Beauty Basics

Hey there lovely,

Would you agree with me that we are, indeed – ALL IN THIS TOGETHER?!

THIS, being life; THIS, being a journey of faith and a walking out of LOVE – a love for others as well as a nurturing love for our little old selves.

Male and female – we are creatures of habit – and some habits keep us safe and protected while others are for strength and conditioning.

My virtual hug for you today is wrapped up in a short little video I made for a health forum called, Body by Design. I am so blessed to be a part of a community that is dedicated to promoting health and encouraging the practice of maintaining it – not just physically – but also emotionally, spiritually, and relationally.

Here is my piece on creating daily habits that support a healthy mindset – xoxoxo

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Why every woman needs a pair of J.LO boots

Let me tell you about my boots.

These are not *just* boots, they are my prize boots – a boot above all boots. I’m talking real deal, I-saved-up-for-these boots, good leather boots, solid wood wedge-heel boots, fur and straps boots, style AND comfort boots.

Deez boots.

I purchased them as a present to myself on my 30th birthday. It was a good, good birthday. I was fit and healthy, flourishing in my career, completely and wildly in love and solid in my faith. It was like that. And the boots were like that, too. BOOM.

When I put these boots on, my posture changes. I stand tall and my stride is sure. If it helps, they are made by Jennifer Lopez. Now you get it.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way about a pair of shoes. Don’t deny it.

If you are reading this and you are of the male species, you need to know about these types of purchases. They are for reals – and it would greatly benefit you to understand this, if not get entirely on board with this. I will now say “you’re welcome” for your future gratitude.

Back to the boots…I get compliments on them wherever I go, people are constantly asking where I got them and they wear well through winter, spring, summer and fall. I declare these boots a treasure. And I’m pretty sure Wonder Woman feels the exact same way about her knee-high, red, patent-leather, kick-a$$ boots.

A few weeks ago I turned 39 and I pulled out my treasured boots. A smile of content consumed my face. Over the years I have taken the time to regularly polish, repair and brush them. I stand them upright in my closet. I have even taken them to the boot doctor a few times. A little bit of nurture and a commitment to protecting my treasure – and here we are nine years later still loving the heck out of one another.

Yes, it’s a mutual relationship: Me – I take good care of them – staying on the lookout for scuffs, scratches and dry spots and tending to their needs; They – bring me delight, bolster my posture, inspire steps of confidence and express my style perfectly.

We are a good team. Nine years later and we are still going strong.

I remember when I discovered that I, too, was a treasure. It was shortly before purchasing these boots.

I began to see my body as a treasure. Healthy became a verb – from the foods I ate to the exercise that strengthened me, I began actively living a lifestyle that reflected my beliefs.

Marriage, to me, had also become a treasure. I wanted to meet someone who I loved enough to never feel the desire to talk about in a salon break room.  I raised my standards across the board; identifying and declaring what I value and began actively engaging in a lifestyle that reflected these beliefs.

These things that I treasure, I have learned to keep highly esteemed, protected, guarded and regularly cleaned. I polish them and keep them well maintained.

We either learn how to treasure something by practicing value from the get go – or by experiencing the deep pain that accompanys its brokeness. How we learn is up to us.

I had once “played house” with a man and a baby – but I never treasured marriage. It was, at times, a lonely and painful experience, but what grew out of that pain was a redeemed value of love and marriage.

Health had been taken for granted in my house; a lot of talk but not a lot of committment. It wasn’t until after a victorious battle with cancer that we, as a family, declared health as a treasure and began living a disciplined lifestyle that reflected our beliefs.

Too many times we say what we believe, but we live what we treasure.

Husbands stuck in pornography are not men who do not love their wives, they have just not yet learned how to live out treasuring their marriage.

Women who gossip about other women are not wicked, they have just not yet learned how to live out treasuring their friendships.

Corrie tenBoom talks about “learning to live in the light” with one another. It’s a process – a practice that must be learned. Living in the light is simply bringing hidden feelings/actions/behaviors to the surface, working through them together, and moving into greater unity!

This is what brings about quality – in relationships, in marriage, in community – taking the time to understand one another and express ourselves to one another in order to grow deeper in love, deeper in intimacy and stronger in unity.

Boots may not be your treasure, but maybe you are a runner, so sneakers are. If  you are in missions, maybe your travel gear is; or perhaps you lead corporations in the city and a quality handbag is your thing.

Porn is cheap, gossip is cheap, and talking about what you value is cheap – but love, friendship and living in unity is high quality living.

When it comes to living life to the fullest – and when it comes to shoes – when we choose quality ingredients, quality materials and quality people – we are choosing to live intentionally. This is where we discover a life brimming with treasure.

