Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Sunday Quote of The Week...

“Choose to be
  It is good for the soul”
~Rose Sanderson

Stevie Wonder ages ago was asked, if he resented the fact that he is blind, with no self-pity whatsoever and very matter affectedly he said something like “God gave me so many amazing gifts. He just didn't give me eyes. Sometimes I feel I am really blessed to be blind because I probably would not last a minute if I were able to see things”

People find themselves in different circumstances at different points in their lives. The only thing that you can try to control is your positivity and outlook. We are as happy as we decide to be. Many things around us, about us and for us are out of our control but how we choose to receive them, handle them and apply them to our lives is within our control…
Coming to term with death, are we celebrating the life or lamenting the life? Seeing our children soar on their own into their future, do we have faith on what we thought them or are we frightened anticipating failure(s)? Rainy days, do we let them affect us or do we rejoice as we look forward to rainbow(s)?

I really believe we are in control of our happiness and our outlook on life. Happy moments may not be given but it is up to us to seek them. Pursuing “happy” is a liberating prospect and one that has improved my life 100-fold.

The key to your happiness is you deciding to be happy…


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Life Sucks! At Least Today...

“Only a teaspoon of self-pity, girl. Every day give yourself a teaspoonful, but only a teaspoonful. Fill it up full, but only once! Don’t let yourself have more. You can’t live off it. But just a bit of it is like a tonic.”
― Breena Clarke

This may come as a shocker to some, but nobody’s life is perfect. I’ve written countless blogs where you (the reader) might be disillusioned into thinking that I always have it all together, or that everything always has a “Brady-Bunch-like,” fairy-tale ending. That’s very far from the truth. You might not really care to know about all my struggles and imperfections, but they do exist. I’m pretty sure that you’d rather read the positive message I try to express daily, and the stories that uplift and inspire. But you know what, even though you could care less about my daily plights, and since maybe you’re just about tired of reading my perfect outcomes to all situations and the positive “life lessons” I conclude from challenging situations, today I have a detour. You know what? Today I feel like sharing, I feel like complaining, I feel like wearing my negativity… Consider yourself warned!

Some mornings, I wake up tired of the life I’m living.
Some day(s), I can’t stand my reflection of in the mirror.
Some day(s), I cry about the mistakes I made that can’t be erased.
Some day(s), I wish the day didn’t have to start.
Some day(s), I want to kick a door, a tree, myself.
Some day(s), I want to pull my hair and scream at the top of my lungs.
Some day(s), I want to drink myself to oblivion.
Some day(s), I want to be able to call Oprah and tell her f***k off with all of her “aha moments.”
And some day(s), I feel like it’s not Jesus that I need but rather a psychiatrist…

If you examine something long enough, you can eventually find some good; even if it is absolutely horrible. That’s the premise of “My Life Lessons,” looking beyond what appears to be a bad situation and finding a truth/realization that will help me later. So when I have a bad day, it is because I made a conscious decision to. I allow myself to be victimized. I made the choice to allow something real (or not real) to bother me, to the point that it affects all that is in and around me.

Just because I had an epiphany about what’s important in life, it doesn’t make me invincible. Just because I embody four decades of wisdom and experience, allowing me to weed out the frivolous from the sensible, it doesn’t make me superwoman. Or, just because I am a wife, a mother, and I run a family, it doesn’t mean my life is filled with doves, plush pristine, white rabbits and unicorns that fart rainbows!!!! Far from it… I have emotions. I want my bad days. I need self-deprecation; I need to let my guard down and just let it be. Sometimes I do react to what you do, you say or don’t do or don’t say to me and sometimes I can’t manage my life and I don’t want to pretend…

Today is one of those days…

Either way, I don't think anyone needs permission to have a bad day or a bad moment and it is not a quantifiable thing to decide how many bad days you can take or have. Its not like sick days at the office, these are your emotions we're talking about. I need to be able - once in a while - to scream that “life sucks, I’m tired of cooking, I hate doing my kids homework, and I’ve had enough of being considerate.”

Some people call me a fake because I’m always positive, well there you go… how’s that for positive? But then what does it bring to you, hearing me bitch and whine?  Who wants to be around for this shit? Shoot… I don’t really want to be around myself…

“Learn to respect all kind of people because everyone is fighting a battle on their own. We all have our problems, bad sides and bad days. But there is so much more behind it. Behind me, behind you, behind everyone”.

