Those pesky foxes

Have you ever been so busy dreaming about living the life of your dreams, that you didn’t realize that you were ALREADY living the life of your dreams??  Or maybe it’s just me!Well this summer, I woke and up realized how very blessed I am.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  My husband is amazing.  And I’m a parent, which was something that I worked for and prayed to be for years.  I’ve gotten a major health battle behind me.  And now I’m living the flexible work-from-home schedule that I always wanted, while launching my freelance writing business.  On top of all that, I’m surrounded by wonderful friends and the world’s best church family.

So why did it take me so long to see how great my life is?  I think it was because I’m easily distracted by the small things.  You know – those little annoying things that can suck the joy out of life if you let them? For me, these little things have come as a part of adjusting to island life.  Instead of seeing Nassau, Bahamas as a tropical paradise, this little American girl felt imprisoned by the island inconveniences that were working my nerves.  All it took was a random power outage, unreliable cell phone service or a cultural misunderstanding and my joy was gone just like that!  I was spending far too much time daydreaming about the opportunities, friends and conveniences that I missed at home.   I was spending way too much time clicking my heels and waiting for the American fairy to swoop down and take me back to my comfort zone.  By the way – the whole “clicking heels” thing only resulted in sore heels.

Somehow this summer, I woke up and realized that life was passing me by – and it was my fault.  I was focusing on the small things that don’t matter at all.  I was overlooking the beautiful beaches of Nassau and the quaint hometown feeling of everyone knowing your name.  Once I started focusing on what matters – my family, the new friends that I’m making, the direction that I wanted my career to go and most importantly, my relationship with God – my world brightened up.  It’s as if a dark veil was lifted off of my window and now the sunlight is streaming through.  It feels great to see this bright, sunny world full of possibilities.

Now I’m making a conscious effort to get over those little annoyances that seem to wait like little evil ninjas wanting to attack my joy.  I’m confident that I have what it takes to squash these little buggers and enjoy the blessings of life here in Nassau or wherever life may lead.

The Song of Solomon talks about “the little foxes that ruin the vines.”  I had let island life become a little fox ruining my blooming vine of life.  But I’m sure that I’m not the only one with a fox in the vine.

What about you?  Are you living the life of your dreams?  What are you letting hold you back?  And when will you take control of your own joy and dreams?

Bye, bye Superwoman

I had the opportunity to be a speaker at my church’s women’s conference last weekend.  While I was there I heard an amazing presentation by an even more amazing woman named Erin Brown  (ww.erinbrownconnects.org).  Her topic really slapped me in the face.  It was “I’m Not Your Superwoman.”  Can you say “Wow!”

Her presentation talked about the pressure that we put on ourselves as women to be everything to everybody.  Hearing her presentation made me reflect on my recent decision to be a stay-at-home mom.  For years I’ve been a “superwoman” juggling career, community involvement, church obligations and family.  This year the juggling act became overwhelming.  I knew that I was getting out of control when I found myself working at home ALL the time.  My 5 year old daughter began complaining that I was always in a meeting.  My husband and I were ships in the night passing on the way to our next work meetings.  I felt out of whack and unhappy.  And we all know the saying “When mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy!”

It was hard tearing myself away from a career that spanned over 15 years of nonprofit management.  But for me it was the right choice.  I’ve made a personal decision to put my family first, and for me that means staying at home, doing part-time consulting and managing the family full-time.  It’s not a decision for every working mama, but it works for me in this season of my life.  It gives me time to really be there for my family, pursue goals that I’d put on the shelf and forgotten, and most importantly take time for me.  I’m a firm believer that we women are amazingly strong.  We’re stronger than we know — but we all have our limits.  The reality is that Superwoman is a burnt-out, overloaded, crazy woman who rarely puts her needs first.

