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What It Means to Be Grateful

Being grateful means showing appreciation for all of life’s gifts, including good health, wellbeing, and talents. As well, I believe that sincere expressions of gratitude and appreciation create more things to be thankful for. When we are grateful and appreciative of the things that are important in life, we are better able to handle temporary setbacks that may impact our daily routine.

It is important that we take advantage of the numerous chances we have been given to be thankful. That means not complaining about trivial issues, and making an honest effort to highlight the positive aspects of our lives—even in trying times. It is not immediately apparent, but maneuvering through difficult times helps us to grow stronger as we persevere. Not only are we able to maintain control, we are empowered to create a better lifestyle for ourselves. We also set a positive example for relatives and friends.

Take a few minutes every day to express gratitude; there are so many things to be thankful for. Make everyday a day of thanksgiving—not just the day indicated on the calendar as an annual holiday. You will be continuously amazed to see all the things there are to be thankful for.

Unfortunately, stress related health problems have plagued individuals in all walks of life. Use gratitude and appreciation as tools during those times—and celebrate your miracle as you go through the healing process.

Expressing gratitude and appreciation builds faith so we are able to tackle the hills and valleys encountered on our journey. So be grateful. Be blessed.


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Simply Enjoy the Moment

There are so many good things that instant messaging and electronic communications have given us. Even though many will continue to use it for harm and destruction, I am thankful that it reminds me to value each positive moment. Through instant messaging, your spirit could potentially be shattered or strengthened in the blink of an eye. I have learned that when I’m centered in positive energy—-I am protected from the damaging effects of other’s negativity. Moreover, I am able to convert the negativity into more reasons for simply enjoying my moments.

Simply enjoying the moment is my best defense against outside forces that may attempt to break my spirit.


Photo by BKS


The past is a story that was begun in our childhood years. It is etched in the memory from a child’s perspective. In order to gain the power that the past holds for your present and future, you need to reevaluate bad or troubling memories–from an adult perspective. You might have to go back several times. The great news is that you will be enlightened, inspired, and empowered. Avoid holding on to unhappy memories; they will surely form an unhappy present and future. The adult version of the story will help you to see yourself and your family in a new light. The best way to release yourself from the past is to review your story. You will laugh, you might cry, but you will feel a renewed sense of admiration for the people who raised you and protected you in the best way they knew. Move forward with the positive aspects, which are the memories that will help you to grow. These memories will also give you a better perspective for enhancing your parenting skills. A child’s mind could never have found logic in why parents protected and cared for us the way they did. When I became a parent, it all made sense–well, most of it.

My heart goes out to those who have overcome, and built stable lives in spite of troubling events that may have occurred in their past.

(I published this blog post in August of 2009. I inserted it in a piece I wrote later titled Parenting for a Change)

Note: I recently read a article in a UnitedHeath publication which stated that it is important to build from past experiences. The article pointed out that good or challenging experiences can be used to build a better future for ourselves, as well as for those we interact with.

Parenting for a Change received honorable mention in a Readers Digest writing contest.

Photo by Brian K. Shelton


Challenge Yourself

Photo by Gabriella Green

Last year I decided to restart my Spanish lessons. I enrolled in an intermediate level class. At first I was intimidated because the class description indicated that our grades would be based ont our ability to speak and understand Spanish. My first reaction was to abandon the class. I know I wanted to learn to speak Spanish, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready for full immersion. I had completed the two required Spanish prerequisites more than four years prior.

On the first day of class, I watched nervously as more and more students filed in to the classroom. Some knew each other from their previous Spanish classes. This made me feel even more out of place. A little later, the professor arrived, and began to address the class in Spanish. Although I understood him perfectly, my jitters did not end. While the professor was speaking, one student stood up and exited the classroom—without a word. I was thinking, “This is your chance, go!” I decided to stay.

The conversational Spanish class turned out to be great. The professor did an excellent job of creating a learning environment that helped his students gain confidence while practicing their Spanish skills. I am so glad I stayed, and took the challenge.

I took back-to-back conversational Spanish classes that year. I had the same professor for both. My final grade in each class was an “A”. I now speak Spanish confidently, and I understand it well.

I am especially glad that I did not block my own progress by running away from something that I really wanted.

Sometimes it is easy to recognize what, or who is holding you back—just flip the camera on your smartphone. Oh wow.

When taking on challenges, set your navigational sights to “success”—that way it will be much easier to overcome any blocks that you may encounter.



Get Out of Your Way!

“Another day has gone by, and I did not get the things done that I had in my plan.” (Does that sound familiar?)

