Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reveal and Heal

The magical power of a band-aid. Once applied, to a child, the hurt and pain instantly defuses and they are left healed and ready for the next adventure … Doesn’t matter the kind of band-aid – name brand vs. dollar store, Scooby Doo vs. Hello Kitty, to a child they hold power; the kind of power that relieves the pain, no matter how severe.

If only life were that easily fixed. The mending of a broken heart, a shattered spirit, a life falling apart, could instantly be healed with the application of a sticky material with a picture of a cartoon character affixed. If this was the case, at this very moment I would be covered from head to toe in a beautiful collage of different arrays of color.

However, that is not the case. I am free of ‘stuck on band-aid brand, because band-aids don’t stick on me’. (I know, I am singing that tune myself, catchy little jingle that it is.) Yet I cannot help but go into the medicine cabinet, pull out a box, and apply one just for the hell of it … with a little “maybe it could work … let’s try” mentality. Nevertheless I am left with the brutal removal and another “ouch” instead.

So you have fallen and skinned your knee ….

For each of us, we pilot lives that at some point or another are going to give us pain no band-aid can fix. Pain that will require healing beyond the realm of a local drugstore pharmacy isle. This pain is compiled of misgivings, misfortunes, mistakes. My suggestion, contrary to traditional belief, is that this composition is not really mis-anything except the possible missed opportunity to heal naturally. On your darkest days the last thing you want to hear is that phrase “everything is going to be okay” … so I won’t mention it here. However, what I am trying to suggest is that pain is a natural phenomenon. It’s what our brain signals to our body that something hurts, something is not right, and something needs to be repaired.

When the boo-boos appear

My belief is that we put too many Band-Aids on that we are blinded to the fact that we are still in need of healing; we want to believe that once sheltered from the elements we can pretend that all is fixed, all is restored. Life does not work that way. There is no repair for your mind, soul, and spirit besides your inner-self ready to make the necessary repairs. This could involve tedious work; a surgical operation that lasts longer than a traditional hospital stay; a procedure you may not want to undertake. However, it is necessary to go through the healing process in order to be repaired, and restored.

And then the hurt sets in ….

Memories, of both the good and the bad, are at times hard to deal with. There is no way of knowing when they will present themselves and cause hurt and pain that in turn produces an inner turmoil. Flashbacks of the past can haunt, and reopen wounds and reveal scars. Harboring the past is just a temporary solution to what will inescapably make its way to the surface.
These moments in our lives find us searching for healing power, but unlike the days of childhood when a band-aid would cure the pain, we must now find more realistic forms to mend. A form such as unlocking the door to the past, cleaning out the closets, and de-cluttering the thoughts of our minds. Even if it’s painful, at first, the results may very well prove worthy. Isn’t that a cure worth the sacrifice of chance? When all of the “healing” is over, that portion of your life can be closed and a new journey begins.

Life’s band-aids

Forget the peroxide, Neosporin, and gauze … no matter what you dig out of your medicine cabinet it cannot compare to what you need in order to truly heal. These necessary supplies are not found in a doctor’s bag, but within yourself.

How do we find what we need? Admitting is the first step; skip the brave face and the holding back of the tears. Let it out! Take up mediation – journaling – hiking – yoga – vent – a good cry – screaming against the wind – letting go – bringing back a piece of yourself, one undertake at a time … In pain there can be no pride found. When you need to mend your mind, soul, spirit, heart or a combination of the above – you cannot pretend that it doesn’t exist. Instead be humble, and no matter how painful, make yourself acutely aware of the ache. Show yourself empathy and if needed, sympathy.

When memories surface that are hard to deal with, dig deeper and find that memory that takes you back to a place of solace. Remember the “firsts”, remember the warmth, remember the feeling of accomplishment, joy, and let the smile overcome the sadness.

Often times we are too hard on ourselves. Think of the key phrases like, “I shouldn’t feel this way”, or “I wish I didn’t”, or the famous, “When is it going to heal already!?” Instead replace those phrases with more powerful statements such as, “It will take time, I will mend. Maybe not today, but each day is one step closer to full recuperation”

Seek within yourself. You don’t give yourself enough credit to go through what you are dealing with. We tend to hide back from the truth of how bad it accurately is in hopes that if ignorant of the pain, it will magically dissipate. Instead, allow yourself to process. Give yourself time. We cannot revive what cannot be saved. But you can revive the kinder spirit within you that gives you strength, bravery, and courage. To face, and to overcome.

