Associates & Friendships

Today I wanted to pay homage to true friendships as I build on the thought of “Valued Friendship” from my book, The Silence is Too Loud.  First, it’s important to be able to identify real friends and not confuse them with associates or people who are truly just passing through for what they can get from you.  We all have experienced associates who have shown up in our lives, even if we didn’t accurately identify them at the time they were there.

Friendship takes a lot of work and if the person is worth it, you stick and stay and talk and cry and process the problems that come before you.  I believe many of us would agree that true friendship only affords us very few friends in our lives.  I have often told my children and younger folks, “everybody who says they are your friend, are not truly your friend.”  I’m sure some of you as parents have utter similar if not the exact words to your children.  But this is not just young people, it’s all of us who sometimes confuse real friends with those who really do not have your best interest at heart and will not be there for the long haul.  It hurts when people leave your life, but do know it is sometimes the best thing for you.

pass to behave inappropriately, it just means I love you enough to walk through the stuff you may be going through until you get it right.  These are the people you can allow to see you at your worst, knowing they have that much love for you they’re willing to stay.  If you’ve followed me at any length, you know my phrase is “ride or die” friends and we all should have at least one if not more.  These also are the people who will sit with you even in that moment where there are no words, but their presence is felt and appreciated.  Always make sure that you’re giving your all in your friendships and that you can be described as that “ride or die” friend.

Now, pick up your phone and call your “ride or die” friends in your life and let them know you love and appreciate them more than words could ever say.  Never take time for granted, let them know you love them, even when they feel they don’t deserve your love.

Until next time, continue to evolve into the best version of you.

 

 

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Eliminate, Elevate, & Celebrate

As I sat in my room thinking about a life lesson to share on my blog, I went through my book; “The Silence is Too Loud” and the poem “A Product of Your Environment” felt right.  I started processing the high points and thinking about how this could help create an awareness of where we are in our lives.  During this process, I identified how we needed to eliminate the crutch that we are a product of our environment to move to the next level.  There comes a time when we should become strong enough to stand and own what we are as well as where we are in our lives.  And in that moment, we mature where we can see challenges as an opportunity to make good choices.

It’s very “easy” to justify our behavior by stating “that’s how I was raised” or “that’s how my family deals with ….,” as well as saying “I am a product of my environment.”  Eliminate that which is easy as it allows us to be comfortable with why we are in a certain state that is contaminating our life (remember when we’re comfortable we don’t grow).  We look around and find people to place blame as our explanation seems to be that of being victimized by our environment.  Although I will be the first to admit, it is difficult to rise above our circumstances, it is not impossible.  The question becomes, how bad do you want it because taking the easy way out is just that, “easy.”  You can be that person who decides despite circumstances you are making a different choice.  You are taking control and making certain the negative mentality of your environment does not contaminate you.

When we embrace our own destiny and stand on the truth that we do not have to mirror the environment where we were raised then we can celebrate.  As we take these very critical steps we begin to rise above the obstacles and pave a new way which says here is my best and truest version of me.  We stop hiding behind other people’s behavior to justify our mistakes and own our mess and clean it up.

We cannot allow ourselves to feel like victims because we were raised a certain way, lived in a certain neighborhood, attended a certain school or had parents who did not make choices that were in our best interest.  Life happens and we can make better choices and be greater in our own right.  We must eliminate the negativity that haunts us while elevating to the platform that allows us to stretch and reach our goals.  Then we can celebrate our accomplishments knowing that our environment did not hinder our destination for success.

