pursue your passion

Try Breaking the Ice Like This…

  • niceice

Ever been on an ice rink?  With ice skates?  It can be challenging.  Ever been on an ice rink, without ’em?  They have.  Don’t worry.  They didn’t desecrate the rink, we made sure to get permission.  Invited to a private party, these boys took advantage of a rare opportunity to do the unexpected.  While there was a previously determined mode of operation, they struggled a bit.

But while many others went with the standard, they broke out of their comfort zones and considered the possibilities.  What a way to break the ice! What transpired next could be only be categorized as relentless excitement; pint-size, but pleasant pandemonium – and an adventure to remember.

So often, we find ourselves in situations that may be foreign.  Perhaps, your background is not the same as your peers or associates.  There are certain elements that you recognize, but maybe you struggle a bit.  Perhaps your challenge lies in the fact that you haven’t considered the possibilities beyond face value.  Maybe there’s another way you could look at it, that would still give you the leverage to excel.

Am I saying break the rules?  No.  I’m saying, explore your options.  Think differentlyPursue diligentlyStrategize incessantly.  Sometimes it’s not asking questions that matters.  It’s the questions that you ask!

I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with a friend on yesterday whom I’ve known since elementary.  He’s a passionate, prolific family man who has a wonderful career and a beautiful wife and children.  While he’s done considerably well in his profession, he’s pursuing another lifelong passion that he placed on a back burner while life happened.

Unregretful of his decision to table it earlier, he’s now ready to pick it up and move forward. So he’s preparing!  My favorite part?  He’s conditioning himself mentally for his new pastime/future career in a manner parallel to how he prepared himself as a middle school, high school and college athlete.  He’s molding his mindset.

He’s allocating designated time to dedicate to the development of his craft.  He’s researching, studying and practicing for perfection…because he has an end goal in mind.  I’m convinced he’s going to get there…because he’s not afraid to step out of his comfort zone and get on the rink with an approach that perhaps others – haven’t seen yet.

If you take a moment to consider success stories you’ve seen and heard, rarely do they achieve the unthinkable by majoring in the mundane.  They think differently.  They pursue diligently.  They strategize incessantly.   I’m positioning myself to do the same in order to catch my dream.  Are you ready to catch yours, too?  Break the ice…and Leap with Me.  Adventures await… #imsmiling

#pursueyourpassion, #betheone, #catchyourdreams, #Leap2017, #breaktheice

Caption:  Brown Boys shattering the status quo.  Mommy Brown to follow suit…

 

 

 

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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.

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!

My Final Four – Boys, Blessings, & Big Dreams

A Growing Gift

Amidst my former hope of joining #teampink, I finally delivered my fourth (and final) healthy boy – and I am elated. I’m still wrapping my mind around the idea of being in the house with five males; glaring at the toilet seat that is still up at times when I want it to be down; trying to ignore the waning desire for tea parties and tiaras and yet cherishing the throne that remains all my own as the reigning Queen (smile).

What sticks out most however, is that I am thankful.  Like any parents, there have been days when I longed for the serenity that comes with an empty house.  I’ve joked often with my friends and told them my favorite day (pre-Jonathan Paul [the newborn]) was haircut day, because all of the “boys” were gone.  With such an active household, it’s nice to have peace – and to be able to enjoy a dessert alone – something rarely done in a home full of foodies!

Admittedly, I’ve cringed at the rough-housing inherent with little men.  I’ve fussed about broken trinkets and misplaced socks and shoes.  Nevertheless, I’m filled with reflection of what it means to have a family, as I find myself nostalgically immersed in the magic that is motherhood all over again;  but, sometimes, I find it bittersweet.  Why?  Because I see it in so many contexts now.

I consider the baby I lost that will never be forgotten.  I’m acutely aware of the anguish that comes with parenthood – and not being perfect at it.  I’m pained by the hard lessons you watch them learn that you wish they didn’t have to, seeing their missteps with each turn they make, and I am grieved by the tragedies that befall other parents that are simply inconsolable (and there are far too many of those lately).  Each and every element reroutes me to the bliss of being a mom.

I hear parents with empty nests tell me, “Oh baby enjoy them while you can.  They won’t be young forever.”  I realize, unsurprisingly, they are so right!  I laugh about my comparative experience with my first son, now 11, and I almost want to tell the clock to rewind so I could do it all over again.  He’s going to middle school next year, and I’m not ready.  Like many, I’ve put baby pictures side by side, marveling at the similarities and doting on the differences. I’m ultimately thrilled that they’re all healthy, happy, and whole.

