One Little Word

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A few years ago, my husband asked me what was my word. I had a puzzled look on my face as I was totally clueless about what he meant. When he explained the One Word concept to me, my interest was piqued. I’ve always set goals for myself for the year both personal and business. But focusing on just one word was new to me.

The act of choosing a word (or having a word choose you) is full of potential and possibility. Sometimes a word pops into your brain that doesn’t make any sense to you in the moment. That’s okay. Give it some time and let it marinate. Sometimes what is deep down in our souls has a way of bubbling up to the surface. It could be a word you need to hear, but just aren’t ready for – yet. Be open to the possibilities.

One little word can make a BIG impact on your life.

Your word can be a thought or a feeling or an emotion. It might be silly or serious. It might be something you want to bring to your life. It might be something you want or need to change. My word came at me loud and clear, but I tried to ignore it because it was uncomfortable to me. But it wouldn’t go way. LOL!   That happens and that’s good. So here it goes my one word for 2017…BOLD. It means showing an ability to take risks; courageous; fearless; powerful. Talk about pushing you straight out of your comfort zone! Well, I’m here for all of that. I have this diva here to remind me. 😉

naturalflydiva one word

My word also led me to this scripture which I will use to guide my year:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power,love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

My goal is to be bold about how I live my life, my spirituality, how I run my business and the relationships I cultivate and nurture. I’d love to hear about your one word for 2017. Drop me a line in the comments.

 

 

 

Ain’t No Half Steppin’

5 things I learned

Earlier this year I made a big, scary goal for myself. It seemed so unreal when the words “I want to do a half marathon” came from my mouth. In my head I was like “What?! Girl, what are you thinking? Are you crazy?” At first, I didn’t even tell my family or closest friends. I was afraid that if I did I couldn’t back out when that fear loomed over my head like a giant rain cloud ready to burst. But, I did tell my GirlTrek sisters because I knew they would understand. Not everyone gets why I want need to walk everyday. It’s my sacred time, my daily self-care. Well, they were very encouraging and a few of them were also planning on participating the half marathon. Eventually, I told my husband and sister. They were also very supportive of my decision.

courage

So, I started training a couple of months after finishing the Crescent City Classic 10K. The heat and humidity of a New Orleans summer challenged me to say the least. As the months turned into weeks and then days before the big day I felt anxiety building inside. It was then I had to lean on my WHY. Why did I want to do this? Two reasons – to prove to myself that I could and my children are watching. I thrive on challenges and this was a big one for me. However, knowing that my children were encouraging me and wanting to see me succeed meant the world. They’ve watched me walk, exercise and participate in races. They have even participated with me. I was showing them what was possible in achieving your goals.

 

All the anticipation, wonder and preparation for this half marathon is over. Whew! I’m happy to report that I completed my first ever half marathon. The absolute farthest I’ve ever walked non-stop – 13.1 miles. I’ve gone from “strolling” daily to hitting a 15 minute mile. From taking almost an hour to complete a 5K to doing daily 5Ks.  I want  you to know that it’s possible to do that crazy thing in your head – make it a reality.

 

post race

Here are my top five takeaways from my journey to a half marathon:

  1. Everyone who starts out with you, won’t finish with you. As I mentioned before, several of my GirlTrek sisters participated in the half marathon with me. There were seven of us. Four of us started at the same time, but we all finished separately. I couldn’t keep up their pace so I stayed in my lane. I caught up with them a few times, but I was more concerned with keeping the time goal I set for myself. Sometimes, you have to leave others behind to get to what God has for you in life.  No shade, it’s just that you can’t take everything and everyone with you where you’re going.
  2. You have to run your own race. When I decided to go for a half marathon I did it as a challenge for me and no one else. There wasn’t a soul who was going to run this race for me. I had nothing to prove to anyone, but myself.  It was nice having others there that I knew. We all started out together, but ultimately had to keep going at our own pace to finish. My goal was to finish – no matter what.  In life, especially with social media, people are so concerned with keeping up with someone else’s level of success. What is for you is for YOU.
  3. With God leading you, NOTHING is impossible. Did I tell you that this was a bit scary for me? I had never walked 13.1 miles in one stretch – EVER. Looking at the map of the route was a bit daunting, but I asked God to lead me on my journey. I prayed daily for endurance and strength. I prayed for the nervousness to subside so that I could focus on the task at hand. Meditating on Phillipians 4:6 and Hebrews 11:1 kept me going when I felt like I couldn’t take another step.
  4. You were born to stand out. About half way through the race I noticed there were a few people in front of me and not many behind me. For a long stretch it seemed like I was the lone ranger trudging along the route.  For a few miles I stood out, apart from the pack so to speak. Lately I’ve come to realize that I was being propelled to the forefront. Rather reluctantly I might add. It’s where I’m supposed to be.
  5. Don’t give up, don’t give in! It’s hard, I get it. The end seemed so far off. The closer I got, the more it seemed like someone moved the finish line. Doubt started to creep in, but then I prayed. My spirit was reassured that I didn’t come this far to give up. I pressed on until my race was done. It may have been a half marathon, but ain’t no half steppin’ allowed.

