Just So…

…We have not wings, we cannot soar;
      But we have feet to scale and climb
By slow degrees, by more and more,
      The cloudy summits of our time.

The mighty pyramids of stone
      That wedge-like cleave the desert airs,
When nearer seen, and better known,
      Are but gigantic flights of stairs.

The distant mountains, that uprear
      Their solid bastions to the skies,
Are crossed by pathways, that appear
      As we to higher levels rise.

The heights by great men reached and kept
      Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
      Were toiling upward in the night.

From: The Ladder of St. Augustine by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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The poem, The Ladder of St. Augustine, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, is a reminder that nothing happens before it’s time. The old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, applies to all of us as we traverse this life. However, once a goal or dream is achieved, it will remain in the minds, hearts and eyes of those who experience it directly or indirectly. It also reminds us of our humanity. The fact that we can only operate within the limits of our capabilities and not vicariously through others. further, each person will reach their destination at different times and such a destination may be in different locales, some higher than others.

Standing on what too long we bore
      With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,
We may discern — unseen before —
      A path to higher destinies,

Nor deem the irrevocable Past
      As wholly wasted, wholly vain,
If, rising on its wrecks, at last
      To something nobler we attain.

This very motivational poem also reminds us of the need to move on from the wrecks which impede us on our journey. Instead of being buried under the rubble we must stand on them; make them our stepping stones when the path is covered by the landmines we are aware of and those we are not. To see the past, not as something to be ashamed of, but something that has provided us with the tools that we need, to navigate the uncertainty of the present and possibilities of the future.

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Outsider Triumph.

The idiomatic phrase “outside looking in”, is how most of us feel from time to time. We look and see the best that everyone has to put forward of themselves and we feel like an alien.

Many people fear being labeled an outsider, but it has it’s benefits.

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Opportunities come and go, people (friends, family members strangers), seem to take advantage of them while you remain just beyond their reach.

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Being an outsider is just a way for recognizing your unique qualities; when you do not belong among the in-crowd it means you have something special to contribute. Once you are aware of what makes you an outsider, it is up to you to use it to make some changes that will benefit others.

When people point out things about you that to you are not unusual pay attention; you might discover how unusual and thereby how rare your abilities are. No one wants to have the same things presented to them 24/7. If you want to bring something new to the table but there is no seat available for you, just build your own; people will appreciate what you have to offer and join you there.

If you find it difficult to conform to what is expected and you have an idea how something can be improved, don’t wait on anyone to give you permission, create your own lane and make people take notice until they too can see the benefit of what you have to offer.

When you are outside the accepted line, people will leave you alone to do what you would have been distracted to do. So while they are busy trying to stay inside the line, you’re thinking of ways in which you can move it to be beneficial to more persons, including you.

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Finally, as an outsider no one can define you, but you. Many may ask, who you are, what you are or what you stand for; you determine all of this and as a result earn the right to change when you see fit.

Being an outsider does not have to be lonely because you stand alone, it can be the opportunity you need to truly discover how limitless your world is for all the potential you have, waiting to be unleashed.

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Valley Season

I have a friend who is experiencing a really challenging period just now. She has been referring to this as her valley season and I really wanted to address this.

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I have often focused on getting up the mountain, but I have also recognized that once you get their invariably you may need to climb another. However, before you reach the mountain, you will need to be in the valley. I also believe that in order to get to the other mountains you have to go through the valleys in between . A climb begins on the flat and not at the top, so to conquer the various mountains waiting for us we have to accept that we have to go through the valley, which is difficult, dry and sometimes seemingly lonely – but only if we choose to go it alone.

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Yea though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil…

Psalm 23:4

One of things I really admire about my friend as she goes through this period is her faith. She jokes about it and laughs it off, but she never displays anger or frustration at what is happening. Instead she has faith that God will sustain her and strengthen her in this challenging season.

I remember that I was less optimistic in most of my valley experiences. I cried, I complained, I made bargains with God and threatened to give up. However, I was still hopeful, I still wanted to believe that God would pity me and help me. And I always came through those periods grateful. I survived all of them. Despite all my hysterics, God had seen me through.

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In those difficult times I sometimes would think about the experiences of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and the fact that they stood in the midst fiery furnace and triumphed. It is the reminder that we can conquer anything if our faith is strong and we remain true to who we are. Though they were condemned, they refused to compromise their beliefs and refused to change for anyone. When we experience our valley season we need to do the same. Being in the valley is a temporary situation, one from which we can gather much wisdom and come out on the other side, having learned a little more of how powerful we are with God’s support.

If we refuse to bow to the oppressive nature of our valley experience then we will indeed be victorious.

So the valley can teach us a lot. Maybe we need to look at it differently; it is not a place where we go to die but a place to realize how alive we are and how much we have to live for. It can teach us how to value what we have for the time we have it. Also, sometimes we are allowed to be in the valley because God is waiting to give us the best of what he has in store for us. We first have to prove that we are ready for it.

It takes courage to be in the valley; it takes faith, humility and wisdom to make your way out.

 for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23: 4
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Be Specific!

I recently had an encounter with a colleague, who asked me to pass her two rubber bands, and when I did she playfully – I hope – accused me of being too exact. I was puzzled, “isn’t this what she asked for?” She then chuckled to herself and suggested that my next blog could be about being specific about what you want.

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I have thought about this and I am sure I am not the only one who prayed or asked for something and then was disappointed when we got it!

