Success Secret #43: I’m becoming the person I want to be…

This may sound strange for some but for many, you are doing the victory dance with me!

For so many years, I struggled with liking me.  I struggled with accepting the person that I am because I thought I wasn’t enough.  It wasn’t the critiques or comments from others that created my insecurities but my own negative self talk.  I would look around at other people and pick parts of their lives that I thought should fit into mine.

If I had a man like him, I would be happy.

If my hair looked like that, I would be happy.

If I lived in a house like that, I would be happy.

If I could buy all the clothes I want, I would would be happy.

If I drove that car, I would be happy.

If I had more money, my life would be perfect.

I wish I could tell you how many years, I spent on this mental rollercoaster of internal anxiety.  It was exhausting!  I was never satisfied because all I could see in my life was all the things that needed fixing.

This part is going to sound really strange… I was on a call recently and the moderator asked the group how they dealt with insecurities and inadequacies.  I paused for a moment to gather my thoughts in case I was selected to speak and it hit me…

I got over it! [insert another victory dance]

I quit reading all the self help blogs, articles and books.  I quit looking for answers to my “problems” because I realized that I wasn’t broken.  We have this misconception that life is supposed to be perfect and that everyone is supposed to like us and that all things are supposed to be great all of the time but they aren’t and they never will be.  We see every problem in our lives as an obstacle to our happiness instead of a part of the process.

Some people think I’m arrogant or stuck up because I don’t walk around broken and defeated.  They think I think I’m all of that because I walk with my head held high, shoulders back and confidently placing one six inch stiletto clad foot ahead of the next.  It’s not because my life is perfect or because I have everything figured out.  I decided to get over myself and stop dwelling in my deficiencies.

All that I am not makes me all that I am…

Somewhere along the journey I developed a relationship with God and in every place where I feel weak, inadequate, insecure or beat down; he has allowed me to lean on him and draw from his strength.  I no longer feel like I need the STUFF to make me happy.  I don’t need the approval of other people to validate my decisions.  My happy place is simply doing good for others, being good to myself and seeing the good all around me.  I don’t see my life as an incomplete puzzle that’s always missing the final piece to become complete.  My life is more like a never ending game of Jenga – it has its high moments where all the pieces come together and the low moments where all the pieces crumble – and I’m ok with both.

I will never arrive…

In the title I declared that I am BECOMING the person I want to be because I realized that perfection is not attainable.  All of the pieces won’t ever fit neatly together.  Social media has distorted our concept of happiness because we spend so much time looking at the highlight reels from other people’s lives through their tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram pictures until we forget that there is actually life to be lived.  Outside the few moments captured in virtual time, there are the real everyday ebbs and flows, hills and valleys of life and you can’t think that one day its all going to be smooth sailing because it won’t. In my mind, the arrival at perfect peace is death and I’m in no hurry to get there.

key-to-happiness

I found the keys to my happiness.

  1. My relationship with God.  I can do all things through Him when I am in line with His will.  I surrendered my life to be a living testimony of God’s ability to do miraculous things.  I try to focus on asking for nothing but wanting to give everything.
  2. I learned to love unconditionally.  I stopped wanting people to be anything other than who they are.  Not everyone has a place in my life.  I can love some people up close but some have to be loved from afar but I refuse to allow any negative feelings about anyone to dwell in my spirit.  I forgave everyone who has hurt me, especially those who never apologized.
  3. I realized that being the person I wanted to be was simply a matter of doing the things that she would do… 

I hope and pray that you find your keys too!

Order your copy of Success Secrets for the Young and Fabulous today.  It features profiles of nine professional young adults who share how they found their keys to success.  Available on Amazon.com

God, send me a sign… #SummerLoveSeries #BeingMaryJane

I have to be honest… when I saw the trailers and advance promotion by a lot of my blogger friends about the upcoming series “Being Mary Jane” featuring Gabrielle Union; I wasn’t that excited…

However, I saw a clip of Miss Mary Jane in bed with her lover, leaning over him while he slept, whispering “God, send me a sign” (those may not have been her exact words but you get the picture)

Anyway, I knew I had to watch at least the first episode simply because I have found myself praying that same prayer way too many times.  Oddly, many situations were a lot like Mary Jane’s.  I knew in the depths of my heart that this guy I wanted so very badly to be mine was not… I knew it.  But like Mary Jane, I was waiting for God to confirm it.

I don’t know how God works in your life but for me and Miss Mary Jane… He has no problem giving you the sign that you seek.

