). I have several outlets for my passion since it’s how I make my living, including magazine and newspaper articles, literary journals, collections of short stories, and websites, but I don’t enjoy writing other people’s junk. I only want to write my own and it is this freedom I strive for every single day.

2. How did you get started? How did you prepare yourself?
I’m not a writer who has been writing since a very young age. I guess maybe I kept journals as a child, and I was an excellent student so I pulled off school essays just fine, but I didn’t do these things for the words or the magic I could make with them; they were just a means to an end. I have always been an avid reader, but I didn’t eat up books thinking, I want to do this. I just loved the stories, the escape, the accomplishment of having finished another book. I discovered my gift late in my undergraduate career, declared a Creative Writing major, and set my feet toward the horizon. Like most novice writers, I was in love with my work then. I’d write a poem in fifteen minutes and be so enamored with it, I’d share it with all sorts of people and think I was soooo fly. I wasn’t! I wasn’t reading enough. I wasn’t revising. I thought there was nothing to it but emotion and a few “original” ideas. Then I stumbled upon a collection of poetry by Sonia Sanchez. She shamed me, as she will any know-nothing writer, and I shut up all that conceit. From there, I studied like a madwoman (I’m still studying and will always), I wrote a collection of poetry myself (nothing like writing a terrible book to learn a great deal), I got into the number 2 Writing program in the country (Johns Hopkins), I suffered pains of unimaginable degrees, I won some awards, had a baby, launched a women’s writers conference (http://www.flanked.org/), and decided ain’t nothing in the world I want more than to create literature.

3. What obstacles did you have to overcome?
I’m writing in a genre that is not particularly popular and not particularly honored by Black people on a major scale. Literary fiction is not something we pass around like we do a Mary J CD, so committing to something not all that well loved by my people, the very people I write about, requires the occasional pep talk. I write a lot about intra-racism and incest and other “sensitive” topics. I’m very gentle with them, but I say some things that need to be said. I would love for my audience to be little poverty-stricken high yellow, brown, and blue-black girls and boys. I’d love for old black men and women to read my work, but the reality is the majority of them will never set eyes on it. Still the level of creation—that commitment to writing literature and not popular fiction and striving to be among the Toni Morrisons and James Baldwins--has always been more important to me than my audience. The artist has to remain committed to her art. So I just kind of hope and pray my stories land where they’re needed. I guess I’ve had to overcome naysayers too. People who love me and have my best interest at heart have told me, “But you won’t be able to live off your work.” I know they think they’re serving me, but they’re not. I ignore them. It’s fairly easy though, because I’m clear about my life’s purpose and my family has always supported me 1000%, so I don’t want to paint that as a true obstacle. On an everyday basis, I have to overcome laziness, procrastination, and an outright distrust of my work. Sometimes I read it and think, “This is garbage,” and it is only God who brings me back to it.

4. Is your passion your full time occupation? If not, how do you balance it with your other responsibilities?
I know I said writing is how I make my money, and right now it is my sole source of income, but my own work—my fiction, my personal projects—is not my full time occupation. I feel like I’m almost there! Like just as soon as I find a publisher for my short story collection I’ll find a university home where I’ll be allowed to work among all things fiction, but I have a little more work left to do before I’m granted that blessing. In the meantime, I talk to myself in this way, “You want it? Are you really a writer? Do you mean it? Then get to it.” I try not to take too many breaks, to put off the dream for any serious length of time, and I just trust that God hasn’t given me this gift for nothing. I get it done. There is no balance really. A lot of times—a lot!—the dishes go unwashed, the nights out with girlfriends get postponed, my boyfriend and daughter settle for a quick game of Yahtzee…all in the name of making a life out of this thing.

