Tag Archives: friends

Mowing Musings

30 May
Mowing musings:
 
As I was out mowing my yard this evening, I had time to ponder some statements and situations that have come to the forefront of my life the last few weeks. And I just kept thinking, if only every person could have empathy, kindness and understanding for the people in their lives and the people that cross their paths.
 
You see, we all have different stories – we all are at different stages of life – we all have different levels of responsibilities – we all are on this journey called, LIFE. And to each of us, our struggles are real – our worries can be overwhelming at times – there are things we wish we could change. We all have experienced loss of some kind – there are different kinds of loss…. loss of dreams, loss of health, loss of finances, loss of relationships, loss of loved ones. Every loss leaves a hole and an empty space in our lives – no matter what kind of loss it is.
 
The world would be such a better place if we didn’t place more value on what we are dealing with and where we are in our present situations bigger and more difficult than everyone else and his or her situations and place in life.
 
My story is not your story – your story is not mine. For me to think my story is better than yours or more important than yours is very selfish. To each of us our story is big and important and hardships are difficult. I should never place more value on what I’m going through over what you are going through. To each of us, our hurts are real – they cut to the bone. To each of us, our loss is very painful…no matter what that loss is.
 
When we say, well, people just don’t understand where I am and what I’m facing and what I’m dealing with”, we are really staying stuck in a pity party that is going to do nothing to move us forward. I may not have gone through exactly what you have gone through but I can empathize because I’ve had my own disappointments and struggles.
 
Each of us is writing a story and our story is very real. Let’s respect one another’s story and let’s not compare. But instead, let’s extend kindness, understanding, and empathy. Let’s not demean or place lesser value on other’s stories and think that our story is the most important story. Let’s build up, support, and encourage and truly listen when someone else is sharing where they are and what they are feeling.
 
I hope we will place value on every person in our life – whether it’s family, friends, colleagues, the person at the grocery store, etc. Every person has worth and value – let’s recognize that!
 
From my heart……
Thanks for reading!
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Haiti, Thursday, February 23rd

28 Mar

Thursday was the “off-day” for the team.  It was a free day and we discussed the night before what we would like to do.  The options were presented and we chose to visit the Musee de Pantheon National Haitian in Port-au-Prince so we could learn more of the history of the country we were visiting.  

The city was in the middle of celebrating Carnival days so the drive from Bon Sam was full of things to see.  Lots of traffic, lots of sidewalk vendors and lots of trash from the festival goers.  Again, I was grateful that I was not the one having to drive!!! Driving in Haiti is not like driving in the US.  I know the Haitians understand how it works but I would be in multiple accidents in just one hour’s time if I had to drive.  I was in amazement at how the traffic works and that the vehicles were not full of dents and fender benders!!!  We could still see some of the devastation from the 2010 earthquake; they haven’t been able to fix all the buildings.  This was very evident in the Cathedral of our Lady of the Assumption.  It was destroyed but part of it was left standing.  There are talks of reconstructing it but nothing has been finalized.

The Museum only took about one hour to go through but it was very informative.  Of course, I love history and love learning about other countries so some people may not have found it as  fun 🙂  We walked to one of the areas that had been one of the tent cities where people lived in after the earthquake.  It was eerily quiet even though it was in the middle of the city.  At one time it was a very nice park in front of the presidential palace.  There were several monuments but there’s a wall around it and not many people are allowed in there.  Delta, our security man, was able to argue his way and allow us to gain access and walk around the grounds.

We left there and headed back to Ti-Marche so we could check on the lady who had suffered the stroke on Tuesday.  We were also going back to the house where we had left Bruno.  I had already determined that they may have chosen to use Bruno as food and was prepared for that reality.  I was SO excited when we turned the corner and I could see Bruno under the tree munching on some grass.  The lady came out and greeted us with a beautiful smile and she came to me and took me back to see Bruno.  I can’t even describe the joy I felt that shewas happy to see us and remembered me and wanted me to see Bruno.  We were saddened to hear that the lady whom had suffered the stroke did not make it – she was only 52 years old.   Grim facts that the average woman dies at age 65 and the average man dies at age 60.  Strokes are the #1 killer.