Here is my point. No one truly wears who they are on their sleeve. No one always expresses their emotions or what they go through on a daily. Sometimes life is beautiful and sometimes it sucks. While everything seems great and perfect, it is not always so and while you don’t have to share your troubles, sometimes it is healthy to do so. If everything in life was only great then things would be boring… after all, doesn't a long rainy day make a sunny day all the nicer?

How about you? Do you at any time feel the need to let it out raw and unfiltered? Perfection is a euphemism…Don’t get fooled by your presumption of someone’s life, instead be happy we don’t always overshare!

Love? Always? LOL…

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Willful Blindness… I Can no Longer Condone Your Actions…

“Don't waste time making empty promises.
Invest your time and boost your credibility
by delivering real value to your words.”

In any interaction (whether personal, business or emotional), promises will build trust between the parties, if they are kept. Adversely, they will break the trust in that relationship if they are not kept. As human beings, we often need reassurance in the things we are willing to engage ourselves in, especially when uncertain of the outcome or result. We tend to find people in those situations that can give us that comfort, that encouragement, and that promise that the leap of faith we are about to take is going to pan out… especially if they vouch to help or be the link that will make everything work out. Promises are necessary because they give us a sense of security, and help us avoid situations of failure. Promises are so important because they control the balance of who we will or won’t allow in our lives, and lets us distinguish the people with whom we feel comfortable and secure.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about Good Intentions, Promises… Following that piece, I had some feedback where the worry was that people might always expect positive results from promises, as if a promise was a guarantee. Part of my answer at the time was, “There is a difference between voicing intent to do something and simply lyingJ. I am absolutely not saying that every intention we may have MUST materialize (if so, we might as well call ourselves miracle workers). I, for one, engage myself and promise things for the simple reason that in certain predicaments, my sensitivity takes over my practicality.
At any rate, what I am merely trying to say is - if you intend to act upon something for yourself or someone else, give it a sincere go. Please do your best to see it through, because the mere fact that you had the right intent (for the simple sake of having it) will not serve you or anyone else properly! But if you are PURPOSEFULLY misleading and then self-justifying, you are in the same breath, paving your road to personal a hell (metaphor for personal guilt).

Have you ever found yourself in this situation? You know that one of your friends is known to be a shady character on more occasions than not, but because he/she always came through for you and has never displayed any obvious shadiness towards you (or nothing that you couldn’t deal with), you consciously overlook all the negativity you’ve heard and continue to hear about them. You choose wilful blindness… you knowingly refuse to acknowledge something which you know to potentially be real. In other words, you disconnect from anything that is less than obvious for you.
But what happens when the lies, misgivings and empty promises affect those close to you? Can you really be unaffected and detached because it’s not you being “lied to”, or being “played”? Or, at least that’s how the actions are coming across. Can you really be okay with that?

Well I am in that situation! For the past week, I have been a first row spectator of a train wreck… and I saw it coming! And while again, the deception wasn’t directed towards me, I can’t detach myself from this one… it really hit close to home. I couldn’t just disconnect from this one and for the first time, I realize how important it is to stand for what’s right at all time and to not pick and choose. I need to acknowledge the wrongs by not condoning them; essentially by “looking the other way” because it is not directed towards me. I know the deception you feel when you get empty promises. I know the pain that results from realizing what you put faith in or believed in, was all lies or not taken as seriously as you did. And because I know that feeling, it is very wrong of me to try to feel disconnected and have an attitude of, “Well, she/he didn’t do anything to me so I can’t judge…” But that’s a cop out! I know what’s wrong and what’s right. For my friend that did the voluntary or involuntary deceiving, I can’t just sit back and act as though, “just as long it’s not directly to me it doesn’t affect me.” It doesn’t make it right… Because all I am doing is waiting, and giving him/her the opportunity to directly deceive me the next time. So I did. I had to tell… I had to say it’s not right…

