Friday, July 27, 2012

Love Note - Friday 7/27/12

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Affirmations for Dealing with Anxiety


I never considered myself to be much of a worrier until I had kids. I started seeing the world with new eyes once I had to a child to raise and protect. Prior to that, I traipsed all over this world as if I was untouchable. When I think of some of the things I've done and situations that I put myself in, all I can do is thank God that I made it through reasonably unscathed.

The oblivion that defined my young adult years has now been replaced with a great deal of awareness and unfortunately - anxiety. It started in my latter twenties and eventually led me to seek professional help. It's something I have to manage on a daily basis. The Fear. The Uneasiness. Sometimes it's downright panic. If I don't do the internal work of keeping my thoughts positive, setting boundaries as to what I let in and what I keep out, and how much I take on, I'm bound to have some kind of breakdown. I talk about knowing your triggers in this post.

Today, I want to arm with you with some resources to help you get through moments of overwhelming anxiety. What has really helped me to deal with mine is to not allow it to get to the point of panic. When I feel myself overwhelmed, I get myself as quickly as possible to an environment where I feel safe and where I can be alone to recharge. I pray and breathe and will my Spirit to silence the scary thoughts circling my head.

Kim and I are big fans of Gabby Bernstein and have several of her guided meditations on our iPods. If you're curious, try this five minute exercise to help you release anxiety and embrace peace.

Reflect on the following quotes to give you some perspective:

Real difficulties can be overcome, it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.  ~Theodore N. Vail

You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith.  ~Mary Manin Morrissey

Do not be afraid of tomorrow; for God is already there. ~Author Unknown

A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work. ~John Lubbock

Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action. ~Walter Anderson

To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another. ~Katherine Paterson

Repeat the following affirmations to calm yourself and get recentered: 

All is well in my world and I am safe.

Every breath I inhale calms me and every breath I exhale takes away tension.

With every breath, I release the anxiety within me and I become more calm.

I look towards the future with hope and happiness.

I overcome my fears and live life courageously.

I acknowledge that the only constant in life is change and am prepared for it.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Argument FOR Joining a Faith Community

I strongly believe in God.

I strongly believe that God is best approached communally.

There is something powerful about having people who believe similarly approaching God collectively. I think there is power in being a part of a spiritual family—a faith community.

We live in a very individualistic culture. We are often isolated, in front of a television or computer screen, wondering why we feel alone. We long for connection, but do not know where to start. Try joining a faith community.

I say faith community, because I am not talking just about Christianity. No matter our spiritual beliefs, almost all traditions encourage living in community.

Join a church. Join a Mosque. Join a discussion group that meets more than monthly. Live life with others who are growing spiritually.

Seek God alone, but also with others—and allow God to find you.

A special note for Christians:

Far too often, I see people choosing not be a part of a faith community because they do not agree with what a particular church teaches. I understand that; however, understand that not all faith communities are the same.

Each denomination varies greatly. If you are angered by the anti-science, homophobic stance many churches take, then be encouraged. I am an ordained minister and I agree with you. Find a community that reflects your values and principles.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that every church is the same. Try many out, and you will find the right one for you.

- Lawrence Ware
(To read Lawrence's full bio, click here. )

*Photo via Pinterest
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Love Note - Friday 7/20/12

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

We Are Not Defined By What Happens To Us

The Bible teaches two very important principles that many seem to have forgotten. In life, there are both crosses and crops. Let me explain.

Crosses are those things that we must bear. Everyone has one. Health ailments, family issues—these can be crosses. As we age, our bodies break down—no matter how much Botox, weave, and face cream you use, your body will age. Black may not crack, but given enough time, it will certainly chip. Many of us have crazy family members. In fact, I would venture to say that we all have at least one family member who is at least a little psychotic. These are all crosses. There is nothing we can do about them. We have to bear them, but they are used by God to develop patience, humility, and empathy.

However, there are also crops. Let’s examine these using the first example above. While health issues will invariably come, we can certainly exacerbate those issues by failing to take proper care of ourselves. Eating poorly, failing to exercise—these can also lead to health ailments. However, in this case they are crops, not crosses. These are the crops that are the result of what we have sown. If we make poor choices, we may get by a few times, but eventually we will reap what we sow.

Why is this important?

