Problem Solving

The previous topics, finding your why and asking questions, are not only important for planning but also for problem solving. We must make decisions everyday of our lives. A perfect example of how my “why” helped me to press forward. At the end if my freshman year of college, I made two “C”s. I felt so sad and I walked around looking pitiful. My friends did everything but laugh at me as I sat in despair thinking I was doomed. They did not understand the damage two “C”s had on a GPA. I had an academic scholarship that was dependent on me maintaining a 3.0 at all times. I felt lost and did not know what to do.

I gave myself a few weeks to recover, but once I refocused, I was able to make additional plans. Let me be honest with you, it was hard to stop myself from fearing the worse. I actually had to spend long hours in bible readings and prayer before I could realize new plans that would compensate for the loss of revenue. It was going to be hard work but I was finally ready. The summer before my college sophomore year, I worked and saved most of the money for the purpose of registering for the new school year.  Unfortunately, I did not have anyone to help me with paying for college. All of the financial and emotional pressures were on my shoulders to carry alone, but in the planning process, I realized this would be one of the challenges. I was already committed to persevering. Quitting was not an option.

First semester was the focus and I was going to tackle second semester after I had jumped that hurdle of first semester. I asked financial aid questions and their answers helped me toThe registrar accepted what I had as a deposit and I signed a written agreement regarding the monthly payments. Work study earnings were all saved and it paid the remaining semester balance.  I finished the semester debt free and regained my scholarship for the second semester when my GPA hit above the 3.0 requirements. It was a year full of excitement, heartache, and a beautiful victory.  Doing the homework during the planning process helps us to consider options that are available. Remember, you always have choices. I asked financial aid questions and asked for arrangements. This process of problem solving has helped me to push through many tough situations.

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Using A Planner

I’m not an organization expert or planner guru. This is not an advertisement. This is for people who are looking for wisdom regarding planning.

Planning is for the wise and the strong. It is also for the weak and faint at heart. In grade school, I had problems focusing. After almost an entire year of fun and games from the back of the class, the teacher finally contacted my mother to tell her of our failure. It was a failure to complete assignments, a failure to determine how much I had grown, and a failure to succeed in making me third grade ready. She could not allow me to ascend to the next level if I was not proficient in the basics. That year I made an amazing discovery and realized that I was easily distracted. It was a wake up call and I understood all that I could loose if I did not focus. Planning is my way of making sure I’m remaining focus.

When I pull out my planner, I think about the appointments I have during the week. I then think about my goals for the week. Do I have any assignments due? Am I responsible for organizing an event or gathering (small or large)? These are things I must think about when sitting to plan. Just a side note, I am a bit “extra” when it comes to planning. I am beginning to break almost every task down into smaller steps. This helps me to evaluate how much I can realistically accomplish in a certain amount of time. For example, if I need to make a phone call, I need to place the number beside the task listed. If I do not have the number, then a phone call is placed on the “to do” list and I leave space for finding the number. It becomes a two part action.

Although time is like money, never forget people first before things. Planning is only a tool.  With that in mind, using my planner helps me to appreciate how my time is being used. I can even celebrate small failures. What others may call wasting, I call investing. For example, if I spend four hours on the phone with my sister for her birthday, then I am making an investment in her and our relationship. I can look at my huge “to do” list and reflect on how she is more important than all of those items combined. Although time is like money, love should always be first.

Parenting in Grace

Parenting is a tough job, but it is the most important. We all want to get it right because others are depending on us. Unfortunately, we will make some mistakes, but you must remember that perfection is not the goal but love is.  It is no perfect way for raising  children but there are some timeless principles. There is one that I’m just learning myself. The principle of grace.

My mother was pretty tough and a fair  disciplinarian.  She was far from perfect and life in a dysfunctional family was anything but easy. The only saving grace was that she loved me. As I matured, I respected the boundaries she set concerning us. It fostered a respect for her and even when we were away,  I considered what she would say about my choices. She also had respect from others because of her no-nonsense persona. She knew how to put people in their place.  It appeared that she was so good at handling us; hitherto, I believed that shaming a person was the way to put people in their place.

Her tough demeanor became my tough demeanor. Being tough was my way of coping with the challenges of life. I had many coping skills but the only problem is that those coping skills lost their effectiveness. What worked as a child was no longer working for me as an adult.

