Friday, October 22, 2010

Safe in HIS arms

More and more I'm feeling the effects of backlog as so much powerful awareness is coming to me. Yet, I've not been able to find the ‘portal of peace' that allows the release of these thoughts to flow out in writing. Tonight I’ve decided whether it’s a place that’s comfortable or not, I GET TO write in the room I wrote many a night as we waited for Jonnae to take her last breath. This house is smothering me. My family seems to be fine and quite content, but I feel like superman would have if imprisoned with cryptonite.

The best way I can describe where I currently find myself is once again a daughter in the lap of her Father. Only this time I’m a child who's so emotional I cry at the drop of a hat; so tired I can’t seem to accomplish the simplest task.

For a while I thought I was coming down with something. In order to be considered an official volunteer with no need for a hospital escort for Wacky Wednesday, I GOT TO get vaccinated with MMR because one the titers evidently wasn’t strong enough for their liking. I don’t have much faith in our medicinal precautions. I wouldn’t have gotten the shot were not for my want to be able to visit the kids and this would keep me from getting permission to do so. I thought the physical fatigue could be the side effects they warned of. I don’t think that’s the case however. Although I feel completely unlike myself and frustrated as a result, I do know what it is. It's fatigue. Complete and total exhaustion, mind, body, and soul.

I've heard the spiritual guidance suggesting it's time to rest, to allow solutions to arise and trust help will come. Yet, I've continued to seek, work, and wear myself out. As a result of not listening to my wiser self, the weaker self has the ball in her court. Just as the sports ad states, I believe life is a game of you vs you. I have been so distracted by the dollar and where the next one will come from, I've been giving away my joy and power to create fulfilled days.

As soon as I had resolved to listen to the voice of reason and rest, the distraction known as financial instability screamed louder, "Not gonna happen." My husband was hospitalized for stroke symptoms. After every test in the book, the only explanation the doctors had was stress. As a result my children want to know when I'm going to help relieve the family’s stress, stop chasing a dream of passion and purpose and get a "real job." I understand their questions, concerns, and thinking. However, I refuse to sign up for a life of dragging myself to a job I don't enjoy, away from what I know is my calling, with no say of whether or not I'm surrounding myself with positive spiritual people, for the sake of receiving a consistent paycheck.

It's become apparent there is no 'normal' life for me to experience anymore and for that I am truly MOST grateful. If I could, I wouldn't have Jonnae come back if it meant going back to the person I was. She wouldn't want different than what is for me or for her.

There is so much in the way of reconstruction and reentry into life after releasing a child into Heaven. The most difficult being I feel like I'm conscious in an unconscious world.

How was it with a daughter fighting for her life, just the two of us quarantined in a hotel suite for a month of waiting, I experienced heaven on earth? I can tell you how it was. We were shown love and support from a community that wanted to give us peace however they could. There was no worry of how bills would get paid because of them. We could watch movies, create art, and enjoy the gift of simply being together for the time we had. There was no one attacking us with their opinions of what we should or shouldn’t be doing. There was simply time and filling it with love of one another and God.

Watching her suffer, unable to imagine what life would be like without her, my heart was breaking, yet life was miraculously beautiful. Now, even though my heart is forever broken, still, I know I can live a peaceful, joyfilled life. I've already lived it to know it's possible. God's placed this dream on my heart to speak and write and discerned many times His wants for and from me. Most of the time I'm really excited about what I believe is to come and I'm content if it doesn't.

Then there are times like this, where I'm struggling with everything. I don't require much to be happy, energetic, and excited about this gift called life. I can clearly see the vision and don’t mind that it’s going to take a lot of perseverance to get there. If I were just able to stay with my eyes on God and not get distracted by financial insecurity and the “normal living” of the world.

As much as I want to keep God in my sight and share words written and spoken with people anxious to be at God's banquet with me, I have a family with needs that I'm not contributing to when it comes to income and finances. Without the team I dream of having to direct, support, and experience this 'ride' with me, no full schedule of events to speak at, no sacred space to escape to for writing, I'm experiencing long lonely days in a quiet home that we are blessed to have, yet most painful memories of a life no longer here loom in every room. I go to sleep remembering shared heart wrenching conversations I had with my ‘mini me’ while she lay in my bed and where I woke to find her peaceful face and lifeless body. I eat where she cooked food for her baby (her dog Sassy..and yes I did say she cooked for her) and where she loved to paint fingernails. (mine and hers) The family room is where she sat lifelessly while my mother massaged her feet; where she mumbled and groaned as her platelets dropped and blood clotted in her nose and mouth. Lydia moved into Jonnae’s room, yet I can’t share time with her in there without recalling all the time I shared with her sister. These are natural emotions, memories, and challenges, yet I know as long as I’m in this house, I’m bound to them.

Where does the help come from? When do the dreams seem within reach? Where does the motivation come from for me to do what's necessary to feel like myself again? I know If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me. I know this is a season that will pass. It's a season like several I've already lived through and will survive again. God is my strength and He’s never failed me.

I am a bit surprised, and a bit aggravated, that it's a season that’s come now. Winter is the month I have a tendency to feel ‘dead’, not fall. If I’m feeling like this now, what do I GET TO do to keep me from dragging it out through the real ‘gray season?’ I’m sick of days being like sand through the hour glass. (Oh brother, really? I’m going to use the opening of a daytime soap opera? I decided to lighten it up and inject some humor :D) Seriously, if not for Ellen Degeneres and America’s Funny Home videos I’d be in much worse shape. Laughter is the best medicine! I may have dropped some of the habits that better serve me, but I will never stop turning to humor as my knot on the end of the rope to get me climbing out of the pit. Humor and the Love of God, two things that are never out of my grasp. I may be tired, but I’m safe in His arms!

Monday, September 20, 2010

If You Want to You Will!

It's been a year since the backslide of my physical shape began. Seriously??? I thought I'd never be here again. Recently I've become aware of several cycles that do not lend themselves to my living in peace or joy. Yet I managed to fall back into them.

