BUSINESS OWNER, ENCOURAGEMENT, ENTRE SUCCESS, MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

6 USEFUL THINGS YOU CAN LEARN FROM ROAD CONSTRUCTION

Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash
Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash

Stress.

We’ve all been there. You think you’re getting somewhere in your life and you might even be early getting there for a change. You’re travelling along at the perfect speed, listening to your favorite song blast through the speakers, just starting to feel like things are going to finally go your way. Then BOOM! Road Construction.

How aggravating.

Aggravations like road construction can derail a perfectly good mood on a perfectly good day if you let them. Instead of turning 12 shades of red and feeling your blood pressure stand your hair on end, let’s try to find the positive in the situation.

Here are some useful things you can learn from being caught in road construction.

1. The road you are on could be better.

Sure, you’re not the one doing the repair. That’s not your job. But it’s someone’s job, and they’re doing it! It’s an awesome time to just be grateful that someone is tending to the dangers that are seen and unseen. Your way will often be less than perfect. This may be the time to slow down and be cautious while someone else sorts out the problems.

2. Speaking of slowing down, maybe you’re just in too big of a hurry!

Road construction forces us to come to a screeching halt and take stock of our surroundings, whether we want to or not. This is a good time to ask some very important questions. Are you prepared to go forward? Are you recognizing and heeding all the warning signs? It seems elementary, but the red flags are there for a reason—danger. Stop. Check yourself. Only move forward when it’s safe to do so!

Photo by Liam Macleod on Unsplash

3. You need a REALITY CHECK.

Distraction causes us to miss a lot of opportunities. If you aren’t paying attention to the flag man, you could miss your turn to move forward and inadvertently force everyone behind you to wait until the people moving past you in the opposite direction have all gone by. This could cause anger and negativity among the ones closest to you. Pay ATTENTION! Keep your eyes focused on moving forward when it is your turn to do so.

4. You may have forgotten to do the GROUNDWORK.

Have you ever noticed all the steps it takes to build a road? From just the part we can see, you have to level the ground, fill in the holes, put in drains and ditches, lay gravel and asphalt, spread it all out, get it smooth, test it, paint stripes, and I don’t even know what else! All of this hugely matters as you travel your road. What if you forget a step? You may have to tear the road up back to that point and try again. Whether you are laying the groundwork or someone else has done it for you, make sure that your foundation is SOLID! One pothole can take you out of the journey if you hit it wrong.

5. You may not have noticed the BEAUTY along the way!

Sometimes as we speed towards success, we forget to notice the lovely things—like the pretty yellow flowers that grow by the roadside, the bird that pecks the ground on the shoulder of the road, the tree limbs that are gently swaying with the breeze, or even a turtle as he laboriously makes his trek across the pavement. As we are forced to slow down or stop, it’s an opportune moment to take delight in the things that we didn’t even notice before.

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

6. You may need to go a DIFFERENT DIRECTION.

We’ve all been in a long line of cars waiting for the flagman when there’s that ONE GUY (or gal) right in the middle who breaks out of line, turns around, and goes back the way he came! For those of us waiting, “Yay!” We are ecstatic because we can finally move forward a few feet, and hey, any progress is progress! But let’s talk about the guy who turned around.

*He may know an easier way to get where he’s going, without the hassle of the road construction. For him, that’s a lesson learned with a small bit of aggravation! Even if the other way is a little longer, he (or she) has counted the cost and decided that it’s worth it!

*She realized she didn’t need to go where she was going after all! She could probably do more with what she had if she headed in a completely different direction with it! That moment (or agonizing few minutes) waiting in the road construction afforded her an opportunity to look at where she was headed and make a decision. If you find yourself stuck somewhere, maybe you need to PIVOT!

Ask yourself: “Do I really want to go where I’m headed?” and if so, “Is there an easier way to get there?” There’s no shame in your game if you change your mind. Take the time you didn’t mean to have as an opportunity to think about your choices!

These are the 6 things that I learned while I was stuck in ROAD CONSTRUCTION. What have you learned from being stuck on the road you were travelling? Remember, no matter what you might have heard, finishing well is not the only important thing. The trip itself is what makes life worth living.

Don’t miss the beauty along the way.