Most of the things that we truly want in life are within our reach. Yes, that also means that in order to acquire those things, we must sometimes expand our reach. We must strengthen our bodies, minds, and focus in order to ward off negativity and doubts. Negativity is the thing that is most likely to sabotage our plan. Sometimes we even wait, or anticipate something or someone that will be a block in the path. We might even give that as a reason to abandon the plan or deter our efforts.

I have learned (or finally admitted to myself) that if a block exists in the path to my goals—it is likely one that I put there myself. The main idea behind achieving goals is overcoming obstacles. So if there is something you truly want, you need to get out of your own way. Once you’ve done that, you can move forward freely, and with renewed focus.

You are the only person standing in the way of your dreams. If you are true to yourself, there will be no openings for others to enter and create blocks. If it is your goal, own it–and see it through to the end.

You will be amazed how freely you can navigate when you get out of your own way.


Relax to Renew

When someone says to me, “Don’t worry”, I automatically feel a sense of anxiety. Because we all know that those words would not be uttered unless there is bad news lurking. Unfortunately, many of us are still sweating the small stuff. So, finding out that your favorite flavor of tea or coffee has run out may have the same effect on your mood as something more vital for your well-being.

Taking brief moments to relax and renew in almost any situation, will turn stress into triumph.

The link below contains a session by famous inspirational speaker Esther “Abraham” Hicks. Her words have truly inspired me to take things lightly. The strategy is powerful.

“You’ll Manifest Your Desires When You Relax!” (Law of Attraction)

-Esther “Abraham” Hicks

“Take Things Lightly “


Teach Them Well

securedownloadParents are children’s best teachers; how they support and reinforce what their children learn is essential to proper development. Not only as it relatates to academics, but also in valuable lessons about life. Whether in a two-parent environment or single-parent structure, children must be encouraged to see themselves as powerful, worthy individuals. This works even at the infancy stage; babies and toddlers react favorably to praise. As their level of understanding increases, it is important to elaborate on their accomplishments. This, along with rewards and discipline, helps children aspire for “greater”.

No matter what an individual aspires to be or what he or she hopes to accomplish, the values instilled during the growing years are going to play a major role in their success.

Today’s children become more independent at an earlier age; therefore, parents need to find more ways to interact with them. If this mode of parenting starts at an early age, it is less likely to be viewed in a negative manner. Sometimes children set up “walls” to avoid having to deal with parents. Such barriers should not be forcibly removed. An easier, less invasive method of communicating with children is to find common ground where you, as a parent can connect with them. It might involve learning a computer game that you and the child can play together. This is also a good way to open the lines of communication with your child. Most children love to teach adults, and adults can learn a lot from children. Allow children to take charge and teach. Sometimes bridging the “gap” can be as simple as expressing interest in a subject that he or she enjoys. In the process, you are connecting to your child in a way that will encourage positive communication.

A major role in parenting is teaching children life skills. Though it is not an easy task, most parents, somehow, manage to provide the essentials. The rest, good or bad, will likely come with experience of living and maturing.
I’ve read that birds fly in a tight formation to ensure that predators cannot get in to their group. Safety in numbers. As humans, we could learn a valuable lesson from the birds. We need to keep the lines of communication open with children. Thus, establishing a close knit formation with the family, which is a sure way to cover any areas where predators might get in to sabotage the family values.

The lessons learned as a result of good parenting can provide valuable tools that will help children grow, mature and prosper. Invest in your children’s future—teach them well.




imageWhen I look back over my life, I think about the great gospel song recorded by Mahalia Jackson. The song is titled How I Got Over. A line in the song says, “My soul looks back and wonders how I got over.”

When I look back over my life, there were difficult times; there were times of uncertainty. There were tears, and there were times when I did not think I could endure another day. But as I look back at those times, the thing I remember most is that I had the courage to face the difficulties, and the faith to move forward. I knew that if I continued to persevere, I would come upon a smooth path.

When I look back over my life, I can clearly see that courage, faith, and trust provided the strength I needed to make it thus far. Even though I faced adversities that I thought would stop me in my tracks. Even when I could barely see my path through the tears, I pushed forward—sometimes not sure of where I’d end up. Each hurdle came with various degrees of difficulty. Each stumble projected me forward, and after every fall, I rebounded to a higher level. Each time a door closed, a new door opened to reveal more opportunities for my betterment.

Today, my soul, mind, and spirit look back and wonder—how I got over. My heart feels that my journey was an amazing adventure filled with suspense, doubt, and fear. Yet, when I look back over my life, I see a celebration at every turn. Back then, the celebration was subtle. To be honest, the bigger celebration occurred when I looked back with a new prospective, seeking more understanding. Many things are easier to understand from a “spectator” position.