 

Reflections

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you know I am ’bout getting and staying fit and healthy. You also know that I love Girl Trek! This movement is all about getting women and girls to be healthy on step at a time. Like, literally. They encourage you to take 30 minutes a day for you (remember we have to by F.L.Y.) to walk. Self-care is so important and should be a priority for us all. That’s why I jumped at the chance to be a part of this movement.

My New Orleans Girl Trek team is absolutely awesome! Yes, I’m biased, but it’s the truth. On Monday, I spent the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday with them and my children, marching through the streets of New Orleans during our city’s parade in honor of Dr. King. We sung, walked, chanted and danced our way into the hearts of women and girls along the parade route. We stopped and talked to people along the way and took photos to commemorate the day.

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Photo credit: Monica Hyacinthe

If ever here was a place that needed healing, New Orleans was definitely it. Many along the parade route may have been there to see their “babies” perform, but they got so much more. Hope. Understanding. Love. You see, when you look at us – women of all shapes, sizes and ages walking and working together with so much joy exuding from us, you’re bound to want to know more. I realized that we are reflections of Dr. King and his dream. We are still fighting to protect what is ours. We are persevering despite what it looks like on the outside. That’s why we trek.

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Girl Trekkers marching for peace & health

Our Girl Trek team had the pleasure of sharing the day with the co-founder of Girl Trek, T. Morgan Dixon. When my daughter met her she thought I was famous. She thinks I know everyone. Ha! I’m just mom (or so I thought). But in her eyes and those of my sons I am so much more.  I truly realized how much of an impact my way of living has on my children and those who surround me. They’re watching me. Watching what I say and do. Do I keep my word? Do I help others? How do I treat people?  They see me give and want to be givers. They see me serve and volunteer and want to do the same. They are reflections of me. If I want them to be better and do better they have to see me in action first. I’m raising leaders and thinkers and world-changers.  I pray that they continue to be servant leaders and be proud of the impact they are having on those around them no matter how small their actions may seem. They, too, are reflections of Dr. King.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Joy…and Pain

Far too many women are suffering in silence. A mask of happiness covering their grief. Shedding quiet tears behind closed doors. Feeling like no one understands you and your pain. I understand how you feel all too well…

We were looking forward to starting a family but things weren’t going as planned. So I turned to my doctor for help. Imagine my shock and joy when my doctor told me I was already pregnant. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my husband! My doctor scheduled my first ultrasound the week of Thanksgiving. We thought it was perfect timing as we could share our good news with our family for Thanksgiving. The plan was to have the ultrasound done and then get on the highway to visit my brother-in-law for the holiday.

A couple of days before my ultrasound I had some light spotting. I was told this was normal and not to worry. It stopped and I felt okay. As the technician performed the ultrasound she kept the screen facing her. I thought that was a bit odd. Then she left the room for a moment and I started to get nervous. When she came back into the room she told me to go straight to my doctor’s office. I asked why and was met with you NEED to talk to your doctor. That was it. When we arrived there was a waiting room full of pregnant bellies waiting to be seen. We bypassed them and were taken in my doctor’s office, not an exam room. I prayed. She told us that I had an ectopic pregnancy. What is that? I had never heard of that before so I didn’t really understand the severity of what she was saying at the time. Then she told me I had to have emergency surgery. They may have to remove my tube and my baby. At that moment, I think the world stopped.  At least in my head it did. I shed a few tears, but I didn’t have time for them. There was no time to process what I was being told. There was no time to feel anything. I had to be prepped for surgery. What began as an exiting day quickly turned into a nightmare. We needed help – quickly! We made the heart-wrenching calls to his parents, my sister and my godmother telling them we lost the baby they never knew I had.  During the walk over to the ER I was numb, just going through the motions.

