Monday, November 5, 2018

Put on the Full Armor of Joy!

You must put on the armor that reflects the victory you are going to get.  Strip off the mourning sack and put on the full armor of joy!  Everything is a strategy.  What you wear affects how you feel.  If you look like you are going to a funeral, you will feel like you are going to a funeral.  If you look like you are going to a party, you will feel like you have much to celebrate.  I wear bright colors on gloomy days on purpose.  I have decided that I will be my own sunshine on the cloudy days of my life.  This is not just superfluous fashion choices.  It is creating an intention to be joyful, deciding to be joyful, and showing up joyfully.

Joy is not something that happens by chance.  It is an intention.  It is a decision.  It is an action.  As I was writing this article, I decided to move outside to enjoy the sunshine.  The sunshine is a natural muse for me and I write best in the sunshine.  I was initially on my backporch.  But I assaulted by a congregation of mosquitos ready to feast on me in my joyfully colored kaftan.  I  sprayed my repellant on surrounding areas to avoid the massive onslaught, but there were a few jokers persistently buzzing around me.  I decided to forgo writing on the back porch and move to the front porch.  I was about to begin fussing about why the world has mosquitos when I remembered what I was writing about and quickly dismissed that pointless tirade.  The mosquitos are with us and fussing was not going to alleviate me of them.  So I put on the Full Armor of Joy and redirected my thoughts to the joy I could find on the front porch and resumed writing.

You see, the true Full Armor of Joy begins in your thoughts.  I could sit here on my front porch sans mosquitos squandering this joyful moment if I allowed my thoughts to dwell on the thwarted attempt to write in my favorite spot.  It just didn’t go as planned. There is just as much joy on the front porch as there is on the back porch.  Because joy is where I find it.  Joy is where I decide it will be.  Joy is where you believe it is.  It is truly important to embrace the power of thinking joyful thoughts as the pathway for living a joyful life.

But don’t stop on joyful thoughts.  Your thoughts are just empty vision until you empower them with action.  You must position yourself for joy.  You must position yourself for victory.  You must position yourself for the blessings you SAY you are ready to receive.  Imagine if you ask someone to throw you a ball.  You think about catching the ball.  You think about the ball coming at you.  You think about how great it will be when you catch the ball.  But you just stand there thinking.  You don’t move.  You don’t hold your hands out to receive the ball.    Well, in addition to getting popped in the face with the ball, you’re not going to get the ball.  Life works the same way.

You must position yourself to “catch” the joy you want to receive in life.  You’ve get to move.  You’ve got to move joyfully.  You’ve got to move expectantly. You’ve got to move with confidence that you’ll catch it.  Positioning yourself for joy means getting prepared for the next step.  It means speaking of what you say you want as if it is already happening.  It’s the equivalent of wanting to be a world traveler and applying for your passport even though the trip is not planned yet.  So many people claim to want to travel the world yet don’t have a passport.  Get your passport and be ready when your international opportunity presents itself.  Position yourself expecting to catch you’ve said you desire.

Many times, you will hear the saying, “Fake it until you make it.”  I believe this is more aptly worded, “Project it until you manifest it.”  Projecting the joy you want in your life begins in the words you use to describe yourself.  You can’t expect to win calling yourself a loser all of the time.  You can’t expect to be wealthy calling yourself broke all the time.  Affirmations are a powerful way to project what you want to manifest.  This is not creating reality out of thin air, but creating the expectation by framing your mind in the terms of what you desire.  We are influenced by our environment.  We are influenced by what we see and hear.  It makes an impression and you store it subconsciously.   You then recall that when you see associations with the memory.  It influences how you feel, how you act, and what you do.   Imagine how powerfully you can influence your life when you immerse yourself in words and images that reflect what you desire in life.  When I hear my affirmations, I believe I can be them.  When I believe I can be them, I make choices that align with them.  When I make choices that align with them, I begin to see the real-life outcomes.  Projections are manifestations of the vision you say you believe that create powerful influences that shape your actions, behaviors, and choices.

Whether you realize it or not, you project the energy you want to receive.  Imagine when you are angry.  How do people respond to you?  Do they show up are happy and joking?  Typically not.  They may avoid you or respond in kind.  I have realized that I have the power to create the energy that I want to receive.  When I show up with positive energy either people respond in kind or leave because they don’t want to be positive.  Fine with me!  I have found that I have the power to turn any bad situation into a positive one by the energy I give it.  If I give it angry or negative energy, the momentum builds and the situation remains angry or negative.  When I decide to be joyful in the midst of the negativity, I keep my peace and create the joy I want for myself.

