It’s NOT Dead!

Whatever that “it” is in your life, isn’t over and done with as long as you give it roots.

My new home has beautiful landscaping. Someone took great care to arrange the plants, bushes and flower planters just so. It stands out amongst the other houses on the street, but I never fully appreciated it because my focus had been on the eyesore right in the middle of it all – a dead space that ceased to grow. I couldn’t tell what kind of plant had been there prior, but it had shriveled up and while the rest of the yard was brimming with foliage, lilac, roses and creeping green vines, it remained grey and dry all summer and into the fall. All winter I have been contemplating the cost of having the plant ripped up and replaced with something better. I had already decided what needed to be done in order to restore the garden to its glory.

Today, as I walked between the evergreens and the dry bushes that will soon be teaming with life again, I noticed something … the one I presumed a lost cause, wasn’t dead at all! Two new, strong and vibrant branches had somehow pushed through the dead wood and were reaching out to the sunlight. These branches even had leaves on them! I missed it. I walked right past that plant time and time again and assumed it had nothing to offer and there was no need to look its way and I wrote it off.

I guess I needed this revelation today because as I settled back inside, I began to praise God. My heart was full of promise and expectation. I’ve been looking for some things in my life. I had assumed some of them were empty and a waste of my time. Have you ever felt that way?

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Well, It’s NOT dead. Whatever that “it” is in your life, isn’t over and done with as long as you give it roots. Roots come in all forms in our lives – prayer, expectancy, faith, work, service, dedication, promise, etc. Whatever it is you’ve cast away needs your attention and encouragement so that it can push through and LIVE! The work of your hands will bear fruit. The creations of your heart will change lives. Your “it” will bloom again!

Be encouraged today as you look forward to spring and all it has to offer. May your springtime be eternal and not just a season.

For insight on surviving “Dry Places,” read on!

 

 

What.Would.a.Wakandan.Do?

Like you, I saw “Black Panther” and walked away with so many things to digest and dissect. The movie caused me to re-evaluate my take on relationships, culture, history and gender roles. Most poignant for me, were the outstanding examples of female strength, honor, loyalty, determination and wisdom.

If they could overcome, why can’t we?

Without being fully conscious of it, I began asking myself the question, “What would a Wakandan Do?”

When faced with obstacles, uncertainties, failed plans, difficult people, hopeless odds – WWaWD?

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Shirt Design By Stephanie Godwin-Chu

It’s a simple question with a big emphasis on self-confidence and self-worth. Its weight doesn’t hang on arrogance or the naivety that all things will work out just the way we want them to. It’s not that at all. It’s a reminder of the many fights we engage in every day; the fight to be heard, the fight to defend our reputation, the fight for our worth in the workplace and the fight to move forward and not give up.

WWaWD? is our reminder to keep putting one foot in front of the other in the right direction. This question has pulled me back time and time again from the ledge of giving up and has helped me to firmly plant my feet and try again. Asking the question, challenges the excuses we create and propels us forward.

How would a woman who knows her purpose and has a conviction of duty handle herself? What would she say to those who openly doubt her and question her knowledge? How would she assert herself? How would she prove naysayers wrong? How does she take charge of her own future?

What would a Wakandan do? What will you do the next time you are faced with difficulty? Will you give up, will you give in to fear, walk away, lower your expectations, downplay your dreams or walk into your purpose like the queen that you are?

#WWaWD?

 

 

 

Unclaimed Baggage Won’t Let You Be Great!

We would rather just watch it revolve around the carousel, pretending it doesn’t belong to us.

Every human has work to do – to be better, smarter, kinder, more compassionate, patient, more genuine, etc. From the time you are conscious of being until the day you die, that work is ongoing.

I’ve been mentoring and training women in a professional capacity for over a decade. It doesn’t matter if I’m counseling a new graduate who is unsure of the next steps to take or a career executive who is trying to find purpose in her work. The challenge is always the same. There seem to be designated areas of focus women want to tend to and spend time on, while other areas are virtually ignored.

It’s not always intentional…just the cost of living in a busy world with so much to accomplish in a day. We all have blind spots. However, at some point in life, we turn our heads and become painfully aware of what has been hiding just beyond our peripheral. Now, what comes next determines our stretch and growth. We either resume our activities and keep moving forward as if we didn’t just see it, or we stop the car, pull out the ugly eyesore and get to the task of unpacking!

Why put extra emphasis on having the latest clothing, shoes, jewelry and flawless makeup when your personal relationships are hanging by a thread? Why ignore the jungle in the backyard, while planting neat rows of flowers in the front yard? Why pretend?