My surgery went well as I had no complications, but I woke up to the reality that I was no longer pregnant. I was told they removed my tube because it was damaged and that would greatly decrease my chances of having a baby. And if I did get pregnant, chances were high that it may be ectopic again. That was my new reality. Nothing prepared me for the avalanche of emotions that came pouring out of me in days following. The helpless looks on the faces of loved ones when I was on the verge of tears yet again. Thanksgiving would never be the same for me. Baby showers and birthday parties were hard.

Fast forward twelve years and now I have three beautiful, smart and healthy children. Remember when they said my chances for conceiving again were pretty low. But God! My faith had been challenged, but remained in tact. I may have been stretched and pushed, but I was just bent, not broken.

What Not to Say…Pregnancy and Infant Loss

If you’ve ever experienced the loss of a baby or pregnancy you may have heard these sentiments expressed by well-meaning friends and family members. You probably felt as if someone punched in the gut or slapped you across your face. That’s how much these words can hurt. Your loved ones want to comfort and support you, but they’re at a loss for words.

Dear friends who are struggling with “What should I do? What should I say?”, read on for tips to avoid saying the wrong thing to a newly grieving parent.

 

“He/She is in a better place.” Regardless of religious beliefs, a grieving parent wants the baby alive and safe in their arms. That is the best place for them to be. So instead of saying that, help the parents to remember their lost baby. Release balloons or butterflies, make a scrapbook or plant a tree as a memorial.

“You’re young, you can always have more children.” It’s meant to be comforting and encouraging, but it makes it seem like you’re diminishing the mother’s pain. You may not have a clue as to how long a couple had been trying to conceive prior to this loss. This phrase ends up hurting instead of helping.

“It was God’s will.”/ “Everything happens for a reason.” Saying this comes across like you’re trying to downplay the loss. Yes, everything does happen for a reason, but that doesn’t mean it’s better or comforting. Right now, the mother is feeling like it’s her fault that she lost her baby and that pain is all too real. Losing a child is painful. Trying to explain it away does more harm than good.

“At least you weren’t further along.” Again, you don’t know how long a couple had been trying for and dreamed of having this baby. From the moment you find out you’re pregnant you form a bond and love for your baby. Nothing can ever take that away. Their baby is forever connected to them. Treat their loss as you would for anyone else who may have lost a loved one.

“God never gives us more than we can handle.” This statement is hardly reassuring while you are mourning the loss of your child. At that moment, a grief-stricken parent feels like their world has fallen apart and nothing can make it better.  Instead, acknowledge that they may not feel like they can handle life during this time. Be supportive by listening when they do want to talk, bringing over a meal and encouraging rest.

Just know this: it is best to keep it simple. No explanations or elaborate prose are necessary. Don’t try to fill the conversation with words because you don’t like the silence. “I’m sorry for your loss” or “I’m thinking of you and your family” go a long way. In the end just know there are no magic words to make grieving parents feel better and that’s okay. Show your love and support through acts of kindness. It would really mean a lot. Trust me.

 

 

3 Reasons Why You Need an Accountability Partner

So you’ve looked at your goals and realized you need a little help achieving them. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. No one feels motivated ALL the time. Whether you’re trying to reach personal or professional goals you should have an accountability partner. You know, someone to encourage you and keep you on your toes. We often need that push when things get difficult or don’t go according to plan. With your accountability partner, you check in and keep each other in line when one starts to slack off.

Three ways having accountability partners can help you:

  1. They help you measure your progress. Your partner will remind you to “do the work”. That’s right. You said you were going to do something by a particular date and your partner is going to check that it’s done. Create little milestones along the way. Did you achieve the goal? Surpass it? Did you even come close?
  2. They help validate your thoughts or ideas. Your partner will give you a reality check. Bounce your ideas off of someone who can help you make sound decisions. Your partner will help you clarify your goals and offer constructive criticism when needed.
  3. They keep you responsible. They remind you of your commitment and expect you to honor it. This limits the excuses when you know you have to answer to someone other than yourself. It’s easy to talk yourself into eating that double cheeseburger when you know you really should have a nice salad. Your trainer will be all in your head telling you to back away from that cheeseburger.

When seeking an accountability ,partner, find someone who will challenge, engage, and bring out a sense of accomplishment in you. It may be your spouse, a friend, a colleague, or complete strangers. Wait! Did you say strangers? Yes, I did! Often in online communities you can find some of the best accountability partners. You may have common goals, but have never met before. You connect on social media or via an app and support each other through those means. Let me tell you, it works better when you have someone you’re accountable to.

