Carla M. Brown

Don’t Stop Here…

dont-stop

It was a clear message.  Beautifully adorned.  Simply written.  Unable to be misinterpreted.  You were not to park in this designated space.

It didn’t pertain to me so much, as I wasn’t driving.  I was on my sabbatical – walking, perusing, relaxing, but as always…deeply thinking.  And as I stared at the sign, I had “A Beautiful Mind” moment, where I saw less of what was immediately in front of me and more the analogous layers of complexity that nestled beneath this sign.

“No Parking” for me holds a different message.  It’s an admonition for those who are going into the upcoming year with all of the baggage that weighted them down in months prior.  It’s a declaration for others who are planning to be sidelined because of obstacles they’ve encountered and battles they’ve already conceded.

It’s an expectation for those who are determined to realize unachieved goals.  It’s a declaration to those they insist on bringing along.  Their encouragement is for more than themselves, and they won’t allow the naysayers to be the dreamslayers.

As I hear about (what seems like) another death everyday, I cannot help being thankful for each breath of life.  The year is not yet over, and there are many who still won’t see 2017.  Who’s to know who will be counted in that number?

But if it isn’t you or me, then what?  What do we do with the precious lives we have left to live?  Spend it wisely!  Live it loudly!  Do what we love the most!

Among my self-determined expectations is to ensure that I submit to “No Parking” in areas where I need not stay put.  I won’t park in depression, dismay, delusions nor disdain.

I’m not going to park anywhere that’s going to deter me from my focus, shifting my energy to draining instead of gaining.  I am going to plow forward; work fervently; learn greatly and fight passionately.

Reflectively, 2016 has certainly been the most trying of my life.  I’ve cumulatively lost some of my greatest loves, which has shaken  me to my core.  And unforeseen obstacles in people and places have also left me spinning, shocked at how calamity can be so rampant in what was perceived to be community.

I’ve hurt in ways that I didn’t know was possible, often angry at myself for having human emotions.

Nevertheless, I will not wallow.  I will not wish.  I will want it (my dreams) badly enough to make it happen, and when I can’t find the way I want, I will find another way, like so many amazing achievers before me.

I will draw from the strength of those who loved me most, and  I will listen to what my family, friends, readers, and clients need before I consider what I’ll say.

I am confident that as I Leap into 2017, there’ll be no idling for me.  Time is of the essence.

Let’s get ready for this road trip.  Where are you going?  Send me a map.

#noparking, #joinmeonthejourney, #journalchallenge, #catchyourdreams, #pursueyourpassion, #betheone

 

Caption:  A reminder that I’m scheduled to ride a road to remember.

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Magic & Memories

 

memories

I almost did it.  I almost took her home.  Forever.  Because her grandmother said I could have her.  I thought about all the little men running around the Brown home and how much I am madly in love with my tribe, but I couldn’t get away from that subtle  inclination to have that pinkness in my house!

I loved the lace dress.  The blue-green eyes.  The tiny tights.  The diamond earrings and the clinging that she did for what felt like hours, but I floated back into the realm of reality and finally conceded to letting her go.  Nevertheless, I realized that even if I didn’t take her home, I’m still on a path to potentially impact her life.  I’m making magic and memories – for everyone…

I’ve received more texts and phone calls and emails than normal lately, particularly in reference to my renewed interest in charging ahead on catching those dreams.  I’ve been most delighted though!

In a weekend conversation, I learned that one Dreamer has already started journaling and planning to develop a portfolio for future intentions of becoming a model.  Another Dreamer wanted to develop a specialized curriculum that they hadn’t seen in any of the Districts surrounding them.

Another Dreamer on a path that parallels my own has been in the planning stage of consulting aspirations and found herself being pursued by interested clients that she never expected to meet.

An enthusiastic Dreamer from last week relayed the unveiling of a project that he and a partner have worked on for two years.  Overflowing with ideas, we’ll be meeting soon to determine a timeline to help them makes those moments of innovation into milestones of reality.

My favorite responses?  Those that have been contacting me to let me know that they’ve already gotten started on the homework assignment from this weekend!  I’m trying to contain my own excitement because I’m thrilled that I’m able to share this journey with others who are ripe for realization.  Which gets me back to the future Dreamer in the picture.