5. How do you stay motivated and overcome doubt, fear and negative thinking?
I almost gave a generic answer to this because overcoming doubt, fear, negative thinking has never really been my issue, but I understand that there are some writers out there—specifically women, specifically black women—who wear above them their own personal storm cloud, demanding their failure. So I’ll tell them the proactive measures I take: I read all the time. For every page I write, I have read 250. I am most at home with black women humanist literary writers, but I gobble up everything excellent. Black women writers feel like me myself and in their work lives one million messages. Messages I take personally, that tell me to keep going (though I have much respect for many writers of other ethnicities). I am motivated by excellence. It is very important to me to grab the torch and hold it high until the next generation of literary writers is ready to carry it. I want to make Zora Neale Hurston and Jean Toomer and every member of my literary lineage proud of me. That is very, very important to me.

6. What advice would you offer to others who are searching for their purpose or are afraid to take the first step towards their dreams?
I’m the aunt who says, Scared? The hell you scared of? So I don’t really nurture timidity or baby folks who are afraid of their own shadows. There is someone out there for those people, but I’m not her. I’ve never been that sort of person, even in childhood. I’m the person you come to when you’re ready to jump. For writers ready to jump, I say read until your eyes tear. Write until your fingers boycott you. Study, study, study. Decide on excellence and do not stray.

7. Name someone who has inspired you and why.
Oh man. Inspiration comes in big old daily doses, sometimes too big to swallow. I am inspired by: the way my mother tells a story, my sisters and their refusal to be anything but themselves, my daughter’s shyness, Oprah’s strength, Toni Morrison’s wisdom, Toi Derricottoe’s honesty, Beyonce’s focus, Barack Obama’s eloquence, Malcolm X’s fearlessness…by films, by music, by individual words, photographs, commercials, good food, good wine ;0)…ooh, especially good quotes…deep down pain, injustice, anger…fabric, television shows, singing, dancing…hell, hot pink nail polish. I can use anything as an excuse for inspiration and it, like the sky, is all over everywhere.

Check out the following links to read some of the original works of Andria Nacina Cole. She's one to watch!

1. "Leaving Women" - http://www.pshares.org/issues/article.cfm?prmArticleID=9067 (short story)

2. "Small Crimes" - http://www.urbanitebaltimore.com/sub.cfm?issueID=63&sectionID=4&articleID=1010 (short story)

3. "How Not to Ruin Your Daughters" - http://fictioncircus.com/story.php?storyid=hownottoruinyourdaughters (experimental fiction)

4. "Such Evenings" - http://www.outsiderwriters.org/archives/2632 (short story)

Dria, You have an amazing gift and we thank you for sharing it. PLPT loves and supports you. xoxo

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Friday, September 18, 2009

8 Truths about Truth


I'd like to get to the point that I don't care what people think about me. Right now, a more accurate statement for me is that I've accepted that I can't control what people think about me. That's improvement. :) We spend so much time trying to show people this representative idea how we think we should be that we lose sight of who we really are. It is not our responsibility to prove to people who we are. Our actions are manifestations of who we are, and that includes the pretty things and the not so pretty things.

Our only responsibility is to simply "be". Keep the following thoughts in mind to stay true to yourself and true to your best life.

1. When you don’t reveal your true thoughts, feelings and beliefs, you are sabotaging your efforts to have sincere and loving relationships. While you think you are protecting yourself, you are really only preserving how you want to appear, not who you really are. You want to be loved for yourself, not for your representative.

2. Although you can’t make others be honest with you, when you are honest you create the energy for others to be honest in return. Honesty is a vehicle of love. You speak the truth because you want to build your relationships up, not tear them down. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable ironically makes you and your relationships stronger.

3. You can get so used to living on the edge of truth that you don’t even realize that you do it. You can see dishonesty in other people without seeing it in yourself because of your desire for self-protection. (Ouch. I really feel this one.)

4. Truth-telling is habit forming just like lie-telling. The more you tell the truth, the better you feel. To be authentic is liberating, psychologically and relationally. You don't have to think to yourself, what did I tell the last person?

5. The courage to confess indicates a desire to walk a different path in the future. This is the process of putting off the false self and putting on the true self. Accept responsibility for your behavior and you will grow in leaps and bounds.

6. Standing for truth also means speaking the truth to yourself. Use your own unique filter to weed out the messages you receive from the world. Trust your own experience and know what is true for you.