Recently I read Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. The biblical approach paralleled with a lot of my personal experiences and beliefs except on one point. I had never seen efforts taken by my parents to preserve my dignity whenever I made a mistake. I am NOT saying that it was my parents’ fault and they had to teach that. They did their best with what they had. I am saying that I never saw it before and did not know how to extend it to my family.

Tripp wrote that our job is to help our children to be honest in recognizing their weaknesses and needs. This is another healthy skill I had to learn as an adult. I was a quiet child at heart and rarely shared things that were on my heart. I had to trust that it was safe before sharing because of the shame I carried with so many of my memories. When I became truthful in recognizing my weaknesses and needs, I was able to handle challenges in healthy ways. Our children will also benefit from being honest with themselves and  in learning how to communicate their needs. This is important in managing the challenges of life.

Tripp used scripture references from The Bible that spoke volume and I see them as instructions for marriage, parenting, friendship and everything else. Proverbs 16:21, Don’t berate with destructive words. Proverbs 16:23, Wounding their spirit only deepens alienation.  On page 207 of his book, I like how Tripp defined our responsibilities. He said as parents we want to teach our children how to take their sins to the cross, find forgiveness, and the power to live. 

Have you ever seen a personal weakness surface in the lives of your children? How did you handle it?

40 Day Finale Living in Dignity and Grace

The 40 Days to Positive Posture was full of hard work. I challenged myself for weeks to walk greater distances. I was determined to smile more and chose to rejoice even in difficult circumstances. My view on life was being transformed. When I welcomed challenges, I realized they were doorways to opportunities. A variety of opportunities but the best was choosing to grow into a better person.

I concluded this personal posture challenge with an “all out” two-part finale. I participated in the 2017 Mrs. Maryland America Pageant on a Saturday. It was not going to cost me anything but efforts in working on my posture. The next day, to add to the fireworks, my family ran in our first 5k. A dream of mine is to participate in Marathons. I ran in high school and college but did not want that to be it for something I enjoyed so much. Since college, life became complicated. My legs gave out and walking became difficult. Last year at this time I was exercising under strict supervision. So this 40 day challenge was my way to share a recovery journey with you.

This challenge encouraged me to reflect on my attitude when facing physical challenges. I conquered some of the tough things with grace when I was determined to do so with positive posture. The way I carried myself garnered positive responses from others versus the times I didn’t care. When I walked in Positive Posture, I actually grew in an understanding of my own personal worth. I did not win the state title, but I was more honored to walk away with the title of Mrs. Bethesda America 2017. I was a winner whether they crowned me or not.

The 5k was its own challenge, and my 5 year old felt it the most out of all of us. This was her first full year of doing various runs, so a run of this distance was definitely a stretch for her. Although I had the experience decades ago, it felt like it was my first race as well. Early in the race, I saw a girl in a wheelchair being pushed by her sister. It was the most beautiful thing and I could not hold back the tears. Living with a disability will carry its own challenges, but it isn’t a limit on how much of life we are able to experience. We can choose to conquer challenges with grace when we choose positive posture.

Positive Posture is a choice. It is more than just physical stature. It is a way of thinking. It affects our personal abilities to overcome challenges and it affects how others see us. It is the decision to finish gracefully.

Honesty

Day 29
Honesty

How many people truly share the truth on how they are doing when asked, how are you? I am NOT saying that is a time to vent. I am saying that is the time to connect. Since most people don’t expect lengthy responses, there is no pressure to make it long. So we are faced with the question, how do you honestly share without overdoing it? Well first, you need time to daily reflect on how you are doing and what you are doing. You may have started a new hobby, but apprehension about your skills may stop you from sharing this exciting new interest. It is not so much about the details of roller coaster emotions but our personal response is what really makes the difference. For example, when how you are doing, you may respond hopeful with a brief description.”Hopeful. I’m learning to play a guitar.” Wouldn’t that act as a great icebreaker? Humor works great, but never at the expense of honesty. If you are grieving or suffering, you may respond with just prayerful. “Prayerful.” In this this case, explanation is only given when asked, but honesty is our intention.
Let’s brainstorm on honest responses for different scenarios.
For days you are in physical pain
For days we are feeling persecuted
For days we have disappointment

You maybe asking, what does this have to do with Positive Posture. Well, honesty is the key that can unlock the doors to miracles. As a person that’s recovering from hurts, hang ups and habits, I realize the first step in healing is acknowledging that I have a problem. This level of honesty with myself first, empowers me to go to God and ask for help. It frees me to share both trials and triumphs with those who walk beside me in the fight. Honesty will strengthen self esteem in how it builds confidence in myself to make good choices. Confidence is the most beautiful thing about an attractive personality.