Regardless of how things are for you, you decide how you are going to show up.  Put on the Full Armor of Joy—Your outfit, your thoughts, your affirmations, your environment, your actions, and your energy.  The full Armor of Joy is your way of creating the joy you deserve and desire.  Whether it’s joy in your career or relationships or finances or your life.  It all begins with your intentions.  It all begins with you.  When decide to be joyful and put on the Full Armor of Joy, negativity can’t get through.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Today is a Great Day to Experience Every Moment of Life

Many times, we give significance to days of the week.  We hate Mondays.  Wednesday is Hump Day.  We Thank God It’s Friday! We live for the weekend. But every day is a great day to celebrate.  Regardless of the day of the week.  Regardless of the day’s schedule.  Regardless of whether it is a holiday or not.  Every day is a great day to experience life to the fullest.  We should truly seize the day!

We often associate the Carpe Diem sentiment with doing something magnanimous.  We will often discount the significance of our life by the deficit of doing “big things.”  I know that I used to subscribe to the notion that I needed to do “big things” in order to truly experience life.  I put a lot of energy and money into ensuring that I created the most spectacular of spectacular events for everything I did.  My children’s birthday parties were great productions.  My birthday parties were grand and fabulous.  My work in my career and in my community were always full throttle pursuits of excellence.  Immediately, my focus was on how to make this “bigger.” I got great results.  I got great accolades.  I felt great about my big accomplishments.

Life had a way of shaking things up and moving me in big ways.  I was literally moved from my comfort zone.  My first husband got a new job in another city and I literally left the life I had built behind.  That move was the first of two major moves that reshaped my life and created new opportunities and experiences.  Perhaps I would have learned to appreciate the beauty of creating great moments every day if I had stayed put.  But being ripped of everything familiar enabled me to earn greater appreciation for creating new experiences.  I earned this appreciation in retrospect, however.

A friend gave me a book for Christmas that helped me to truly reflect on whether I was truly experiencing the power of the moments given to me.  Duly named, The Power Of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, this book helped me to reframe how I viewed the previously quipped “series of unfortunate events” that had plagued my life.  I came to realize that these events were not unfortunate at all, but merely things that had not gone as planned, but had gone exactly as they should.  The full breadth of that realization is the subject of another writing, but is the underlying theme of this Carpe Diem message.

I love to read and try to read at least one book a week.  I record my impressions from my readings in my Book of Thoughts, a series of notebooks especially for this purpose.  I have been doing this for about 10 years.  About seven years ago, I decided to turn my Book of Thoughts into a Book of Actions by committing to creating action items from what I’ve learned and actually make my knowledge powerful.  One of my Takeaways from The Power of Moments was to truly become conscious of the moments I was creating…and the moments I was missing.  I decided that I need to have better more meaningful experiences.

Some of the most beautiful moments happen between the “big things” we do.  In fact, every day is full of beautiful moments.  Some happen on their own.  Others happen when we commit to having them.  I have stopped having bad days.  I have stopped have bad relationships.  I have stopped having bad experiences.  Instead I have begun to have powerful moments that create great lessons, great reasons to be grateful, and great experiences.  When my relationships yield far more lessons than blessings, I end them focus on the relationships that add more value to my life than they take away.  I have let go of the commitment to completion when I find that the activity or organization no longer adds value nor I to it.  I am focused on being mindful of the experiences that I am creating.  If it no longer serves me in this season, I let the season evolve to the next.

I truly believe that it is all working together for my good.  Every single day.  There is something beautiful to be gained from everything we do.  Even those series of unfortunate events that we’d much rather avoid.  Sometimes we get so focused on the unfortunate so much that we miss the fortunate.  I remember a speaker asking the audience to describe a catastrophe that they had experienced in their life that they hadn’t survived.  After a pregnant pause, we all erupted in acknowledgement that despite the pain, disappointment, tragedy, or even violence that we had experienced, we had survived them all.  And that is the fortune in every unfortunate event!

The truth is our life is a series of moments.  Are we truly experiencing life or are we just wasting precious moments?  Are we focused on the wrong things?  Are we ignoring the beauty because it is dusted in ugliness?  Are we discounting the small but powerful moment waiting on the big bodacious one?  Every moment is one to be relished.  Whether it is the one you wish for or the one that was forced upon you.  Every moment is powerful.

