Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Birthday Wish and the Sweetest of All Desserts!

Time gets away from us, doesn't it? I said to a dear friend, "It's as if the sand in the hour glass has turned to water. The hours, days, and years just flow faster and faster."

No sense in me trying to make up for time that's passed, or the thoughts I didn't sit down to write through the course of it. It's because it seemed so overwhelming a task, that such a large amount of time has slipped by without me doing so. Today, I've decided I'll begin where I am in the present and commit to share from this point forward.

I couldn't possibly begin to convey my present thoughts, without some reflection of the past. Many don't wish to remember four years ago when Jonnae was battling for more time on earth. Yet, I discovered how to make best use of my own, because of it.

I've a strong desire to recreate what I got to experience during that last bit of time with Jonnae. In a song called "Blessings" by Laura Story, one will hear her sing these words, "What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life, is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy." If not for having experienced what we did together, I'd not recognize that what I strive to create on earth, is what lies ahead in Heaven. I got to sample a taste with Jonnae, in a recipe that combined struggle, selflessness, faith and God's presence. No reason why I can't take the ingredients the gift of today offers, combine them with the recipe Jonnae and I discovered, and create more of the same sweet treat today.

I thought that's exactly what I was trying to do. However, it's only recently that I've come to realize, I was trying to be the executive chef. This is the role of the one responsible for the operation of entire kitchen. Only that's not possible. God's the executive chef. There is no 'sous chef', for that is a role created for a second in command when the executive chef is absent. That's never the case in God's kitchen. No! I see now, I'm more a line cook working in what I see as the pastry department (how divine an analogy, lol) creating sweet concoctions of love, peace, joy and inspiration. (It's important to note, even the sweetest desserts can have ingredients that are not sweet at all) See how incredibly beautiful this metaphor is when observing an illness and Heavenly Birth as ingredients for a sweet and 'soulful' recipe.

I imagine every year at this time, I'll be deep in rememberance of a past Christmas that combined an array of ingredients to create the sweetest of delicacies. I am ever awake to the fact that on my own, I will never produce such a dessert as what God did then, is doing now, and will in the future. With the enthusiasm of a child at Christmas, I anticipate with great delight, what sweet experience He's baking up in His kitchen to gift me in this year's Christmas 'present'....only a taste of what He has for us in the eternity of Heaven. 

I've unconsciously attempted to take over the bakery the past couple of years. Now that I've reawakened to my rightful place in God's kitchen, I'm confident that my 44th year will be quite the dream. I hope this analogy is enjoyable for you, as it is me. I long to share the sweet desserts I create in God's kitchen with you! Consider this, your piece of my birthday cake ;D ( I get to share my birthday with Jesus. I just heard the song, "Love was Born on Christmas Day" It may sound hokey....I assure you it's my deepest desire to be a gift of God's love to the world, at Christmas and all year through.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

I'll Die a Dreamer


The exhilarating rise, sharp turn, incredibly fast drop and pain I'm feeling as a result of being jerked around today is too much like a roller coaster to not use it as an illustration for the opening of this blog. It's an analogy that is excessively worn out and doesn't display my flare for being creative. However, I guarantee by the end of this blog, you'll have experienced a thought exceedingly more innovative! So stick with me. ;)

For several days now, I've been ascending. My level of energy has been on the rise, as well as my belief that I'm on the brink of an answered prayer...a big break...something exciting and hugely rewarding for being relentless and faithful. So when I received a call today from someone I'd touched base with about delivering the "We GET To" message, and she had a very warm lead for me, I got excited. I called her referral and he embraced what I was proposing. He gave me some insightful information and another phone number. An opportunity much bigger than the one I had initially seen was being revealed to me. My excitement escalated as my dream began wildly unfolding in my imagination. As I met and conversed with several people today, I enthusiastically shared my most recent vision with them.

Once home, the call I'd been anticipating came. I presented the vision I had for partnering with this company and presenting the We GET To message to the schools the company sponsors and got this response, "I understand and appreciate what you are doing, but we aren't able to offer additional school support or participate at this time." I thanked the man for returning my call so promptly and hung up. Reality's severe turn was followed by a fast drop of a dream and several tears. My weaker self's voice began to fill my head with discouragement. "You're a hopeless dreamer. Your family and friends just shake their heads in pity as you cling to a dream that never going to come to pass. Jonnae was a tenacious fighter. Courageous and faithfilled. She died a dreamer. What makes you think you'll be any different?" My face was covered with a wash of tears and I couldn't blow my nose fast enough or hard enough when my stronger self spoke louder.  "Remember! A 'no' means God's got something better in mind!" Better than what I imagined today? Now THAT'S EXCITING!!! :D

The tears dried up, my head still hurts from the nasal activity earlier and I don't know how this journey is going to play out. This I know for sure - I'm not any different than Jonnae. I'll keep smiling, keep praying, keep getting up, looking up, and never giving up. Come true or not... I'll die a dreamer!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Blending in isn't ALL that Bad!

Model Burned in Vicious Sulfuric Acid Attack

I continue to be in awe of the power of awareness! There’s no limit to it making our life better, every day in every way.

Have you heard of Katie Piper? She’s a young woman who, because of her tenacity and courage, is responsible for taking my consciousness to a new heightened level.
3 years ago, this former twenty-something model was the victim of an acid attack. From the severe burns she suffered from this horrific act of violence, her face, chest and throat have been damaged for life. Blind in her left eye, skin grafts from her back to reconstruct her face, multiple surgeries on her face, eyelids, and throat (because of damage from swallowing some of the acid when it was thrown on her) this woman presses on with a mission- to turn her personal tragedy into triumph for herself and for others.

