Tag Archives: purpose

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!

Haiti, Tuesday, February 21st

7 Mar

The day started bright and early as we loaded up the vans to start the day.  We collected the chickens and the goats and loaded them into the vans and on top of the vans and began our 45-minute drive to the village of Ti-Marche.  As we turned off the main highway, several team members chose to ride on top of one of the vans. So, again, we were very noticeable in our vans with the blancs on top of one and goats on top of another.  Lots of smiles and lots of waves as we drove through small housing areas and the “town” part.  

We arrived to the church where the pastor is the one who lets Second Chance know who in the village could use some extra help.  We began our parade of blancs carrying chickens, leading goats, and weighted down with 15-25 pounds of beans and rice in our backpacks.  And as we walked, our parade grew because kids and adults would join us to see what we were doing and where we were going.  They were also very quick to lend a hand to help us jump over a ditch filled with water or help us with a stubborn goat or cranky chicken.  Kids wanted to hold our hands and wanted us to take their pics and then see themselves on our phones.  I quickly learned that I couldn’t give something to one child because I would then be surrounded by 10 more and I didn’t have enough to give.  So, I will be making an Oriental Trading order before my next trip so I have something to give everyone!  They love watches, sunglasses, and bracelets.

We were out traversing fields and crossing little creeks for several hours as we were led to the homes of people who needed some extra love, some prayers and a little reminder that there are people in the world who care.  Most of the houses were one-room shacks made out of mud and straw….others were a little bigger made out of concrete block and tin roofs.  The views, however, were spectacular.  Mountains in the distance.  Lush vegetation – trees of coconut, mango, avocado, and lime.  Crops of beans, sugar cane, corn, beets, potatoes.  There were chickens, cows, pigs, and goats.  The children could run around and play and not have to worry about traffic and “city” dangers.  Far away from the loud noise and the hustle and bustle of the city.  It was so peaceful and quiet.  Beautiful blue skies – palm trees – sunshine – I’ll share some pics later…or go follow me on Facebook or IG.

We would give one goat to a family because they then would allow that goat to breed their neighbor’s goat and then the baby goats would be shared with others in the village.  I think that is what I found so overwhelming and humbling is that even though they don’t have lots of material goods…what they do have, they share with one another and will share with you.  I think we Americans could learn a lot about it being more blessed to give than to receive and how we really don’t need all that we have in our houses and homes – wealth isn’t measured by what we have but by the relationships and love we have in our lives.  We left Bruno (the goat) with a mother of 7 who is a widow.  If I had to guess the size of her one-room house, I would say it was a square of 10 feet by 10 feet.  I know it wasn’t very big at all.  Our translator would translate what our spokesperson would say and would translate our prayers, as well.  I was able to hug her and be the recipient of one of her beautiful smiles.  The $30 it cost to purchase Bruno seems so small in relation to what it means to be given that goat.

It was such an incredible experience to be introduced to the various villagers….to see their smiles…to feel the love that was so evident in everything we said and did that day.  We may not speak the same language but a smile and hug says the same thing in any language and crosses all cultures, ethnic groups, and language barriers.

We came to a house where a lady was being cared for by her daughters and we found out that she had been out in the field working that morning and had suffered a stroke two hours prior to our arrival.  Nate and Jeff are first responders and have careers here in the US in the medical field so they were able to explain some things to the daughters and to give some recommendations.  However, we all knew it wasn’t very probable that she would survive.  Strokes are the number one cause of death in Haiti – the risk factors are high blood pressure and sickle-cell anemia.  Average life expectancy is age 60 for men and age 65 for women.  It was a sobering moment as we realized she was only 52… Yes, there are lots of moments where the reality of things can be very overwhelming and seem so hopeless; but then you see the eyes of a child light up when you give them a piece of candy or a pair of sunglasses or take their pic and your heart begins to feel hope and purpose again and you know that those are life changing moments for everyone..and that it is your life that will be changed the most profoundly.

You have to have moments of fun and laughter – otherwise, the sad emotions could be overpowering.  We had lots of those during our days.  I think of D’Anna passing out bags of beans and rice from her backpack and instead of her backpack getting lighter…it seemed just as heavy as when she started.  What she didn’t know is that every time Nate took a bag out, he put a big rock in.  She just kept trudging along while leaning forward because of the weight on her back.  After a while, Nate finally fessed up, and she, along with the rest of us, had a really good laugh.