Fate is going to take you to the place you exactly belong – let it take you there. Even though it can be painful, although it may leave a scar, trust that what you experience along the way can be healed – not with a band-aid, not with a boo-boo song – but with the winds of change, time, and you.

Time to rid your medicine cabinet to life’s pain with unworkable solutions – and replace with soul food, mind rejuvenation, and dealing with the “ouches” one moment at a time. This is your time to mend … to move forward … and to uncover what hurts, in order to heal.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Time's a Wastin' - Live the Difference

Tick tock. Tick tock
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Wax on. Wax off.

For some of you this is going to be a reality check, for others, just a reminder. In either case it needs to be mentioned:

The year is more than half over.

For goodness sake … there are only 127 shopping days left until Christmas! If you are like me then you are frantic wondering where the time has gone, and trying to discover some magical way of gaining a few more hours in the day.
And here is a hint: Simply turning back the clock does not work … I don’t care which time zone you live in.

So put down your clocks, your planners, your PDAs and to do lists and just schedule yourself a moment to think – Has this year made a difference in your life?

What kind of difference?

The difference from existing and living.
The difference from being, and being the you you’re meant to be.
The difference from giving, and giving for all the right reasons.
The difference from knowing hurt, and knowing that it will heal.
The difference from having, and giving more than you think you have.
The difference from shedding tears, and still knowing how to smile.

… Each day is an adventure. Each adventure is a learning opportunity. Each learning opportunity is not always seen immediately. Some times all we need is time to see the importance of unanswered prayers, how life flawlessly seems to work itself out. There can be no room for doubt. Living on faith may not come easy, but it can deliver. Day by day. Without failure. If we allow the difference to take residence in our life.

I would not be a true writer of this piece without being completely honest with you; I speak of living in the moment when I am guilty of not always seeing the signs up ahead myself, and missing some of my exits completely. However, I speak so passionately and enthusiastically about life, with the belief that through repetition we learn; and I want the lesson of cherishing the yesterdays of our lives, yet living the moments of today. I want to learn to look back in order to grow from mistakes, but always keeping your eyes straight ahead. I want the lesson of laughing out loud, to inspire and believe, to give this day a chance to make a difference, in every moment of every hour of each passing day.

Some times I fall short of this lesson. I become obsessed with all of the facets that seem to manifest before the difference can be presented in my life, that when it actually shows, I neglect to see the true beauty in it. Take for example the past four weeks of my life; I have rarely been at my current place of habitation besides to shower and sleep. To read my agenda would give you an instant headache, let alone trying to live it. Fitting 36 hours into 24 hour periods is exhausting … as I am sure many of you are doing at this very moment….

But I continue to learn, to re-discover, and apply

This past weekend, I put away the phone, the computer, the communication with the outside world and took my son on a mini-vacation. Consumed with nature walks, pool time, splashing, fun and sun, sandcastle and sculpture, we got back to the basics. From pillow fights to room service – seashells to slushy drinks – we had no agenda. No interruptions. No purpose but to just be … be in the moment – living on laughter, and breathing in enjoyment. Feeling the difference downtime with those you love most can make. Glancing to your side, and seeing life’s worth. Feeling the impact a difference (if allowed) can have, period.

The yesterdays are gone. Time only moves forward. Consume yourself with frustration or simply enjoy life. The difference is yours to make, and to live. Choose wisely as the hour glass is running ….

Monday, August 10, 2009

Exciting Times!

Plan B Readers -
Our first anniversary is approaching, and I am welcoming your ideas to formulate a meet and greet celebration. More details will soon follow, but my assumption will be it will be held at our place of conception at Chase Park Plaza - date to be announced. So ... just leave your planner open until further notice ...

The news to share with you is that what I deliver to you each week has now went into further publication! On you will find selected articles from the site that they felt were in need of sharing further. I am excited at the opportunity to deliver and share even further my realm of thought; and I thank you for being the first to always hear, welcome, and incorporate what I have to say.


Never Alone

When the hard times find you, where do you find yourself? Reaching out to your best friend, someone you trust? Sitting on a sandy beach in the moonlight with nothing but the sound of your thoughts? On an afternoon drive with no destination besides the hope of clarity? Or maybe on your knees seeking salvation?