We too often forget how the reality of our dreams affects others.

For every story I hear of those that are ready to leap, there are ten more that share why they just can’t do it.  Some cite time, money, or support; but, I remind them that their decision isn’t limited to changing their world, it can change the worlds of others.   That’s the magic.

Touching others with your tenacity!  Inspiring them to dream because they see yours coming to fruition!  Making memories that make history…and move others to do something great…

That young lady who wants to become a model is choosing a new segment of the industry that focuses on unconventional beauty and steers away from the status quo.

She’s considering in part because of many teens who have already expressed how they look up to her as she defies what beauty was perceived to be and defines, in her own right, what beauty is.  She’s ready for the next step.

That educator, who met the clients she wasn’t expecting, almost didn’t attend the meeting she was invited to.  She thought age gaps might be a factor and that others may not have enough in common with her in spite of her efforts.  She fought those feelings of doubt and pressed forward to that meeting, contending that it was one of the best experiences of her professional career.

I’ve toyed with the idea of penning a book for years.  And after starting and stopping, starting and stopping received a post two days ago that said, “Have you written any books yet? If so, let me know. I would love to read any you write.”  #confirmation…

If you’re still sitting on those ideas; those passions; those goals, those unrepentant, untapped, unfulfilled dreams.  Stop squelching them!

Because you don’t live and operate in isolation, those inclinations – whether they are within your current profession, a part of your personal goals or something that could impact communities within and abroad – they’re yours; stamped with your originality and authenticity.  Who better to do it than you?

If you extinguish your fire, you won’t be the only one who suffers from the loss.  So will those around you who could be greatly benefited by your best efforts.  This is the season of giving, right?  Give us your best.  We’re dying to see what’s in store.

My dreams are on the horizon…  Watch me leap…

#catchyourdreams, #leapofgreat, #betheone, #pursueyourpassion, #leap2017, #somethingsbrewing, #beadreamer, #staytuned

Caption:  I might convince her to be a Dreamer tomorrow if I catch my dreams today.

 

Sometimes, I Forget… Learning to Love Again

me

I wish I could say, “I can do it all.”  I’d like to.  I’d like to know it.  To see it. To have it.  To make it.  To sing it.  To write it.  To say it.  To play it.  To create it, find it, feel it.  And maybe even fake it.  And sometimes – I can…  Because…I’m a fixer.  I think I’ve been tasked by the Lord to fix every problem known to man – because if I could just find the solution, life would be better for everyone.  Or at least that’s what I’d like to believe… Sometimes.

But, what I’ve learned when I sink back down into my reality of life on Earth, is that not only am I unable to fix everything – I am actually guilty of the unthinkable sin – forgetting.  I forget that in my humanity, I will make mistakes, more often than I prefer and in the times that I’d wish I could make them go away the most.  I forget that even if I sometimes feel invincible, life can go on in my absence.  I forget that when I don’t pull it together, it affects the ones I love the most.

I forget that my minor mistakes will not turn the corporate world upside down.  I forget that some people who say wonderful things about me are only pretending, and I should get over my hurt feelings quickly, because those people are everywhere I go.  I forget that people I love may hurt me by accident, but I must still love them on purpose.

Here lately, I’ve forgotten some things that were more important.  I forgot to remember to chase what I love…

I forgot that in the midst of doing a good job at my job, and doing a good job for my family, and a good job for my friends and a good job for my students and a good job for my clients, to do a good job at remembering me.  And so I’ve watched the dreams that I’ve been attempting to catch, almost wash away.  That was scary.  I forgot to love me.

I forgot, what I loved…because I haven’t made the time to love it the way I used to.

Time up.

So I’ve decided that instead of losing myself in the world-of-being-overwhelmed, I’m going to lose myself instead – in love.  In the people I love.  The things I love.  The places I love.  In loving myself…and the One who loves me most.

*************************************************************************************************************

Every time I learn that someone has “passed on,” I am reminded of how fragile and temporary our lives are here.  Losing my dad…has still hurt me the most, to date.   I know I can’t stop myself from losing anyone else, as everyone has their appointment with Him.  But knowing our lives are limited, it makes me want to love more, and deeply; meaningfully; genuinely.  Because if I don’t, my opportunity to express – or feel – that love, may go away.