We left the village and traveled to a lookout point where you could see the mountains of the Dominican Republic in the distance (we were only about 45 minutes from the border) and could see Lake Enriquillo….it’s the largest lake and the lowest elevation in the Caribbean. It was breathtaking!   A stop to meet the baby boy born to Roger, another of their translators, was a precious reminder of the circle of life.  We drove back to the orphanage a tired, dusty, exhausted team but with happy hearts and grateful spirits.

I also have to share how one always wants to travel with Second Chance Haiti board member, Mike.  He brings the sour patch kids and the twizzlers.  He was on our van so we were the ones who got to travel with the good stuff! Lol!  On Sunday afternoon, the people in the other van thought they could confiscate the bag of sour patch kids and that would be permissible.  We tried to get them back to no avail…even sending our security person over to use her authority to hand them over.  Well, all it took was Mike walking over and holding out his hand – they had to return the bag to its owner.  That is why you want to be on the van with Mike! In all seriousness – sour patch kids, twizzlers, peanut butter, nutella, tortillas to the side and not taken into consideration – Mike is a man with a servant’s heart who is willing to use his skills and talents to make life a little easier for those with whom he comes in contact….whether it be helping a little girl get her stubborn donkey to start walking, constructing trunks so the orphanage has storage, or praying for a person in the village. Just don’t ask him to go back to the market to carry chickens!!! lol

Addition for Monday’s blog:

I forgot to mention one of the most important things we did that day at the FOSA orphanage (in my opinion).  One of our team members wanted to carry on a ministry that her friend’s mother had started several years ago.  She has passed away and no one has carried on this ministry.  Britt had purchased stuffed animals for all of the children there; however, as people who believe in the power of prayer and in the love of a Heavenly Father who can watch over these children, she wanted several of us to join with her in prayer.  We all held several of the stuffed animals and then took turns praying over those animals – we prayed that these children would be comforted when they were feeling sad and that they would feel peace on days when everything seemed chaotic.  We prayed that they would feel love on the days they felt alone and uncared for and that they would remember there are people in this world who care about them and love them so much.  Tears fell from our eyes as we listened to the heartfelt prayers of our fellow team members.  Knowing that we cannot be there in person to brush the tears away from these children’s eyes and we cannot be there to give them a hug and we cannot be there to comfort them in the middle of the night when they have a bad dream.  However, we know a God who can do that and we knew that the power of prayer can transcend miles and distance and can do more than what we can do in our own human effort.  So, I would ask that you remember these children every time you pray for your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, godchildren.  I know that it will make a difference!

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!

WSSC13 Thoughts

7 Jun

I had the privilege of attending and volunteering for the World Spin and Sport Conditioning Conference in Miami.  Although I have been certified with Mad Dogg Athletics for a few years, I never had another Spin enthusiast to go with me until this year.  I could have went by myself but it’s nice to have someone with whom you can discuss lectures, workouts, workshops and rides….someone who “gets” your love and enthusiasm and craziness! 

For anyone who may not be aware of what Spinning is (no….it’s not twirling in circles and getting dizzy!!! I really have had people ask me that.) here is a brief explanation.  Johhny G is the man who was a cyclist enthusiast and wanted to be able to train indoors when it wasn’t feasible to be outside on a road bike.  He is one of the creators of the Spin bike and the concept of Spinning.  For detailed info, go to this page http://www.maddogg.com/history.html

Spinning is a trademarked name; and an instructor has to be trained through Mad Dogg in order to call himself/herself a “Spin Instructor”.  I am totally a Spin snob…..there are other indoor cycling programs out there but …. I’ll just leave it at that. 

The conference is one of the best that I have attended and I’ve been to several different conferences.  There were 17 different lectures/workshops/workouts/rides to choose from every block of time – barefoot, mind/body, boot camp/circuit, dance/barre, nutrition lectures, Spin lectures, Peak Pilates sessions, Spinning, stretch & restore, yoga, and mind/body business of fitness lectures. The presenters were some of the best in the fitness industry and were there to help us become better at what we do and were always willing to spend time answering questions.  Over 80 countries were represented at the conference and that diversity sparked great conversations and connections were made and friendships were formed. 

