1/2/13 Thankful for An Unexpected Conversation

1/2: Thankful for today’s unexpected conversation and communication. Sometimes it takes pain and loss to truly value and appreciate who and what (physical & mental health, not materialistic things) you have in your life. I hadn’t been a good friend and I missed being that for him. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to do better.

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11/8: Thankful for sibling love, foolishness and friendship!

11/8: Thankful for the relationship I have with my brother. Brothers and sisters have a special bond and ours is one that can’t be explained, rationalized or understood by the outside world.  I have yet to comprehend the total dynamic myself, and I don’t think I ever will. #WeAreCeephus&Reese 😉

The next day my brother posted the following on my FB wall :-D:

Sis….my relationship with you is one of the most important I’ve ever had.  I love the fact that we can have fun together no matter where we are.  I love you and everything about you.

The Bittersweet Side of Friendship

Hearing the words, “it looks like we’re moving to New York” were some of the most stinging words I’ve heard in my life. I felt a pain in my gut and my eyes instantly filled with tears (as they are as I’m typing this and just as they do just about every time I think about this). These were the words my best friend shared as she told a few of us the news about a great career opportunity. It truly is a wonderful job and I am sincerely happy for her and feel that she, her family and New York are a good fit. But of course there is the selfish, emotional side that thinks of……me.

We have both endured very personal highs and lows over the past few years, and although one of us was directly impacted, the other emotionally absorbed a little of each experience. With this situation it is twofold, I can’t deny the tremendous and well deserved opportunity this is for her and her family, but I can’t ignore the pain this is causing me.
I know she will be a phone call, text message, email and short plane ride away, but there is something about being able to ‘lay eyes and hands on (not in the Biblical sense)’ someone; that is a luxury I won’t have with ease anymore. I know that giving into my feelings of grief only cheats me of the few days I have before she moves so I will try to focus on being in the moment for any time we have in each others presence before she leaves.

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the past few years it is the priceless value of true friendship and a conversation over drinks with her was the catalyst for me realizing this. It was a very candid conversation about friendships and the lack of support at times when friends were needed more during a particular time than ever and I was one of those people. It was definitely a talk that can only be had by true friends where one says to the other, you weren’t there like I needed and that message is received with the same genuine love in which it was delivered. I can say this conversation made me question the ‘friendships’ in my life and more importantly made me evaluate the friend that I was to people. My self evaluation was embarrassing to say the least. I wasn’t proud of the friend I had been to people I claimed to care about. During a recent conversation over dinner with my friend that is moving and another dear friend, I had a minor emotional meltdown while talking about a friend that I miss terribly. He was someone that was always there when I needed him but it was me that placed a wedge between us in attempt to distance myself from him. One of the biggest mistakes of my life. 

The expression says “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”, well I know what I have in her as a friend, which is why this is so emotionally difficult. My plan of action is simple:
– Enjoy every second we have together before she leaves.
– Take plenty of pictures.
– Let the tears flow as needed (I need to try to remember not to wear mascara the day before she leaves). Tears Dry On Their Own (RIP Amy Winehouse)
– Plan trips to New York (awww how miserable for me)
– Appreciate having friendships so lovingly precious that life experiences like these are this painful.

We are Linked in friendship, motherhood and down right fabulousness!!!

The highs and lows of friendship.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything, I’m honored for my many blessings of friendship. Take a few seconds today to reflect on the wonderful friends in your life.

My Birthday Trip To ‘Never Land’

Yesterday was the last day of March, which marks the end of my month long 35th Fabulous Birthday Celebration.  Yes, I celebrated my birthday for the entire month and of course loved every minute of it!  What a celebration it was! On the day of my birthday, some of my best friends came in town from DC and Atlanta to help me celebrate; and we did just that, beginning at 9:00 am at my parent’s home!  We spent the day hanging out and later that night, more friends joined in helping me celebrate at a birthday party one of my friends threw in my honor.  We had a weekend of nothing but good times.  Bigger than it being a milestone birthday was the fact that my entire day was spent with people and receiving birthday love from people that love and deeply care for me.  In the past year I have often reflected and shared with others about how wonderfully blessed I am to have the best family and friends anyone in the world could ever want.  And nothing could be closer to the truth than that!  The month long celebration also included celebrating with other fellow Pisces at a fundraiser out of town, a delicious and very hilarious brunch with girlfriends, cupcakes at work, a night of his Purple Majesty (Prince) and the release of the iPad 2(Yeah, that had to be mentioned.  I’m loving mine!!). Although March is gone, there is something that I’ve carried into April that wasn’t even around on the first of March.  What I thought was a gift that I was giving myself  turned out to be a completely different gift all on it’s own.

We all know the saying, “Never say never.” and understand its meaning.  Even though that is a very well known phrase and one that makes complete sense, some of us have things that we without a doubt feel are definite nevers; present company included.  Well in the midst of celebrating I decided to throw caution to the wind and contradict myself.  My gift to myself was the permission to do something I never thought I would and be ok with it. 

