Self-Evaluation

When was the last time you celebrated you?

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It’s finally here, the time of year when we see if we have staying power or not.

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Twelve days of January have gone and those who set big resolutions are asking themselves, “What was I thinking?”

Those, like myself, who didn’t even think about resolutions, are breathing a sigh of relief and celebrating the season for what it really is, a time of reflecting and rejuvenating in order to approach 2016 with new vitality and focus. Now is the time to make the first two or three months of this new year really meaningful.

Here is one thing that should get you geared up for a successful 2016.

Honor yourself.

You made it through 2015. Things may not have gone exactly the way you planned, or maybe they did. Still you made it. Give yourself a pat on the back. This is the time of year to pause and celebrate the person you are today. Yes, there are still changes you want to make, but for now, celebrate and honor you.

For those of you who journal, take the time to memorialize what the past 12 month journey of 2015 was like. Write about the highs and the lows, the ups and the downs, the setbacks and steps forward. Embrace it all. Those experiences have allowed growing and excelling to take place.

What about your expectations, goals, and aspirations for 2016. Yes, now is the time to write them down and plan out what it will take to make 2016 the year of expansion and accelerated growth.

For those of you who blog, then share your story with us. Teach us how you did it; what you learned, and show us how we too can achieve great success through, dare I say it, hard work and determination.

Share your stores of how important it is to be kind and generous, thinking of others as much as yourself. Let us know where you came from and how far you have journeyed. Yes, it doesn’t hurt at all to remember your roots.

Finally, tell us who gave you love and support during this time of change or growth. Who were those influencers and supporters of all you accomplished? Hey, having an attitude of gratitude can propel you way faster than you ever dreamed.

Indulge yourself. You have a full year ahead of you. Take this time to focus and plan. You owe it to yourself.

“Let go of the past and go for the future. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

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You Get What You Ask For

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“Enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your pegs.  For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left.  And your descendants will possess nations, and they will resettle the desolate cities.”  Isaiah 54:2-3

I was told that 2014 is the year of expansion so I prayed, “Lord, enlarge my territory”.

The vision for my life was more than what I was experiencing.  I was depressed and disheartened. Each time I tried to make progress something or someone came along to distract or discourage me. Eventually, with back-to-back delays, I realized that if I did not do something soon discouragement would derail everything that I had worked so hard to accomplish.

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My dreams, goals, and plans were still there.  I was more than willing to step into new territory.

My expectations were high.  My heart wide open.  Yet, here I was at a dead-end.  Not sure what to do, where to turn, or how to move.

How had I come to this point?  When did I step off the road that was moving me towards success?  The peace I had once experienced was now replaced with chaos and turmoil.  I searched my memory and racked my brains to see what had caused me to make this detour. Even more importantly, how was I going to get though it?

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What or who had caused me to take one detour after another?  I wanted to move forward, but was not sure which direction to go or even how to start.  Each time I attempted to move the question arose, “What price are you willing to pay in order to move forward?”

One thing about expansion is that it requires you to move from a place of comfort and familiarity.  You have to leave behind what you know in order to step into what will at first be new and strange. Questions will fill your mind.  Doubt will rise up. Uncertainty will show itself.

Growth and expansion is often messy and chaotic.  Things do not always go according to your plan.  Deadlines are rarely met and delays often set us back.  But despite how it looks you must still continue with your plan.

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When you ask for something that involves change, you will get what you ask for.  What you have to remember is that despite great plans and good intentions obstacles will come your way. All you have to do is learn to pick yourself up after each setback.  Don’t give up because it hurts. Instead, keep your eyes on the prize.  Stay focused on your ultimate goal and take whatever steps you need to in order to get there.

I asked  for my territory to be enlarged.  The price that I was willing to pay — Proceed with Caution.  I got what I asked for.  How about you?

What have you asked for in this year of expansion? What cost are you willing to pay to achieve success?  If you have already begun the journey, what has been some of the challenges or setbacks you have faced?  How have you overcome those obstacles?  Please let us know.  It might help us to get moving towards our dreams a little bit quicker.

Only You Alone Can Do This

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“We can aid each other in the independent visions God has given us, but we each as individuals have our own mountain to climb, our own journeys, and our own accountability to God.”

Tonia Renee Lee, Live Inspired, Not Bound!

We Will Never Forget

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These past 4 weeks have taken me away from my weekly blog.  Mainly it has been a time of regrouping, refreshing, and revisioning of where my life is heading.

Over the past few months I have lost many beloved friends.  I am also dealing with an aged mother who has been extremely ill.  As you can imagine it has all taken its toll on me.  So when my daughter asked me to come down to visit her and watch my granddaughter for her spring break, I jumped at the opportunity.

