The Finer Things In Life

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Growing up in a large family of 10, which included 8 children, I use to wonder what my parents were thinking in having so many children.  Being the eldest of the 8, I felt that I was at an unfair disadvantage having to deal with all of those bratty kids!  My mom, however, seemed to have such patience with all of us bratty kids.  I have no idea where she got the energy or the patience from in dealing with us.  She was constantly cleaning, cooking, helping with homework, and being an overall chauffer and bottle washer.  She was a stay at home mom until my younger sister graduated from high school and then decided it was time for her to go back to school and then work outside the home.  Even then, she took the time to always prepare three meals per day.  Our lunches were prepared before we went to school, we always had a nourishing breakfast, and in the evening when we all made it home, we had a hot meal on the table. I don’t know how she did it all.

Dinner was served each evening once our dad got home.  It was unheard of for us to eat before he got home.  He was the king of the house and our mother was the queen.  There was a time when we felt abused, especially when the neighborhood kids bragged about having Kentucky fried chicken, Burger King and McDonalds for dinner.  The only time we had those kinds of meals for dinner was when we traveled.  Even then, those opportunities were limited.  We longed for the ‘finer things in life’, but our mom would pack sandwiches or sometimes fried chicken and other goodies and that is what we would eat.  We had what was sort of like a picnic in the car when we stopped for gas.  We could not understand why we had to sit at a table when we were home, unable to watch TV, and eat food that she made.  It didn’t matter what she cooked, it didn’t matter how good it was… it was just not KFC.  So mean.  In fact, we couldn’t even watch TV before dinner either because after school, we had homework to do as well as chores before our dad came home, then off to bed very soon after dinner because we had school then next day.  We actually had a lot of fun in those days in spite of our mean parents.  Sometimes we had our own Motown Review or our Soul Train experience and other times we were allowed outside to play if we finished homework and chores first.  We felt so deprived!  At least we thought so.

Looking back at that time in our lives we have come to learn how to really appreciate all of the time spent in the kitchen, the family dinners at the table, and the sacrifices our parents made in order to make our lives comfortable, even if we didn’t have the sense to appreciate it back then.  Sometimes, as children, we can be so ungrateful.  We had no idea just how blessed we were.  As a divorced, working mother, there were times that I wished that I had been able to give my children the daily care that our mom gave us.  Many times, it was late in the evening before I even had time to help them with homework.  The good thing was I owned my own salon so I was able to have my children close to me while I worked.  However, there were times when I had to hire a tutor or take them to the Sylvan center in order to make up for what I couldn’t give them.  I made it a point to take them to a sit down restaurant on Fridays to make up for not being able to spend the time during the week.  I love to cook but rarely found the time because I was at the salon so late.  Dinner consisted most of the time of fast foods and carry outs…the types of meals we wished for when we were kids…the finer things in life.  However, as an adult, I felt that I was depriving my children of the best of me even though I worked very hard to provide for them.

One year I gave our parents an appreciation certificate to show them just how much I appreciated our large family, those home cooked meals around the table, the lack of fast foods and no TV at dinner.  They took such good care of us and it took us into adulthood to finally learn how to appreciate them for the selfless love and care they gave us.  It is so funny when I look back at all the years we took them for granted.  However, we were blessed to finally learn to appreciate them and have time to spend with them and show them just how grateful we were and still are. Our mother died at a young age of 59. We were blessed to have our dad until the young age of 75.  We miss them so much but we have such good memories.  The eight of us siblings continue to be close and enjoy spending time with each other whenever we can. Life has a way of teaching us that the things that we took for granted were truly the ‘finer things in life.  We had wished for finer things when we had them all along.

