I dare to hope!

Exhausted…

Yup! These past few weeks, I have felt nothing but emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion.

I avoided the news channels for a few weeks, but my social media posts seemed to keep me connected to all the current news and all the anxiety we are experiencing in our neighborhoods, state, and world.

It is my practice to journal and list the many things that I may not share verbally. This allows me to measure my words throughout the day, so I don’t offend as many folks along the way.

Simply because I am exhausted.

Exhausted from the lying

Exhausted from the debating

Exhausted from the bigotry

Exhausted from the fear and control exercised over us

Exhausted from the unpredictable moments that seem to surge every hour.

So, in order to avoid arguing or trying to get a point across that may fall on deaf ears, I write, pray, and hope.

During my exhaustion, I push through with hope.

I hope that we will seek and see the truth

I hope that we start having conversations

I hope that we start understanding the pain of misunderstandings

I hope that in the weeks, days, hours, and minutes ahead, we begin to find peace, joy, and laughter and allow that to surge from our hearts.

Lesson:

When you are pressed to the point of no return…pause…and dare to Hope!

‘Til Tuesday

The weight of it all was too much…

 It was calming down and then BAM!

We get hit with a racial pandemic!

Here we are trying to navigate masks, social distancing, slow integration. All the new normals that have been imposed upon us and now the most heinous of prejudices “RACE.”

This, my friend, is no new occurrence. It’s the way we, the “other”, have lived all our lives. But the blatant disregard of life caught on film was all too much, and the dam broke. 

We broke. 

The weight of it all…was too much! 

The burden we carried of intolerance of our differences was finally laid at the feet of the offender!

As you can imagine, the world turned upside down. The world was required to come face to face with their biases.

They were confronted!

They were emotionally assaulted. 

They were exposed.

It was time to stop pretending we were all getting along. It was time to stop pretending we were moving up the ladder equally. It was time to stop pretending that my success was equal to your success. Racism is a great un-equalizer. 

So here we are.  

The idea that so many have struggled with the utterance of Black Lives Matter, and have suggested the All Lives Matters goes to the point…

  Because our lives haven’t mattered is why we have to remind you.  It is because you have dismissed us as “other,” “different,” “the exception” that we have had to go to the streets, social media, Congress, to wherever we can garner the attention we need to remind you that our LIVES MATTER! 

Stop thinking that we are criminals because our skins say so. Stop assuming that we are not capable because our skin might suggest so. Stop asking me if I understand, as if the color of my skin creates a barrier for comprehension. 

Stop it!

Breathe…and see that my life experience has never been like your white experience.  To suggest we should just try harder, do better…well…

By the mere fact that our skin enters the room first before we utter one word, we must always do better and try harder.

Racism is the real pandemic we are facing—inequality to healthcare; inequality in salary, education, housing are all limitations that have been placed and imposed on my skin color.  

So, as we navigate the viral pandemic, remember we are fighting a racial pandemic as well.

Treat my heart, mind, and soul with the same care that you have treated your heart, mind, and soul.  

The beautiful reality is we are all created in the image of God. 

He chose to add a bit more color to mine. 

And for that, I am thankful.

Lesson:  

Who have you offended? What can you do about it? Where have you lacked in understanding? Why did you lack understanding?  How can you live a life of understanding?

‘Til Tuesday

Living your life…

I thought I knew what I truly wanted, but when I got it I realized I didn’t want it at all.

I was in love with the illusion of what it could be and not the reality of what it truly was.

Have you found yourself yearning, fantasizing, idealizing a life, a job, a relationship, and when it comes to fruition, it’s not what you imagine it to be!

I’ve come to the conclusion that we all must find peace and purpose within ourselves. The contentment of living our best life even if we are living it all alone.

Focus on what is real, what is true and live authentically acknowledging what is before you.

Stop thinking that which makes another person happy can be fulfilling for you.

Find what is peace-filling, fun-loving, affirming and uplifting for you, your life. Realize these may require work but the reward is a life filled with the love and joy that is supposed to be in your life, not in anyone else’s.

Lesson:

Stop thinking that what’s good for others is good for you.

‘Til Tuesday

It is time to ….pivot!

This global quarantine has exposed the best and worst of us.

Who will survive?

Who will thrive?

I spent the first three months submitted to focused stillness- then BAM!

The physical/social distancing kicked in…and I struggled!!

You see, the first three months were my decisions, my choices, my focus. 

When the self – distancing was required, imposed, demanded, and judicial then I was upset (as many still are)!

This is not what I wanted, or expected for a year of yes!

This was not what I wanted to say YES to, yet, I HAD to, and therein came the rub and the realization.

Though I thought this year was coming with some incredible life-changing revelation that would be so immense that I would not be able to contain, it hasn’t…yet! The job offer that would blow my mind, the management/consulting firm that would blow up with clients, it hasn’t…yet!

 The year of yes was going to require me to say yes to more than my own choices, but the choices that affected the greater good.

I was to say yes to health for others

I was to say yes to controlled shopping

I was to say yes to home-cooked meals

I was to say yes to a stillness that was to be uncomfortable 

I was to say yes to finances that required a budget

I was to say yes to the things that I never considered to be a point of consideration in my life.

So as the months go by and I continue to say yes to the unknown…

I will choose to stop complaining and live these moments with intention for they may never come again.

I choose to survive in greatness and so, the pivot begins…

Lesson:

What is going to take for you to pivot?  The time is now.

1, 8, 3 – They Say…

I was reluctant at first.  Another quiz?  Another label? Aye…really…but I did it.

I took the Enneagram Test.

I subjected myself to the algorithms that would accurately describe in detail my personality type.  Did I learn anything new?  Nah, not really.

What I did learn is the test revealed that I apparently do live in my truth.

I’ve often tried to disguise what the Enneagram disclosed. Try not to be as “idealistic” or “too assertive”.  Yet, there it was…all my good attributes along with those that prove to be challenging for most.  What did I gain? I have come to accept that I am “opinionated.” I am “ethical.”  I am “assertive.” I am “ambitious.”  With all those “personality attributes,” I chose to live with intention.

 Don’t change to accommodate those who are uncomfortable.  It does explain why quarantine has been such a challenging season…I’m a doer!

Being still has exposed a lot of and for me…thankful I’m teachable!

Here are some of the traits that describe me…

Personality Type – The Reformer #1Generally, Ones are conscientious, sensible, responsible, idealistic, ethical, serious, self-disciplined, orderly, and feel personally obligated to improve themselves and their world. Ones get into conflicts by being opinionated, impatient, irritable, rigid, perfectionistic, critical (and self-critical), sarcastic, and judgmental. At their best, Ones are tolerant, accepting, discerning, wise, humane, prudent, principled, fair, and able to delay rewards for a higher good.

Personality Type – The Challenger #8 – Generally, Eights are strong, assertive, resourceful, independent, determined, action-oriented, pragmatic, competitive, straight-talking, shrewd, and insistent. Eights get into conflicts by being blunt, willful, domineering, forceful, defiant, confrontational, bad-tempered, rageful, cynical, and vengeful. At their best, Eights are honorable, heroic, empowering, generous, gentle, constructive, initiating, decisive, and inspiring.

Personality Type – The Achiever #3 – Generally, Threes are effective, competent, adaptable, goal-oriented, ambitious, organized, diplomatic, charming, into performance, and image-conscious. Threes get into conflicts by being expedient, excessively driven, competitive, self-promoting, “appropriate” instead of sincere, boastful, and grandiose. At their best, Threes are inner-directed, authentic, modest, admirable, well-adjusted, gracious, interested in others, and self-accepting.

Let’s all live our best self whether the Enneagram tells you so!

Lesson:

We already know who we are, and these tests are just a reminder.

‘Til Tuesday

A Seat at my table…

During this physical distancing time, I have re-organized my closets, my dresser, the kitchen cabinets, my office desk, and the bookshelves. I have sorted in stacks of what I will keep, donate, and throw away.

So it occurred to me, what in my relationships do I need to re-organize? How am I relating to the people around me? How am I serving them? How are they serving me?

It is not an easy conversation to have with oneself because you don’t want to feel alone, nor are people disposable, or at least they shouldn’t be treated that way. My circle is small and intimate, which keeps things healthy. Yet, I know that several relationships are not serving me well.

Where do they belong? Where do I place them? How do I sort them out?

I have not figured that out as of yet; it’s a work in progress. I am setting a new table during my physical distancing, and I am inviting those that will help me grow, those who will sharpen me, those who will challenge me, those who will call me out when they see me losing my way. I am inviting those that will lift me, cheer me on, sit quietly when it’s necessary, and party when required.

A seat at my table will come with some rules…you must be exceptional!

Exceptional potential to be the best you can be without tearing anyone else down. Exceptional ways of loving. Exceptional ways of caring for one another. Exceptional ways of respecting each other’s opinions. Exceptional ways of living with an open mind.

My table is going to look a little different when we meet again, but that’s because I seek to be exceptional in loving, caring, giving, sharing, and living with open hands.

Lesson:
In this season of re-set, where can you learn to be exceptional? Who will have a seat at your table?

‘Til Tuesday

I thought I was done…

Three years and over 100  blog posts, I thought I had written enough, said enough, encouraged enough, brought enough insight, and it was time to wrap my blog in a beautiful, pretty bow.

I didn’t believe that my weekly blogging had many legs left, and this was going to be my last post.

BUT GOD!

So as I was feeling that enough was enough, I was at peace but slightly sad at the prospect that my weekly musings had reached its designated audience.

And suddenly, I receive a text that literally shook me to my core…

“Girl, I just came across your postings on Soul of a Woman. WOW! They are so amazing! I honestly believe you have the gift of writing. There is a lovely flow in your writing- one which captives your readers with anticipation for your next blog. Great job!!! Don’t become discouraged-your blogs are very powerful! They serve as encouragement for women to analyze where they are in their life and make choices to improve themselves. Don’t second guess your ability to inspire women through your writing. You’re awesome!!!” –

 From my sister, Rachel!

As you may have guessed it, I just started to cry. As the youngest of seven, reading a text from your big sister validating your thoughts and writing is the ultimate approval.

So, with the extra shot of encouragement, I will continue to write, share, inspire, and celebrate with my readers. It made me think who in my life did I need to give a word of motivation and validation.

Stop and think who in your circle needs a word of encouragement. It may make the difference between them giving up or moving forward.

Thank you, Ray. I will forever count this as my writing re-birth!

Lesson:

Just when you think you have done enough…

God sends a tender nudge to let you know to keep going!

‘Til Tuesday

Lessons during Quarantine…

Letting go requires self-control.

Read that again…slowly.

By definition, self-control requires -restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.

When we let something go, when we release control of all things, self-control must take front and center.

 In our human nature, when we let things go, we panic, fear sets in, and we immediately think everything will change, fall apart, cease to be what you wanted.

All along, it was not what you needed.

As this pandemic has shown us, we are not in control of the societal norms that have been placed on us. The physical liberties, the daily freedoms of deciding where we want to go, who do we want to see have been restricted to the point of ceasing.

I began to wonder what is truly in my control and if what I am controlling is bringing me joy and joy to those around me.

So I decided to let go. 

Letting go of wanting things my way or no way.

Letting go of illusions 

Letting go of accolades

Letting go of measured outcomes

Letting go of inputs and outputs

Letting go of expectations 

I didn’t realize the burden I was carrying was weighted by what I was controlling.

I feel lighter. I feel relieved. I feel freedom. 

What are you controlling that is bringing your strife?

Exercise self-control and let it go!

Lesson:

Often we think if we control the input, we can control the output.

Controlling is suffocating- learn to breathe!

‘Til Tuesday

You are safe…

The other day I read the funniest tweet ever…

“been quarantined with my wife for four weeks now. At this point, I have more risk of getting killed by her than by a crummy virus.” 

I laughed out loud and shared it with my friends and especially my husband.

I couldn’t help but think how stretched our relationship has become during this time.

Robert and I have a strong relationship. It’s definitely not perfect, but we have mutual respect for each other that allows for each of us to live in our lanes confidently, cheering each other on to be and do our best.

We laugh, argue, cry, love, with respect and when we’ve had enough we can sit quietly.

What have I learned about marriage during this forced in your face quarantine with your significant other is the following: 

Marry someone you like

Marry someone you respect

Marry someone that makes you laugh 

Marry someone that respects your need for space in the same space!

Marry someone that will step up when you need to step away 

Marry someone that lets you sleep

Marry someone that brings you breakfast, lunch, and dinner in bed!

Marry someone of the same faith

Marry someone that will encourage you when you feel discouraged 

Marry someone that loves the natural you

These past 20 plus days have been nothing but a rollercoaster ride in our home. Navigating through food, toiletries, finances, family issues, and figuring out how not to lose our way.

One thing I know for sure, when we look at each other we know we are safe. 

We are in the same space together,  yet we are safe.

We are laughing so hard we cry,  yet we are safe.

We argue to the point of exhaustion, yet we are safe.