“At the end of the day, we all have a conscience that we can't escape. A soul is like a double edged sword, it will NEVER allow you to forget the ugliness that you did and one day when we least expect it, is when the tally of our action will become unbearable for us to face. The ugliness of our truth will be the reflection on the mirror. Because of that, I'm not going to waste my time by trying to figure out how, why and the degree of shadiness one is willing to stoop to and if that's what you did (I don't know and frankly at this point I don't care as it doesn't matter). I'm not going to waste your time either by expecting an explanation from you (and that's even if you were willing to give one) because again, at this point it doesn't matter. My only question is what steps are you taking to rectify the situation?” RS

This was me taking a stand. This was me telling her/him it wasn’t okay… This was me breaking up from an attitude I had been carrying for the longest time because I finally decided that “what is wrong, is wrong” regardless of whom it is directed to…

I can no longer judge whether the promises will end up being broken promises or lies, which in either instance carry devastating consequences upon your character. If you perpetually break promises you make, you end up degrading how people view you in terms of reliability.
And if what you do is lie – being fully aware of your lies - then you degrade how people view you in terms of honesty. They can potentially carry the same weight if used interchangeably in different scenarios.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Sunday Quote of The Week...

“Faith in God includes faith in his timing”
~Neal A. Maxwell

I’m reading this quote over and over again trying to let it soak in…trying to immerse myself in the true meaning of it. I’ve come to realize that when things fall into place in a way that I understand and agree with, my faith in HIM and HIS timing his never in question but when the “reasons” are unclear to me, HIS timing –subsequently, my faith in HIM- is put in question… WHY?

Why does God allow suffering to happen? More specifically, why does God let bad things happen to good people? Why doesn’t he stop the evil? What is the purpose? What is the lesson? What are the reasons?

Each day brings new tragedy that we don’t understand. The Holocaust. A small child dying in his mother’s arms when medical treatments fail. A newlywed couple is killed by a drunk driver as they leave for their honeymoon. A faithful missionary family is attacked and killed by the very people they were ministering to. The lone woman seating on the same rooftop that now covers her lifeless family she hadn’t been able to save during Hurricane Katrina. The boy crying at the loss of his entire family in the Asian Tsunami along with the thousands that drowned. Many others are buried in earthquakes. Carefree and passionate marathon runners and supporters getting hurts and losing their lives, limbs after an unspeakable assault. Thousands are killed in a terrorist attack…

I don’t know the reasons why God allowed all of these things to happen. I understand HE gave us free will and probably don’t want to violate that gift. Why ones free will should affect someone else’s life?  Do we need to be interconnected at all time?  
I’m sure HE could stop some of the horrible things that don’t involve free will, the things that are just a mere display of evil in the world.
But then again, I'm human.  I can't see as God sees... I cannot in good conscience say that, because I see no possible reason(s), therefore no reason(s) could possibly exist. Without God-eye-perspective on things, I simply don't have the ability to make judgment calls on the justice or injustice of God's actions (or inactions).

Real faith in God includes not only faith in HIM, but in HIS timing, and because I don’t always understand thus accept HIS timing (or what I perceive as lack of involvement in making things right) it is one of the things that it is most difficult for me to have seamless faith in. I struggle as I want to keep my faith in HIM and HIS timing as two separate entities but know deep down it is one. Never before has this quote rang so true to me.  

"With time and perspective most of us can see good reasons for at least some of the tragedy and pain that occurs in life.  Why couldn't it be possible that, from God's vantage point, there are good reasons for all of them?
"If you have a God great and transcendent enough to be mad at because he hasn't stopped evil and suffering in the world, then you have (at the same moment) a God great and transcendent enough to have good reasons for allowing it to continue that you can't know.  Indeed, you can't have it both ways."
~Timothy Keller.

When I question God’s timing, it is often because I am looking for guidance or deliverance from a difficult situation. When I judge or question God's standards of how HE does things, I forget the “wonderful” HE's already done. HE's already given me mercy, opportunity to overcome pain and suffering by believing. I forget the gift HE gave me to face and beat death. I forget everything that HE will eventually return to bring. I forget the promise of everlasting…

In any thoughts, positive or negative, being able to channel them, question them, understand them without really understanding (boils down to faith) and to accept them without really believing in the righteousness of it all is HAVING FAITH IN GOD AND IN HIS TIMING…

We will be okay… 


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Storms Don't Last Forever But They Do Build Us...