My daughter lives in Wellington, Florida and in between taking care of my granddaughter I was able to do a little sightseeing of this beautiful community located in the West Palm Beach area.  It was during my wanderings that I came upon the Wellington Patriot Memorial.

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From the moment I looked upon the tall piece of steel beckoning me to come and see, I knew I was stepping into a special place.

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While here in New York City the work is diligently moving along on the World Trade Center project, the town of Wellington completed this memorial in 2011.

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The focus of my attention was a donated piece of steel from one of the World Trade Center Twin Towers. The steel, which is divided into three pieces, once stood between the 69th and 71st floor of the second Twin Tower. It was an exterior column panel seven floors below where United Airlines flight 175 impacted.  Its number is steel beam C-46.

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On December 4th, 2010 the beam, covered with the American flag, arrived in Wellington after being ceremoniously and loving brought from New York .

Vice Mayor Matt Willhite told Sun Sentinel Reporters, “In December 2010 we brought the beam to Florida from New York. The whole time treating the experience with great pride and dignity.” He continued, “It has cost us more than we thought. But, it is an investment into our community.”

The flag now stands at the entrance of the Wellington Patriot Memorial.

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Beside the oxidized piece of steel, in the center of the memorial, is the fountain. Its sparkling, clear water steadily flows down at points around the circumference.  If you look carefully, on top of the fountain you can see the eternal flame. On Sunday, September 11, 2011 the eternal flame was lit, has continued and will continue to burn 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Along the opposite side of the memorial stands 4 etched glass panes.  Beautiful and elegant, the names of the nearly 3,000 victims of the World Trade Center attacks can be seen.  Below the glass in bold black letters on a white background are the times of the attacks. In front of each of the glass panels is a seat where one can sit and reflect.

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Willhite told the Sun-Sentinel. “This will be a place where generations to come will be able to learn about this piece of history.”  He was absolutely correct.

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On the ground of the memorial are bricks with the names of the First Responders who courageously lost their lives while in the line of duty.  As I stooped over to take the pictures of the names the sun shone so bright that my shadow covered them over.  Perhaps, when you visit this place you will see them for yourselves.

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Just as the names are etched in the bricks and in the clear glass panels, so too the memory of that day on September 11, 2001.  Everyone of us can remember exactly where we were, what we were doing and what we were thinking.

As my daughter, granddaughter and I moved around the Patriot Memorial we spoke about that morning.  It was a strange day for the two of us because only 2 hours earlier, on that September morning, my daughter was sitting on an American Airline plane at John F. Kennedy Airport.  The plane she had traveled on from London to Jamaica had engine trouble and had to make an emergency landing in New York.  They moved the passengers onto an American Airlines plane because no other Air Jamaica plane was available.

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In the bright sunshine we also spoke about the loved ones that we have lost throughout the years and those most recently gone.  I also reflected on the health of my aging mother.

The serenity and peacefulness of the space allowed me to gather my thoughts and process the events in our circle of life.  I came away with a heightened sense of gratitude for life and each new day that I see.

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” ~ Aristotle.

The quote on the plaque given by the Navarro Family is powerful.

This year 2014, as we work to Kick Fear Now, let us move on with hope for a bright tomorrow. For me, it is a time to re-vision my life and chart new and different journeys.  What about you?

Today is a good day to reflect on the life you still have to live. It’s good to embrace the good memories and the joys of the past, but you should never linger there for too long.  Life is filled with both joy and pain, love and hate, sadness and happiness.  It is interesting how we tend to focus on the negative more than the positive.

Can you find one reason to get up every morning and one thing that you can be grateful for in your life.  If so, then you are already on your way to living the courageous life.

To help you further along your journey take a look at the book that started it all, Kick Fear to the Curb: 5 Actions Steps for a Courageous You, and don’t forget to send me an e-mail if you would like to read the first chapter for free.

What is this thing called courage?

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Courage is being stupid enough not to realize the danger
Involved to yourself
Smart enough to know you don’t have a choice,
But to take immediate action,
It’s a reflex action in the face of danger.
It’s something you have to do
And there is not enough time to wait
For another to make that decision

Jackie Logan, Pen-sanity

What does it take to be courageous? 

How do we move from wanting to run and hide to standing our ground and taking action?

Many times it all boils down to making a choice.

Let me share what I mean.

A few years ago I worked for a wonderful lady, Jean Taylor Jackson.  She was a trust and estates lawyer who, at that time, was one of the few female practitioners in this field.