So here are my tips and tidbits.

  1. Celebrate every sunset.  Cherish every cloud.  No two are the same.  You should treasure them both – and everything that is equally beautiful!
  2. Say, “I love you,” whenever you can.  You may think they know it, but you don’t say it nearly as often as you should.  It feels so much better to hear it.
  3. Forget about the expensive things.  They’re nice, but overrated.  Remember that things that are unique to the ones you love are the most special of all.  Show them that you thought about them so much, that what you’re sharing wouldn’t be special to anyone else except them.
  4. And lastly, remember that love isn’t just for the person you date or marry.  You have more relationships than you know.  Show everyone you love how much you love them.  It will last for a lifetime.

I know who I love the most…and I’m so glad, they love me.

#thankyou, #catchyourdreams, #inloveagain, #learningtolovemelikeilovethem

Picture:  Remembering one of the many things I love… #thebeautyofnature

May He Wash Away All His Fears…

Cleanse

So I’ve been purging.  Sometimes, cleaning various rooms, making the hard decision to separate myself from student papers that are older than some of my children; parting with items that I can no longer validate holding on to; removing relics that I recognize my husband was right in gently sharing with me that they were fairly purposeless and collecting dust, and for very brief moments – trying to soak in some sun, celebrating the most beautiful days, when the heat is not unbearably sweltering.

I’m still working like a queen bee, hovering over countless tasks, enjoying the work.  I’m thrilled about new ideas, blossoming relationships and enthused clients, but I’m still trying to remember balancing business with bolstering memories.  It’s been challenging; in part because the media of late has swirled with realities that I find heart wrenching, and while I want to remain informed, I toil with severing my connection to the tube.  I feel it has betrayed me, offering me more opinions and slanted views than facts and fairness.

Nevertheless, irrespective of my entrepreneurial priorities, I was easily compelled to shut down my office the day after I received my own earth shattering news:  my three year old was going on his first field trip…to Discovery Green.  It was time to celebrate.

Interestingly, when I allow myself to submerge beneath the surface of conversational courtesies and pleasant exchanges of political rhetoric, I engage in quite a bit of self-talk.  I ask myself reflectively for answers that sometimes remain unearthed.  More importantly, I consider the impact of the world in which we live, or rather the decisions we’re making while in it.  And in my queries of how deeply I’m affected, I find myself consistently turned towards those who’ll remain long after we’re gone.  Our children.

It reminds me of countless things, but I’m opting to share a few – some out of mere adoration and others, out of unspoken obligation. Acutely aware that you may find a connection from a vantage point that I’ve not considered at all, it is my hope that my thoughts will at least tickle your fancy, and if not, then perhaps you will still find something for your enjoyment.

That being said, I am reminded first of the purity of love.  Amazing, isn’t it?  That it comes in so many shapes and sizes?  That we can love our spouses; our children; our siblings; our parents; our families; our friends; our pets; our passions.  That it is encompassed in a word so simple, but espouses such emotional depth…it leaves me speechless.

I watched three of my four boys (as the youngest turned four months last week) with incessant affection as they ran through the cooling waters that cascaded over their soft, brown skin.  And all I could think about was how much I loved them.

I think they loved…getting wet; the carelessness of their disposition.  The fact that they had no responsibilities, requirements, regrets, rebuttals.  They were enjoying the soothing spheres of liquid joy and savoring the signs that pleasure was plenty.  And I was elated.

For a moment, I also remembered the plausibility of pain.  I jumped just a bit if they got too close to someone else’s child, hoping there would be no unnecessary confrontations.  I worried that they might stumble or fall on the concrete beneath the water and injure themselves badly.

I was anticipating their disappointment when I’d tell them we’d have to go, knowing they would stay until the park had closed if they could.  I  worried that despite my best efforts, they’d still want to do more than the fun-filled day I’d already planned.  And then I thought a bit more broadly.

I thought about the confrontations I couldn’t guarantee they wouldn’t have – in life.  Not because of how they look, but really because of what they are – human.  And as humans, we will always have conflict.