Katie. My Beautiful Friends is a four part documentary that caught my attention several weeks ago. I found it airing on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) while channel surfing late one night. Katie has formed a charity, aiding those who are dealing with severe deformities, allowing her to make personal visits and offer a support group. Throughout the documentary, she introduces us to her ongoing challenges, as well as those she’s met and encouraged. Some were born with severe deformities, some are victims of burns and others are dealing with growing, life threatening tumors. All are incredibly courageous and great examples of, not only how our circumstances could be much worse, what is possible with perspective and perseverance – two of our greatest (two of my strongest) gifts.

I was impacted greatly after viewing only the first of Katie’s four episodes. Each week my heart has been opened more. These individuals are suffering greater pain then what’s evident physically. They are suffering unnecessary mental, emotional and spiritual pain, because as a whole, we’ve chosen to look the other way and not treat them as the beautiful souls they are beneath the skin. I’ve resolved to make eye contact with anyone whose path I cross, especially those who aren’t used to experiencing eyes gazing into theirs. The extent of my compassion has increased tenfold!

This week I’ve been gifted my own personal experience, as if it were to be an exclamation point for this life altering lesson Katie’s responsible for gifting me. After taking a close look at my lower lip last week, my dermatologist decided a quick freeze of excessive sun damage would be the best treatment. With her ‘gun’ she zapped another spot just above my upper lip also. Two large blisters formed and within a couple of days, the spots have begun to scab over. So mindful of the challenges Katie and her beautiful friends deal with every day as they go out, to be either stared at or treated as if they were invisible, I’m ever present to the blessing of being able to ‘blend in,’ even with a couple unsightly blisters.

I’ve had exposure to the pain caused by staring. Not one to cry over her circumstances often, one thing that could bring Jonnae’s spirit down and lead to tears, was the staring that happened as a result of her bald head. Still, as a cancer patient there was plenty of support and compassion for her to experience. The embrace and support far outweighed the stares and galking that made her so uncomfortable. That’s not the case when it comes to these individuals with severe abnormalities that Katie has made ambassadors for her charity.

The reality check these brave people offer us is of incredible value! I’ve recently been introduced to another burn victim carrying on with life and exuding what spirit and tenacity is all about. JR Martinez, one of this season’s contestants on Dancing with the Stars, was burned on more than 40 percent of his body when his Humvee hit a land mine while he was serving in Iraq in 2003. The injuries left him with scars on his face and the loss of his left ear.

Seems life continually leaves me in a state of awe, with heightened awareness and increased gratitude. To some my challenges seem so large, yet I continue to see others with hurdles just as looming, if not larger. And…they’re clearing theirs. No greater source of inspiration than seeing what’s possible and committing to doing the same. I’ll keep clearing the hurdles and climbing the mountains, knowing that I’ll always have everything I need to accomplish whatever I want…it’s simply a matter of choosing to press on for the prize – a life lived in peace, joy, happiness and love NO MATTER WHAT! I love, Love, LOVE being awakened to the multitude of abundant blessings that surround me! Don’t you?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I was using the self checkout aisle at Walmart last week, using a gift card to pay for my purchase. After running the card through the keypad, it reflected I hadn't paid my balance. I ran it through again and again. As they do when they see you struggling to complete your transaction, the Walmart associate overseeing the self scan stations came over to me and said, "Is it asking your scan your card?" To which I replied, "Yes! Everytime I swipe it it says ...and in unison we said, "Please scan your card" She took it out of my hand and scanned it. Ah ha!!! I was swiping my card through the key pad as you do with a credit or debit card; not SCANNING it as you do merchandise, even after I had been instructed...over and over again to scan it. I laughed and said to the teller, "God's just telling me I don't listen" I shook my head and again said, "I'm still not listening." We both shared a laugh and I went about my day.

I went about my day, unable to forget just how true it is. I'm great at talking; not so great at listening. (even my kids have told me that)

I may not be great at listening to the audible sounds of the earth. I'm a bit better at listening to the spiritual guidance of the Divine. If not for being a good spiritual listener, I'd never have sought to find the good when it was so hard to find it during Jonnae's illness. I'd never have blogged the last 9 months of her life and I'd not have created (with much help) her Celebration of Life one week before she passed. I may not hear all that well with my ears. I've been blown away, and incredibly blessed, with what happens when I listen with my soul. Today's no exception.

In January of this year, I reclaimed a room in our basement to convert into a home office. After having invested much time in dreaming about living in a house like one that was being built last year in our subdivision, overlooking a body of water (and after experiencing quite sacred moments from other waterfront properties) I decided I would paint the room a soft color like that of water. I didn't choose a true hue of blue. I chose more a robin egg or soft pale turquoise color.  I decorated the room with accessories we already had in the house, doing the best I could to create a nice room without much expense.

Although grateful for the space, it's never quite produced what I hoped it would. It's functional, organized, and what I didn't have for a work a space before. It's never provided the haven I crave or the flow of energy that I feel is blocked in the rest of our home, where so many memories exist of Jonnae. Although I embrace them all as great gifts, there's just something I can't seem to remove in the way of blocked energy. Too hard to explain and simply something I get to accept and live with for a while longer. So I press on.