We left there and went to a fishing village on a beautiful lake.  I do not know the name of the village.  Our drivers could only go so far on the dirt road and then we had to walk.  It took us about 30 minutes and was downhill as it took us to the water’s edge.  Lake Azuei (or Etang Sumatre) is the name of the lake and it is simply breathtaking.   As we made our way towards the lake, we attracted village children, teens and animals.  Most of them could not speak English but that didn’t keep them from trying to communicate.  They all knew what a phone was and all knew how to pose for pics.  They loved seeing the pics of themselves after we would take their picture.  Their smiles were beautiful and it reached into their eyes – they may not have much but they are happy.  Their was one young man – about 17 years old – who knew English so he walked with me and chatted for a while.  His name was Francois.  He wanted to know where I was from, what we were doing, etc.  We caught up to my friend, Dena, and he wanted to know her name and asked her if she was a grandmother.  She replied that she was.  He then turned me and asked if I was a grandmother.  I replied, no, I’m not…I don’t have any children.  He was astonished and quickly asked, “What’s wrong with you???”  I laughed and laughed – I’ve never had anyone ask that directly of me…although, I’m sure people have wondered.  I told him that I wasn’t married and really didn’t want to have children without a husband.  That question was the highlight of the night as I shared it with the team at our evening devotion time.  

There was a old wooden boat pulled up to the shoreline.  We gathered around it and the wind was coming off the lake and the waves were choppy and we could hear the waves coming up to the shoreline.  We could hear the laughter of the children – the bleating of the goats – and the sky was blue with puffy white clouds and the sun was just radiant.  Ashley asked if we could have some prayer time, so the team stood in a circle and one by one we just openly prayed what was on our mind at that moment.  It was the most peaceful, serene moment I have ever experienced.  It was almost as if we were experiencing what Jesus may have experienced on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.  We just stood there for a few moments taking in the scene, the mood, the peace.  I wish I could truly share with you all what it felt like.

The sun was beginning to go down so we needed to make our way back to the vans.  It was uphill all the way and we all had several children holding our hands and wanting to help us up the hills.  I had a little boy on each side of me and another little guy tried to come up and hold my hand and the other two would not let him.  It was as if they were my personal bodyguards and were taking it upon themselves to make sure I safely got to the top and didn’t stumble on any rocks.  When we got to the vans, we shared all the cookies and snacks we had and then we began our way back into the city.  We knew that we were going to stop at Vol cafe and have pizzas (it’s a cool little cafe that serves various food…including pizza AND they had an espresso machine so Dena and I were able to get a much-needed latte!!!) but what we didn’t know was that the kids from Bon Sam were going to meet us there.  After not seeing them all day, it was so much fun to have them surprise us and then we were able to see them enjoy the playground and eat pizza.  It truly was a full day and one filled with so many blessings.

As I was trying to find the name of the village we stopped at, I came upon this website – click on the link and go read about Dr. Abe who is helping to bring sustainability back to the fishing families who live in these fishing villages.

 

www.poutimoun.org/empowerment

Haiti, Monday, February 20th

6 Mar

We started our day in the Croix-des-Bouquets market.  We were educated the night before and were told that we couldn’t take backpacks, purses, cameras, phones, etc.  We needed to stay in a line and with the group at all times – we were not to stop to look at anything.  It’s always a challenge for our security to take such a large group to the market and we needed to do all we could to make their jobs easier.  Well, they could tell us all they wanted to but it truly couldn’t prepare for the actual market.

If you’ve ever watched, The Amazing Race, when they go to a local market in a third world country, then you have some idea.  Even watching it on TV, I was not ready for the actual craziness.  I would never attempt this on my own and am glad for our security and our translator.  There were vendors, people, motorcycles, cars, jeeps, truck, BIG trucks, wheelbarrows, live animals, dead animals, etc.  Anything you can think of was being sold.  There were thousands of vendors.  I was trying to take it all in but it was very difficult because you had to look down at your feet to watch where you were stepping.  There were a few times that we had to grab the hands of the people in front of us and the people behind us.  BUT i loved it!!! And can’t wait to go back!!!

