encouragement

Kick Fear Now and Choose Life

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Have you ever felt like you just are just existing?

Do you know what I mean?

You feel that you have no goals, dreams or ambitions.

Your life lacks motivation.  You see no sense in going on.  In fact, the future looks pretty bleak from where you are standing.

Many people feel this way after experiencing a devastating loss.  The loss of a loved one – a spouse, child, parent, sibling, close friend, partner – can leave you so numbed that you can’t do anything.

What now?  Who will be there for you?  The one person, that filled a big place in your life, has suddenly gone.

Any type of loss is overwhelming.  The fear of living again almost always follows that loss.  Days, weeks, months, and even years go by and you just can’t find the willpower to get back to the act of living.

Yet, live you must, even if only one day at a time.

You have to find the determination that moves you forward to your future.  Your loved one’s greatest request is that you carry on living.  It is not easy, but you can be happy again.  You can have dreams.  You can set goals and you can pursue high ambitions.  Even if you never fully accomplish them, they will allow you to feel again.

To get you on the process of being again, find like-minded people who have also experienced loss of someone close.  Find a group that you feel comfortable with and start to attend their gathering.  If a group does not work for you then find one or two close friends to share with.  There is nothing more comforting than sharing stories and communicating your feelings to get you through the grieving process.

When you are ready move on to the next process of doing something that reminds you the world has not stopped turning.  This could be something small like going for a walk, attending a social function, or reviving a “put on the back burner” hobby.  It could be something big, like learning something new or going someplace different.

The key is to keep the momentum going.  Don’t stay stagnant and whatever you do don’t lock yourself away.

Cherish the memory of your loved one by living your life, to the fullest, one day at a time.

You are not forgetting them.  Rather, you are choosing to embrace life for you — and for them.

Kick Fear Now and choose life.

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.

In the Face of Adversity are Windows of Opportunity

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“There is a window that is now open to you. All the gloom, despair, sadness, and other things that are negative will not be available in this window because you made the choice not to let them in.” ~ Sheila Lee

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I met Sheila Lee at the National Black Book Festival that I attended in Houston, Texas during November.  It was her voice that caught my attention as I listened to her speaking to another author alongside of me.  It was so soothing and calm.  As she spoke, I felt this was a woman at peace with herself and not only that, but she must bring joy to those people who often hear her voice.  It was not until the following day, when I attend her workshop, that I heard her story and realized that Sheila’s peace had come with a great price.

Sheila Lee was 34 years old when her husband of 11 years committed suicide.  She was devastated.  The man who she had planned to spend the rest of her life with had left her alone with a 10 year old child to raise by herself.  Despite the fact that this man, that she had loved so much, had abused her mentally and physically throughout their entire marriage, she was grief-stricken.

It would take time, but eventually Sheila would realize she had been released from a relationship that could easily have seen her being the one ending up dead.  She laughs about it now, but she told us that many times she proudly professed that she would “die for him.”  That’s how much she loved him.

Sheila has penned the book, Window Hood Not Widow Hood.  She wrote the book to give encouragement and hope to others who may have experienced a devastating loss such as hers.  She realized that there are windows of opportunity to be found in the face of adversity, you just have to get past the hurt to see them.

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Sheila kicked fear to the curb in her own way.  With perseverance, determination, and patience, she took one action step after another. It was hard work.  Nevertheless, with time and the positive attitude that she possesses, she felt it was important to share her story.  I for one am glad she has.

Today, along with the message in her books, Sheila gives comfort and solace to those who listen to her radio program “Morning Joy.”  If you want to can catch Sheila’s soothingly, pleasant voice just listen to WRVS 89.9 FM, Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. – 9 a.m.  It is a great way to begin your day.

Sheila is currently running the Morning Joy Book Nook Marathon. From December 2 through December 13 she will be interviewing more than 30 authors to discuss their books and the reason why they wrote them as well as give some words of encouragement to the listeners.   On Thursday, December 12, 2013, 8:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m., EST, I will have the pleasure of being interviewed by Sheila.  The highlight of the Book Nook Marathon is the free gift pack of books from the many authors.  There will be 12 winners of a drawing being held during the same dates.   What a great Christmas gift.

