Tag Archives: hope

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.

Advertisements

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!

This is Why…..

15 Feb

I am very passionate about motivating, inspiring and encouraging people that life and health is directly related to choices that we make….it’s not just something that happens to us.  However, I do not “preach” something that I do no practice.  Our bodies are amazing creations and daily choices can help those creations or hurt those creations.  I cannot put harmful foods, drinks, and substances into my body and expect my body to keep running at optimal performance.  I cannot sit all day and all evening and expect my body to continue being strong, flexible, and healthy.  I cannot think negative thoughts and expect my emotions, my outlook on life, and my interactions with people to be positive.

Yesterday, while sitting in the lobby at the UT Cancer Institute, I was reminding of why it’s so important for me to do what I can to help my body run at its best.  Last year, my doctor was concerned about some tests and wanted a second opinion and biopsy done by one of the best doctors for women’s health in our area – thankfully, there was no cancer; but I am on a follow-up program for a while.  Needless to say, the importance of making healthy choices became even more of a passion for me.

This small journey began in November of 2011; and at one of my very first appointments, the doctor went over with me the choices I needed to be making to help out my immune system.  Exercise, Rest, food choices, Positive thinking, no smoking, being careful of alcohol consumption, stress, and toxic relationships were all topics that entered that conversation.  I already was ahead of most people when it came to exercise, food choices, no smoking, and alcohol consumption; however, I needed to work on stress, rest and toxic relationships. I realized more than ever that I had to make good choices for me and my wellbeing. I could not continue to allow undue stress or relationships that were not healthy for me to be part of my daily life in any way, shape, or form. I also chose not to tell the whole world what was going on…just my family and a few trusted friends. I’m of the belief that the more you talk about something the bigger it can become and did not want to add more worry, fear, or stress.

I moved forward from that day – left certain things, situations, and people behind me – the past was the past and I just wanted to focus on the present moment and things I could do “today” to help make a better future for my mind, my emotions and my health. Was it always easy? No. Did I have moments where fear and worry would try to overwhelm me? Yes, I did. What I chose to do in those moments was very critical….I could allow the emotion to overwhelm me or I could acknowledge it and then remind myself that everything was going to work out and all would be well. I would quote Bible Scriptures or positive quotes….would spend time in prayer and meditation…or would lace up the running shoes and hit the road. I knew my choices would matter and make a difference. Now I’m not saying that my choices caused me NOT to have cancer – I am saying that I did what I needed to do to help my body out. Putting the wrong things into my body and my mind was not going to help my immune system get stronger – it would only weaken it. I did what I needed to do and that’s all that mattered. I controlled what I could and then let go of what I could not control. Choices…we are faced with them every moment and we have been given the power and the freedom to choose. I don’t take that lightly or for granted. This is why I do what I do, say what I say, live what I live – it’s my choice

Epiphany

6 Jan

Today is Epiphany Day. Many Christians around the world celebrate this Holiday and in many countries it is a public holiday. I’m not sure that many of us in the United States or especially those of us who are not Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican Christians have an understanding of what it is. Many different cultural and denominational customs are practiced; however, in general the feast celebrates the manifestation of God in the form of human flesh through Jesus Christ. The word epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation” and is commonly linked in Western Christianity to the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. Through the Magi, Christ revealed himself to the Gentiles. In Eastern Christianity the emphasis is on the baptism of Jesus by John. Epiphany is also called, “Three Kings Day,” or “Twelfth Day.” It’s quite interesting to read how different countries celebrate – Wikipedia gives a great rundown of the countries that celebrate Twelfth Day and how they celebrate.

According to dictionary.com, one can use the word to refer to: 1) a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience. 2) a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight.

Wikipedia gives a definition of Epiphany as it relates to a feeling. The word can be used to describe an experience of sudden and striking realization. “Generally the term is used to describe breakthrough scientific, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective…Epiphanies are relatively rare occurrences and generally following a process of significant thought about a problem….”

Now I know that few of us have epiphanies as defined by Wikipedia but I do believe during our lifetime we experience several occasions where we have our own personal epiphanies that change our lives, our thinking, our goals, and our spirituality. In my own personal life, my deeper understanding moments have occurred during or right after a very difficult time and they also did not happen while I was in my teens or twenties – no, most of them have happened in the last two years. I thought I knew what life was about and what I was doing and where I was going and then my world was shaken up. Maybe this happens so we have to stop, refocus, figure out if the path we are on is going in the right direction, figure out what really matters and what does not matter, and check in with ourselves to see if we are being true to our mission/purpose/passion.

As I reflect upon the holiday and feeling of Epiphany today, I hope that this year will be one of enlightening moments, deeper understanding, insight into situations, and more revelation of who God is and His love for us. Blessings!

Alignment

28 Sep

This morning I made my way to Dr. Eddie, my chiropractor, so he could make some adjustments and continue helping my spinal column to be in good alignment.  The vertebrae in our spinal column can get out of alignment due to lifestyle, poor posture, stress, weight, etc.  The spinal column has a very important job of protecting the central nervous system; our central nervous system is VITAL to our well being….it’s how we live, move and breathe! I’m very aware of the importance of good alignment in the spinal column.

Another important alignment that has to be made every so often is on the tires of my car.  This has to be done so that the tires are set to the car maker’s specifications.  It reduces tire wear and ensures that my trusty, little Toyota Corolla will travel straight and true and not pull to one side.