When you start to feel a lie or misrepresentation coming out, no matter how trivial, remind yourself "I am who I am."
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Off the Ledge

You know that it's about to happen before it happens. Your heart drops, pulse quickens, stomach ties in knots, head pounds. You're nervous as you step out onto that ledge and let your mind go there. You imagine all the different scenarios and play out pretend scenes in your head. You lift one foot off the edge as your imagination spirals out of control, creating the massive event you believe might be about to happen and your eyes open wider in disbelief. You start to think about what you'll do "if" or how you'll feel "if" or just how you'll articulate in the event that you have to defend yourself. Okay, it's really getting crazy now...you're out of control and you can hardly breathe and you lean forward, poised to jump, your muscles tensed in anticipation of the fall! But wait! In reality, nothing has happened yet. At the moment, things are perfectly fine. There are no storm clouds rolling in, no boogey man hiding in the closet waiting to jump out. You've created all this drama in your head because you feel ___ (insert the word that best describes your heightened emotional state: afraid? overwhelmed? unsure? hormonal? irritable? betrayed? angry?). So now that we've clarified why you are out on the ledge, let me tell you how you can start to talk yourself back off the ledge. Gently remind yourself that you can't control everything and sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Encourage yourself not to let past incidences, where something similar may have happened, dictate your circumstances for today. That situation--the one that had you so up in arms before--is over and done with and you learned invaluable lessons from it (right?!); so now instead of that burden weighing you down, those lessons will keep you afloat in a sea of confusion. State decisively (out loud if necessary) that fear has no place in your life and that there is only room for peace and love to take up residence in your heart. Come on in off the ledge, Sister. Things are better than you know, you are stronger than you think, and this too shall pass.

Feet on Solid Ground
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Friday, September 11, 2009

So What??

So what if your manager didn't praise you for how well you did on that project? So what if your child is not a straight A student? So what if you don't have a brand new car like your neighbor? So what if you are 30 and have not conquered the world yet? So what if you are in debt? Should you feel unworthy, inadequate or ashamed? Of course not! I say, So What? You try it. So what??

Think about why these things bother you so much. Are you worried about what people think? Do you think someone else is getting an edge up on you? Do you think you are missing something? Do you worry that you will be left behind? Are you worried about losing something that defines you? Are you scared to fail? Scared to succeed? Scared that it's too late???

As long as you believe that someone or something outside of yourself can deny your good, you are not ready to have it.

When you make your happiness dependent on a particular turn of events, this is a sure way to lead yourself right into disappointment and stress. People will not always praise you, uplift you, or even notice you when you wish they would. Circumstances change without warning, and challenges may seem to appear every time you are ready to move forward, blocking you from carrying out your plans. When the resulting anger, frustration and fear build up, we often want to look outward to assign blame.

Life is a mystery that we must unravel at our own pace and in our own way. If you allow the external things that you see to determine how you feel about your life, peace will continue to elude you. If you focus all of your attention on the center of your being and ask yourself "What is it that I must learn?" The answers will come.

You are on a journey of love and discovery - not a race to the finish. The truth is that while you are walking along in this life, leaving your footprints here and there, acquiring things and losing things, making strides and losing your footing - so is everyone else. There is no finish line or final exam. It's self-defeating to compare yourself or to try and prove yourself to anyone because your journey is beautifully yours and yours alone. So, there.

P.S. In addition to asking yourself "What is it I must learn?", it is also important to ask yourself "What is it I must wear while I'm learning it?" Or maybe that's just me.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Proofread, Edit, Re-Write