If you didn’t watch then I can fill you in – the guy proceeds to throw up on Mary Jane while they’re laying in bed but she gets him all cleaned up then he looks at her and tells her that he loves her which fills her with glee until she’s cleaning up his stuff and steps on his wedding band…

Yeah, that felt pretty familiar too… Not that I have ever stepped on a wedding band but I have definitely found myself in some situations where the words coming from his mouth sounded like honey in my ear but I wasn’t paying attention to the signs that I had been asking God to send to me.  If I had, and I’m sure if Mary Jane had also, we both would have saved ourselves some heartache.  It seems like such a familiar story for women these days to get all excited about the potential of a man only to find out and that he isn’t who you thought he was.  So many times, we try to tell ourselves that we were played, used or whatever but the reality is that we didn’t pay attention to the signs.

I’m interested to see how the series plays out because the teasers lead us to believe that although Mary Jane kicked the lover out of her house AND told his wife about their affair… they continue to see each other…

Have you ever found yourself asking God for a sign about the person you are seeing?  Did you get a sign?  If so, what did you do next?

Can I really have it ALL? #SummerLoveSeries

One of the issues that I have been discussing with my girl friend is, what am I willing to give up for love.

Ugghhhh…

You all know that I believe that I can have it ALL, however “all” does not mean everything.  All, in my opinion, is deciding what are the two to four most important things in your life and pouring yourself into them.  I believe that many people have become disappointed in their own lives because their list is too long.  We are all humans with 24 hours in a day, there is only so much that you can accomplish no matter how much assistance you have.  And if you have no assistance, if every buck stops with you, then your list is probably going to be a little shorter.

Anyway, the past few years, I think I have been successful at having it all.  My priorities were – God (serving in ministry), family/friends (spending quality time with the people who I care about, actually being present in moments) and business (becoming a profitable entrepreneur).

Here is the problem – where does love fit in there?  Love, in the sense of loving a man, definitely can’t come before God.  Should love come before family and friends? We’ve all heard the stories of women who put their man before the people who had been there for them all of their life and when the relationship ended, their support team was gone.  Then there’s the business… Can love come before business?  My business is almost nonstop.  I’m always on my computer, on the phone, traveling, doing something and I love it.  It doesn’t seem like a chore for me, it feels like my professional purpose.  Am I ready to push that down on the list for love?

In the past, love has been on the bottom of my short list and honestly, that’s not working very well.  After all of those other obligations are filled, I have little left to give to love.  There is little time, there’s little energy… So to stop the insanity, something has to change, but what?

time for love

Affirmations for Financial Success

I saw a post going around at the beginning of January that was encouraging people to set aside a certain amount of money each week with the goal of increasing that amount weekly so that you would have reached a savings amount by the end of the year.  I didn’t comment on the post but the thing that stuck in my mind about this plan was that it did not deal with the core issue that many people who don’t save money have.

In order to achieve the financial success that many of us seek, we need to change our mindset about money.  We can not have something that we have never had if we are not willing to do something that we have never done.  Yes, it’s great to start setting money aside but the probability that you will be able to maintain that program is very slim if you have not changed your mindset about saving.  The probability that you will not dip into that savings jar and spend some of the money is slim if you have not changed your mindset about spending.

The problem for most of us is not that we don’t have the desire to save more and spend less but the problem is that we have unhealthy financial habits.  Most of us are consumer driven and will spend more quickly than we will save because we don’t have a long-term purpose for our money.  We are not financial visionaries.

Read these financial affirmations and consider how they can help you to improve your financial situation.

Financial-Success

1. My self-worth is not determined by my net worth.

Your net worth is calculated by subtracting everything that you owe from what you own.  Unfortunately, many of us put our value in the things that we own while hiding what we owe.  We want the world to perceive us as being rich while making no attempt to build wealth.  Many years ago, I read “The Millionaire Next Door” which illustrates some of the habits of millionaires.  It stuck with me that people who are truly wealthy do not go around showcasing their wealth.  They live in modest homes, drive efficient cars and wear sensible clothing.  Contrast that with many people who drive luxury cars while living in apartments, people spending thousands of dollars on rims with no retirement plan.  Trying to create an outward appearance of wealth will not make people like you more, it will not garner you more respect.  Rather than spending your money on things to impress others or in an attempt to fill some void in your life; stop and assess how much you are spending to create an external image that is not supported by your core values.  Think about what you are sacrificing in your future to have stuff now.  If your self-worth is tied to your car, the type of house that you live in or the kinds of clothes that you wear then you may never find happiness.  There will always be a newer car, a bigger house and a new style of clothes.

2. I will invest in myself and commit to working hard.

There is a temptation among some people to assume that the world  owes them something.  There is a misconception that we don’t need to save and plan for retirement because it will take care of itself.  Many people have goals that are within their reach but they are unwilling to invest in themselves to make it a reality and/or they expect someone else to do the work to make it a reality.  Whatever you want in this life, you should first ask yourself what can you bring to the table.  Then you need to assess what you need to do to make it happen.  Along your journey, there will be people and resources to help you reach your goal but the primary driver should be you.