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When it’s OK to be a relentless butthole

I dream about the day when it doesn’t take an alarming diagnosis for us to stop, look around, and assess the quality of our life.

We are just fine with shutting people out of our life, until tragedy strikes and we have no one to walk alongside us.

We are just fine eating poorly, until we are officially charged diabetic, then we begin taking seriously what we put in our bodies and start taking better care of ourselves.

We are just fine with our mediocre life and our mediocre relationships, until we are diagnosed with Cancer, then all of a sudden we have a great desire to live the life we truly want to live, and only do it alongside a few *quality* friends.

Everything is OK until we get that official report telling us it’s not OK and it’s time to do something about it.

Truth is, everything was not OK, we just got comfortable with not Ok, and not OK eventually turned into good enough.

One compromise after another and we are deep in a life that we never *really* wanted. One cigarette after another, and now we are chain smokers. Never thought about that in high school, did we. When we started smoking, it was just Ok.

Year after year of OK leads us down the path we never *really* wanted to travel on.

Cancer grows like that, you know.

One cancerous cell, overpowering and attaching itself onto other cells – growing larger and spreading out with each union – until one day you go to the doctor to investigate a small lump. He reveals a large tumor hidden beneath the surface.

Conflict in relationships is similar.

One small disagreement between a friend or family member, left unattended, layers itself on top of one offense after another; growing the conflict larger and spreading it wider through gossip and passive aggressive behaviors. Until one day your friendship breaks apart and dies.

What if we saw conflict – however small or ridiculous – as cancer? What if we saw the potential of life or death in the way that we dealt with it?

Cancer, left unattended, kills. Conflict in relationships, left unattended, kills.

What if we chose to fight for unity just as passionately as we fight for life after a cancer diagnosis?

Here’s something you may not understand about fighting cancer: while the medicine, radiation, chemotherapy and surgery are the weapons that remove the cancerous cells, your responsibility is to focus on using the weapons that are necessary for infusing LIFE: creating a culture of PEACE, maintaining an attitude of JOY and strengthening yourself in the FAITH.

This is the real war on cancer. Doctors battle against DEATH (cancer). We fight for LIFE (hope).

All sides must work together, it’s a team effort; a united front.

I came to understand this while fighting alongside my daughter. We were a holistic family, we owned a wellness clinic. At first, we began fighting against the medical system, questioning everything and doubting their dangerous treatment.

When we finally recognized their heart was FOR life, we began to trust. Trust brought us peace and enabled us to walk hand in hand with their methods. Unity. Same mission, different assignments.

You see, there was a conflict going on in my daughter’s body. Some cells were fighting FOR life and there were cells fighting FOR disease. It wasn’t until all parties came into alignment to fight FOR life that we began seeing great progress and eventually won the war on cancer in her body.

If we would see conflict as just as dangerous, just as life-threatening, in relationships, we would begin working harder, fighting more fiercely and giving all we have, to maintain UNITY.

Instead, we see conflict as two faces. One is you and the other is me. This is where we get tripped up. The enemy loves to put a face to our pain; we just have to agree with him and then point our finger at them. Truth is – conflict is just feelings and emotions that rub against each other wrong. It’s how we handle these feelings and emotions, how we respond to them that determines if a relationship will survive and thrive or lie down and die.

Who, after being diagnosed with cancer, says, “Oh well, guess I’ll just sit here and wait for something to change.”

Absolutely not. We look for a cure, we search for treatment, and we change our behaviors and adjust our lifestyle – all in hopes of staying alive.

A friend and fellow cancer survivor calls himself “a relentless butthole”. He will pursue life, pursue friendships and relentlessly express his love and concern for you, whether you like it or not. I get that. Who doesn’t want friends like that?!

Because that’s what survivors do: we fight to stay alive.  So many people have learned how to fight hard *for* life. That’s why I believe we are able to fight FOR unity. But first we must become united in cause, committing to the cause – it has to be of value to us, the relationship has to be of value to us.

The greatest way to communicate someone’s value in your life is to commit to fighting FOR the relationship.

What about you – are you in conflict, and are you fighting FOR what you value or are you laying down and waiting for something to change on its own?

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Make Yourself

The look. When I announce nap time is approaching you would have thought I had mixed my words around and declared plunder on the essence of life. The immediate wailing and erupting tears dramatically express an impending oppression. Mercy.

Am I so cold-hearted that I would just come in to his space, pillaging his joy and killing his imagination with such spiteful demands?

The look says, “How could you?!”

I try not to take it personally and I try really hard not to laugh, but nap time cometh and it stops for no 3-year-old around here.