Day 27
Had such an amazing stretching session with my husband. 45 minutes and I’m feeling so relaxed. Stretching helps with posture. Positive posture is almost impossible with tight chest muscles. It took months in physical therapy before I saw improvements in my posture a year ago. That was the best I ever felt concerning posture. I definitely want to include stretching into my daily routine.

Day 20
Took the walking from my home to the streets. I had a Dr. appointment that was a little over a mile away. We have a trail within our community that makes walking to places nearby a sheer joy. I worked up a sweat but nothing too embarrassing. So glad I took the challenge.

Day 14
I have included walking to my posture routine. I click on YouTube and allow Leslie Sampson to lead me in walking a mile. It is always difficult to start something new. In fact, starting is the HARDEST part. I’m glad to come across this video because she has made walking a mile so much easier. 15 minutes and I’m done!

Being Our Best Moves Us Forward

Day 8
Being Our Very Best Moves Us Forward

A four year old boy raced to write his name, he yells at another little fellow, “I won because I beat you.” I gently responded, “we are not competing against one another. What is important is that YOU do the very best that you possibly can.” Years have passed by and that child may have graduated from high school by now, but that lesson is still true. It is not about beating someone else to the finish.

If we compete, it is to be against ourselves. We are to strive to be and do better than we did the last time we met a challenge. It is important to do our very best not to win but because it is right. Although I taught this to little ones years ago, today it felt good when someone reminded me. My choices are not results of aimless goals but decisions I made to help achieve personal and family goals. Decisions and choices that help me to move forward and that will help build integrity and fortitude in the lives of my children.
Day 7: I Can Do All Things

After running one mile earlier that day, the coach calls me in to run a 4 by 4 relay race.  For months I practiced running distance, but he was desperate and was hoping for a miracle. We all were. The race started and we did our best to gain a big enough lead to buffer my inexperience, but it was not enough. We finished last. Although this was a high school track meet, the hard memory of poor performance still follows me. I always welcome a challenge, but I do so with hopes of winning. At times, I have started out without the promise of a win and I kept the faith knowing that my success is defined by me and not the world. If I finish with integrity and grace, then I have won. If my works failed but I have learned how to love and serve others in a more powerful way, then I have won.

Although this is a great way of facing challenges, there are still so many things yet to learn. I am left to wait patiently when there are no quick answers. My strength at times wanes and often I’m left with a whole lot of desire and very little energy. What do you do when all your strength is gone?  You keep on believing.  A few days ago, I met a friend at the Rayburn Building to attend a panel in Washington, D.C. My friend is a young woman who has a curvature of the spine and one shortened leg that twists. She hides her handicap by wearing beautiful long dresses and skirts as she gracefully tackle everyday challenges. A few years ago, my strength was so low that I stopped business activity and focused my energies on my husband and kids. This friend has a husband and a child, but yet never stops. She is very successful, so I had to ask her how does she do it. She told me, “I am always in pain, but The Lord is my help. Whenever I’m weak, He makes me strong. He gives me the strength.” I was speechless. In fact, I’m still thinking about it now. So, it is true…there is no such thing as the impossible with God. During these 40 days of Positive Posture, even during the hard days, it is necessary to work through it.

What do you do when all your strength is gone?
Day 6: Time To Celebrate

Life can be full of unexpected twists and turns. Each and everyday we dare ourselves to step into new adventures. What I appreciate about maturity is that we accept the outcome.  I count it a victory to live to fight another day. Do you rejoice when you meet a challenge?  Challenges bring lessons of faith, love and life and with each trial, we are faced with making a choice. We can choose to believe or we can choose to cower away out of fear.  I want to believe that I will choose each time to believe…I have that kind of spirit. In the end, I’m only stronger.

Do you believe?

Day 5: Reality

Today, I thought about the many times I have worked on my posture. The most memorable and most impactful change occurred with regular visits to physical therapy.  Years before, I focused on the core and felt stronger but found it still a bit difficult to continually practice Positive Posture. It wasn’t because I had not practiced daily. I think tight chest and neck muscles was pulling me back into poor positions. It reminds me of something called strongholds. Strongholds are vices that keep us from living our best lives.

Think about it, sometimes strongholds exist in our lives and we don’t even know they are there holding us back. Can you think of strongholds that could hold you back?