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.

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!

40 Days to Positive Posture

This morning I read a quote by an unknown author on Instagram, “Don’t quit, if you are tired just take a nap”. I know that it was only 10:15 a.m. but I had a pretty bumpy night. I went to bed around 2 a.m. and a few hours after that my youngest got up twice to lay down between hubby and me. Although I took her back to bed, she returned and that second time I was too tired to get back up again. With their school schedule, sleeping in is not an option. Around 7:30 a.m., I woke up and put on a happy face (no one wants to wake up to a grouch), and said “good morning”. It was time to put on my Mommy hat as I swept through the house, cutting on lights and making sure everyone was up and out of bed. I was able to push forward without showing fatigue. As soon as they left, I tried to start the day but could feel the bed calling me for thirty more minutes.

Sleep is important to living a healthy and disciplined lifestyle. In the world we live in today, everyone is looking for a way to gain an edge. They think they need more time, so they burn the midnight oil trying to gain the edge. That’s ironic because going to bed before 12 a.m. and getting 8 hours of sleep actually helps your body and mind to function at its best. I know, by doing the opposite, I was creating an environment that I feared the most. In my opinion, sleep deprivation results in an unproductive and irritable edgy person. Some of you may agree with me but some of you are saying “not me”. For real…look up edge and what did you find? Yes, it can mean a favorable margin, but it also means the border of something. Many of us push ourselves to the line, not thinking that it will have a negative impact on the bottom line.

For the next 40 days, I will be taking a journey to positive posture. My late night last night opened my eyes to one area to concentrate on, sleep and rest. It has its place on this journey, but so does exercise and family.

Proper posture has not been the norm amongst us young people. We have heard of having a strong core, but we don’t always stop to think of what that could mean. I am taking this journey, because I believe in giving myself a second chance. Sometimes we look at ourselves and our lives and feel, this is just me. We work on our career goals of making more money. We work on relationship goals and learn to make time for people that are important in our lives. Sadly, we even get lost in our titles and use it to define our lives. We are created for more than that. God has a purpose for our lives, but most importantly, He loves us and created us to have fellowship with Him. I did not know what that meant for a long time. I was doing good things, but I measured my success by those good things. In the midst of accomplishing all of those good things, I woke up. I had taken the first step of understanding that Jesus died for my sins. I had taken the next step, and pushed past my fears of the Holy Spirit. It was the final step of loving someone sacrificially that opened my eyes to my fragile humanity. That was the first time that I realized, I can’t do this alone.

Question time: What does having a strong core mean to you? What does sleep have to do with having a strong core?

The Love Story

First, Hollywood has painted an unrealistic picture of romance. Sometimes life can get messy and no one tells us how to clean it up. That is not romantic to me.

In college, I honestly believed that focusing on my relationship with God would be the thing that would draw my husband to me. God was and still is my very law of attraction. I believe that as I draw nearer to Christ, then everything right would draw near to me. My family laughed and laughed saying, “what would he do? Knock on the door and say the Lord sent me.” And that’s just what happened.

During my junior year, I started reading Ruth in the Holy Bible. My study of it was very casual but interesting. Every time I opened it up, the same guy would knock on my door. This young man and I had been acquaintances but this peculiar incident only confirmed that God had sent my Mr. Right. Don’t get me wrong, this was an extremely handsome young man. He must have found me irresistible because he kept coming around. It was not Hollywood…but what would you call it? I had never heard of an incident like this. The young man and I remained friends for years; in fact, our first kiss was five years later after he met my entire family for the first time.

Have you ever experienced an incident where being focused on priorities resulted in even more blessings later on? Let us know by sharing in the comment section.

Your Success

When I attended college, I had made a vow to finish college and to try to do so debt free, even if it meant working at McDonalds to pay for it. I was to finish no matter how long it took me. I found a way to concentrate on the efforts or the WORK it took to graduate and not the end outcome alone of just getting the paper. I asked myself, what would it take to attend and obtain a college degree?  I was a first generation college graduate. Since I had not seen it done, I had to figure it out on my own.

Success is possible for everyone. When I say success, I mean realistic goals are attainable. What is your definition of success? I really want to know. Please share in the comments section. Do you define success by your relationships or by what money can buy? Have you adopted someone else’s definition of success and consequently their goals as well?

Look, you must create your own definition of success. When you have created that definition, you can achieve success. I was able to graduate with the equivalent dual degree in only four years by focusing on the work I had to do. I was able to serve freely without the worry of college debt. I define success as matriculating through life while making friends along the way. Have you created your definition of success. You can move forward on your goals. This is a journey you have to be 100% committed too. You are worth it!