KISSES Y’ALL

Advertisements
MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

Still Your Baby

Girl crying
No Matter What, She’s Still Your Baby

There was no way that I could miss that something was really wrong with this girl. She was upset, not thinking straight, unable to make a decision. It was time for her to answer basic questions about her life, and she was having problems. That’s when she called you.

I heard your voice on the other end of the phone. I don’t know why she put you on speaker, but I think it’s because she was afraid to go through the moment alone. A child should never be afraid to call his or her Mama. There’s something wrong with a world where that is a reality, no matter what the cause of it.

Addiction Causes Heartache in Families

I don’t have any idea what she has and is still putting you through. I’m pretty sure that’s what you would say to me if given the chance. And of course, you are right. There’s no doubt about it—I don’t know. But here’s what I do know for sure: She’s still your baby.

I couldn’t keep my eyes off her hand as she pressed the buttons on her phone. She was trembling, visibly shaken at the very idea that she would have to ask her own mother for a small favor. She didn’t want money, or a ride, or even a place to stay for her and her children. She wasn’t trying to use you.

The reason she was calling was to ask your permission. Not because she had to! No one would have known the difference but her. She just wanted to write down your address. She wanted to be able to call it her home.

What Does it Take to Answer the Call?

Before she hit the last button, she said, “If she doesn’t answer, I understand,” and “If she says no, that’s okay.” I saw her eyes fill with hope when you did answer. Then I saw that hope die when you wouldn’t even give her time to ask the question. “Teresa,” you said. Actually, you didn’t call her Teresa, you called her by her real name, but I won’t use it here for her protection. “Teresa, I don’t have time to talk to you. I have to get in the bathtub.”

You had to take a bath. And because your bath was more important than your baby, I watched your grownup baby’s heart break right in front of me. As the light went out of her eyes, I felt the tears forming in mine. I had to swallow the pain with her. I felt the hurt in my own heart. The very thought of being rejected by the one person who should always stand beside you no matter what was enough to bring me to tears. I can’t even imagine how shattered her heart must have been.

It Doesn’t Matter if Addiction is a Disease or a Choice. Our Children Are Dying.

Even as you turned her away, she kissed her children and told them that it would be all right. But I know that it won’t be—because she’s lost, and addicted, but she’s still your baby.

Everything leading up to this point is none of my business. I know it isn’t, but I got a little of the story anyway. She’s acting “crazy” and is being sent for a psychiatric evaluation. Her friend says that drugs are how she copes with life—that life is what’s wrong with her. From Teresa I found out that it’s more than life. It’s also death.

I may not be able to understand how a person’s life can lead them to this point, but death? Now THAT I can wrap my mind around. When I found my son dead, I went crazy too. I reached for any and everything that would take my mind off the reality that my child was gone. I could make a list of the things I tried if I thought it would do any good. I have a feeling you don’t want to hear any of that. Your mind is closed. Maybe you haven’t suffered a devastating loss. I’m afraid that you are about to. I need you to wake up and prepare for battle, if you even care. Because she’s dying, and no matter what, she’s still your baby.

Overdose, Suicide, Disease, Isolation–Things an Addict Might Experience

I don’t even know if you can reach her now. I saw her mentally close the curtains. She’s in a different place than we are, inside, looking out. She slammed the door shut on her feelings. She will refuse to trust anything or anyone. Since her own Mama won’t give her the time of day when she is clearly desperate, she feels worthless. In self-defense she has separated herself from the rest of the world. She’s in there by herself now—but she’s still your baby.

According to everything I’ve read (including an article at this site: https://www.centeronaddiction.org/prevention/addiction-women) women get addicted faster than men and suffer more health consequences because of addiction. I think it’s safe to say that no one benefits from addiction. I also know that people who become addicted to methamphetamines have about a one percent chance of getting off the drug and regaining their lives.

I don’t know where Teresa’s addiction started. I never laid eyes on her until today. I do know that her husband died recently. Maybe she already had a problem—maybe not. I know that she was recently released from a psychiatric hospital where she spent three weeks. Apparently, they couldn’t straighten out the mess in her head. I don’t think you can unravel grief and addiction in three weeks.

It’s possible that she started using drugs as a coping mechanism to get through the grief. Like I said earlier—a person will do just about anything to keep from looking loss in the face.  I’m sure that you have all the answers to these questions. After all, she was born and is still your baby.