Good news? You're never alone. Bad news? You have to accept that. I never used to ask for help. I was full of a mixture of pride and fear. I was afraid that if I admitted out loud that I needed aid, that somehow that would label me a failure. As a child I spent a majority of my time isolated; into my adulthood I fell into a pattern of life that isolated me even further. Once I broke that pattern I was still consumed with the 'I can do everything by myself" mentality. Now I stand in front of you praising the fact that I threw my pride in the recycle bin and fell on my knees and asked for the mercy and grace of help. Ironically once I did I achieved more than I ever thought possible.

Today a milestone was reached in my life; through the power of friendship, prayer, and belief. I took a leap of faith and reached a hand out, and not only was it met, but it was met with out contingency and with no labels. In fact, it fueled me further - gave me more strength, determination, and the power to venture forward ... in whatever avenue I was about to take.

Life is hard. That is not in question. If it wasn't it would be too easy and not worth the journey; the end result would always be the same and it would not feel worth it. You may feel like you fall backwards, like no one hears you, like you are down to your last breath and want to scream ....

If you remain silent, you will struggle alone. If you scream, the troops will rally and you will proceed with a weight of support behind you ... ready to stand at your side against whatever life brings your way.

Today the choice is yours to make: Do you want to continue alone? Or trust that you are never alone … it’s just a matter of when you are willing to accept that … and welcome the support in your life. Again, life is not easy, but shared with those around you, and it sure is worth the blood, sweat, and tears that sometimes accompany. And better yet, they will share in all your joy as well.

So fill your lungs, put down your barriers, and welcome the acceptance ... its waiting to deliver.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Songs for Thought

As you might have already stumbled upon, there is a new addition to Plan B - "Songs for Thought". This link takes you to a collaboration of songs that I have found interesting, moving, motivating, and some that are just fun to sing. For example, "Love your Love the Most" is a song my son and I sing in the car, with the windows down, at the top of our lungs. Music in general is a favorite past time of mine; the lyrics, the guitar strings, a good old acoustic version of just about anything ... The way music can incorporate a change and strike a cord in life is a beautiful avenue to explore. I hope you take time to listen; not just what I have composed, but your own soundtracks in life. Embrace the way the movement of a song can shed light, shed tears, and bring a smile to a new day.
Turn the speakers up, slide across the floor in your socks, and let it take hold.

Summer of Love at Rooftop

Not the summer of love back in ’69 in 'ol San Fran – nope. Sorry to disappoint. But still a summer of love all the same! At my home church of Rooftop we are in the middle of our current series, “the Summer of Love”. And this one has true meaning, value, and an impact to cherish for a lifetime.
The fact that I am pushing 36 hours into a regular day has been catching up with me, with a vengeance. Call it “Monday” blues on a Sunday but yesterday I sat in my car, of Rooftop's parking lot, wishing I had not driven there and stayed in bed instead. I was feeling a variety of emotions: lost, distracted, confused, overwhelmed, sad … but as fate would have it I went in, grabbed my coffee, sat down and listened … If ever a sermon was written for me, this was the one. I think it can speak to each of you – and deliver a message that only your heart has been longing to hear. I hope it can calm yours, as it did mine, and make way for new thoughts, new smiles, and new approaches - after all I dare you to see ... a future beyond imagination that lies ahead.
Let me Count The Ways – Part 7 of the Summer of Love Series


Negative? I am Offended!

We’ve been there – either on the receiving or giving end – of saying things and exhibiting a behavior, out of anger of a current life situation that is not necessarily ideal. When we receive harsh words – it hurts, beyond imagine, especially when we question where the words generated from. When we deliver words of regret, we typically have no hint what we have done until after the damage has taken a hold.

I have been guilty of delivering. I have received more than my share. Being on both ends allows me to make this declaration:

If you don’t have something nice to say, keep your mouth shut.

What? Your mother said that to you too? If we only knew then what we know now. That it would not be a matter of if, but a matter of when, we would find ourselves in a situation of confrontation and harsh words. Inching further we will also find that out of that situation comes the feeling of rejection.

Rejection is a verity of life. From the feeling(s) of not being liked (loved), accepted, valued, or received to the state of feeling unaccepted, unappreciated, and unwanted. This manifests from both internal and external forces. You strive for the fulfillment of your state of acceptance through the collaboration of feelings – a collaboration you seek through your friends, family, and the world around you. But still, rejection seems to happen. From not landing that ideal job, to the person who sparked your attention a few months back. From your local committees, to your family (and friends) functions. From the bank, from the “oops I dialed the wrong number”, from the “You are the Weakest Link”, from the local theatre tryouts, or even from the cable guy who said he would be there between the hours of Nine and 11, but now its going on after three pm and still no HBO ….