Not choosing to nourish my body with the best food for it, is one bad habit I fell back into. I've been aware of this cycle for some time. A more debilitating habit that I've not been conscious of, is the limiting belief that I need to prove my value to others. This is spiritual junk food I refuse to put on my plate, now that I realize I've been binging on it with a side of "Will I ever be good enough?" This is the cycle that is my achilles heel.

In my quest to make my passion, my life's work, I managed to pick the weight back up that I thought I'd left forever. The consequence of ingesting physical and spiritual junk food. No more! As the song says, "Change is a comin'!"

In a recent publication of Success Magazine, Magic Johnson shared one of his tips for success, "I learned to work with my strengths and manage my weaknesses." It's not that difficult a concept to embrace. Not for me anyway. I acquired a multitude of insights through Jonnae's battle with Leuk. It's gratitude for all of those gifts that keep me from being consumed with sorrow. One of the most valuable of those gifts being I am more than good enough as I am. Trust me, that's not my ego talking. That's simply a light God chose to shine on me in a time of darkness; could very well be the only way I was going to absorb that truth. Crazy as it sounds, confined to the walls of my teenage daughter's hospital room, I'd never felt more free. The people pleasing chains fell and the weight of not being good enough was shed.

I live life much lighter when I'm allowing my strengths to fuel my ride; being myself naturally. Not when I'm pushing a cart of my weaknesses uphill in a heavy vehicle that's not me.

No longer am I resorting to quick food that's not healthy. My healthy habits have been taken off the shelf and reactivated. It's only been one week and I'm feeling the benefits of clean eating. I'm not expecting overnight instant gratification. I've been down this road before and know that long term results come with time.

The charge of a new vision board with words my husband spoke to me about a week ago (hence my enlightenment, "Thank you babe!") "If you WANT to YOU WILL... " keep me motivated; fueling my momentum in the right direction. I was recently complaining about something...yes I'm human and do fall into that tricky lil habit occassionally, lol...It was likely a statement about not fitting into my clothes or not finding a literary agent or publisher. My husband's response..."Do something about it then!" I squealed my reply, "I'm trying!" He shocked me into a powerful truth when he said, "No you're not. I know you. If you want to you will and nothing will stand in your way."

No longer am I willing to make poor choices while living unconscious. No longer will I exhaust myself while subconsciously trying to transform a weakness into a strength. I've reawakened and will go with the strengths God chose to give me. That's when I live my happiest life - the life I'm intended to live - when I stop fighting the weakness, go with the strength, and appreciate who God's created in me.

My visionboard says, "If you WANT to YOU WILL...."
Live the dream,
Whatever your 100% looks like, give it NOW,
Stop at NOTHING,
Trust your instincts,
Play BIG,
Give thanks!
Keep the creativity alive,
Become one of America's Best Selling Authors
Live Happily ever NOW
Create the body you REALLY want
Play longer,
Plan FUN
and include pics that represent dreams (Ellen getting Wacky on Wednesdays :D

What's your dream? Fill in the blank, "If you WANT to YOU WILL..."
and JUST DO IT!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Of this I AM SURE!

Once again... I thought I knew something for sure and I was wrong. I used to choke down the humble pie when I was served a good size piece of it. Now, even though I'd rather enjoy something different, I savor it. I just read tonight, "Knowledge is power. Enthusiasm is the switch that turns it on." I am not enthusiastic when I'm wrong, but I am enthusiastic about the growth that comes from the lesson in it.

I would never change the way I'm able to see, hear, love, or live as a result of what Jonnae and her life taught me. I only wish I could find a way to share the gifts without others going through the pain to acquire it. I believe it's possible. I GET TO keep seeking knowledge and activating the enthusiasm until I figure it out.

It's going to take planning, focus, and discipline. Something I had through what had been the most difficult, painful trial ever...until she was gone. Having made it through life's obstacle course and Jonnae's leukemia battle with a plan, focus, and discipline so strongly in tact, I was sure I'd choose to activate them always. That's where I was wrong. I let go/lost them for a time.

In the course of the last two years I've talked about my new found motivation and commitment to plan and focus with vigor, only to have them dissolve again. I've been able to hold on to them no better than I could a handful of sand. So I'm not going to announce "I'm back." Rather, I'm going to announce I've not given up. I'm still at it. And in the process, I'm still learning. That will always be the case and that's quite okay.

The good news...I can sense a new supply of motivation increasing. What worked to motivate me before won't work anymore. Surprisingly... that's more good news. Now, to follow the motivation up with action...

I used to be so motivated by competition. I was extremely EXTREMELY competitive and it was easy to follow that with action. What I've been blessed to realize is... my deep desire to win stemmed from a desperate need to be appreciated, validated, and loved. I felt overlooked, invisible, and as a result felt the need to prove my worth. That's been forever changed.

I spent the better part of three years in a hospital room, or our home, cut off from the world. Due to her low immunity, there was a huge chunk of time that Jonnae could not have visitors. For a time, even for me to leave the hospital or house to visit others was too high risk. The experience was life changing in so many ways, but the one I'm focusing on (good practice for me here, lol) is I'm no longer desperately seeking validation, appreciation, or love. Those things are nice when provided from others, but I found an endless supply, available whenever I want to tap into it, within me. It's not an ego thing, it's a God thing. When you are all alone with yourself, to face fear, heartbreak, disappointment, and exhaustion on every account, you find a way to nurture, love, appreciate, and understand yourself on a level impossible to experience any other way. Only I know what I've endured. I've proven myself to the one on earth who's opinion mattered most. Me! And to God, well He doesn't need me to prove anything. Incredibly liberating. :)

Not a day goes by that I don't miss Jonnae's physical presence. What I shared with her was unimaginable, indescribable, and irreplaceable. Emotional waves catch me off guard often. However, I've become a master dancer in the rain. Even the storms are beautiful through my eyes. In a wild, amazing, quite miraculous way, I enjoy life on every level in a way I wouldn't have without the experience being just as it's been.

There is much awaiting me, in this life and the next! Of these things I AM SURE! The lessons will continue. I will never give up! and the best is yet to come!