I thought about the obstacles and incidents that I won’t be able to protect them from years from now.  I thought about when they’ll fall, and I won’t be able to pick them up.  And I won’t be able to hold their hand.  And I won’t be able to kiss their knees or rub their broken hearts, or make the pain go away.  And I felt – scared.  And helpless.  And vulnerable.

But  I also remembered, what my husband and I are teaching them.  I know what we believe.  I know in Whom we trust and how far His reach extends beyond what we could ever understand.  And that comforts me greatly.  Quite frankly, I don’t think I could have peace without Him – because I don’t have all the answers.  And as much as I’d like to be Superwoman, sometimes I think I have more kryptonite than kudos.

I have no idea what will be the future of my Final Four Brown Boys…but I have high hopes and great expectations, whatever their choices may be.  I know life will have its share of obstacles, and I’ll endeavor to do my best to help them through each and every one; but when I can’t, I will pray.  And when I can, I will still pray…because I believe we should pray without ceasing (smile).

And I hope that the love and patience and kindness with which we’ve raised them will wash over their fears of tomorrow.  Moreover, I hope that what they’ve learned from us, they will inherently share – and change the lives of others with the faith that moves mountains.

I savor everyday that they linger in innocence, and I hope they take their liquid joy and let it rain over their future.  I think we could all benefit from more of this kind of rain.  It’s time to use it to raise a generation that recognizes what we need most…

Caption:  When loving and laughter are pure and simple. #itstimetocleanseourminds

#catchyourdreams, #betheone, #pursueyorpassion, #cleanseyourmind

 

Chi Eta Phi: Nurturing New Millennium Nurses

Chi Eta Phi

#flashback – I remember lying on my back in the parking lot.  I remember two liquids flowing from my body, blood and tears.  As I peered in the sky at the stars that would have otherwise been beautiful, I wanted only to hear the soothing tones of my mother’s voice.  I was initially too shaken to even remember her number; but, the school volunteer I’d seen on so many occasions before was now comforting me on the abrasive asphalt.  She whispered, “I heard you screaming from across the street – and I came – because I’m a nurse.

She was one of many nurses who touched my life in ways that are ingrained in my conscience as I’ve marveled at the miracles they espouse every day.  Nurses are as often superstars as they are unsung heroes, triumphing with many feats that are too frequently uncredited and inconceivably amazing.   We’ve all had the pleasure of meeting them as a rather regular part of our care, both practical and probable, but do we give these visits much thought?  Sometimes, it depends on how severe our need is.

For the vast majority of us, our introduction to the world was facilitated by a nurse.  Our regular care first begins with a nurse.  If we need round the clock care, there will be a team of nurses.  In fact, the largest percentage of healthcare and the ones who interact with patients the most are nurses.  Their assessments undergird physicians’ decisions.  Nevertheless, they have one of the broadest realms of misconceptions about their field as compared to their contemporaries.  Can – and should that be changed?  Yes and yes.

Enter Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority.  #flashforward – At a recent speaking engagement (for nurses), I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer, Ebony, and Atyu (pictured above) proudly representing one of Houston’s most exciting organizations.  Their smiles and personalities were as bright as their signature colors.  Grounded in tradition and led by innovation, this historically rich body of professionals puts caring for the community at the forefront of its objectives by nurturing the next generation of nurses.

Who’s nurturing them?  Seasoned trendsetters who still have a passion for the profession, like Linda Tellison, National (Chapter) Organizer.  She travels the country, facilitating the development of new chapters, compelling the confident and the competent to join the ranks.   It’s a quality that leaves me enamored with their drive.

That fervor couldn’t come at a better time, because built on a Baby Boomer Generation – nurses will lose nearly half their force within just a few short years – because so many will be retiring.   Combine this notion with an aging population of Baby Boomers, and that means more people will need greater amounts of care.  So that wait time you may loathe?  With more patients – and less nurses – it will be even longer and could likely affect your quality of care.

