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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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The trouble is, you think you have time.” – Jack Kornfield

In many of my posts, I will talk about my mother.  Mommy passed away at 90 years of age in April 2017.  In the days following her death, I spoke with numerous relatives and friends who told me great stories about my mother, and to be honest, I came to know her a little better because of it.
As the years progressed from my childhood into my young adulthood, my mother shared stories about herself, some humorous, some shocking – but listening to the stories made me realize that my mother was human.  She had fears, she had flaws, she had victories, she had strengths.  Many of us grow up viewing our parents as superhuman and immortal (or at least that’s how I viewed my parents), and I think that notion is part of the explanation why it was so devastating to me when they each passed away.
I listened to an Oprah Masterclass podcast (if you haven’t listened to any of these, you really must!) – wherein she spoke with singer/actress Vanessa Williams.  Vanessa said she’s always been open and candid with her children about her past and told the type of stories about herself most people don’t tell their children.  Her philosophy is by sharing  her experiences and what she learned from them, her children will also learn from them and/or make better informed decisions.  She is also convinced that being candid with her children helped them to better understand her.
I wonder why many parents are not honest and open with their children in this way.  Will keeping it real tarnish the parent persona?  If a parent shares that they’ve smoked marijuana in the past, will it somehow prompt their children to do so as well?  Will ‘fessing up about their past damage their children?  Or is it because they believe it’s not their business to know?
Many of the things I learned about my mother after she passed away weren’t new, and some of them were told from the perspective of the storyteller.  But it made me realize that I hadn’t asked certain questions to learn more about my mother while she was alive – things that could’ve possibly given me more insight into what made her tick.  I discovered I knew a lot, but also knew so little…and regret now that I had taken advantage of the time I thought I had.
Weeks later in a totally separate Masterclass podcast – singer Stevie Nicks mentions a similar experience – after her mother passed away, she realized there were so many things she’d never discussed with her.  Why?  Because, she too,  thought she had time.
Talk to your parents.  Think about it; aren’t there things you are curious about that you’ve never asked?  Family history isn’t reserved solely to finding out who Grandma and Grandpa was, or digging back into the family tree and learning that your great-great-great grand was a slave or grew up in Ireland or was the king or queen of some distant land.  While these facts are important, it’s also important to know the “stories” behind who they are/were; these stories are genuine threads to the intricacy of your life and who you are.
Talk to your children.  Tell your story, or at least the many parts you feel comfortable telling.  But I dare say, the true lesson lies in the parts that you feel uncomfortable about telling; those are the stories they really need to hear.  Tell your story.  Because you really don’t have time
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This week, we celebrated the arrival of the New Year and nothing else conjures up tradition like holidays.  For example, there’s an old Southern tradition that collard greens and black-eyed peas should be eaten on the first day of the year to guarantee luck and prosperity for the coming year.  The greens symbolize dollar bills and the peas represent coins; plus, add a little cornbread and there’s your gold!  For those of you who eat greens and peas each year on New Year’s Day (and for those of you who don’t) have you ever actually noticed whether eating these foods have had an impact on your financial status?
Now, by no means am I saying that you shouldn’t believe in the luck that greens and peas can bring you.  But I urge you to take a moment to get a good look at old traditions and rituals we partake in, yet don’t know where they came from or when and why they began  – we just do them because “it’s always been done this way.”  But… do they generate results?
The story goes a little something like this:  a mother was teaching her teen daughter to prepare a holiday dinner – a true rite of passage passed down from mother to daughter.  As Mom is getting the ham ready for the pan, she carefully cuts off both ends of the ham with a big knife – about 3 inches is whacked off each end.  “This is what you have to do before you cook the ham,” says Mom.  With a quizzical look, the daughter asked, “Why? You’re wasting part of the ham!”  The mother says, “I don’t know, that’s what my mother did. It’s always been done this way!”  Frustrated now, the daughter replied, “But Mom, there’s got to be a better explanation for it than that.  Does it cook better? Ughhh, I don’t understand!”
Sensing this wouldn’t be the end of her daughter’s questions about the lopped off ham, Mom called her mother.  “Mother, why did you cut both ends off the ham before cooking it?”  Her mother replied, “Because that’s the way your Grandma did it.  It’s always been done this way!”
Now, Mom was just as perplexed as her young daughter, so she decided to call her grandmother.  “Grandma, Mother said she cut off both ends of the ham before cooking it because that’s what you did.  Why did you do it? Did it make it taste better?  So it wouldn’t dry out? Why?”
Grandma replied, “No. The only pan I owned was too small for the ham, so that was the only way I could get it to fit.”
This brings me to the subject of resolutions.  I think it’s a good practice to have a few resolutions each New Year; there’s never anything wrong with a list of goals to set us out on the right foot for the year.  In years past, I’ve made long lists of resolutions, only to reach the end of each of those years without accomplishing one of them.  For a time, I decided not to make any because not achieving success was so heartbreaking and I’d get so down on myself.  This year, I’m examining things a little differently – the reason I wasn’t successful 75% of the time with resolutions was I was trying to accomplish things the way OTHER people thought I should do it.  No matter whether it was right for me or not!
In honoring ourselves, it is imperative, that WE figure out the “right way” to care for ourselves to achieve success.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t look for help from the experts, but most of us have gone at some of the same things over and over – so we definitely know what doesn’t work, right?
Truth be told, the turn of the New Year holiday cannot magically transport us into brand new beings.  WE have to be active participants in our own transition.  Maybe we should start a savings account instead of relying on eating greens and peas.  Maybe we should try a new way to conquer the challenge of those same old resolutions we keep making every year.  Maybe we should ask questions instead of doing things the same way all the time because someone told us it would be best.  If we are not successful in what we are doing, it is true insanity to keep trying to go at it the same way and expect different results.
There’s a whole world of methods out there to accomplish what you’re trying to do.  Stop cutting off the ends of the ham because someone told you to do it, and figure out a new way – the perfect way for you – to get results.
I wish us success!  Happy New Year!  Now pass the collard greens!
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