I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me before, or why it did occur to me from out of nowhere last week, to check online for a large water scene mural. I googled and found many sites to shop. I think I invested the better part of an entire day considering and reconsidering my options. Still trying to keep cost to a minimum, after much back and forth as to what I would finally splurge on, I selected a smaller size mural than the ones I originally began looking at, based on the pale turquoise color of my already freshly painted room. It was the only scene that was not a true blue, but turquoise. It arrived within a couple of days and I applied it to the wall last weekend.

Although satisfied with the mural and the color of the wall as it's backdrop, I wasn't happy with the way the existing accessories in the room looked with it. The room needs to be more cohesive with colors of the white beach and cool teal waters in the print. I decided I'd start working towards creating a room that felt more like a refreshing retreat, similar to what you'd experience at a place on the beach.

While out today, I thought I'd swing by the HomeGoods store and use instore credit I had from a previous return I'd made a while back. I went in thinking I'd peruse the store to find a single lil treasure piece for the room, like a conch shell or something and it wouldn't cost me a thing. Well you know how it goes (especially if you're into decorating) My eyes kept finding items that would work perfectly to create the type room I was envisioning. As an artist, I usually only begin with a theme or simple idea and the creation just takes on a life of it's own. This shopping trip was definitely playing out like that. With not one, but 8 items in a buggy (that I got to go back to the entrance for because I didn't think I'd need one for the single item I would choose) In a mere second, as I was already having buyers remorse and analyzing this cart as 'retail therapy' my consciousness came alive to meld with my subconscious. As the revelation happened and goose bumps covered my body, I was in awe. How could I have not realized what I was doing before now?! I was creating the caribbean scene Jonnae had dreamt of experiencing through Make a Wish. All she wanted was to ride a horse on the white sands of a beach with crystal clear turquoise water. In that moment, any guilt I had about purchasing these accessories was gone. It wasn't a matter of retail therapy; it's a matter of acknowledging a gift from the Divine to create a space I can share 'with her.' The timing is impeccable too, as I'm most present to what would have been her 19th birthday this Friday. It's almost as if this caribbean room is her gift to me. There simply is NO WAY I can relay in words how much I've felt embraced by the combined presence of God and Jonnae today.

The  picture accompanying this blog was taken by my friend while we were on a walk this morning. We both stopped to soak up the SON as the rays shined so brightly through the trees in this amazing star burst. I recalled, as I stood there to bask in it's glory, Jonnae's statement towards the end of her life when as we saw the sun's rays in a similar way. She said, "It reminds me of Heaven"

I'm enamored by the glory of God, the brightness of Jonnae's spirit, how her presence can sometimes encompass me, and how subconscious revealed it's plan to give me a place where I feel her in a special sweet way, encouraging me to press on and create whatever instinctively comes to me. It's a gift from the Divine.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Writing from the Heart

I so long to write more, blog more, speak more, and serve more. Funny how the 'business' of it all keeps getting in my way. I've invested a great part of the 3 years since Jonnae passed trying to marry my passion to a paycheck. I've had a grand vision placed on my heart. It's impossible for me to believe my passion can't also be my 'work.' I'll not give up and eventually I won't be so deep in the forrest that I can't see the trees, lol. 

I'm tired of trying to align my spirit with a business mind that's not within me. It's exhausting. Surely there's a place for me, an income to be had, where I can simply show up as me, excited to share strengths that are naturally already mine. Where is it? Do I really need to learn business to free myself from the pressures and stress of debt? Is there not someplace for me to go when I wake up that has an energy of life flowing through it and people who want to embrace what it is God's given me to share? Please Lord, make the way more clear!

There are a couple of reasons I've stopped writing. One is I can't seem to find a place to write that inspires me. There used to be a place I could write that will would allow thoughts and guidance to flow through me as they came. It was by Jonnae's bedside. Now, I get to experience most of my days from our home and for reasons that I understand, yet can't seem to explain, this home during the day has the same effect on me that cryptonite had on superman. It keeps me weak. I've tried different scenarios to get out of the house when the families gone off to school and work, none of them have worked. I've tried different places to write, different places to work on building a career. I've not yet found a fit. I'm prayerful that a solution will be revealed soon. If you are a praying person and you're reading this, will you offer up a prayer on my behalf? Ask God to remove the detours and show me the road (work place) for me?

A second reason my writing stopped was because my writing style is not for business. In my search to figure out how I build a career out of what I know and love to do, I've been steered to not write from a personal standpoint, to keep blogs to a word maximum, to make the headlines catchy and set me up as an expert. Who I am and what I write doesn't seem to fit the mold for how one grows a career. Talk about writer's block! 

Today, I've committed to sitting down and doing that which led me to fall in love with writing to begin with. Just write from my heart about the awarenesses I'm acquiring. They're personal to me, they may not prompt anyone to hire me or purchase something I've produced, but that's never been what inspired me to write before. Why should it be now? It doesn't!