She Used to Be Your Baby….

I know I keep reminding you of the fact that Teresa is your baby. It’s funny—when other people’s children are drug addicts, it’s easy to say that they are lost causes. I’ve gone as far as to call them “methheads,” or “zombies.” Assuming she’s on meth, you may not have much of a chance of helping her anyway. It would be really tough for her to crawl out of this hole. She sure can’t do it on her own!

Hey, you remember when she was little, and you dressed her up in all those cute clothes and put her in bows that were as big as her head? You got her ears pierced way too young and carried her around with you everywhere you went. You called her a princess and bought her stupid stuff just because she asked you for it. The Dollar General cart would be level full of crap you knew was going to be broke by the next day, but you didn’t care because your baby wanted it, and what your baby wanted, she was going to get.

And she could do no wrong! Or if she did, you just overlooked it, or laughed at it because she was so darned cute. You clapped for her first step and you praised her when you taught her how to ride a bike. You cried when the bus rode away with her on her first day of kindergarten, and you verbally whipped more than one teacher who gave her less than the grade you thought she earned. You would have fallen in front of a train for her then! So, what changed? Isn’t she still your baby?

Is Love Conditional?

When you told Teresa that you would love her forever, did you forget to say, “Unless you become addicted to something, then you’re not my baby anymore.” Did you really mean it when you said, “Baby girl, your Mama will always have your back,” and “I will always be here for you.”

All of Teresa’s life, I bet you have told her that you would stand by her, no matter what. I don’t have proof of that, but I’m thinking that it’s a reasonable assumption, judging by the look on her face when she got the nerve to call you. She wore that hopeful expression that was an expectation that Mama would live up to her word. But you didn’t, did you? You fell flat on your face, and right in front of the person you need to be standing up for.

Does addiction change who your daughter is in your eyes? Does she suddenly belong to someone else? What if cancer were the demon she was battling? Would you turn your back on your baby then? Would you say, “I’m tired of you calling me every time you need something!”? If our kids can’t call us when they need something, why are we their parents? Isn’t that what parents do? Aren’t we supposed to answer the call, and do all we can for our babies? No matter how old they are, or how addicted they are, if we give birth to them—they are still our babies.

A Mama Ought Not Have to Bury Her Baby

What if it’s not too late? It might be. I don’t know. I sure saw that light die in her eyes. What I do know is that if Teresa was my child, I’d be fighting like hell for her life. I’d turn over Heaven and earth for the answers. I’d go down into the pits of hell and wrestle her away from the devil if I had to. I’m hoping for both of your sakes that you wake up to the reality of what that moment in time may have cost you and fight with everything you’ve got to right that wrong before it’s too late. The next call you get might not be from your baby. It might be about her.

And it’s true. I don’t know what you’ve gone through. I don’t know what it has cost you. Teresa is an addict. But you can’t just let her go. You can’t just let her die. She’s still your baby.

ENCOURAGEMENT, MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

Don’t Give Up On Yourself

Quitting On Monday

I think that the easiest day to lose hope is Monday. When the week starts, it should be full of great possibilities, but the reality is that Monday is the day the cold hard truth usually slaps us in the face. It’s the day we are forced to stop pretending that everything is great. We often need to go back to work and leave our dreams behind again. It gets hard.

It isn’t just work though. The whole world will come against you sooner or later. Maybe it will set up a pattern all your life. Things and people that you count on will be snatched away from you. Just when you feel the most secure, something will happen that will set your world on tilt.

Don't Quit Your DayDream painting

Quitting On Tuesday

Maybe it’s Tuesday that makes you want to quit on yourself the most. The struggle to get through Monday has taken its toll, and you just don’t have anything left. Hard things happen, and you don’t feel like you are equipped to deal with them anymore, if you ever were.

At first, when the hard things happen, you may want to give up on God. It’s easy to throw the blame on the Almighty. He is ultimately in charge. But, when you think about it, you realize that God hasn’t failed you in any way. You may begin to ask yourself if you have failed God.

Being Angry With God

It’s hard to always stay positive in a negative world.  I get that. I really do. I’ve had my share (and more) of tragic circumstances. I have not handled much of it very well. I did not turn to God in my pain and loss like I should have. I turned away and blamed Him instead. At least I did for a while.