I’ll give you a personal example. I wanted to change my eating habits and exercise regularly. A friend invited me to one of her online accountability groups where we followed a certain exercise program for a couple of months. Each day we posted when our workout was complete. If we had any challenges or confessions (like you didn’t workout) we posted those, too. There’s always someone there with an encouraging word and a “friendly reminder” to get it in. Even on those days when I felt guilty for eating those cookies and ice cream when I should have had a salad or smoothie for lunch, I still got myself up and worked out. Guess what? Those who checked in regularly tended to see better results with weight and inches lost. That’s just one example. So I challenge you to go out today and find an accountability partner for one goal that you’re working to achieve. After you’ve been with your partner a couple of weeks, leave me a comment here or on my Facebook page and let me know how it’s working out for you.

Until then, continue to F.L.Y.!

The Accountability Factor

For the past month or so this one word has been buzzing around many conversations and social settings that I’ve been a part of.  Accountable. Every time I heard that word a little bell would go off. Ding ding ding! It’s been showing up in my social media feeds and webinars. Merriam-Webster defines accountable as: “1. required to explain actions or decisions to someone 2. required to be responsible for something”. We are all accountable for something and/or someone at various points in our lives. Husbands and wives are accountable to be faithful to each other. Children are accountable to their parents and teachers for obeying the rules set forth. If you are employed you are accountable to your employer for doing the job you were hired for.  After much thought, I realized that there are four important components to accountability.

  • Accountability is a choice. It is a choice to be responsible. You make a conscious decision to deal with the outcome good or bad.
  • Accountability has a purpose. That purpose gives direction to your actions. It is your motivation. Your “why”.
  • Accountability requires you to take ownership. When you’re accountable you have to stop the excuses and the blame game.
  • Accountability requires a commitment. You make a promise that you will follow through on a particular action.

Each one of us is accountable for how we live our lives. We are accountable to ourselves and to each other. That’s a simple, but powerful statement. It’s also a bit tough to digest at times. How can we use accountability to improve and transform our lives? Think about what you are accountable for. Who are you accountable to? Are you holding someone accountable for their actions? How are you being accountable to yourself and others? Write down these questions and your answers. Look over it and meet me back here for part two of the accountability factor.

F.L.Y. – First, Love Yourself

In an age where images of half-dressed women are everywhere and the majority of songs about women hardly ever refer to loving them (not just having sex), it is so important that we instill self-love and respect in our girls and young women.  All too often they’re hearing “you’re too fat”, “you’re too skinny”, “your lips are too big (or too thin)”. Those voices get ingrained in their mind. We have to drown out that negativity by making positive deposits in their love bank. Those positive deposits create an abundance of self-esteem.

We should want our daughters to KNOW they are beautiful and not just by society’s standard of beauty. They should KNOW they are loved so they don’t go looking for it in the wrong places or have a warped sense of what love is. Love definitely is not in getting beat, slapped around or called out of your name. My husband & I make sure to do this with our daughter. It’s so important that she hears these things from her daddy – the first man who’s ever loved her and the first man she’s loved. We tell her that her hair doesn’t need to look like someone else’s to make her beautiful. Also, that she doesn’t need a ton of make up on to be beautiful. The hair and skin you were born with are beautiful. God chose them just for you. It’s what makes you unique. Remember that you were born to stand out, not fit in!

As adults we also must remember to love ourselves first. So often, especially as mothers, we take care of everyone and everything else and leave what’s left for ourselves. Many times, it isn’t much. Make a date with yourself everyday. Take 30 minutes to do something for YOU and only you. Read a book, pray, meditate, take a walk, do yoga or what ever it is you like to do.  It’s easy to get caught up in all the other things that need to be done or that you should be more “productive”. But think about it. How can you be truly productive if you’re tired and stressed? I’ll be honest, it’s a challenge to do this on a daily basis. But I’ve turned to my handy dandy calendar and literally made an appointment with myself. My 30 minutes to exercise is there with pop-up alarms to remind me to get moving. I get up a few minutes earlier than I have to so I can have a few moments of peace to speak and listen to God. Now if this wife, mom of three, troop leader, pack volunteer and moms group leader can do it so can you. I challenge you to take the time to  first love yourself for at least one week. Then come back and tell me how it went and how you feel.

Hello world!

Welcome to my little space on the net! Here I’ll share my musings about my world, family life, food and whatever else is on my mind. Let me tell you a little about me. I’m a wife and mommy of three who loves to bake, cook and spend time with my family and friends. I’m taking this journey called life one day at a time and learning a lot along the way.