Hiding Under The Stairs

My Beebe Love Chronicle

When I was a little girl, we once lived in a big white Victorian style house with a wrap-around porch and inside, a huge staircase.  At least it seemed huge to me at the time. We rented one side of the house from Mrs. Blevins, a really nice rich old lonely lady who loved for us to come and visit.  I remember her serving us warm rice with butter and honey and a little cream.  Her husband had died a few years earlier, and she rarely had company so we became somewhat like her family.  I loved that big old house and I loved the big porch, my family and Mrs. Blevins.  However, there were times when I felt sad or lonely and there were times when I didn’t want to talk to my family or Mrs. Blevins.  I just wanted to be alone all by myself  just to think my little…

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Savoring The Moments…

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living

(This is an edited repost from an Ezine Article that I wrote in 2014)

I have always dreamed of becoming a writer, having a great relationship with my husband, being completely present in the lives of my children, and having complete faith and trust in God. However, for most of my  life I have allowed myself to become plagued by fear and anxiety, leading me to avoid many of the things I wanted and settling for some things I didn’t want. I was so afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone that I failed to go after those things my heart truly desired. I suffered from knowing who I really was, what I really wanted, and what I was capable of accomplishing. One day I hand an epiphany.  My life was passing me by, and  if I were to leave this world at that moment, what would ‘they’ say about me?  Who’s life had I touched? What experiences did I share? What had I accomplished? I searched my heart and I came to realize that I had not been present in any memorable moments.

One of my sisters had asked me on several occasions  about some times in my life that she remembered being a part of and I could only vaguely recall those times. How could she remember moments that should have been important to me in my life when I could not? I knew I was there but all of the important details were like faded words on a chalkboard. I had been mechanically living from day to day, but not savoring any of the moments.  When at work, I could not wait for vacation. While on vacations, I worried about things that I needed to do at home. When I found myself being swamped at work, I found myself just wishing I had time to just relax at home. The problem was, I had no idea what it looked like to relax. I worried about the past and I worried about the future while the present was passing me by. It was time for me to learn how to savor the moment and learn how to live life on purpose.

Through self reflection I began to realize that even though I was not even aware of it, I had made some strides in my life. The problem was that I was so busy thinking about what future things I needed to do, and past things I should have done, that I allowed my present moments to just slip right through my fingers. And many times, those future things that I worried so much about, never materialized for many reasons and the things of the past, well, there was nothing that I could do about that. I had no written goals, I just had wishes. I read somewhere once that a goal not written is just a wish; and I had just been wishing my life away.

I started writing down goals in a little green notebook. I wrote not only career goals but personal goals, making sure I included some fun goals. I found if I just allowed myself, I could actually enjoy the times spent with family on vacations, with friends or just some time alone. I started enjoying my times in the kitchen experiencing a new recipe. I found that I still enjoyed reading and writing in my journal. I dug into my storage box and found my old journals and began to write one of those novels that I had told myself that I would write… some day. I completed the novel and published it in 2012.  I  now enjoy writing blogs, newsletters,  poems and creating new recipes. I find reasons to laugh, time to travel, and enjoying nature. I even go camping! I have become so AWARE of all the things and places that I enjoy and the many things that I am capable of accomplishing. I made a decision to  set goals to retire in January 2015 and work for myself at home. (I actually did it!)

I love finding quiet places to read, write, sing, listen to music, creative DIY and culinary projects as well as gardening. These activities really give me a sense of calmness and create smiles on my face and joy in my heart. I love being completely absorbed in the moment, savoring the enjoyment of it all. I always look forward to exploring something new.   My soul is nourished and I am able to transcend the  limits I had allowed other people as well as myself to place on me. My goal in life  now is to savor each  moments and live my life on purpose.

Clarity of Purpose

It’s been a long while since I’ve added any content to my blog. Without going into a sob story, just suffice it to say that, like many of us, life happens and sometimes its not gentle in its dealings.  Trials are like that.  I read somewhere that we are either in a trial, going into a trial or coming out of a trial.  No one is immune.