So for those relationships that feel stretched, challenged, and are exhausted- remember you should always feel safe.

Lesson:

Choose your partner wisely.

‘Til Tuesday

A few questions…

Who will we be when all of this is said and done?

An interesting season in our world.  Forcing us to look at each other and deal with our families, our finances, and our environment. Requiring us to pay attention to the details.

I have pondered several questions and wanted to share them with you –

What do you miss the most?

What do you hate the most?

What is making you the most uncomfortable?

What are you loving?

If you could change one thing during this time of self-isolation, knowing the weeks that are left, what would it be?

What have you learned about yourself during this time of self-distancing?

What have you tried that is new?

What old habits have you picked up?

Who are we going to be when this all over?

What are we going to change?

What will we resume?

Take some time to sit with these questions, and hopefully, you can answer honestly. Let us all rise up changed from this experience because what was working before was simply not working at all.

Lesson:

Listen to the LOUD crash of our world and strive to be better. We are in this together.

‘Til Tuesday

Coronavirus COVID19

Plans on hold

Dreams deferred

——

We are forced to do what so many have complained they never have the time to do

Have dinners at home

Walks in the park

Talk with our kids

Laugh with our spouses

Call our friends

Catch up on our favorite TV shows

Read our favorite books

Sleep more

Exercise at home or outside 

Check-in on our neighbors 

And yet, all that we have seen on social media is an incredible amount of complaining and desperate anxiety that demonstrates our uneasiness with ourselves.

This should be a time of reflection.

Prayer

Sharing

Rest

Comfort

Hope

Cleanliness

This should have been a time of Thanksgiving.

 a warm bed

food on the table

running water

We are quick to share how much time we don’t have to do the things we want to do

Well, our world has hit the pause button giving us the time!

May we all come out better from this.

May we all experience a change.

May we all recognize what is truly important.

May we all learn the difference between a need and a want

May we all recognize the price you pay for both.

Lesson:

Who will you be after all this is done?

‘Til Tuesday

Sixteen Months in my life…

 

I logged on and there I was.

A virtual classroom with attorneys and legal counsel from all around the world.

Here I was a housewife/mom/blogger/former podcast host gearing up to learn and take in as much information as I could possibly understand about the LAW!!

Who was I kidding?

This was going to prove to be one of the most challenging exercises of my life! There were courses that presented information that seemed way above my pay grade, and as the semesters progressed, the classes became a bit more intense.  There were several times I believed I was in way over my head, and quite frankly, I actually was!

I was determined to learn and keep up with those legal eagles that were my classmates who were better informed.  At times I believed the professors were just gracious, but as I committed to the work, it became clear to them that I was serious.

As the months moved along, and it became apparent that I was going to complete the program, the last semester proved to be the most difficult.  So much so, my advisor called me and asked if I was okay.  I told him I committed to the program and its completion, and I wanted to finish strong and he believed that I would, and I did.

Constitutional Law, dense and tedious.  Not as black or white as proposed.  You see, as I studied Law, there was nothing black or white.  It all began with, “it depends.”

That much I learned.

Then there it was.

The email confirming that I had, in fact, completed my Masters in the Studies of Law successfully, and I was being awarded my degree.  Actually two degrees – Certification in Entertainment Law!

I cried bitterly.  But these tears were different.  I actually recognize what tears of joy truly felt like.

I did it.  I took 16 months of my life and dedicated it to studying something that I thought I wasn’t smart enough to do.  It seemed like a dream. But I did it.

What have you put off that you think would take too much of your time?

What dream have you differed? Do it! Now is the time!!!

Lesson:

Sixteen months goes by fast…get it done!!

‘Til Tuesday

Coincidence…I think not!

Coincidence – the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection. (Merriam-Webster)

Have you ever thought and said to yourself, wow, that’s such a funny coincidence? Oh my goodness, how crazy is that? Or that can’t be possible? What are the chances? All comments that connect to what we believe are coincidences, serendipity, or synchronicity.

Right?

Wrong!

I am convinced all moments that collide that have some kind of connection are moments quietly orchestrated by God!!!!

He knows who, what, where, and why?

He knows what we need when we need it,  how we need it, and why we need it!

Not too soon and never too late.

In our human nature, we rush the process of the experiences butchering the outcome, ruining relationships and damaging ourselves along the way because we refuse to wait.

In the waiting, which is the season I am right now, comes the revelation.

A few days ago I was feeling sorry for myself, yup, I sure was. With all the beauty that surrounds me, there I was in a pool of self-pity. I decided to go for a walk and listen to a podcast on waiting. It was encouraging and devastating.

No one likes to wait!!!

As I continued in my self-pity party a package was delivered that I was expecting a few weeks prior, but it was delayed. It arrived on the same day as my 1) self-pity party and 2) my “waiting” podcast. I had no idea what was inside. I knew who it was from but not the contents. As I opened it, it literally shook me to my core. Just a few minutes prior I was feeling a certain way and here right in front of me was a gift from a dear friend that spoke directly to my state of mind and heart. It pierced right through everything that was breaking me down.

I cried…no, I wept. 

Coincidence…I think not! It was a GOD orchestrated moment.  I felt the pain of helplessness and in an instant, I felt the soothing balm of comfort that only comes from a God orchestrated moment!!! 

I challenge you to reflect on moments where you thought- oh what a coincidence that was. Sit still enough to process the outcome of that experience- there are no accidents in God’s weaving of our lives. 

So, I will continue to wait. I will continue to listen for God’s whispers and I will continue to be in awe of God’s orchestrated moments. 

It’s the best way to live…living with purpose.

What, where and how have you seen God orchestrate a moment in your life?

Lesson:

Don’t ignore the details of your life. In them, you will find God’s orchestration and his whispers.

‘Til Tuesday

I am no longer asking for permission…

All my life, I’ve made measured decisions.

Is this a good idea?  Will it be disrespectful?  Will I hurt someone’s feelings?  Will I be judged? Will they stop being my friend?  Am I talented enough? Will I be pretty enough?  Will I be smart enough?  Will I be respected?  Will they accept me?

As I’ve grown into my true self, I have come to the horrific realization that I have lived my life seeking permission and approval of everyone around me accept myself.  I have lived with the hope that I am doing the right thing according to the “them”!

Well, I am here to tell you that with kindness, I am no longer doing that!

 I am no longer seeking to be “approved” by those around me.  The role of a woman as a quiet nurturer and caregiver needs to shift, and we have to stop labeling each other.

In this unbelievable culture of disrespect to the role of the woman, we must stop and ask ourselves, are we doing this to each other.  Are we looking at each other judging each other because “we didn’t ask permission” to be a certain way?

That is nonsense, we must rise up to the voice, brilliance, and strength that we were given when we were created.

Yes, there are shy women, quiet women, but by no means are they weak women. Don’t mistake their shyness for weakness, and don’t mistake my boldness for anger.

We each bring a powerful voice to the table.  We each bring a brilliant thought to the conversation.

Sometimes the difference we judge in each other is the desire we have to be that way but are too afraid.

Give yourself permission to be who God intended you to be!

Lesson:

Stop asking for permission…

you’ve already entered the room the minute you were born!  

‘Til Tuesday

Now what…

Here it is –  16 months, of school, completed and now what?

I found myself experiencing a real sense of anxiety. I normally am not one to get anxious.  I’m pretty laid back about things.

I wait and pray and trust.

Yet I found myself panicking and fretting and worrying about what is next? 

What was I to do with this newfound knowledge?  How was I going to use this degree?  Was I even employable? How was I to walk into this new decade with a new degree and hopefully a new focus?  All these questions and so many more swirling in my head.  It’s provided a left-eye twitch along with a tormented mind and an incredible sense of anxiety that has taken my breath away.

Then I read something that blew me out of the water!

“The real test of spiritual focus is being able to bring your mind and thoughts under control.  Is your mind focused on the face of an idol? Is the idol yourself?!* 

OUCH!!!!!!!!

Here I was waiting to soar into the next phase of my life,  and what I encounter was a loud THUMP.  I realized I had made myself the idol!!!

So what’s next –

Well, I am going to begin by taking my eyes off of me! 

(And hopefully, that left eye twitch will settle). 

I realized I do not have all the answers. I will re-focus.  Go back to the drawing board.  Re-visit my reflections and heart’s desires that I know that God so graciously wants to answer.

I will go back to what I know to be true. 

Live authentically.  Live with the knowledge that no matter what my next steps are, they are STEPS, and when you take STEPS, you should be moving forward.  

I will continue to be honest in my relationships, and I will love those before me.

I realized the degree was the privilege provided to me for a purpose that has yet to unfold, and I have to TRUST.

What are you anxious about?  Are you solely focused on yourself? 

Lesson:

Turn your eyes away from yourself and find hope, joy, and fulfillment in what God has called you to be right now.  Be Present..it’s a better place to live in. 

‘Til Tuesday

*Oswald Chambers

The price of silence…

It seemed so innocent.

A post…I left a comment and then… BANG!!!  

Just like that, I was entangled in a thread that left my head spinning.  I offered what I thought was an educated opposing comment to something a relative posted.

What I didn’t know at that moment, that they were not inviting opposing views or anything else for that matter.  What was worse, they misconstrued my post and took it there…all the way there and a heated thread ensued!

And just like that, I was blocked on all their social media platforms and banned from their LIFE!!!!!  A RELATIVE!!! What kind of world are we living in?

This blog isn’t so much about them but more about the experience.  The price of not being silent cost me a relationship. (Not the first time, by the way)

#losingfriends 

The price of silence would have allowed them to believe that I agreed with them.

So there I was wondering to myself…was it worth it?

And I am here to say YES!!!!  What I uncovered during the exchange was a perception of me that was totally false!.

There was an assumption of my faith, family, and my life that was completely misconstrued.

They didn’t know me!!  

They didn’t know the first thing about me, and here I was defending the “who I AM.”  So yes, there was a price to pay for my silence all these years.  For not engaging in what should have been a continuous conversation and not just a social media/snapshot relationship.

At the point of the thread fiasco, it was all too late to clarify…I was silent too long.  I was told just walk away, leave it alone.  I realized that that may be healthy in some instances and horribly detrimental in others.  Sometimes we need to call out things we see are wrong and exercise the right to speak up for ourselves, and we must expect that to be reciprocated on our own posts and be okay with it.   That’s called a constructive dialogue, which I am learning on Social Media is not a popular occurrence.

We have to stop letting social media maintain unhealthy relationships and give us an identity that is false and speak the truth so that the price of silence won’t be so high!

How authentic is your world?

Lesson:

Don’t let someone walk away with your dignity.  

Stand up straight and keep moving forward.

 I did.

“Til Tuesday

 

It’s the little things…that adds up!

Dearest Robert,

Tomorrow, February 5th, we will celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary.  The moment we cried (well I think you cried more than I did) and said I do to each other.

And with that being said I want to say the following…

Thank you for asking me to be your wife.

Thank you for seeing in me what I couldn’t see for myself.

Thank you for teaching me to trust in love again.

Thank you for buying me beautiful clothes… he threw all my old clothes away, long story.

Thank you for buying me my first car – Volvo Wagon…oh how we loved that car!

Thank you for loving our sons unconditionally..the Jeannie Mata way.

Thank you for bringing me coffee in bed…when you are home!

Thank you for always telling me you love me, even when I’m not so lovable..real talk.

Thank you for holding my hand… even when I’m mad.

Thank you for always laughing at my jokes, as ridiculous as they may be!

Thank you for standing by me in all my crazy dreams and projects!

Thank you for being my biggest fan, you love to hear me sing and you love my writings.

Thank you for trusting me with our home and finances…not as easy as many would think.

Thank you for trusting me with running our businesses!

Thank you for always telling me how smart I am…you are truly my biggest cheerleader!

Thank you for always doing the evening dishes, the laundry, setting the table, buying the groceries. (You make your presence count when you are home)!

Thank you for standing in for me when I couldn’t stand up at my mom’s funeral.

Thank you for protecting me and our family from gossip and drama.

Thank you for being the most amazing provider for our sons and me.

Thank you for being my closet confidante and secret keeper…oh the stories you can tell!

Thank you for accepting my friends and my family as your own!

Thank you for putting up with all my Puerto Rican-ness…it can be a lot!

Thank you for just wanting to be around me all the time…we are an awesome team!

Thank you for always thinking about the concerns of our family first before your own.

Thank you for teaching our sons what a man, father, friend, husband looks like.

Thank you for choosing me every day!

Thank you for dreaming with me!

And finally…

Thank you for being the most kindhearted man I have ever met.

Your integrity and loyalty radiate in your work and in our home.

I love you more than you’ll ever know…

but I promise to spend every moment showing you!

Happy 26th Anniversary!

Your Crazy Puerto Rican Wife…

Garage Sale…

“Don’t accumulate possessions; accumulate experiences – Mark Batterson

Have you walked up to a garage sale or estate sale and wondered how much the homeowner must have “loved” these items, and now here they are laid out on a table going for just a few bucks?  I often wonder did these things bring joy, love, and peace? Did these items love them back?

