Lessons in Blessings

Lightning speed.  That’s how fast I feel like every hour in the past 30 days has gone by!  I think much of that feeling can be attributed to my work for TEDMED in conjunction with several tight deadlines for major deliverables for my primary job.  A few weeks ago I blogged about my selection as a 201Leaps6 TEDMED Research Scholar and the opportunity it has afforded me to learn a plethora of new information about innovations and entrepreneurs in health and medicine.  There are definitely talented and imaginative people walking among us every day who envision the future of healthcare in creative ways.  But, in addition to my scholarly discoveries, I also learned much about myself through this awesome, yet rigorous blessing that I’ve elected to share in hopes that someone will draw some insight or inspiration from my three lessons:

You can do more than what you think you can do – I can’t even begin to count the hours I spent completing my tasks for my role as a scholar.  Every night I saw the clock strike 1 a.m., I decided that was the point when I would stop tracking.  I had to push myself to stay the course no matter the obstacle.  I countered every negative thought with a encouraging scripture or “self” pep talk (Self, please stay away for a few more sentences, lol).  To have to juggle what seemed like the MOST tasks all at once was a true test of my faith and trust in God to help me make it all happen.  Do you ever feel like you get a ton of random requests when your plate is legitimately full?  Yeah, that was me.  But, all of this was really an exercise in positivity for my mind.  I had to first believe that I could finish before it would be done, and that made all the difference on every late night and early morning.

You have more time than you think to do more of what you need to be doing – I’m guilty of adamantly declaring that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done.  There are two problems with that though: 1) why am I trying to do it ALL?  and 2) what opportunities have I overlooked to prioritize those things that actually matter?  I have no idea where I found the time to absorb, synthesize, and report all of the information I uncovered as part of the TEDMED review.  I just know that the entire process has further revealed to me that when your gift makes room for you that means there will be enough time, resources, energy, and even the space (I now know exactly how to get to the library at my job without getting lost, lol) to finish the assignment and finish it well.  More importantly, my ability to find the time to complete this task also confirmed my ability to be able to give God more when it comes to my devotions, meditation, and just quiet time growing in faith.  Message!

You think you’re ordinary, but God thinks you’re extraordinary – I’m sure you’ve heard people often say that in life you have to take chances or you have to jump to see if you’re going to fly…insert similar statements here.  And, well…you do!  What I’m discovering about myself and those around me is that we neglect to take leaps because we don’t give ourselves enough credit.  We dismiss our gifts, experiences, and talents as if we can’t be chosen to do the unimaginable or that we’re not important enough for our dreams to come true.  A couple fun facts to dispel those unreasonable thoughts: 1) you don’t have to be qualified to obtain favor and 2) “importance” is subjective which means that it is a non-factor when something is meant for you.  The plans God has for us are exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think.  That’s proven every time we find our name on the roster to do things and go places we never thought possible.  So, even when you don’t think you deserve the opportunity, go for it anyway and watch God show you that He thinks you’re worth it.

This is a blessing in my life that I surely won’t forget.  I appreciate everyone who has invested in me to get me to this moment in my career.  I know that God will continue to show His love, kindness, and grace through blessings for all of us.  And even in the triumphs, there will always be something to learn.

Raising Requirements

As we go through life, there will be many instances when people, circumstances, and our personal/professional roles will require us to do something.  I mean let’s face it, there’s always something to be done somewhere for someone at some place.  Typically, requirements that are set upon us can be good because they have a way of keeping us humble, responsible, and well perhaps…employed. But, there’s a small percentage of time where requirements can make us feel restrained, overwhelmed, annoyed, and glum.  I believe these types of feelings emerge when we forget what we should require of ourselves.  No one should go through life without a few personal requirements.  And while I have your attention, I’ll share my short list of requirements that have helped me to dust myself off when too many remnants of opinions, frustrations, condescending comments, and disappointments have attempted to permanently settle in my mind and heart.

  1. I am required to love myself in all things and at all times.
  2. I am required to generate my own happiness.
  3. I am required to spend time doing things that I really want to do and that make me feel alive.
  4. I am required to be okay with saying no.  Seriously, I dare you to try it.
  5. I am required to trust in the beauty of the universe.  Because once you’ve seen the miraculous happen for everrrrryone around you, there’s simply no way His majesty will miss me or you.

While my list may not exactly resemble yours, I assume that we’ll cross somewhere in the middle.  Ultimately, when we raise a few requirements, we also raise the bar for the future we dream about.  So, what are you raising?