I don’t know when it happened but resulting from some of these trials, some negative thoughts and views had positioned their way  into my life and prevented me from writing for almost two years. Without going into detail, I found myself with no clarity of what my purpose was.  The writer that I was had suddenly gone away. I felt rejected and questioned who I was. In the past I had  written blogs and even published my first novel in  2012 but suddenly, I began to avoid writing, making up all kinds of excuses to myself. I felt uncertain and unsure of myself and  had begun to operate in doubt and fear and  felt inadequate to write. I felt that I had even lost my voice to even tell myself not to listen to the negative thoughts in my head.  I never let on my stinking thinking to my family and they never asked me when I was going to publish those books that I had previously been so excited about and determined to write.  I was not willing to be honest even with myself about the thoughts and feelings that I had, and I avoided the conversation when anyone did ask.  I would even lie (yes, I lied) sometimes and say I was working on another manuscript when the truth was I couldn’t even open up the file that held the notes to my manuscripts.

A few months ago I started a 12 week  small group discipleship class  given by the counseling department of one of the large churches in the area, ‘Equipping Our Hearts to Grow in Grace’ .  It began a memorable experience that is allowing me to grow in grace and provided me a safe place to learn, grow and share my thoughts without the need to seek favor, compete, have fear of being judged or criticized.  There I learned to recognize some hindrances in my life that prevented me from experiencing abundant life. I learned that I had to change some thoughts, some views and behaviors in order to overcome those obstacles and learn to love myself again. The discipleship class helped me to overcome rejection and its residual emotional wounds.

In the class I examined why I struggled with moving ahead and the influences that made me feel stuck and shaped my belief system to the point that I believed that I couldn’t write anymore.  I was able to get back on the right track by recognizing where I was at that moment in time and learn to move forward.  I had experienced some disappointments in my life and then started remembering all the baggage of disappointments from my past. It overwhelmed me, I began to tell myself that all the bad things and disappointments in my life had happened because God must have been punishing me.  I found myself dwelling on all the wrongs that I may have done to deserve the position that I found myself in.  I felt that I didn’t measure up and  hopeless that my circumstances would never change.  I was secretly depressed, emotionally guarded, but hid it from those close to me and suffered in silence. I must have done a great job because many people told me that they admired how strong I have always been and it seemed that I always ‘had it all together.’  What I learned in a nutshell was that when I based my identity on what other people thought of me, I was virtually trusting that person with my identity.

I recently joined another wonderful group on Facebook called the ‘Content Strategy Lab’ where we share ideas, ask for and receive feedback, experiment with content for our brand and provide a safe place to test our ideas, and sometimes even blow stuff up which is what sometimes happen in labs, as our group leader, M. Shannon likes to say.   Each week, we have ‘Kick Monday’s Ask’, where we get the chance to ‘Ask’ for what we need, then watch what happens.  We have “What’s Up Wednesdays’ where we get to brag about the good things happening in our business and to share any ‘badassery’ news with the community.  Every day is a day for learning something new and sharing online seminars, webinars and all sorts of awesome goodness.

One of the upcoming events in January is our 2017 Word of the Year Virtual Party where we are encouraged to forget about New Year’s resolutions and choose to FOCUS instead.  for the past couple of years  I had been feeling  confused, perplexed, unsure, and unclear of why it was so difficult to sit at my desk and write.  After joining The Content Strategy Lab and the Discipleship Class, they, together have given me encouragement and food for thought for the upcoming year.  I chose the word ‘Clarity’ because  that one word would sum up who I want to be (a writer) and how I want to live my life (in Clarity) and focus on every day. The dictionary declares the word ‘clarity’  as having the quality of being clear, coherent and intelligible.  It is having the quality of being certain or definitive, and of being transparent. This one word will not only shape my year but it will  shape me as well.  This one word will become my compass that will direct my decisions and guide my steps as I receive my Clarity of purpose in writing again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Faith