I remind myself often of the games I’ve been to; their pivotal moments and fondest experiences, and I’ve endeavored to savor everyone.  Because having gone to more funerals than I would have ever imagined so early in the year -the hardest being my father’s; being blown away by the iconic things my brother has been sending me from the 70s and 80s era that we adored as kids and being thrown back into history with the loss of celebrity greats – I’m proverbially reminded…that our families…are priceless.

*                  *                *                  *             *                  *                *                  *

I dream.  I hope to create legacies that my children can embrace, espouse, and extol.  When my today becomes their yesterday, I want them to recall it with a fondness that would warm the hearts of their great-grandchildren.  I want them to remember the laughter at our dinner table; the feel of their father’s calves as they wrapped around them with their whole little bodies; what it was like to sing and dance in front of the TV with their brush-turned microphones and horrible Michael Jackson impersonations.

I dream that the love that we’ve worked so hard to impart – on their best days and their worst – will flow through them fluidly, not only to their children, but in the form of kindness to others – as they share their faith, their convictions, their fervor and their friendship.

I dream that my boys will share an inseparable bond – a kinship that makes them as much brothers as they are friends – that they will know that what they had with their family is unlike any treasure they’ve ever known, rivaled only by the love of God.

I dream that each reader of this post will not only share in the joy that our family has, but will remember how important it is to treasure – and make right, if you haven’t already – the relationships in families of their own. Life is a gift.  We seldom take advantage of all it has to offer.  While it’s too short to be angry, we wait too long to rectify what’s wrong.  Remember to live life to the fullest, and love the ones who love you most.  Don’t forget, we’re the models for the tiniest of all.  Dream big.

Love, Carla

Caption: Feeling full with my Final Four – and thanking Him for the gift of each and every one.

#pursueyourpassion, #catchyourdreams, #bethe1, #dreambig, #loveispriceless

 

Search, Seize, Savor: Rekindle Your Professional Passion

Search and Seize

When I walked into the room, I couldn’t help but gasp at the pillow that looked dipped in chocolate.  Subtly accented by the accompaniment behind, it seemed to be espoused by a billow of rose petals tied together with care, further accented by silk and satin that begged to be adored.  My then co-worker was giving us a tour of her cute and quaint condo, both simply and elegantly designed – and with every corner that I turned, I was increasingly delighted.  It was divine!

What I didn’t know is that the expert I’d spent so much time with in our profession on a day to day basis was secretly in love with a completely different industry – interior design!  Her face was luminescent as she begin to describe how her passion for perfection with every home essential began when she was a little girl.

As a frequent traveler with military parents, she’d marinate for days on exactly how she wanted her new room to look – and execute it within hours, flawlessly.  Her childhood hobby had fully bloomed into an adult sized admiration – and she was exceptional at it.  Nevertheless, what she truly loved the most – was somehow what she was doing the least…

Have you spent recent hours working in one place, but daydreaming about what you’d really like to do somewhere else?  Are you one of millions whose thoughts often lead them to what they wish they could do – if they only had more time?

Make the time!  To write your book; pen your poetry; make your music; design your app… Whatever it is that you perhaps started long ago and no longer watch the embers glow – or maybe you never blew on the flame – it’s time to rekindle it!

It’s not so late in the year that you can’t make a Spring Resolution.  Spring into action – and pursue what you really love!  Quit your job?  Not necessarily.  Never make life changing decisions on the spur of the moment or as a good friend once told me, under duress.

I say nurture your natural gift and desire to choose to do that which is fulfilling… And if it just so happens to be profitable – with benefits that outweigh the liabilities – then perhaps you should consider making a career change!

Now I will say that I’ve had some readers who expressed they are not necessarily in need of career movement, but they are still repressing a desire to delve into something they’d love to do, but haven’t.  And to them I say, “What are you waiting for?”

Life can throw us a few unexpected curves.  Sometimes, it’s wise to table things that need our full attention for the sake of greater priorities.  However, we can place obstacles in our own path in the name of procrastination, failure to follow through, or strangely – even fear of success.