By the grace of God...Better every day in every way!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Awareness Acquired at the Airport

I'm sitting at the Birmingham airport, during my 3 hour layover, on my way to the EWN International Conference in Dallas. Airports are the "Gold's gym" for the gratitude muscle workout. It's guaranteed I'm going to witness angry, impatient, or overwhelmed passengers in need of the We GET To message. Today was no exception.

I was at the computer station near the customer service desk when a mother in tears, who had been asked to deboard a plane with her two small children, was accompanied by the stewardess to a computer to see when her next flight option was. I'm not sure what happened, but I overheard the young mother calling the flight attendant, from the plane, a bitch. I knew this frustrated mother was the perfect candidate for an I GET TO bracelet but I'm never completely confident that what I have to offer will be embraced. As is the case when presented with this type scenario, I GET TO risk the rejection, buck up, and deliver the message.

She turned as she felt my approach, began to cry more, and allowed me to give her a hug before I spoke. She said, "I'm just overwhelmed." I shook my head and let her know I understood. Then I shared with her that there was a time when I would have been overwhelmed by the 'test' also. I too was once a young mother overwhelmed by the trials and energy required in being the caretaker of precious, precocious, small miraculous beings. However, I hoped by offering her the awareness I now have, of mothers being overwhelmed with the news of a child's illness or passing today, that this wouldn't be considered such a bad place to be. Maybe she would no longer be overwhelmed given my share. I'm not sure it helped her as I'd hoped, but I GET TO let go and let God water the seed I planted for Him. A valuable lesson in surrender that I still GET TO practice.

I haven't been doing all that well at the surrender thing lately. I submitted a video for Oprah's search and even though I felt strongly whether or not the video was selected, it was still a winning experience, I quickly picked up the rope for another exhausting tug of war. Dreaming and releasing. Hoping and releasing. Discouraged and releasing. Disappointed and releasing. I wore myself plum out. Getting all worked up about outcomes isn't the way to peace. Sometimes it's hard for me to believe I still GET TO struggle with that when I let go and found peace through the most disappointing of all outcomes - a child not healed from leukemia. (I started to say a child lost to leukemia, but I don't see it as us having lost her as much as Heaven having gained her)

I'm now about to board the plane destined for Dallas, TX and experience a weekend get away. I wasn't sure if it was coming at the best time or worst time. I've compared myself this week to my pregnant, hormonal days- tired and emotional beyond explanation. However, I feel myself able to reclaim my power and am ready to inspire and be inspired. Letting God water the seeds that I've been created to plant.

By the grace of God; better and better, every day in every way,

Monday, July 5, 2010

What Are You Saying?

Over the course of the last 5 years I've come to realize how the words I speak affect my life; they can subconsciously drain me of power or if I choose to be aware if them, give me strength. I choose the latter. I've become aware of what I'm saying and it's made all the difference!

Words to eliminate and their replacements:

1) Get rid of "can't"

Can't means 'I don't want to,' plain and simple. I learned this most effectively from Julie Whitt; a young woman determined to qualify herself for a lung transplant by pushing herself through strength building exercises. As she used coin rolls for upper body workouts and remained hooked up to her oxygen tank for long walks and low intensity workouts, she showed us with her actions, "Where there's a will, there's a way." She could have easily said, "I can't. The mountain is too high; the obstacles too many." But in that sweet southern accent she would say, "Can't means don't want to."

2) Get rid of "wanna" (want to)

I was in Florida getting ready to do a triathlon for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. Jonnae was back home in the hospital going through aggressive chemo to condition for her bone marrow transplant. I called to report to what time I would be starting in the morning and said, "I wanna finish in 3 hours and 45 minutes." She said, "MOM?... You wanna or your gonna?" WOW! I think that was my "aha moment" for experiencing the power one word can give. As soon as I stood corrected and said, "I'm gonna finish in 3 hours and 45 minutes" I felt the surge of conviction and the gift of self empowerment. I knew without question I would indeed reach my goal. It was incredible. Like I had stepped into Superman's phone booth and exited with super human strength. :0)

3) Get rid of "have to"

I was watching a Joel Osteen service one Sunday and was intrigued when he suggested replacing "have to" with "get to." I remember coming home and telling Jonnae about it. We both agreed it made sense. Weeks later, she was getting sick in the bathroom from chemo and began to cry tears as she said, "I hate this." I answered with, "I believe we GET TO have chemo and should be grateful," I thought what the heck am I saying and why I am I saying it now? However, following this 'divine counsel' we found ourselves again experiencing a miraculous, super human transformation from the power of one word. Realizing we have a diagnosis and have a hope for a cure when others do not...We GET to have chemo. We have insurance, so many can't afford the care they need...We GET to have chemo. We have a children's hospital 15 minutes from our home, some drive hours to get to it, some in foreign countries don't have that option at all, we GET to have chemo. Even when we were preparing her funeral, as I kept hearing in my head, "I have to bury my daughter" I asked God to help me find a GET TO. Instantly I heard an voice within say, "You don't HAVE TO bury her body. You GET TO release her spirit into my loving care. And you GET TO, because you got to be her mother." Again...a miraculous shift from victim to victor occurred.

4) Get rid of "busy"

I recall having a conversation with my dear friend Rena Reese, founder of 'Soul Salon International' and stating how busy I had been. She shared with ne how she had chosen to eliminate that word. I think she may have even asked me what I thought that word implied. Upon reflection, I realized it sounded like I was making an excuse or complaining. Most of the time we're complaining or suggesting we are burdened by all the things we GET TO do when we use the word busy. I have replaced it with 'actively engaged in life' (but active would suffice.) If we are 'busy' it means we are healthy, able to think, act, react, and move. It means we are ALIVE. That's a great thing! I want to think about that as I convey to another that I GET TO do so many wonderful things as I succeed in accomplishing many tasks in a day or week's time.