With my permission slip signed, I went on my field trip to ‘Never Land’.  Once I arrived onto park grounds, I went to the ticket window where instead of getting a basic general admission ticket, I was handed a VIP pass and told the park was all mine to enjoy.  Having VIP access to just about anything is pretty exciting, but this pass didn’t evoke those feelings of excitement because I had no idea of what to expect with that access.  As a matter of fact, the only thing I walked into the park expecting, was knowing I was going to be walking out of the park with an experience I previously said I would never have. 

So what was said experience like?  Let me put it like this, the ride I actually ended up on, was no where close to the one I thought I stood in line for.  Since I hadn’t been to this amusement park before I tried to keep my expectations low to avoid being disappointed.  Since this was something I said I would never do, eventhough I didn’t know exactly what it would be like, I did assume/expect it to be something that wasn’t toward the top of my list of enjoyable things.  Let alone did I think it would have been something I would possibly do again, which is a big extreme from something I said I would never do. 

Lots of people that visit amusement parks are happy to leave with a ridiculously oversized stuffed animal.  Me, I’m happy with the daily smile and inner glow that came from not only trying something new that was for myself, but also as the result of an outcome that was quite the opposite of my assumptions. 

It was a Facebook status on a friend’s page that made me realize just how special my birthdate is.  My birthdate, March 4th, is the only date in the year that gives us a command/directive….March forth (4th).  So with that, take at least one trip and March 4th into ‘Never Land’; who knows, it might be there that you find your ‘Happily Ever After’. 

*FYI-Mom, Dad and anyone else wondering, no my ‘experience’ wasn’t anything illegal.

Honoring Your Value Even In The Valley Of Darkness

“Every time you suppress some part of yourself or allow others to play you small, you are in essence ignoring the owner’s manual your Creator gave you and destroying your design.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

It has been a little over six months since my last post and I’m so embarrassed considering the premise behind me starting this blog….making time to do at least two things a day for one’s self.  I have failed miserably at my own challenge.  I will admit that I have thought many times since September about writing but quite honestly the only reason why I haven’t written is because I simply didn’t make the time.  In the past week or so my need to write has become one that I couldn’t ignore and will share about in my next post.  But this post stems from what started out as a simple one sentence email.  The simplicity with which that sentence was structured was a language that I personally connected with, one that I have spoken many times before.  It’s what wasn’t said in those 25 words that I understood.  Prior to the email the sender and I would have been classified more as ‘acquaintances’ because we were connected by a common surface thread, with little personal intimacy.  If you were to ask me about them I would have had nothing but favorable things to say, based on our interactions and I’m sure they would have done the same for me (or at least I would hope so :-D). 

In my reply, I responded to what wasn’t being said with my personal truth.  The details in the series of emails that followed I will not share.  However, one similarity we share is in not adequately valuing our worth.  Quite frankly, there were times when we undersold, mis-marketed, degraded, and underappreciated our own selves.  It wasn’t a planned process, more like a potentially fatal side effect of life that many people experience.  Constantly doing for others (children, spouse, family, friends, etc.), trying to satisfy people’s perception of who we are, and trying to only allow people to see the animated G rated version of what was at times a R rated film.  It took being scared of ourselves because of some thought, action or idea, to realize how deep in the valley of darkness we were. 

But what does not appreciating your value look like?  I’m a very visual person and am able to better understand if I can paint a picture, so as my pastor would say, “walk with me for a little while”…..

Imagine you are teleported directly to the inside of a beautiful home.  The interior is well laid out with just the right amount of space you need.  It is decorated in a style that perfectly suits you and more importantly, it is built on a solid foundation.  Of course there are repairs or changes that need to be made because no house is without flaws, but this house is perfect just for you.  So you decide to see what it looks like on the outside and proceed to walk out into the front yard.  From the street, this property has great curb appeal because of its well manicured lawn, flowers and shrubs that nicely accentuate the yard and the brick exterior of the house is architecturally stunning and very inviting.  As you make your way to the backyard you approach a high, closed wooden fence.  On the other side of this fence, the view in the back isn’t as appealing as the inside and front of the property.  There is a swimming pool that only has about a foot of water that has been polluted by dirt, leaves, fallen branches and old sports balls that were never recovered.  The back of the house is covered in siding with patches of mold and scum.  There is an old car that works when it wants to, even after numerous attempts to make repairs.  On the faded, wooden deck sits patio furniture that is discolored from years sitting in the sun and cushions flattened from trying to provide comfort while people sat.  Towards the back of the yard is a rusty old swing set that looks more like the Tower of Pisa.  And in the far left corner sits a tool shed that is full of stuff that hasn’t been opened in years. 

From the front, this property appears to be worth way more than the appraisal value.  Those items in the back significantly bring down the value of the property.  But, to bring up the property value, the solution seems simple; remove the junk, clean the pool, fix the deck and buy new furniture.  But if you are as emotionally depleted as the pool is drained of water, taking on the much needed task to get things back in order seems like an impossible one to achieve.  So you let things continue to accumulate, adding no value or further bringing down the value. 

