Together

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We hear it all the time, “You can’t do this alone”.  Some people think they can do whatever they’re trying to do alone, but really in the end we all need someone.  Even if you work for yourself, you still need clients, or customers, or someone who needs your services in some way.  We’ve all heard the saying, “No man is an island unto himself”.  It’s true, and I keep learning that it’s true in so many different aspects of life.

There are times that I just want to do things by myself.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that I like some things a certain way.  I like the dishes in my kitchen exactly where I have them.  When someone else puts the dishes away, I try to appreciate their help, but most of the time I end up rearranging them.  I also like having my time in the mornings to myself.  I don’t always get that time, but I like it when I do.

One thing that I really don’t like doing alone is exercising.  I would rather have someone to work out with who is pushing me to my limit, encouraging me to do one more, and just knowing there’s someone else that wants the same things as me.  Some things I’d rather do alone in a way, because I’m embarrassed to admit I can do so few push ups or planks, but I think we grow more when we have someone working with us.

Often when we fall into bad habits it is because we are alone.  We get discouraged and think we can’t keep up with someone else, or we run up on an obstacle that we think is too big to overcome.  We forget that we need people to help us overcome obstacles sometimes and we need to surround ourselves with people who will encourage us to keep up.

Last summer, my husband and I had started mountain biking together and I ended up getting discouraged.  It was something he wanted us to do together and at first I really enjoyed it.  The only problem was that I had a terrible seat and I didn’t realize that you aren’t supposed to sit while going through all those bumps.  I ended up with a bruised tailbone and really didn’t even want to go again.  Eventually, after the pain went away, I got a better seat and tried again.  There was a group of guys that were all going the day we went and I felt very intimidated.  I didn’t want to ride with a bunch of guys, because I knew they were all more experienced than I was and they would be faster.  I also knew at least a few of them, including my husband, would feel like they had to stop and wait for me to catch up.  My perfectionist attitude has kept me from enjoying a lot of things in life.  If I can’t do it as well as everyone else, regardless of their level of experience I believe I have two options: work harder than anyone else to achieve more faster or quit.  That day I chose to quit.

One thing I have learned since that day on the bike course is that I need people in my life.  Sometimes I need them to wait for me to catch up so I’m not alone, sometimes I need to wait for someone else to catch up so they are not alone.  Most of my life I have believed I had to do everything myself and do it better than anyone else.  Today I believe that I just need to do my best, whatever that is and accept that the experience will come.  I also believe that I need to learn to enjoy what I’m doing instead of turning it into a competition, or making it seem like other people are annoyed with my lack of progress.

My husband wasn’t frustrated by me being slower than him, he was just happy to be out there.  The other guys that stopped and waited were not frustrate either, they were happy to be an encouragement to a new rider.  It was my perspective on how I thought I should be doing that kept me from enjoying the moment.

We all need someone to be an encouragement to us and we all need to be an encouragement to someone else.  We all have different gifts and we are all at different places on our journey.  Let’s all accept each other where we are and give a helping hand when we’re the one’s that are a little higher on the climb.

Today’s Tip: Accepting facts

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Have you ever had someone tell you something that you didn’t like?  I think it happens to all of us at one time or another.  When we were kids we probably heard stuff we didn’t like all the time: you can’t eat candy or ice cream for dinner, go outside and play, stop hitting your brother/sister, slow down, speed up, there are just too many to remember.  The kind of things I’m talking about are a little different.  The kind of things some people don’t like to hear as adults are: you can’t move up in that company, you aren’t skinny enough, you aren’t pretty enough, you don’t make enough money, you don’t have a nice enough house, car, etc.  Those are just a few.

The things I talked about in the previous paragraph are things we don’t like to hear, but most of them are not facts.  You actually COULD eat candy or ice cream for dinner, you really don’t HAVE TO go outside and play, you could keep hitting someone if you really want to and lets face it, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  There are some facts that people do need to accept though.  If you DO eat candy or ice cream for dinner, chances are you’re going to be sick.  If you don’t go outside to play, maybe there won’t be terrible consequences for that, but if you do keep hitting someone, you will end up on the receiving end sooner or later.

The truth, or facts if you will, is that we CAN do whatever we want.  The fact is, there will be consequences for whatever we do, good or bad.  Most of us are in the midst of consequences in some form or another right now.  If we went out and charged up credit cards to buy Christmas presents we are in the “after” phase now.  It was so exciting running around buying gifts we knew everyone would just love, now the truth comes to light, we will be paying on those cards possibly for the whole next year to pay them back.  That’s not such a good feeling.

We also might be experiencing the consequences of overindulging during Christmas, and God help us, New Year’s is coming up!  You’re probably thinking, “As soon as that New Year’s Eve party is over I’m going on a diet!”  The problem is that a significant number of New Year’s resolutions never become a reality.