I have committed to being truly focused on looking for and appreciating the powerful moments in my life.  I have come to believe that nothing in life happens by chance.  We are where we are in our lives because there is something good to be gained from that moment.  Whether we seize it or miss it is totally up to us.

Today is the day to experience every moment of life.  Don’t wait until someday.  Don’t wait until a special day.  Don’t wait until Friday.  Experience every day for the fortune that is in it. Appreciate the power in every moment.  Be grateful for what went right.  Be grateful for the lesson learned from what did not go right.  Be grateful to have survived another day to create another experience.  In all things, be grateful. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The 7 Year Itch Revisited

The therapist I saw after my divorce told me that I should forgo being in a relationship for every 3 years that I was married.

I was married for 21 years. 

That meant 7 years.


I had given 22 years to my first husband.  I was not about to give him another 7.  Hell naw to the naw, naw, naw!

I politely shared that I agreed that I should not rush into another relationship, but I did not agree with a mechanical determination of when I should find love again.  It was less elegantly stated than that, but much more elegant that what I was thinking.

Love is a matter of the heart.  How can it be dictated by a formula?

I don’t believe in boxes.  I don’t believe in self-imposed limitations.  Instead of subscribing to some formula for when I could love again, I committed to healing myself and allowing love to happen as it should.

Immediately after my separation, I became obsessed with finding a boyfriend.  Ob-sessed.  I needed to fill the void of my lost love.  I signed up for  I pored endlessly over “great” matches that were anything but.  The algorithms rarely yielded anyone who was even remotely a good match, but I kept on looking. 

I connected with a guy who lived out-of-town.  He seemed really cool and had great potential.  We talked on the phone every once in awhile.  Although I was acting out of desperation and looking for love in the wrong place, I was not completely stupid.  I’ve seen enough catfish episodes to know better.  I began to ask questions.  Things did not add up.  He was supposedly a successful real estate agent in a Southern metropolis.  I called up an agent I knew in the area under the guise of scouting out a potential client, and she confirmed that he was not as successful as he said he was.  I investigated further and found his facebook page.  He still had pics of him and a woman, presumably his girlfriend or wife, as his profile.  He put a nail in his own coffin when he called me while I was out one night.  I told him I was having a cigar and a drink at my favorite spot and he angrily asked if there was anyone there with me.  First of all, if I were with someone I would not have answered the phone.  Second of all, blown self-esteem or not, I was not the one to be checked like that.  So that was the end of that “relationship.”

I should have gotten off of after that but I didn’t.  I eventually met someone else.  He was actually truthful in his bio and otherwise normal.  He was still out of town.  We talked on the phone regularly and had otherwise normal interactions.  He had a good spirit.  He made me laugh.  He had great conversation.  We had similar entrepreneurial aspirations, so we talked about business stuff too.  It was otherwise progressing to be something more than talking on the phone.  I was on my way to a business trip and arranged to meet him at a Starbucks.  We had facetimed a couple of times so I knew that he should be an actual real person.  We met up for coffee and it was a great little coffee date. 

Our relationship continued to blossom long-distance and probably would have continued if my first husband and I had not gotten back together.  Like Erykah Badu, I’m not enough woman to divide the pie, so I broke up with my boyfriend to go back to my husband. 

We eventually reconnected after the marriage was over for good, but it never really rekindled.  I am grateful for our connection.  He helped me to reawaken.  He helped me to find my muse again.  I wrote poetry for the first time in years.  He brought me laughter and joy.  I have no regrets. He was a great match.  I did get off of after that tho.  I ended up being matched up with my son’s lacrosse coach and that was a little too freaky for me so I closed my account and decided to find dates the old-fashioned way.

I also decided to not engage in any more “serious” relationships because I was not ready.  While I still did not think I needed to wait 7 years, I knew that it was not really healthy for me to be in a serious relationship.  I sought out “love” on purely out of a need to fill a void.  I needed someone to want me.  I needed someone to find me attractive.  I needed someone to make me feel good about myself. I needed someone to do for me what I needed to do for myself.

The truth is no match could ever fill that void.  Only I could.  And that was the wisdom of the seven years advice.

It is wise to wait after a breakup before beginning a new relationship.  Healing heart break takes the time it takes.  It could be 30 days.  I could be 6 months.  I could be a year.  But it should not take seven years. 

The most important thing to do after a breakup is to discover and rediscover you.  How can you give of yourself to someone in love if you don’t know who she is?  I truly believe that the more you know who you are, the better you’ll be for someone else. 