The image of this property is what our lives looked like if captured in a picture.  The car was something that at one time was very reliable, got us where we needed to go, had all of the bells and whistles we wanted and kept us safe during our travels.  But after unsuccessful attempts to have it fixed, what is the purpose of keeping it?  Is the physical structure what we’re really holding onto, or is it the memories of what once was and holding out hope that what once was, will again someday be?  If the furniture cushions aren’t providing the support you need, why keep them?  Why keep a non-functioning swing set around?  If it isn’t stable or safe, what purpose does it serve for the children?  The mostly empty pool is an emotional reflection of what is left when you are constantly serving as a filter.  In not wanting the dirty to seep through and be seen by others, you are holding onto all of the grime with minimal amounts of water not being filtered through.  And what about the tool shed that has been closed so long that you don’t even remember what’s inside?  What’s the worst thing that could happen if you took a look inside?  You might find something that once use to be a source of great joy, a project that you started to pass down to your children when they got older or the materials needed to clean and fill the pool with water that will soothe your burning skin on those blistering summer days.  Or you might find the shed is full of worthless junk occupying space that could and should be filled with purposeful things that increase your value.

For some people, it’s not what is behind the fence that is bringing down their value.  Sometimes it’s your neighbor(s).  Neighbors aren’t as easy to manage as guests that you allow/invite into your space.  With guests, you can ask them to leave or just not invite them over again.  Since your neighbor is a fixed part of your neighborhood, you can’t always avoid them, but you can limit your interactions to those random encounters or when absolutely necessary.  Everyone isn’t meant to be in your life forever, and that is ok.  During the course of a friendship/relationship, needs and wants may change.  There are times when an ‘inventory’ needs to occur so that you can identify and properly classify those top shelf people in your life down to the daily house specials. 

People pay millions of dollars for materialistic objects that sometimes sit behind glass or on a wall and literally do nothing.  It’s sad that some of us don’t recognize or forget the priceless value for the unique, one of a kind, original that is us.

“If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.” ~ Unknown

What I’ve Learned In 35 Years

My friend, Mariesol, accepted my challenge to do something for herself everyday and then issued the challenge to her friends.  They now text each other daily to share what they’ve done for themselves each day.  Recently Mariesol celebrated her 35th birthday and shared her reflections on the first 35 years of her life.  Below is her list of thirty five things she has learned.  Mariesol, thank you for allowing me to share this. 

What have you learned in your life so far?

Mariesol’s Life Lessons:

 Not sure why this birthday brought some reflection into the last 35 years…maybe because it is 35 ! How did I get here so quickly!? 

So here is what I hold true at 35 years old: 

1. There is a Higher Power. When I listen, I am at peace. When I don’t listen…I pay for it in a BIG way !

2. My family and my parents hold the lessons and the truth that is me. 

3. It is a risk to love, a bigger risk to NOT love.

4. Every person enters my life for a reason. I can tell you something I have learned from all of my friends and family.

5. When romantic love ends or fades, it is respect and admiration that keep people together. Without respect…you may as well just leave.

6. It is ok for friendships to change and evolve. We grow apart, grow back together, then apart again…true friends are never throw away…we just allow the evolution to happen and are at peace with it. No love lost. Not ever.

7. Find what you love before choosing a career.

8. Be good to yourself. It gives other an example on how to treat you.

9. Put yourself 2nd on you list. Put God first.

10. Be able to say “No’ and not feel guilty

11. Be able to say “yes” and not feel obligated.

12. At work, always ask for more money…becasue they are gonna make you work for it anyway !

13. Drink more water than you think you should.

14. Take a nap as often as possible – or just rest. Take a break

15. Mistakes are gonna be made. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just keep moving.

16. Don’t let others judge or label you. That is in their heads…not yours

17. Get your side hustle on…and when you’re ready, turn the side hustle into the full time hustle…if you choose to.

18. Choose peace

19. Learn to be still

20. Be honest with your short comings. Commit to working on you if you want a different outcome

21. Spend your free time with people that allow you to be free. Free to be who you are.

22. Surround yourself with people that have good energy. When the energy is off…get away FAST !

23. Don’t allow someone else’s bad energy to mess yours up

24. It is better to allow another person to be themselves. If you want everyone to agree with you, choose to be alone.

25. Eat food that is good. Don’t over do it but indulge every once in awhile

26. Blast your favorite music on the way to work, dance in the car, in the parking garage…do whatever you need to to start the day off happy.

27. Enjoy outdoors. Nature has a way of getting you closer to God. Be amazed by the ocean, the trees, the rain, the thunder etc

28. The painful parts of life hold a lesson and truth that is revealed to you when you are ready to accept it. That truth is usually about you, not another person.

29. Play and spend more time with your children and family. The work, the laundry, the cleaning up can wait.

30. Choose to forgive. Choose it everyday. Forgive yourself for bad choices. Accept the consequences. Keep it moving…it is just a blip in the movie of your life.

31. If you choose wrong, choose again.

32. Save as much money as you can.

33. Spoil yourself when you can

34. If a person wants to leave you…let them. 

35. Find joy in each day. 

My life is sweet and blessed. I am happy. I choose it. Everyday is not always perfect but still…I am blessed. I thank God for it all, for every person, every experience.