Ladies, the superwoman myth is just that – a myth.  We CAN do it all, but just not at the same time.  It’s time that we start reprioritizing and making decisions that work for us.  Forget the world’s expectations.  Life is short and at the end we all want to look back and know that we spent our time where it counts.  For me reprioritizing meant being a stay-at-home mom.  For you it may mean letting go of activities that waste your time.  Or it could mean abandoning your career to pursue your true dreams.  Or maybe it just means reserving a weekend every month just for you.  Whatever it means, it’s time to put what’s important to YOU first.

So are you ready to burn the S on your chest and replace it with what really matters?

We All Need Sisters

It’s now 3 weeks after my open heart surgery and I’m feeling stronger than ever.  I have God to thank, and the motivation of my two extremely fabulous sisters.  These chicks didn’t just motivate me – they kicked my butt in gear as only a sister can!

Nicki, my youngest sister, came to Nassau despite her busy work schedule and stayed with me for a week and half.  Not only did she cook great meals for my family and take care of my (often unruly) child, but she motivated me (actually she forced me) to take a brisk walk every day.  I absolutely hated every moment of these walks.  Walking after a major surgery takes a lot of effort. But despite my protests and attempts at procrastination, she was there every day badgering me like a pitbull until I would get my butt in gear.  And for this I thank her.  It’s because of her constant hounding, that I’m almost back up to my normal walking speed now.

My other sister, Felencia, came for four days.  It was four days of sheer laughter and joy.  Every day she’d say something like “To have just had surgery, you look great!” and “You’re doing great!”  She affirmed me so much, that I started to believe her words.  I think her words somehow made me stronger.

Most importantly, they both made me laugh until I thought I’d split my poor little chest stitches.  I can’t tell you how many painkillers I popped just because of too much laughter.  But I’m convince that laughter is essential for healing.

I’m so thankful for sisters who lift me up when I’m down, and give me the nudge I need to keep going.  Do you have women in your life that keep you encouraged?  If not, find some quickly.  We all need “sisters” to make it through this unpredictable life.

The Amazing Incredible You

If you’ve been following my blog, you may have noticed that I’ve been gone for a few weeks.  No – it wasn’t a vacation.  More like a test of faith.  I’ve just come back from open heart surgery.  I was born with a heart disease, so this is just a part of a life-long process.  But I won’t lie.  It was one of my biggest mental, spiritual and physical challenges yet.  Amazingly, the physical part hasn’t been that bad.

While I can’t say that I was glad to have surgery, I have been learning so much from the entire process.  I thought that some of these lessons were worth sharing:

1-      We’re stronger than we think we are – Our bodies, minds and spirits are incredibly resilient.  The day after surgery, I had many of the tubes out and was walking, talking and laughing.  Even the surgeon commented on how well I looked.  I surprised myself!

2-      People love us more than we know – I have been overwhelmed by all the friends and acquaintances that have called, visited and prayed with me.  I expected close friends and family to be concerned, but nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming amount of generosity and love I’ve received.

3-      No matter how bad it seems, it will pass and you will survive with God’s grace – For me the worst part of the surgery was the preparation.  The not knowing and trying to get my mind prepared for what was to come was horrible.  But I got through it, and I’m here.  I realize that God’s grace helped me overcome what seemed impossible.

4-      Laughter is essential for healing  – While in ICU, I had one of my sisters with me and my husband.  They had me laughing so hard that I cried.  I noticed that with each laugh, things just seemed a little better and I felt a little stronger.  It’s as if my laughter spoke to my soul and said “C’mon, girl.  You can do this!”

5-      Take care of yourself, and the world will take care of itself – Before heading off to get my heart fixed, I was so preoccupied with everything.  I was running around frantically tying up loose ends for my job.  I was creating schedules and making checklists for my daughter.  Every night was a sleepless night with nightmares about things not getting done.   I was doing everything except taking the time to make sure that I was okay.  And guess what – while I was in the hospital, the world went on.  Problems got solved and things got done – and nobody needed me to do any of it. That’s a lesson that I will definitely remember!