We were purchasing live chickens, live goats, beans and rice.  We went to the chicken lady first and let Ashley and the translator barter.  I think we ended up with 10 chickens.  They were tied together as pairs and we had to carry them by their feet.  You can imagine that this was quite the feat 😉  They didn’t really like being carried upside down and would get a little agitated.  Plus, from the time we bought them until we got back to the van was about one hour.  So, they had lots of time to get unhappy.

We went to the meat section next…..that is the area that I didn’t like.  Tables and tables of raw meat, organs, etc. It was warm so lots of flies and not a pleasant aroma to take in!!!  But, that is where we had to purchase the live goats.  I used some of the money given to me to purchase a goat.  So they got me a little male goat – I named him, Bruno.  And then I was able to parade Bruno all through the market.  He actually was a good goat – he didn’t like to get his feet wet so any time we came to a little bit of water, he would just stop and I would have to pull him to get him to move.  He also was quite hungry so would try to nibble on anything green that he saw.  Of course, the Haitian vendors didn’t like that so I had to make sure he didn’t “steal” anything!  You can imagine the fun we brought to the market.  There were 15 of us “blancs” and we all were parading goats or carrying live chicken all through the market.  One of the goats would just lie down in the middle of the road and refuse to move. So, our translator proceeded to just drag her as she bleated loudly! Yes, there were lots of smiles on the faces of the vendors and lots of laughter, as well.  We crazy white people parading with our menagerie!

We took the animals back to Bon Sam orphanage and then drove over to FOSA orphanage to spend the rest of the day.  Some of the team worked on getting the clothing and shoe sizes written down for all of the children.  The guys started building some storage trunks.  And then some of us went to another market so Mariflor could purchase the items to make us dinner.  Of course, I went with that group.  I loved the market experience and wanted to see a different one.  This second one was nicer and not as chaotic as the first one.  After that we went to a very nice grocery store, and we enjoyed some cheese, some bread, and a bathroom with running water!!! The rest of the day was spent having a Valentine’s Day Party with the kids, giving the kids their sponsor gifts and then enjoying a fabulous dinner made by Mariflor.  We had okra, plantains, potatoes, bread, spaghetti with a meat gravy and onions, peppers and garlic.  It was SOOOOO good!  Our van stopped at a cafe on the way back to Bon Sam to get food for a volunteer who had been ill – it was quite fun because the cafe is called, Vols Cafe, and is decorated in orange and white…but it has nothing to do with the state of Tennessee. Dena and I were happy girls because they had an espresso machine and we were able to get a latte.  It’s the little things, folks!

It was a great day – lots of fun memories made.  Some discovered that the market was not their thing and they don’t ever want to go back 🙂  Others of us loved the adventure and the chaos.  We ended the evening on the roof under the starry skies and shared our highs for the day, lows for the day, prayers, and devotion.  Then went to bed and fell asleep to the sounds of the Haitian city.  Nothing like it!

Friday Fitness Tip for 12/16

16 Dec

Friday Fitness Tip:

1) Have a bite before you go out.

Many times, people will choose not to eat because they know they are going to a party where there will be lots of food. That is the worst choice to make – by the time you get to the party, you’ll be ravenously hungry and won’t be able to make good choices and will end up overeating and feeling horrible the next day. Eat normally throughout the day – breakfast with protein, a great lunch (big salad with lean protein) and even have a snack before heading to the party…An apple and some almonds. This will keep you from eating too fast because you’re hungry and will allow you to enjoy the foods you want to eat.

2) Keep each celebration limited to one day.

Don’t go into Holiday mode and just eat everything and anything when you want and skip all of your workouts. This will cause you many tears on new year’s day when you realize you’ve gained five pounds!!! Go to your Christmas party – and then the next day go back to making your good choices AND make sure you get in a workout!