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My mother was a praying woman. We would find her praying in the morning, in the evening, and always  whenever we left the house to travel whenever we were faced with trials in our lives. She even prayed  when we told her about some triumphant moments that occurred in our lives.  We knew that no matter what,  our prayer lives were covered and we felt safe because our mother prayed for us.  Recently I read somewhere that ‘Faith is like a toothbrush:  use it every day but don’t use someone else’s.”  John Mason

We depended on those prayers of our mother and when she died we were in a panic because we were thinking about ‘who did we have to pray for us now?‘  Many of us based our faith on what our mom believed instead of having that faith in God for ourselves. We had to quickly learn that faith  works  when we believe.  It’s kind of like allowing someone else to eat something and tell us how good it was. We can take their word for it that it is good,  but unless we taste it too, we will never really know just how good it really was.

The Bible says, ‘Oh taste and see for it is so good!’ God can certainly use other people to  reach out to us and lead us to Him,  but we must believe in Him because we have been convicted in our own hearts that He is who He is.  He wants to have a personal relationship with us.

We had to learn how to pray for ourselves and for each other.  As the oldest sibling,  I promised my siblings that I would hold us together and do whatever I needed to do to keep us together.  I had to learn how to have that vertical relationship with Christ in order to stand in the gap just like my mother did all through the years.  I find that I am in constant prayer and I am praying even now as I am writing this article because there are issues that I need Him to handle.  I have found that all of us have developed a stronger prayer life and we learned that from our mother.  We have found that it keeps our bond strong.  It does not mean that we never have issues by no means.  But it does mean that when problems arise we know that there is a God that is bigger than us who can handle our problems.

For the Woman I Found Dead in the Starbucks Parking Lot

I just had to repost this. I was truly touched by this beautiful but sad story…Thanks Lucas

Legionwriter

I thought you were sleeping. It seems silly now, but you must understand, when one sees a person slumped over inside a parked car, the most reasonable conclusion is rarely that the person slumped over is dead. It was the lights from the dashboard that caught my eye. If it weren’t for the lights, I would have missed you completely, and – who knows? – you may still be lying out there, unknowing of the legions of addicts drawn to the verifiable Mecca of caffeine. You’d remain oblivious to the following day’s massive local windstorm and the city’s collective anxiety, followed by elation, when our beloved Seahawks won the big game. You might still be slumped awkwardly over your console, and I suppose your car would be run dry of gas by then, but folks would not be any more observant.

I say it was the lights on your dashboard…

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Happy Thanksgiving

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I want to take this time to thank everyone who has made my life on this earth memorable. I want to thank all of my clients past and present. I want to thank my readers who have embraced me during this short period of me becoming a published author. It has been an amazing journey of personal and business growth for me these past few years.

I am always happy and appreciative when Thanksgiving is approaching because this wonderful holiday allows me the opportunity to thank all of you.

The pleasure of meeting so many of you whether once or hundreds of times has been incredibly rewarding and motivating. Each of you have your own place in my heart and my memories. In our conversations I have learned from each of you and for that I am grateful.

God has been so good to me in spite of some ups and some downs, and I thank Him for the lessons. I thank you for your patronage during this year and past years, and for allowing me to be of service to you.

All week I have been wishing people a “Happy Thanksgiving.” I have learned that through talking to people there are many who are going through some struggles, and the upcoming holidays may be really tough for some. Yet, during this time, all I could do was think ‘how can I wish this person a Happy Thanksgiving?’ There is no easy answer to the question,.

Some of us will have a Happy Thanksgiving, and some of us will not. And the more I think of it, some of them are my clients and some are friends.

I received a phone call on last Sunday from my sister who informed me that a dear friend who lives in her city had gone to bed on Saturday night and never woke up. His wife, of course, is devastated. I was stunned. Life is so short. I thought about what I could possibly say to encourage her. I called and left a message on her phone and I am not really sure what I said. However, I pray that whatever message I left was an encouragement to her during her great loss.