The corner office is a beautiful place to be, until you’ve spend so much time there that you haven’t seen your children awake in three days. Dedicating your life to serving others is noble until the devotion to the outside world causes friction within your marriage. Counseling others while failing to establish balance in your own life, is a breeding ground for burn out. Being the life of the party while returning to a home filled with dysfunction night after night, slowly starves the soul.

Claim

If we are honest with ourselves, we all have it…that lone piece of baggage (maybe several pieces), that we would rather not carry in public. If it were our choice when time comes to claim it, we would just watch it revolve around the carousel, pretending it doesn’t belong to us. But this piece of ourselves is just as essential as the rest. Ignoring it doesn’t mean it goes away. It’ll just show up later…delivered to our doorstep!

As you work on all of the wonderful parts of you that shimmer, don’t forget to take a look at the parts that seem dull and difficult. Be kind to yourself by acknowledging that there is still work to be done. Don’t be a fool and try to climb up on a crumbling foundation in your stiletto heels. It doesn’t end well!

 

What’s on Your Calendar May Be Hindering Your Focus

If we aren’t careful, we’ll look up and realize we’ve missed it.

What’s on my calendar for next Tuesday at 1p.m.? In the next 14 days, have you left any gaps for the unplanned? If you know the answer to the first, but not the second, you may have a problem.

Living every minute of every hour and every hour of every day guided by the blocks on the calendar and the clock on the wall can be stifling. However, it can also be strangely comforting – everything in its place and a place for everything. Going from one appointment to the next and back again, taking this one to ballet, this one to robotics and this one to soccer practice, meetings, followed by debriefs about the previous meetings and planning meetings for the next one. You may squeeze in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Hulu or Netflix in between and then crash before dragging yourself up to start all over again.

 

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Where’s the focus? Where is the slow down? When does the actual living take place? What’s the purpose of it all?

The truth is that life doesn’t happen between keyboards and HD displays. Life happens through, around and over what we tend to focus on. If we aren’t careful, we’ll look up and realize we’ve missed it.

Planning is necessary and technology can be helpful, but meaningful connections, relationship building, dream chasing and vision cannot be placed on a timer. They suffocate in those spaces where they are forced to comply with the limitations that keep them from being organic and authentic.

Allow a free space – schedule it if you have to! Take that time to unwind and unfocus and it will actually help you find a great deal of focus! Block it off and protect it as if your life depends on it.

Then… go and dance, cook with someone you love, listen to music that makes your whole body move, sing, walk in the park, color with your kid or lay in the grass. Take an unplanned day trip to nowhere in particular, paint, write poetry, play the guitar or call your grandmother and listen to her tell you that story you’ve heard about twenty times. You don’t need to hear it again, but she needs to tell it and one day you’ll long for the sound of her voice.

Let life happen and don’t choke the beauty out of it by giving it a time allowance or by rushing off to the next thing. Don’t allow BUSY to become the nemesis of your FOCUS.

 

 

 

Three Reasons Why You’re Not Done Growing

Let me tell you the honest truth about people who have nothing but negative things to say about your dreams and aspirations…

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It doesn’t matter if you are 25 or 65, who says you’re done with life? If someone has already opened their big mouth to form the words and allowed them to pass their lips, they lied to you!

Let me tell you the honest truth about people who have nothing but negative things to say about your dreams and aspirations – THEY ARE SCARED!!

You are about to do something that would keep them up at night and give them the sweats. You have a dream and vision outside of their small corner of the world and they feel as if you are leaving them for the wilderness and will soon be eaten by wolves. They are so consumed by their perception of the worst-case-scenario for you that they can’t even pretend to be happy for you. They don’t know how.

But that isn’t your problem. The first rule of airline safety is that you need to apply your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else. Live and breathe your purpose because it’s in you and needs to be fulfilled. You can bring all of the naysayers and “see it to believe it” types up to speed later, if you choose.

You’re not done growing:

  • You’ve Got Fertile Soil: Because you have a dream that’s bigger than where you are now. For some of you it may literally be a dream that reoccurs when you sleep and reminds you that there is more for you to do.
  • Just Add Water: You have muscles that need to be worked! There are gifts and talents inside of you that you haven’t begun to fully explore. You know they’re there, but you need to spend time on them and nurture them to bring them to the forefront. Drink plenty (get some good books to read, take a class, attend a conference, local fellowship or workshop).
  • Open The Window and Let the Sunlight In: Surround yourself with healthy relationships that will stretch you. Connect with people who model your vision of balance and success. Glean from them and give them the space to tell you the truth in love, which will allow you to flourish.

 

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Be Like the Tree!

