Raise Your Voice

There is a voice, I believe we all possess, that shines a bright spotlight on hidden insecurities and often serves up an unhealthy dose of lies. While sometimes distant, other times it is so loud that it seems impossible to drown the noise. This voice does not discriminate. It spans all educational and socioeconomic levels and could care less how successful you think you are, where you work or live, or who you know. While triggered by seemingly insignificant situations, the power is undeniable and the message is crystal clear - you are not enough!

Trying on clothes and they don't fit, "I am not thin enough". Looking in the mirror and seeing wrinkles, "I am not young enough". Seeing a friend that is better dressed or more polished, "I am not pretty enough". Driving the wrong car or living in the wrong neighborhood, "I am not successful enough". Comparing someone else's life to your own, "I am simply not enough". The truth is that it is so easy to see the surface and make assumptions about people and their situations, we've all done it. However, our perception of people and situations is often a powerful lens that distorts our vision. We judge people we don't know, label them based on our perception, and then punish ourselves because we are not them - a vicious cycle. 

It's time to stop judging ourselves against perfection, it doesn't exist!  Start giving yourself the grace you deserve, you have done the very best you can do. By the way, if you are not gentle with yourself, you are giving others permission to do the same.  I think we spend too much time worrying about loving and protecting others and not nearly enough time focused on loving and protecting ourselves. Loving yourself is not a selfish act, it is a gift you give yourself so you have enough love to share with others. It's time to raise your voice and elevate the message you are delivering to yourself, it will change your life!

You're Not Qualified!

Throughout my career, I have learned that you should never shy away from an opportunity just because you don't meet all of the qualifications. Why, you ask? First, I think it is important to understand your worth and then multiply it by 10. Not for vanity's sake, but because we all tend to minimize our value. Just because you don't have everything on someone else's proverbial "wish list" doesn't mean that you don't have other qualifications that make you even more valuable. Second, I personally struggle with the definition of the word "qualified", in some cases I would argue that everyone has different life experiences, personalities, internal drivers, and educational backgrounds that make some of those "disqualified" people, exceptionally qualified. Finally, I believe the feeling of being qualified is all about perception, and we all know that perception may not always be reality. After all, we can all think of a "qualified" person that ended up being a total train wreck on the job. So, what's my point?

Well, during a recent conversation with a friend, we began talking about our jobs and how I began this business. I could tell you it was a series of coincidences, but I don't believe in luck. As I communicated my passion for this work, I said something I have never said out loud. It was a revelation, of sorts, for me so I thought I would share it with you:

In this life, you have to find something you're good at that brings value to the people you serve and allows you to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. I guess after all of these years and all my degrees (four degrees and a real estate license to be exact), I have come to realize one thing. It's really never something I thought about but, in hindsight, i see it so clearly. I am exceptionally qualified to speak about overcoming guilt and shame because both have been either a close roommate or a neighbor to me the majority of my life. I also know a thing or two about hope and the power it has to change your life and heal your soul in ways you never imagined. I may not have a degree in any of these areas, but I don't need one, because I am absolutely, one hundred percent, qualified. 

The truth is that each of us comes from the school of hard knocks, which makes us uniquely qualified to teach each other lessons that have absolutely nothing to do with our job title or experience. The greatest teachers I've ever met, the ones that have motivated me to do and be better, show up in the most unlikely places and often come from the most diverse backgrounds. After all, I learned the importance of showing up in life from a janitor, not from someone that may have been deemed more "qualified" to teach the subject matter. So, the lesson is this...don't ever discount someone else's qualifications based on what you think you know about them. Their life experiences, or "special sauce", just might make them more qualified than you. 

- Stay Flawesome

I Barely Made It

There have been so many days, throughout my life, I have felt like I barely made it. Whether it was physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, etc., there are things that just feel so heavy it seems impossible to move forward. If we are honest with ourselves, and one another, it is impossible to say anything but...we've ALL been there! You know, those days when you are alone, your mind is playing the soundtrack of all of your inadequacies (on repeat, of course), and you think to yourself...I don't even know how to take the first step out of the miserable place where I am standing. I am alone with my burdens, guilt, and shame and no one cares - I am a failure. Has anyone else purchased this soundtrack? I would venture to say this one has been in the "Top 10" for a very long time!

I can assure you of one thing...these are all lies we tell ourselves. We are not inadequate because we are more than adequate in God's eyes. We are not alone because God is always with us, guiding us in the direction we need to go. And there truly are people who care, but it's up to you to reach out and ask for help. When you don't ask for help, you deny others the beautiful feeling people get when they do something valuable for someone else. I know you know the feeling I am talking about because you have felt it before. Unfortunately, when we take on everything, we solve nothing and when we stay in the darkness, we can't see the light.