We will all, at some point, be forced to face loss and pain. I can tell you that some holidays will be happier than others. This is life, and there’s nothing that I or anyone else can do to change that. But as we head into this Thanksgiving Holiday, I urge you all to look around you and be thankful for what you do have, be thankful for those that love you and those that you love.

Chances are, you will find so many things to be to be thankful for. Please don’t take those things for granted.

As most of you know I have written my first novel, “Broken Promises.” If you would like a chance to get a copy for FREE, please click on my Face Book page and ‘like’ it. Each one of you who likes my page will be entered to win a Free book. Click here to like my page. The drawing will be held on December 15.

 

Once again, I thank you for being a part of my life.

 

Seeing The Big Picture

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big picture

‘In order to properly understand the big picture, everyone should fear becoming mentally clouded and obsessed with one small section of truth.”  Xun Zi

I had spent so much time focusing on the details of life’s experiences that I found that I missed seeing the big picture. I detail oriented and I like making  plans and then working those plans at all costs.  Actually, in most cases,  that is absolutely a good thing.  That is how most people get from point A to point B, by focusing their attention to the details.  However, I found myself trying  to fill my days that I had  more details  to focus on than I should.

I  love going to art shows and museums.  When I am there I  get  lost in the beauty of it all.  However,  when I am standing too close to the object, I would focus on the smallest detail of the creation.  I could see the lines and strokes of the artist’s paint brush, how the colors of the piece  blends together, then separate into individual colors.  Then I realized that in order to see the beauty of the piece, I had to stand back, sometimes way back in order to see the beauty of it all.

When I think about this scenario, I compared that to how I could become so wrapped up in my work of projects, writings, and even life itself without thinking of my true purpose.  I had  become so bogged down in the details that I lost  my sense of enjoyment. Paying attention to details is a good thing but I had become over the top.  I found myself spending more hours on  writing trying to perfect some paragraph or page, that I have gone past the deadlines. I spent hours  on details that were time-consuming, and failed to finish the  tasks.  Precious moments accomplishing nothing much,  so lost in the details and unable to even move beyond the details.

I soon realized that  had I continued  being so bogged down  in the details, it could actually prevent me from accomplishing my goals. There had been days that I focused so much on clearing every unimportant piece of paper from my desk that I almost failed to finish my main project.  I had to mentally and physically  take a break, leave my office, step away in order to see the forest.  I learned to delegate some tasks to my assistant. Together we accomplished so much and it allowed me to breathe and see the whole picture.

Life can be so busy and at times difficult to find time to stop, step back and see the whole garden of life.    Botanical Gardens became the  ideal place for me to visit,reflect, write, dream, breathe, step back… and see the big picture of life.

Getting Out of The Rat Race

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A few years ago, I read , As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen. I learned from that book that we can make or unmake ourselves, and just by our thoughts we can create the weapon that can also destroy us.  By choosing positive thoughts we can ascend to the greatest heights, whereas by choosing negative thinking we can plummet to the lowest depths of our souls.

Most everyone has been a part of the ‘rat race’ at one time or the other.  I know I have.  It was not fun.  I remember waking up at dark-thirty in the morning in order to get dressed in time to beat the rush hour.  I live an hour away from my job and had to be there by 7:00 am.  In order to get there on time, however, I needed to leave home by 5:30 a.m. because if I didn’t, I would be sitting on I-285 for an extra 30-45 minutes.  I worked from 7:00 in the morning to 4:00  in the afternoon when rush hour was at its best.  I would get home between six and six-thirty in the evening and was so exhausted from the traveling, I had little energy left.  However, I still had to get dinner for my family, spend time with them, help my children with homework, do a few chores, then go to bed and start the same ritual all over again the next day.

