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I’ve been thinking about daddies and daughters a lot lately; well, that’s to say, I’ve been thinking about my own father a lot lately.  My father died in 1990, and I’ve lived long enough now that he’s been gone from my life almost as long as he was in my life.  I was just shy of 30 years old when my father died, but was married and had been out in the world on my own for a number of years.  At the time, I considered myself a grown woman, but looking back, I realize how much I could’ve benefited from his wise counsel during my 30’s, 40’s and now 50’s; particularly about relationships with men.

I found out years after my father died that he had certain opinions about some of the choices I made regarding my relationship at the time.  I had no idea because he never told me.  While I won’t go into what those opinions were, let’s just say had he voiced his opinions at the time, I probably would’ve still done my thing, but his words ringing in my ears would’ve made me more aware of what I was dealing with.  Like much in life, though, we have to learn some of the really hard lessons on our own – by living through them.  Oh, and by the way, turns out his opinions about the situation were correct.

That’s not to say that Daddy never advised, he did.  He didn’t say much; so if you asked his opinion, he’d get right to the point with a few short words – and that was that! And that was all I needed.  I valued his opinion, even more so as I’ve lived; so many things he tried to teach me that I was too hardheaded to listen to at the time are now “aha” moments.

For those women whose daddies were “good” men (and this means something different to everyone) – I’m sure at some point while out there dating or looking for a husband, you compared your prospects to your dad.  Oh, to find a man who possesses the same great attributes as your father!  I didn’t realize right away that I probably should’ve been looking for a man like my father and the men who were part of my village.  After being married twice, divorced twice, I now realize all men are not the same and that there are good men out there like our old school daddies.  Most importantly, I’ve learned that whatever happened in my marriages that wasn’t what I wanted – isn’t what I should be focusing on right now.  The more I dwell on the past, the more I am blocking the blessing of the right man finding me and vice versa.

I am looking for a man like my father.  Therefore, rather than focus on what happened with any other man, my focus should be about who my father was.  The man who took care of his family, treated my mother like the Queen she was, protected us, knew and loved God, was a leader, made decisions that involved the family and not just him, worked hard but spent genuine quality time with us when he was able and was funny, kind and loving.

I am by no means into checking off a long and rigid laundry list of standards for a man.  I have no misconceptions about marriage, I know marriages and relationships are hard work.  I know being in love with someone is no happily-ever-after fairy tale kind of thing.  But, you know what?  Because of what I know and the fact that I’m already single and on my own, I don’t have a problem taking the time to look for – and wait for – this man I’m talking about who is out there for me.  And with what I now can see clearly about my father through my grown woman eyes, I will already know the answer he would have for me when I ask, “Hey Daddy, is he the one?”

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It seems in life we are always trying to prove ourselves worthy. We let our flaws, downfalls, mistakes, etc. keep us from being vulnerable and stop us from standing in our own truth because we feel we may be judged or deemed less meritorious.

Recently, I listened to a World War II survivor speak about a mission during the war in which all of his comrades died in an attack and left him as the lone survivor. Since that day many years ago, he suffered from survivor’s remorse. It left him wondering “Why me?” He began to believe that being spared meant his life was no longer his own; that he had to prove he was worthy of being spared.  His solution: he began a life of service, and each time he served the community in any capacity, it made him feel good.  But he still never really felt “worthy.”

I don’t know about you, but it’s the idea that I’m not measuring up that gets me. I’m constantly worrying and wondering and feeling like I am failing because everywhere I look, everyone else seems to be thriving.” – from Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Year of Yes has become one of my very favorite books. If you’re not familiar or haven’t read it, the book chronicles how writer and television producer Shonda Rhimes began to say yes and how it changed her life. In the passage above, do you see what she did there? In seeking a level of worthiness for herself, she was so busy looking at what others were doing, she neglected to find the worthiness she sought right there inside of herself.