I am asking myself, how many “things” do I truly need.

Are my possessions loving me back? Is that even possible?

A few weeks ago, the fires were in our neighborhood.  The early morning bang on the door.  Awaken by the urgency to get up and get ready, and wait for the “go” of ready, set, go.

As we started packing our cars, I grabbed my waterproof, fireproof briefcase. Thank you, Suze Orman, for my organizer which contains all pertinent documents that identify us as alive and citizens. I grabbed the thumb drives that has all of our sentimental videos and pictures, thank you Legacy Box for that, and the fine jewelry that belonged to my mom, my mother-in-law and my own.  I knew to take a priceless picture off the wall of Robert’s grandma in which she is two years old, my father’s Martin Guitar and several of my brother’s classic guitars and clothes for a few days along with my laptop.

That was it!

I am sure that if I looked around long enough there were “things” that I would have loved to pack, but the urgency was real.

The safety and security of my family were primary and a few irreplaceable items were all that mattered.

I realized at that moment that I didn’t take the “possessions” that couldn’t love me back.  No purses, expensive shoes, clothes, furnishings, or fancy dishes.  What was important were the items that brought me joy (cue Marie Kondo).  The items of which when I looked over at them produced a smile and sweet memories.

As I walk into this new year, a new decade I am challenging myself to take inventory on my stuff. I dare you to do the same. Take inventory on what you hold dear and true to your heart.  Are those things you love capable of loving you back?

Lesson:

Challenge yourself this next decade to create experiences and not accumulate possessions, because somewhere in your future they will be sitting out on a table in a garage sale.

 

‘Til Tuesday

Set three goals…

I challenge you!!!

Set three goals for the next year!

One that is attainable

One that requires a bit of work

One that is so out of your reach will take a miracle!!!

I challenge everyone to put their faith to the test and see what GOD can do through you!

I love writing goals for the year.

I break them up into three months, six months, nine-month and twelve-month goals.

I write them in succession of what I want to see happen for myself, my marriage, my family and, our businesses.

It allows me to see us moving forward and, if we aren’t meeting our goals and moving forward, I can quickly assess why?

Take the challenge…

Write down your dreams, desires, goals, and, ambitions.  Be prepared to open doors that you may have never imagined you’d walk through and sit at tables where you thought you didn’t have a seat!

Lay down what didn’t work for you this year and walk away from the disappointment that may want to take a seat in your heart, mind and, soul. Share your goals with someone you trust.  Someone that will encourage and keep you accountable.

Be prepared to leap forward.

Fall upward and take the Challenge! 

Lesson:

Write down your goals and then leave room for God!

Stillness…

We are surrounded by so much noise that we forget what the sound of silence feels like!

As this season of busyness approaches it’s important to take a moment, day, whatever you can spare and center yourself.

The holidays can be emotionally and physically draining.  Filled with exhilaration or unimaginable sadness for others.

Be present for all of it…and you can only do that if you are still!

No music, radio, internet, texting, emails, phone calls. Just pure silence and stillness. 

Take in your surroundings.  You might look around and be thankful for all that you have or you may look around and be discouraged over your current circumstances.

In all of it just be still.

Find time to pray for guidance and purpose as you walk into a new year, a new decade.

Make your lists of goals for the next months, year! 

Give yourself permission to be quiet and listen to the silence.

Simply be still.

Allow yourself to sit in stillness and reflect on all this year has brought you, what you have walked through, the ups and downs, the unexpected moments.

Give yourself time to take it in and release those things you no longer want to embrace.

In your stillness, you will hear the quiet voice of God. I promise.  I know. I have.

Lesson:

Don’t run from the silence that can heal you.  Be still and know.

‘Til Tuesday

Six Weddings…

This was the year of weddings!

We received six wedding invitations of which we were only able to attend three.  It seemed that each time I opened my mailbox, there was another engagement, save the date and wedding invite.

We take our attendance at weddings very seriously.  Someone very wise once said, when you commit to showing up to a wedding you are committing to the success of the marriage.  You are making a promise to the couple that you will pray and support them through their married life.  That concept truly made me think.

 How many of us think of our attendance in those terms?

So as I pondered on all these beautiful weddings that we attended this is my advice to the newlyweds of 2019!

During conflict 

Talk, talk and talk some more; Go for a walk in silence; Ask for forgiveness

Communication

 Understand your spouses’s personality; Have real expectations (he/she was always this way, he/she didn’t change); Take time to listen without being defensive; Keep a short account (let the grudge go)

What you wished someone had told you

It’s not his/her job to make all your dreams come true; Keep something for yourself – job, hobby, friendships; Everything doesn’t always have to be perfect; He can’t read your mind; Marriage is WORK; Be flexible

Rules of friendship w/ the opposite sex

 Talk about relationships that are non-romantic, How does he/she feel about that; Your spouse must always come first; Trust and boundaries must be clear.

Maintaining Intimacy 

Keep healthy boundaries with your kids and your time; Make your bedroom a sanctuary; Hold hands;  Stay connected phone calls, texts, emails; Words of Affirmation (we each need to know we are desired); Dates are key, whether during the day, noon or night and even in your own home; He/She must always be your boyfriend/girlfriend; Stay on point with your grooming and appearance.

Extended Family Conflicts 

Set boundaries; Create your own family traditions w/ your spouse and kids; Don’t allow guilt to drive your decisions.

When things are difficult

Remember who you fell in love with, that person is still there.  Life is happening to you and sometimes those circumstances are beyond your control. Forgiveness is key.  Record keeping is never a good thing. People grow and can change. Be open to new adventures. Be an encourager. Hold hands even when you don’t want to. And ask for help when you’ve hit a wall.

So to all these newly wedded starting their “forever” life, may we commit to pray for you, encourage you and support you …

Because…Marriage is work!

Lesson:

Don’t judge someone’s marriage.  You don’t know the work they are doing.

‘Til Tuesday

My soul counts…

How do I keep my faith when those representing Christianity keep failing me!!!!!

Who are we?

What have we become?

A divisive people fighting each other over politics

A divisive people arguing over moral rights

A divisive people judging the life of one another

A divisive people that tear each other down

A divisive people that hold onto grudges

A divisive people that will falsely accuse one another

A divisive people that will subjugate the role of women

A divisive people that throw each other away because of our differences.

Here we are at another crossroads.  Questioning the role of women in the church.  So many years later and we are still having this debate!!  Where do they belong?  Do they belong?  Nah, sit down and be quiet!  Better yet…Go home!

Priscilla Shirer

Christine Caine 

Beth Moore

Joyce Meyer

Sara Roberts…just to name a few!

And then there is Aimee Garcia Cortese.

Of all these names you may recognize, the least recognizable will be Aimee Garcia Cortese.  But to me, she is the thread that held me together when my faith was tested.  She was a teacher, preacher, pastor, evangelist, chaplain, counselor when it was truly frowned upon in the Pentecostal church.  She stood tall during a season of false accusations.  She stood tall when the very church she helped lead with her dad asked her to leave because there was no room for a woman minister. She stood tall when those of her same faith let her know she was not welcome in their homes, their churches. 

She simply stood tall. 

Pastor Aimee did not Go Home!  She went to the masses, traveled the world, served the least fortunate.  Touched the lives of thousands in intimate spaces.  She knew and understood her calling and walked, skipped, and ran towards the one who called her.  She never coward even when the shouts were loud and offensive.  If it weren’t for her fierce determination to stand tall in her calling, tens of thousands of people would have never heard the gospel including many members of my own family…  

and my soul would not have been impacted.

So you see, there is a place for women in ministry, there is a place for women in the pulpit, there is a place for women to share the gospel all over the world.  

Mr. MacArthur, you are wrong.  It is not your place to squash any calling by God.  You mocked every woman that has ever been called to share the gospel, and you are mistaken.   It is written that “the devil comes to rob, steal and destroy, “…but lately, I have seen that in the hands of those who clothe themselves under the cloak of “Christianity”. As someone said, we are no longer different from the world, no longer separate, we have started slinging mud at each other. 

We will pick up the ball you (Mr. MacArthur) dropped and run the race, which we are called to!

Women are strong, fierce, loyal, powerful, capable, nurturers, intelligent, insightful, discerning, providers, helpers, educators, lawmakers, caregivers, listeners all equal in the eyes of God.  

Where would we be without the boldness and indignation we battle with every day?  We wake up each day carving out our role and purpose and rightful place at the table.  

We belong…everywhere!

This grieves my heart, and for that, I apologize to the unbelievers because I understand why you don’t believe it.  

We continue to fail…BUT God!

Lesson:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace” (Helen H. Lemmel, 1922)

Mere men can’t take away what God has called, appointed, and anointed, and that includes ALL OF US!

It made​ me think…twice

This past weekend I had a moment to watch a documentary on Netflix that made me think twice. “Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates” – I know, I know most cynics will say what can one of the richest men in the world teach me that his money has not solved for him.

Well…compassion.  

He taught me a lesson on compassion.  As I sat and watched how children played in polluted water. How polio is ravaging communities and how our climate is suffering at the hands of our indifference.  How the simple necessities of “our” world, like a running toilet is a project that would take years and millions of dollars.

It made me think…twice.

I thought of “our” need to have more.  I thought of “our” incessant need to consume as much as we think we need for survival.  I thought of our world of “meism” spawned from social media. My spirit was grieved.  I thought about how our society is fighting each other for rights, civil liberties.  I thought about the current climate of our politics and how it’s divided our country and has broken friendships.  I thought about our need to fulfill every want and whim that comes our way.  Yet there is a world that is craving the things we so often take for granted.  Craving the clean running water.  Craving the crumbs that fall off our plate.  Craving the warm bath, we soak in.  Craving the bed, we lay our bodies in.

As this year starts coming to a close, think about your craving, your wants.  Slow down enough to be thankful that your basic necessities are met without you giving it a second thought. Honestly, you don’t have to think about another country.  You can think of your neighbor.  Challenge yourself to think twice and find an organization you can support, a family you can show up for.

Where can you effectuate change?  Just look around…

Sometimes the things we are craving, are the things we least need!

Lesson:

“Don’t accumulate possessions; accumulate experiences. “- Mark Batterson

(“In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy day” – Mark Batterson)

It’s really that simple…

Creating space through order!

We were a lot of kids; at one given time, there were 9 of us living in a three-bedroom apartment with one bathroom!

My mom was the queen of order and cleanliness. There were too many of us, and she hated the bugs that would come with uncleanliness!

So!

I learned early on to put my clothes away, make my bed, and wipe down the kitchen counter before I called it a night.

To avoid complete and utter chaos, she would make sure that we placed everything in its rightful place immediately after use. That way, things wouldn’t get lost, and everything was tidy.

There were too many of us to have things spread out everywhere, and we had too little space to keep stuff we didn’t use or need.

These were quick lessons on how to stay organized that my mom in her frenzy taught me. (Before the Marie Kondo Way)

She would always say, if you are messy in a small space, you’ll be messy in a big space!

So here’s what I learned about order-

Make a daily list!

Make a monthly list! 

Make a yearly list!

Each list should contain items that are reachable, others that can be attainable, and others that are dreams to achieve!

Make your bed in the morning –

Put your laundry away after it’s done-

Wipe down the kitchen counters each night-

Take out the trash each night-

Put things away after use-

Keep bins for separate items-

Purge every three months-

When you buy something, give something away-

Don’t let clutter overwhelm you. 

Look around your space and see what you can gift, sell, and simply throw away.

Keep the things you love and “bring you joy” – ala Marie Kondo

You will find as your home is in order, so will other things in your life.

Create space to breathe and to share!

It is truly that simple…

Look around, where is there a need for order?

Lesson:

When there is order in your home, there is order in your life…

‘Til Tuesday

 

Patience…

 

Patience – The capacity, habit, or fact of being patient.

Patient – bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain; steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.

OUCH!!!!!

Here I thought I am patient.  WELL, after reading these definitions, I realized I have a LONG way to go to claim myself patient.

These past few years have carved the outline of patience in my life and in that of my family’s life. We have learned to manage loss in many different ways.  Emotionally, physically, financially.  Trusting and believing that “the sun will come out tomorrow” (cue Annie)…literally…

All the while, exercising patience, which is very uncomfortable.

In my haste to get things done, make things happen, I have stumbled, hurt, and betrayed my own convictions.  Learning and walking in the knowledge of what it means to be patient is truly an act of selflessness.  It’s letting go of the notion of “me,” what about “me,” pick “me,” include “me.”  When we let that need of “me” go, we learn to be selfless, and we learn to be patient.  I’m convinced it works hand in hand.

It’s not to say that whatever your dream or desire is not coming for you.  It will come when you are ready. It will come when you have been patient.  It will come when all the “me” of what you want is removed, and you stand as “we.”

I have learned the hard way!  I have learned that though I believe I deserve it, I must ask myself…did I earn it?

Patience is a powerful virtue.  To exercise, it is an act of strength.