When I was a kid, I remember a saying, “Garbage in, Garbage out”.  I’m sure that saying was referring to what we were putting in our minds, and I agree that is true.  The fact is, that if you are constantly putting garbage into your body, the results are not going to be pretty.  Some of the consequences of not eating properly and exercising are high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers, high cholesterol, obesity, low energy, acne, and the list goes on.  The fact is that you are able to be in control of all these things if you want to be.  You can take back what is yours, your health care.

We have put way too much of our responsibilities as humans in the hands of someone else.  We should be taking care of our own selves, not expecting a doctor to put us back together when we have been careless and even intentionally harming our bodies.  Some people really don’t know how to care for themselves, they’ve never been taught. Other people know and make poor choices anyway.  There are some chronic illnesses that can be turned around by changing our habits from bad habits to good habits.  The fact is, some of us need to learn better ways.

So as you consider your New Year’s resolutions this year, think about this.  How about a New Life Resolution instead?  How about joining the Healthy Living Revolution?  I’ve already joined, so if you’re looking, that’s where you’ll find me.

Today’s Tip: Don’t wait

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So it’s the day after Christmas and many people are on vacation.  We all probably ate more yesterday than we normally do, and may not be finished yet.  Most people think of January first as being the day of new beginnings, turning over a new leaf, or making new year’s resolutions.  I would say, don’t wait until January first to make a commitment to your own health.  Sometimes there are commitments that we have to renew every day; taking care of ourselves is one of those commitments.

Why tell yourself you’re just going to wait until January first to start working on that goal; losing weight, exercising more, drinking more water, or just trying to think more positive?  It doesn’t have to be drastic, but start today.  Even if you’ve still got holiday meals to go to you can watch what you eat.  Choose the lighter menu items, or just eat less of the ones that are not as good for you.  I love  a good Prime Rib, but I don’t eat them often.  When I do, I enjoy every bit of it and try to eat vegetables or a good salad with it.  Even if you have some parties to still attend, like New Year’s Eve, you can drink more water.  A good way to stay hydrated, if you’re going to be drinking alcohol, is to drink a glass of water after each alcoholic drink.  Even if it’s cold outside and you really don’t feel like doing anything other than wrapping up with a blanket and a good book, you can do isometrics.  This is just tensing your muscles (making a muscle) several times with each muscle group.  If you do ten reps of each muscle group, you will be surprised how much you feel it.

It really does just take one simple change to make bigger changes.  Don’t wait to get started, there are small ways to start today and by January first you’ll be ahead of the game!

Today’s Tip: You have to go deep.

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Ok, I’m just going to do it.  I argued with myself for several days about writing this post, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to do it.

 

 

People don’t want to go deep anymore.  Maybe they never did.  I was born in NY and moved to Virginia around 13 years ago and I got a rude awakening.  People in the south are different, not better, not worse, but different.  My first husband used to joke around about people in the north being the “frozen chosen”.  Being from the south he was used to people being very vocal and physically expressive, especially in church, and the churches that we attended in NY were not.  That is not to say there weren’t churches like that in NY, because there were, we just didn’t go there.  One thing I have perceived in the South is that people are very sweet, at least on the surface.  That’s a word I see strewn about Facebook and other places daily.  You hardly see a post that doesn’t involve “my sweet friend”, “my sweet sister”, “my sweet _______ “(you fill in the blank).  I’m not trying to be critical, I’m just making an observation.  The thing about many people in the north is that you will probably not refer to them as “sweet” at least not at first.  We tend to be a little cooler on the surface, you have to go deep to find the sweet.  On the other hand, people in the south are very sweet on the surface.  You will see this when you go to a restaurant and the waitress calls you “sweetie” or “honey”.  It’s not because she likes you or wants to be your friend, it’s just a habit, probably something she’s heard since she was a child.

When it comes to changing our lifestyles to facilitate real. lasting change it has to be deeper than just using words that sound sweet and helpful.   This is not a surface change that can take place overnight.  For the most part there is not a pill or a shot or a shake that is going to change your life, you have to do that yourself.  I will not tell you it’s easy, because it definitely isn’t, but it IS simple.  Even if there was a pill, or a shot, or a shake that would help you lose weight, what happens after you reach your goal?