I have to make alignments in my spiritual life, as well.  I have to align my thoughts, my hopes, and my purpose with God’s.  I have to put my trust and hope in Him and know that He is my provider and works all things out and brings about good things in my life.  When I neglect to keep myself in proper alignment vertically (between God and I), the relationships in my life get out of alignment horizontally.  I begin to put people into a position that is not fair to them.This puts unrealistic expectations on them as I begin to expect them to meet my needs or make me happy.   My peace of mind is not dependent on what others do and don’t do; my happiness is not based on people.  However, if I’m out of alignment spiritually, my emotions, thoughts and feelings will be based on others and their actions.  This makes for a very rocky/bumpy roller coaster ride….it’s not fun for anyone – me or the people in my life!  When I’m out of alignment, doubt, fear and worry will fill my mind and these things will make me want to react in negative ways.

As I align my thoughts with the Word, peace, contentment, joy, purpose, hope, trust, faith, and rest enter into my life, my heart, and my mind…..no matter what is going on around me, in me, or in my life.  The following scriptures come alive and bring peace:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18

God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in time of trouble. Psalms 46:1

I sought the Lord and He answered me.  He delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:4

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him.  Psalms 37:4-5

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3

And there’s many more words that bring value, rest, peace, contentment and hope.  That is why it is imperative that I keep my vertical alignment at my top priority…when that is in perfect alignment, all is well.

How’s your alignment?

Lessons learned in the classroom

14 Aug

As a group exercise instructor, it is my mission to give each class participant motivation, encouragement, a challenge, and a fun time during class so when he/she walks out of my class, he/she feels better, stronger, more energetic, and glad that he/she made the effort to attend my class.

Last Wednesday morning in Zumba at Northside YMCA, I had a new class participant and she had never tried a Zumba class before.  I made sure to chat with her after class and encourage her to come back.  She proceeded to tell me that it’s the first class she has been back to after losing her mother unexpectedly at the end of June.  I could tell she wanted to talk, so for 20 minutes I listened….shared a little bit of my story of losing my grandmother a few weeks ago…and shared how being physically active can help us through dark, emotional moments. We both shed a few tears and then she gave me a hug and a little kiss on the cheek and thanked me for listening and said she would be back.

In this same class I have a senior lady who attends….I figured she was in her late 60s…she has been attending for a few weeks now…always smiles…has a great time….and makes sure to thank me after class.  I was moved to tears when another participant shared me the story of this lady, Phyllis.  Phyllis is 79 and is the caregiver for her husband who has Alzheimer’s.  She hires a sitter once a week so she can attend my class. I was overwhelmed with emotions after hearing the stories of these two ladies.

That is why it is vital for me as an instructor to give 110% in every class…no matter how I feel or no matter the day that I am having.  It is not about me….it is about my class participants.  Health and wellness is more than just physical fitness….it is emotional wellness…..it is mental wellbeing….it is experiencing moments of joy, happiness, and fulfillment.

I want my class participants to leave my class feeling like a better person…a stronger person…a healthier person….and feeling empowered, encouraged, and motivated to face the rest of their day no matter what may come their way.

More lessons I’m learning from the classroom….

Lessons I’ve Learned While Watching The Olympics

5 Aug

I am one of the millions who has been staying up way too late to watch the world’s top athletes compete in the London 2012 Summer Olympics.  As I’ve watched, I have learned some valuable lessons that I hope to apply in my own life.

As I watched 16-year-old Gabby Douglas go through her gymnastics routines, I could not help but be drawn in by her engaging smile and her fun attitude.  She had me smiling as I watched her have fun while performing her floor work.  Yes, she knew she was at the Olympics; and, yes, she knew she was performing for the chance to win a medal.  However, for Gabby, it appears as if it was just another performance doing something she loves and enjoys doing.  Her smile lit up her face the entire time…she was having the time of her life.   I learned from her that if you do what you love and do it with passion while having fun, you will win the gold.

While watching the interview with Carmelita Jeter, it was mind-boggling to hear how people have slammed her, made negative remarks about her, posted things on the internet about her and questioned her authenticity in her performances.  What intrigued me and taught me a valuable lesson was the statement she made towards the end of her interview: You can let what people say consume you or fuel you.  Wow! If it consumes you, it drains you and is negative.  If it consumes you, it energizes you and fuels you to personal best records on the track.

And how can I fail to mention Oscar Pistorius, the first double amputee sprinter to compete in the 400 meter run in the Olympics????? Can we say “NO EXCUSES” to go for your dreams??? He has had to fight adversity and naysayers – people who said, “he has an unfair advantage because of his blades….they give him an edge…”  What???? Someone with legs and feet is at a disadvantage over someone who has had both legs amputated below the knees? I’m sure he is another person who doesn’t let what people say consume him.  I’ve learned from him that no matter how difficult it may seem to achieve your dream, you still have to believe in your dream, hope in it, and go for it.

The human body is an amazing design.  We all have an athlete that lives inside us that wants to be challenged.  It’s never too late to go for the gold in our lives….it’s never too late to train to live our dream.  No matter what anyone says…no matter what anyone thinks….. Do what you love and love what you do.  Live every moment with passion and no regrets.  Just do it!