It was when I was the angriest at Him that I realized that I still believed in Him. Of course, believing isn’t enough. I also had to get to a place where I remembered that He was good and that He loved me. I had to realize that He still had a plan for my life, even though my own plans had crashed and burned. Coming to that point was the hardest after I buried my 16-year-old son. This kind of loss makes you question all that you have ever believed.

Perfectly Imperfect

During my trek through the chaos and confusion of the worst of my grief, I learned to see the world in a different way. What was ordinary to me before became extreme. Casual beauty became exquisite when I realized how temporary it all is. I learned to focus on the smiles of my children and to take in every breath that they breathe. I learned that the imperfections that I once saw as flaws are what makes something beautiful and unique. The world irrevocably changed for me, but it wasn’t all good.

What Our Children Face

I looked at our world and what we have made of it. Sin and ugliness have run rampant through our societies. The children that we bring into the world are forced to grow up in fear of what tomorrow will bring. If they are living unaware of the potential danger of the future, then they are ill-equipped to face it. On the other hand, to tell them what it may be like is a betrayal of their innocence. How do we know what to do? How do we tell them that the walls protecting them are made of glass?

The problems we face seem to be insurmountable at times. Human trafficking, the threat of war, and the divisiveness of our country due to political affiliation, religion, race, and economics to name a few. We get mixed messages from the media and don’t fully understand what the truth is and how to teach it to our children. Like my Mama always said, “Babies don’t come with blueprints stamped on their butts.” Do we protect them with the truth, or protect them from the truth? I don’t know.

Who Failed Who?

All I know is that God didn’t fail us. That leaves the obvious answer. If He didn’t fail us…. We failed Him. With that realization, hopelessness can start to creep up on you.

Depression. Anxiety. Feelings of worthlessness and fear. The idea that you can never get it right because you never have before. The overwhelming sensation that you are about to drown in your sorrow, anger, and helplessness.

I’ve been there more than once. If you have ever felt like that, you aren’t alone. Don’t give up on yourself.

A Life of Abundance

Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came so that we would have abundant life. An abundant life is a life full of meaning and joy. That is the kind of life that God intends for you to have. He didn’t say that you can only have this kind of life if you deserve it and never do anything wrong. He didn’t say that you’ve got to operate in a realm above the human realm to create and achieve this life for yourself. He simply said that He came so that you could have it.  

Your abundance is found in God through Jesus Christ. No matter what the world throws at you. No matter what Monday brings. It doesn’t even matter if you need to leave your own dreams behind. Whatever heartbreak you have faced has not changed the truth. Grief and loss can’t take away what Jesus came to give you. Your abundant life is in Him. Not in yourself! Not in your circumstances. Not in your loved ones, your dreams, your hopes. Abundant life is also not lost in the outcome of a failed plan or dream. What an eye-opening thing to finally learn!

The Freedom to Keep Trying

This doesn’t mean that you should quit trying to achieve anything on your own. It means just the opposite! Now you are free to pursue your hopes and dreams without the fear of failure because your worthiness and your abundance was never meant to be found in any of your personal accomplishments anyway. You are free to love with all your heart because death can’t steal your hope! You can dance in the rain because no storm can wash away the sacrifice already made for you.

Your Focus

Take your focus off yourself. That’s not what your life is supposed to be about. All you could ever hope to be can be found in your relationship with God. Yes, I said it. It’s not about you. You may be dangerously close to quitting on yourself. Don’t do that. The problem is relational. Pursue a relationship with God if you want to add meaning to your life.

 Matthew 6:33 says to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” If our focus is on Him, where it should be, and off ourselves, our lives will be full, and everything will fall into place just the way it’s supposed to. If our focus is on ourselves, we will always experience chaos and a feeling of off-centeredness because we were created for Him and by Him, and not to be self-serving.

The Truth

I believe that this is the truth that we should teach our children. If we want to equip them to be warriors in whatever battle comes their way, we must first introduce them to the source of their hope and life. We need to teach them as we learn ourselves that our identity should be first understood as a “child of God.” Whatever is next is not only secondary, but it’s also temporary.

Here’s what I believe to be the truth: the things you do for yourself on this earth are going to die with you anyway. The only things that you leave behind are what you do for other people.