During my work shift I would be constantly moving from the EEG Lab to the patient’s floors and back and forth from  the Lab to the office.  I made sure that the office ran smoothly each day so that hospital records were accurate.  I focused all of my energy on making sure the patients were taken care of and making our department run smoothly and profitable.  After working so hard I only received dollars for the hours that I worked.    Herein was only one of my ‘rat races.’ I have been in several over the years.  Many who read this can also relate constantly working and exchanging dollars for hours.

I felt trapped.  Although I loved many aspects of those J.O.B.s,  I began to notice the entrapment when I would finally get a chance to sit down and think about how I could improve my life.  I realized that I just had to get out of the ‘rat race’ for my own sanity.  In order to do that, I had to change my way of thinking.  Instead of thinking like an employee, I had to start thinking like an entrepreneur…taking control of my own time and my own money.

I knew it would not be easy but  I finally left the ‘rat race’ and I am now learning how to work smarter, not harder.  I finally found the time to write my first novel.  Being an entrepreneur does  not mean a lack of struggle.  It simply means I am in control of my struggles as well as my successes. I decided that I needed to build my own dream or live and work in someone else’s dream.

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jer. 29:11

Thanks for stopping by!

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Hiding Under The Stairs

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When I was a little girl, we once lived in a big white Victorian style house with a wrap-around porch and inside, a huge staircase.  At least it seemed huge to me at the time. We rented one side of the house from Mrs. Blevins, a really nice rich old lonely lady who loved for us to come and visit.  I remember her serving us warm rice with butter and honey and a little cream.  Her husband had died a few years earlier, and she rarely had company so we became somewhat like her family.  I loved that big old house and I loved the big porch, my family and Mrs. Blevins.  However, there were times when I felt sad or lonely and there were times when I didn’t want to talk to my family or Mrs. Blevins.  I just wanted to be alone all by myself  just to think my little girl thoughts whatever they were.

There were times when maybe I just wanted to feel sorry for myself at that age…who knew?  I was  6-8 years old when we lived there and then Mrs. Blevins died. Feeling sad that I would never see her again, I claimed my spot under those stairs, the best hiding place and no one could ever find me.  Under the stairs there was a  metal grate that I could remove and get inside and watch people pass by to view her body in the parlor, but they could not see me. Up until we moved a few years later, I would take my books and a blanket  and read, or take crayons and pencils and draw or color something.  Sometimes I would just sit and think or wonder if anyone would miss me.  I don’t think I was ever really gone long enough to be missed because no one ever discovered my hiding place.

When I got older and real problems faced me, I viewed them either as a big Doberman or a little Chihuahua.  I was not afraid of the little Chihuahua problems but those Doberman problems scared me to death! I would tell myself ‘I can’t wait until next year.’  I knew that if I got through to next year I would have survived those Doberman problems.  I would wish for a place to hide, like under the staircase,  whenever I wanted to be alone, or to hide from my problems, to write or just to reflect.  There were times when my problems frightened me so badly that I thought that if I could hide under that staircase, my problems would never find me.  They would go away and afterwards, I could emerge when the problems were over.  If only I  could just find a good hiding place….

Of course I could never run or hide from problems… I had to face them head on.  I also knew that it’s all in how I viewed my problems…either I had problems or the problems had me. I determined in my heart that I was bigger than my problems.  But bigger than that, I discovered  that there was God who made the mountains, and He made the trees, He made the rivers that flow to the seas, and He sends the rain when the earth is dry… He’s Somebody bigger than you and I…..’  He was bigger than anything and He was my hiding place.  One day as I was listening to the song, ‘You Are My Hiding Place’ by Selah,  I was reminded that I never had to run and hide from my problems because Not only would He Hide me, He would see me through those problems.  I learned that He could handle my little Chihuahua problems as well as my big Doberman problems.

 

Lord…

You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You

I will trust in You
Let the weak say
I am strong
In the strength of the Lord

You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You

I will trust in You
Let the weak say I am strong
In the strength of the Lord
I will trust in You

Michael James