It’s not in our deeds or in measuring ourselves against others that proves us worthy.  We are the ones who should be telling ourselves we are worthy. As divine beings, we are already worthy and enough in God’s eyes.  It would be a shame not to acknowledge what the grand maker of the entire world already knows about us.

 

 

 

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Congresswoman Maxine Waters (Auntie Maxine to some) was recently awarded the NAACP Chairman’s award during the 50th NAACP Image Awards.  The tagline of her acceptance speech was “I have the gavel and I’m not afraid to use it”.  This powerful phrase refers to her prestigious position of being the first woman and first African American to chair the U.S. House Financial Services Committee.  Throughout her speech, she explained how she is able to use her gavel to make a difference.

The gavel is a small object made of wood – a miniature replica of a hammer.  When a judge or someone in charge of proceedings raps the gavel on a marble surface, it is symbolic gesture that he or she is taking control or order.  Most importantly, it is also used to confirm an action; the finality of that some enactment is written in stone.

Each of us has a purpose to fulfill in life.  Each of us were born with a gift, talent, passion or just something we are good at – it is inside of us just waiting to be discovered.  That is your “gavel”.  Your “gavel” may be your ability to write an inspirational blog or book.  Your “gavel” is the talent you mix into delicious cakes you bake that brighten someone’s birthday or special occasion.  Your “gavel” may be the care and healing you give to others in your career as a doctor or nurse.  Your “gavel” is used in the nonprofit organization you founded to assist in some worthy cause.  With each tap of your “gavel”, you make a difference using what God has given you.

Many of us discover early in life what our gavel is, some may not discover theirs until later – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong with knowing what it is and sitting on it; not sharing it with the world.  It’s like purchasing a beautiful gift you know a friend or family member will love – but you never give it to them.

Take the time to discover what your gifts and talents are and cultivate them.  If you already know what they are, use them!  Present them to the world!  There’s a quote by Cicero that says “Not for ourselves alone are we born.” Although your gifts and talents exist for your personal good, isn’t even greater to use them for someone else’s good?

What is your gavel and are you afraid to use it?

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It is always a pleasure to feature a fellow blogger!  Blaine Ochoa created Beauty with Blaine, a blog which focuses on highlighting people in the health, fitness, and beauty industry in Houston and surrounding areas.  She’s been featured in a number of magazines in the Houston, Texas area, and was featured on the news in Beaumont, TX.  Read more about Beauty with Blaine on the Chronicles Too! website (link below)!

https://cls-volunteer.org/ChroniclesToo/blaine-ochoa/

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“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lord

Usually when you think about a revolution, you think about a war or fighting against someone or something.  A revolution can also be a highly personal thing – you decide you’re going to make a change, but it’s going to take a Radical Act of God to get you out of that thing you’re in.  Toxic relationships, overeating, partaking of too much alcohol, self-deprecating behavior, a smoking habit; whatever it is that holds you hostage, you know you’ve got to muster up the courage and fight to break free.

I quit smoking in 1996 after having a nicotine addiction for 15 years; I did it cold turkey.  I never used a patch or hypnosis or any of those methods; it was my thought that those things only distracted you from smoking and didn’t actually break the chain of addiction.  I learned through my own research that if you ignore a nicotine craving for 10 minutes without succumbing to it, it will go away.  It will come back, but it certainly does go away; this I know from personal experience.  I also learned, through my own behavior, if I deprive myself of something, panic will set in and I’ll lose control.

So, in setting out to quit smoking on my own, I knew I had to have a plan.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  I knew depriving myself of smoking, without help, was going to send me into a frenzy above and beyond withdrawal.  I put an unopened pack of cigarettes in my kitchen drawer and told myself if I really wanted a cigarette, the pack was right there at my reach.  But I had to wait 11 minutes before going to the drawer.  I’m happy to say I went to the drawer only once; I opened the pack and lit one up and it was horrible!  