I’m reminded of a song I heard on the radio yesterday on the way home from church.  Tickling my fancy, I realized that the commercially professional debut I was listening to I first heard and saw on FaceBook – as an uploaded video, beautifully recorded acapella – in the artist’s bathroom.

In one of my earliest conversations with Erica Shaw Wiley, she’d expressed that while she wasn’t exactly sure of how her music career would play out, she couldn’t squelch her desire to pursue it 100% any longer.  She’s since received rave reviews, celebrity endorsements, and outpouring support from a growing number of fans – and this is just the beginning.

*           *       *           *          *           *

When I reflected on my co-worker’s condo, I saw something very different than the other guests.  The “S” that branded her work for her was a reminder of her name.  For me it symbolized, Search, Seize and Savor.  Search for whatever it is that fills your heart with satisfaction on end, and seize the opportunities to throw yourself into it!

You should wake up in the morning, fanatical about the day ahead – because you know what you’ll do is something that you love – like Bakers Lane owner Tiffany Bell, whose hobby has now transformed into her profitable culinary delight.  With every miniature milestone and actualized achievement, you should relish the fact that you are doing what you do best.  Savor it.  It’s yours!  And the world around you will know you’re the best person for the job.

Time’s a wastin’.  #pursueyourpassion, #catchyourdreams, #bethe1, #seizetheday

Caption:  A simple reminder that seizing the day yields the best satisfaction of all

“I Speak Human” – I. J. Brown

icopportunities

As I woke up to news of yet another shooting tragedy, I let out a long and pained sigh.  I pride myself in writing about chipper things and look for pleasant sources of inspiration – but, today, I saw media saturated with sadness, anguish, confusion, despair.  Can’t say that’s what I wanted for breakfast.

Nevertheless, you know we do have to talk about those elephants every so often.  I’m still a pretty positive chick, so I first decided to scroll through my pics.  Interestingly, I’d forgotten about this one from last week.  And then, even amidst feeling distraught, I felt a smile ebbing across my face…but not without a few sobering conclusions.

So I took my three boys to the public library, 8, 10, and 2.  The 10 yr. old, my avid reader, gobbles up books in the 600 pgs. realm.  My 8 yr old has discovered the joy of chapter books.  The last time I took my 2 yr. old to the library, he was a bit smaller and had no idea where he was.  But on this day, he was fueled, fast, and furious!

He’s been in school.  So he knows what books are.  He is reading – according to us.  Pictures, which counts.  I’m sure…I’m a teacher (smile).  But he made me nervous.  When he zoomed to the kid’s section, he first ran to a stranger.  He’s so quick, I didn’t catch him in time.

My thinking, adversely impacted by all of the swirling things I’ve heard about race combined with my own experiences made me tense up a bit.  I thought, “Oh God, he’s bothering them.  I hope they don’t get the wrong idea.  I hope he doesn’t do anything to that little girl, he’s so rough.  They’re white.  I hope she’s not offended.

Can I be honest?  I was afraid.  Like so many, I’ve had my share of bad experiences.  Some, I’d really like to forget.  But I’ve had some good experiences, too.  And this was one of them.  Isaiah figured out, that this lady (whose name I don’t remember) was reading.  He ran over to a shelf, deeming himself a helpful assistant, and brought another book for her to share.  Her daughter, who I learned was 1, was receptive to the kindness of this stranger.  I realized…it was because he spoke human.

I’d be remiss to say every experience is like this, but I do wish it was.  Bereft of the strife-filled recollections that I’ve encountered over the years, he didn’t see color; he didn’t see gender; he didn’t see age; he saw – people.  People who were reading.  People who were doing something that he’d like to do.  He saw – an opportunity – to share; befriend; to smile.  Don’t you wish we saw things like this…all the time?

Now I know the concept of children being color blind is not a new thing.  Actually, that’s not my focal point.  It’s something else that I noticed about kids, which many of us are aware of, but perhaps don’t talk about enough.  Whether our kids think like this really depends on what they’re taught…wait for it…by the adults.  These angry grown ups – of all colors – that stir up a visceral hatred – didn’t morph overnight into intolerant men and women.  These ideas were taught, bred, ingrained, seared.

My question for you is, what are you growing in the children you’re impacting every day?  Whether parent or non-?  Because they hear what you say, but they see who you are.  I must say, I was relieved by Isaiah’s act of generosity.  When I saw that the stranger wasn’t taken aback, but laughed, I felt o.k. approaching her.