Memories hold our stories; it is so important that we use those memories to look back and appreciate the good that existed in our lives. Doing so could help us to extract tools that will support us in our present and future endeavors. Each time I review my story, I find more tools for living my life, and for anticipating a bright future. As I look back over my life, I realize—life has been good. I still marvel at how far I’ve come. No matter how far my journey takes me, I think I will still look back and wonder how I got over. But one thing is for certain–I am forever grateful that I have grown to appreciate the fact that there are so many reasons why I did get over.


The Song–“How I Got Over”
Writen By Clara Ward in 1952



imageL ast summer, while visiting my favorite recreation center, I saw the word “Greater” on a young woman’s tee shirt. The lettering was all caps and embellished in a silver metallic. Being an avid crafter, the shiny letters caught my eye immediately. I approached the young lady to let her know that I liked her shirt. She told me that her church had come up with the idea for the shirts, and that “Greater” is part of their campaign to increase their faith in the power of building greater horizons as a result of and in spite of obstacles. That brief conversation stuck with me. I felt elated and empowered. Mainly because the word “Greater” became my focus for that day. I found myself resuming tasks and projects that I had set aside because I felt they involved more effort than I had been willing to put forth.

The more I focused on “Greater”, the more empowered I felt. I quickly and effortlessly completed some sewing projects that had been left unfinished for several weeks. At that point, I decided to start a campaign of my own using the word “Greater” as my motivator.

I shared my story with my son who was about to start a new job. I hope it will inspire him to focus on the greater opportunities that come from his venture—seen and unseen. More importantly, I hope he passes the positive energy on so that others can be empowered by it.

I later shared my story with the young woman who had worn the inspirational shirt. I wanted her to know how much power I had received from seeing that single word printed on her shirt. I asked her to let the members of her church know how their project had affected me. I am certain that her fellow members will be happy to know that their campaign helped me to regenerate positivity in my life.

It is comforting to know that no matter where I am in my journey, or in my dreams, “Greater” is usually just one door away. Having the courage to hold out  until I reach that door has proven to be worth the wait every time.

So instead of focusing on the temporary setbacks, roadblocks, detours and wrong turns, I will set my personal navigation system to “Greater”–and I continue moving forward toward it.



Trust Builds Character

EnlightenedWhen you establish and maintain good credit, you are building character.

My first credit card was obtained from a department store that I worked for. Even though I was employed by this well-known store, I was denied a credit card twice before I was finally approved. Both times the reason was that I did not have any credit history. Not only was I disappointed, but I was confused. In my mind, if I worked for the company, I should be trusted to have a credit card from them. What I did not realize at the time was, in order to obtain credit the borrower needs to have a credit history to prove that he or she can be trusted to pay back the debt. If there is no proof in your credit report to ensure that you can be trusted, it is unlikely that credit will be extended to you.

When I was approved for my first credit card, I was very excited. Not so much because I had resources for shopping, but because that credit approval represented a trust. I am proud to say, I never took that trust for granted. In fact, the approval for my first credit card was the foundation that inspired me to establish and maintain an excellent credit status. Even during difficult times, I was driven by that trust. I realized that good credit and good character go hand-in-hand.

I was prompted to write this post because I thought about a time in my life when I went through a difficult period. Fortunately for me, I met a business owner who trusted me based on my word. He ran a service station which also did automobile repairs. I took my car to him for service. The repairs I needed were extensive—more than I could afford at the time. I explained to him that I would not be able to pay for the repairs that day. He said I could bring the money to him the following week. The only information he had for me was my unpublished phone number and my word. Because of his trust, I felt empowered. That situation proved to be a great character builder for me; I realized the value of my word. I felt as though I had received an approval letter from a major lender.

Prior to settling the debt, various individuals told me I shouldn’t bother to pay for the repairs. One even said, “Why should you pay the guy? He doesn’t even know where you live.” Another friend said, “You could have gotten the repairs cheaper someplace else.” No matter what those individuals said, the only thing that mattered to me was the fact that I had given my word. I did not let those comments influence my actions.

On the day I settled my debt for the repairs, I arrived a little late. The shop had closed, but the owner was sitting outside in his car waiting for me. He knew I would not go back on my word. Because of that experience, I learned that my word is the part of my credit status that really matters.

I still am overwhelmed with pride in myself any time I recall that situation. The experience effected the way I view credit and trust. Credit standing begins with the first time you establish trust. It doesn’t matter if it involves money or merely a commitment, your word is your most solid collateral. Trust does build character—but at the foundation of that character is your word.