Positioned for Your Purpose

Last week, I participated in a Holiday Bazaar at work where I could showcase and sell my book, “The Silence is Too Loud.”  Though my initial outlook was positive, as the hours passed I begin to feel a bit discouraged and thought about leaving earlier than the closing time.  As I was considering my departure a woman stopped by and begin to thumb through my book.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure it would result in a sell but I was appreciative for her taking the time.  After a few minutes, she put the book down and walked away.  Not too long thereafter, the same lady returned picked up the book had her money in hand and was waiting for someone to come stand with her.  At the time, I didn’t realize it was her daughter she was waiting on, but she wanted her daughter to look at a couple of the poems.  They began to talk and the woman said to her daughter “do you think this would be good for him?”  Her daughter answered “yes.”  She handed me the money and took the book.  I told her “let’s trade, I’ll give you an autographed book and I’ll take that one from you.”  She said, “it’s not for me, it’s for my grandson, he has stage 4 cancer and I think this book (as she begins to tear up) would…..”  I finished the sentence and said lift him up and she shook her head yes.  At that point, she took the book and thanked me as she walked away with her daughter.

This was a defining moment as well as a powerful testament to what was happening right before my eyes.  I realized that I had been positioned for my purpose.  Had I followed through and left when I initially thought about it, this would have never played out.  I would have missed a pivotal moment where I received a blessing.  The blessing wasn’t the purchase of the book, but it was the circumstances surrounding the purchase.  The fact I could connect with someone based on the words which I had written in my poems was a beautiful experience.  Now I understood it was all relevant that I was supposed to be at the Holiday Bazaar to meet this specific woman.  We both had something the other needed.  She needed to find something to comfort her grandson, while I needed to recognize my purpose I had been positioned for.  It wasn’t about how many books I could sell or how much money I could make, but it was about touching someone’s life.  I got the lesson and embraced the confirmation of my purpose.  Words are powerful and they create emotions that impact us on every possible level.  So, writing “The Silence is Too Loud” is not just my own journey, but it is the catalyst to reach those around me.  I hope my book can have a major impact on people’s lives and they are empowered, uplifted and stand boldly in the truth.

People who cross your path never show up by accident.  They are purposeful and a part of a greater picture.  They can help you identify your purpose and allow you to see your destiny more clearly.  Your purpose may be closer than you think, look for the signs and walk through the door when it opens.  Once you are positioned for your purpose, you will discover it’s bigger than you.

Knowing the Power of Your Voice

I am excited as I have embarked on this new journey with my second poetry book, “The Silence is Too Loud.”  As it was with “Poetry in Different Colors,” this book too captures life lessons.  Today, I wanted to open the door with something powerful that most of you will be able to connect with.

The world in which we live changes based on the efforts of the people.  Consider the fact that there are changes which arise through the effort of one person and that one person causes a domino effect.  Individually, we can be responsible for creating movements that can help or even sometimes hinder depending on the intent.  But for now, I am speaking in the positive and speaking to the power of positive change.  What hinders change many times is the silence which holds us captive and we choose not to speak out.  The perception of not being able to make a difference or thinking “I’m just one person” has long been the paralysis that prohibits progress.

We have been conditioned to believe that majority rules which in many instances deters us from being a part of the minority.  Our fear is that we will be the “odd man out” and powerless without the support of the majority.  Is it possible that what starts out as the minority could change and become the majority?  I say that it is not only possible but has been proven.  There are moments where other people feel and think the same as you but are waiting for someone else to speak up before they make their own position known.  Walking alone is not always easy, but in the pursuit of what is right and the betterment of a situation, it is necessary.  When people recognize the power of your voice, they may be inclined to join in and use their voice as well.  The one person becomes two and the two become many and invariably it results in a group that is making a difference to bring about change.

If we see there is a need to be filled, we cannot wait for someone else to initiate, nor should we believe that as one we do not matter.  Your voice is more powerful than you know and your silence is a black hole that some hope you fall into.

Unconfirmed Expectations Understanding People Don’t Disappoint Us

If I were to take a poll of a group of people and pose the question how many of you have had a conversation with your friends and family and told them what your expectations are of them?  And, along with that they understood and stated they could meet your expectations.  I would imagine on average no one would be able to confirm such an occasion has every taken place.  So, if we operate with that thought it helps to create the journey we are about take in this particular post.