5) Stop "spending"

If you say you are spending time, money, or energy what are you saying? The definition of spend is to expend, wear out, exhaust, or use up. Does that convey something positive? Wouldn't invest be a better word to use? If we ask I spending or investing, which would be more empowering? So I pose myself this question...."Do I feel like I'm spending or investing?" If I am simply exhausting myself through using up time, money, or energy maybe I need to reconsider my actions. If I feel like I'm investing, I feel much better about the choices I GET TO make. After all, life is about choices. We have much more power than we acknowledge. We can choose to make excuses and be the victim or we can choose to take ownership, empower, and be the victor. The consciousness that comes with the choice of one word makes all the difference.

Consciousness is what transforms the victim to victor. Being aware of the word's we speak and taking ownership of power we've subconsciously been giving away makes for an incredible shift. Here's to being victorious together!

With Gratitude Always,

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tough Love

This is the first time in three years that two months separate blog entries. Along with nearly every other good thing I had built into my routine, writing fell to the wayside. I don't know that I'll ever stop the inner dialogue that's constantly asking the analytical questions, (not sure I even wish to) but just in this brief time I've been writing this blog, I've experienced sought for clarity.

The unrest that I've been experiencing for the last year/year a half began when I stopped doing what was working best for me. What I had developed as the framework from which I built my BEST days, I have not been utilizing. No framework results in breaking down, not building up. However, in knowing everything holds within it something good, once the tearing down has stopped, the building back up can often produce something better. That's the thought I will embrace.

I hear often that I'm too hard on myself. I've never believed it and with this new found clarity I'm fairly certain I may never align myself with that way of thinking. As a matter of fact, I've decided I'm grateful that I am as good at tough love with myself as I am with everyone else. Because that's all that being hard on myself is...tough love.

In her weaker moments (there weren't many) Jonnae sometimes said with tears, "This is so hard!" My immediate response was, "It's hard but it's doable." I didn't let her succumb to fear of needles or unrest about being put to sleep. I got in her face and repeated what she needed to do until she did it. No doubt about it, I was really tough on her. It was tough love that led both her and I through the leukemia battle with relentless focus, determination, and strength. Why would I stop being hard on myself when it's that toughness that was a large part of the journey being what it was. Why would I not hold myself accountable now like I did then?

That being said, there's a fine balance of knowing when to let up and not letting up for too long. The consequence of error in not knowing when to let up, you end up not just falling, but your layed out on the ground. If the problem is a result of you letting up for too long, you lose the momentum you had going, you lose ground, and it takes much longer just to get back where you were. The reality is. I didn't know when to let up AND in being easier on myself I let up for a long time. Ruh roh! I experienced a double whammy. However, exhausting or not, in me there is no quitting. A gift born of all the adversity in my life that strengthened my resolve and character. I have a strong "I WILL NOT QUIT" muscle.

If you've been following my blog over the course of this year, you know I've been talking a good game, but the scoreboard doesn't quite reflect I've held the lead for more than a week. It's time for the tough love to be activated full gear. The only way I'll obtain the ever so important balance I crave and need, is to create a solid plan and stick to it, no excuses. I GET TO get to it!

With Gratitude Always,

Monday, March 29, 2010

Charged and Ready to ROLL

In my last blog “The Climb,” I referred to a time in my life when I worked with a personal trainer to obtain my best physical body. God is now my personal trainer- working in, on, and through me to build my best spiritual body. Once again, I’ve become aware of some incredible analogies.

When we train with weights, we are actually tearing the muscle down. The recovery that follows builds it into something stronger. Life throws us some pretty intense work outs. It tears us down, but in the end, can build us into someone stronger . Just as with a workout in the gym, the more we ‘show up‘ and apply ourselves with focus, intensity to push through the pain, and a continual reach toward becoming stronger, the more strength we create, the better our results, and the better our life experience.

There is a type of work out called “working the muscle to failure”. The idea here is to do a set of an exercise until you have nothing left. You reach a point of burnout where you “fail” even if you try to do a single rep.

Sometimes we are pushed to “failure” by our Heavenly Trainer. “When we are down to nothing, He is up to something.” It’s extremely important to focus, push through the pain, and trust we are being built into something stronger….better.

My trainer would sometimes set the weight on a machine or hand me a large dumbell, to which I would look at him like he was insane. He would help me with the initial push it took to get me going, I would amaze myself with the strength I had on my own and continue to push through until I hit “failure” All the while, my trainer would be there to “spot” me. His presence was assuring and I knew he wouldn’t let me injure myself. God does the same. He may start us down a path that we think is too difficult for us to navigate, but if we tap into the power we have within, we can amaze ourselves at how far we can go. We may even “fail” along the way, but Our Father is always there to “spot” us. Recovery may be longer than we’d like, but if we trust the process, the experience will result in us having a stronger body - could be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. The formula for the workout is all the same.

Mother Nature gifted us with a week of sunshine. Father God gifted me with a week of SONshine. The dulldrums my eyes experienced as they looked out the window of our home or my car through the winter, have been replaced with Spring’s colorful images and signs of new life. As my spiritual eyes gaze through the window of my soul, they are dancing as they witness the signs of new life, evident in so many ways.

A metaphor presented itself to me early in the week that gave me clarity about the dreary, frustrating season I was stuck in for so long. A car is stuck and can‘t go anywhere if the battery goes dead. It’s dangerous to allow the positive handle to touch a negative one when you try to get a jump start and you certainly won’t get the results you want, if you’re hooking your cables up to the wrong source of energy.

My battery went dead because it was hooked to a negative source. Even after I detached myself from it, I kept “crossing” paths with it.

Once the battery has been successfully charging, the engine will sound like it’s about to turn over. If too anxious to get the car running and to your destination, you can flood the engine by trying to give it gas too soon. I was doing the same. Even after I plugged into the right source, I was not giving my spiritual battery enough time to recharge before trying to drive on into the future. I did not sit idle with patience or be gentle in giving the gas. The false starts frustrated me to no end. Instead of letting off and giving the battery time to charge, I kept putting the pedal to the metal.

I can now see with great clarity how conscious I need to be of steering away from the wrong source and utilizing the right one. I can also see if I get the handles crossed, how important it is to allow the battery to recover.