I quit dieting when my oldest son was three years old and I still hadn’t lost all the weight from my pregnancy.  I had anorexia that started back in high school and when I got pregnant I guess I thought I could let loose and just eat what I wanted for a change.  Well, I did and gained about 45 pounds in the process.  After dieting; going fat free, low calorie, low sugar and pretty much just deprived myself in general and I still didn’t lose all the weight, I read a book that changed my life.  This book taught me that I had to do something that was sustainable, it couldn’t just be something to “lose twenty pounds”, because a diet is only a short term answer to a long term problem.  I began being more mindful of what I ate, but in a different way.  I ate the things I wanted, I just didn’t over indulge in them.  Granted, back then I thought all fats were bad and I still abstained from most unless I was celebrating or just didn’t care.  I have learned much more since then about what is good and what is bad, because I’ve learned to go deep.

I always believed that being skinny was the answer.  If I could just maintain a certain weight, I would be fine.  In the last several years I have learned that being skinny does not equal being healthy, and being a little heavier does not necessarily mean being unhealthy.  My focus has shifted from being skinny to being healthy and this takes more than just a skimming over the surface.

I hear people all the time talk about trusting God to heal you, and speaking positive things into existence.  I completely believe that our words definitely affect our lives, but I know now that we speak what we believe, not the other way around.  I do believe God can and does heal people every day, but I also believe that we have a responsibility to be good stewards or caretakers of the health that God gives us.  I suppose it’s possible to eat McDonald’s and Twinkies every day and trust God to protect you from the toxins that are building up in your body, but I’m not going to push my luck so to speak.  I believe that there are consequences to every action…good or bad.  If you constantly treat your body like a garbage can, you will end up feeling like garbage.  If you treat your body like the beautiful self-healing creation that it is, you will feel wonderful.  I know this because I have experienced it.  When I eat food that I think I want, that is not good for me, my body tells me about it.  This did not happen over night.  It takes time, it takes going deeper, because you really want to be healthy all the way not just have a sexy body on the outside.  You CAN have both if that’s what you really want, and it’s simple, just not easy.

*I heard a story once about a man who was trapped in a flood.  At first the water just came up to the first floor of his house and he prayed that God would save him from the flood.  A man came by in a small rowboat and offered to pick him up.  “No thank you, I’ve prayed and God is going to save me” was his response.  A little while later the water was up to the second floor of his house and he was looking out one of the windows.  A man came by in a fishing boat and offered to pick him up.  “No thank you, I’ve prayed and God is going to save me” was his response again.  A while later the water was up to the roof and the man was standing on the peak of his roof trying to stay dry when a man in a large yaght came by and offered to pick the man up.  His response was the same as the two previous times.  Shaking his head, the man in the yaght continued on picking up other people who were stranded.  Later that night, when the man realized he was in heaven, he looked at God and said, “Why didn’t you save me?”  God responded, “I sent you a man in a rowboat and you refused, I sent you a man in a fishing boat and you refused again, finally I sent you a large yaght and you still refused.  Three times I tried to save you and you chose not to be saved”.
The reason I share this is sometimes I think God shows answers to our prayers and because they are not miraculous enough or fancy enough, we turn them away.  Sometimes we just need to listen when he’s trying to save us.

 

Today’s Tip: Your Internal Pharmacy

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Did you know you have a pharmacy inside of your own body?  And did you know that your body can produce medicine in the exact dose, for the exact illness, at the exact time that you need it, and it’s open 24 hours a day with no waiting?  Well, that’s the way our bodies were designed to work at least.  Unfortunately, we have ignored our bodies trying to speak to us for so long that most of our internal pharmacies are closed.  How does this work?  The lining of healthy blood vessels is like a smooth highway over which the traffic of the blood passes.  This lining contains metabolically active cells that function like microscopic medicine bottles, releasing hormones and other substances to help maintain the blood vessels’ health.  The hormones act like chemical messengers, telling the arteries and other organs and tissues to behave in a healthful way.  Your internal pharmacy (the endothelium) dispenses dozens of medicines that regulate blood flow and blood pressure, blood clotting, cholesterol, inflammation and growth and repair of blood vessels.  Dr. Lou Ignarro shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1998 for his discovery of how healthy endothelium releases nitric oxide  (NO) in just the right amount to regulate blood flow to tissues.  The release of NO by the endothelium may be the body’s own healthy-aging system.  So, how can you tap into your own personal pharmacy?  Two habits influence whether these internal medicine bottles open and dispense the right medicine at the right dose at the right time: how you eat and how you move.  By eating a predominantly whole food diet and eliminating processed foods, excess sugary foods and junk food in general, you can reduce the amount of “sticky stuff” as Dr. Sears likes to refer to it, from your bloodstream.  This keeps the plaque from building up in the first place.  When you exercise, blood flows fast across the surface endothelium and causes what is known as a shear force (frictional force).  The cells lining the endothelium sense this extra blood flow and squirt out extra NO which dilates the arteries, optimizes blood pressure and delivers more blood flow and nutrients to the organs downstream.   All it takes is taking one step at a time.  You can change your habits to include eating more whole foods and less junk food, and start exercising.  Start where you are and take one step forward to a healthier you!