 

Desert Dreams

Have you ever dreamed you would ride a camel?  I didn’t either.  In fact, that thought had never crossed my mind until I found myself sinking in the sand of the Dubai desert!  I ventured to the United Arab Emirates in 2012 to visit my mom who spent a year overseas for work.  Of course when she first proposed the idea of coming to Dubai I was elated!  Then, after the plane ticket was purchased and I realized how many hours I’d be in flight, I was slightly anxious about how I would entertain myself for that long 30,000+ feet in the air.  But, somehow you have a way of figuring things out when an opportunity arises that you just can’t let pass you by.

I still rave about my trip to Dubai.  It was one of the most best experiences of my life!  My mom did everything she could to ensure that trip was amazing.  You remember in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York when Kevin first walks into the Plaza Hotel and stands there in awe.  That was me at the front door of the hotel we were staying at for the week.  I honestly had never encountered splendor of that magnitude.  Meanwhile it was almost midnight, and I’m wide awake and jet lagged trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I’m actually in the Middle East.  The next week I found myself cruising the Dubai river, perusing gold souks, admiring the beauty of mosques, dune bashing, shopping, and even meeting a few new friends.  That was also my first exposure to desert temperatures, so I learned a new meaning of hot!  The funny thing about life is that sometimes you get opportunities you don’t even dream of.  God is just that good.  I’m a small town girl from a single-parent home.  While I had my share of field trips to museums and local beaches, traveling internationally was not always in the family budget.  So, I’m grateful to my mom for all the sacrifices that would ultimately place us across the world for this journey.  The best part about this trip was not all the glamor and opulence, because just like any other city, there is a certain level of disenfranchisement.  Traveling to Dubai helped me learn how to dream bigger and expect greatness in all things, because no matter where I’ve been, there’s always something more to blow my mind.

Cousins in Catalonia

When I was in grade school, I fell in love with the Spanish language.  I’m still trying to determine if my admiration was a result of my ability to conjugate verbs quickly or if my teachers just brought in way too many Spanish dishes for the class to try.  By the time I graduated, I had spent five years learning a foreign language and made it my goal to one day travel to Spain to see one of the cathedrals from the books and indulge myself with authentic paella.  Well, in 2012, I finally made it!  By then, my Spanish skills were quite rusty, but I remembered enough to read signs, order food, and get directions.  When I look back on that trip, I still can’t believe how much we were able to see and experience in such a short period of time.  In fact, I was just laughing with my cousin the other day about how she had to buy another pair of shoes to save her feet from misery, lol.  We stayed in Barcelona, but also took a day trip to two surrounding cities, including the birthplace of Salvador Dalí.  As a lover of architectural design and eclectic style, I was truly amazed by the depth and detail of so many of the sites in these cities, particularly La Sagrada Familia (Just beautiful, and to this day, not finished!).  And at some point, I lost count of the cups of gelato and café sandwiches I consumed.  This was my first trip to Europe, and I’m grateful for all the fun and crazy memories with my cousin.  We make good travel partners!

 

Tropical Diversion

This year I celebrated a milestone birthday! I think it’s still sinking in!  God is good!  I vowed to myself that I would spend some time commemorating the occasion somewhere I’ve never been before with people who I can’t imagine my life without. Since I knew it needed to be a short vacation, I hopped on a plane and eventually set foot on the sandy shores of the Dominican Republic!  Everyone we met at our resort was kind and personable. I think our resort agent (pictured below) was secretly hoping that Niecy would make the D.R. her new home, lol.  We sunbathed (with sunblock of course…this post just reminded me to replenish the SPF 100), went horseback riding through slightly rugged terrain, and went swimming in the ‘Hoyo Azul’ at Scape Park at Cap Cana (gorgeous, but freezing!).  While I must admit that I wasn’t particularly impressed with the food after several days, I’m grateful I had the opportunity to venture into a land full of unknowns for me and spend countless moments reflecting on the ups and downs of the last three decades with two of my favorite people.  Each time I travel internationally, I fall more in love with the vastness of the world and the myriad of cultures that constitute humanity.  Thankfully, as winter draws near, I’ll have plenty of beach photos with my girls to laugh and reminisce about.  I think we even managed to perfect a few must do beach poses!

A Local Luxury

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to spend some of my weekends scouting venues and attractions in my local area. Over the summer, I had a chance to tour Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, VA. This site has always been on my list of places to visit simply due to my affinity for flowers and landscapes, but my interest was further heightened after receiving my first DSLR camera a while back.  And due to my work in event planning, I also know that it’s a popular venue for weddings and other events, so I basically needed to get there!  I can confidently say this was a well spent afternoon marveling at nature, learning about the architecture for some of the exhibits, sharpening my photography skills, and simply taking some time to slow down and reflect. I even caught a glimpse of a photography session with an Indian couple that must have been for their engagement or wedding.  They looked amazing!  Don’t ever think you have to go far to find beauty.  It’s literally all around you!  Here are some of the photos I snapped.