The Prize

Knowing that my abundance is in Him is just the catalyst that I need to keep going, to keep plugging away and staying in the race even when it feels like I’m defeated. I can never be defeated if I’m running the right race—the one for His kingdom and in His design. It’s easy to fall back into the temptation of seeking to define my worth by earthly standards and how I feel, but the actual cold reality is none of that matters. The only thing that matters is that I keep my eyes on the prize.

ENCOURAGEMENT, MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

I Want to Bury My Head In Cookie Dough

Not a Roll of Cookie Dough, but One of Those Tubs.

Ice Cream Neon Sign


Or Eat Five Gallons of Chocolate Ice Cream with a Package of Oreos–No, Girl Scout Cookies! I want Thin Mints, and I want them fresh out of the freezer!

Are you wondering why I want a tub of cookie dough, or something else sinfully sweet? In case you are, I will tell you. Because I’m stressed out. When I’m stressed out, all I can think about is taking something sweet and bad for me and shoveling it in my face.

Food is where I go for comfort.

It sure hasn’t failed me yet! Well, it hasn’t failed me in the moment, when the cookie dough is in my mouth and my endorphins are through the roof. I only reach failure status when I step on the scale a month later and I’ve gained 20 lbs. Or I would reach failure status then, if I ever really got on the scale. See, if you don’t acknowledge it’s happening, it’s not happening. Right?

I’ve lived most of my life in just that way. The struggle to maintain a weight that made me feel comfortable with my own body has been life-altering and mind-consuming. I’m a good weight now—just ask any specialist. My BMI is perfect I’m told. “You are a great weight right now. You can continue to lose if you want to tweak it, but that’s just for you.” I thought it was all just for me.

It’s not my body that’s the problem. I don’t know if you know this or not, but it rarely is. It’s the mind that has all the issues. Every single morsel I put in my mouth comes packed with a load of guilt. I’ve written about this before in another blog, https://moodyoops.com/how-you-see-yourself-determines-who-you-are/, and you may want to check that out! It’s a big deal to me.

Think about it like this. If you were an alcoholic, and you quit drinking, you would feel better. You would find other ways to gain comfort and peace—perhaps you would learn to pray more, read, fish, exercise, or do something creative. You would never have to pick up the bottle again if you chose not to, and that’s fantastic! Your addiction may be slightly easier to understand and control when you realize that you can actually live your entire life without one sip of alcohol.

But What If You Are a Food Addict?

You are addicted to food but you stop eating in unhealthy ways, you start exercising, and you start taking better care of your body. That’s a great victory! There’s only three problems that I can think of that might hang you up on a consistent basis: breakfast, dinner, and supper.

Yep, that’s right. You can’t go on for the rest of your life without eating! So even though you’ve beat the unhealthy patterns, it’s harder to let go of the guilt that you have always associated with eating. It comes unbidden the second you start chewing and increases with each bite. By the time you are finished with your meal, you are filled with remorse!

With guilt comes the desire to cover that guilt, and what’s the first reaction your mind has to that desire? It wants to go back to that old comfort that it’s so used to, and put it on again. Guilt is crying, “Cover me,” and food is answering, “I will!”

It Becomes a Pattern.

It happens over and over. Once or twice at the ice cream trough and you’re okay, a week’s worth and it starts to show. It’s a vicious cycle of doubt, guilt, and confusion that runs through your mind like a hamster on a wheel. The more you obsess over what you eat, the more you want to eat it. The more you try to avoid something, the more drawn you are to that very thing!

Are There Any Answers?

So what are some of the things you can do to break the unhealthy cycle of food guilt? Hmmm….I go through times off and on where I think I get this right. Of course, they don’t last as long as they should, but I am going to keep going back there until “off and on” becomes a tendency, and a tendency eventually becomes a habit, and a habit finally becomes a way of life that’s not even considered thought-worthy anymore.