So, how do you take that first step? Every day, you have to get up and choose to do something a little different. It's not the big steps that matter, it's an accumulation of all the small steps you take that truly make a lasting difference. Choose to step outside and take a breath of fresh air, choose to be kind to someone that is unkind, choose to forgive someone who has hurt you, choose to call a friend and invite them to dinner, choose to mix up your morning routine, choose a different route to work, choose to take 30 minutes a day for yourself, but most importantly, choose to do something every day that makes you exceptionally uncomfortable. Positive change happens in the most uncomfortable places and those are the places you will find the greatest peace. Just remember...

When you have done everything you can do, that's when God will step in and do what you can't do.  - 2 Corinthians 12:10

- Stay Flawesome

 

 

A Losing Battle

There is no question I have a worded response for just about everything. After all, they don't call me a word nerd for nothing! However, I have learned over time that there is a time and a place for words and a time to remain silent.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I can verbally go toe-to-toe with the best of them! But, in the spirit of not feeding the bears, I am well aware that words have a tendency to poke a hungry bear.  Let me explain...

There once was a time when I felt I needed to respond to everything. When someone said something nasty to or about me behind my back, when someone lied to my face, when someone didn't give me the credit I knew I deserved, when someone betrayed me, etc..I wanted to make certain they knew, that I knew, EXACTLY what they had done. Why? Because no one was permitted to hurt me like that and actually get away with it! I would make certain they knew that I was not as stupid as I apparently looked...at all costs - but little did I know that I was poking the bear. 

You see, there are some people (we all know who they are) who seem to derive tremendous pleasure from pushing your buttons to the point that you feel you need to poke the bear. Let me be clear, I am a still a work-in-progress. However, today I have learned to let it go because I know the bear is only hungry for the fight. When you engage the bear, you give it the power to control you. It is when you finally realize you have nothing to prove, you don't have to be right, and it doesn't matter what people think about you that you are in complete control of yourself and the situation. Besides, intelligent people don't just keep poking a hungry bear!

I have learned that the volume of your fight is directly proportional to your level of self-love. I would even argue that if you feel you have to poke the bear, the bear has already poked you. Silence, on the other hand, offers a sense of inner strength that, while often misconstrued as weakness, is undeniable power. You don't have to respond to everything. As a matter of fact, when you don't, the bear realizes there is no fight and moves on. So, quit poking the bear, you are fighting a losing battle...with yourself.

- Stay Flawesome 

 

My Hustle for Worthiness

Oh ladies, this is such a real thing that I thought it was completely appropriate to make this my first "bear trap" of the new blog series.  I can still remember where my hustle for worthiness began. It was 1992, and I was a single parent. I had just survived a difficult marriage (and divorce), so I guess you could say I wasn't at the top of my self-confidence game. I was attending college full-time and working full-time for my parent's cleaning company to make ends meet. Let me just say, before I go any further, that people who clean houses and office buildings for a living have my upmost respect!

I was cleaning an office, once a week, when I noticed that one of the employees began "hiding" tiny pieces of paper and paper clips in strategic locations just to see if I had swept the floor. To add injury to insult, this woman was just not friendly. It was clearly beneath her to speak to the "hired help" because I never received a response anytime I would greet her. When in her presence, she made me feel small. So, when I showed up for any new cleaning gig, my internal dialogue screamed "you are small", and so the hustle began...

I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do with my life at the time, but I knew I didn't care for being small, so I became a lifetime student, working at least one full-time job, while attending school full-time. I just kept telling myself that if I worked harder than everyone else, earned the grades, and achieved the degrees no one could make me feel small. I eventually earned my Associate, Bachelors, and Masters degrees and I am exceptionally proud of those accomplishments. However, I learned that you can do big things and still feel incredibly small, because happiness really is an inside job. The truth is, that employee never made me feel small, I already felt that way when I walked in the door. I allowed her lack of interaction with me to magnify and validate my own insecurities. And this, my friends, is where the lesson begins...

We do not have to hustle for our worthiness, we were born worthy. I was born for greatness and so were you. Our journey may look quite different, but that is only because we all have different lessons we must learn to arrive where God can use us for His purpose. So, I leave you with a final thought...no matter where people are in their journey, treat everyone as if they are worthy of love and belonging, because they are and you just may be the one to convince them of it!

- Stay Flawesome

Don't Feed the Bears

As we journey through life, there are signs all around us that help guide our actions and protect us from danger.  However, there is one sign I believe to be a metaphor for many life lessons I tend to ignore from time to time, and it reads "Don't Feed the Bears". So, what does this sign have to do with anything? Well, first we have to understand why it is important not to feed the bears. According to the National Park Service, it is important not to feed bears any food outside of their natural diet because they become conditioned to aggressively seek the "unnatural" food. This aggressive behavior is deemed a threat and may, ultimately, lead to their demise. Failure to heed these warnings also creates instinct changes, transforms normal daily habits, and may lead to excessive lethal garbage.  Still no idea where I am going? Let me explain...