I get it though, I do. It seems like such a waste of time! What my son really wants to say is: “You want me to lie down and fall asleep when there are Lego’s screaming at me to construct them into a rocket ship? You really expect me to be still and close my eyes when the sun is shining and there are tricycles to be ridden?”

I know baby, I know.

When I was pregnant everyone told me to nap when the baby naps and I thought, “What?! When baby sleeps is when I can actually get some things done around here!” As good as it sounds, when baby naps mama gets to have some free time. And then baby wakes and I wish I would have napped because all the frolicking of free time left me exhausted and the cries of a waking baby tell me its time to get back to work.

Sometimes we need someone to make us do what is best for us.

I love where Psalm 23 talks about the good Shepherd, saying “He makes me lie down in green pastures”. I get that. I imagine God prompting us to slow down and take the rest we so desperately need, but we are too busy to stop long enough to listen and lie down; too strong-willed to receive His gift of refreshment.

Sometimes he makes us and other times we must make ourselves.

When my daughter was discharged from the hospital where we lived for seven months, we needed to regroup as a family. Having relinquished our home to the bank we asked God to lead us to a new home, the right home. After scouring Craigslist for weeks and coming up empty-handed, we began to feel the weight of discouragement. Then, out of nowhere, our home found us.

This was the home that God had been saving for us. We were the first to call on it, the first to make an offer, and considering our blemished credit at the time, it was only a miracle that this kind-hearted man rented to us.

With the same in rent that we had been paying in mortgage in the suburbs we found ourselves in a cottage in the country, tucked away from civilization and the noise of the world. It was here we spent the next three years in quiet solitude; planting seeds and simply enjoying the harvest. Our good Shepherd was making us lie down and rest in green pastures, literally.

We were a frail family who had endured much turbulence; He was a good Father leading us to still waters. We were weary from fighting for our life; He became our strength and our shield.

As I carried my son up to nap, I decided to lay with him. He squealed in delight of my presence within his tiny bed frame as he tucked himself into my chest. There were murmurs of contentment and hums of tranquility as we both fell asleep.

My thoughts started to badger me, reminding me that our out-of-state move is only two weeks away and there is still so much to do around the house. I made myself shut them down. As my son fell asleep he threw his tender little arm around my neck and I comfortably settled into a partial strangulation. Listening to his tiny lungs fill with air and feeling his sweet breath whisper upon my cheek,  I sank into ease while peace and rest settled around us.

No boxes were packed that afternoon; no progress was made in the enormous endeavor of clearing out our home. But the respite that was had and the hope that was restored in my surrender, was well worth the time. And so, I continue to practice the art of self-care, because lets face it, we all know how to take care of ourselves, it’s just a matter of doing it.

When God says he brings rest for the weary, He is not just speaking a comforting statement – rest really does restore hope, rest even builds strength and heals wounds. What we believe is doing nothing is actually letting Him do everything.

XOXOXO

M

 

 

 

 

To Resist (Pt.1)

These past few years have been a beautiful, and at times painful, pruning of all things fruitless.  Some things were removed without my consent, later learning it was truly in my best interests.  I can’t say I did not  throw an initial fit, but thankfully, my stubborn will recedes a bit more hastily now than it has in the past.

There were also  things I removed myself from, because they no longer were aligned with the path I am on. At first, these were the easier decisions, as I was the one making them. Exercising authority over my life has been the most rewarding lesson I have put into practice theses days as my path is more clear, lately.

I am finding it easier to discern whether I am to proceed cautiously or withdraw hastily, from things within my sphere of influence. There is a saying in leadership: Hire slowly, fire quickly. Man, I have learned that lesson all too many times.

As a Team Lead, desperation forced me to hire low-performers. I set aside our standards of integrity, passion and experience level to fill severe holes within the beauty academy. My hasty decisions would usually cause the whole organization to suffer. Students became frustrated with poor leadership, educators grew disappointed from new team members who were not interested in inspiring greatness, and I would be under even greater stress trying to train and motivate a career alongside someone who really only wanted a job.

I could whine about it all I wanted, but the truth was, it was all my fault. Hello! I hired them!

I opened the door for someone to join my team, this incredible and fantastic group of inspiring leaders, and bring along with them unprofessionalism, gossip, laziness and poor communication skills. It was not until I experienced the shame of my accountability as I was the one responsible for allowing this weight to fall on my team. I had not protected all that we had worked so hard for: unity, integrity, an inspiring environment and sincere devotion to the success of our students. 