My passions are writing and speaking words of encouragement and hope while always remaining truthful and transparent. That's 'my mold'. The writing ceased and the speaking opportunities lessened considerably also. As I was sold on someone's services who led me to believe he and his team would take over promoting and booking me as a speaker, I left that ball in their court and picked up a different one. I began planning a special June 8, Wacky Wednesday celebration to commemorate Jonnae's 3rd Heavenly Birthday. The momentum I had built up for speaking pretty much came to a halt as the company didn't deliver and I was head over heels in planning the biggest event I've ever hosted. Good news is, the "Wack Attack" celebration of Jonnae's Heavenly Birth was a sweet success. (video can be seen here - We had a "Wack Attack" video )

I have a wise friend who's been trying to get me to start up We GET To as a nonprofit. I wasn't purposely trying to fight her, or God, on the suggestion or get in the way of it. I just didn't see how starting a nonprofit from ground zero was going to answer my unemployment and financial issues, which are growing in their need for me to solve them. How would I have the energy and time to acquire the knowledge necessary for starting up a nonprofit on top of the looming tasks already at hand? I still don't know. However, I began getting nonprofit literature and resource information in the mail, from sources all over the place, out of the blue. This in the midst of me planning the special Wacky Wednesday celebration for Jonnae's 3rd Heavenly Birthday. I don't buy into coincidence EVER! God's hand in perfect timing is where I stake my trust. So I prayerfully began looking into the steps I'd get to take to form a nonprofit and get We GET To and Wacky Wednesday into more schools and hospitals. I consulted with many experts, filed Articles of Incorporation for We GET To, formed a board, and just this weekend submitted the extensive 1023 form to the IRS for tax exemption. Now, I GET TO strengthen my patience muscle as I wait to hear back from them. (Could be as long as 3 months to 1 year to complete the process after they've accepted our application.) and I GET TO return to figuring out a way to create consistent income.

As God often does when He knows my tank is beyond low and I'm running on fumes, He's sent me a boost of fuel to discern I'm on the right track. When I'm uncertain about where to go or what to do, or not sure I'm any where close to being on target to my destination, I'll get an email or phone call that's just enough to keep me going. I recently received a phone call from a Louisville school's program director who'd asked me to come speak to her 5th grade class last year. As it had turned out, the 7th grades' speaker was unable to make it the day this special programming was to occur, so both the 5th and 7th grade classes filed in together to hear the We GET To message. The director was calling to see if I'd be interested in coming back this year. She offered that the school still didn't have funding to pay speakers but was hopeful I'd accept the invitation to return anyway. She proceeded to tell me that she thought I'd be interested to know that the students are given a survey at the end of the school year that consists of several questions. One of them being what was their favorite event/activity for the year. She let me know that We GET To had made an impression on the children, for it was the favorite on many surveys. When I thanked her for telling me this and told her it was fuel for my spiritual tank to know the message had made an impact on several of the students who had heard my presentation, she corrected me and said, "Denise, it wasn't simply several of the surveys, it was the majority of them." She also made the remark it was impressive given the amount of time that had passed from the Feb presentation to June when the survey was given, when much else had been forgotten. I can't begin to doubt now! I can't base whether I speak or not to students on the sum I get paid. How can I do anything but sing when given such a beautiful testimony of Jonnae's legacy and the way I get to serve? I've gotta be in the right place doing the right thing.

God gifted me more. I was in a local store seeking silly accessories for infants. Still in my wacky get up, I'd just completed a Wacky Wednesday visit at Kosair. As we had just seen many babies, I was freshly reminded that I never have anything wacky to give infants. I decided to make it one of my days errands to find something. None of my suppliers that I shop from ever have wacky pacifiers, bibs, or things for infants to wear that are within our budget. Occasionally I'll find some fun bath mitts at the $ store. Anyway, a mother recognized me as the We GET To lady because of my share about Wacky Wednesday during a We GET To presentation I had given at her son's sports banquet. She approached me to let me know what her son had said on the way home after hearing the We GET To message. As she was speaking to me, another woman walked up to us, also having heard of Wacky Wednesday and gave me all the cash she had on her to purchase the items I had in my hand for the Wacky Wednesday cart. She said she had heard about the work I was doing and wish she had more to give. I assured her that her gift was generous enough, both financially for the kids and in encouragement for me to keep going. Seriously, should it be so easy for me to get distracted by business and the $ when priceless experiences such as this are what I get for payment? It may take a while for We GET To to be tax exempt and to build funding to pay a director, but I'm bound to be on the right path! This is enough proof for me!

As if this evidence isn't enough, I've been granted another beautiful gift of affirmation. I'm a bit creative and God's communication with me sometimes is as well. I was going to try and convey the gift, but it would make for an even longer blog and it's too difficult to try to convey. Let's just say a gift of nature was uniquely packaged and sent for me and I received with enormous gratitude and glee ;) 

I simply get to keep doing whatever it takes... whatever it requires of me energetically or financially to grow the We GET To message and Wacky Wednesday visions, regardless of how that looks on a resume or in our bank account. I'm serving God and serving my community. There's bound to be a way that can translate into serving my family financially. I'll keep seeking God for the answers and trust you'll repeat that prayer you said for me earlier again and again. Will you? :D

By the Grace of God,
Better Every Day in Every Way,

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Goals, Gratitude and Shared Wisdom

I finally took the leap! Friday I obtained approval from the state of Indiana for We GET To's Articles of Incorporation to be a nonprofit entity, and have received the EIN and DUNN #'s required for the other applications I now GET TO submit. First and foremost is the 501c3 application for tax exempt status. I'm on it and think I've located the assistance necessary to file everything the right way. I'll know after a phone call tomorrow morning. It's soooo not easy as everyone wants to believe or advise. Only the people who have personally filed a 501c3 form know just how sticky the whole process is. And it's imperative to do everything exactly right. 'Big Brother' is hardly as understanding as our Heavenly Father. That being said, it's imperative to have an attorney who's familiar with the process look the entire application over. My goal is to have had an attorney do just that and have the form in the mail on the way to the IRS with payment by July 12 (I GET TO go to the lake for the family's annual 'girl's weekend' and want to enjoy it completely with the relief that will come with this step being behind me)

After submitting the Articles and getting the letter back from the State saying We GET To had been approved, my commitment and focus increased tremendously. There's no turning back. Now that I've done it, I feel like a child who was extremely too hesitant at the top of a slide or high dive. Why did it take me so long to make the decision? I guess it's irrelevant at this point, it did. I finally held my breath, closed my eyes and just decided to go for it. 