As imperfect human beings, we often see the signs, sometimes ignore the signs, and are then forced to pay the consequences of our action or inaction. Although I certainly don't live in the heart of "Bear Country", I will tell you I have not only seen bears, up close and personal, but I have definitely fed them. You see, bears are all around us and I, for one, have definitely landed in my fair share of bear traps. That being said, I would like to share some of the lessons I have learned from feeding the "bears" in my life. Unfortunately, wisdom seems so clear, in hindsight, so I hope you find love, learning, and laughter as you "bear" witness to a few pages of my story.

- Stay Flawesome

Down Memory Lane

Sometimes you have to take a trip down memory lane, not to dwell in the past, but to honor your journey. Over time, it becomes difficult to remember how far you have come. Think back to where you were just 10 years ago, it's not the same place. It is either better or worse, but never the same. It is likely you have endured heartbreak, betrayal, loss, and so many other difficult life struggles, but you have overcome them all to become the person you are today.

Even if your life didn't exactly turn out how you hoped it would, give yourself some credit. You have done the very best you can, given your own unique life circumstances. You have navigated a difficult course and found your way to exactly where you are supposed to be. Don't make the mistake of comparing your journey to someone else's, they have not traveled your path. Instead, take a stroll down memory lane and celebrate all you have accomplished. You deserve it, you really do!

- Stay Flawesome

Hard to Handle

Sometimes, it is just hard to be human. It may seem the entire universe is trying to take you down, one situation at a time. There may be so many things coming at you at once, you can't find the energy to manage them all. Although you do the best you can, it just never seems to be enough. Everyone feels this way sometimes - it is normal. 

When life seems unbearable, remember that the storm will pass. Things often get worse before they get better but, be rest assured, everything will work out and you will be okay.  It may not seem like relief is possible, but it is just around the corner. Have faith, you can handle hard things. Take a deep breath, give yourself a break, and acknowledge this as just one very small chapter in your beautiful story.

- Stay Flawesome

 

Swallow Your Pride

There will be times when your ego will get in the way of mending fences you know need  repaired. Whether you are openly carrying anger and bitterness or silently punishing others for something they did or didn't do, grudges are heavy.  In fact, they are like weighted shackles that keep you standing in a horrible, negative space. They key to removing them is to swallow your pride and forgive those that have hurt you. Forgiveness is for you, not for them. It is hard, but necessary.

It's not about winning or letting people off the hook, it's about freeing your mind so you can focus your attention on things that really matter. What if you decided that grace belongs to everyone, even those you feel don't deserve it? You get a little grace each time you offer it, so maybe it's time to stop the "right fighting", embrace humility, and swallow your pride because the deepest wounds can be healed with the words "I'm sorry". Be the first to extend yourself, it says a lot about your character. Let's start taking better care of one another, we are all struggling.

- Stay Flawesome

    

 

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Tough Love

Love is hard, but tough love is, by far, the most difficult kind of love. It requires you to sit back, while you watch someone, you love dearly, make choices you know will negatively impact their life...but you must stand strong. Unfortunately, everyone must experience darkness before they can cherish light.  Even if you offer them all your wisdom and experience, you will not be able to carry them to the light - they have to want to see it.

It will be tempting to give in to the guilt, because you love them so much, but stay the course. If you really love them, you have to let them meet darkness, on their own terms, so they can grow and learn. Remember, there are only two things that serve as a catalyst for personal change:  inspiration and desperation. Until one of these prerequisites are met, nothing changes. It is a painful process to watch unfold, but personal consequences teach the best lessons. It will be tough, but you are tougher! 

- Stay Flawesome

One Bold Move

There are so many times when life will present you with a more comfortable, convenient option, even though deep in your heart you know it's not the right option. Whether you are staying in a job where you don't feel valued or trapped in a miserable relationship that doesn't make you feel loved - DON't SETTLE!,  Resist the temptation to be comfortable!! You were not designed to be comfortable, you were designed for greatness - and greatness doesn't come from comfort. You become great from the challenges you overcome and your resilience as you navigate uncomfortable situations.

What if the things you hold on to so tight are all the wrong things? What if you took one bold move in a different direction? I know it's scary, but all good things start with something a little uncomfortable and scary. You have the power to move yourself from victim to victor, you just have to take a leap of faith. The signs are all around you, please hear them and know they are real. You know which way to go, it's time. Don't waste your life hoping things will get better, take one bold move and make them better.