Other times we are very proficient in telling everyone what we DO NOT want and never what we do want. Yes we are complex beings.

Yes the problem was not that we did not get what we asked for, but,we did not ask for what we truly wanted.

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Sometimes we only see the big picture and not the small details. So we want to be successful at something or in some way, but we never truly realized or were not thinking realistically about what we would have to do to get there.On the other hand, we may ask for something and once we get it we are overwhelmed because either we did not truly expect to get it, or we are in over our heads and end up messing everything up. These shortcomings can lead to failure and it is only after we have lost all, that we realize that we made a grave mistake.

There is also the situation were we ask for things because we see others with them. Then life plays a trick on us – or it could be that we were fooling ourselves all along – and we are stuck with something we weren’t ready to have or never should have had.

I think it’s time we learn to stop asking for things that will take us nowhere. Instead we need to ask for that which will get us on the path what we truly desire, by focusing on it and ignore all outside distractions.

So, whether you are praying or making a list, be sure to ask for what you truly want. You just might get more than you expect; you just might get what you were truly meant to have all along but could never dream that far ahead.

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Almost There…

Don’t live the same day over and over again and call that a life. Life is about evolving mentally, spiritually, and emotionally

― Germany Kent

It’s Friday December 13th

Where did the time go?

While many are focused on the many superstition surrounding today, I would like to remind myself that December is getting old, fast.

Just yesterday – it seems – we were welcoming December, now it’s a teenager!

But we are steadily moving along to the end of the year and many persons are looking forward to all the parties they will attend or trips they will be taking.

But we still have to remember that next year is approaching fast and whether or not we are prepared, it will be coming.

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In the middle of all the festivities and all the celebration keep in mind the need to have a plan for the coming year. It’s easy to lose focus because there are so many distractions, but in losing focus you could miss a great opportunity.

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Maybe like many of us you are at the point where you just want to make it to the new year. Well you will, just don’t stop now. You’re almost there

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Willpower.

Have you ever said to yourself: if only I had the willpower I would be so awesome, or I would be unstoppable!

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However, we deem ourselves to be a bit short on willpower and declare ourselves too lazy, unfit, not smart enough, strong enough, patient enough or generally good enough to make the sacrifices needed to get over the hump, to the other side.

The American Psychology Association notes a 2011 Stress in America Survey, where 27 percent of respondents identified a lack of willpower as a barrier to change.

I recently had a terrible time health-wise and I realized that it was because I had done everything in my power to sustain bad habits. I ate things that made me feel sick because I loved eating them and each time I told myself, this was the last time. Until the next time came around and the cycle was repeated.

The article from The American Psychology Association identified willpower as the, ability to resist short-term temptation in order to meet long term goals. But I am sure all of us at some point have given into the temptation to do something that ended up making our situation worse than what it should have been. So, where willpower is concerned we have failed from time to time. But failing to have the willpower to do or not do something should not be the thing that makes us failures.

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While many persons fail to remain disciplined while working towards a goal, remain hopeful that they will get back on track and continue to move towards it. I certainly have learned from my recent experience and I am doing everything in my power to stay the course. The greatest motivation for me is the knowledge of knowing what I could lose and the reward waiting on the other side – making poor choices is no fun.

The there is also the case where things happen that can undermine your ‘iron clad willpower’. Our mood, belief, and expectations may change and therefore undermine or improve our willpower. Also, the people we hang around may determine how committed we remain to our goals. So, basically our ability to develop and maintain our willpower can be determined by outside influences that may or may not be within our control.

The important thing to remember, is that we all have free will and willpower comes from this. Once we have the will there really is a way. It is never impossible to achieve good things, first we must know what we want and next, be determined to get it. In other words, to get what we want and to get where we want to be will take willpower and a good dose of divine influence.

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Too Much Advice!

I am sure you have heard the expression: The more the merrier. Well, too much can be a damaging thing in any situation. This is the same with advice.

Normally we want to hear the opinions of others and trust me they will give it to you and some that you neither asked for nor wanted. People love to give advice whether or not they know what they are talking about. However, if they feel they do, they will never stop. Everyday they meet you they have another juicy piece of morsel they forgot to add to the dish they gave you. Often times you end up deeply regretting that you asked.

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People will give advice based on what they know of themselves, their world and their experiences. So really the advice may not match your situation but just reveals what they know or have learned about themselves. I am not saying this is always the case, but, I am sure we all know people who are like the above.

Then you have others whom you did not ask but who gave it anyway and left you feeling insecure about something you planned to do.

Getting advice or a second and third opinion is wise but don’t take them all and run with them – I realize the irony as I give you this advise.

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Once you have gathered all those varying voices you have to decide whether you will take one or two or none. At the end of the day getting and taking advice does not have to mean you give away your power to make your own decisions. Getting advice should be about realizing your options and not being limited by someone else’s perspective. You cannot escape making a difficult decision by seeking advice, only delay it. Neither can you acquire a partner in crime, because most persons who readily give the advice that you seek are either thinking hypothetically or are happy not to be in your shoe – and they don’t want to step in it.

Also consider that the person you seek for words of wisdom, may be ‘wise’ to your situation and not their own. The point is, do not think that there is any perfect person who has it all together. Everything in life is based on trial and error, so the advice you get may not work for the situation YOU find yourself in and it may or may not have worked for that person. Yes, life is that complicated.

Also, if you don’t want the advice, give a gracious thank you and keep it moving.

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