3. I will budget and stop wasteful spending.

In the My Money Matters workbook series, we focus on the Basic Money Management Principle – I will not spend more than I earn.  Of course, this sounds like a simple statement.  However, most of us are not doing it.  We are spending more than we make and not budgeting.  Each month, there may be a bill or two that doesn’t get paid or we are not able to save because we are breaking even each month.  You may have the desire to change your financial situation but you also have to put the actions behind that desire.  I love to see the liberation that people feel when they pay off a credit card or pay down their student loan debt.  Yes, spending money on stuff you like will make you feel good but I promise that freeing yourself from the noose of debt will feel even greater!

4. I will find balance in my life.

If you are working all of the time trying to pay your bills or to get money for this or that, you may be doing too much.  Please don’t misunderstand… I know that we all have bills and obligations but at some point, if you find yourself constantly stressed out or always tired of chasing the cheese; you need to do an evaluation of your priorities.  It may be necessary for you to go back to school and get a degree so you can find a job making more money.  It may be necessary to cut some of your expenses so that you don’t have as much going out.  The purpose of life is not to be so consumed with working and getting stuff until we miss out on the living.  I can’t honestly say what you need to do to improve your situation if you are that financially strapped but I will encourage you to seek a change.  Talk to a financial professional to help you assess your situation and develop a strategy to find the light at the end of the tunnel.  You may have been doing it your way for a while but if your way isn’t working, it may be time to get some help.

5. I will honor God with my giving.

To honor God with your giving is to give without expecting anything in return.  There is a lyric in a  song that I like that says, “One day I hope to live on my 10% and give the 90% away.”  Most of us cannot imagine reaching that space in our lives because the more we have, the more we want.  We are constantly praying for financial breakthroughs and looking to God for an abundance of blessings.  We give with the expectancy that we are going to be  blessed.  What if God is not pleased with that attitude and that’s why you aren’t being blessed?  What if God does not see the honor in your giving?  Many Christians place so much focus on what God is going to do for us and what He is going to bless us with that we forget to honor Him with sharing our time, talents and tithes.  We treat him  like our personal investment plan, thinking that every deposit should yield a return with dividends.  Imagine the change in mindset when you give of yourself without expecting anything in return…

6. I will be a blessing to others.

Our final affirmation is almost a culmination of the previous ones.  We live very self-absorbed lives.  We have a tendency to think that everything is about us.  If someone says something, then they must be talking about me.  If someone does something, then they must be hating on me.  What if we took ourselves out of the equation and just focused on being the best person that we can be?  What if we used our resources as tool to be a blessing to others?  Of course you have financial obligations but what if you took care of those obligations and instead of spending $300 on a designer item, you  bought something just as nice for $100 and sowed the $200 into something that could reap a harvest? What if we stopped asking for blessings and started focusing on being a blessing to others?  This change in mindset may not make you more money, it probably won’t cause you to win the lottery but it will help you to see why saving is so important, it will take your focus off the accumulation of material things and it will bring honor to what you have to offer yourself, your family and God.

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Do you have permission to fly?

My son has had the movie “Rio” playing continuously today.  As I have been working, I have been listening to portions of the movie.  Although I have seen it in its entirety, today a concept from this movie stuck in my head.

“Did Blu deny himself permission to fly because he was too content being grounded?”

For everyone who has seen the movie, you have some idea of what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t seen it, it chronicles the journey of a Blue McCall, appropriately named Blu, who goes to Rio de Janeiro to mate with another Blue McCall.  Blu has been living with his owner in what seems to be a quaint little town.  She has provided for his every need despite him living in a cage, which he easily opens and closes on his own.  The female that he is supposed to mate with,  Jewel, grew up in the wild having to fend for herself and tries to escape captivity at every turn.

Although Blu and Jewel look alike, they have very different pasts and experiences that have shaped who they are today.  Jewel assumes that because Blu looks like her that he too wants to be free and will be able to fly away at their first opportunity.  However, this is not the case and Blu longs to return to his cage.

This made me wonder how many people assume that because others look like them that they must be like them… How many of us discount the experiences of others because they may not look like what someone who we assume has had that experience should look like… Think about the battered woman who never shows any bruises… The drug addict with no obvious signs of their addiction…

It also made me wonder how many of us are so content with being grounded until we haven’t given ourselves permission to fly.  We have found a peaceful existence and although we know what we are capable of achieving, we have settled for what is safe and comfortable.