Ladies, I’m not special.  We all get knocked off our feet by the winds of life.  Maybe it’s a surgery.  Maybe it’s a divorce, the death of a child or a lay off at work.  Whatever it is, I’m here to tell you that you will get through it.  Life will go on.  You will smile again, and share your story so that others will be inspired.  We’re all amazing, and life’s tests are just an opportunity to show what we’re made of.

I’d love to hear from you.

How has life knocked you for a loop and what lessons did you learn?

Strong

I’m internationally known as a cry-baby.  Sad news – I cry.  Happy news – I cry.  Scared – Oh Lord, here come the tears.  Over the years, I’m sure that I’ve produced enough tears to irrigate a large farm.

Right now, I’m facing some medical challenges that require a pretty major surgery.  Can you guess my reaction?  You’re a fast learner, girl 🙂 .   I haven’t been surprised by my own tears, but what has surprised me is how many people have called me strong over the last several weeks despite me crying a river on their shoulders.  Me, the original cry-baby?  Strong?? I’ve heard the phrase “You will be okay because you’re a strong woman” so many times that I have to sit back and wonder what they mean.

But when I think about it, I am strong.  I cry, but I don’t give up.  I’m often saddened, but never defeated.  And despite it all, I manage to some how pull it together daily and give life my best.  I even have the strength to love those around me instead of wallowing in self-pity.  By God’s grace, I am strong.

But I’m no different from every other woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter that I’ve ever met.  I believe that God made women with a unique strength.  The strength to bend over and over again without breaking is built into us women.

So I’m here to tell you my sister, “You are strong.  You will be okay because you are a strong woman.”  I know your strength because I know my own.

Do you believe in your strength?  I do.

Only sane women talk to themselves

When I was a child I though only crazy people talked to themselves.  I’d see bag ladies on the street pushing their carts and muttering only the Lord knows what to themselves.  Whenever I would see this, I’d think “Look at that crazy lady talking to herself!”

Now that I’m older and understand that life takes no prisoners, I realize that it’s the SANE woman who has enough sense to talk to herself.  Life continually throws us negative blows and overwhelming thoughts.  Everyday there are a million voices telling us what we’re not and what we can’t do.  But the woman who reaches deep inside and can preach to herself is the woman who survives.  It’s the woman who will shut out the noise of the world and hear the beautiful words whispered from the Spirit of God that will make it.  A woman who affirms herself with her own lips is a woman who can smile despite the blows of life.

Here’s what I currently have been saying to myself each day:

“I am strong.  I am healed.  I am an overcomer.  I am a woman of excellence, achievement and purpose.”

I have a friend who recently told me that she says this to herself in the mornings, “Lord, I know that nothing is going to happen today that you and I can’t handle!”

What are you saying to yourself?

How it all started

Bahama Mommy, Inc.It started as just a fantasy.  A dream about giving up the long hours, and the career stress to just do what I loved.  But what I loved didn’t seem to compare to the prestige of a career.  What I loved was just ordinary – spending time with family, motherhood, volunteering and connecting with other women.  Those were things that you do to unwind, not what you do instead of pursuing a challenging full-time career.  I mean, I went to college and got all that education to do something more complex, right?

But then the dream blossomed into a spark of reality when the world’s best husband encouraged me to just be happy and do what I love.  Even if what I loved had no paycheck attached to it.  Then I became obsessed.  What would life be like if I was brave enough to spend as much energy on my little family as I did pursuing my career?  What if I spent time to truly enjoy every phase of my daughter’s life knowing that I would never get these moments back instead of struggling to fit motherhood in between work meetings and strategy sessions?  What if I dared to support my husband the way he needs to be supported instead of running the rat race?  What if I was just brave enough to believe that our little family of three would be fine on one income?

And now I’m pursuing the dream, and smiling wondering where it will take me. . .