Challenge yourself to live one day at a time with patience.

Lesson:

“Patience says to stay the course.” 

(The Time is Now, A Call to Uncommon Courage by Joan Chittister)

Be teachable…

This week I had the privilege of sitting with some amazing women.  They all shared their incredible journeys.  They were poignant, heartfelt stories, others were uplifting and encouraging.

One theme seems to run through all of the conversations…be teachable.  Each one of them imparted some small nugget that left me filled, thinking, and challenged.

I realized that no matter where we are in life, we must stay teachable.

When you are teachable, you are forgiving

When you are teachable, you are understanding 

When you are teachable, you are loving

When you are teachable, you are exploring

When you are teachable, you are creating

When you are teachable, you are inventing

When you are teachable, you are growing,

When you are teachable, you are listening…

There is grace when you are teachable.  There is humility when you are teachable.  There is submission when you are teachable.

I found myself being so very thankful that in every conversation, I took something away that made me grow and move forward.  It wasn’t about my opinion, my thoughts, my experience.  It was about embracing their experience with kindness, respect, and understanding.  It was about empathy, compassion, and growth.  As I continue to pass through this beautiful life that I have been given to live with all its hills and valleys, may I always live with an open heart and listen.

Lesson:

It’s not always about what you have to say, but how much you listen.

‘Til Tuesday

 

 

Where are the instructions…to parenting?

It was our recent trip to the country’s largest IKEA that prompted this blog!

It was our first time walking through this monstrosity of a home goods store. We didn’t think we were going to buy anything, we just wanted to walk around, but we grabbed a bag. By the time we got to the checkout stand, we had a bag, shopping cart, and a flatbed cart! A few cool things later and a dresser. We get the dresser home and open all three boxes with mixed parts and minimal assembly instructions when it struck me!

This is like parenting!!!!

Just figure it out along the way. Try and fit some pieces, and it will eventually come together and hopefully not fall apart when you are done.

A friend of ours once said when he purchased his first flat-screen TV it came with a two hundred page handbook, but when his wife gave birth to their firstborn, the doctor handed him his son and said: “Congratulations, it’s a boy.” He was like – wait, how do I do this?  What does he need?

No handbook, no instructions-

In a recent conversation with a new mom, she expressed the dynamics that come with being a new mom. She loves her baby very much, but the demands were something she had no idea would consume her every waking moment. So much so they made some real-life changes to make sure they have the support they needed.

No instructions, just trying to do their best with love.

What folks don’t tell you when you start on this incredible rollercoaster ride called parenting, it is one of the hardest jobs out there! With no set instructions!

Oh sure there are plenty of parenting books, I think I’ve read them all, well all related to raising sons and how to be a good parent.  But what they do not to tell you is what to do when all those books fail, when all those suggestions don’t produce the results you were hoping for?

You see, there are no real instructions…

I once asked a dear friend whose children are now adults which phase of parenting was the most challenging, and he said when they are adults! Wait! What?! I thought when they became adults, we were done with our worries and sleepless nights and crying out to God…well, it turns out it’s when you do that the most. He went on to say, they are adults, you have no influence or control over their lives. You advise if they ask and you can only hope they see the train that’s coming towards them on the tracks.

There are still no instructions!

Remember, when you see a family facing a challenge with their child, know this, that experience they are having with that particular child, there are no set instructions. Each child is an individual, and they assert themselves how they think they should.

Like our children, we guide them, set boundaries, love them, feed them, protect them, encourage them, cheer them on when they are trying their best. Stand by them when their world comes undone and dust them off when they fall.

There are no instructions in this, just love, hope, and prayer.

As they continue to grow in stature, and in maturity, they will still need those same things, so hold on to those extra pieces.

We create instructions for each child as they grow. We match the parts that fit them and glue together the pieces that work and pray that it sticks. Hopefully, when we are ready to release our children to adulthood, we have a beautiful piece of human life full of compassion, empathy, kindness, respect, selflessness that comes together as a strong part of your family portrait. All put together with no set instructions- only those that you created along the way that belongs to your individual child.

 

Lesson-
Prayer is the glue that keeps most of the pieces together. It takes a village to raise a child. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you can’t figure out what to do. Someone has already read through the instructions before you.

 

‘Til Tuesday

*Original Post August 2017

– Annette Ortiz Mata

What I know for sure…

You have my heart completely!

Faith…

This past week I underwent several medical tests.

I’ll spare you the gory details, but it places things into perspective -that’s for sure!

As I recovered and sat quietly in my bedroom.

I took that the time to reflect on things I know to be true, and I wanted to share those with my readers.

I have never professed my faith on my blog because it immediately turns folks off, and it opens the door for criticism and judgment. 

BUT

Here it goes…

I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

I believe in the power of prayer.

I believe that the Holy Spirit guides us and speaks to us and shows us. (Some of you may call me a bruja, but I know what it is…)

I believe that each day offers us a new opportunity to do the right thing.

I believe that WE ARE ALL children of God, created in his perfect image.

I believe that God walks and talks to me and I have literally heard his voice – (you can ask me about that later)

I believe that there is goodness in humanity, though these days it seems so hard to find.

I believe in miracles… daily miracles – they are all around us.

I believe that hope is alive and lives in our hearts if we allow it.

I believe that laughter is the best medicine, and tears wash our souls from sorrow.  There is beauty in both.

I believe that God created me with a strong mind and a strong spirit and its beautiful.

I believe that everyone’s opinion is valid, even when we disagree.

I believe that my political persuasion

has nothing to do with my value before God.

What I know for sure.

God loves me.

God sees me

God cares for me, my family, and friends.

I am not alone in this journey called life.

We all have a distinct purpose

We all have a calling

We all need hope, joy, and love.

What my tests results will say I do not know.

What I do know is that God has my heart completely and whatever awaits, I will move towards knowingly that I have an army of love and hope with me.  

What a privilege it is to live a life filled with hope, even in the darkest hours.

Find that hope.  

Find the love

Find the joy

It will bring you peace.

Lesson:

God loves me…and HE has my heart completely. That I know for sure.

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Mommyhood…

I was raised in a home where there was a full-time stay at home mom.  My mom’s sole focus and job were raising all seven children. She woke up early, made us breakfast and when we came home from school, there was a snack waiting.  The smells of dinner cooking would permeate the apartment. She cleaned, ironed, and made all the beds. She never worked outside of the home.  She was the true definition of a housewife/homemaker.  She kept an immaculate home. It was her pride.

BUT…

Interestingly enough, she pushed and encouraged my sister and me to get an education and pursue careers.  I thought it was quite ironic that she didn’t have the same expectations for us that she had for herself.  I later learned through an oral history project, in which I interviewed my mom, that being a homemaker/housewife, though it was her choice, it was not her dream.  She went on to share how she walked away from studying music in the conservatory, which was her father’s dream for her.  My mom has a sister who is was a world-famous opera singer, and her younger sister was a world-class ballerina, and her brother is a doctor.  She realized her “legalistic” beliefs caused her to walk away from having a different life experience.  She said she didn’t have regrets because she had us, but she wanted her daughters to fulfill their dreams.  I remember her reading all of my college, “Spanish novels.”  She read my textbooks and asked a lot of questions.  My mother’s dreams were deferred for reasons that only she guarded.  Yet she wanted us to have our own dreams full-filled whether we were married, married with children or single.  She chose to raise my niece and nephew so that my sister could continue her higher education.  She would prepare dinners for me so that I could go to college at night and not worry that I needed to rush home and make dinner.

My sister and I both completed College degrees.  We both pursued our careers in different avenues.  BUT, when I had my children, I found myself mirroring my mom’s choices.  I became the homemaker.  I became the mom that solely focused on her children.  I lost my identity and thought my sole purpose was to raise my sons.  Several years later, I realized I was mistaken.  I lost my way and my identity to something that I was not supposed to be doing for myself.  I regrouped and realized, I am better if I know who I am in this role of “mommyhood.”

I am a mom with dreams, aspirations, vision, and focus.  I am a mom with an opinion, intellect, and a voice. I am a mom that is strong, independent, that has her own dreams.  This realization didn’t change how much I love my children and honor my husband.  This realization did not disengage me from the role of wife and mother.

 Instead, it reinforced my purpose in my family.  

It’s okay to have your own dreams.  It’s okay to want a little more than cooking, cleaning, ironing.  It’s okay to say I want something that is all mine. As a mom, find something that brings you the greatest joy.  It doesn’t have to be life-changing.  It can be something that you can simply call your own.  Journaling, writing, gardening, golfing, going back to work, going back to school, volunteering, serving, hosting.  There are a million little things that we can call own and not forsake the role of “mommyhood.”

Don’t be afraid.  

Lesson:

Being a mom is the greatest honor of all time.  Being a happy mom is the greatest gift you can give your husband and children.

 Find that one thing that brings you the greatest joy and call it your own.

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Women can be….well… read on…

So, here I was feeling really good about myself.  Walking with a pep in my step and singing along with the radio in the car.

I was HAPPY!

It had been a summer of several health challenges, in which at this point, I was overcoming, and I had just completed my third semester of law school.  Don’t know if I mentioned, I am getting a Masters in the Studies of Law (MSL).

It seemed like any other day.  Moments of reflections and truly a thankful heart.

YET!

Here it comes! I encounter an acquaintance who, unbeknownst to me, was not having such a great day, and as I was sharing my accomplishments with her she proceeded to be critical and diminish all my achievements and efforts.  I found myself defending my experiences and immediately bothered by her ability to stomp and crush my spirit with her antagonism. I WAS LIVID…NO I WAS PISSED. Yes, there…I wrote it!  I could not believe here I am having what I thought was a delightful exchange with this woman, and she chooses to hold me down and crush me…like a bug.

I was stumped. Literally.  And that is pretty hard to do, for those who know me.  I sat there looking away, wondering, what just happened here?  Why did I allow her to get under my skin and become defensive?  What was it saying about me?

 Cause I know what I was thinking about her!

I went on with my day feeling sorry for myself.  I figured some retail therapy will make me feel better.  As I walked toward the back of the store, to the sale rack, I came across a lovely woman, and we acknowledged each other with a smile.  I proceeded to look mindlessly look through the racks, and she said, “excuse me,” and I moved out of the way.  Then I heard her say, “no…miss, excuse me, may I say something to you? ” I was slightly confused, and hesitantly said “sure.”  She proceeded to tell me, “you are beautiful, you need to know this, that you are absolutely beautiful.  Have a nice day”I literally gasped.  I looked at her and said, “Oh my God, thank you, thank you,” and she quietly walked away.

You see, I needed to hear that. It wasn’t about my physical appearance, I was well aware of that.  It was about my heart, what was living in my heart.  I was hurt, and God knew I needed the assurance that HE sees me, and HE thinks I am beautiful.  I wanted to share with this complete stranger what had transpired earlier in the day.  I wanted to let her know how much I needed to hear that I mattered. I walked around looking for her, and she was gone! GONE! GONE! I realized at that moment, she was an Angel sent to whisper into my soul.

I went to my car and cried.  Thanking God for that most personal and transcendental moment.  I realized I was still his favorite (thanks to Robert for the reminder).  I also realized that as women, we can lift each other up and bring each other down.

My preference is always to lift, encourage, and celebrate.  There’s power in the words of encouragement.  There is love in the act of celebration.

Women can be smart, strong, kind, and loving.  Women can be caddy, petty, judgmental.  Let’s chose to be women that lift each other up!

Because…WE ALL ARE BEAUTIFUL!

Lesson:

“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts…” (Proverbs 4:23, Message Translation)

 

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Brokenness walked into my house…

This summer, a few things occurred that stopped me dead in my tracks and forced me to face the reality that lives all around us.

Her name is Sarah*.

A phone call from our son asking if a friend could sleepover.  By sheer instinct, I knew the omission of the pronoun led me to the conclusion that his friend was a girl.  I met her the following morning.  As she walked down the stairs to leave quietly, my son introduced her.  I noticed her height but more importantly, how thin she was.  I asked her if she wanted something to eat, and she politely declined.  She thanked me for allowing her to spend the night, and she left.

I immediately pounced with a million questions, and to my heartbreak, the answers devastated me.  You see, Sarah was homeless.  She had been living out of her car for a few weeks and was bouncing from home to home of any friend that would let her sleepover, and when she exhausted her welcome, she would just sleep in her car.   I will spare you the devastating statistics on young adults that age out of foster care, but Sarah was just that.  A young adult that lived her entire life in the Foster Care system.

She spent three nights in our home.  We talked and she shared her life at that moment.  When she aged out, she moved in with her boyfriend; her boyfriend moved away, she moved in with a friend and her friend’s boyfriend, they broke up and there she was…homeless.  I asked Sarah if she had ever met her mom or dad.  She said no, she was placed into foster care as a newborn. She had never met her birth mom or any family and the foster family that she did live with for a bit moved away, leaving her behind.  Can you imagine that?  A 20-year-old all alone with absolutely no family to call her own.  I was devastated.  I immediately started contacting a few of the folks I knew who might be able to assist Sarah.  I suggested that she go back to DCF and ask for some kind of assistance and I am happy to write that she was able to be placed into transitional housing for youth that age out of the System.  She can live there until she turns 21.