Admittedly, when all of this finally seemed successful, during a stressful period about a year later, I began smoking again.  But, I didn’t beat myself up about it, I simply redirected and never turned back.  We will rise, and we will fall, but it’s all well within the flow.

Fast forward to the present – after a recent doctor visit, I realized how truly fed up I was about my weight.  I weigh more now than I ever have, including when I was pregnant!  I knew that once again, I’d have to take matters in my own hands.  There is no magic pill or tea or potion – anything in that category is simply an aidYou have to do the work!

I once read that sugar is as addictive as cocaine, and let me tell you, I was deep in the throes of a sugar addiction.  I knew the only way to stop was to do just that – stop.  But I was scared and I knew it was going to be difficult.  Then I remembered how I quit smoking and how I found the strength – through prayer, talking to myself and others – and realized it was time to go that route once again.  I knew I would have to fight – the cravings, the desire, the temptations.  I took my earrings off, smeared my face with Vaseline and got ready to put my dukes up – and the revolution began.  I am happy to say I’m a month into my journey and I feel so much better for it – I’ve lost five pounds!  I’m on my way – one day at a time.

Have I had a piece of cake?  Yes!  But after I enjoyed it with a smile, I went back to my plan, knowing that I will slip up, yet giving myself permission to do so.  This has worked for me thus far, and I know there are some who will say you should never slip up; should never have a cupcake here or a cookie there.  But I know me – if I don’t let myself have a little, I’ll eat a whole cake!  Ha!

Most importantly, whenever I take one step forward and two steps back, I’m gentle with myself.  I remind myself from whence I came and what I’ve done – with strength!  The road from here to there is not a straight line; there are starts and stops and zigzags…but as long as you stay the course, you’ll get there!  You and I both have a well of inner strength we have yet to tap into!  Lower your well bucket in and get some!  You’ve got to get your mind wrapped around the fact that when you don’t do what you know you need to, you’re the only one standing in your way!  And you’ve got to do it today; tomorrow is not promised!

Self-care is a revolution; those demons are not going to go away on their own, it takes an act of rebellion to slay them!  Don your armor, put on those boxing gloves, button the Superwoman cape around your neck and go to war!

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“I wanted to blog about overcoming my day-to-day life and still being fabulous and to communicate with people who might be in the same boat as me.”  After becoming an empty-nester, Wendy sought something personally fulfilling to add to her life – and her blog Dressing for Me was born!  She’s worked with top brands such as Winky Lux, Goodwill and Le Creuset.  She has a passion for fashion and was featured in Instyle Magazine and Buzzfeed.  She is also the founder of 365 Dresses. Read all about fashion blogger Wendy Derilus-Joseph on her Chronicles Too! feature; link below!

Wendy Derilus-Joseph

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A while ago, I was in the break room at work, toasting a couple of slices of blueberry lemon bread for breakfast.  While waiting for the slices to toast, I figured I’d do some important multi-tasking –and began checking my social media.  After scrolling a few minutes longer than I intended, I remembered my toast!  I pressed the button to force-pop my toast and lo and behold…it was slightly burnt.  After saying a few spicy words over my roasted toast, I turned to throw the slices in the trash and…I heard my mother’s voice – clear as a bell – “Don’t throw that good toast away!  Scrape the burnt part off with your knife and eat it!”  Well, you know we always obey our mamas, even if they’re in Heaven, so I did exactly that.  And you know what?  That toast was delicious!  Underneath the burnt surface, it was perfect.

Isn’t that the way with a lot of situations in life?  You meet a new him/her who could potentially be your match made in Heaven…but you discover there is hair growing out of their ears…so you turn up your nose and throw away the WHOLE soulmate!  Honey, that’s good toast!  Take them (with love) to the local spa/esthetician and teach them to wax that hair out of their ears.  And guess what?  Voilà! You’ve got perfectly good toast!