Today’s Tip: Blood Sugar and Willpower

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Did you know that keeping your blood sugar stable and willpower go hand in hand?  I didn’t know this either, but it’s true.  When you have a drop in blood sugar, your body will demand that you bring it back up one way or the other.  Often when you get a craving for sweets it is because your blood sugar is low and needs a boost.  Unfortunately when we give in and eat the sweets, then our blood sugar raises dramatically, instead of slowly like it should and our bodies have to work harder to bring it back down.  Ideally, keeping our blood sugar balanced is the key to keeping our weight on track, staying healthy and preventing disease.  Dr. Sears says, “High blood sugar makes you fat.”  Because your body doesn’t want to waste food, if you eat more carbs than it can burn or store in the liver, insulin sends the excess into the fat cells to be stored as extra fat.  Insulin stores fat by increasing the fat-storing enzyme lipoprotein lipase in the fat tissues, and it impairs the ability of the muscles to burn fat-a double whammy.  The good news is that when healthy blood sugar levels are maintained, belly fat is often the first to go.  Insulin regulates the hormones that tell you if you’re hungry or not.  When blood sugar levels are just right, insulin alerts the brain to release the hormones that telly you you’ve eaten enough.  When blood sugar levels are not optimal, the brain gets inaccurate signals that suggest you’re hungry and should eat, when in reality your body doesn’t need to.  Persistently high levels of blood sugar make you need more carbs to satisfy hunger.  So, the answer is to maintain healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day by grazing.  Grazing is eating small healthy meals/snacks throughout the day, rather than eating three big meals a day.  Who knew that just keeping our blood sugar stable would give us willpower to keep from overeating?  Our bodies really do know the best way to do things, we just need to learn to listen to them.

Moving my Tower Garden Inside

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I love my tower garden!  I grew tomatoes, peppers and basil.  It was so awesome being able to walk out to my tower garden and grab a tomato and some basil for dinner.   I have just set up my own tower garden inside and at the bottom of this post you can see the animation of the process.  I’m growing mostly lettuce, spring mix and arugula, but I also planted one tomato plant and one eggplant, just to see how they do indoors.  You can of course grow your own seedlings from seeds, but there are also greenhouses that produce specifically for the tower gardens.

This is my tower garden when it was nearly taking over the yard, because I didn’t prune my tomato plants!

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I got to meet Tim Blank at our semi-annual conference in St. Louis in October.  He invented the tower garden.

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I absolutely recommend a tower garden if you live somewhere that doesn’t have a yard big enough for growing your own food, if you can’t get down and plant or weed or prepare the ground for vegetables, or if you just want fresh fruit and vegetables year round.  The initial investment may seem like a lot, but when you think of what you get for that investment, I think you’ll agree that it’s totally worth it!

Below is a picture of my tower garden all set up in my office.  It really didn’t take long and it was pretty simple.  The first thing I did was fill the base with water and added the minerals.  Next I put everything together and put the plants in.  Last I checked the pH to make sure it was between 5.5 and 6.0.  As you can see by the first picture, the pH started out at 4.5, so I added some pH+ to bring it up.  It took several small amounts over the next couple of days to get the pH to 5.5 which is where I like to try to keep it.  This is probably the most tedious part about the whole thing, making sure the pH is right.  So now, I have a beautiful tower garden in my office and it’s like having a fountain in there too, very soothing.

 

Please visit my website m-t4.towergarden.com to find out more information about the tower garden.  Also please feel free to comment and I will answer any questions you may have.

Why I Love Juice Plus

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This is how I start every morning: fruit, vegetables, berries all in capsules.  It’s not because I don’t like fruit and vegetables, I do!  I eat Juice Plus because I know I don’t eat ENOUGH fruit and vegetables on a daily basis.

I have noticed so many improvements in myself as well as my husband and son.  I have seen a huge decline in migraines.  Previous to taking Juice Plus I was getting a migraine about three to four times a week.  Most people who have known me for a while know that I always carried Excedrin Migraine and ibuprofen any time I left the house.  I no longer carry either one with me.  My joint pain has been greatly reduced, my energy level has improved dramatically. I have had the energy to do many things that I didn’t feel like doing previously, either because it would cause too much pain or because I was just too tired.

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My husband and I have started hiking more often, and not just hiking in the woods or on cement trails.  Above is a picture at the top of Hanging Rock in N.C. where we went two weekends in a row.  We plan to start finding new places to hike during the good weather.