I made a decision 30 days after my marriage ended (the first time) that I deserved to love again.  I knew that it would not be overnight.  I knew that I would have some hiccups.  But I knew that it would happen.

I healed myself from marriage in about 30 days.  We got back together for about 3 ½ months—and broke up.  Then we got back together for about 3 days—and broke up again.  The third time was not a charm, so it produced a great deal of anger that took me about 3 months to process.  But once I let that go, I let that go. 

I then spent another year working on me.  I had a lot of fun dating during that year and remained committed that I was NOT looking for a husband so I was NOT looking for anything serious.  That approach had its benefits and complications that is a conversation for another day. 

The point is I took the time I needed to work on me so that when love came looking for me, I would be ready to receive it.  It took some time.  It did not take seven years.  But love did find me.  I believe that it did because I decided that it would. 

I believe that love finds you when you look like love, feel like love, and love yourself.  That takes the time it takes.  There is no true formula or prescription or algorithm.  There is the moment when you look in the mirror and you love who you see and you know that you are worthy of love and deserve to experience it.

Be open to love and it will reveal itself to you.  Don’t look for it or you may miss it.  Just be open to experiencing it and you will.  And trust yourself when you see it. It is not too good to be true.  Just be open. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

My Marriage Was Not a Mistake

My Dad and I were talking the other day and he was trying to comfort me about a recent challenge.  In passing he called the end of my marriage a mistake.  He was trying to make me feel better for the mistake I made. And I stopped the conversation to dispel the mischaracterization and reframe the truth. I’ve made many mistakes in my life.  My marriage was not one of them.  I made choices.  I made sacrifices.  I made the best of it that I could.  But I did not make a mistake. 

And neither did he. 

I will not dishonor the life we had together by reducing it to a mistake.  We built a life together.  We created life together.  We experienced life together.  Through the ups and the downs, we did it together.  And I will not dishonor that by calling it a mistake. 

While the choices we made were not always the best, they were choices.  We “fell in love,” but the evolution of our marriage was not an accident.  We pieced it together day by day, month by month, year by year.  The fact that my marriage did not last does not castigate it as a mistake. 

It is not mere nomenclature.  It is a realization that sometimes life does not go as planned, but it always goes as it should.  I have no regrets that I did not end my marriage earlier than it died.  I have no regrets that I did not say to hell with it when it was obvious to me that there were fatal flaws in who we were that ultimately led to the demise of us.   

My marriage had a purpose.  It was intentional.  The best and highest purpose of my marriage was the birth of my sons.  I am grateful for them.  I am grateful that they are the best of us.  I will not let them believe or let anyone else make it seem that they were born from a mistake. 

I am accountable for the birth, life and death of my marriage.  I do not say that to mean that I bear 100% responsibility or I caused it or I am to blame for it or it is my fault.  I am accountable for my marriage because it was my choice.  It was my choice to enter it.  It was my choice to stay in it.  It was my choice to let it go when the choice was presented to me.   

I choose to see my marriage as a beautiful chapter in my life.  It had good parts and bad parts.  It had happy days and f**ked up days.  I can choose to focus on all that went wrong or I can choose to focus on what went right.   

I have learned much from my marriage that did not last.  It was not a failure.  It was not a mistake. It was not a tragedy.  It is a marriage that did not last.  It ran its course and when its purpose was fulfilled, it ended.  And I find beauty in that. 

We must be careful to control the narrative about the lives we live.  We cannot others define for us and shape how we feel.  We definitely cannot allow others’ characterizations define who we were, what we experienced, and who we are.  We make mistakes.  We are not mistakes.  We make mistakes in our marriages and in our relationships.  We do not become them. 

I believe in the power of words.  Words represent thoughts.  Thoughts are the predecessors of our reality.  Choose the words you use to characterize your marriage, your relationship, your love, and you—in every stage—its birth, its life, and its transformation.  There is something beautiful in each stage.  There is something beautiful in everything that ends.  Sometimes it is minuscule.  Embrace the molecular beauty.  Most times, it is quite plentiful.  Embrace the aggregate beauty. 

While I do not forget the painful moments, I do not allow the pain to paint the picture of my marriage.  I choose the paint what was in the promise that it tried to fulfilled.  We tried.  We were not successful. And yet we were. 

Instead of transcending and continuing as one, we transformed and became two. And there was no mistake in the path that led us to the new place that we are now.  And the new life that lies before us.  We are not our mistakes.  We were not a mistake.  We were the love story that ended and became something new.