I saw a quote that stated…

Good things don’t come to those who wait, Good things come to those who work for it!

As we begin a new year, my social media timelines are filled with people claiming greatness in this new year. They see an abundance of blessings and good fortune coming their way.  Yet, I wonder if they have given themselves permission to stop doing what they have always done so that they can start doing something new that will open the gateway to their abundance.  I wholeheartedly believe that my blessings come from God, however, I believe that God has given me permission to soar but I have to give myself permission to get off the ground.

Many of us have become so accustomed to being grounded, to the safe lives that we lead until we don’t step outside of that safety, we don’t step out on faith to reach for the abundance that we claim.  The first time Blu thought about trying to fly, he had a book with instructions on aerodynamics, after reading the directions, he took off and FELL DOWN!  It took a while for him to try to fly again because he assumed that after trying once, it wasn’t meant to be.

There may be something that you want in your life that you have read about, tried once and failed then vowed that it wasn’t meant to be.  Let me hip you to one of my Success Secrets… Nothing worth having comes easy.  Maybe a few things, but don’t expect it to be easy, challenge yourself to become better, stronger and fit for the achievement.  Despite the successes that you may see from me through my social profiles, there are at least five times that I have fallen down to get to that point.  The difference is that no matter how many times I hit the ground, I remember how great it felt in the clouds and I push myself to get up and try to fly again.

My challenge to you…

EXPECT THE GREAT IN YOUR LIFE THEN GET BUSY PLANNING AND WORKING FOR IT!

Image of Jewel from "Rio" courtesy of fanpop.com

Image of Jewel from “Rio” courtesy of fanpop.com

And yes, in the end, Blu does learn to fly and he realizes what he was missing by not giving himself permission to fly…

 

5 Questions for Mitt Romney

 

I watched almost every Republican primary debate, watched both the DNC and RNC conventions as well as the first Presidential debate and before I cast my vote on November 6th, I have five questions for Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney:

  1. What impact will environmental deregulation have on our environment?  I understand the concept of deregulation,  if a business is allowed to do whatever they want then of course they will make more money by taking short cuts and not ensuring healthy conditions, which obviously cost more to provide, but how will that effect our country environmentally in the long-term?
  2. How will you provide America with better public education opportunities when you have alluded to cutting such programs as the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA)? It seems that well-rounded individuals are more likely to achieve the type of success that you have achieved versus those simply trained to perform skilled labor.  Do you believe the government should continue to subsidize organizations that provide cultural education?
  3. Does your health care plan cover pre-existing conditions?  As a small business owner who has Type 1 Diabetes, I can buy insurance but it is extremely expensive and does not cover my diabetes.  Will your plan help someone like me?
  4. How will you replace the components of government that you cut?  Will these areas be privatized or will the services just not be available any more?  Also, which specific areas of government will you be reducing?  How many jobs will that cost us?  How will you replace those jobs so that our economy continues to grow?
  5. Finally, what exactly is Mormonism?  I have heard a lot of criticism that President Obama is an alleged Muslim, however you are a professed Mormon and we seem to know very little about the religion.  How  will your religious belief guide you in policy making?  Do you truly believe that God spoke directly to Joseph Smith?  It seems that the  Mormon religion promotes a very strong sense of family values, why don’t you reference this more when talking about your vision of family values?

 

Happy 35th Birthday to ME!!!

I remember growing up and thinking that 35 would be sooo far down the road…

Well, here it is!

The past year has had its share of ups and downs like most years but this year the valleys seemed especially deep and the mountains very steep.  For the first time, I was convicted, not criminally but spiritually, which put me on a path to a life altering change.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Luke 12:48

On my birthday last year, my aunt passed away and I was wrestling with my spirit.  I have always believed in God but I began to sense that He was calling me to a higher level of service. I didn’t think I was good enough, that I was prepared, that it was time… Let’s face it, I had a million and one reasons why I should not follow where He was leading me.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

Romans 8: 28-30

As I labored through those valleys and climbed those mountains, I began to realize that there was a straight and narrow path that I could follow or I could continue the treacherous journey that I was on.  Needless to say, I surrendered it all.  As we began to usher in the bright flowers of spring, so was I ushering in a new phase of my life.  I still stumble here and there but the lows aren’t so low and the climb isn’t as high.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” 

James 1: 2-6

God has blessed me to see the calendar tick another year onto my life and I am grateful.  Despite whatever circumstances that I find myself in, I praise Him.  I thank each of you, my silent supporters and my vocal encouragers.  I’m nowhere near where I want to be but I thank God that I’m not where I used to be.  I have had to go through a lot to get to this point but… I am here, I am right where I am supposed to be…

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:11-13

Happy 35th Birthday to ME!