I apologized for his interruption, which she found quite welcoming.  She was new to the city and happy for some company.  They later crashed the bean-bag section, her 1 and my 3, and I still cringed a little bit – because my boys are rough.  Turns out, she had a pretty tough kid herself!  They all had a blast.

Food for Thought:  So often, we bring our hang-ups into neutral situations, assuming the worst.  On countless occasions, we should leave our biases out the door.  Reality says, not every experience will be a positive one, because far too many have deepened hatred.  However, as we pride ourselves in our cultural differences, let’s not forget to celebrate our oneness.  I think we all still bleed the same blood.  Let’s not speak hate.  Let’s speak human…and teach the language to mastery…

#ispeakhuman, #kidscwhatwedont, #pursueyourpassion, #catchthedreamsofequality, #bethe1whomakesadifference, #thanksisaiah

Picture:  Isaiah sharing one of the greatest gifts discovered by moms and teachers everywhere….a book.

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.

Laying It Bare…

JustMe

Snap.  Click.  Snap.  Click.  It went so much faster than I expected.  I know our world is digitized, but I still forget how quickly things can move.  Each time Jermaine snapped my picture, it was available within seconds for viewing on a widescreen monitor.  While I was initially thrilled at how celebrity-like it seemed, it didn’t take long for me to find myself contending with an old foe who so often assured me that beauty wasn’t quite attainable for me – not by my self-imposed standards that is.

While I still loved – and would never exchange – the wonderful experience that I had last week (on my late grandmother’s birthday, who would have been 89), a bittersweet moment crept within that triggered a very unexpected conversation with a member of our team.  Peering into the screen with some of my brother’s finest work, I began to glare at everything that I thought was wrong – and I slowly and precisely hated it.  I could clearly see all my flaws.

The hair didn’t look right.  It was uneven on one side and unattractive from that angle.  I could see tiny scars on the legs that reminded me of childhood accidents, and I wanted them to disappear with immediacy.  The chest looked ugly.  It seemed like ribs were poking through the screen.  And the eye.  One looked lighter underneath than the other.

Those hips.  Oh how I wished they were more rounded, like my sister’s.  If the legs were just a little fuller.  They looked too thin.  If the waist could go in more, my shape could look more like an hourglass and less like – a box, as someone once generously shared with me years ago – and I never forgot.  I thought the picture was nice, but I wanted it to be so much prettier.

What I didn’t realize is that these ugly thoughts weren’t in my head.  I was saying them out loud – to myself – but within earshot of a member of Team Carla.  She listened first in disbelief, assuming I was joking, but then became stern after she saw – and heard – the disappointment in my voice.  Because really, I wanted the picture to be flawlessly beautiful.

Instead, I reflected on the many tear-filled days I struggled from elementary to college of feeling completely inadequate, not quite attractive, and spending hours stuck to a mirror because I was afraid that when I stepped out of the restroom, everyone else would see the many flaws I’d been staring at hopelessly unable to “fix”; like the red-hair and freckles I hated after being dubbed Pippi Longstocking, Raggedy Ann, Strawberry Shortcake, Annie, and my favorite Garbage Pail Kid Curly Carla.  I swore I’d dye my hair black in high school to escape the torment that came with being different, but my mom didn’t let me.  I’m so glad she didn’t.   Somehow, I thought I was over that.  But apparently, remnants of that poison lingered.

Going back into the quaint studio for a touch-up, I received quite the heartfelt chastisement from everyone on Team Carla who insisted I was crazy for focusing on the minors and not the majors.  It was so ironic – because a rather large part of my business as a speaker is reminding women – and men – that it is not our commercial-ready polish that determines our beauty, but our inner-being, strength, and energy that we share with others that makes us wonderfully unique.  Nevertheless, after years of training myself to avoid self-depreciation, I relapse here and there, momentarily listening to the status-quo in my head.

Nevertheless, Team Carla had other plans.  Not only did they tell me not to worry about it, but they reminded me how heavily laden we all are with flaws, and how our imperfections have no bearing on our path to pursuing our dreams.  I briefly forgot that, but I’m so glad they snatched me back into reality.

Having recovered from my digression Saturday, I have an uplifting message for you.  Be Your Own Beautiful.  Embrace your flaws as a badge of uniqueness and be not ashamed of what makes you different.  You are not the product of photoshop, you are the one of a kind creation of a Master Designer, Who just happened to put everything where He wanted it.

