#Faith

It’s OK to not be OK.

I posted this phrase on my Instagram profile last week.  It wasn’t the first time I saw it and it wasn’t the first time I posted it on social media.  Or said it to someone who needed to hear it.  But I felt it was just right for the time – once again.

In the wake of the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and his beautiful daughter GiGi, many people wondered why they felt such grief and heartbreak over people they didn’t know.  And I’m here to tell you – despite what others may say or think, it’s OK to feel what you feel – period!

It’s OK…

If you feel sadness or grief over the loss of people you don’t know.  If you don’t react to situations the same way other people think you should.  If your show of strength doesn’t match that of the other “strong” people in your midst.  If your modus operandi is to whine and have a pity party before you get up and dust yourself off to march on.  If you choose to go inward for self-reflection after a broken relationship instead of starting the next new one.  If you constantly hear, “why can’t you be more like [fill in the blank of that person you’re compared to] and handle it their way?”  If you’re being told it is selfish to acknowledge how you feel first even though you know deep down inside that it’s okay to put yourself first.

There’s nothing in the book of life that says you always have to be strong.  Or that you can’t ask for help without judgment or pause or desire someone to be there and simply say “I got you!”  And they really do…  

So, for whomever needs to hear this…go ahead and cry, kick and scream or just sit in the silence of your deep thoughts.  It’s OK to not be OK.

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I read with interest this past week that Prince Harry and his beautiful bride Meghan will no longer be known as “royal highnesses.”  My first thought was that while it may be difficult to adjust to not being known as something you’re used to being called (especially in Prince Harry’s case), it’s a step in the right direction in their plan to step away from life with the royal family.  Seemingly never one to conform to societal norms since he was a youngster, this is probably right up Prince Harry’s alley.

I began to think about the many titles we gain and lose in our lives and how the change in status can affect our lifestyles.  For instance, when a woman gets a divorce, she is no longer a “Mrs.” – and losing the title may symbolize a desired freedom.  For other women, it may be the beginning of a long hard adjustment not being known as Mrs. “___” anymore.  Even if you want the divorce, it’s difficult to adjust to not being a Mrs. after a number of years.  In my case, I got married the first time at age 24, was married for about 10 years, divorced, got married again at age 39, and divorced 13 years later.  I’ve been a Mrs. half of my existence, and each time I lost my title, I was thrust into a situation where I had to renew myself.  No doubt a big adjustment; yet growth as well.

Whether or not the situation is planned, now is the time to forge a new life, and such is the case with Harry and Meghan.  No matter what title you hold, no matter how many degrees you’ve earned or how many movies you’ve starred in – you are still you.  A title doesn’t define who the Divine Creator formed you to be.  Nor does it define your character, integrity, level of self-esteem and so on – you are still you.  The growth in losing a title or status comes in because you don’t have it to hide behind anymore.  The ego is being challenged and you are forced to face the new you, in whatever capacity it comes. The same can be said for a title you gain or currently hold – it acknowledges recognition for your accomplishment – but it does not designate who you are at your core.

As Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  You could call a rose a potato…but won’t it still be a fragrant little spud?  It matters not whether Harry and Meghan – or you or me – are known by certain titles.  What matters is the genuineness of our hearts and that we acknowledge and know who we are.

 

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And just like that…we have both feet into the New Year 2020!

What are some of the goals you’d like to accomplish or press the start button on this year?  Do you know what tools you’ll need to succeed? There are a ton of books, websites, videos, podcasts and all that can help you reach your goals, but no matter what information you choose to digest…the real success begins with you.  You are the one who will make yourself a winner!

The Best Possible Self Technique

I’ve been reading about a mental/emotional exercise called “Best Possible Self” – which is a technique to bring about positive thinking.  This is how it works: visualize yourself virtually problem-free and living your dream life at some point in the future, i.e. one year, five years and so on.  Take some time thinking about where you’d like to be in your life by that time and jot down the particulars in a journal. Your visualization needs to be realistic, something you know you can achieve, even if it requires a little work.

The next step is to write down all of the necessary things you need to do to get there — traits you need to adopt or knowledge you need to acquire.  What plans do you need to make to make your dream/goal a reality? At the bottom line, the Best Possible Self exercise allows you to visualize where you’d like to be, make plans to get there, but more importantly, it gives you something to look forward to today, increasing your present level of happiness, hope and well-being.  It also aids in eradicating “rearview mirror” thinking, which is the act of dwelling on past failures, situations and people.  Dwelling on the past will hold you back from forward movement.