Typically we have framed our disappointments based on people and not on our expectations.  The truth is “it is not people who disappoint us but our expectations.”  This is what it looks like, we create a story in our mind of what we want people to do or be, but we have never addressed these expectations.  When the expectations are not met we say “I’m so disappointed in him/her” when in fact the story was based on our own expectations.  I believe it is difficult to own that we are disappointed based on our own expectations that we have set verses expectations that we were told one could meet.  Regardless of our rationale as to why we thought the expectations should have been met, we have created unnecessary hurt and frustration because there was never a conversation in play.  Here’s an illustration that I believe validates my point:  A couple has been dating for a year and as the one year anniversary approaches the boyfriend says to the girlfriend, “we’ve been together a year and I want to do something special, so let’s plan to go out to dinner to celebrate.”  Afterwards, the girlfriend calls up her friends and says “I believe this is the big one, he’s going to ask me to marry him, and after all, it has been a year.”  To better clarify this let’s take into consideration that in the course of the year never has there been a conversation about becoming engaged.  What we have here is wishful thinking and a story the girlfriend has created in our own mind based on her own expectations of what she wants to happen.  The big night comes and there is no proposal and the girlfriend leaves at the end of the evening hurt and disappointed.  The feelings that are being experienced are not the result of the boyfriend, but the girlfriend’s perception says “he has hurt and disappointed me because he did not propose.”  The question becomes where did this idea come from if this was never a conversation or confirmation from the boyfriend?  I hear you, you are absolutely right the idea falls back on the girlfriend.  These are major mistakes one can make and be unwilling to understand the disappointment must be owned on their end not on the end of the other party.  While this may not be your story, we all have at least one where we created a story in our own mind only to be disappointed when it played out differently.

It is totally acceptable to have expectations but make sure the expectations have been confirmed and they are not a story you have created in your own mind.  The truth of the matter is sometimes our expectations are beyond what a person can give and they have not arrive to that point yet. Perhaps they may never arrive at that point.  It is extremely beneficial to address people about your expectations for the purpose of avoiding certain disappointments.  This will at times take courage to speak to people about what you expect because they may be very forward and tell you they cannot meet your expectations, but you have to be prepared to accept their truth regardless of what you feel or believe.

Surviving is Not Enough

I was pondering the word “survivor” and I begin to feel like the word cheapened one’s experience.  It started to feel like you were saying “I’m making it,” “I’m getting by,” or “I’m doing what I can.”  All of those statements seemed so mediocre and that’s not what we should want for our lives.  So, I thought why not discover what it is to be more than a survivor and begin to release yourself from the mediocracy that exist.  Perhaps we dream too small when we say “if I could just….” We kill the thought when we say “just” and lessen our expectation for what we want to accomplish.  We go back to “just getting by” when we expect “just enough.”  Why are we afraid to dream big and expect it to happen?   Perhaps, we want to keep our dreams within what we think is “reasonable.”  The greater the dream of what you want to do, the more unreasonable it may be that you’ll succeed, so you hold on to desiring “just enough.”  There we go, we’re back in the survival lane and our dreams cannot be realized staying in “just enough.”  Give yourself permission to dream great things and do all that is in your power to make it happen as well as speak it into your life.   Have your disappointments been so frequent that you have given up on something greater than what you have and it’s a matter of surviving?  There are times we allow our disappointments to get the best of us, it seems that they become a regular fixture in our life.  Unfortunately, we begin to believe the best we can hope for is surviving the day or having “just enough” to make it.  We think what we speak and what we speak begins to manifest in our behavior as well as in our expectations or lack thereof.  Lesson number one, stop saying “if I could just.”   Know “just” is never going to be enough and is below your standards of what you can do with your life.