Nursing is not about running behind physicians.  Menial tasks.  Little white hats and bringing the occasional pill.  It boasts an invigorating industry with wide ranging variety to impact lives in neo-natal units, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, geriatrics, operative services, hemodialysis, cardiology, neurology, emergency rooms, psychiatry, clinics and wellness centers, educational institutions, research centers, court rooms, private practices, executive conference rooms, in the military – across the globe…and these are just a few.  Additionally, it offers longevity, exceptional benefits, career mobility and a sizeable income.

I’ve met countless individuals who have mistaken me for a nurse since then, not because they’ve seen me in the halls of a hospital or providing patient care, but because I’m enamored with the superstars of their profession and advocate and recruit for them at every opportune moment.  I worked for a nurse, and with many nurses in both hospitals and clinics.  It was former Chief Nurse Executive, Mary Holt Ashley, Phd, RN, CNAA, BC, who first made me aware of my nursing misconceptions – and transformed my perspective about the gifts they bring to the patients who need them most.

At the times when I’ve felt the most vulnerable, physically helpless, emotionally spent and deathly afraid, I remember my encounter with a nurse.

I remember the one who held my hand and told me to breathe as a large needle was inserted into my spine in a cold room; the one who brought me warm blankets before my entire body was threaded through a machine in which I was immobilized; the one who gently rubbed the back of my hand while a painful incision was made for the fourth time in the same place, and the one who told me that even though I couldn’t see the baby anymore, I’d see the baby again.

Nursing is a profession of the most talented, patient, brave and brilliant individuals I’ve ever known.  Balancing complexity and care, they are at the helm of the healthcare profession – despite what denigrating images may depict in the media.  I’m on a personal journey to publicize their laudable actions because we need more new nurses like them to care for us – and our families.  It’s an international emergency.

So if you’re looking to pursue a passion where your compassion can catalyze a new lease on life, look no further than the field of nursing.  It’s just – what the nurse – ordered (smile).  Thank a Nurse today…

Happy Nurses Week

#pursueyourpassion, #bethe1, #nursesrock, #chietaphi, #maryholtashley, #lindatellison

Picture:  Nurses I’d love to see as a patient.  Congrats Chi Eta Phi!

When Decadence and Diligence Danced on My Plate

Decadent and Diligent

I almost shamefully admit that I’ve become quite sugar-addicted somewhere between my last trimester and my current motherhood moments.  I think about dessert daily, and I am making an extreme effort to exercise moderation, of course!  Nevertheless, when one of my oldest (and favorite) Nursing clients from the College of Nursing at Prairie View A&M recommended we meet at Grace’s recently (which I’d passed many times, but had never been), I couldn’t help but indulge in the decadent chocolate cake that peered seductively at my table.

It was perfectly molded.  I could see from a distance that the sponge like texture had just the right resistance, and the aroma was intoxicating.  Warm, chocolate ganache cascaded over its luxurious crown, accented with ripened raspberries that were gently kissed by herbaceous mint leaves.  When I finally took a bite, I was in disbelief.  Its deliciousness was unparalleled, but I expected less – because on the menu, it was deemed “flourless.”

Like many of my contemporaries, I’m from the era that feels items with traditional ingredients missing taste slightly different; at times, a little off, at others not quite right, and at worst, simply sub-par.  Nevertheless, I recalled that there are occasions when flour yields rather undesirable results for a significant part of the population.  Apparently, it created enough of a dilemma that certain individuals were determined to create an admirable option – tantamount in culinary delight.

Their diligence is delectable.

I realized that often, the things that we don’t like are what encourage us to make changes.  Should they not? In the workplace, we call them evaluations.  We weigh them against our standards to determine if the results are the best.  If they’re not, we try again; use different approaches, re-examine procedures.  In our lives, we opt to work harder; use greater insight, seek wise counsel.  Why?  Because we are convinced that improving our efforts will lead to a better situation.  And when we do that with consistency, I call that diligence.

Through the diligence of a patient pastry artist unknown to me, a flourless chocolate cake emerged that tastes perhaps even better than its predecessor.  The quality of this taste for me, was more than a sweet treat, it was a delicious reminder that diligence is its own reward.  If you have a goal, a desire, an objective – that hasn’t quite turned out like you wanted just yet – don’t stop trying.  If necessity is the mother of invention, displeasure is the father of innovation.