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These pictures were taken Thanksgiving day after dinner.  We didn’t want to just sit in front of the television, so we went out for a hike.  Luckily where we live in Southern Virginia the weather is good enough to do some of these things so late in the fall. I’m so thankful that my family has been so willing to join me on this journey with Juice Plus…I think we all had fun and had some opportunities for some fun pictures that we wouldn’t have gotten if we were all in different rooms watching tv.

Before Juice Plus I was so tired when I got home from work I would just want to sit and not do anything.  That’s not to say that is what I did, it’s just what I wanted to do.  Now I have the energy to keep going and doing the things I need to do.  I’m very thankful that I found Juice Plus and I will keep eating it and sharing it for the rest of my life.

If you are interested in learning more about Juice Plus, please check out my website m-t4.juiceplus.com or email me at lifestylemuse@yahoo.com.

 

 

My First Juice Plus Big Event #JPCON St. Louis 2016

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I wanted to share a few things that I took away from my first big Juice Plus conference.  I went to a regional conference in Raleigh back in August, which is what made me decide to commit to the St. Louis conference, but Raleigh was on a much smaller scale.

I’m just going to be honest, I’m a skeptic.  I’ve been through a lot of things, seen a lot of sales pitches both in the business world and the religious world and I’ve gotten a little calloused I think.  I have always taken people at face value and often trusted them when they didn’t earn that trust.  I see the best in people, not what they are, but what they can be.  Sometimes, that gets me in trouble.  So, I have have become a skeptic over the years.  I want proof, I don’t want hype, or emotion or a bunch of fluff.  When I took the Dr. Sears Health Coach Certification program, one of the things he says is “Show me the science.”  I know that when it comes to faith, we have to have faith without seeing, but some things we have to see.

Right before going the conference I had become a little discouraged.  I had already experienced so many changes in my own health since starting Juice Plus and seen improvement in my family and my friends who are also taking it.  But, I was having a hard time sharing it with people.  It felt like I was trying to sell something even though I really believe so much in the product and believe it will help people if they try it.  So, when I was getting ready to go to the conference, I had a talk with myself.  “Don’t let yourself get drawn into a bunch of emotion and hype, listen for the proof, look for the science and evidence.  Be smart.”

One of the main things I wanted to do at the JPCon was meet Dr. Sears.  He is really the reason I started taking Juice Plus in the first place.  So, on Thursday, the first full day of the conference, I got to meet Dr. Sears.

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Dr. Sears is one of the nicest people and was very willing to take the time to talk with me and a lot of other people who were there for the weekend.  I was able to catch him the next day for just a few moments and ask him for advice about my new health coaching career that I am working on.  He was busy proofreading a new class that they are getting ready to launch but he stopped and took the time to talk to me. People are important to him.

I also got to meet Dr. Mitra Ray.  I have been watching her videos on YouTube for the last several months, so it was exciting to meet her in person.  She is very down to earth and seems to be very sincere and happy to meet people and talk with them.

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One thing I didn’t anticipate, although maybe I should have, was meeting new people and developing new relationships.  It’s amazing how you can go to something like that and there are hundreds or even thousands of people who have the same belief and are on the same path together.  It was so positive and uplifting to be around like minded people.  I believe some of these new people will become my very good friends.

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Sarah is the one who has been encouraging to me this whole time.  She has prayed for me and with me, encouraged me and motivated me to go to the conference in the first place.  Everyone needs a friend who will walk with them on their journey and help them achieve the things they want to achieve. I’m very thankful for the friendship that Sarah and I are building together.  In fact, I think my first flight was a little easier since I was able to look at Sarah and know that some of those little bumps were just normal and nothing to worry about. 🙂  It’s really nice to go places you’ve never been with someone who has already been there, they kind of know the ropes and what to expect.   Isn’t it really like that in life? it’s nice to know that you’re with someone who’s been there and can help you in the direction you need to go.

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One of the biggest things I took away from the whole conference was that people are what it’s all about.  The most important thing about all this is people.  It’s about building and maintaining relationships, not because we want to make money, but because we want to make a difference in someone’s life.  For someone who’s never had a migraine, it may not seem that big of a deal to share that Juice Plus has helped nearly eliminated migraines from my life.  But for that person who suffers migraines all the time and just wishes they could find something to help, that means the world to them.  I don’t personally need to lose weight, but I heard many stories of people losing weight after starting to flood their bodies with the fruits and vegetables of Juice Plus, and stories of asthma sufferers getting rid of their inhalers, children with ADHD not needing their prescriptions anymore, and so many more stories from real people with real problems.  It was exciting, it was like having an iv of positive for four days, but more than that it was real.  I saw real people, touched them and heard their stories of success in business, recovery from so many illnesses and overall a change in attitude and direction in their lives.  The really awesome thing is that most, if not all of the people who spoke, gave credit to God for all of their successes and recovery.  Where else can you find that?