Then once again she’s on her own.

Though Sarah was homeless, she has a job and is in school.  She’s doing what is required or expected of her to survive her life’s journey.  I was immediately challenged!  What am I doing to help!!  Yes, I offered her a place to sleep and eat, but that was not enough. How am I offering a hand-up to so many who need it not because they are lazy, but because they have been dealt a hard blow?

I started volunteering at our local Shelter.  I started showing up for those who needed a smile, a meal, a hello,  a simple word of encouragement.  Look around you, I am sure there is someone that needs a helping hand.  Don’t wait for brokenness to come walking into your door.  Go to the broken and help them put themselves back together.

Lesson:

Don’t ever judge a book by any cover…read some pages first.

‘Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

 

 

*Sarah – name change to respect her privacy

My words…have traveled​!

On May 8, 2017, I posted my very first blog.  Little did I know that those words would travel the world.  My intention for the blog is to inspire, educate, and entertain.  Have I achieved that these past two years, I would hope so?  I desire to always leave the reader with a new perspective.  Hopefully bringing insight to an experience that they have held privately and I have held openly.  I began reflecting on the “why” of my blog. I realized we are all connected by experiences.  Experiences can encourage, educate, inspire, and entertain.

 That is why I write my blog.

 I want to help at least one person know that “I am not alone in this” or “wow, if she survived that, I can too” or “Woah, that is deep” or even “that is hysterical, this chick is crazy.”  Whatever your response is to my “why I share in my blog, I thank you for reading and joining me on my life’s journey.  Thank you to all the readers around the world.  May you continue to enjoy and hopefully be inspired, educated, and entertained by “LIFE”!!!

Here is a list of the countries that have read my blog!  Thank you to the over  6,000 readers!!!

United States, Canda, United Kingdom

India, Australia, China

Ireland, Germany, Mexico

South Africa, Philippines, Spain

Indonesia, Italy, France

Peru, Hong Kong SAR China, United Arab Emirates

Puerto Rico, Brazil, Greece

Japan, Malaysia, Ukraine

Czech Republic, Colombia, Egypt

Turkey, Romania, Taiwan

Netherlands, Russia, Singapore

Belize, Portugal, Israel

Thailand, Denmark, Algeria

Morocco, Switzerland, Kenya

Chile, Sweden, Vietnam

Bangladesh, Poland, Bosnia & Herzegovina

New Zealand, Jordan, Nigeria

Norway, European Union, Pakistan

Nepal, Armenia, Afghanistan

South Korea, Guatemala, Guam

Cameroon, Serbia, Nicaragua

Panama, Sri Lanka, Qatar

Luxembourg, Tunisia, Austria

Kazakhstan, Jamaica, Saudi Arabia

Trinidad & Tobago, Argentina, Azerbaijan

Mozambique, Ecuador, Finland

Estonia, Uruguay, Paraguay

Belgium, Georgia, Malawi

Lesson:  Identify your why…and share it with others.

‘Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

They belong to me…

This week I celebrate my 53rd birthday.

I always take this time to reflect on where I’ve been, where I am, and where I am going.

I reflect on the goodness and mercy of God in my life

I reflect on the life lived out loud in joy and in sorrow.

I reflect on the enormous blessings that is my life right now.

I reflect on the people who surround me, the ones that have touched my life and the ones that I need to reach out to.

I reflect on the dreams yet to be fulfilled, and the prayers left to be answered.

And I am still.

This past year I have seen the skillful hand of God thread mercy, grace, love, forgiveness, and wholeness into my life.  I have seen him mend relationships, restore hope, and heal hurt.

I have witnessed the beauty of my family becoming whole.

These men in my life (pictured), my husband and two sons belong to me, but more importantly, they belong to God.  He’s entrusted me to love them, cheer them on, and believe them.  He asks that I respect them, honor them, and laugh and cry with them.

So what I know for sure as I turn 53…that I have a lot more life to live and so much more to learn.

When your birthday comes around, stop, and reflect on all that you’re becoming.

Happy Birthday!

Lesson:  

A birthdate is simply a reminder that we were formed for a purpose!  

“Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Hold him…

There I was sitting across from my son getting ready to be as vulnerable as possible, not truly knowing how he would receive my heart.  And so, I leaped!

I was nervous, but I needed him to know of my inner sorrow so that I could heal our brokenness.  And then it happened…healing and wholeness.

We made a commitment to each other.  A mandatory daily hug.  Something as simple as a hug, intentional, and willing.  You see the last time we approached each other, it wasn’t in love, but in violence.  Healing comes with touch, and touch can be as simple as a hug.

Every day since that talk, we have hugged, intentionally, and with purpose.

I was reminded of the Rabbi who told me to “hold him, and he will be healed.”  My “aha” moment came when I realized I had stopped holding him.  “He’s too grown they said. He’s a man now.  You must let him go.  He needs to man up”.  Yet all he still needed was to be held.  So!  Our challenge is not to let a day go by without a hug.  Without the physical contact of holding each other, letting each other know that we see, feel, and love each other.

I didn’t come to this realization lightly.  It took a lot of self-reflection on my part.  My fear of rejection created a wall around myself that even protected me from my own children! Thankfully I was still enough to hear the voice of God say to me…

I see you and you belong to me!

Healing comes in unimaginable ways, and for that, I am forever thankful!  God’s plans are always so much greater and way better than our own.  So I live my life with an open heart and mind, allowing for love to live there each moment of the day.

Who in your life needs a hug?  Will you allow yourself to be hugged?

Lesson:

Let your heart heal and allow yourself to be hugged.

-Annette Ortiz Mata

 

Kissed by God…

“We need all your birth certificates”, he said. “All your siblings, it’s the only way to disperse the inheritance”.

I proceeded to collect all the birth certificates and something was off. Six birth certificates and there it was. One of these was not like the other, and that other was mine. I was staring at the inevitable truth.

What followed was a myriad of questions that no one dared to answer.

Who, what, when, why?

The unbearable truth began to unfold, and I began to understand the whys!

Rejection – the lie that was engraved into my heart, mind, and soul. Not fitting in nor belonging – the constant sense that I was just in the way, all the time.

Why I looked so different.  Why I was tormented with wanting to always please so that I could be noticed.  All of these questions…slowly being answered.

It became the hurt that slowly carved itself into my heart. I began to understand the truth of my hurt. My quiet hidden hurt.

I managed it pretty well until I couldn’t anymore.

A few weeks ago I hit a wall. I wept quietly realizing the task of carrying this in my heart was breaking…yes breaking my heart.

Then suddenly…

I was kissed by God.

 Without anyone knowing all the details of my silent hurt, I was honored in a way that just took my breath away.  I found myself weeping at The Peninsula Hotel during High Tea as two beautiful women lovingly told me “God told us to honor you, celebrate you.”  I was stunned.  As I wept, I shared with them my truth, my silent pain.  The fact that they were saying those words to me, clearly confirmed in my heart that GOD was present the moment I was conceived. GOD was present the moment of my rejection. GOD was present in the moment of my assault. GOD was present at the moment of my betrayal. GOD was present when my heart was broken over and over again..waiting for me to lay it all at HIS feet.  Leaving the hurt right there and then…there HE WAS!  Letting me know that HE was present and ready to restore what was stolen. He wanted me to remember that I mattered and I have a purpose.  Though the road has been mixed with trials and triumphs…

HE SEES ME!!!

That moment shattered me into a million little pieces, removing the cracked glass that was around me which I thought was protecting me from any further hurt.  It was over.  The shame, the rejection was gone.  He chooses me, in spite of my circumstances. He chooses me in spite of myself.

What are you carrying that you need to lay down?  What hurt are you picking up every day?

Lesson:

Lay it down.  Lay the hurt, shame, pain, and disappointment down.  It was never meant for you to carry.   

“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you.  Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you:  A prophet to the nations–that’s what I had in mind for you” (Jeremiah 1:5 – Message Translation)

-Annette Ortiz Mata

My heart grew twice…

 

  Paul was barely a few days old.  Due to being a premie, he was not allowed to be out of the NICU for very long, and I wanted Rob to meet and hold his baby brother.

As I gently placed Paul in Rob’s arms, I asked him, “how do you feel?” and immediately he said, “my heart grew.”  (image is the actual moment they met)

Well, as you can imagine my heart burst!

What Rob didn’t realize was that my heart too had grown.  It had grown twice.  First, when I held him in my arms 23 years ago and again 8 years later the moment, Paul was born.  I knew that feeling. I knew exactly what he was going on in his little 8-year-old chest. 

It was real!  

You see, when love is felt in an imaginable way, your heart grows.

Becoming a mother is an experience, unlike anything anyone can prepare you for.  You walk around with your nerve endings exposed.  Your emotions raw and your sense of safety and security for your child heightened to the point of alarm.  You live in a perpetual state of reaction. And you are constantly having a conversation in your head “what if,” at least I do. Maybe this is just a Puerto Rican thing…if not, can I get an Amen!

Being a mom is a selfless 24-hour job of constant prayer and worry.  

Being a mom is hard.  We are disappointed, hurt, and honestly sometimes forgotten and overlooked.

Being a mom is rewarding.  Their triumph is your win. Their success is your smile, and their health is your comfort.

Being a mom is lonely.  We make out mistakes and hope not to be judged too hard. We learn the ability to love and dislike at the same time.

Being a mom is overwhelming – our dreams and desires are deferred solely to be transferred into their happiness, their dreams, their joy, their peace, their freedom.

Being a mom can oftentimes be the biggest joy and the greatest heartache.

Yet one thing I know for sure,  your heart doesn’t stop growing.

Your heart doesn’t stop loving.

Your heart doesn’t stop believing.

Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the moms out there doing their VERY BEST!!!

We see you!

‘Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Dear God…forgive us!

Forgive our indifference

Forgive our selfishness

Forgive our hatred

Forgive our anger

Forgive our racism

Forgive our bigotry

Forgive our unbelief

Forgive our lack of empathy

Forgive our lack of tolerance

Forgive our lack of compassion

Forgive our violence

Forgive our fighting

Forgive our division

Forgive our ruthlessness

Forgive our lack of love

Forgive our sin.

Lesson:

“In prayer, there is a connection between what God does and what you do.  You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.  – Matthew 6:14 (Message Translation)

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Two weeks of moments…

So!

These past few weeks have been filled with activities.  Weddings, galas, bridal showers, night out w/friends, finals, finishing up my second semester of Law School and celebrating Easter.

 All in the past TWO weeks! 

I get to catch my breath for about a week or so, and I intend to get a physical, meet up with friends, sneak in a hike, register for my next semester of classes, catch up on emails, make some important phone calls, and read.

All in ONE week!

As I reflect on the past few weeks and the encounters I’ve had, they were gut-wrenching and rewarding.

“I apologize for that,” ” I wish you knew,” “I wish someone would have told you,” “you look like you are living your best life,” “are you a Republican?”,  “that’s okay,” “thank you, thank you, thank you,” “I feel beyond blessed and honored I get to be a part of your life,” “teach me your ways,” “you are brave.”

 These were some of the highlights of several conversations I had in those past weeks.  Some moments took my breath away in both a revealing and humbling way.  If I am going to be perfectly honest, I am emotionally drained. These are words spoken to me and of me.  As I read them back, I thought, wow so much has been seen, tasted, felt, and given by my engagement in life.

When we decide to show up and be engaged, we set ourselves up to be vulnerable to people’s opinions and comments.  We allow ourselves to be accepted and rejected.  We give others permission to draw from our experiences and make conclusions of their own.

So as this next week comes around for me to catch my breath and disengage for a moment, I want to leave you with a few words of advice.

Don’t beg to be loved, just love yourself.

Don’t expect others to do what you are supposed to do for yourself.

Don’t give what you cannot afford to live without.

Don’t lose your dignity to fit into someone else’s narrative.

Don’t forget to rise up and be thankful for each and every experience, it has shaped the strong person you are.

Don’t forget to love unconditionally, but be prepared that your heart may break often.

Lesson:

Life is an unpredictable…smile while you are living it!

‘Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

The Jacket and me…​

This weekend I was in a room full of love and celebration, and the next day a room full of judgment and excess.

I belonged in both rooms.  

It was a weekend of bipartisanship, literally.

I sat in awe that I had come so far.  A little Puerto Rican girl from The Bronx was seated in the room where it happened.  

That same weekend, I was shopping at a local department store and in front of me was a little old lady who thought the jacket she was buying was $16.99, when in fact it was $29.99.  She didn’t have enough, and she walked away from the jacket.  She apologized to the cashier and walked out of the store.  As she turned away, I told the cashier, “give me that jacket I’m taking it,” she immediately said, “Do you want to check to see if it’s your size?”  I say, “no, it’s not for me, it’s for the lady.  Please hurry, I need to catch her”.  I immediately ran out of the door to give her the jacket that I could afford to buy, but she was gone.  I walked up and down the parking lot, checking every car.  Walked over to another store, drove around the entire strip mall and nothing, she was gone. It was as if she had dissolved into the atmosphere.  I was stunned.  There was no way she could have outrun me!  Where did she go?