The conference began on Thursday night with over 256 energized and enthused people in the Grand Ballroom on Spin Bikes as master instructor Josh Taylor led them on the Fighter Pilot Ride.  He worked over 18 month creating the ride, putting it with music, and with a multi-media presentation that started you on a aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean, had you up in the air flying, switching over to scenes of our men and women in the military and their families, back into the air and finally landing back on the carrier.  The crowd was energized to begin with; but when he started the ride with Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” from Top Gun, it escalated to another level.  I was not able to actually ride but volunteered to fill water bottles just so I could be in and be part of the epic ride.  I could never adequately describe the energy, the camaraderie, and the fun that happened during those two hours.  I loved watching the hotel workers observe people “working out” and having a blast.  No one should ever suffer through a boring run on the treadmill with just one’s iPod for company!!!

I hit the ground running and ran hard.  If there was something going on, I was there.  I am not one who can attend a conference and go to my room and rest when there’s a lecture, workshop, or workout going on.  I’ll rest and recover when I get home – I’m there to learn, grow and become a better person….can’t do that when I’m going to my room to rest! I started two mornings with a ride….Friday morning, Master Instructor Elsa Storm from South Africa, created a ride called, “E = mc2”.  We challenged our body and our brain as we explored Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.  Saturday morning’s ride was SoulSistas….led by four fabulous female master instructors – Wow!  Once again, words fail so I’ll quote part of the description from the program guide:  “A strong woman works out to keep her body in shape.  A woman of strength builds relationships to keep her soul in shape.”  It was the first ever and I was lucky to be part of it. 

I gleaned from business lectures that I attended and from the valuable connections made with female studio owners.  It was during Vito LaFata’s session that I realized I had not changed my mindset to “I am an entrepreneur…I am a business owner” and that was quite the revelation.  I walked away from his lecture knowing what I need to do and how I need to think. 

The last session of the conference I chose to ride with Scott Schlesinger in Rare, Remixed and Mashed up.  During part of that ride, he had us envision another rider in the distance and he took us on a mental imagery journey.  He talked us through getting closer and closer to the rider….then coming up to the back of their bike….then starting to pass the rider….being side by side and looking over….seeing our old self – the person we were before the conference…and then pulling away from that rider and leaving that person behind and going forward with all we had learned and discovered to be the person we want and aspire to be.  I know I left the old me in the dust….I appreciate her but I’m ready for this next part of journey….in this ride of life. 

I’m still going through my notes…making contacts and connections via social media…processing everything I heard…and deciding what two things I am going to focus on in the rest of this year. 

I’ll finish this blog with some of the thoughts that stayed with me from Elsa’s Ride and SoulSista’s ride: 

As long as you’re moving, you are going somewhere.  ~Natasha

We’ve all come through struggles but we keep climbing. ~Elsa

Being strong is the ability to endure tough times but stay soft.

Life’s greatest mistakes bring blessings and we should capitalize on them.

It’s in the journey that women of strength become strong.

When it all falls into place, you wonder why you ever doubted that it would happen.

~Angela

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!

Blank pages

5 Jan

I know we are in a time that we can do everything on our laptops, our smart phones, our iPads, and all other sorts of devices.  We can write ourselves notes, fill in our daily calendar, journal, read our books, instant message, email, text and so much more.  However, there are some things that I just refuse to give up – my journal and my Franklin Covey planner.  To me, there is nothing like opening my brand new journal and writing my thoughts, feelings, and emotions.  I also love putting my new planner pages into my binder and filling it up with my classes, my appointments, important dates, and my “to-dos” . 

That is how I choose to look at each new year – it’s a brand new year filled with blank pages and I get to choose how I fill those pages.  I get to write my own book this year – no one else writes it for me.  No matter what happens, I choose my reaction.  I get to choose my emotion.  I get to choose life, hope, trust, joy, contentment.  I’m excited about this book of blank pages that is before me.  I don’t want to live with regrets so I choose to take risks, to say “yes” more often, to travel new roads, to believe that anything is possible and that there are no limits except those I set for myself.  I plan on writing a good book in 2013.  What will you do with your blank pages?