When I got home from the airport on Sunday, I was exhausted, but yet invigorated at the same time.  You might wonder how you can be exhausted and invigorated all at once, but it’s possible.  On Monday, I set out to make some progress, make some calls, organize…I just wanted to keep that momentum.  I didn’t want my everyday responsibilities to squelch all that positive energy that I had from the conference.  While I was taking apart some chairs to have them reupholstered I had so many thoughts going through my head that I decided to record my thoughts.  I thought I would share with you some of the thoughts I had that really grew from not only the conference, but from the last several months of change and growth in my life.

One of the first thoughts that came to my mind was about the parable in the Bible of the talents.  A master called three of his servants and gave each of them a portion, 5 talents, 2 talents and 1 talent.  In this parable, it seems to refer to money, and it says he gave them according to their own ability, then he left on a journey.  According to the story, the man with the 5 talents went and traded with them and gained 5 more, the one with 2 talents went and did the same, but the man with only 1 talent hid his.  The story goes that when the master came back from his journey, he went to the men and found that the first two and doubled the money he gave them.  These two men were rewarded and called “good and faithful”.  When he spoke to the man who had 1 talent, he found that the man hid his talent instead of taking it and doing something with it.   The reason the man gave for hiding his talent was this: “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground.  Look, there you have what is yours.”  The master was not happy with this servant and his 1 talent was taken and given to the man with 10 talents, and he was cast out.  This parable has often bothered me.  I couldn’t understand why the master would be so angry with the servant, at least he didn’t lose what he was given.  I think the reason I’ve always thought that way is because I was kind of like that servant.  I was afraid of God.  I think one of the main points in this whole parable is that our perspectives of God is what shapes the direction we take.  Maybe the first two men were not afraid of their master, either that or they were way more motivated by fear.  Most of my life I have played is safe.  I think that my fear of God, the fear that he would be angry with me if I failed, the fear that he would turn away from me if I didn’t use what he had given me in exactly the right way, that is what has stopped me from trying so many times.  That fear was always right there in front of me.  What if I don’t do it right, what if I make him look bad?  So, I didn’t try to do much of anything that I wasn’t sure I could do.

There is a much different outcome for a person when they are not afraid of failing, when they are not afraid they will disappoint someone if they fall.  They are able to try things, and accomplish things that they never knew were possible, because they are not afraid.  I have finally found that place in my life where I am not afraid of God, I am not afraid of failing.  In fact, I am way more afraid of staying where I am than I am of failing.  I am way more interested in trying to do something even if it doesn’t go exactly the way I have it planned in my head.  I think that is what the master was angry about.  He wouldn’t have been angry if the man with the 1 talent had lost some or even all of the money as long as he was out there trying to do something with what he had.  It’s not about what was done with what the other two men had so much as it was that they did something with it.

The thing about it is that we all have “talents”.  For some of us it is money, for others it may be abilities, gifts and other resources.  The best thing for all of us to do is recognize what those things are and use them.  Sometimes we might fail, sometimes we might fall down on our faces and have to get back up and try again, but we have to do something.  Sometimes it even means you can find what you love to do and make it a career, and a bonus for me is that I get to help people in that career.

Something one of the speakers said last weekend really stuck with me.  She said, “You have to be you.  Don’t change who you are to do this business, just be you.”  This is one of the things I’ve struggled with.  I have a certain way that I like to dress, and a certain lifestyle and for the most part those things line up with the image the company wants to portray.  The big thing was I kept thinking, do I have to dress up more than I like to?  Or do I need to have a fancy house or better cars to fit in.  One thing I’ve learned recently is that you have to be yourself, no matter what that looks like.  If you try to be something that you’re not, you’re just frustrating yourself.  I came up with this analogy. What if my dream in life is to fly, not on an airplane, but like an eagle?  So if I work my hardest, study, plan, eat right and pray hard to be able to fly, I should be able to fly someday right?  The truth is, my body was not created to fly; some things really are impossible.  I guess I could resort to having my body altered if I’m that serious about flying, but ultimately I was not meant to fly like that.  So by working hard, planning and studying on something that I will never be able to accomplish and was never meant to accomplish I am only frustrating myself.  I would become more and more angry with myself for not reaching that goal.  Sometimes I think we spend way too much time trying to be something or someone we were never meant to be and we end up frustrated and angry and not using our time in a way that will really benefit us.  I know it might sound a little strange, but one of the most important things I took away from the conference was that it is time for me to start using the gifts that I’ve been given, and I need to be myself.  I need to remember my value and learn to use my talents in a way that will not only benefit me, but benefit others.  Really that’s what we all need to do.