One morning I arrived at work only to find her in a pool of blood.  Sometime during the previous evening or night, she had suffered an aneurysm.  She was lying in the kitchen, next to the stove.  A small pot had boiled dry on top of the stove, and the tiles of the floor gleamed brightly against her blood.  The raw smell of blood, mixed with the heat, was strong and repulsive.  What made things worse, I cannot stand the sight of blood, any blood.

I knew that within seconds I was going to get into a cold sweat, start heaving, and possibly vomit.  Although this wasn’t something I wanted to be confronted with first thing in the morning, I also knew that I had to deal with the situation.  I had to get medical help.  I also had to somehow reassure her that I was not going to leave her alone.

I closed my eyes and started to take long, deep breaths.  I also told myself to stay calm, to just deal with the immediate situation.  It was very difficult trying to ignore the sight and smell of the blood.  It quickly rose up to my nostrils.  The warm room only compounded the situation.

Things got worse when the paramedics had trouble lifting her onto the gurney.  To move her, the three of us had to lift the dead weight of the body.  It was hard.  She was heavy and the blood was now getting on my clothing and my hands.  Despite how I felt at that moment, I had to remain composed and focus on the problem at hand.

It took courage to get the situation under control so that it no longer provoked an emotional reaction within me.  It took even more courage when, a few days later, I was faced with the decision of whether to take this once beautiful, vibrant woman off life support.

You can choose to fear or choose not to fear.  You can exercise restraint or react without thought.  You can choose to focus on your limitations or choose to look at your strong points and work on improving them.  You can dwell on the bad or excel with the good.  It’s really up to you. 

Now it’s your turn to share.

What is the most courageous think you have ever done? How did you feel when you first started out? Was their anxiousness, fearfulness, trepidation or were you filled with anticipation and eager to do this thing you had never done before?

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This post is dedicated to Jackie Logan and Jean Taylor Jackson, two beautiful woman who departed this earth way too soon.

Sleepless Nights – There is always a solution

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“I have spent my whole life scared. Frightened of things that could happen, might happen, might not happen. Fifty years I spent like that. Finding myself awake at 3 in the morning. But you know what? Ever since my diagnosis, I sleep just fine. And I came to realize it’s that fear that’s the worst of it. That’s the real enemy. So get up. Get out in the real world. And you kick that bastard as hard as you can right in the teeth.” – Walter White, Breaking Bad

Photograph: Wikimedia.org

Lessons Learned from Machu Picchu – Part 1

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I know that most of you would not even think about doing such a thing as climbing a mountain.  Nevertheless, you can step out of your comfort zone by doing one thing that you have never done before.  Even better, do one thing that you have always wanted to do but unrealistic fear has prevented you from doing it.

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This is what I did in the early part of July.  Wanting to step out of my comfort zone, I undertook the exciting venture of hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru.  According to the itinerary supplied by G Adventures, the tour group I went with, the 4-day hike is “physically challenging but worthwhile.”  It was also “within the ability of most reasonably fit.”

Well, I like to class myself as physically fit, plus I enjoy hiking up and down hills and mountains.  So off I ventured, knowing that I was quite fit and able to endure to the very end.  Boy was I wrong.

Climbing or, in my case, hiking a mountain is a challenge.  Your expectations at the beginning of the journey are often immense.  The adrenaline is flowing and you feel you can conquer anything.  It is as you continue to ascent up, and the way gets steeper, that you realize how small and insignificant you are in comparison to the big, beautiful mountain you think you can conquer.

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You learn a lot when you climb a mountain.  You learn even more if you are unable to finish and have to come down defeated.  That’s right I did not finish the 4-day hike.  In fact, due to a number of things, including altitude sickness, I came back down on the second day.  Needless to say I was not too thrilled, but I had accomplished an extraordinary goal and it not only lifted my confidence and boosted my self-esteem, but it let me know that change is possible if you give it a chance.

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So, I am back and I’m here to let you know that you can eliminate unrealistic fear from your life.  You can Kick Fear Now by taking one action step after another.  That’s what I have been trying to do myself and it is what I am encouraging each one of you to do for yourself, even if you only accomplish one small action at a time.  Yes, there will be setbacks along the way but it does not mean you give up.  Instead, you just find another way to complete your goal.

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One of the things I learned from my climb up the Inca Trail is that you can’t go up a mountain and not come down without a revelation.  For many people it is a spiritual revelation, for others, a physical or mental revelation. The fact is the journey is yours.  When you begin, only you know what you want to accomplish.  Your experience is yours alone.  Your revelation will open your eyes to the person you really are capable of being.

Removing unrealistic fear from your life is much like hiking a mountain.  Conquering it begins with taking the first step. So find your mountain today, whatever your unrealistic fear is, and walk out of your comfort zone.  You may be in for a big surprise.