It’s important to realize energy requires positive with negative. It’s simply a matter of paying attention to what is what and using it the right way. I thought it interesting that the cross is actually made up of the positive and negative symbols. The crucifixion itself was negative, but the result very positive. That's a new awareness that initiates a WOW from me!

Spring is here. With it’s new life it brings a fully charged spirit. With a fully charged battery, God‘s also given me a full tank of spiritual fuel. My engine is purring like a kitten. When God gives me the green light, no longer stuck, I’m ready to ROLL.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Climb

What time in your life were words so profound that you needed to sit down just to allow yourself to absorb the power of them? Not because of the words themselves, but by what the underlying meaning of them was. I wouldn’t be able to answer that question easily myself, for I could write an entire book of incredible examples. I’m about to share with you one such experience.

Although I feel like I’m about to resurrect into a brighter season, one full of Light and Sonshine, days are still a bit more gray than I’d like. I’m blessed with periods of empowerment and signs of beautiful growth, but what I see when I look through my spiritual window isn’t as beautiful as what I know is on it’s way.

When Jonnae was diagnosed with leukemia in 2005, I had been working with a personal trainer to prepare for a figure competition (a feminine class of body building). When first hit with the news of her illness, I was ready to drop the goal of building my best body, but quickly I realized that would be quitting…..letting go. Something I didn’t want Jonnae to do, so I used what I concluded was an opportunity to lead her.

I woke up at whatever hour necessary to get my workouts in. If that meant rising at 4:30am and working out in the stairwell of the hospital so I didn’t miss the doctors when they came in for their morning round, that’s exactly what I did. At the time, it was the hardest thing I had ever done. For a mom who lost herself in food every time she was confronted with stress or overwhelmed by emotion, to choose a hard road instead of an easy one, was extremely difficult. I saw the extreme challenge and what seemed like an impossible goal, as THE best way to inspire my daughter to do the same. In extremely different ways, we were both fighting for our lives.

Life continually reveals there’s so much more to learn in the experiences we are having than the obvious. I didn’t just learn how much better my body feels when it’s nourished the right way and active rather than dormant. I learned what victory feels like when it‘s taken literally everything within me to obtain it. I learned EVERY stumbling block can be transformed into a stepping stone if we choose to use it as such.

This morning, I was thinking about a conversation my husband Johnny and I had yesterday. With tears I told him how exhausted I am from climbing mountains. It seems everything requires me to dig deep and ‘climb‘. Where I used to climb with such strength, grace, and even speed, I find now I slip and maybe even lose ground rather than gain it. Things that were easy and once second nature, I struggle with anymore.

I sat down to write about it this morning and had a flash back to when my time was through with my personal trainer; not a very spiritual guy and certainly not one I would predict would be prophetic with his words. But I just recalled what he said to me and have absorbed the power of those words he spoke. He said, “So what’s next for you? You’ve done just about every sport there is.”

I answered him with an “I don‘t know. I definitely need to find something new to challenge me.”

To which he responded, “You have a really strong back. I was watching this rock climber the other day. It was incredible. She was climbing up the side of this huge mountain and I thought, ‘I could totally see Denise doing that. You would be great at it.”

So here I am five years later, hanging on to the ledge of a mountain I never thought I‘d be climbing. Exhausted, but working new muscles and trying to strengthen the ones I have. I haven’t climbed this last stretch with the strength and confidence I know is within me, but those will return. The top of the mountain isn’t within sight, but the view is changing…..and with it I know my strength will return also. I can see the climb becoming more enjoyable. Not necessarily easy, but one I’m up for. I have a strong back, as well as strong legs. God has blessed me with what I need to be a rock climber. My trainer saw it in me, God knows it’s in me, and I’m realizing more and more that I can and will continue to climb. Some day I’ll reach the peak and the celebration and reward will be better than anything I could fathom.

Better every day in every way,

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit (The Beatitudes #1) by loswl.

This weekend I was scheduled to speak during a breakout session at a young adult conference hosted by the local deanery of the Catholic church. I've been stuck for quite some time now, not able to maintain my mojo or groove for more than a couple of days at most (not where I like, or am used to being) I've been forgiving and forthcoming in understanding how this slump could have happened, but have struggles with why it's taking so long to get out of this rut.

I knew this spiritual retreat was going to be a different kind of event for me, for as timing would have it, I've never not been in my groove when the opportunity to inspire through a scheduled talk has presented itself. I didn't know what to expect, but moved forward in faith, expecting a God hug or two to be tucked into the experience. I was not disappointed, as a course of occurances and continued awareness have partially removed what's been blocking the consistant flow of positive energy. Again....I'll do my best to not lose you in my share and rambling of the gifts of God's grace I've experienced over the course of the last two days.

First, there were seven presenters for the breakout session of this first retreat of it's kind at St Augustine. (maybe 20) As the low number turnout was dispersed rather evenly amongst us presenters, I had two who sat in on my presentation. Afterwards, I followed the group into church for a presentation from the keynote speaker, Val Limar Jansen. I was grateful as I felt the healing power of the Holy Spirit move through me as she sang and spoke great words of wisdom and love that seemed directed specifically to me. The tears flowed and I felt the embrace of God holding me and comforting me.

As we sang The Servant Song, I knew, without a doubt, healing was happening. I could FEEL it as we were asked to partner with the person standing next to us and sing the words of the first verse,

Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you?
Pray that I might have the grace to let you be my servant, too.

My soul was bittersweet as it rejoiced in the fact that I would forever be a servant to God's people, looking to Christ as my example yet I was being humbled by the fact that I too need the healing that comes from being served.

We grabbed the person on our other side to be our partner for the second verse. We were to stand shoulder to shoulder as we sung with our partner:

We are pilgrims on a journey, we are trav’lers on the road.
We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.

My spirit was being lifted as only God can do with His Word and miraculous timing. As I was singing "help each other walk the mile and bear the load" I was thinking of Simeon bearing the load of the cross for Jesus. I've been praying for a Simeon. I need help on this journey. I'm tired and don't know when that help will come, but as we tipped our heads to one another before finding our new partner for the next verse, my new friend had tears in her eyes and she said, "I don't know what just happened, but must tell you you have the most beautful spirit". I can only imagine it was the Holy Spirit, healing her as it was healing me. And we looked for a third partner and sang:

I will weep when you are weeping, when you laugh I'll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow till we've seen this journey through.