Today's Wacky Wednesday has me even more determined to shift this journey into a different direction. I read a quote last week that said, 'If you don't change the direction you're going, you're gonna end up where your headed."  I don't Wacky Wednesday to end up as a small local volunteer program. I don't want to end up as a speaker whose message went unspoken to the masses. I don't want to end up as the woman, mother, wife, who wasn't able to contribute to her family's/community's financial needs. I GET TO find the solutions to the issues that have been holding me back and eliminate the distractions that have kept me from moving forward. I GET To do it now!

Another direction I GET TO change is that of my physical health. Since Jonnae's "Heavenly Birth' I've slowly put on 20+ pounds. The weight was slow to creep on and my focus, strength, and energy has slowly leaked away. After Jonnae's passing, my weight fluctuated up and down the first year, 5-10 pounds. As I let go of healthier food choices on a consistent basis, I managed to no longer fluctuate, but keep the first 10 pounds on. Paid speaking opportunities did not increase, I sold plenty of books, but with no business plan or structured budget in place, I poured out more to grow my business then I had coming in. It became necessary for me to let go of my gym membership. I gained, and kept, another 10lbs. I thought I'd at least maintain my weight with the equipment we have in the basement, but my heart just hasn't been in my physical fitness anymore. Fitness somehow, as it often does, lost it's place in my 'wheel of balance' The reality is, whether I have a heart for it or not, whether I am on fire with focus or not, it's impossible to live my best life if I'm not taking the best care of the health and body I've been given. I've returned to the point where I do indeed want to change (for the better) more than I want to stay the same. (in a mediocre, I'll settle for this because it could be worse, mentality or body)

That being said (and because I GET TO go offline and back to writing bylaws and staying on course for the goals I've set for We GET To) here are some other goals I'll have accomplished by the first weekend of October, a special weekend with some special people who are also looking to live their best life:

I'll be back to the 145ish weight that best suits me, not only looking my best, but FEELING my best across the board, so that I'm better able to contribute to my family, my community, and our world. I'm at 166.8 now. Painful to type, but there you have it. No shame, simply keeping it real so I can get out of the rut and back to the 'race' :D  I'm not respecting or honoring in the best way, what God's given me with my physical body and health. 

The energy that comes with that body will fuel me to have completed whatever the next steps necessary are for We GET To. I'll work with knowledgable, trustworthy professionals to get a financial budget in place, as well as 1,3,5 year business goals for We GET To as a nonprofit with Wacky Wednesday as it's premier project. Boardmeetings will be happening consistently and a strong action team will have formed. Wacky Wednesday will not only be a volunteer program, it will be a hospital endorsed, staff supported program being looked at by additional hospitals for staff morale building, turnover decrease, and added value for all, staff, patients and their families. 

As a part of this plan, it is most necessary to find a workspace for me outside my home. I've recently added a new diagnosis to my previous ones of AD (no second "D" - Attention Deficiency is not a disorder, it's merely a challenge some of us GET TO overcome; a character trait that builds us into who we are if you will Wink I'm also SA(no "D" or disorder there either) Seasonally Affected is again, simply a challenge, or better opportunity to succeed regardless of hurdles..those hurdles when cleared make the victories that much more sweet Smiley No medication necessary, simply a new perspective and a strong will. Back to the new diagnosis...I'm a special needs child. God knows I'm not trying to be His difficult daughter, I simply have surroundings that are necessary for energy to flow that allows me to produce. It may be appealing for some to stay in their pajamas, working infront of a computer all day, but that's not the best atmosphere for me. I've given it go after go. So if I've not acquired a work space in 12 weeks, I'll certainly have strong leads and a plan in place to acquire it sooner than I'm set to now Grin

And my love of all loves, inspirational speaking...I'll have atleast one nicely paid annual conference keynote on the calendar for 2012 and the momentum will be building for increased opportunities there as well. While I've been serving my community with Wacky Wednesday and pro bono We GET To talks, I've not been serving my family and our financial needs. Poor hubby needs help with the kids ever growing financial requirements. One of the many blessings that will be born of We GET To as a nonprofit, will be me meeting more decision makers who will embrace the value of what I offer their organizations in the way of speaking and training on perspective and perseverance.

That being said, how I look back at the past 3 years is not as a period in which I 'fell' but as one that was necessary for my own personal development. One that gives me the opportunity to pick myself up and show others what is possible. One of my alltime favorite quotes is "Learning is a gift even if pain is the teacher." I've learned much in the 3 years since Jonnae's passing. For that I am grateful. I now GET TO take the wisdom born of the good, as well as the difficult, use it and share it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Gifts of a Storm

For the second morning in a row, the Kentuckiana area has awakened to some pretty severe thunderstorms. This morning's storms are a bit more violent.