I often share my triumph with breast cancer and now entering year 12 of being cancer free, I must admit I have said in the past I am a breast cancer “survivor;” however in retrospect I believe I cheapen the experience of what has happened.  I am a breast cancer CONQUEROR who has been TRIUMPHANT in having the VICTORY over breast cancer by the grace of God and that is so much more than “just surviving.”  Knowing that, I see my life as much more than surviving which has allowed me to move into a different dimension of my life that is eager, willing and ready to take on whatever challenges come my way.  I don’t think about surviving, I do think about having the victory and that entices me to reach the goal.  Our power lies in the words that we speak (as long as we speak them in truth); if we can believe it, we can conceive it and we will achieve it.  Let’s consider using powerful words to replace survivor, such as conqueror or to say we were triumphant or victorious in our pursuit.  Words are powerful vehicles that we build our thoughts upon and can only move when we give them life.  The more powerful the word, the stronger we can become.  Our thinking and speech drive our destinations whether we realize it or not. When you think about someone saying “I survived the day,” does that sound powerful to you?  Does it sound like the person did something noteworthy or simply just made it through?  We both know that statement gives absolutely no power to what the person accomplished by surviving the day.  If we strive to be conquerors, be triumphant, or be victorious, it sheds a different light and a different feeling about what we have done.  Then we can begin to broaden our expectations and heighten our dreams beyond that which is minimal.  Our greatest fears are conquered by our greatest accomplishments.  Stop thinking about surviving and start seeing yourself as a person of victory.  It may take some work, but once you arrive in the space of more than a survivor, you will understand why surviving is not enough.

 

Re-Inventing the Game

As we swiftly come to the conclusion of 2015, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about “re-inventing the game.”  First, I feel it’s necessary to clarify that I don’t want to discuss the typical conversation of an empty New Year’s Resolution that will result in potential failure.  My desire is to address a lifestyle change that has absolutely nothing to do with a “New Year’s Resolution.”  It’s wonderful to be able to assess where you are in your life and the obstacles that are prohibiting you from arriving at your destination.

In one of my previous postings I touched on the concept of being your own worse enemy and the reason for not moving forward is that we allow others to be blockers.  However, in the course of this self-assessment it also lends itself to the courage or lack thereof that sometimes keeps us stuck.  Make no mistake this will cause you to rethink the concept of life you have previously embraced and it will take courage to move.  While we are able to see the mistakes we’ve made there is a reality that we can re-invent who we are by changing the game and beginning to travel in a different direction.   The beauty of re-inventing is merely the idea of a being able to start from ground zero and build your way up to what you want to be.  If you concern yourself with other people and their perception, you may find yourself unable to take this journey.  People tell you that you’re too old, it’s too late and the ship has sailed.  Well, my question is who made those rules and who said that they were applicable to every situation.

Let me share a secret with you, but don’t go telling everyone because this information is just for you.  At 42 years of age, I went back to college and got my Bachelor’s Degree.  Once I graduated I told my friends I was through with school, only to find myself 3 months later back at school working on my Master’s Degree.  I completed my Master’s Degree and… oh no, I didn’t dare enroll for my Ph.D, but thanks for thinking I was that ambitious.  The point is I arrived at a point in my life where I began to re-invent the game.  I didn’t allow anyone to tell me it was too late, I was too old or the ship had sailed, as a matter fact I was totally focused on what was best for me.  As I had shared before I wrote my first book after the age of 50 and life keeps getting better.  Here’s the deal, in order for me to go back to school and write a book and releasing two CDs, I had to change some of things that were going on in my life by reviewing, renewing, and releasing some of the intruders I had allowed in my circle.  Let’s be honest there are people who can (if we allow) become blockers in our journey and keep us from evolving to that next level.  Next, I had to change my perception, you know, the way I perceived life and what I was capable of accomplishing.  I know we often hear perception is some people’s reality, but I say reality is not a perception.  Reality is the truth of a situation and regardless of how we perceive it, the truth doesn’t change.

Thank you for taking the journey with me this year.  Continue to be the best you and spread your wings to reinvent the game.  You got this!  Stay with me as I continue to post in 2016 as we still have much to talk about.