Val Limar asked us to share with that last partner, a single prayer request. Mine simply said he prays for more people to pray the rosary. I promised him I would do as Jonnae and I did exactly two years ago and pray the Rosary daily for the remainder of Lent. I asked him to pray for my peace, for I'm tired of being weary and unable to find contentment with God's plan over my expectations. I want my daily commitment to God to be as a blank piece of paper. No limitations, conditions, or expectations, just my complete surrender to do my best at WHATEVER God's plan is for me EVERYDAY!

Val Limar's voice truly is that of an angel. After a skit she did about Mary and Martha serving Jesus and what he had to say about his body, being the "poor". She sang "The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor". Again, I could not contain my tears. My spirit has been running low and God has heard my cry. He knows, that NO MATTER WHAT, low tank or high tank, good times and bad, I will not cease in praising His name. He will not cease in wrapping me up in His sweet love. He is the ultimate healer, I came home feeling renewal of Spirit.

No coincidence that the next morning I went to the gym for some cardio and the movie "Love Happens" was playing at our gym's cardio theater. I had just asked the two who attended my breakout session the day before if they had seen this very movie, for it was perfect in helping me communicate a few thoughts. (Lydia and I watched it a few weeks ago and although it was no block buster, the main character of the movie and I had a lot in common. He had lost a loved one (his wife) and had written a book about his experience. As a result, he was a highly sought after inspirational speaker (the book we have in common. I dream of inspiring masses of people through the share of my story, falls as well as victories, but it's the expectation of how I thought it would happen that's robbing me of my joy. That's why the visual of the blank piece of paper is so strong for me. I want to serve without getting hung up on what I thought would happen and what is) But one thing that I told Lydia and I knew God was reiterating to me, is that I never want to present myself as someone that I am not. This character in the movie was running out to greet his audiences with fake enthusiasm. (He was himself struggling, depressed, and trying to numb the pain with alcohol before he headed out to inspire) Over the course of the last year and a half, I've been hurt personally by someone who portrays himself to be loving and good, when in reality he is not. Through the pain of that experience, God has made it blatantly clear, He does not want me to become a hypocrite. I'm to ever mindful of my weaknesses as well as my strengths. My truths are to be shared, not camaflouged with a fake persona. God has used that personal pain to show me what not to become and now in this movie He was reminding me again.

I brought the movie up the previous day, to share with my group, although I'm an inspirational author and speaker and normally am full of spirit to be the 'lifter', honestly I was not feeling like the lifter this particular morning. I used the movie as an icebreaker to share that truth. I believe being transparent and honest is the key to true inspiration. None of us need put on masks or act our way through life. We need to hear each others stories, enriched by victory, but strengthened because of the battles.

I was only going to do a half hour of cardio, but I knew that movie was playing for me. I knew that there must have been somthing I missed the first time, that I would see this time, or something that I needed to hear again. I was right.

I hopped on a machine and watched eagerly and listened intentively. Within minutes I was watching a group session on the big screen. Some of the attendees of this seminar were in a circle and the focus was on a father who had lost his son in a tragic accident. He had suppressed his anger and was letting it out as a result of the main characters prompting him. The awareness that release needs to happen in order to move forward is important and took note of that yet again, for I've been mindful of making sure that I feel what I FEEL and acknowledge, work, and move through my emotions. However, I managed to break away from the focus that the movie director/producer had created with the camera during this scene, but rather was eyeing the "extra" that was sitting next to angry father. This was one of those gifts for me, that I knew would be revealed if I accepted the invitation to trust Divine timing and see what this movie had to share differently this time . I had not noticed this extra in the movie before....who would really, but as she was observing the conversation in her hands, she held and was praying the Rosary. (my reminder to not fall back on my promise and say it this first day after I had committed to do so)

I also heard again, to begin rebuilding, using what I know. To not look in the rear view mirror so much, that I can't move forward. To not fear, but to trust, I know what to do. .....and I DO! :)

That's what transpired yesterday. Today, I pulled up the site Jonnae and I used two years ago, because I love how the pictures and reflections keep me focused on the Mysteries of the Rosary as I'm saying the prayers. For those of you unfamiliar with this form of prayer who may be interested, there are four sets of Mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous. A weekly schedule guides us to say certain mysteries on certain days. Today is designated as the day to pray the Joyful Mysteries. There are 5 decades to each of the Mysteries. As you pray a decade you reflect on one of the 5 Mysteries. The Joyful Mysteries are The Annunciation (when the angel Gabriel visits Mary to announce she will conceive by the Holy Spirit, the Son of God) The Visitation (when Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth to share her news and serve her cousin who is also pregnant) The Nativity (when Jesus is born in the manger) The Presentation (when Mary and Joseph present, as Jewish law commands, the baby to the Lord for purification) and The Finding of Jesus in the Temple (after a 3 day search to find him) With the praying of the Rosary and meditation on the Mysteries, you also reflect on the fruit of the Holy Spirit that was experienced through that event. The Annunciation -humility. The Visitation - love of thy neighbor. The Nativity - Poverty of the Spirit. The Presentation - Purity of Mind and Body, The Finding of Jesus - Obedience.

As I reflected on the Nativity and thought of Mary and Joseph's poverty in that manger and their willingness to trust and not get discouraged by lack of what they deserved as the parents of Jesus, but what they accepted with grace as their role in his life and God's plan, I'm encouraged to do the same. I sometimes feel like I deserve to be rewarded with an easier road, but realize, that's not how commitment and faith are displayed. I yearn to stay in this place of surrender and humility. I'm not poor, in material or spiritual wealth. Crazy how easy it is for me to forget. I am RICH in all that matters. God doesn't leave me wanting for anything, even when I feel poor, financially or in spirit, He provides what I NEED! My wants may temporarily get in the way, but because of faith, they will not be triumphant in robbing me of true wealth and joy.