The Art of Visualization

Following the Best Possible Self technique is similar to creating a vision board, a popular visualization tool for children and adults alike.  What better pass time at the first of the year to put your dreams and goals into clear focus than to create a collage of cut-out pictures, photos and words?  It’s even more exciting to look back on past vision boards to see what dreams have come to fruition for you. Have you ever created a vision board?

I rely heavily on visualization in my life – for instance, if I’m purchasing a home, I have to stand in the home and visualize myself living there, or else it’s not the home for me.  Visuals and instinct have rescued me from some serious situations, has helped me make decisions, and reassured me “it’s already alright” when my faith was diminishing.

Whether you use the Best Possible Self method of journaling, creating a vision board or relying day-to-day on the dreams and visions that swim around in your head – when you see things clearly in the future, much of what you visualize will materialize.  In these changing times, hope for your own future is just a daydream away.

“Visualize the most amazing life imaginable to you. Close your eyes and see it clearly. Then hold the vision for as long as you can. Now place the vision in God’s hands and consider it done.” Marianne Williamson

 

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A few years ago, I found myself caught up in a relationship that I really shouldn’t have been in.  I had clearly overstayed my welcome in what was merely temporary, yet, I continued to linger.  In hindsight, even though I knew it wasn’t for me, I kept trying to make it work.  At the time, I confided in a good friend about my situation and her words still resonate with me: she doesn’t hang around in a situation that clearly isn’t good for her; if for no other reason than she’s excited to see what God has in store for her next.

What is your cue that tells you it’s time to make a move?  Whether it’s a relationship, job, lifestyle, friendship…when do you know it’s time to let go of it?  Here are 3 points of view I’ve adopted about the divine process of making a change:

Number One:  What doesn’t happen for you is as much divine providence as what does happen for you.  Have you ever looked back and rejoiced because an opportunity you thought was a good one didn’t work out?

Number Two:  Know that when your heart and spirit isn’t into where you currently are, it’s okay to be there, but it’s not okay to stay there. Just the knowledge alone that you aren’t always meant to stay where you are is the first step to where God is leading you next.

Number Three:  When you’ve outgrown the space you’re in, you will feel so uncomfortable!  You will feel restless and experience an undeniable stirring in your spirit.  Don’t ignore it.  Listen to the small still voice inside.  And then start packing, baby…because you’re on your way to your next adventure!

Until you stop holding tightly in your closed fists what isn’t for you, you will not be able to receive what’s supposed to be for you.  Let it go!  Open your hands, release the pebbles and receive your diamonds!  Be excited to see what God has in store for you next.

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“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

Most women I know LOVE roses – red, white, yellow, pink, orange or even rainbow – a rose of any color is so beautiful!  Alas, they’re difficult to handle because of the thorns!  Thorns grow from rose stems to prevent being harmed or eaten by animals; they’re a defense mechanism.  Yet, they’re so beautiful, we humans risk getting our fingers pricked because we love their color and fragrance.

Thorns.  The same difficulty we experience while handling roses can also be attributed to the problems we experience with a “thorn in our side.”

There’s a Bible verse in which Paul talks about being kept humble by God placing a thorn in his side. What’s your thorn? We all have them – be it finances, a bad knee, a wayward child, a dysfunctional family or other relationship – it’s a chronic problem or annoyance and normally someone or something we can’t avoid.

So what do we do? We can give in to the annoyance and let it plague our days and steal our joy. Or we can try to look at it in a different light (especially since it’s not going to go away just like that). The thorn in our side reminds us that we aren’t always as strong as we think we are.  It will make us put on on our thinking caps to figure out a better way to handle it. It falls within the realm of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  And I ain’t dead yet!

I’ve had a few thorn-in-my-side trials in my life, I believe they are a part of the flow of life.  There was a period when I allowed myself to be placed under the thumb of a difficult person, my strategy was to “go along to get along.”  The experience pushed me to a place where I had to re-think the way I view people and how difficult, but necessary, it is to walk in love and forgive. Easier said than done and at times I found myself cussing like a sailor about it.  In the end, I just gave it away to God – with the acknowledgment that I could not handle it on my own.  Did the problem (poof!) go away?  Nope – but I learned that to walk in love also means I should honor myself in such situations with difficult people.  Yes, I learned many valuable lifelong lessons through the experience, not to mention increased faith.  We are often placed in positions when we have to rely on faith; when we have to give up trying to handle it our way and listen to what God has to say.

So – your thorn? Whatever yours is, find a way to lighten the burden – it’s not something a mere mortal should tackle.

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