We have to be able to discern the crops and the crosses in our lives. If it is a cross, then pray for the strength to bear it. Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth talked about a thorn in his side. God’s response to his pleading for removal of this thorn was simply to remind him that God’s grace is sufficient to handle whatever he was enduring.

If it is a crop, learn from it. Vow to never make the same mistake again. Do not repeat past mistakes that put you in difficult positions. Einstein said that insanity was doing the same thing expecting a different result. That is not a psychological definition of insanity, but I think it certainly works for stupidity.

No matter what, we are not the mistakes we’ve made. Nor are we the crosses we have to bear. We are more. We are not defined by what happens to us but, instead, by how we respond.

- Lawrence Ware
(To read Lawrence's full bio, click here.)
*photo via Pinterest

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pretty Things: 4 Simple Pleasures I'm Loving Right Now


Today, I want you to remember to make time for the little things that boost your spirit, put a smile on your face, make you feel creative, intelligent, attractive - basically however you want to feel.  Have you been doing that lately?

Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.  I put so much pressure on myself.  I was talking to the mister recently about household duties and how stressed I get about taking care of home and work and everything else while still trying to look somewhat presentable.  He's such a low maintenance guy and if he saw my to-do list, he'd probably cross half of it off, deeming those things to be unnecessary.  Everyone has different priorities, I guess, and I'm learning that keeping the sink clear of dirty dishes at all times is not a priority for him.  And just maybe, it shouldn't be such a big deal for me either.

This is why today I'm sharing with you four of my favorite things.  I need to remember the importance of simple pleasures and that a life of ceaseless productivity is not going to bring the best out of me.  Maybe you need this reminder too.

Dressing Up
Or maybe I should say dressing down!  I love my casual style and I'm really enjoying the ease of summer clothes.  No coats, no gloves, no bulky clothes.  Let's enjoy it while it lasts.

Since I'm studying for a big exam for work (I've already failed it once!), I haven't indulged too much in reading for pleasure.  I got this awhile back and haven't finished it, but it's hilarious and relatable.  I love Mindy Kaling. 

Working Out
I've finally started working out again on a regular basis.  Well, it's been 3 weeks of consistent exercise, and I seriously feel like a different person.  In all honesty, I look the same and my pants are still fitting too tight, but I know I'm back on the right track.   If you're like me and you've been making excuses, stop doubting yourself and get moving!   You will feel different inside and out and you will be so proud of yourself.


So maybe planning sounds more like business than pleasure but it all depends on what you are planning.  In order to escape the challenges of day to day, it helps to make sure you set aside resources to plan for something fun.  Maybe that's a vacation, or a shopping date with friends.  It could be as simple as a trip to the spa or the salon.  The only requirement is that it's something that makes you happy and seeing it on your calendar puts a smile on your face.  :)

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Love Note - Friday 7/13/12

Pay attention to the story you're telling about yourself: Does what you're professing hold you back from, or push you toward your goals for your best life?
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

6 Reminders for Bad Days


It doesn't have to be hard.  It's okay if it's easy.
Where did so many of us get the idea that if we are too happy, something terrible is going to happen? We can't enjoy ourselves, can't let our guard down because we think that being hypervigilant will protect us. We can't ward off disaster by not being too happy. As the great philosopher Epictetus reminds us, "When considering the future, remember that all situations unfold as they do regardless of how we feel about them." We can exercise caution and care, we can plan and scheme, but to a great extent, life unfolds on a grander scale than all of our scheming. Worry will do nothing to change the outcome.

Problems are really opportunities in disguise.
When it comes to problems, you must use what you learn to inform your future decisions.  Expect and focus on the best that life has to offer while understanding that it’s often the setbacks in life that make the very best things possible.   Eliminate confining thoughts about who you are, what you can do, and how fast you must learn to do it.

You are not a punching bag.
Don't allow factors outside of your control to drain your energy and distract you from all the blessings in your life. Let go and focus more energy on love and abundance. It's your choice. Instead of blaming whatever that irritant is for being what it is and waiting for it to change, you choose to be the change. Take back control of your attitude and your peace of mind.

Don't take your life for granted.
Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. Stop looking for what's wrong and look for what's right. You might think that things could be better. But they could also be worse. There are many people in the world who would gladly trade places with you. "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." (Another simple, profound quote from Epictetus)

Be your own best friend.
Say positive things to yourself. Don't beat yourself up. It's important to tell yourself you are beautiful and see yourself with loving eyes. No matter how hectic things get, make time for the things you love.  Don't neglect yourself.  Know when it's time to let go and make room for what's next. The hard times are necessary to get to the good, so don't flee from yourself when the going gets rough.

