Monday’s Mantra: Be Kind to Yourself

We’ve all heard the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”    This is usually advice that’s supposed to guide how we treat others.  But, honestly it should also guide the way we treat ourselves.  We may think that the way we respond and interact with others is important (it most certainly is), but what we internalize and embrace in our individual minds and spirits is just as significant.  It’s true that we all need that time of reflection to discern those areas of our lives that could use some improvement, but we should not get in the habit of being overly critical of ourselves and/or allowing guilt and disappointment from our decisions to poison our confidence and self-worth.  It’s very easy to tell yourself you can’t do something or you’re not good enough.  And sometimes we speak negatively about ourselves without even realizing that’s what we’re doing.  All of that negative energy slowly begins to invade our hearts and rest in our minds as if it has a place there.  But, just as we should make it a point to uplift and build others,  we should also speak life, positivity, and triumph in our own lives.  Anything you allow to grow and manifest in your mind will ultimately take root in your actions.  You are imperfect, but important.  You are unique, but not invisible.  And how you see and think of yourself is power.

Monday’s Mantra: Be That Someone

We all need to be inspired.  We need someone who believes in us when we don’t believe in ourselves. We need someone who will go the extra mile even when there’s nothing in it for them.  We need someone who knows how to motivate us when we hit a rough spot in life or perhaps are afraid to try something new.  We need someone who will stand in the gap and be our voice when we can’t do it for ourselves.  To put it simply, we all need someone.  I know I couldn’t have made it to where I am today without the kindness, encouragement, and love I’ve been shown throughout some of the most awful periods of my life.  God has dispatched a few angels to keep me from quitting, settling, and living with a broken heart.

So, today I’m challenging all of us to be that someone.  Be someone who listens.  Be someone who is there.  Be someone who is supportive.  Be someone who incites passion.  Be someone who is honest.  Be someone who inspires.  Be that someone we all need in our lives as we try to find our way.

Monday’s Mantra: Find the Fun

I like to have fun!  Is there anyone who doesn’t?  I love the idea of new cultural experiences, adventure, and opportunities to laugh until I’m in tears.  Although I can’t say that I get to spend all of my time doing things I thoroughly enjoy, I make it a point to have fun as often as I can.  I live for those moments of indescribable, spontaneous, and creative fun.  If you want to find balance, then you must first find your fun.

Life is really but a vapor, and you can become trapped in a state of monotony if you don’t make a conscious effort to discover the abundance of joy that awaits in some of the simplest things.  So, whether you’re laughing with your best friend, exploring new cuisine, or singing along to your favorite tracks, just make sure it goes down as one of the best moments you’ve ever had!  Enjoy yourself while you still have the time!

Monday’s Mantra: Pump Your Brakes

Life sometimes feels as though it’s moving at the speed of light.  You’re running to this meeting.  You’re volunteering for that event.  You’re co-developing programs and content for business ventures.  You’re leading a ministry.  You’re sprinting out the door at 7:00 a.m. every morning and hoping you beat the traffic to the office.  You’re baking cupcakes and cookies for your kids’ birthday party.  You’re buying wood and building floating shelves because it looked easy (and cute!) on Pinterest.  You’re driving to the grocery store with your significant other on Bluetooth trying to get him/her to find the list you posted on the refrigerator two nights ago.  You’re checking in as Dr. Phil every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday trying to encourage and support your friends with advice.  You’re working late (you really want a promotion).  You’re meal prepping and browsing YouTube videos for new fitness routines.  You’re literally trying to do EVERYTHING!  Aren’t you tired?  I mean I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  And honestly, the list is never-ending.  There’s always something else you have to do or somewhere you want to be to show you’re committed and you care.  Each day that you spend overextended and tired, you lose a little bit of your heart, peace, and soul.  While you’re running around taking care of everyone and everything, who’s taking care of you?  Sometimes you have to pause, assess, and restructure.  I know society wants all of us to believe that we’re only successful once we’ve proven we can juggle two hundred different balls in the air, but it’s really just an illusion that’s deflating our hope and dismantling our future.  It’s okay to say no.  It’s okay to relax.  And it’s okay to simply BE.  If you live life in the fast lane, the true riches of life will pass you by.

Monday’s Mantra: Don’t Be Distracted

I have always believed nothing in life is coincidence.  And the more I keep living, the more I find this to be true…

I must have been the only one who neglected to check my Twitter timeline and/or turn on my TV to learn that there was a 2-hour delay due to inclement weather.  Once I realized I was catching all the green lights and going over 30 mph on the main road toward the highway, I knew something was wrong (no traffic on a Monday?  Ha, yeah right).  I then turned on the radio to discover that I could’ve still been in my bed!  At that point, going back home wasn’t an option.  So, I continued my commute to work and started searching for the best breakfast spots near my job.  I think I had a 10-minute debate with myself about whether I was going to a traditional diner for oversized French toast or to a café with an illustrious organic menu of farm-fresh eggs and steel cut oats.  I could already taste the maple syrup I was pouring on top of the Brioche in my head, but in my quest to be healthy, I opted for this quiet, French café in the middle of the city.

Let’s just say I loved everything from the marmalade to the classical music at this café.  It felt so good to have that time for peaceful reflection and meditation as I sipped a macchiato and read my devotional which came from Nehemiah 4:1-10.  In this chapter, we learn how Nehemiah had to look beyond the discouragement and distraction of others and depend on God in order to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  But, it was verse 9 that I kept re-reading.  It outlines how he persevered by making a prayer to God that was ultimately larger than the distractions.  It wasn’t until I finished breakfast and left that café that I really understood that devotional and this unusual series of events that constituted my Monday morning.