Yesterday, as the rest of my family slept in, I sat in the quietness of a mild storm and reflected. I, as many do, like the 'perks' that come with a rainy day. Sleeping in, diversion from every day living; a forced vacation day if you will. Even tasks that have fallen to the bottom of the priority list, for far too long, can be completed as the direct result of a rainy day. Maybe not a vacation day, but the sense of accomplishment stemming from that kind of productivity is quite nice also.

I've always had a fascination and intrigue with thunderstorms and as I once again compare the literal to the figurative, I'm blessed with a sense of gratitude for reawakened awareness. If not for rainy days, mundane cycles may never be broken.

Sometimes rainy days act as a sedative and help us catch up on much needed sleep. More violent storms, jolt us from our slumber and result in a necessary 'wake up' call. That's how I perceive the violent storm of Jonnae's leukemia...a necessary wake up call. I'm thankful for the jolt that resulted in a new list of priorities. I was sleep walking through life, hypnotized by a mundane rat race. I'm grateful for the litany of awarenesses that came from our hurricane named 'Leuk'. Because of the severity of damage 'Leuk' would eventually wreak, my Creator rebuilt me into someone incapable of being destroyed by a natural disaster. I'll never again return to the mundane. Life may temporarily challenge me with a distraction, but thankfully I'm now programmed to default back to a consciousness that's much more enlightened.

I may create a plan and forget for a while that ultimately there is a plan greater than mine. Eventually I get a wake up call that reminds me. It may come in the form of a violent storm. So yes, I'm grateful for them. I may fall into the old habit of hosting a pity party and speaking like a victim, but a mild storm comes and with a clap of thunder I'm reminded of the power that comes from above. With awe and wonder, I allow Him to give me strength and rise again to being a victor. Storms are one of God's tools to keep us awake, open to and mindful of Him.

If the sun shone brightly every day, if the sky were always blue, we'd fall into the mundane and not have a heightened sense of gratitude for them. As the rest of my family is beginning to stir and we're set to celebrate Father's day, I'm grateful for much this morning. Mindful and present to many more gifts than I would have been had I not been jolted from my sleep, by a violent storm.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Come Home!

For the past 2 months, I've been pouring my heart and energy into a special celebration/benefit created to celebrate Jonnae's 3rd Heavenly Birthday. It's a day long event to celebrate her life and help raise funds to grow We GET To as a nonprofit that will implement Wacky Wednesday into children's hospitals across the country. It all started with a friend's want to help me raise the funds necessary to take Dr Patch Adams up on his invitation to join Wacky Wednesday with his mission trip to Russia in November. She suggested a telethon with 25 callers, each with a goal to raise 500.00. Broken down that way, the fundraising didn't seem so daunting and I'd have the necessary funds to stock the current Wacky Wednesday cart at Kosair for a year, cover the state/federal/membership fees to apply for 501c3 status to grow We GET To as a nonprofit and be able to join Patch in Russia.

A new energy and enthusiasm fueled my spirit as ideas continued to sprout forth from the seed my friend had planted. When we first discussed a day/date to hold this telethon, Sunday night was thrown out as the best possible time to make calls asking for financial support. It would likely be the best time to reach supporters by phone. However, since Wacky Wednesday is what this vision is all about, it felt better to me to have the telethon on a Wednesday. Then it occured to me that Jonnae's 3rd Heavenly Birthday was coming up. A Wacky Wednesday FUNdraising party would be a great way to celebrate her, her life, and "Heavenly Birth"

My youngest son came up with "Wack Attack" as the name for the event. It has indeed turned out to be a plan where Southern Indiana and Louisville will be attacked with 'wack'iness all day this Wednesday, June 8. So many across the for that matter...have been impacted by Jonnae's courage, faith, and want to replace sorrow with joy. Based on the Celebration of Life we had for her one week before Jonnae's birth into Heaven, it was easy for me to imagine that as many who helped and participated then, would for the Wack Attack now. Through the promotion, planning and preparations, it doesn't apprear that will be the case.  Not many tshirts were bought, 25 callers haven't been secured, I've 'heard crickets' when I've put out calls of action. But the Wack Attack isn't until Wednesday. Donations will be made at, people will show up to celebrate her at the Creative Workshop in Louisville, Cluckers is behind this mission 100% and many of our friends will go eat there to support them  in supporting us. I GET TO wait and see. I'll probably be pleasantly surprised.

A most interesting revelation has come of this experience. Since Jonnae's "Heavenly Birth" I've been busting my tail. First, I poured myself into editing and publishing the blogs I'd written the last nine months of Jonnae's life. (To date nearly 1500 copies of "Heavenly Birth. A Mother's Journey. A Daughter's Legacy." are in circulation.) I've been desperately seeking the person, group, or company that will embrace the book and help get it out to the world in a larger way. In addition to the book, I've exhausted myself in trying to build a career out of inspirational speaking. I can't explain the gift given and received when I GET TO speak to audiences about the lessons and blessings that have come wrapped in this tragedy turned triumph. Through the book, the speaking, the planning of the "Wack Attack" I've continually lost my way.