So, as I’m sharing my story, know that I am sharing it because I care about you.  Know that I have walked a journey of trying to be something and someone I was never created to be, but all that is changing.  I am on a journey of really being me, of sharing what I’ve learned with other people so they can be free, too.  When all the people have gone back home, when all the confetti has been cleaned up, when all the beautiful, talented, successful people have gone back to their homes and we’re back to our normal little lives, it’s really about people.  It’s about sharing journeys and helping people through the places that we’ve already gone.

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This is just the beginning and I can’t wait!

 

 

 

 

 

The Health Of Our People

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Disclaimer:  This may be a controversial post, but I mean it to help, not hurt.  First, I do not condone or approve of violence in any way to solve problems, I love our country and even with all the negative things this election year is bringing about, I still believe it is the best country to live in. I also don’t know how to feel about the football players not standing for the national anthem, to me a lot of things have just become ritual that we do on the outside with no real feeling related to them.  We do them so other people will look at us in a positive light, like saying grace before a meal.  But that’s another post.

Oh…this is going to be long.

Can I just share a few things from my heart?  This election is bringing so much turmoil into our lives and our country that I can’t even believe it, or stand it.  People talk all the time about making America great again; they have to be talking about making it great financially again, or maybe they mean making us a strong, dominating force on the world stage again, or maybe they are just talking about how some people used to just be quiet and not stand up for themselves?

I also hear statements like, “We need to go back to what this country was built on: God, faith, and freedom.”  Maybe we all need to be reminded of a few things.  Our founding fathers did not come to America peacefully, just looking for a place to worship God in their own way.  They came in violently.  Just take a look at your history books, if you can still read about how we took the land from the natives.  Why?  Because we wanted it.  As big as this continent is, you would think we could have found a way to live peaceably, or at least found another spot. The country was not completely inhabited with Native Americans. Even if we give them the benefit of the doubt and say the early settlers tried to peacefully obtain land, but the natives were violent, what would you expect?  People came from another land, who speak a different language and maybe they didn’t even know that other humans existed.  I’d be afraid, too.  We are afraid if someone “different” comes across our path.  Just ask any Native American who still knows their true roots if they think we should go back to the way it was.  Maybe before foreigners came.

Next, why don’t we talk about the slaves brought over from Africa?  I know none of the people living today were slaves, they probably don’t even have any grandparents who remember being slaves.  Maybe they have great grandparents or great, great grandparents who were slaves and they remember the stories they were told down through the years.  I know that we, the people who live in America today, had nothing to do with the physical acts of slavery from 150 years ago and before.  But there are those of us today who want to keep the spirit of slavery alive.  I am not one of those people, but I know there are some out there.

Some people still look at other people and judge them based on their color.  This isn’t something new, it’s been going on since the beginning.  Well, since people started noticing differences in each other.  I know there are a lot of people who say, “They need to just get over it, they were never slaves, we were never slaveholders.”  Have you ever been in a relationship where the other person treats you like you are inferior, constantly calling you names and talking down to you?  Have you ever tried to better yourself only to have that person keep holding you back, reminding you that you are not good enough?  You can forgive them, if you choose to, but you can’t “get over it”, because it never stops.  I’ve heard people say, “If they don’t like it here, let them go back where they came from and see how they like that.”  Like comparing their situation here to a violent, poverty stricken place is going to make them feel better.  Or like that is even a viable solution.  The vast majority of people who live in this country today, came from here!  That attitude is simply a form of manipulation, it is a way of ignoring the problem and refusing to be part of a conversation that could actually facilitate change.  It’s rude, unkind, hateful and I’m ashamed to admit that I may have said similar things many years ago before I really understood.

When I was struggling in my marriage, there were people who said, “Why don’t you leave, go back where you were before?”  Sometimes that is just not the answer.  Sometimes the answer is getting to the bottom of the problem and working through it so both people can be happy.  When everything came to the surface for me, I told my husband “I’m not satisfied with just not fighting anymore, I want good, and if we can’t have that I’m done.”  I’m getting too old to worry about whether I am loved or not, or whether voicing my opinion is going to cause an argument.  It took both of us to recognize the problem and both of us to work on it for things to get better.  Neither one of us could make things better alone.

Maybe I can relate to people who feel oppressed, because I have felt it myself.  Where I first experienced what I believe was oppression was in the religious world where I was treated differently because my parents were divorced.  Then I was treated differently because I didn’t believe everything I was being taught, and I said so.  Again I was treated differently because I didn’t like being a girl, because girls were treated differently than boys, in my opinion as if they were less than.  Then in the business world, when I started working construction in a male dominated work force.  Many men in the construction field in the late 80’s and early 90’s didn’t think it was a place for women and didn’t think women should be paid the same.  I really did have to work twice as hard and do more work than my male counterparts to prove my worth, and even then I’m not sure I got paid the same as they did.  Did everyone have the same experience as I did? No, there are a lot of women who can’t understand why I feel the way I do at all, and many who have said, “You just need to ‘get over it’ and move on.”  They are right in one way, I need to move on, get past the hurt, acknowledge what was done and forgive.  But no, I will never forget it.  If I forget it, I will not be able to empathize with other people who still feel the way I felt back then, and sometimes even still do today.