Let your challenges catalyze your dreams.  #catchthemwhenyoucan

Caption:  A double dose of sweetness, decadence and diligence.  #howsweetitis

Shooting for Their Success

Shooting for Their Success

It’s not everyday that we get to work at a job where we can actually say we’re thoroughly delighted with our daily activities.  You know how sometimes, you work at a place because it helps you to make ends meet?  However, there are occasions when our place of employment is an environment where we can take those things that we love and put them into practice in a way that is not only beneficial to others, but allows us to thrive in the areas where we shine best – because we love what we do.

I’m pleased to say that when I am not speaking, writing (or eating, LOL), a part of my day is dedicated to teaching two of my favorite subjects of academia (English Language Arts/Reading and Writing) to my 8 yr. old son at the school where he is also learning Spanish and Chinese.

Sharing with him and his 3rd grade peers the art and science of communicating their most vibrant thoughts with the rest of the world tickles me for days on end.  They’re at a point where they still love learning – and sadly, so many of our children don’t.

One of my favorite days at the school is Friday – not because I know it’s going into the weekend (although that is an added plus), but because each Friday the staff focuses on emphasizing the importance of college, and the students are enamored.  Uniforms are gone and college apparel abounds.  There are speakers, special presentations, and surprise guests – all with the intent of stirring up their enthusiasm for post secondary education.

Now, I don’t knock the world of sports, but to say I’m a fan of any team in particular would be quite the leap.  Anyone who knows me realizes my fandom is reserved for all things culinary.  That being said, I was delighted that on one of those recent Fridays my son’s eyes lit up when he saw this mascot (and massively tall) basketball players from The University of St. Thomas immediately following a presentation that again shifted his view towards his future.

I spend my afternoons with high school students who have not had such success in their academic careers.    Many are over-aged, some have been to three to four different schools already, prior and consistent failures from the past are common.  Nearly a third are homeless, some have single parents – and are single parents – but what I zone in on is the one thing that I can use to help their learning experience be effective:  desire.

There exists among them students who long to be successful, despite their circumstances.  More than a few of them possess the same desire as my third graders – to learn.  I share the common enthusiasm of wanting to teach them…things that perhaps they never knew or hadn’t considered.  Whether the eyes are oooing and awing in an 8 year old body or an 18 year old body, I hope and pray that the lessons developed – both from classroom and life – will inspire them to change their future in a way that is incessantly rewarding.

I’m no athlete by sports standards, but every day – I am shooting for their success.  All of them.  We each have the ability to touch lives with our talents, but are we really scoring the way we should.  What are you shooting for?  It’s not limited to a classroom…  I’d love to know.

#pursueyourpassion, #catchyourdreams, #bethe1, #athletesarentjustonthecourts

Picture:  Christopher and the mascot from The University of St. Thomas – feeling excited about his future.

Counter Your Complaints with Counting Your Blessings…

Savor the Simplest Pleasures

Gobbling up posts and pictures circling my upcoming 20th year high school reunion and connecting with friends and business associates, I find myself quite frequently on FaceBook of late.  I don’t read every post or consume every meme (although many are hilarious), but I do try to keep up here and there.  But I must say, there was one friend that captivated me more than normal this week.  Why?  Because she’s been cataloging her day to day events (some seemingly hour by hour), while in – the hospital.

I don’t believe she’s chronicling a life threatening disease (thankfully!), but she’s not there for a routine visit either.  Her friends and family know that she’s quite spirited, always on the go, and the queen of all things delightfully dramatic…but these posts – complete with clever snippets, videos, and loads of appreciation – have a very different tone.  One of…vulnerability.  Consistently honest, as is her trademark, she remarks about observations, frustrations, complications, tribulations, and revelations.  Okay…  I’m just an -ations kinda girl.  You know I love words (smile)…I digress.

I just watched all of her videos (they’re short ones) last night.  But I’ve been cracking up at her antics for the last few days.  While in the hospital, she’s enjoying tasty morsels from loved ones.  Cookies and foil wrapped plates and other culinary delights.  She’s “coloring” – although we’re both nearing our forties. She’s donning blinged-out accessories, complete with face and head gear; sparkling more than a glitter fanatic at Hobby Lobby.