  • I never tell myself that I can’t have something. Why? Because if I tell myself “no,” I think about that food all day long every day and eat everything in sight until I finally break down and just go get what I’m obsessing over! If I want it, I eat it. However, one thing that I will do is tell myself that I can have it “tomorrow.” Sometimes when tomorrow rolls around I don’t even want that whole roll of cookie dough (or tub). Sometimes I do. Either way, I give myself permission to have it. Maybe not the whole thing, but some of it for sure!
  • I try to take responsibility for my own diet. I don’t mean diet as in “I’m on a diet,” I mean diet as in “the food choices that I make for myself.” No matter what plan someone else is on and thinks is better, no matter what they have had success in, no matter what food they put before me, and no matter what anything else you can think of, since I am ultimately responsible I make it my ultimate responsibility to choose what goes into my mouth and what does not. Even when a health professional pushes an app at me and says, “You need to count calories if you are going to lose weight,” and I know that I lost 65 lbs and didn’t count the first calorie, I’m going to politely say, “That’s not how I do it,” and move on with life. It’s my life, my health, and my body. I’m responsible for its upkeep. I know what’s good for me and what isn’t. Counting calories will have me (a) starving, and (b) obsessing. I’m saying NO! to both of those ideas and I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing for the rest of my life. Thank you very much.
  • I try to notice how I feel after I eat something. If it makes me feel good physically, I’m good with it. If it makes me nauseated, headachy, sluggish, or any other negative physical outcome, I will probably not want to have that food again real soon. Since I deal with food guilt, I don’t let my emotions dictate to me what I will and won’t eat. At least, I don’t when I’m working on it.
  • I also try to notice the taste the food leaves in my mouth. I know that sounds crazy! But to tell you the truth, that chocolate frozen pie that was so dang good when I ate it left a really bad taste in my mouth! I really didn’t like it as much as I thought I did. I was just so used to liking it that I thought I still did. So the next time I want to take a bite of it, I will remember the taste it left in my mouth. Maybe I will still take a bite of it, and maybe I won’t. It has gone both ways.
  • I don’t always eat every meal, or I just eat during a certain number of hours in the day. They call this intermittent fasting. I probably don’t do this the textbook way or for the textbook reason. What it does for me though, is relieve some of the guilt of overeating because if I’m skipping a meal now and then, I’m not overeating! It’s a pretty simple way to trick your mind into believing the truth.

Now I’m not offering up any of my methods as advice, because I’m not an expert or a health professional of any kind. I’m just saying what works for me. There are studies that say that you can’t skip meals because it lowers your metabolism. What I have learned is that when you get over a certain age, the rules all change. If I hadn’t skipped some meals, I wouldn’t have lost a pound! You have to do what is right for you and your health though. It’s always good to check with a doctor or other health professional before starting any kind of health and wellness program!

I don’t know if anyone can relate to my food struggles, but this is what was on my mind tonight. We all have different areas that we battle every day—this just happens to be one of mine. Feel free to leave a comment if you have been there, and you can also share my blog to your choice of social media if you think it might resonate with others. You can follow the blog and sign up with your email so that you will get a notice every time I post something new!

ENCOURAGEMENT, MOTIVATIONAL

How Do You Show Up?

Who determines how you show up?

fragmented mannequin heads symbolic of identity confusion
How do you show up?

I’m talking about how you show up in life, in social media, and even how you see yourself in the mirror when you’re alone. Do you see yourself as a success, or do you show up as a failure? Are you living a big life or a small one? Do you see yourself living up to your potential, or are you buying into the lies you tell yourself?

We all believe the lies sometimes. We even repeat them when we are faced with a challenge, or asked to leave our comfort zone. Our own voice tells us that we aren’t good enough, strong enough, talented enough, or smart enough! Where do we get the information that we tell ourselves every day?

I heard from a troubled friend the other day. He struggles like we all do, but sometimes his struggles get the best of him. There are no easy answers for him and everyone else who suffers through the heartbreak of loneliness and depression. My friend (we’ll call him “Joe”) said that he often stays in his house with the curtains drawn. His solution was to avoid facing the world and dealing with possible rejection. I wasn’t sure what to say.

What I did say and what I wanted to say battled within me for a few minutes. My first reaction was to tell him, “Snap out of it!” That would have been the wrong response of course, but it makes me angry. Joe shouldn’t be trapped inside his house when there is a whole life out there waiting for him. The other reason that it makes me angry is because I can relate. Of course I can. Don’t I go through the same struggle every day?