People who have known me for a while are always shocked and amazed that I’m still driving the same car after 11 years.  That car is good toast!  No car payments!  It’s got a dent here and a ding there — but then again, so do I – which means I’m good toast too!

Everyone and everything has a flaw here and there.  Can you live with it?  Can it be fixed or changed?  Of course, I’m not talking about asking someone to change their entire personality – that’s something you should never do.  Just don’t throw away someone or something if there’s a jewel underneath that could add value to you and your life.  Especially if you look down deep and find you only need to scrape off a little burnt surface.

Moral of the story: Don’t throw away good toast!

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“Love yourself enough to be able to say yes or no.” – Susan Gregg
I think I’ve finally arrived at the place where I am very comfortable doing (or not doing) whatever I feel!!
In the past, I’ve gotten myself into some real jams in the pursuit of “going along to get along.” Now, I am saying yes when I mean yes and no when I mean no, and I must say, it is quite liberating.  It definitely keeps down the level of stress, pressure and drama when your response honors you.
One of my favorite books is Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.  There were so many nuggets of knowledge in her story that carved a new path for me.  Saying yes means saying yes to yourself, but sometimes it means saying no to others.  Her story took me a long way in validating my own feelings and doing only the things that are asked of me that I have time for, that I feel capable of, and that I want to do.  If you haven’t read her book, I highly recommend it, especially if you can’t seem to bring yourself to say yes to you.
A “no” response is a full and complete sentence (period!).  To explain, or apologize for a “no” response means you aren’t secure with your stance, or that you owe an explanation for your response.  When your answer is no, it’s just no – and “maybe” is never a substitution for no!  Ha!  Ahhh, the freedom!
And the absolute beauty is, there are no worries about what others will think or say about it. Being authentic rocks!!
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“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” – Hans Christian Anderson

As most of you know, I am a member of Classy Living Society, which is a national women’s community service organization.  This past weekend I, along with several other members and CLS Founder LaShanda Pitts, went to Tampa, Florida to sisterhood bond with Tampa members.  As part of the MLK Weekend of Giving, we went on a community service mission to Random Acts of Flowers, located in Dunedin, Florida.  RAOF is an organization that uses recycled flowers, vases, ribbons and a few good volunteers in a community outreach of the most beautiful kind – improving the health and well-being of individuals in healthcare facilities by delivering fresh bouquets, encouragement and kind words.

With the help of the friendly ladies at RAOF, CLS members selected vases, flowers, greenery, ribbons and other decor and crafted beautiful bouquets, each with our own personal touch.  It was so much fun!  RAOF loaded the 76 bouquets we completed onto their van and together we delivered the bouquets to Atria Senior Living.  Atria Senior living houses seniors who are active, require assisted living and are in hospice care.  We walked through the halls of Atria, delivering flowers, kind words and warm-hearted smiles…but not one of our smiles could have ever matched the smiles we received from each senior (including the men!) who received an unexpected bouquet from us.

I love flowers, don’t you?  The soft feel of the petals, the different hues, fragrances, shapes and sizes – ahh-mazing! It is said that flowers have healing powers; and I suppose that’s the reason why they are the No. 1 well-received gift at hospitals.  I’d like to believe that, by our surprise gift of flowers, we provided a bit of healing to someone that day.  I’d like to believe that, if we were the only outside visitor someone received in days, that our visit provided an emotional and mental boost.  I’d like to think that some cute little old lady pressed one of the flowers between the pages of her Bible, so that each time she looks at it, it reminds her of the lovely ladies of CLS who visited her one day.

My mother used to always say “give me my flowers while I am alive” whenever we gave her flowers.  I always thought it was a pretty profound statement, since we always seem to inundate people with flowers when they are sick or have passed over to the other side.  The phrase comes from a gospel song of the same name and the lyrics say “give me my flowers while I yet live so I can see the beauty they bring.”  I’d like to believe that if no one else ever gave flowers to the people of Atria Senior Living, we are the ones who gave them their flowers while they yet live.