She’s engaging in her therapeutic walking (with a walker) while adorned in stylish red flats, which accompanied a stylish red purse brought by a friend.  She’s also having praise and worship service with a sister on the left (that means song time in church) while a nurse is working with an IV in her arm on the right.  I’m cracking up.  And that’s just a fraction of her hospital “festivities.”

Now as I’m reading these, I’m thinking, “This girl is crazy.  Who has that much fun in the hospital!”  Weighing in the seriousness, I know that she’s a ridiculously great singer and performer – who I believe was in the middle of a show…but, she’s having respiratory challenges.  Big ones.  Then I’m feeling a bit guilty/shameful.

Because I was also in the emergency room this week – with respiratory problems and laryngitis (a  big no-no for a speaker!)- and when my husband posted my pic on FB on a breathing machine, I was incensed.  Too self-conscious about how it looked to share with those who cared about me most.  To worried about hair out of place and the fact that everyone would see my blankie.

Oh yeah, babe.  Carla’s got a blankie.  A big, pink and red, oh-so-soft, you-better-not-touch-it blankie that I sleep with on my side of the bed under our shared cover every night.  I was all wrapped up in the Emergency Room…because it was cold!  And I was scared…  And I was not FaceBook ready for that.  So I instructed him to promptly take that picture down!

And then I saw, Aisha…  In her hospital bed, tubes in nose, hair all wrapped…smiling.  Not attempting to show she was fearless, but faithful to who she is…  I felt warm, fuzzy, and thoughtful all at once.  But that wasn’t the kicker.  It was this list she posted a few days later…

shesatrooper

Now on this one I laughed and almost cried.  Talk about being a realist!

A little housekeeping…I realize my readers come from around the world – and for that I am humbled and most appreciative! – but… I did white our her last name for those who may not already know her.  Those who do already contact her.  The point is, I think her story is worth sharing on every continent…

I’ve appreciated her silliness for many years as I met her in sixth grade.  But today, how she’s chosen to face one of her scariest moments has given me pause.  It took me to a place that I don’t go often enough.  One of thankfulness.

The boss who I love the most, and still talk with regularly (because we’re more like family) is one of the most successful women I know.  She’s in her 70s, still as fierce as ever, but has been plagued with illness since childhood.  When experiencing problems like she had for just a moment, I was so overwhelmed, I thought I’d never make it through…and to think, she’s been doing it all her life.

#catchthis:   Life will offer us many things – good and bad.  It would be foolish to assume we’ll get everything we want.  It’s never about what you get.  It’s always about how you handle it.  Aisha’s handling it like a trooper.  I think I’ll hang on to my little asthma pump and follow suit.

We have so many things to be thankful for.  We should focus on them more and being fickle less.  On that note, flowers never smelled so good.  Why don’t you stop and smell a few today.  #countyourblessings, #catchyourdreams, #pursueyourpassion, #bethe1

Picture:  Stopping the madness to savor the memories.

Be the One…

Bethe1

While I realize winter is long gone in Houston, I can’t help my lingering awe with the ever-so-intricate snowflake.  I came across this book in my second-grade classroom this past December and like my own children, was utterly fascinated by how little I knew.  What I did know (and find mind-boggling) is that despite the trillions of snowflakes that fall all over the world, no two are alike (remember hearing that as a kid?).   This beautiful photograph fast forwarded to my memories when I began explaining my latest hashtag to my Creative Director – #bethe1.

As a cohabitant of the Twitter generation, I’ve finally developed a fondness for the hashtag hysteria.  For me, the affection stems from the constant reminders in what’s “trending”.  I like to remind myself that being one of few who chooses differently is a notable thing to do.  I realize that there are people who will opt to take the low road when I don’t, but I’d like to be the one who does the unexpected.  There are individuals who will not applaud my work ethic because it is easier to do what is convenient than what is correct.  I want to be the one who does what’s right anyway.