I asked God to please let me see her during my drive home. 

But NOTHING. 

She was gone. 

I decided to keep the light-weight lavender jacket.  It’s a reminder that no matter where life takes you, pay it forward. 

Pay your blessings forward.  

No matter how far you come in your life experience, there is always something you can pay forward.  After spending a fabulous weekend among political actors and community activists and even a former sitting President.  I decided that no matter where life takes me, I will always remember to give a hand up to anyone that is in need.  

You see I was once that person that couldn’t afford that jacket.  I couldn’t afford a meal. I couldn’t afford to go to work because I couldn’t afford a token to take the train.  

The jacket will be a reminder that I am blessed.  It was a test to see if I was aware enough of my blessed life, and was I willing to share it with a total stranger, I was.  

Lesson:

When you are living your best life, remember there is someone who is not.

Be aware!

‘Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Three months later…how’s it going?

 

It’s no secret that I am a list keeper, journal writer, and avid reader.  How I manage to do all three is a question I am not sure I can answer.  I guess you have to decide how much you want to make time for it, and if it brings you joy, aka “Marie Kondo.”

So here we are. The beginning of April.  The first three months are now gone, and it’s time to check your lists.  How’s it going?  Are you meeting the goals you have set before you?  Do you see the answers to your prayers?  Are you walking towards your dreams and visions?  Are you checking off your to-do list?

 If you are not doing any of these things, why?  

As I contemplate on where I am this far, I have to say I am amazed.  And I love being amazed.  It brings me joy, peace, and creates great anticipation.  If you follow my blogs, you know that 2019 is my YEAR OF MIRACLES. And never really knowing what and how that is going to unfold, I just walk in obedience and in great expectation. I have witnessed the miracle of finding a new home in less than a month, I have witnessed the miracle of a dear friend walking towards his healing, and I have witnessed the reconciliation of a son to his family.  I have also witnessed the loss of someone truly special and the unexpected news of sibling suffering a sudden health crisis.

And it’s only been three months!!!  

Neither of those items I mentioned was on my “three-month” goal list, well, maybe one or two were, but in the bigger picture, they weren’t. I have learned that though I make up my list, I must leave room for the unexpected line items that make their way onto my list. I will continue to review my list of to-dos for this year, leaving room for God to insert HIS list for my life.  Leaving room for the unexpected and the answer to prayers that I have prayed over and over.

So as you sit and look over your list of dreams to be fulfilled this year, skip a line between your to-do list.  Leave a blank space for a miracle to happen and for the unexpected line items.  In that space may be the answer to your dreams.  It will come in ways that we never expect but always as it should be.

Lesson:

Don’t be discouraged if your list is not being checked off as you’d like.  The delay is sometimes the answer.  

‘Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

School Scandal? New…well?

These past few weeks, our news and twitter feeds have been inundated with the school scandal/entrance scam.  Parents going the “extra mile” to assure their child is guaranteed a seat in the most elite schools around the country.

This, my friend, is nothing NEW.

I think the most egregious detail is the “alleged fraud” that the parents engaged in to guarantee their child admittance into these elite schools.  Superimposing your child’s image on an athletic snapshot, or having someone else take their ACTs and SATs is just simply criminal!

Yet, this type of behavior has been going on for DECADES.

Our family experienced a very small taste of what power and privilege can guarantee you!  Our son was in third grade, and we wanted to switch him to another private elementary school that came highly recommended.  He tested, and we interviewed, but unfortunately, our family was denied admittance.  Our dear friend whose son attended this elementary school at the time asked how did we like the school, and we mentioned that our son was denied admission.  Well, less than 24 hours later, I get a call from the President of the school congratulating us and saying that a seat has been made available for our son!

I just about fell out.  

My husband and I decided that this was not the type of environment that we wanted our son to be a part of, and we declined the “seat.”

The hypocrisy behind this scandal is that we all have used some type of “influence” to get theatre tickets, dinner reservations, discounts of any kind.  

It’s all about who you know!

 It’s a conversation we must honestly address before we are quick to criticize the behavior of parents wanting their child to be given an unfair advantage.

We do it every day!!!  

We live seeking, desiring, and lusting after the “best” for our lives and our families.  We live coveting the “best” because we feel it validates our existence.  It gives us an identity of influence and importance. And honestly, we kinda enjoy it. We live thinking that if we have this education, drive this car, live in this certain neighborhood, wear these types of brands that we will BE better, we will be ACCEPTED!

The unfortunate part of this type of thinking is that our society rewards this type of behavior.  

THAT’S. THE. PROBLEM!

If we live this way, how do we expect our children to know any better?  When we begin to accept the beauty of who we are, where we are and start giving of ourselves and creating a space that is beneficial for everyone, THEN these type of “scandals” should truly upset us.

But until we learn to live in truth, with integrity, we can’t expect any more of our society.  It starts with us.

What do we place the most value on?

That is where your heart lives.

Lesson:

“For where your treasure is, there your heart (your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers) will be also. – Matthew 6:21 (Amplified Version)

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Why this hurts…

Several years ago I attended a TedTalk style event featuring Cristina Saralegui, otherwise known as the Latina Oprah. She was having a conversation about the state of Latinos on Television and the power and the importance of her show, although on a Latino Network (Univision) she was experiencing great crossover success with her guests and audience. She had guests from all walks of life mostly Latinos and some “Americanos” who would sit with her and talk about their experiences, life issue, and pop culture.  Needless to say, she was the QUEEN of the talk show market for Latinos. 

Nothing like it since.

During the event, there was an opportunity for a Q &A, and I asked her if she would consider producing shows in the “Anglo” market that represented Latinos.  A show that would showcase Latinos in a way our children would one day be able to relate with and see their home experiences and see themselves on television.  She immediately said I don’t have any immediate plans, but “You do it.” I was slightly startled and embarrassed. I thought, me? How?  No one knows me?  So I sat down and guarded that charge in my heart.

Since then, there have been several television shows that have showcased Latinos that have enjoyed some success. Ugly Betty, Jane the Virgin, Devious Maids, Cristela, and One Day at a Time.  Yet there is one thing they all have in common. 

They are no longer on the air!

The cancellation of One Day At A Time has been extremely personal and actually quite devastating.  You see this was the one show that my entire family could relate to.   The first time I attended a taping, I had the honor of meeting Rita Moreno, and  I cried.  I have pictures to prove it.  I was a bumbling mess, told her how much I admired her body of work, how I read her memoir, and how much she reminded me of my mother.  She was so lovely. She gently touched my face and told me, “you are too kind.”  I expressed to her how this show was so relatable and how at times I felt they had a camera in my home with some of the scenarios that were played out.

My angst of why it was canceled… We LATINOS are once again denied the representation of a whole and healthy family.  No drug dealer, no maids, no criminals.  Just a family that was trying to live their best life, working out their personal problems, and loving hard!    

The incredible disregard of how these types of starring roles are never represented and once they do get an opportunity to be aired, they are immediately canceled.  Are the Latinos not supporting these shows?  Are Latinos not standing up for their own?  Are Latinos unable to come together to stand for what is right which is an equal and respectable representation on Broadcast TV of any form?

So here we are again.  They thought we were not good enough to invest in.  They thought it not significant enough to trust that a cast of LATINOS about LATINOS could continue to carry the torch with dignity and respect.

So!  What do we do next?  I can still hear Cristina Saralegui saying “hazlo tu”/ “you do it,” but even if I do, will it be received…when does the disregard stop!  When do our representation of brilliant writing and acting matter more than the bottom dollar?

Lesson: Hopefully, “they” will do better, because Lord knows we are trying!

‘Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

What’s the difference between Jordyn Woods and me?

Answer: NOTHING!

This past week the internet exploded. The interview on Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith and Jordyn Woods almost shut it down. Our salacious need to know the intimate, hurtful details of the indiscretions of a 21-year-old became breaking news…this is the state of our society, sadly.

I try my best to keep my blog free of politics and pop culture commentary, but this week was a wake-up call for all of us!

Two things collided this week, the words of Lady Gaga “Social Media is the Toilet of the Internet,” and the toilet catching up with Jordyn Woods.

You see the difference between Jordyn Woods and me is absolutely nothing! I made terrible mistakes as a 21-year-old, but one thing is different, and that is the internet and the wrath of social media!

Definition of Social Media -websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

This very vague and obscure definition of the internet and social media has turned into the wrath, the triumph and the fall of millions of people.

 Think back on what we were doing at 21 years old and would we want ANY of our actions blasted, posted, photographed to the WORLD. Think about every failing, every poor decision, every mistake, every embarrassing moment!

Have we been where we were not supposed to be?  Have we kissed someone we were not supposed to kiss?  Have we had too much to drink?  Have we walked into a situation knowing in our gut its wrong?

Full transparency I can answer with a resounding YES to every one of those questions.  Has my immature, insecure, frightened 21-year-old self-made the worst decisions of my life?  Yes, I have! And if any of those moments had made it to the internet, I would have died over and over again.  Knowing that my parents taught me better, knowing that I knew better, knowing that I knew what I was doing was wrong, but still moving towards it.

As the world condemns a young 21-year-old, whose real mistake was getting caught up in the eye of the hurricane that is social media and wanting to be something that she was not meant to be. We must reserve the judgment and think about how we consume social media.  How we choose to be a part of the narrative that is both hurtful and fictitious.

Who would we be without Social Media?  Do we have an identity?  Do you have a purpose? Do we have relationships?

Lesson: Our indulgence makes us a participant. Be mindful on how you’re consuming.

‘Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

When stillness leads to shock and awe…

Have you ever sat still enough to contemplate where life has brought you?

What your decisions have taught you?

How life is working out for you?  Have you considered the relationships in your life?  Have you sat still enough to think about the world, nation, and community around you?

I try my very best to once a month assess and slow down my life enough to think about my surroundings, my decisions, my relationships.

It literally has been two months into the year, and I have had to manage a move, a flood, and a few other unknowns that have walked into my life and stayed for too long…in only the first TWO months of the new year.

When I sit still enough, I often find myself in a bed of tears and inspiration.  Tears for walking through a lot of unknowns that came at me like a runaway train along with the inspiration that arises from the outcome.  I’ve learned that we are stronger than we realize.  I’ve learned that when the unexpected shows up, which in my life seems to be every other day, I draw strength after I allow myself to shed a few tears.

So yes, my stillness always leads me to shock and awe.

Shock in trying to navigate how am I ever going to get over this experience and awe in the way it evolves into a blessing, what I most certainly thought was a curse!

I’ve come to learn that the things that bring us the greatest devastation will one day be our greatest reward. We just have to keep moving forward.

In all the noise around us, we must find a little space of stillness.  We must learn to carve out a tiny moment in the frenzy of life to assess what’s going on, why it’s going on and should it keep going on?  Who are we sitting with, talking with, eating with, and living with!  What we can do about it, what we can say about it and how we can be about it.

Lesson: Don’t sit too long in the madness of your chaos, you can lose yourself.  The power of stillness is greater than any “busyness” we may claim to have.  

‘Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Free-Falling…​.

Have you ever felt like you are free-falling? Everything you are trying to get done is coming undone. Your relationships are broken, your finances are in chaos, and your mind is racing and your nights are sleepless, and you feel all alone.

Well, guess what, you are not alone. By nature of being nurturers, we take on the weight of the world. We are convinced that if we do not prepare, plan, execute, and deliver all things to all people, nothing will get done! For some of us that is true, for others, it’s the chaos we create and choose to live in.

So how do we find balance and take control and put the chaos that surrounds us in order?

We must say NO! We must STOP what we are doing, and we must ask for HELP!

I have come to accept and learn and live in the power of NO. I have learned to stop and literally shut everything down when things start going off course, and I am no longer embarrassed to ask for help. I’ve also learned that’s it is okay to change your mind!

We must stop trying to let others believe that we got this. It’s all under control, but the truth is we are tired, irritable, and overwhelmed. Women must learn to let their guard down and let other women in. Women need to learn to stop judging one another when we see that one of us is coming undone. We have all been there!

Look around you, I am sure you can find someone who is desperately in need of a break, a hand-up, or just a listening ear.

Lesson: Stop free-falling and give yourself permission to sit down and breathe. It will all get done. It just doesn’t have to be all done by you!

‘Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Folding and purging and my epiphany!

I am sure everyone has either watched or heard of Marie Kondo! The queen of the fold and the purge. I purchased her book a few years back and then watched her Netflix series, and suddenly I found myself hugging my clothes, socks, shoes, and thanking every dish for serving me! What on earth!! But here’s the kicker! It WORKED!

It’s only been a month and a few weeks into the New Year and I had to face the reality of moving. So, I started purging and folding and thanking the things that surrounded me for playing some part in my life.