So much importance, I will say it again: Rejection is a verity of life. You can use it to your advantage and work through your feelings and on to a different platform in life; a platform that does not make room for those wishing to bring us down, batter our esteem, or make us question ourselves and our abilities. You have what it takes inside of you to overcome challenges, and continue on your path – or redevelop a new one. You cannot let the forces of the outside determine what is generated on your inside.

As such I have asked the genuine and intriguing, Ms. Tiffany, to write this week’s Plan B. Her story sheds light on the damage negativity and rejection can have on a life, if allowed. As you watch her story unfold you see the change in her; it was a beautiful piece to read and through sharing it with you I hope it not only continues her progress but yours as well. None of us has time to allow the negative to play the dominate role in our lives … rid yourself of that which does not make you stronger and enrich your soul with moments, people, and time that build you up and help you shine.

Negative? I am Offended!

So I’ve scolded Chrissy many times for not taking the much needed break she needs and deserves from Plan B; taking her own advice and help herself advance on to the next stage in her life, which is a big one. She then pokes back “Well would you be willing to help free me up some time and write an inspiring piece for all to read?”

I pondered for a moment and then asked, “Why would anyone want to listen to anything I have to say? I can’t be inspiring.” It wasn’t until Ann Marie stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam with her piece on self-discovery that I realized why I was hiding from Plan B. You see, I know that everyone has internal struggles, hardships and fears that they are sometimes afraid to face and something that I’ve been trying to overcome for a while now is this negative shell that I sometimes hide within.

The Slap
I never really considered myself a negative or mean person until last year when someone kind of close to me confronted me with the opinion that I hold a negative tone – in my life and it showed on others. They further went on to say that I should leave everyone else alone and be by myself. This was a huge slap in the face and has since resulted in me keeping my true opinion to myself or bottling up my emotions for fear that I may burden someone else with my problems, or offer up advice they may not particularly be interested in hearing. Before this person’s comments to me, I was eager to listen to my friends during their hard times and offer my advice, but after this person confronted me I started to shy away from offering advice to friends and family for fear that I would say something negative.

The Repercussion

Now I find myself in this negative shell. I call it a shell because I feel like I have this covering around me that keeps the real me hidden from other people and keeps my true feelings and emotions bottled only for me to work through. This, my Plan B friends, is not the way to go. Trust me. Through Plan B is how I discovered that I only actually truly became that negative person I was accused of once I shut myself off from being the true me. I am not a negative person, and just because of one person’s comment (out of retaliation of the way their own life was heading) I shut down. I turned off. I went into a shell.

I hide my true feelings and because of this, project this completely different person that creates a depressing environment around her. Have any of you ever been in a room with someone that hates their job, life, people or just about everything? It really sucks doesn’t it? You just want to scream at those people and say do something about it! You have the power to change! Well I now feel like I was being one of those people from the outside, however inside I love my job and I love my life, family and friends. It took one person’s harsh and wrong words to shut me down for almost a year now.

Time to Break Free
Why people can have this effect on anyone baffles me, but if I have learned anything, it’s to not take everything one critic has to say to heart. Just because one person has a problem with you, your work, your goals or ambitions doesn’t mean that you should give up and create a new you. Rejection is something that is always going to happen to me and everyone else throughout his or her entire life. You can’t let it destroy who you are. Sometimes, sure you should reflect on what your critics had to say and seek out the truth in their opinions whether it be through asking friends, family, co-workers, making a list, or doing what I like to think Chrissy does and just take a moment to look back and reflect on your life and see if there really was any “bad” to it.

Don’t let anyone change who you are whether it be a “friend” or foe, a woman or man, loved one, family member, anyone. Often times, people say things to you to hurt you and bring you down to the lower level that they live in. It’s your responsibility to catch them in their act and not fall victim. Learn to stand up for yourself, your beliefs, your goals or anything that brings YOU happiness. Also, learn to choose your words wisely when giving someone else your criticism. You never know how it will impact that person. One thoughtless comment in a moment of anger could alter someone’s sense of self in a negative way, and in a world that tries to tear people down we should always try to work on building people up.