Most of the time, I wasn't aware I was lost. If I was, I seemed to have no idea the way back. Until...a couple of weeks ago God decided to reign me back in. He began at my niece's dance recital during the final routine. As OneRepublic's song, "Come Home" played, a montage of each dancer saying "Come Home" played on a big screen. I didn't think much about it at the time. Later that evening, I was reading "Inspired Women Succeed" - a book of stories by 40 women (I'm one of them) who share what's inspired them to succeed. (book can be ordered at Typical of my nature, I decided to pluck stories in a random order. Since I've not had much structure in my life of late, Prioritize was the subtitle to jump off the page at me. I read the story where a woman tells of a time she called her husband in distress and he simply said, 'Come home'. After hearing "Come Home" so many times earlier in the day, I did think something of the words this time. Since it just so happened that the day these words were ringing over and over to me was May 21, the day the 'rapture' was all the hype, I lightheartedly said to Our Creator, "If today's the day you tell me to Come Home, I'm ready."

On the way back home from the dance recital earlier, I had stopped and rented the movie "Secretariat"  I decided it was a good time to pop the movie in and watch it. Not far into the story, Diane Lane calls home to update her husband on the happenings of her recently deceased father's business. Her husband pleas with her to "Come home"

What is it your telling me Lord? I don't understand. I'm home all the time. I'm trying to figure out how I get out in the world and support my family while serving you. What does "Come home" mean? 

A couple days later, I awoke with a song in my head. A song we used to sing in church often when I was young..."Come back to me, with all your heart. Don't let fear keep us apart. Trees do bend though straight and tall. So must we to others call.

Long have I waited for your COMING HOME to me and living deeply our new life. 

What I wouldn't give to hear God talking to me this way all the time. I still didn't know what 'come home' meant, but without a shadow of a doubt, He was trying to get through to me. It was in talking to another of my dear friends that I realized God was asking me to return to Him, completely, whole heartedly, without fear. I didn't think I was living in fear. I didnt' think I had ever left home/Him. But truth is...I had. It was fear that had me seeking someone to show me the way to getting my message out there through the book and speaking. I've been scrambling around in desperation to find others to join me in the Wack Attack. I've been far from home...the peace I have in the center of God's grace - His Word, my faith.

When I was 'working my way' through life during Jonnae's illness, I cleared every hurdle with ease simply by keeping my eyes on God. In the eye of the storm, in the hospital stays, in the face of  her death "Heavenly Birth", I never left 'home.' I naturally defaulted to God, letting Him show me the way. I didn't exhaust myself scrambling to find someone else to help/show me. I didn't rely on anyone joining me. It was simply me and God all the way. 

Tonight, once again, I began to get distracted by the amount of people who've not stepped forward to participate and celebrate Jonnae with the Wack Attack. (for those of you who have, you have no idea the depth of gratitude I have for you) A visual popped up in my head to set me straight. I didn't literally see Him ofcourse, but the thought of God taking His two fingers like we do when we point at our own eyes and then to someone elses, as if to say, "You and me. I'm looking at you. Don't take your eyes off me." That's what came to me.

Home is where your heart is. When mine is with God, in faith, there's nothing that can distract me offcourse. There's nothing to interfere with my peace. My exhaustion comes from being 'homesick.' God's calling me back home. Oh how I've missed Him so. As I attend what would have been Jonnae's graduation today and the Wack Attack and Jonnae's Heavenly Birthday this week, it is the perfect time to return 'home' and stay with Him. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

We're Having A Wack Attack, June 8 - Don't miss it!

For those of you who may be visiting this blog for the first time or unaware of the Wacky Wednesday program Jonnae and I had envisioned creating, let me give you a brief recap. She was going through a bone marrow transplant, had been in the hospital for a couple of months, and received an email about spirit week back home at her school (we were in Cincinnati a couple hours away) During spirit week students were encouraged to dress Wacky on Wednesday.

It is said we are motivated by one of two things - desperation or inspiration. This was a case where I was motivated by the former; desperate to give Jonnae (us) something to smile about. I suggested we could get wacky wherever we are and asked if she'd like to create a wacky look for me. She lit up like a Christmas tree. Her spirit filled smile had a way of creating a contagious joy. As she grabbed the eyebrow pencil out of my makeup bag and drew a unibrow on my forehead and blacked out one of my teeth, we both shifted our focus from the seriousness and stress of her sickness to the silliness. Turns out laughter truly is the best medicine and the side effects are great.

She proceeded to give me ridiculous ponytails and pulled items out of my wardrobe that should never be worn together. I blacked out one of her teeth, gave her two different colored eyebrows and put a tattoo smack in the middle of her forehead. Head to toe we looked ridiculous. So much so, my husband didn't want to exit the elevator with us to indicate we were 'together' lol.

I must admit, when the kids left the house in years prior, dressed abnormally for the spirit week's Wacky Wednesday, I never thought, "Wow! That looks like fun. I want to do that!" 3 years into getting Wacky on Wednesday, I still don't always embrace the fun that can be wrapped in getting wacky. It's not a great deal of fun, nor am I comfortable, having people look at me like I'm a 'wack job' instead of the visionary behind weekly healing doses of worldwide laughter through Wacky Wednesdays.

It's been a great experience for me. I used to talk myself into being 'brave' and just doing it. Then I'd walk into a child's hospital room and be reminded, bravery isn't leaving your ego and vanity at the house to go out into the world wacky, it's within these walls as our babies and young ones fight courageously to live. It's interesting to think, as a country, we embraced Casual Fridays to be comfortable and bless ourselves, but we'll opt out of being Wacky on Wednesday at the thought of being uncomfortable to bless others.