I’m coming to the realization that my story is being re-written. There have been a lot of things removed from the story of my life lately—characters are being dropped from leading roles, things that looked good on paper now look a little messy-- basically any predictable part of the story has been ripped right out of the book and anything that I felt like I knew-- and had come to rely on being already written--has been removed from my line of sight. I'm obviously doing too much of the same thing and the universe says it’s time to switch it up. It feels like every time I make a plan it falls through and every time I make a decision it gets trumped. But I have to remind myself that it just means I’m not making the right plans or that it’s time to edit and revise the ones I have. The universe is striking through things with a red pen and giving me the opportunity to correct them before the errors can count against me. I am making a concerted effort to not fight this process, but to live in it and feel it through and through until the answers that are in my soul reach through my heart and into my mind. I’ll admit--I’m having a little bit of writer’s block with my story and I think the problem right now is that I'm afraid. The unknown is a scary, wide open abyss of blank empty pages screaming back at me to write something amazing and magical and brilliant at the drop of a hat. I’ve always been a planner and a scheduler and someone who needs to have everything in its proper place, so flying off the cuff doesn’t come naturally. But I am aware enough to know that what I see through the cloak of fear isn’t a very realistic view of a life journey where there are always plot twists, special guest appearances and surprise endings. So, I’m putting on my brave face, squaring my shoulders, grabbing my coffee cup (Starbucks, of course) and getting down to business. No matter what ends up being written for the next chapter of my life, I will shake off the fear and enjoy all the ups and downs, twists and turns, edits and revisions. I will continue to trust that there are already forces out there making a way....

I challenge you too, to write your own story, to make up your own rules and to tell your own truth. I dare you to rip up the pages full of expectations, sameness, predictability and normalcy; and to pen--in your best handwriting (or type in your fanciest font)--a new story full of the unexpected, individuality, surprises and pure unadulterated brilliance.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Where are you right now?

So often we get so caught up in creating a detailed outline for our lives that we forget about the miracles, the revelations, and experiences that are momentous in grasping the big picture. Personally, I had a few rough days this week where I felt overwhelmed by my mistakes and perceived shortcomings. To stay focused on what is most significant and adds meaning to our existence, Dawna Markova, inspirational author, suggests asking yourself four questions to get reconnected with your purpose. I sat down with my journal this week and here’s an abbreviated, non-TMI version of what I came up with:

1. What are you moving away from?
Regret. I am moving away from negative thinking and self-doubt. I’ve stepped out of the box of my fears and anxieties. I’m moving away from people that don’t feel right in my life, and food that doesn’t feel right in my stomach. I am open to all possibilities and opportunities to try again. There’s no such thing as defeat.

2. What are you moving against?
Pretenses. I am moving against the conditioning that has trained me to hide myself and stifle my voice. I am moving against the headwind of depression and sadness. I’m side-stepping the judgment and criticism that I may encounter on my journey. The interference of limiting ideas and past mistakes are only in my way if I allow them to be.

3. What are you moving with?
Free will. I am moving with grace, forgiveness and humility. I am moving with nightlights of positive affirmation to illuminate the valleys. I am picking up and taking with me all the good things I thought I’d lost like faith, hope and courage. I’m asking the questions and aligning myself with solutions. I have the support of my loved ones and the armor of God.

4. What are you moving towards?
Fulfillment. I am dancing down the soul train line to my own beat towards abundance and peace. I am finding the joy in the ride. I see success down the road. There’s creative expression along the way and lots of breaks to smell the flowers and do cartwheels. My story of healing is waiting to be told.

This is where I am right now. Where are you? Feel free to share here or answer these four questions in your own personal journal.

Peace and Blessings!
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Down But Not Out

As i find myself overwhelmed with the weight of life, I have to remind myself that it's all a part of the plan. Life has cycles, ebbs and flows, and change is inevitable. I do my best to listen to myself, to be honest with myself and those around me, and to generate as much positive energy as possible to counteract the negative that threatens to seep in. In moments such as these, I find the following affirmations helpful.

*I share truth.

*I feel release through communication.

*It is easy to articulate my feelings.

*I release my anger. I embrace joy.

*I connect with my needs and let them be known.

*My insecurity is replaced with wisdom.