A review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the longer it takes you to re-focus on fitness, the more your enthusiasm for it will dim, and the harder it will be for you to get back on track. In short, a day off won’t hurt you, but a week or two off can derail your progress toward your goals. It can also inflate your waist size, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology. The researchers found that just two weeks of inactivity can increase belly fat by seven percent. So, skip one day but then get right back on track!!! Your 2017 self will appreciate that!

3) Keep calories in perspective.

All of these tips are not meant to make you frantic and not enjoy the season. They’re just meant to help you be aware of your choices and how to keep from gaining the typical 5-7 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. A few high-calorie meals during this season will not sabotage your fitness goals.

A better strategy: Focus on how many calories you burn during the course of a week, not each day. As long you are making good choices and eating healthy 80 percent of the time, you can cut yourself some slack during the other 20 percent.

What are some ways you stay balanced during this time of the year???

Finishing 2016 Strong

8 Dec

It’s hard to believe that we are in the last month of 2016.  I think back to the beginning of the year when I had a brand new year ahead of me with blank pages upon which I would write daily with my choices and doings.  Am I where I wanted to be?  Have I done what I wanted to do?  Have I been what I wanted to be in 2016?  So, I take time to ponder these questions and reflect upon the last 12 months.  These reflections will help me determine what I set forth to do on January 1st.  I know that I have taken on new things which has caused me to neglect other things that I felt were important to me.  So, for 2017 I know that I need to think about the impact of taking on new things and what it will do to what is currently on my plate.  Yes, it can be good to take on new things and new opportunities; however, I think that if I add something new than I need to subtract something away.  It’s the process of continually growing and transforming.

One of the things that has helped me was the practicum coaching that I had to do as part of my online education at MUIH for my master’s in health and wellness coaching.  I was coached by a fellow student in my program; and even though it was a practicum, it was so helpful and beneficial to me as an individual.  I had some areas I felt stuck in and that is what I brought to the coaching sessions so I could be coached.  As my coach would ask powerful questions and utilize coaching resources during the sessions, I was able to have clarity and experience some “aha” moments as she coached me through the sessions.  This experience was also valuable to me as a  coach to understand how it feels to be in a coaching situation as the client.  It allowed me to see the value of having a coach to help discover the answers that already lie inside us and how having another person on our journey towards goals can be so helpful.

As I prepare for the new year, I’ve decided that I’m going to take advantage of the last 23 days of this year and finish strong by choosing daily to make choices to meet my goals.  My word for 2016 was, “execute” – I chose that word because I knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go so all I had to decide was to just do it.  So, from now until the end of the year I will just do it – I will be present, I will make time to be with friends, I will celebrate life, I will be confident in what I do and who I am, I will learn and teach Strong by Zumba, I will run my one mile every day, I will limit my sugar consumption, I will journal, I will have my quiet time, I will practice gratitude.  You see…it’s not how you start, but it’s how you finish that matters! So, I will finish strong!

I was one of the 1 in 3….

26 Nov

I recently read an article in my Women’s Health Magazine that brought back a flood of emotions and caused my heart to tighten in my chest as I remembered a time not too long ago where I was living some of what was written in the article.  I hesitated to write this blog but decided to write it because someone else could be one of those women and trying to deny what is happening to them. 

Domestic Terror is the issue and the statistic is 1 in 3 women in the U.S. experience violence at the hands of a man in her life.  1 in 4 U.S. women have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner (hit with a fist, beaten, slammed into something, etc.).  1 in 2 have experienced psychological aggression (insults, humiliation, name-calling, coercive control). 1 in 6 have been stalked by an intimate partner. These numbers are way too high and something needs to be done.  Women need to be educated and taught that is okay to walk away and to seek help. 

Thankfully, I got out of the relationship before it turned into physical abuse but mental/verbal abuse is just as bad and does as much damage on the emotions and wellbeing of a woman.  I was blessed that my recovery time was short and I had a great support system that was there when I decided to be open and honest and admit what was going on.  Also, I am blessed to have an uncle who is a retired cop who had a “one-on-one” conversation with the guy and let him know what would be done if he tried to contact me ever again. 