The irony behind it was the feeling of satisfaction that came with touching an item, recognizing whether it brought me joy and releasing it with a heart of thanksgiving. It all seemed unnatural. You see these “material” items could never thank me! So how did I place so much value on something that could never love me back! Crazy right!

Unfortunately, that is how our value is recognized. That is where we place our worth, on the things we accumulate! Stuff and more stuff validates that we are worth something if we have that certain “thing.” It was a true wake up call for me. I didn’t want to be known for the “things” I had. I wanted to be known for the life I lived, the way someone felt in my presence, and how much I loved.

The idea of this material purge is to make room for the things that are valuable to us and to keep those things that bring us joy. As I started pulling items out of my closet and cupboards, I realized there were things that I had not touched in years. The personal purge began (though I did wake up my books (if you watched the series you know), and I kept most of them-LOL!). I am happy to say that I learned to fold the “Kondo Way,” but I purged “my way.”

I understood that letting items go in my cupboards and closets was releasing me of an identity I was no longer attached to. Then it hit me! I learned that just as I was letting go of “things,” I needed to let go of hurts that had crept into the closet of my heart. Neatly folded and tucked again. I needed to pull them out and recognize that that “thing” that I was holding onto was NOT bringing me joy, and I needed to let it go. So there I was among piles of stuff having a spiritual epiphany. Yes I folded, I thanked, and I forgave, and I let more than a few items of clothing go. I let hurt, disappointment, sadness, regret…go.

As you take inventory of all the “things,” you are carrying from house to house. Take inventory of what you are carrying in your heart. Remove the items that are no longer bringing you joy and …

Let it go.

Lesson: We all have something we carry because we think it adds value to our identity. Identify it and acknowledge its purpose, it’s usefulness and then just let it go.

“Til Tuesday.

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Twenty-Five years and counting!​

Yup, it’s our 25th Anniversary. On a cloudy day, February 5, 1994, at 11am in the morning, Robert and I stood before God, family, and friends and made the most significant commitment of our lives. Saying I do to… forever! Yup! FOREVER…What has that looked like the past 25 years? Well, let me tell you!

Our 25 years have included, unbridled passion, intensive conflict, mixed with exhilaration. The first 5 years included locations, travel, and our firstborn. The next five years included our first miscarriage, my cervical cancer, two new address, and lots of time spent apart. The next five years another miscarriage, the birth of our second child, radiation for my thyroid disease and more time spent apart along with unbearable personal loss. The next five years came with more conflict than resolution. Came with challenges that seemed unimaginable. We were stretched to the brink, but we always bounced back. Everything we held close and dear was ripping us apart. We walked in different directions and sometimes in circles feeling trapped. In the midst of it all, we held on to our promise to each other –

Forever…It’s forever!

The past five years have come with unimaginable loss and grief. Some of it is still unbearable and difficult to process and accept. Committing to marriage and committing to each other is an act of selflessness. It requires forgiveness, compassion, empathy, understanding, trust, respect, and honor. It requires waking up each morning and choosing each other no matter how hard the circumstances are. It requires having an identity in your relationship that is separate from each other so that we don’t place the expectation of making the other person responsible for your happiness.

So! The past 25 years in our lives have included a myriad of experiences that are all our own. It’s our journey that has kept us incredibly committed to each other. One thing I am sure of..my lover has my back and I have his. He is mine, and I am his.

What I know for sure is that he was created for me and I for him.

I look forward to the next 25 plus years that will continue to be an amazing journey of our lives together. Creating memories and experiences that are personal to us and only us. Living in a sacred space that we know is full of love, respect, and honor and laughter, lots of laughter.

So we celebrate 25 years of marriage with the scars that clearly show we fought for us and won! FOREVER!

Lesson:

Key to a healthy marriage, love, commitment, laughter, forgiveness, respect, trust, and intimacy. FOREVER.

“Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Til Forever

Just be…yourself!

Just be…

In this generation of striving and being and creating, we’ve lost the art of just being. Being ourselves, not a copy of someone else. We have fallen into the vicious trap of trying to be, act, look, talk, and walk like someone else.

When I was younger, I was a victim of that cycle. I had several women in my life that I admired, and in my ignorance, I thought that if I walked, talked and tried to dress like them, I would be liked and included.

NOT!!!

So here we are in this overexposed society, where every moment of our lives is documented. Well, I choose to believe that most folks only document the best highlights of their lives. We strive, and we create to be someone that we really aren’t out of fear of missing out! Yes, I said it… FOMO! When we suffer from FOMO, we stop being ourselves. We forget that if we just show who we truly are, we might be much more relatable and accepted.

Let’s challenge ourselves to be our authentic self! Every day, every moment, good, bad, and the ugly. Yes, even the ugly. No, I am not saying let’s not doll ourselves up. I am suggesting we be who we really are. Allow ourselves to shine even when we think we look dim. Allow ourselves to be vulnerable, even if we run the risk of getting hurt or even disappointed.

In everyone’s life, there are experiences that can be shared that will help us, encourage us, and teach us. Just be. Be the best version of yourself (Oprah’s voice) and live, laugh and love. Forget perfection. It’s not attainable.

Lesson:

Show up just as you are. Someone is expecting you, and they need the real you!

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Read, Write, Pray. Repeat.

Wow, this year came rushing in like a runaway train! Literally! I had decided to take a social media break and just be present for the holidays and whatever the new year would bring in. I was successful at doing so, and boy, I am I thankful that I was.

If you follow my blog, you know that I have shared my passion for reading and journaling. Every morning I strive to carve out time to sit still enough to read, journal, and pray. I have been doing this for as long as I can remember. It’s been a habit, ritual, my morning routine. It’s what anchors my day. The silence of the morning after rushing out the door for school drop off sets the tone for the day. I often find that when I don’t have my morning silence, the day gets incredibly chaotic, and I am off-balanced. Not to say that when I do have my morning silence, my days are not chaotic, but I am more at peace with what’s coming at me.

So here we are January 2019, and I am deathly ill, with the worst stomach flu I have had in years, and while recovering, I receive a call that we have to move!!! Bam! Slam! Here we go!

It seemed unfair at first. I was shocked and sad. I wasn’t feeling my best and now taking on this project of finding a new home and getting better, not to mention that my second semester of Law School was about to start. Yes! Did I mention that! I needed to get my head around the unexpected. BUT! I know what I know, and at that moment, while I was trying to wrap my head around the pain in my stomach and all over my body, I knew one thing. This moment was not a surprise to God, and with that, a tremendous sense of peace swept over me. I remembered my morning of silence and the many mornings of silence where I sat long enough to know that God was with me because I chose to read, write, pray, and repeat.

We are still walking through many unpredictable scenarios where miracles are required, but I continue to have peace. I stand with the assurance that no matter what comes my way, all will be well.

Find your morning ritual or even your evening retreat. But give yourself the courtesy of reading, writing, praying, and repeating, so that when the unexpected comes at you, all you have to do is be still and be at peace.

Lesson:

Carve out a minute or two of your day to sit still. Still enough to hear the silence. It will bring you comfort when the noise starts coming at you.

“Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Have you made your list? Have you checked it twice?

If you follow my blog, you know that I am a list maker.

I make a list for the day, the week, the month, the year.  I go over it each day and check off my daily, monthly, and if I’m so lucky my yearly accomplishments.

I challenge you to create a list of goals.  Write them without limitations and fear.  Write them out with confidence, no matter how outrageous.  Make some reachable for small wins.  Make some that seem unreachable these goals make us work harder and give us the greatest satisfaction.

Trust your heart in 2019.  Love the unlovely.  Make new friends. And it’s also okay to let some friends go.  Learn something new.  Make time to volunteer.  Enrich your spirit with God.

Many and most of these give us the most peace.  Life can be challenging, and sometimes we need to create and make intentional choices to live life out loud, be vulnerable, and be teachable.  Share your failures and your lessons.  Share your hurts and your joys.  Share your time.  And just listen.

2019 is my Year of Miracles.  I don’t know what that means nor what it’s going to look like.  I just know that in my heart I will grow and it will expand my mind and soul.

I want to say Thank you to all my followers and those that occasionally pop in to read what lives in my heart that’s written in my blog.

Merriest of Christmas and a very Blessed New Year!

‘Til Tuesday in January of 2019

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Just when you think no one is watching…they are.

She placed my life in perspective with these words.

“…I beg to differ It might not have been a strong year in the ways you may have hoped for it to be strong, but you and Tio damn sure have become stronger. You chose to walk in forgiveness with a family that treated you terribly for years and years. That’s strong. You lost your father in law, and by the strength of God you pulled together a powerful service in his honor and held your husband together. The fight with you and Little Robert. That took a hell of a lot of strength to get through. And then having to have to figure out living life loving him but keeping serious boundaries to love him well. You started school and received clear direction from the Lord on letting go of Table for 5. That’s going to take some serious strength because that was a major part of your life. Choosing to pack up and go to a foreign country to be with your husband…. hella strength because that’s a long ass flight. And in the midst of all of that dealing with a mass shooting right by you, devastating fires, & then making a choice to help others and give of yourself, your time, and resources. From the outside looking in Titi… That’s a damn strong year. Some of it your very own and a lot of it, I’m sure, the Holy Spirit. No better strength than that!!! In case you didn’t know.. I could not be more proud of you. I’m honored to call you Titi!”

In one quick text, she put my life into clear perspective.  What I considered to be a “not so strong” year was more than my own preconceived notions.  It was strong in ways that I could not utter because it required me to get up each time that I had fallen down.  I immediately understood what living life out loud meant.  

What showing and sharing your vulnerability meant and how it is truly a strength and not a weakness.

 These words crumbled me in a good way.  You see, all along someone was watching how I was walking through what I thought was my “not so strong year.”  Someone noticed and chose to differ. And for that, I am grateful and humbled.

Lesson:

Remember, someone is watching and learning. Be strong.

“Til Tuesday

ONE MORE SLEEP…

One more sleep and I will face one of my biggest fears! Flying internationally… ALONE!

An 11-hour flight with no one to tell me “it’s going to be okay,” except maybe a stranger whose hand I may grab (I’ve done that once before). Was the excitement of seeing so many beautiful things (including Megan Markle’s wedding dress, those who know…know) and experiencing life in another country enough to consider it?

So I decided…I am ready to take the first step towards releasing myself of what ties me down!

This little girl from 639 Rosedale Avene, Bronx, NY, didn’t have many role models, but she dreamed of a better and more beautiful life, and I’m living it.

 But to live it to its fullest, I must face my apprehensions.

For the past 25 years, in my yearly and life goals, I’ve written down my dream and desire to visit London and Paris. Yet my own fear of flying internationally held me back from realizing those dreams.

This year I wrote it again, and when the opportunity presented itself I said NO!

Can you believe it!!!

I recited a million reasons until I caught myself and realized I was a fraud.  How could I tell someone else to face their fears and reach for the stars while I was just looking up at them!

So, I said yes. Yes to the new adventure! Yes to getting on an international flight by myself! Yes to reaching for the stars. Yes to slaying a giant in my life!

As this year comes to a close, I am embracing all that “the year of new” has challenged me with! More on that in another blog.

Is there something that is holding you back?  Are you facing a giant?

  Stop living a life of excuses and start living a life of YES!

So here I go…

Lesson:

Don’t be a spectator in other people’s lives and start living yours to its fullest.

Start from a place of yes!

BTW, I will be documenting my experience via my Insta Story!  Should be quite the adventure!

“Til Tuesday!

What lives in the Soul of A Woman?

My desires

My dreams

My regrets

My fears

My loves

My heartache 

My plans

My wishes

My anger

My determination 

My sorrow

My laughter

My strength 

My eternal hope…

What lives in yours?

Lessons:

Remember to guard your heart…

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be. (Matthew 6:21)

“Til Tuesday

This week…

This week was difficult to sit and write.

First, the shootings that shook a community that was confident in their safety.

The senseless shooting that took innocent lives.

The senseless shooting that changed the reality of every family that lost a loved one

The senseless shooting that shook me to my core, in not knowing if my son was there that night.

The senseless shooting that tragically shattered the life of a mother that loved her broken son.

The next day…

The fire that ripped through the same community.

The fire that roared fiercely and shattered lives already broken.

The fire that ripped through coveted communities of beautiful landscapes and stunning homes.

The fire that did not discriminate in devouring properties.

The fire that displaced hundreds of families.

The fires that have placed our school community in harm’s way.

The fire that has taken lives that were trying to escape.

The fire that has now left our broken community shattered with pieces to pick up.

The fire that has left the air we are breathing toxic and unsafe.

YET!

What I know is that we are a strong community

What I know is that we are a caring community

What I know is that we are a thriving community

What I know is that we are a faith community

I have seen the goodness of hundreds of people.

I have seen the kindness of strangers.

I have seen the generosity of those around me.

As horrific as all the events have been this week,

I am confident that our community will come together.  