-butterfly goddess, Hina. Courtesy of goddess.com.au.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

10 Ways to Feel Better

Everyday the friendly security guard in my building greets me with a huge smile and asks me how I'm doing that day. Today, I considered saying (with an equally huge smile) "Barely holding back the tears! And how are you?!" Somehow I found a way to resist the urge. I just smiled. I wonder if he noticed that the smile didn't reach my eyes. I just get really sad and overwhelmed sometimes. Then I feel guilty for feeling that way because I am so blessed. When I feel down and try to internalize it, I just feel worse and it leads to misunderstandings and misperceptions in my relationships.

Most people feel this way occasionally for short periods of time. If the sad feeling persists and begins to impact all aspects of life for a longer period of time, this may actually be clinical depression. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says that one in four women will experience severe depression at some point in life and depression affects twice as many women as men, regardless of racial and ethnic background or income. We can choose to ignore it and fill the void with addiction, indulgence and other destructive behavior. Or we can heal ourselves by talking about it. That's a start.

This blog is so healing to me because it allows me be honest and vocal about my efforts to maintain happiness and live a fulfilling life. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I always look for the light through the darkness. One of the ways I've found to do that is making lists. Oh, how I love a list! My love of lists is undoubtedly connected to my love of writing. There's something about seeing things down on paper that calms me.

Today's list consists of 10 things we all can do to increase our happiness or to feel better when our spirits need a lift.

Help someone. Listen to someone else's trials and tribulations and be supportive. Volunteer. Offer a complement. Go out of your way to be kind. Believe in the concept of paying it forward. It takes your mind off of your own troubles and makes you feel worthwhile.

Go to your happy place. Create a space for yourself that is in every way uniquely you. Make it cozy, neat, messy, fragrant, indoors, outdoors…whatever. Fill it with your favorite books, pictures, music, gadgets and decorations.

Focus on your strengths. We often put most of our energy into improving our weaknesses and judging ourselves. What would happen if instead we looked for ways to shine a brighter light on what we do well? Remember that there are people who don't have the same strengths as you.

Use your support system. Don't be afraid to reach out to your friends and family when you are sinking. We don't want to be a burden, so we try to appear to have it all together when we don't. That's what they are there for. Vent. Cry. Complain. Brainstorm solutions. Relate. Laugh. Heal. Don't wait until you are in crisis to ask for help.

Stop gossiping. Give so much time to loving and honoring yourself that you have no time to criticize others. Avoid people who build themselves up by breaking others down. We all do it. Let's try to be thoughtful and constructive with our discussions. I will try if you will.

Tune it Out. Don't read the newspaper or watch the news for awhile. Between nuclear weapons, wars, crime, tragic accidents, swine flu and pandemic diseases there is so much going on that is unpredictable and scary. We often distress ourselves and misuse our imaginations when we worry about things we can't control.

Speak your Truth. Find the courage to ask questions and express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as possible to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. Know that your voice is relevant and important. If you don't want to do something, say so. If you can't afford it, say so. If the answer is no, say so. With love but without apology.

Girls' Night Out/Girls' Night In. Dress up. Do your hair. Throw some heels on. DANCE. "Let the music and the madness get to you…life ain't so bad at all…." Or invite your girls over and do each other's hair. Watch Coming to America. Sex and the City reruns. Whatever you like. Paint your nails. Relive the joy and simplicity of having a slumber party with your friends.

Listen to MJ. So much of Michael Jackson's music is about love, expression and happiness. He makes you wiggle, smile and perhaps recall a time in your life when things were simpler. He left us with a legacy of music that transcends time and trends. His music always gives me a boost.

Exercise. For me, this is the red-headed stepchild of this list. I know how good it makes me feel physically and emotionally, but I'm still inconsistent with it. Exercise gives you a break from worries and an energy boost that enhances your sense of well-being. Yoga, my personal fave, is an amazing outlet to connect your mind, body and spirit and create an overall feeling of peace and balance. I also like it because I don't get sweaty. Any degree of moderate activity helps, though.

Just writing this post has boosted my spirits. I think I will make this a weekly installment on PLPT. My issues are still my issues, but what's more important than any problem I have is the responsibility that I have to be a source of joy.

Feel free to share what boosts you when the clouds close in. I hope that reading PLPT is one of those things! xoxo
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