It is not always popular to disagree in a group when everyone else is in consensus.  My question is, “What is the impact of going along with the crowd?”  If my buy-in is going to make it difficult for me to sleep at my night, then my answer is going to be, “I understand how you feel, and I can see how you came to that conclusion.  However, I’m going to peaceably disagree.”  I will be the one that stands on my convictions because I can’t allow other people’s assumptions to compel me to change my own.

Sadly, what’s widely accepted often determines the decision making for all.  People are ostracized for thinking differently, labeled, and criticized.  I have never fit the status quo, so being the oddball is not foreign to me at all.  I am more concerned for my children – and our children – because when we don’t choose to stand out for what we believe, we send a message to them that it is better to go along than to champion what we feel from our hearts.

You will come across many snowflakes in your life.  Some will be a bit flakier than others.  In actuality, all will be beautiful because they come from the same source.  Nevertheless, many will blend in so much that they will only appear to assimilate into a blanket of snow.  Even still, remember that every part of your make-up makes you uniquely different.  Despite their best efforts, no one can be a copy of you and you shouldn’t be a replicate of anyone else.  When you feel like the tide of public opinion is pulling you under, don’t be afraid to ride the wave.  Stand up.  Stand out.  Be different.  Be the one…

Picture:  The one that was so beautiful, it took the photographer’s breath away.  Be the one who’s captivating the crowd because of your confidence.

To Live, To Love, To Last…My Wishes

My Love

For whatever strange reason, “love” has been the topic of many of my conversations with several of my closest friends of late.  Some want to find it, some have found it only to lose it, some think they have it, but aren’t sure, while others have it, but feel they’re losing it.  And then there are a few who have it and just love it.  I couldn’t imagine discussing it without reflecting on my own experience.  And so tonight, I begin to take it apart, piece by piece, to ask myself what does it really mean – to me?

So I had to think about how I first met my spouse…I will spare you the humorous details, but it was funny.  Past the stage of infatuation, past the stars in the eyes and the “oh he’s just perfect” and “he thinks I am, too”, I realized that the depth of love is discovered not in the beginning, but in the thick of the rough patches – and making it through them.  For me, love has shown brightest in the ugliest moments.

Like, when you’re feeling the complete opposite of beautiful, but you are treated as if you look like a star.  Or, when life has left you with some unwelcome blemishes, but you are convinced that you are perceived as flawless. When you feel like a failure, but the one you love picks you up and tells you it’s okay to try again.  Love is what you experience when you learn to accept someone’s imperfections, shortcomings, and inhibitions and still be enamored with the reality of who they are.

I’m quick to tell people that while I’d love an everyday-all-day fairytale romance, I learned early that marriage isn’t written like a script from the movies – it is work!  Quite frankly, it can be difficult to compromise.  You won’t agree on everything.  And you will get your feelings hurt – that’s a part of life.  But…what makes the greatest difference for me, really?  Is our faith.  Because at the end of the day, on the few occasions where we may have disagreements, dissensions, or hurt feelings in between – we maintain the same core of beliefs; we both feel connected to Him; we both treasure divine guidance because of what we believe God intended for our marriage.

My husband and I were spatting about something recently in a most non-verbal way.  (You know how you can give each other a “Don’t even” look…), and while I was blogging, he wrote me a little note on the back of a small card, gently placed on my laptop that said, “Marriage can be difficult…but, I promised to be with you for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.”  Before I even read it, he quietly walked away.  When I revisited those vows, they meant the world to me…

I wish to live my life to the fullest.  Catch my dreams.  Pursue my passions, but I also want to enjoy being in love and all of the discoveries that come with its growing intensities along the way.  My friends whose hearts ache or are broken – I want them to find and be with the one person who will be perfect for them, because it saddens me to see their undying pain.

My friends that love being single?  I want them to get as much fulfillment out of life that they possibly can without feeling the disdain of those who believe marriage is for everyone – sometimes, it is not!  And to all that I know who are in strained relationships or marriages that seem broken, I hope they experience the healing that will allow them to know again what true love really is.  Real love…is wonderful.  It gives you a reason to live and imbues you (and your love) with the power to last.

#catchthatdream, #pursuethatpassion, #betheone, #notjustonyouranniversary, #loveeveryday, #loveforalifetime

Picture:  The day I signed on to Team Brown – and never looked back.