I can’t count the times that I didn’t show up like I needed to because I was sad or afraid. The curtains may not have been drawn on my house, but they were drawn on my heart. Either way, it didn’t matter. The outcome was the same. I missed opportunities and chances that I will never have again. I gave up moments that could have been my time to shine, laugh, or even fall flat on my face. But they were MY moments, and I missed them because I didn’t show up. Have you always had the heart, or the guts, to show up?

This world is full of advice on who and how you should be. There’s always a scenario for how you should present yourself to be acceptable to society. Plenty of books have been written. Psychologists, preachers, politicians, and social media influencers are telling us every day who we should be. They are paid the big bucks to tell us how we should think and feel.

There are even countless opportunities to see perfect photos of these very people living “perfect” lives. Even their “real” and “no makeup” photos are carefully orchestrated to be presented in the best possible light. Sure, they will show you their flaws–but only after they put them through a few filters. They call this being “real,” and we buy into that lie and find ourselves still not good enough. We still can’t meet the standard.

How hard it is to be authentic in a world that pushes and pulls at you all the time! There are so many mixed messages on who you should be. The information that we are fed daily keeps us completely out of center. It shifts our focus from who God made us to be to an ideal of unattainable perfection.

This ideal is impossible to meet in business as well. There are voices from every direction, all with the only pathway to the top. One says “Niche down,” and another, “It’s death to the creative to go small with a niche.”

Confusing messages permeate social media for $47 a month if you’re lucky and catch it before it goes up! “Focus on your story, that’s what people want to hear.” As soon as you do that, the narrative changes. Then it’s, “Take the spotlight off yourself and put it on others!” One foot forward, two steps back, and it’s easy to retreat to a dark room with the curtains drawn!

However, at the end of the day, your life, your relationships, and your business all belong to YOU! I don’t know how you can possibly fail if you show up as yourself in any situation. That’s who God made you to be. So be that! Be you and be good at it.

You are uniquely gifted and talented to stand out from the crowd or to blend into it as you. No one else can ever be you. God chose you for the part for a particular reason. What you have to give to the world is YOURSELF! Show up as you and be proud of who YOU are! Open the curtains and be amazed to be you and happy to be alive!

I know a little three year old girl who dresses herself. Cori rarely matches her clothes, and if she does, it’s an accident, but she doesn’t care! Sometimes she wears a princess dress that’s two sizes too big with furry boots of a completely different color. It never bothers her if her hair isn’t combed. She doesn’t mind if there’s chocolate on her face. It’s okay if she wears combat boots with a dress. Whether her attitude or her outfit is acceptable to society makes no difference to her! She’s happy just the way she is and happy to be herself. Cori isn’t old enough for the world to have taken that away from her. I pray that it never does.

Little girl in a princess dress, furry boots, and a burger king bag.
She almost matched this day!

To recognize that you have value simply because you are “you” is a wonderful gift from God. To have the childlike simplicity to understand that it doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks is priceless! What really matters when you show up is that you show up. When you do, make sure the curtains are not drawn on your heart.

MOTIVATIONAL

“Embrace Your Inner Thug”

An In Depth Look at What It Looks Like to be At a Job for Dang Near Twenty Years With a Bunch of People Who Have Not, and Other Related Nonsense

So I walked into work this morning singing one of the oldest songs I know, “I Got Mexico” by Eddy Raven. I was knocking it out pretty good when I stepped through the door and stopped dead in my tracks. I know I looked like a tree full of owls when the music from the tiny player with the big noise assaulted my ears with some horrible pounding and an almost constant stream of profanity. It was at that very moment that I realized that I have to make this side hustle more than a side hustle, or my cheese will slide completely off my cracker before year’s end.

It was apparent to my young and super giggly coworkers (I wanted to say uber but I don’t know how to make the 2 dots on top of the u) that I was not “down” with the music even though every once in a while I could distinguish a slightly redeeming quality to the song. Meghan, the girl who sits closest to me on the end that you are banished to right before you are kicked out the door for good, told me “embrace your inner thug.”

That struck me as oddly hilarious, and definitely copy-worthy, so here we are tonight with a long and drawn-out explanation of the first five minutes of a morning that reiterated my old age for me. Imagine my hilarity later when this picture from Beauregard Daily News was posted on the FB page of Jacob Jeane, my ex-son-in-law (that is a strange title to have, but he is a good guy and we all get along fabulously), and Tiffany quipped that Benjamin “didn’t choose the thug life, the thug life chose him!” I knew at that moment that “inner thug” definitely runs in the family.