I know there are days when we may feel way better looking than others, but I’m now convinced that on everyday, there’s something in my life that I can feel beautiful about – and it doesn’t begin and end with a mirror.  That’s the bare truth.  And I’ll take mine raw.

#beyourownbeautiful, #theresonly1u, #idonthvtolooklikeavideovixen, #myhusbandlovesmejustthewayIam, #learntoloveyourself

Picture:  One of my favorite behind the scenes shots – where I can clearly see despite the make-up, that this is just me.  And I’m learning to like it.  Click here for more behind the scene shots.

Be in the Moment

I Was So Jealous

I must admit.  As I awakened on my first morning without having to report to work on a weekend, a certain wave of elation trickled over my skin.  I love each and every student in my classroom and have felt compelled since the beginning of the year to offer the optional Saturday Tutorials – that special block of four hours where we pour as much as we can into their tiny bodies with big hearts; but, last week was the year’s end.  Suddenly, there was no alarm clock set.  No little faces awaiting my arrival.  There was just, my warm and cozy bed.  My favorite blanket.  The ebb and flow of early morning noises and…the incessant racing of my thoughts.

That million-item task list found its wily way into my head before the sixth hour of the morning and I was powerless against its mental assault.  I begin to think of everything I had to do.  Everything I hadn’t done.  What I could do within the next 13 minutes, what was clearly going to take longer.  Who I needed to talk to.  What meetings I needed to set.  What had to be done by Monday, could wait till Tuesday, what might get done if I got up at 3:30a.m. tomorrow, what should be done before the weekend’s end, and then I began – the dreaded texting.

It was only after my fourth very-important-I-have-to-do-this-right-now message that my husband rolled over in the dark and said, “What…are you doing…?”  To which I replied with an almost innocent, “Hmmm???” I replied, “Oh…just sending a quick message.”  I was then greeted with a deep and troubled sigh that translated to, “Carla, must you start working so feverishly at 6 a.m. in the morning when you actually don’t have to be anywhere but here…”  I’d like to say that after my non-verbal cue that I had an epiphany, but I didn’t.  I finished my texting.  Laid back in my bed, eyes glued to the ceiling and continued to be rattled by everything I wanted to do, but was pretty sure I wouldn’t get done, followed by toiling with how I could get the most bang for my buck.

Sound stressful?  It is… (Sigh) one of the things that I’m working on getting better at.  I’m still under construction, folks.  This is when I’m reminded of how good my husband is for me.  I went from deeply contemplating my best solutions to feeling flustered by all of my misfires.  Anguish spilled over my face as I began to fret about what was completely and disappointingly impossible.  Then two gentle, but firm arms embraced my own.  A warm voice whispered in my ear.  A compelling consoler coaxed me and said, “Why don’t you just do nothing?”  That felt so hard!  I’m a thinker.  A doer.  An idea-r (o.k., that one sounded weird, but you get the point.)

I struggle so much with relaxing because in a warped part of my brain, it equates quite literally with being unproductive.  I forget that relaxing is a healthy thing that really promotes holistic wellness and keeps me from going crazy.  With tremendous effort and a patient husband, I finally did though.  I silenced the thoughts, by replacing them with far more palatable ones from my imagination.  I closed my eyes and saw sandy beaches.  Tranquil waters.  Soothing falls.  A plush bungalow.  Island accents.  Delectable dinners.  And I had some other encouragement…

Lessons Learned:  Our To-Do-Lists will never be fully complete.  For every task that we cross off, many others will surface.  Yes, aim to get done what is most important; but, be not weary of those that aren’t finished in 24 hours.  Pace yourself.  Protect yourself.  Shield yourself from the madness that can consume you by being the one who wants to save the world in a day.  More importantly, treasure the moments of peace and pleasure that fall into your lap or you’ll find them slipping through your fingers.  Remember, love the ones who love you the most.  Be in the moment.  Today I was the student.  I love my teacher.  #happyrelaxing, #takeabreak, #beinthemoment, #catchthatdream, #itswonderfultobeinlove

Picture:  A photograph I stole from my friend’s FaceBook page (Forgive me!).  After he uploaded it, I was so jealous!  But today, it did me good.  Thanks, Kenyatta ;o)

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.