Okay, so I may not have been able to keep it short and to the point as I aimed to. But as much as I want to share these revelations, I also want to capture their essence the best way I can. Hopefully, I'm able to do that, without losing you in the process, lol.

Better every day in every way!


Friday, February 26, 2010

Better and Better, every day in every way!

I'm a mess! ......Don't worry though! I'm laughing as I write this. It's not a bad thing, it's an entertaining thing; that's not always the case, but in my practice to embrace WHAT IS, it's entertaining me in this moment.

Why am I a mess? ...I'm so up and down - inflated and high on life one day, deflated and trying to pump myself back up the next. How is that entertaining? Because in my want to find the positive in that, I've made it so. If the angels watch us like we watch subjects on "reality shows", they're bound to be entertained by me(us). I find it amusing to think the angels and saints may be shaking their heads at some of the ridiculous decisions being made on earth or laughing at the silly mundane things we allow to upset us. Some poor choices have a much higher consequence than others. Some trials are as detrimental as we perceive them to be. We can see that when we observe others reality. Wonder if the angels are seeing the same from their place of HIGH DEFINITION VIEWING.

Last night my husband came into the room where I was watching said "reality tv" and found me in tears. He was shocked to say the least. Here I am, not what you'd call an advocate for television, watching a show I would normally judge as "trash tv" yet I was brought to tears with empathy and being blessed with a new awareness.

I had just witnessed Mindy McReady sing a soul stirring song about rising from the ashes of the burned out mess she had created. One she introduced as being written in prison years before, (she's had a history of drug and alcohol abuse) and now realized had been written for each of these celebrities she had befriended during this rehab program that was being aired as reality tv.

In this moment my awareness and gratitude increased and I saw these trials I've been wrestling with in a completely new light. The things I have a tendency to struggle with are nothing in comparison to what others are facing. I had said this very same thing in an interview towards the end of Jonnae's earthly life. Even in that most sorrowful time, I was able to see there are those going through something worse. It was in that comparison to the lives of others, that I was able to find gratitude and not fall victim to our circumstance. I'm addicted to food for goodness sake, not drugs, not alcohol, not porn. When I make a bad choice, I'm not jeopardizing my relationships or jeopardizing the safety of others. My addiction has not consumed me the way these people's addictions have them.

Tonight it's been the same thing. My daughter has recorded several episodes of The Biggest Loser and has been watching them. As I've been writing and caught moments of them, once again I'm reminded how blessed I am. These contestants have never experienced their "A" game. I'm merely trying to reclaim mine. I don't have nearly as long or difficult a road to travel to get to it as they do, yet they are determined and exuding great tenacity in this moment to get there. I have in times past, but I'm still struggling to tap into that determination now.

The bulk of my struggles this winter are challenges I've created with my lack of discipline in making the best choices. And with those said challenges, I'm not trying to break free from something that's killing me or hurting those around me. I'm not trying to lose weight equivalent to a full grown person.

It might appear I'm being particularly hard on myself, but I assure you I'm not. I know I've been through something most won't go through in their lifetime. I'm able to see how I could have created this 'time in the valley' and be very forgiving and compassionate. If anyone can step outside themselves and see in several different lights, I can. Another 'survival' practice I became good at through the difficult journey with Jonnae and give thanks for. It's most empowering and beneficial. I have no doubt I'll find my "A" game again.

I'll close with two really cool thoughts that have recently given me great clarity and increase my "endurance" capabilities. There was a quote that I read in one of Og Mandino's books while Jonnae was conditioning for her bone marrow transplant, called "The Twelfth Angel". Every single book Mandino wrote came to me during a time that was Divinely orchestrated. When I think of the multitude of books he wrote and how they could have been presented to me in a different order or different timing, but were not, I'm blown away. In this book there was a small child who was ill but had a tenacious energy and spirit (reminded me of Jonnae) Whenever asked how he was, his chipper response was, "I'm getting better and better, every day in every way!" In our want to talk ourselves into positive perspective, I challenged Jonnae to repeat this several times; whether outloud or in her head.

There was a time, towards the end of her young life, that she suffered a seizure and did not know who anyone was, including Johnny and myself. She couldn't say ABC's or complete any thought or sentence. Yet, as she drifted off to sleep, she softly repeated, 'Better and better.....Better and better..."

Now when someone asks me how I am, whether than respond with a thoughtless (and sometimes not honestly felt answer) "fine" I say, "Better every day in every way". Whether I feel "fine" or not, that chosen response reminds me that every thing I experience will result with me better every day in every way. Hopefully that awareness will not only bless me, but will bless the one asking me also.

The second thought was shared with me at a networking event a couple of nights ago and I the power of it has really struck me in a most profound way (thanks Gus)! In our sharing our missions, Gus told me that he signed a blank piece of paper to represent his contract with God. WOW!!! I let him know I was going to duplicate his contract and do the same thing. To surrender to God's will and dedicate my life to honor, praise, and glorify Him, is to not put any conditions or limitations to my commitment. A blank piece of paper reminds me that I release myself from expectations and am open to whatever God chooses to create. I'm ALL in - NO MATTER WHAT!!! That's powerful.

Winter is losing it's grip. I can feel the stirring of the Holy Spirit and know that Spring and Easter are going to be quite symbolic of my own new personal growth and resurrection. I can feel that miracles are about to happen, as I reflect on the miracle of Our Savior's resurrection, and I'm once again inflated and high on life. These two new tools will keep my Spirit from deflating. Thank you Father for coddling me and loving me unconditionally and blessing me with a week of fresh joy.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The HEARTBEAT is back!!!
I'm still being quiet in the back seat of God's car...still enjoying the ride. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I dream. Sometimes I write. Occassionally I'll pick up those things that are making a mess around me. It appears this may be one of those times that we are taking the longer scenic route before arriving to the next destination on God's map. The extended duration is giving me all kinds of time to think. I'm not underestimating the power of that.