So with that thought in mind, will you risk being uncomfortable to bless others and have a "Wack Attack" with us on June 8? Any one of us has seriousness and stress in our lives that could be replaced with silliness for a day ... and bless us with healing as a result of having done it. We are celebrating Jonnae's 3rd "Heavenly Birthday" one day early with a special Wacky Wednesday where we're attacking whomever, wherever, with wackiness :D Here locally in the Kentuckiana area, we've got a gym, bank, orthodonist office, workshop facility and restaurants participating and sponsoring the Wack Attack. Staff, tellers, and servers will be dressed wacky and each establishment is doing something to raise funds for the furthering of Wacky Wednesday. These funds will be used to stock the cart we have for supplying the patients with wacky items, printing materials for promotion of the program and training under Patch Adams in November. In hearing about Wacky Wednesdays he's invited me to tour with his group to Russian orphanages, clinics and hospitals for two weeks. And he's promised to implement Wacky Wednesday in his hospital, Gesundheit Institute, when it opens. (they broke ground last September) I can't grow this program without your support.

If you live in the Kentuckiana area you can get a Wack Attack shirt from me for 12.00 (just reply to this blog or shoot me a message) while out of towners can order the white tshirt at (the front of the tshirt is the design displayed at  the top of this blog with We GET To Celebrate Jonnae Taylor - Heavenly Birth June 9, 2008 on the back) Whether local or not, whether you go to to make a donation, wear a tshirt , dress wacky, come down to The Creative Workshop in Louisville for the telethon or go to the participating restaurants, there are so many ways for you to celebrate the life and spirit of Jonnae and support and spread the word about Wacky Wednesday. As so many of you did with Jonnae's Celebration of life, whether here in town or not, I hope you'll join us!

Monday, March 21, 2011

"What is your will for me anyway God?"

Daggone it! I'm in a place I was hoping to never revisit... the bottom of 'The Pit.' But before I pour my heart out into this blog for the world to either embrace or judge, let me just say, Even though I'd rather be somewhere else, I know I've got what it takes to get out of here..and quickly. In the end I'll be better because of it. I don't appear to be certain of much these days, but of this I am sure!

What's prompted this return to the blogging world after a long hiatus is what I expect will also keep me actively present in it -

I thought I knew and I thought I was ready! Evidently I'm not or I wouldn't be frustrated or it this long in coming. Answers often come through my writing. A body that's been weary for a while, eyes stinging from tears, desperate for answers, here I sit; ready to see what's revealed through words that come forth.

I thought I knew what direction God wanted me to go in and I thought I was ready.

I thought I knew my speaking and writing could become a career and I thought I was ready.

I thought I knew how to share the gifts life has given me and I thought the world was ready to receive them.

I thought I knew how to share my message in front of a camera, from a place of authenticity, and I thought I was ready for the response. (I was way off on this one. It's the straw that broke the camel's back today.)

I thought I knew all of this was according to God's plan...certainly His I'm not so sure. Which leads me to the question, "What is your will for me anyway God?"

The voice of discouragement has been resounding at higher volume of late. It's not music to my ears in the least. Trust me, I've tried to drown it out with faith, perseverance, gratitude, prayer, and yes... patience (although some would debate that last one for sure. ;) But I assure you I've given it my best effort.

I found a passion in writing, sharing from a place of authenticity during Jonnae's battle with leukemia and for the most part was accepted and supported for who I was. I was comfortable, even bold, speaking my heart and mind; not caring or looking for acceptance or support, just needing a place to think and have a voice. I found an inner acceptance and love of who I am that was foreign to me and I loved giving the lessons I was being taught a voice. Me as I am and the lessons were embraced. It was an incredible ride for all!

With a daughter's suffering and life at stake, I was not distracted with someone's judgment of me. I shared my thoughts with no other intention than to speak my truth, confident and assured. The ball stayed in my court. Even though to many it appears Jonnae lost to leuk, I know different. Her 'game of life' ended in victory. I was ready to continue on with the same game plan so mine would also.

However, it's an entirely different ball game. The field has changed and my batting average has suffered. I've had an increase in unforced errors and the score would reflect I've fallen behind. I am beyond ready to have a comfortable lead. It's been an exhausting slump and I'm trying to figure out just what the plan is now. What is the position God wants me at anyway?

I wasn't about to conform to the world's game plan during Jonnae's fight. Focusing on statistics, odds, players that have no place on God's eternal field. The world wasn't asking me to conform either. Now, as I seek to stay in the game, it does appear the world wants me to conform to it's's plan; in the business sense of it anyway. It wants to polish me, have me speak scripts, be politically correct. It doesn't want me to show up as I am naturally. It wants me to learn to play it's way. Apparently, I'm not enough as I am. That's not working for me.

It takes me back to when I first started playing golf. Perfect analogy. My natural drive was astounding (no ego, just fact, I was competing in the World's Longest Drive contest only two years after I picked up a driver) but that wasn't good enough. I was encouraged to take lessons and learn the correct form. Result...not nearly as good. A long beautiful drive is no longer in my bag and the game not nearly as fun as it was with natural, raw talent. So there within lies my issue. Why fix what's not broken? Seems pretty clear to me now. If the business world isn't going to accept the gift of my message and how it's delivered..which is how I enjoy the game most...maybe it's time to play somewhere/something else. I'm left to wonder.

So maybe I don't know. Maybe I'm not ready. For now, all I can do is seek the ultimate coach, my Creator, and ask once again, "What is your will for me anyway?"