Sheila will be streaming and the interviews can be heard at www.ecsu.edu/wrvs or tunein.com on a lap top, desk top or tablet. Try to listen in and let me know if you were a winner.

When Setbacks Come, What Will You Do?

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“Our circumstances can either take us under, or we can fight and rise above everything and everybody that attempts to hold us down.”
                                                      Jonathan C. Johnson, A Fighting Chance

Last weekend I had the pleasure of hanging out with some wonderful authors at the National Black Book Festival in Houston, Texas.  As a first time author I knew I was stepping into a new environment and was a little bit apprehensive.  Needless to say that fear was soon kicked out the way so that excitement and enjoyment could take its place.

I was amazed at the different stories that each person told as to why they decided to write and get their story published.  I was truly inspired by the courage they used to put it all down in order that others who are facing, or have faced similar experiences, can find strength and determination to go through the challenge and live their life to the fullest.

One such author was Jonathan C. Johnson, a humble, quiet, young man who has overcome so many obstacles from birth all the way through his teen years.

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Born to a 15 year old mother, he was conceived through rape. Due to a head injury, he was quickly taken from her at six months old by Children’s Protective Services.  Placed in a foster home, he was not the perfect adoption candidate.  He was considered to be “slow” with a head and feet that were larger than normal for a baby of his age.  Thankfully, he had a foster mother and foster siblings that loved him.

It was this love that made his foster mother tell her friend, who was looking to adopt a child, about the little boy.  It was love that made the friend want to take him as her own.  Despite the adoption agency telling her the child was not a “good fit”, she did not stop until she adopted her little boy.

Time would fly as the little boy grew in his new home, but soon illness would come and disrupt everything.  First, a heart murmur, then breathing problems and finally chronic kidney failure.  All before he had reached the age of fifteen.  Here’s what he said.

“While my classmates were out having fun, I was at home thinking of ways to improve my situation.  When you’re faced with a life-changing situation, it’s on you to sink or swim.  I decided to swim as hard and as fast as I could.”  Jonathan C. Johnson.

I’m going to stop here because I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment of the rest of the story.

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Jonathan’s story is told in his book, “A Fighting Chance.”  It is a story of strength and courage that everyone should read. He also continues to encourage and inspire through his tweets at Kidney Kronicles.

I was so inspired by his book that I invited him to do a guest blog.  He graciously said that he would.  I know you will enjoy his post next week.

In the coming days I will tell you of other writers I met who chose to use their life story to inspire others. Instead of letting their setbacks and struggles leave them fearful, they chose to share and give hope to others. I believe that each one of them faced their fears and kicked it in their own way.  I hope their stories will help you too.

Kick Fear to the Curb – The Book

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September and the first part of October has found me at that anticlimactic stage where I have finished a project, but the overwhelming feeling of joy and satisfaction at having completed something significant, to me at least, just hasn’t arrived. The years of research and writing, proofing and editing, honing and fine-tuning has ended.  I don’t know how many hands it has gone through, nor the amount of eyes that have reviewed and scrutinized, constructively criticized and painstakingly commented.  It just feels like a lot.  I’ve cut and omitted, put down and picked up, wrote and re-wrote, taken out and put back in.  Finally, with much coaxing and persuading, I realized it was time to let my baby go.

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Writing my first book, Kick Fear to the Curb: 5 Action Steps for a Courageous You, was no easy task.  Nevertheless, it was a goal I set and I was not going to stop until I had accomplished it.  It was a labor of love from me to my audience.  It was a topic that needed to be addressed because too many of us have allowed unrealistic fear to stop us from living life — a full, rich, successful life.

In a world that is filled with so much fear, doubt, and uncertainty about the future, it is easy to become discouraged.  Yet, we need courage to live this life.  Furthermore, that courage has to be built up and constantly maintained.  This is why I wrote the book, to encourage you to take action, even if only small steps.  Fear should not be hovering over your life, holding you back from stepping into your desired future.  It’s time to put unrealistic fear right where it belongs, under your feet.