- Stay Flawesome

A Conversation "Peace"

The conversations we have with ourselves can be absolutely brutal. It goes a little something like this..."i am ugly", "I am fat", "I am stupid", "I am worthless", and list goes on. While you wouldn't even think about speaking to others like this, somewhere along the way, you gave you permission to wound yourself. Unfortunately, these negative messages influence how you show up, or don't show up, in the world and have the power to keep you isolated and stuck. This is such a vicious cycle because, inevitably, you attract people in your life that support your conversation.

So, how can you change the dialogue? You have to evaluate the part of your story that is hurting you and the lies you are telling yourself about that story. It's not our story that causes us pain, it's the lies we attach to our story that become poison to our soul. You have to start telling yourself the truth!  You may be thinking it is easier to live the lie, but it is so much harder, my friend. You have been at war with yourself for far too long, isn't it time to create a little conversation "peace"?

Let It Go

All the negative things you have been holding on to for so long may be the reason why you are feeling tired and overwhelmed. Carrying those heavy burdens day after day can be so exhausting! Whether it's an old grudge, unhealthy relationship, negative attitude, or a passionless job, it's not too late to let them go. But letting go of things that are not serving you means you have to change something, maybe everything, and change is scary.

But what if you took a leap of faith? What if the very change that scares you the most is the one required to propel your life in a more positive direction? My friend, life is too short. It's time to release your burdens, forgive those that have hurt you, and let go of the unhealthy life patterns that are making you sick. You have ignored the signs all around you, please pay attention to them - they will tell you everything you need to know!  Relinquishing your desire to control everything actually gives you the opportunity to regain control of your life so, whatever it is, just let it go!

 

 

  

You Will Be Okay

You may feel like your situation is hopeless, that things will never get better. I know it is hard to see the light through the darkness - but there is light there. Unfortunately, you have to experience the darkness to grow stronger, more resilient, so that when the light comes you are able to capture its magnificent beauty.

In darkness, there are great lessons that are meant just for you. Hear them, embrace them, and use them to serve others - this is a gift. It may not seem like a gift at the time, but these are the most valuable gifts because they are a part of your story. It often feels like these are the stories you should keep hidden but, once told, allow you to see the light again. So, embrace the story and know that you will be okay!  

Saving Grace

There are so many people in the world who long for a little grace, but you might not recognize them right away. Some are outwardly bitter and angry, while others are inwardly suffering from a quiet desperation. You may be thinking, if I don't know who needs grace, then who should I give it to? The answer is everyone - absolutely everyone deserves grace.

I know it can be difficult to show some people grace because they have hurt us.  It is easy to judge their behavior and distance yourself from them but, be rest assured, they have an untold story. And if they had the courage to tell you their story, I know you would offer them grace. It's time to start offering people a lifetime grace card because you don't understand their burdens.  After all, we shouldn't be saving grace, we should be freely giving it.

A Leap of Faith

The pain you are experiencing in life may seem like it is much too great to bear in this moment. In fact, you may be thinking that everyone around you just must be a little better at this "life" thing. That is not the truth! The pain and hurt are there to give you strength and direction so you can find joy again. But if you sit too long in your pain, you will begin to feel like you are not enough or that you deserve your pain.

You are loved, you are valuable, and you are definitely enough! Just because you are hurting today does not mean that it will last forever. Let your pain guide you to do something different, more meaningful and, before you know it, the pain will slowly start to disappear and joy will take its place. Trust me, amazing things can happen if you are just willing to take a leap of faith!   

 - Stay Flawesome!

 

Up In The Air

Is there a decision you need to make today? What is holding you back from making it? When we avoid making decisions, that is a decision. Unfortunately, a decision means we have to change or let go of something we value. Self-doubt and fear take over and we think that if we just avoid the decision long enough, it will go away. Instead, it consumes our thoughts and keeps us from moving forward - but it does not go away.

We all make good and bad decisions, but what if the decision you are about to make is the best one you have ever made? What if it is exactly what you need in your life right now? The beauty of decision-making is that you have the power to make a different one every day. If you don't like the one you made, you can make a different one - decisions are not permanent. You see, it's never too late to change the course of your life. So, what are you waiting for? A new chapter awaits you, if only you decide to let it!

Stay Flawesome!

Show Up

It is so important to show up and be present in the world because you were born to connect and serve others. Sometimes it is really hard to show up because life has worn you down. I know you may be discouraged, tired, depressed, anxious, or feel like you don't have anything to give to the world, but when you show up magical things happen. You never know who you will encounter, who may need your help, or what opportunities await unless you show up.

It's time to get out of the house and get connected to yourself, family, friends, nature, and your community. Turn off the TV and give your technology a rest for a bit, you will be happy you did. Always remember, when you make the decision to show up just as you are, you give others permission to show up too, just as they are. And who knows, you may be the only reason someone else has the courage to show up tomorrow! 

Stay Flawesome!