We will hold up the arms of those who are weak.

We will hold up the arms of the those who are mourning.

We will hold up the arms of those who are displaced.

We will hold up the arms of those who are homeless.

We will hold up their arms because we care.

This holiday season look around and find whose arms can you hold up

Lesson:

Simply look around and give thanks.

‘Til Tuesday.

What’s on your Thanksgiving Menu?

Each year I plan my Thanksgiving Menu. I figure out how many guests and how much food I’ll need to prepare and purchase.

I am incredibly meticulous with details and presentation because I want my guests to feel welcomed, loved, satisfied and thankful!

As I thought about this process, I thought about what is on my Thanksgiving Menu…

for my life!!

In my reflection I realized, this year came with a lot of “new” for me. New losses new opportunities, new travels, new illness scares, new trials, new rejections, new relationships 

Yet I am thankful.

Each “New” for me changed me for the better.  It made me stronger. I learned something about myself that I didn’t know I was capable of doing, accepting or being! I learned how strong I can be and I learned how vulnerable I truly am.

It’s hard to be thankful when your circumstances are not ideal; you are alone, your family is broken, your health is challenged.

It is then when it’s most important to be thankful! It stretches every fiber in you to utter the words that say I am thankful for this challenging trial. That’s when you grow!

It’s easy to be thankful when all is well.  When all is aligned and moving towards a beautiful outcome.  When your family is united, and everyone is full of joy.  When you are surrounded by your friends, and you are enjoying the best health. It doesn’t take much effort to be thankful when everything is going your way!

Give thanks… 

Give thanks in the hardship. You will be stronger.

Give thanks through the tears.  Joy comes in the morning

Give thanks in your sorrow.  Laughter will soon fill your heart.

So as you prepare your menu, think about all the different items that you have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

The mere fact that you can be aware of the spirit of Thanksgiving is enough to be thankful!

Sit still between now and Thanksgiving and write down ten things you are thankful for your heart will be full.  

Lesson:

Be thankful for every moment.  For that moment will never come again.

“Til Tuesday

When what you pray for comes packaged differently? ​What do you do?

This week it happened to me!

At the beginning of every year, I write my heart’s desire, goals for myself for that particular year.

This year was no different.

The year of New came with A LOT of new.

Some wished for and others definitely not asked for, yet it was all new.

I still had some unanswered desires and unchecked goals.

As life would have it one of my desires came to me, but it wasn’t as I planned it or envisioned.

It just wasn’t packaged as expected but it was on my goal’s list.

So there it was, right before me, I gave myself a million excuses as to why it wasn’t attainable and quite frankly undesirable.

It wasn’t on my timeline and under my control.

I couldn’t control it.

To be perfectly honest I cried.  I was angry, frustrated and downright depressed over something I had prayed for. 

What was wrong with me?

I was crying over something I wanted, but didn’t like?

How did that make any sense?

Thank goodness for girlfriends who quickly and honestly broke it down. Girlfriends that know your heart and mind and can speak into something that is not right in us!

I checked myself after I was checked.  I realized it was an answered prayer and part of the packaging was the answer, and in my frustration, I couldn’t see that.

The packaging was the answer, it was the gift, it was the goal to be checked.

I sat still and cried. Humbled by my ignorance.  Not seeing the full picture.

I realized I was getting in my own way of accepting an answer to a prayer that was not perfectly packaged.

I took a breath, slowed down, sat still and listened.

Why was I obsessed with getting my way.  Did I know better?  Was my way the perfect way? Nope, I was wrong.  The answered prayer came God’s way.  His perfect timing. His ideal packaging.

I had to let go, open the package and receive and accept the beautiful gift that was always intended for me and I checked off another goal, another heart’s desire before the year of new ended.  That process in itself was new, and I am thankful that I was able to accept it.

Lesson:

Remember the greatest blessing is completely disguised. 

“Til Tuesday

Have you cried today?

When all you can do is cry – that’s ok!

This year I cried a lot.

There were tears of joy

There were tears of deep sorrow

There were tears of relief 

There’s were tears of happiness 

There were tears of despair

There were tears in laughter 

There were tears of solace

Crying is a full expression of our emotions.

It is not a sign of weakness but of a direct reflection of what’s going on in our lives.

Tears bring a sense of relief of the all that is pent up inside of us.

Tears wash away any disappointment

Tears release the healthy emotion of joy and excitement

There are days where a good cry will make you feel stronger, and there are days a good cry will make you feel comforted.

Whatever your circumstance, embrace the emotions of tears.  Don’t wipe them away in shame or apologize for crying.  Allow your feelings to find their rightful place in your current situation.  Tears can bring the greatest source of comfort in the most unexpected moments.

Lesson:

Stop apologizing for crying.  Be transparent.  Be free.

“Til Tuesday

“If only…”

Are you content?

Do you feel – satisfied, pleased, gratified, fulfilled, happy, cheerful, glad; unworried, untroubled, at ease, at peace, tranquil, serene?

So you accomplish all your goals.  You check all your to-dos and sit back say..and then what?  Were you satisfied?  Did it meet all your expectations?  Did you get out of it all that it intended to be?

Sometimes we believe the grass is greener on the other side. That if only I had the bigger house, the fancy cars, the extra cash, the husband, the kids, the family.  We live with the expectation of “what ifs” and when we do get the “if only” we are surprised to find that it is not all that we expected it to be.  We are not as fulfilled as we want to be.  Why?

Well, I truly believe that it is our soul that needs the most tending to.  There is nothing in this earth that can satisfy our souls but contentment.  A spirit of thankfulness.  Recently I stated that I could only deal with what was before me “today.”  I could not worry about the items on my “to do” list for tomorrow. That I could only see what was right in front of me and honor it, love it, show up for it and bless it.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed and anxious.  Then I would suggest that your spirit is not aligned with what is best for you.  The God of the universe always has what is best for you.  We often run around like a hamster in a cage moving fast, getting nowhere.

I suggest as the year draws near, do something different. Expand your territory.  Host a dinner, go out to dinner with friends, see a play. Do something that would surprise yourself and those around you.  Extend your heart to others. It’s in those moments that your spirit will soar and you will feel contentment. Your “if only” and “what ifs” won’t matter because what is before you in the present is the most important.

Where can you show up, honor, love and be present?

Lesson:

Give thanks for where you are right now and you see all the blessings that will come as a result of your “spirit” being filled with gratitude.

“Til Tuesday

How did we get here so fast?

Honestly, how did we get to the beginning of the end of this year!!!

It’s around this time that I always sit and reflect on this past year.  The ups, the downs.  The dreams realized.  The hopes deferred.  The goals checked off.  The addition of new goals.  The losses and the gains.

This year came in like a wrecking ball.  And I mean that literally.  I always create a goal list for the year, and I try to review it every three, six and nine months to check on my progress and see if I am on target.  This year was an incredible exception of each day being incredibly unpredictable, so needless to say, I have been off the mark!

The first three months proved to be a precursor of what the rest of the year was going to look like.

 Life has a way of inserting itself in ways that genuinely leave you questioning EVERYTHING!!! 

My vision and motto for this year were the”year of new” and boy did it prove to be just that. And although I have three solid months to go for 2018, I truly can’t imagine what more “new” could possibly come, but I am sure it will be life-changing as everything has been so far.  Interestingly enough the “year of new” came with new experiences, new losses, new goals, new vision, new locations, new health experiences, and new sorrow.

As the year begins to wind down, though I have a lot more to get done and accomplish and experience, I await 2019 as the “Year of Miracles.” I will make my new set of goals, and maybe even carry some over from the “Year of New” and check in and see how I’m doing.

It’s an amazing journey of growth.  It comes with incredible mosts of exhilaration and deep sorrows, but they are all part of this beautiful experience called LIFE.

I intend to live it loud and quietly. I intend to live it laughing and crying.  I intend to live it dancing and sitting still.  I intend to live it with others and sometimes alone.  

BUT, I intend to live it!

 Embracing all that it gives me.  Learning so that I can teach.

What are your goals for 2019?  What do you have left to complete for 2018?

Lesson:

Surround yourself with love, laughter, and joy, so that when those moments comes that strip of joy, love, and laughter, you have a source to draw from.

 Don’t walk alone.

“Til Tuesday

Are you a spectator or participant….in your life?

Your immediate response may be, I am a participant? It’s my life I have to do me!  What kind of question is that?  

Well, after several interesting conversations I concluded that some folks are spectators in their own lives.

 They don’t participate.

They just do just enough to get through the day and meet their responsibilities.  Just enough to pay their bills, and keep relationships afloat.

They are spectators.

 They watch others from afar.  Don’t engage.  Don’t want to rock the boat.  Is that a bad thing?  Well, only if it leaves your gifts and talents unfulfilled.  You can run the risk of being critical of others as they “participate” in their lives.  Spectators sit on the sidelines and are comfortable. They can become critical of those in motion.

Participants are in constant motion. They are moving forward.  Looking to engage, encourage, inspire and fulfill dreams and aspirations. They seek relationships. They enjoy conversation, engagement with others.  They are looking to do better, be better and do more.  They live life to it’s fullest.  They find joy in the simplest things.  They crave learning and growing in the knowledge that expands their understanding of others.

Participants take risks.  Participants fulfill dreams.  Participants show up. Participants inspire. Participants make no excuses.

Don’t sit on the sidelines of your own life. Be an active participant and fulfill the hopes and aspirations that were once birthed in your heart. Pursue the goals you’ve always wanted to accomplish.  It’s one step forward.  The first step is always the hardest.  When you engage in your life you will notice the spectators around you and wonder, why are they sitting on the sidelines?

 They are watching you!

Watching you grow and in doing so, you will inspire them to step out of the stands and join the team.

Don’t be a spectator.  Participate.  Someone is waiting for you to step out of your comfort zone and walk alongside them.

What can you do today that will change the trajectory of your life?  Go for a walk, eat better, make a phone call, write a letter? Visit a friend, get a physical? Apply back to school? Apply to a new job? Run the marathon? Take the trip?

Lesson:

When you show up and participate in your life, you inspire others to do the same.  Live generously, it changes everything!

“Til Tuesday

I needed it to be a cold blue…

I sat and cried.

I thought I was okay, but I wasn’t.  The night before, I was taking my evening stroll and lectured my husband, that if anything should come back, that’s questionable, I didn’t want anyone to overact. That if my tests were to prove something malignant, I wanted everyone to be strong.

Yet, here I was sitting at my kitchen counter the morning of my thermography scan wiping away tears.  Fear gripped me in an unexpected way.  I was afraid of the unknown.  Though I had prayed for healing, boldness, and confidence in the unknown, my insides were shaking with fear.  

I didn’t want to know that I was going to put my family through the journey of an unpredictable diagnosis.

I had already made a gutsy declaration should the diagnosis be positive/malignant, I was going to face this disease head on and do it my way.

I had made a bold declaration that nothing was going to take me down, yet here I was wiping away tears that kept rolling down my cheeks as I was eating my breakfast. I looked over at my husband and told him, “I’m scared, I am really scared.” I was so surprised at myself.  I was surprised that after all these days of believing in a good report, here I was literally shaking.

We entered the facility. We walked in silence.

I thought of the many women in my life that have had to walk this journey of the unexpected news of a diagnosis that would change everything.

I sat, quietly waiting.  

She greeted me with a warm smile and explained the procedure.  It’s interesting how everything is in slow motion, and you catch yourself looking around feeling a little bit more sensitive, more alert, more aware of your surrounding. 

Everything is brighter, louder. 

I entered the room, and she explained why it was so cold.  The cold temperature will assist the magnification of any hot spots that will be disclosed on the images.  If there were any “red hot spots,” then that would mean there was a tumor or tumors. 

I disrobed, put my arms behind my head and waited. Turned. Turned again.  Angle turned around. Silence, just silence.  I needed it to be blue, cold blue, no hot spots, I literally was shaking not because the room was cold, but my spirit was shuttering.  I quieted my spirit as I closed my eyes, remembering the many folks that I knew were praying for me to be okay. Exam over, I put the robe back on, and she asked me to come over and look at the images.  It was all blue, cold blue.  There were no hot spots, no red, other than where it was supposed to be.  Preliminarily she said there was nothing to be alarmed. 

I was fine.

I stood there not sure what to say.  I felt vulnerable, and though my husband was in the room with me while she was explaining all the details, I felt alone.  I thought about how many women walk this long road and feel alone. How many women don’t get the good news I received, how many women hear the dreaded words?  

I was quiet. I needed to process my fear, and I needed to process my empathy.  We drove home, I was quiet.  I was thankful and quiet.  I knew that yet again I was given the opportunity to feel the fear of the unknown so that I can remember to empathize with those who walk this very unpredictable journey.

Is there someone you need to walk alongside their illness journey?

Lesson:

Don’t ever forget to empathize with someone walking alone through their illness.  No one knows the sorrow.

Volunteer, show up and be present for those walking the long and lonely road of illness.  You never know when it can be your turn.

‘Til Tuesday