Living Well

Traveling Well

First, I can only accomplish living well and traveling well with prayer. I can not take credit for the favor that my family received on these trips but I can share the process. In fact, this summer we took a short family vacation. It was a small getaway of four days and four nights to Pittsburgh, PA., “Home of the Steelers”. Nice people by the way. We had so much fun bonding and catching one adventure after the next. This was truly an adventure full of grace.

Secondly, to travel well, we must refer to our foundational principles for positive posture, we definitely will need to have clear goals. Without established goals, you can get lost. Many people get lost in “chasing” the best deal and forgetting all that glitter is NOT gold. This applies to all things in life, not just traveling. Once you have outlined the things that will make your trip comfortable, you begin to realize that the best deal is not just about money. It is about how things align with the experience you are trying to create. This recent trip to Pittsburgh was an idea that originated from my husband’s desire to attend a Steelers game with our six year old daughter. My nine year old, a Redskins fan, and I only planned to tag along to just getaway. I think of this short trip as a bucket list item for my husband. He wanted to be downtown in walking distance to everything. He added that he wanted to expose the girls to nice things, so he wanted to stay in the best hotel in Pittsburgh. As a budget savvy Mommy, I do NOT mind. I just need clear goals so that I can look for the coupon for it. And even if it does not go as planned, at least you have a strategy or game plan to serve as your default.

The third step, you must have a good attitude in order to travel well. Earlier I mentioned that plans may not go as planned, but the right attitude will help you to feel that it is part of the adventure we call life. Every challenge carries with it an opportunity, but most of the time you can not see it until the hard part passes. To smile in the heat of adversity is almost like you are standing and seeking the face of God.

Finally, make sure you have tip money. It is better to give than to receive. Tipping reflects on you. It relates a message that says “you believe in adding to the quality of life for others”. Inadvertently you add to your trip by showing appreciation for others. This also helps you to fight the temptations of filling your trip with empty pleasures, missing the purpose of any trip. I see a trip as taking a date with yourself, and part of being good to yourself is being good to others. It is a time to reconnect with yourself and those you love. Sometimes we can loose touch with what matters in our day to day. Most trips remind us that the world is bigger than just what we see every day. I hope this helps you to reboot.

Peaceful travels

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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.

Help

Day 34

An April 13,2017 entry
I needed some help. I had to go to physical therapy to help relieve the tightness preventing me from holding my back up straight. I have been working on the transverse abdominal to build core muscle and I have been walking to help build overall strength but My body started fighting back. For example, last night I was awaken from sleep by tinnitus, ringing in the ear. It can make you think you are going to loose your mind if it does not stop. I ran into the kitchen for no reason at all (maybe I thought I could outrun it). Then I prayed. I did find some comfort…more like peace. The ringing still lasted for hours. See, I told you I needed some help. Today was my first day back to physical therapy in several months, so after reevaluating things, we did a light massage and light exercises. They instructed me to work on my own doing the various stretches: neck stretches, chest stretches, and slight trapezius back stretches. They were simple but when coupled with massage followed by a heating pad, I walked out feeling so much better.

Physical therapy has become a safe place to be totally honest about how I feel. The chronic pain limits how much I can exercise, but in physical therapy it is understood and they don’t think negatively of me for it. Pain management is very important in preventing other major issues like high blood pressure. The doctor says I can’t take prescription medication for pain because of the side effects experienced when I did try them. Since I’m unable to take the regular prescribed medications, I have to manage it all naturally. No complaints…in fact I’m grateful. Although it is more challenging, it is not impossible. I’m encouraged in knowing that “all things are possible”. I’m not alone in this journey, God is with me.

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?