During the time of writing the book that will get you to Kick Fear Now, I learned a new language, traveled to exotic places, met new people, developed friendships, climbed several mountains, earned a Masters degree in Emergency Management and more than anything else, learned how to harness the power I have within me to keep unrealistic fear where it rightly belongs.  In other words, I found courage to be me.

Now, my mission is to get this book into your hands so that you can find the courage to be you, the vibrant, fearless, courageous you. If I can encourage you to stop being discouraged and allow your courage to propel you into the unknown then my mission will be accomplished.

I want you to Kick Fear and I will help you to do it – NOW.

Don’t Be Afraid to Aim for the Top

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When you feel small, insignificant, and vulnerable, the place you want to get to may seem far out of your reach.  You may think your goals are lofty and you have your sights set too high.  But rest assured this is not the case.  Don’t be afraid to aim for the top.  Instead, plan for the journey by making ample preparation.

First, have a clear idea of what it is you are trying to accomplish.  Second, map out your plan of action into bite size, doable, action steps.  Third, tackle each action step until you have successfully completed the task.  Once this is done move onto the next action step.

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Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck along the way.  Sometimes, when trying to accomplish something with great effort, you realize you cannot do it on your own.  All of us can use a little guidance or direction along the way.  The stumbling block can be passed if someone who knows the territory and has been there before comes and gives you a hand.

The path ahead of you is an amazing and awesome one. It will require all of your focus, energy, and strength. Whatever you do, don’t give up, don’t drop out, and most of all, don’t stop.

Kick Fear Now! The view at the top is too spectacular to miss out on.

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Photographs courtesy of Adrian Edwards #Just1Thought

Decisions, Decisions

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“Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

There is a story in the Bible about four men who suffered from leprosy, a slowly progressing, incurable skin disease. Because they were lepers these men were ostracized and separated from the rest of society. Furthermore, they had to wear mourning clothes, leave their hair disheveled, and keep their beards covered.

As they moved about the place those with leprosy had to cry out “Unclean, Unclean!” so that people could keep away from them. Any contact with a leper defiled the person who touched him. These four lepers were confined to the outskirts of the City of Samaria, away from its citizens. They could be seen standing outside the city gate, no doubt begging for something to eat.

During this time we are told, the city was under siege by an enemy army. The longevity of the situation had caused the city to experience a great famine. In fact, the city had been locked down for so long that people were resorting to selling their children for food. The lepers knew that their chances for survival were slim. They looked at their situation and knew that without food they would soon die.

Alternative 1 – There was no food in the city. Staying put meant eventual death by starvation.

Alternative 2 – The city was on lockdown. No one went in and no one could get out. Staying where they were, outside the city, was pointless. They would definitely starve to death there.

Alternative 3 – Go where they knew there was food in abundance. Take a chance on the Arameans having pity on them by throwing them a few scraps; it was certainly worth a try. The benefit far outweighed the risk. The worst that could happen was death.

“Once a decision is reached, act!”  Dale Carnegie

This decision was not an easy one to make for the four lepers. The risks were high. Nevertheless, they weighed the alternatives, none of which were by any means palatable, and made a decision. They decided to take action despite their circumstances. It took a lot of courage, but their need for survival pushed them to face their fear of death.

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson.

When fear and doubt are in control, every situation that requires change will automatically trigger a flight or fight response.  Fear does not know the difference between reality and perception, but you do.  Your job is to look at what is in front of you and assess the situation.  Think of all the possible outcomes before deciding whether to run or stay and fight.  Remember, a decision will always be made, even if that decision to do nothing.

As for those four men, well, the story tells us that they did reach the enemy camp and to their surprise they found it deserted of people. Instead, they found food to eat, clothes to wear, and lots of other valuables. Their bold move set in motion a chain reaction that allowed them to have a good outcome.  Now, its your turn to Kick Fear Now.