Just Breathe.
Action is not always the answer. Be still, pray and reconnect with your inner guide.  Have faith.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Inner Pretty: Giving Back

Yesterday afternoon, I had the opportunity to speak with a group of middle schoolers at Camp Font-Tastic at Morgan State University, my alma mater. I showed up with my social media etiquette presentation notes in hand and a small hope in my heart that at least a couple of the campers would be willing to answer some of my questions and give me a glimmer of feedback. Sure, I knew I was presenting a topic of interest and relevance to them; but also knowing that they were about the same age as my son, and how he lapses into silences when I least expect it, I wasn’t sure of what I would get.

I was over-whelmed by the candor with which the group responded. Most of the young men and women openly participated in the discussion--not only did they answer my questions and respond to my examples, but they presented really thoughtful questions, and even had a few funny stories in their back pockets.

I left that classroom grateful that I’d had the opportunity to engage and hopeful that they’d learned something. But most importantly, I left with a huge smile on my face. Nothing contributes to my inner pretty and inner peace more than sharing a little bit of myself with others. And children in particular, have such an honest way about them that’s inspiring—they don’t pull any punches, and they don’t tip toe around your feelings. You know if you’ve connected with them or if you haven’t. And I had forgotten the refreshing feeling of looking into so many eyes full of hope and hungry for information.

I used to volunteer regularly with kids of all ages, but hadn’t done so in a really long time. I think those campers have reinvigorated my love of giving back in that way. When I became a parent, I zeroed in my own kid, and those that are close to me. But there are so many others that might benefit from a bit of inner pretty.

Do you regularly volunteer or give back in some way?
How does it make you feel?

*Photo via Pinterest

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Love Note - Friday 7/6/12

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

5 More Affirmations of Value

The fact that they don’t “get it” doesn’t make you or your ideas any less valuable.

Someone else’s disappointment in you doesn’t make you a loser. In fact, it often isn’t even a competition.

Where there is judgment, respect cannot exist. Try observing the situation without judging them or yourself.

Avoid sending positivity to everyone else and reserving the negative for yourself; you’re just as deserving of the positive space you hold for others.

Manage your self-talk. Instead of labeling yourself as lazy, stupid or weak—acknowledge that you are making choices not to learn or not to do the work. And then turn it around.

While these may seem like simple concepts, it’s easy to forget them amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life—and often even more difficult to execute when your emotions are involved. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and affirm what you know about yourself. These affirmations have helped me. I hope they help you too.

*Click here for more affirmations of value

**Photo via Pinterest

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lovely Links: MerelyMarie

It's been awhile since we've shared a lovely link with you, and I'm delighted today to share one of my daily reads: MerelyMarie. If you're not already familiar, she's a lifestyle blogger, a professional graphic designer and her blog is full of style, hair and foodie inspiration.

From her about page: "Blogging has gone beyond a mere fascination for me. It’s a part of my life’s work."


Many of us start blogging as a hobby or a creative outlet and it becomes much more than that. As I've often said, it becomes a vehicle to pursue your passions, whatever those things are. And ultimately, blogging can help you find your people - the ones who inspire, motivate and drive you to continue to create. Marie has definitely inspired me in many ways. Here are a few of my favorite posts from her blog:

40 by 40.
Being Who You Are: But, What If You're Quiet?

As I mentioned above, Marie is also a professional graphic designer with her own business: MerelyBlogDesign.

From her business about page: "If content is indeed king in the blog world, than MerelyBlogDesign believes “Design is Queen”   Often times the best content goes unread, simply because the presentation is lackluster. An attractive design will charm new readers, and keep your current ones coming back for more. You may even find yourself unable to stay away, for too long."

Compelling, right? If you are in the market for a blog redesign, I encourage you to check out samples of her work and what packages she has to offer. 

I love to see women defining fulfillment for themselves and using their gifts. I read a quote the other day that I scribbled on a sticky note on my desk:

"You, being yourself, helps others to be themselves."

If you are seeking a creative outlet, remember that it is seeking you too! You never know who you might inspire, what dreams you may fulfill, and how you may impact the world.

Here's to exploration and discovery! Be sure to check out MerelyMarie.

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