I apologized to my team. I told them I was sorry for not guarding them and the students as well as I should have. We decided, as a team, that we would much rather spread out thinner to fill some holes than hire someone who was not a right fit for us. We all took responsibility for preserving an honorable culture and maintaining a clear vision.

My family and I now do the same. We are accountable to each other for the endeavors we commit to, questioning if they align with our intentional lifestyle. We allow things to fall away that are not enriching and we say a faithful yes to invitations that enhance our family life.

Our presence is our sacred yes.

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It has taken me so long to finally stand in authority with those words. To walk in full permission of saying yes or no to endeavors, events, friendships or communities in order to wholly represent who I am.

We are called, as parents, to protect and guard our family with the wisdom and discernment that comes from a spirit-filled life. As a family, we left our church community when we could no longer ignore the contradictions to Gods Word.

“Therefore, dear friends, since you alredy know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior,Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. ” – 2Peter 3:17,18

When we released unfruitful leadership from our life, we allowed God to be the only source of our maturing. It was when our hands were empty, that he showed us the community waiting for us. Pastors who are passionate about spiritual Fathering and releasing you into your ministry.

It was not until I completely removed my presence from an unhealthy relationship, that God lead me to Mike, my husband. His love for me surpasses all that I had ever known. Sometimes our hands have to be fully empty to be able to receive greater blessings. We must learn how to say no with our presence to be able to say yes to what God has for us.

Our presence, the only real thing that we have on this planet, is our resounding yes or a steadfast no.  We don’t need a picket sign to protest what we despise, we just need to place our presence in the area that needs support. We don’t need to argue about abortion any longer, what we need is to be available for kids who need to be adopted, to see real change. 

When mama aint happy, aint nobody happy. If relationships and commitments are not adding value into your life, or your family’s life, someone is gonna suffer. If you spread yourself out and have but only scraps left at the end of the day for those who matter most, then dear one, maybe some things need to be re-evaluated; maybe some priorities need to be re-examined.

Your presence is your yes, your Amen.  Its your green light, your heck-yah, its your Aye-Aye, captain, and more importantly, it represents you.

I wish I could say it’s that simple. The harsh reality is this:  people who love you may not always understand or agree with your decisions and at times may  respond in a cold or unloving nature. Next week I will be writing part II of the power of presence: standing our ground in confident faith and not giving in to discouragement.

Until next week, Ciao!

XOXOXO

M

Reconciled

I’m sorry. I’m saying it again, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for calling you stupid. I’m sorry for treating you with such carelessness and contempt.

These few weeks without you were tough. I am not going to pretend that I was strong and independent, I was not. I missed you, terribly. I was able to see the mess I had made and when I needed you most, you were gone.

I’m sorry that I took you for granted. Those times you were screaming at me to change your filters and I ignored you. When you overheated and I told you that you were weak and pathetic, I regret speaking those words, really I do.

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You are so right, I never took the time to figure out what you needed! And by the time I finally gave you some attention and investigated the heart of your issues, I discover that your belts were run down; the damage had already been done. Please forgive my neglect.

These past few days spent waiting for your parts, I began remembering the day I brought you home. That one rug in the house, you know – the red one – that has been a every vacuums demise. The one with the hairs of 2 dogs a cat, 3 kids and 2 rowdy parents; that one. You were the only one who cleaned it so magnificently! All the vacuums that came before you could barely handle even one set of multiple shedding, yet you – you – when you came along, my life was forever changed.

You showed me what a real vacuum can do. You introduced me to the power of the wind tunnel. Oh, the way you would gracefully glide over each layer of fuzz and fir, sweeping and rolling and picking it all up, every last bit. Pure poetry in motion, you were.

It’s always been you, always.

I’m sorry about the squinkies. I know it was all in good fun that I would push you over them instead of picking them up – I just wanted to teach the kids a lesson! I didn’t realize that they hurt you so bad.

I’m the stupid one here, its me.

I’m sorry that it has taken me this long to appreciate your strength and value. All you needed was a couple of new belts. Four dollars. That’s all you asked, to get back on your feet, four dollars and we could have been a team once again.

Well, this time it will be different, I promise. This time I vow to keep your filters clean. I promise not to force you to suck up coins, bobby pins and various small toys out of my own inherent, laziness. I promise to trim all the hair on your brush so you can continue to forcefully sweep, because I love you and I need you in my life.

Thank you, my friend, for taking me back. Thank you for showing me forgiveness. This mornings adventure together proved to me how much I adore you – how great you truly are. You are strong. You are capable.

Here’s to another season of keeping this home free of clutter! Here’s to another day, working together, to protect this family from grime. Here’s to a new season of fresh.

Welcome back.

XOXOXO

M