So much came to me last week during the silence of the ride. I'll attempt to share some of my revelation with short analogies and conscious effort to not ramble. :)

When Jonnae was fighting for her life (and I was for mine) I used to believe I was fighting the enemy. Donning my game face, my competitive attitude, and swinging with all my might, it appeared my strategy was admirable and effective. But in the time since Jonnae's fight ended, I've had a change of consciousness. Whether called the enemy, the devil, darkness, the storm, the mountain, or adversity - it's really irrelevant to me. More important is that instead of fight, which would also be resist, I embrace whatever I choose to call it. We are only as strong as our opponent. I've never wanted an "easy win" for the sake of a W on the score card. I'd much rather earn it. I'm racking up more points by not fighting. By not resisting. By not being threatened by darkness or afraid of a storm. Climbing mountains and seeing adversity as an opportunity, not something that will defeat me is empowering. Challenge is good, it builds character. Couldn't do it without an opponent. The darker the room, the more important the LIGHT. I am an unextinguishable source of Light. God's promised me that. I trust Him. There wasn't ever a storm that Jesus wasn't able to calm. I trust Him also. I have nothing to fear. As long as I continue to work my muscles - mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual, the mountains are only going to lend themselves as experiences to build something stronger. The higher the mountain the closer I get to Heaven, as long as I embrace the climb.

Out of the blue, my inner voice guided me to go back in time to recall another time in my life when I was not enjoying the length of the ride. I had waited for what I believed was long enough, on a proposal from my boyfriend of three years. So I forced things to happen and gave an ultimatum. As a result, I can see how in the long run that decision produced conflict that wouldn't have happened had I been more patient and trusting. I love surprises. I love romantic stories. I jilted myself out of both by not allowing my husband to create the moment on his terms. Point taken from Divine Guidance. I'm more at peace with waiting on God's perfect plan now. The miraculous way He will surprise me with the growth of "Heavenly Birth" and my speaking career will yield much sweeter results than my trying to force things will.

When I mounted the stepping machine at the gym yesterday morning, the movie "As Good as it Gets" was playing. I began watching just in time to hear Jack Nicholson say, (rather defeated to a waiting room full of people),"What if this is as good as it gets?" I heard that Divine whisper within me say, "Aren't you glad you're not defeated and waiting to see? Aren't you grateful that you are enjoying the ride,embracing the journey, knowing that it's not 'as good as it gets?"

I've been like a bear, adding winter weight, sluggish with a slowed metabolism. I researched this morning to see when the bear begins to stir again. (Was just curious. :) One report said in April or May. Another said in February or March. I'm believing the latter. For I can feel myself coming back to life.

The lyrics of "Heartbeat" by Remedy Drive (words that miraculously apply to my blog here - God HUG - LOVE it!) say, "I want to wake up. I want to restart. Put the drumbeat back in my heart. I need to be revived. I want to be alive." God heard my plea and so I AM! Praise HIM!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Enjoying the Ride as His Obedient Child

The complexity of life continues to fascinate me. In times of impatience, frustration, and even great sorrow, I still find myself relentless in digging as deep as necessary to find the treasure that will eventually be revealed in the center of it.

I've known for some time now that I have an Attention Deficit. ( I don't call it A.D.D because I don't believe it's a "disorder") Heightened levels of awareness and belief that all challenges bear gifts, not only do I refuse to say something is "wrong with me" or I have a "disorder", for God wired me this way, I no longer try to ignore it; I work with it.

I haven't always been this way. In the past, when it was suggested that a couple of my children may be struggling in school because they showed signs of A.D.D, I wouldn't hear of it because then I did believe it meant something was wrong. I was defiant in my reaction and tucked the nonsense in a box, shoving it into the back of a closet; as if it would not ever need to be looked at again.

Weaknesses present challenges, but at the same time, in learning to deal with, or use them, we strengthen other areas. That's a good thing! I have difficulty remaining focused on any one thing for a given length of time. So what? I'm quite diverse in my talents because I've tried many things to keep me from being bored.Thanks A.D :)

I'm also Seasonally Affected (again I'm dropping the D for disorder) With the lack of color, sunlight, warmth, and signs of life that my mood is enhanced with during the other seasons, I find myself out of sorts through the winter months. November, December, and January are particularly tough months for me anyway. Add the fact that Jonnae's bone marrow conditioning and transplant took place during that time and those memories are heightened through the holidays, it's even tougher. HOWEVER, the "winter dig" has once again produced some beautiful treasure.

After weeks of struggling with discontent and want for something more; after nearly making a decision to take on a role that would have distracted me (attention deficit) from what I've been created to do, today I'm at peace. God's been at it again. Many divine connections have been made over the past couple of days and I can see the Light reflecting off of the treasure that's being uncovered. I feel as if God is running His fingers through my hair, whispering sweet words of encouragement into my ear and giving me gentle kisses on my forehead. It's BLISS!

I remember Jonnae having experienced this bliss (it's documented in detail in "Heavenly Birth") She had experienced God's presence in a miraculous way and asked me, "Why haven't I felt this before? Why can't I feel it more often?" I ask myself the same thing at times. Certainly when I was struggling the way I was. When you've had a taste of God's spiritual drink, you crave it more and more. I believe the key is to wait and trust that when He's ready He'll give us another sip.

Maybe the cup sits there and we don't realize we aren't picking it up. I bought a bookmark once that read, "If God is your co-pilot, you need to change seats". I would elaborate on that and say, "It's best to lighten your grip on the steering wheel all together, let go and just enjoy the ride." I'll never stop seeing myself as a child. It doesn't matter what age I am. My actions would still reflect that I'm nothing more than God's "lil one". I'm not sure if I was fighting God for the steering wheel, trying to control the speed of the car, or that I was in the back seat wailing, "Are we there yet? When are we going to there?" Either way, His patience is insurmountable and right now the view out the window is SPECTACULAR. My tantrum wasn't working. Just like a child, I wore myself out with the cries. Exhausted, it was if my spirit had fallen asleep. I've awoken to renewal, serenity, and grandeur. I trust the Driver. Am confident I'll reach my destination and once again am smiling with contentment from the back seat of His Car. Thank you Father!