The hardest thing you have been through to this point is the thing you felt would break you until you bent and stretched and made it through.

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Whether a sapling planted a year ago or monster of one hundred years old; a successful tree requires a few key things. It needs firm, spreading, anchoring roots that tie it down. The tree has to be able to absorb and store water and nutrients for later and bend when needed to prevent breaking.

Remember that thing you thought you wouldn’t make it through? Remember how you pleading and begged for it to be over because it was just “too much?” You look back at it now and see the miracle in your own survival, ability to adjust and adapt. You can see the required pain it took to foster the growth you now enjoy. You are like a tree. We all are.

The hardest thing you have been through to this point is the thing you felt would break you until you bent and stretched and made it through. There will be other storms. Some you will see as equals, some lesser and some far more fierce in magnitude, but you will have the opportunity to once again conquer.

Spring always reminds me of nature and what the Earth has to offer. Hopefully, it reminds you of what you have been through in the past year and what you have to look forward to (renewal). Purpose to be like a tree – flexible, grounded and flourishing. Don’t allow the rot of self-doubt, apprehension or toxic relationships destroy you. You may lose some leaves, a branch or two, but you will come out victorious in the end as long as you hold fast to your foundations or truth, love, humility and faith.

Change is inevitable. How you respond to it is your strength.

Teleology: Your Life, Your Choice, Your Purpose

If I believed everything that I read, I would believe that everyone has a deep hatred for people different than themselves. If I believed that every snide comment and hateful word vocalized the secret feelings of the strangers I come into contact with on a daily basis, I would be ruled by fear.

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There is so much happening in the atmosphere. The year has just begun and I already feel like there is unprecedented potential for renewal and growth, if we allow it. However, I also see that people are hurting, disappointed and stuck reliving past hang ups. In this political and social climate, I have made the choice to believe that people inherently desire to be and do good, even when they fail at it. I feel it’s more important now than ever.

I have a problem.

I read the news online and I inevitably find myself reluctantly reading the commentary, even though I have made repeated promises to myself not to. I know…I definitely shouldn’t. It’s not healthy and most of the time, it’s not productive. In the comments is where the ugly underbelly of humanity is exposed. It’s laid out for all of the world to see, unapologetic and crude. It’s where people have the gall to say things about and to others that they would never say to their face. It’s sad, frustrating and often depressing.

If I believed everything that I read, I would believe that everyone has a deep hatred for people different than themselves. If I believed that every snide comment and hateful word vocalized the secret feelings of the strangers I come into contact with on a daily basis, I would be ruled by fear. If I believed even a fraction of what I see in those despicable comments was prevalent thinking, then I would believe that the world is doomed and I might as well give up.

I have a solution.

I have chosen to believe that I can make a positive impact intentionally by being authentically who I am. I know that I can do it, if I do so with purpose. I will continue to bless strangers in secret when I feel led to do so. I will speak kind words to encourage and uplift those who seem to be struggling with life. I will pray for those who seem to be disconnected, mean and hurting. I will smile at strangers and say “Hello!” even when they don’t smile back. I will hug people with permission and compliment them honestly. I will leave my house determined to make someone’s day better, however I can.

The week before Christmas, I stood in line at a busy deli counter in the grocery store, patiently waiting my turn. The young black gentleman behind the counter was visibly flustered. He had commands coming at him from all angles: his co-workers were asking him questions about what was in the back and customers were asking for deli meat, cheese, a little bit of potato salad (No, that’s not enough!), and so on. It was on my heart to say something kind to him. I was last in line. He took my order and packed my grilled chicken in a deli back, weighed it and handed it to me.

“Thank you.” I said with a smile. “You’re doing a good job.”

He looked at me with disbelief. He shook his head in disagreement as if what I said wasn’t true. He ducked back behind the counter to straighten up the display and close the sliding glass door. Then he turned his back to me to go on to the next task awaiting him. I walked away.

I purpose to acknowledge those I meet and let them know that they matter because I will never know how much they need to hear it.

I won’t argue with foolishness. I won’t let anger and suspicion rule my thoughts. I will stop reading the commentary since it ads not one ounce of light to my life. I will instead, put out positive, encouraging and uplifting words. I choose to be accountable for what I put out into this world, even when others do not.

I am also determined to make my own way, figure it out as I go and take risks even though I may be hurt in the process. I won’t let anyone’s opinion of me, my talents, my abilities or experiences dictate my potential. There will always be someone who feels like I am inferior because I’m a full-time mom, because I am black, because I am a woman…because, because, because. I won’t let them win. You shouldn’t either!

It’s your life. How you live it is your choice, but do it with purpose.