So, what is the answer?  I’m pretty sure I’ll get some flack from all sides on this, but I think there are many answers.  One answer is that we need to stop separating ourselves.  When we fill out applications the question comes up asking our nationality or race.  We answer “I am black”, “I am white”, “I am Hispanic”, “I am Native American”.  What if we just put down “I am human”?  (It may come to that someday from what I am reading and hearing lately.)  What if we stopped associating ourselves with our dividing lines of color and heritage?  I know the government loves to put those questions there because, well let’s face it they need a certain amount “other than white” to be compliant.  What if we just hired someone based on their experience and abilities and gifts without knowing what color they are, or what gender they are?

I’m not saying we should throw out our heritage.  What I am saying is that you didn’t get to choose.  I didn’t get to choose what race I would be.  If I could have chosen, would I have chosen to be black?  Knowing what I know today, honestly no I wouldn’t.  I am also saying that your heritage is where you came from, but it doesn’t have to determine where you are going.  None of us got to choose where we started, but we all get to choose what we do with what we’ve been given and we all get to choose what direction we go in.  We just have to decide if it is worth the fight, to go against the flow.  Is it worth the pain and discomfort it will cause to facilitate the change or would we rather stay where we are and complain?  Most of us, if we’re honest, we want to see change but we want someone else to be or make the change and we want to enjoy the results.

Change has to take place in each individual’s heart, but it also has to take place in the larger groups.  I have been to many different churches over the years and I have heard hate preached from the pulpits.  Some “Christians” can be the worst ones for being bigoted.  As much as I hate to admit it, some Christians believe they are superior.  They talk about favor, and God protecting “His people”.  Even when the hurricane was coming I heard people say, “God will protect his people”.  We are all His people.  We are all made in His image.  Not just the white men, not just the one’s who have accepted what He has done for them.  We are all God’s people.  If you paint a picture of a god who only loves white people, or Jews, or even only those who have believed, you are peddling a lie!  Jesus died for all humanity, because He (God) loves all humanity.  He did it BEFORE we believed, so that we can believe.

I know this will probably help some people feel angry (because no one can make you angry), but I believe I have to say it.  I don’t want to be a part of the religious establishment who does not want people to express how they feel, because it makes some of them uncomfortable.  I’ve spent too many years in relationships myself that I did not feel comfortable expressing my true feelings because I felt afraid of the consequences.

I don’t believe violence is the answer, it only hurts more people and we need to stop hurting each other.  I don’t think the answer is demeaning people by giving them more than they work for, it is only proving to them that we don’t believe they are capable.  We are all capable.  None of us needs to be taken care of (with the exception of those who are elderly, disabled or children), we can take care of ourselves if we are allowed the opportunity.  We need to stop dividing ourselves with words like black, white, indian and Hispanic and start uniting ourselves by calling each other people.

There are so many things that each of us can bring to the table.  As in any relationship, there are many people with different strengths, gifts, abilities and even weaknesses.  Inside each of us, down through the generations, there are parts of our heritages that we can bring together and do so much more good.  My stepmom came from a Polish family and she taught me to make some of the best Polish food I’ve ever eaten.  My first mother in law was Native American and she could cook the best cantaloupe pie and for years there was no written recipe, it was just something she made up one day.  My next door neighbor, Sam, was one of the nicest men I’ve ever known, when he passed I was truly sad about it.  I went to his funeral and I was one of the few (maybe 5) white people in the church.  I didn’t care.  I respected that man, and cared for him.  He was a logger and he was one of the hardest working men I know.  Even when he was dying from cancer he would go out on that truck, because he knew it had to be done.  There are so many other examples I could use of people of different nationalities and races, people I have come to respect and love; Leon, our friend who owns a Mexican restaurant in town, my friend Kathy who is Sicilian, and her daughters who are mixed Sicilian and black.  I love them and am proud to know them.

I know there is hurt, and I know I have been complicit by not speaking out when I hear things being said that are hurtful.  I am sorry for that.  My heart is that we would all accept each other  as people, and stop allowing our leaders, Christian and otherwise to keep separating us.  We need to stand together, all as one; real change can’t come as long as we continue to be divided.

 

Food for thought:

Romans 13:8-10  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “Do not commit adultery”, “Do not steal”, “Do not covet”, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule, “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  Love does no harm to its neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.