I’m definitely proud of my Grandson, who made the paper by being an outstanding student and who wants to be a paleontologist. When I was his age, I had no idea what a paleontologist even was. That’s probably because they weren’t needed when the dinosaurs were still alive!

My day job is not always easy, and I do want to summon up my thug self from time to time. I was more than a little tempted today when a customer threatened our office with potential violence because we weren’t giving her exactly what she wanted. The threat was (slightly) veiled, but it was there nonetheless. I believe that in this society that we have fashioned for ourselves, we have gotten so used to getting our own way that it is almost natural to try to use any means to do so.

I hope that I will not ever do that to someone–to try to use force or manipulation or the threat of what could “possibly” happen to get my own way simply because I don’t want to do the right thing. Sure, it’s inconvenient sometimes to have to change your plans! Believe me, when I’m standing in line at Walmart and there’s not a bar code on an item and I know I will have to wait five minutes–well, let’s just say I get pretty aggravated. But here’s what I know I wouldn’t do. I wouldn’t say something like, “Well, my husband is crazy and he owns a lot of guns. You don’t want him having to come in here on his own to buy this item, and it’s for him!” Even if some of that is true….I will let you figure out which parts. Anyway, the question of Mr. Main’s sanity wasn’t my point.

See–that is really being a thug. The time for me to be silent when someone acts like that is long past–I guess that’s something that the years do for a person. I will call you out on being that kind of a thug to someone…that’s called being a decent human being. Hopefully, when that someone is confronted, they will go on to be a decent human being themselves the next time and think a little more about what they say to someone who might not have even been at her job for a month yet.

Just saying my inner thug is always bubbling under the surface–but she’s not the bad guy.

MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

BAH HUMBUG, CHRISTMAS IS A HUMBUG

I’m better now. I put up a tree every year. This year, I sang some Christmas songs without crying. I want to feel Christmas in my heart again. It’s still hard, and I know it always will be.

People who haven’t buried a child don’t understand, and I’m hoping you never will. Mikey loved Christmas. I loved Mikey. It’s really that simple. You can’t replace a lost child with other children, grandchildren, alcohol, drugs, work, distraction, church, ministry, or anything. It is okay to feel how you feel.

If you have lost a child, don’t be ashamed if you need to take time to grieve—again. It doesn’t matter how long it has been, or whether your child was born when they died, not born yet, a child, teenager, or grown! That’s your baby. Your flesh and blood—the child of your heart. Take your moments, and take your moments with you. Sorrow and joy can live in the same heart. God made us human, yet in His image, which means our hearts have the capacity to carry both sorrow and joy and to do this with LOVE. Instead of letting your pain cripple you, let it strengthen your resolve to forgive greater hurts, show more grace, walk the extra few miles, and speak to others the truth in love.

We are equipped because God has equipped us. We are victorious because He teaches us how to fight. We are safe because we are engraved on the palms of His Hands…one nail at a time. God bless you, and Merry Christmas! Isaiah 49:16 forever.

ART AND DESIGN, BUSINESS OWNER, ENTRE SUCCESS, MOTIVATIONAL

12 THINGS WE CAN DO FOR YOU

Okay, so I’m slowly getting this website together. I realize that I need to get the online shop going, get the design stuff up with the price list, have great product photos, ways to sign up for our freebies, classes, and news, and a whole lot of other things.

Time is a factor. Frankly, I don’t have any. I’m working it out. Mostly I just stay up most of the night and get up early in the morning to start over. There are definitely things in my life that need tending to that I’m not tending to. There are bills to pay and vehicles to clean out and people to go see. I probably should take my head out of my cell phone more often than I do! I need to finish writing my book so I can get it published–because I love it and I know you will love it too.

Right now though, I’m just going to go ahead and show you a live video that I made a few weeks ago. It’s awkward because I’m awkward! Don’t let that stop you from watching it. I had a great time with it. I just wanted to tell you a few of the things we can do for you. One more thing not mentioned is transferring photos–particularly onto old wood. I did a couple of those this week and they turned out so good! I can’t show you right now because of Christmas–but I will put them up as soon as I’m able. I will post again soon!