On my way out, I decided to take a different route back to the office.  As I turned the corner from the café,  I came upon this historic church.  It honestly stopped me in my tracks because it was massive and beautiful.  On any other day, I probably would’ve walked right by completely unaware of my surroundings and instead thinking about the first item to tackle on my to-do list.  Ok, let’s be serious, on any other day, I wouldn’t even have been on the block where the church is located!  But, today things were just different.  It was during the moment that I spent snapping photos of this religious artifact that I realized I was being reminded Who is in control and just how big He really is.  Everything about my morning was purposefully ordered from the first moment I opened my eyes to the rising sun of a new day.  Because I was willing to do what was unusual for me on a Monday, I had a delightful dining experience, but more importantly I had a destined date with God.  If it ever seems as though you’re being inconvenienced or missing out because you’re not doing what everyone else is doing (shout out to everyone who slept in and/or worked from home today), just remember that God will sometimes mute your distractions and alter your routine to magnify His presence.

Monday’s Mantra: Keep Trying

I work in a field that consistently requires originality.  While my team always conducts the necessary research to ensure we’re not reinventing the wheel or making our tasks more difficult than they really need to be, we often have to utilize our combined knowledge and professional expertise to devise solutions and deliverables that meet our constituents’ needs.  I think most of the time we all revel in challenge (and chocolate once it’s all said and done).  But, I also know we’ve all had those moments when we found ourselves staring at the rapidly blinking cursor on a blank Word document trying to discern the best way to outline a framework, research findings, meeting content, or realistic program measures.  In full transparency, I’ve probably had more of those moments than the rest of them.

When I was first hired at my organization, I was faced with a steep learning curve.  While I had the foundational knowledge and skills to fulfill my job responsibilities, I knew very little about the environment and constituents I’d be serving.  I remember one of the directors casually saying to me one day, “oh, it’s going to take you at least six months to feel like you have a handle on what you’re doing.”  I gave her an affirming smile hoping that was something she said to all the new people to make them feel better about the pace of our work.  But, whether those words were for comfort or not, I have no problem admitting she was 110% accurate!  Although it was a rough start, I can look back now and celebrate all that I’ve accomplished.  When I felt like I had nothing valuable to contribute, I “leaned in” (shameless plug for one of the books I read last year).  When I had to draft a new idea or articulate key principles to constituents to improve the way they teach and had no clue how to approach it, I consulted knowledgable peers.  When I just didn’t know or found myself confused, I asked.  When I had writer’s block and/or kept re-reading the same sentence in a reference material, I found a snack, took a break, and then returned to my professional domicile.  Basically, I never allowed the fear of the unknown or the thought that I might make a mistake hinder my completion of a task.  I listened.  I drafted.  I partnered.  I took chances.  I sought guidance.  But, most importantly, I tried.

In order to uncover the depth of your abilities, you have to commit yourself to things you’ve never done or that which you may be unsure about.  You simply just have to go for it.  Even if what you produce turns out to be completely wrong, your tenacity will be the reason you get another shot.  And I can guarantee others will notice, and they’ll want you to help them replicate what they know you’ve now learned to do.  You can’t succeed at anything you don’t try.  Keep working.  Keep building.  Keep pursuing.  Just keep trying.

Snow Day Mantra: Organize Your Chaos

Since my Monday wasn’t the typical Monday and I missed my entry, I’ve decided to use this Tuesday to pay tribute to the only snow day I’ll probably have for the rest of this season.  Le sigh.  Although I’ve seen more serious snow storms in my day, the inclement and bitterly cold weather was definitely enough to keep me in the house.  Yes, I’m that northeastern woman who doesn’t do snow.  But, I’d say my time was well spent napping, reading, cooking, meditating, organizing, and cleaning.  As I was getting rid of old papers and magazines, putting my clothes and shoes back in their respective cubbies (who knew they’d come in handy even in adulthood?!), and adding the final sparkle to the freshly Pine-Sol scented bathroom, I realized how many years I’ve added to my life by simply maintaining a certain amount of organization.

Being organized has held the pieces of my life together and given me access to opportunities that would not have come my way if I handled my blessings and possessions in a haphazard manner.  I believe that because I’ve invested the extra time and effort to take care of what has been given to me, God has continuously made sure I’ve had everything I needed when I needed it.  How would He know that we could be trusted with more if we didn’t demonstrate care and respect for what we already have?  To get more, you have to be mature enough to handle more.  God cares that you care about the details.

Clarity and wisdom has also blanketed my life and provided me opportunities to make destiny-driven decisions because my physical environment has remained a place that’s free of clutter.  It’s very difficult to think and operate effectively when you’re living in a mess…literally and figuratively!  You have to give yourself the space to grow and embrace the newness of life, love, and shoes…or purses…or jewelry…or whatever whispers your name during retail therapy.  In other words, you have to clean up…and you have to make it a lifestyle!  Life can get messy, but that doesn’t give you permission to live in a mess.  If ever you’re feeling overwhelmed, burdened, or unhappy, take a look around and ask yourself how you’re living.  Have you cleaned up [your house, thoughts, and life] today?  Out of the muck a flower can bloom as long as it has room to capture a ray of light…