You may wonder how a woman would allow herself to be in a situation where a man could abuse her….it’s easy.  You ignore the red flags, and you are willing to overlook certain behavior because you want to prove to that person that they are wrong in what they say about you or think about you.  You also observe him being kind, friendly, charming with others so you begin to think the issue is with you or that maybe you are overreacting and being petty.  Most often, after an argument or episode, he will be very charming and make you forget about what just happen.  You will keep your opinions to yourself to avoid an explosive argument….even stating my opinion on a certain book sent him into a rage one night. 

The article  gives some behaviors to watch for…warning signs that a man could be an abuser.  The Source is Debby Tucker, executive director of the National Center on Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence:

1 – constantly checking up on you

2 – Isolating you by criticizing close friends.

3 – Driving a wedge between you and family.

4 – Acting overly charming.

5 – Monitoring your social media accounts and pushing for access.

6 – Moving too fast in a relationship.

7 – Wanting to control the finances.

8 – Putting down your appearance.

9 – Dismissing your opinions quickly – or worse, calling you stupid.

Ladies, if the man you are dating exhibits ANY of these behaviors, please break off the relationship completely and get counsel.  When I say break off the relationship, I mean to break it off and have no more communication at all with him.  The guy I was with had several of these behaviors – and I wish I had read this list to know and be aware before I got in too deep.  Again, I am very blessed that we broke up before it turned physical – I remember the last night…a conversation turned into him exploding with anger because he was convinced I was lying to him and was going to a conference to meet someone. He proceeded to yell, cuss me out, and  throw a piece of furniture across the room.  I remember thinking, “what am I going to do if he hits me?” I think that is the moment things started becoming clear to me. 

Another reason why I almost didn’t write this blog is I realize what could happen should the wrong person read this and report back to him.  But the day I cut off all communication with him is also the day I stopped allowing him to control me in any kind of way.  I will never share his name or give away his identity but I will share my story to help other women get out of abusive situations because I believe everything we go through in life is to help someone else.  I never want any woman to have any of those feelings of low self-worth and that nothing you do is good enough.  Please don’t be a statistic.  Be Smart. Be Safe. Value yourself, your wellbeing, and your health.  Don’t be one of the 1 in 3.

Puzzle Pieces

15 Nov

This week was one of those weeks of question, uncertainty, and just feeling like pieces of dreams were falling all around me.  There are two of my friends that I group text with on a daily basis – we live in different states but our daily tag-ins keep us apprised of our days and what is going on in our lives.  My week started out with a negative doctor’s report and I was quick to text them and just share my fears and my doubts and my worries.  Both my girlfriends were there for me with words of encouragement and hope.  My friend, Dawn, made a great statement that has really stuck with me.  She said, ‘God will bring the puzzle pieces together in an organized fashion.’  Now, I’ve done several puzzles; in fact, my nieces and I have started a tradition of buying a Christmas puzzle and putting it together during Christmas break.  When you have 1,000 pieces all over the table, it can be quite overwhelming but you start with you foundation first – all the pieces that have a flat side you start connecting so you can make the frame.  And then you look for similarities and colors and start trying to fit pieces together.  You don’t wait to check if pieces will fit until you have found the perfect match…you just start trying to connect them.  If one piece doesn’t fit, you put it aside and try another.  That’s how life is…..you have the general frame of what you picture for your life and then there’s the pieces that somehow will fill the middle and make a beautiful picture.  You try things – sometimes they don’t work; but you don’t stop. You try something else.  You try a relationship and that person may not be the right fit at the time…so you go to another piece.  You make connections and you develop a network and somehow, eventually, more and more pieces fit together and it gets easier and easier to see the big picture and bring the puzzle to its completed perfection.  I’m not going to leave a puzzle half-finished with pieces scattered everywhere…i’m going to keep trying pieces and know that the puzzle will come together and will look better than what I could have pictured from just looking at the box!