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You begin your day serial snoozing your ringing alarm and now you’re late!  So you jump out bed, half asleep, and hit the floor running, frantically making a pass through the shower, rushing around the house and finally jumping in the car to drive to work through snarled traffic that really sends you over the edge.  You arrive to work exhausted, angry and frustrated…  That used to be me. But I changed all that.
I began to spend 15 minutes, right after I open my eyes, sitting quietly and becoming present in the world.  I pray, meditate, read Bible passages, or affirmations.  I celebrate that God has opened my eyes once again to see another day.  I take a breath in the quiet of a new morning to center myself in peace.  And that 15 minutes made all the difference in the world…as a matter of fact, I’d venture to say it changed my life.
To be sure, it takes making a conscious choice to leave morning mania behind to achieve it.  You may have to rise 15 minutes earlier to incorporate your new session into your morning, but trust me, it is a worthwhile investment.  Spending time with God (and myself) for a brief period before I brush my teeth or take a shower, or read emails, or ANYTHING truly grounds me.  Taking time to be grateful, or telling myself “You’ve got this, girl!” sets the tone for how the day will go – no matter what happens after that!
Think about the power of covering yourself in peace and mindfulness before anything else.  In making sure you’ve fed your gratefulness before you drink your coffee.  Self-talk and talk to God, being quiet enough to listen to what God wants you to hear and what He wants you to do  has infinite power over your ability to think positive thoughts!
Positive thinking requires self-talk.  It requires that you say positive affirmations to yourself, and sometimes you have to say them aloud.  When you have a negative thought, whether it’s about yourself or something else, go ahead and have the thought!  Let it pass right by…but immediately after, remind yourself through self-talk that the negativity has no place in your mind or your soul.  It’s a practice – success doesn’t come overnight!  You’ll have to remind yourself each and every time – the same way you talk yourself out of a cupcake or chocolate chip cookie when you know you’re on a diet.  Don’t you have to do that more than once?  I know I do, sometimes many times a day!  It’s the same with positive thinking – it requires consistent and intentional self-talk.
Tomorrow morning, set your alarm 15 minutes ahead of your usual waking time.  No matter how difficult it is, do not press the snooze button.  Do not lay there to sleep 5 more minutes, because, let’s face it – there’s really no such thing as 5 more minutes of sleep!  Get up and go to a quiet place in your house – even the bathroom – somewhere where you will not be disturbed.  Light a candle, play spiritual or meditative music, and immerse yourself in meditation, deep thought, prayer, whatever YOU call it.  Read affirmations – there are ton of daily affirmation books that will do the trick.  One of my favorites is Acts of Faith: Daily Meditations for People of Color, by Iyanla Van Zant, which contains 365 days of affirmative passages and quotes.  Get a chalkboard for your space, and write affirmations on it – for example “I Am Beautiful,” or “I Am Enough” to speak aloud to yourself.  Download an app on your mobile device that contains daily Bible verses.  Create a list of things you are grateful for and add to it or re-read it each day.
No matter the method you choose, the key is to enjoy a period of time, before the hustle and bustle of the day begins, to honor your Higher Power and yourself by doing something that brings you peace and personal fulfillment.  Fill yourself with positive energy, and I guarantee that it will set the tone for the rest of the day.  However the magic spell is created – Law of Attraction, or a superpower cape you’ve symbolically draped over your shoulders, or just God’s infinite grace – in time you’ll find this practice will change your life too.
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Welcome to the NEW Classy Chronicles!

Formerly, the Classy Chronicles was the official online digital magazine of Classy Living Society. The newly revamped Classy Chronicles is now a platform housed on the Classy Living Society website! Through easy-to-navigate dropdown menus, the Classy Chronicles provides an outlet to many subjects of interest at the click of a mouse – articles and features that highlight people who are doing amazing things in the community, health and wellness, work-life balance, beauty and fashion and more!

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