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 I’ve heard so many times that, in this life, anything of real value that you will ever attain, you will have to fight and work hard for. We can’t avoid going after what we want and need because we are worried about the battle, or the storm we are going to face. There isn’t a single thing in this world that’s made better by waiting for it to be handed to us, rather than us going for it.
Everything you care about becoming, everything you are about, needs to begin today or it may never happen. Momentum stems from how bad you want it, it comes from you pushing through obstacles and making it happen. It comes from facing the storms, and emerging victorious.

So when the outlook seems dismal about a particular situation, I try to remember that storms don’t last forever and that I need to ride them out until the end. I need only to hold tight, while I wait for the inevitable next sunshine. And as I focus on all the things I still need to achieve, my hope rises, and eventually my peace comes; sometimes in the middle of the storm. If I keep focusing on the storm itself, I lose sight of my goals and plans, and become side-tracked for far too long. There is this well known quote that goes something like, “God wouldn’t put more on you than you could bear,” and we NEED to remember that. We need to remember the basic promises HE made to us. During challenges and great obstacles (or even little ones), when we feel like we are in the middle of an uncontrollable storm, and we are scared that we’ll drown, we need to remember that HE will stay true to his promise. No matter how powerful the storm is, my God is bigger, and most importantly, He always has a plan for my greater good.

So here’s the flip side, the human side… True enough, He has a plan - but do we really need to face these storms? How many challenges do we need to go through and overcome before we can ride the sea peacefully? I’m sure you’ve asked yourself these questions a multitude of times. My answer to that is; we need those hard times in order to grow, to be better and stronger, and to feel accomplished. Storms come to teach us valuable lessons about ourselves, and to show us where we are in maturity. The same way that pain shows us that something is wrong in our bodies, storms point out the areas in which we need to mature to another level. Like the saying goes "What doesn't kill you will ONLY make you STRONGER." There is so much truth in that statement. Funny enough, you will (hopefully) never go through the same situation with the same results. Either you would have learned a lesson - which will make you avoid making the same mistakes, or you will have better results than the first go-round because now you know…
Without adversity, without opposition, without storms and hard times, we will not grow into the individuals we have the potential to become... We are works-in-progress, and the storms are what shape us, change us.

Storms and challenges are here to teach us about adversity and patience. You learn nothing if your life is all peaches and rose petals, and no lemons. Without adversity, there can be no gain in a spiritual, physical or mental capacity. We have to learn through opposition, that is what this life is about. You can’t gain muscle except through breaking down tissues in your muscles, and leaving the gym in slight pain. You can’t give birth to a beautiful baby without the pressure and pain of child-birth. Again, nothing great comes easily.

I have been taught to not feel (and be) defeated by my seatbacks. It’s amazing how I know that I will encounter obstacles, and fail at certain things - the rational me knows but my heart and mind doesn’t always accept it and it does bring me down. It does literally set me back. I see and hear of success stories around me, and I’ve even lived through them myself, so I know for those successes I had (and continue to have), I had to suffer setbacks, obstacles, defeat, adversity, disappointments and heartache to get to my goal. From finally getting pregnant and carrying to term, to being in the position that I’m in career wise, from working hard on writing my book, to being an good mother and wife… No one as ever achieved any kind of success without having failed. But the challenge is to learn to continually pick yourself up and carry on, knowing that ultimate success is yours to achieve, as long as you keep on going on and that’s is where I fail at times…

Even though we have to endure some type of hardship sometimes, I often feel that enough is enough. I need to nip that in the bud right away, as I also know anything that comes easy will never satisfy you. Your spiritual growth or decline depends on how you deal with those difficult times. So while riding through your storms, remember who controls the wind. If the winds are tumultuous, then find safety in the eye of the storm, and you'll get there through your faith. Yet if you must ride the waves of the storm, then remember that on the other side of the storm, is a blessing that you will not have room enough to receive. Hold on, don't bail out!!

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn't something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn't get in, and walk through it, step by step. There's no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That's the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.
And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You'll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.
 And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
― Haruki Murakami


Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Sunday Quote of The Week...

"We are not human beings having
a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having
a human experience"

The quote is by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), the French philosopher and Jesuit priest.

I woke today like most Sunday where I don’t make it to church -lately I am again having a hard time making it to churchL- and don’t have to go to work. I turn on my TV while still in bed and watch Super Soul Sunday on OWN. Today was a great discussion and at the end Oprah asked her guest what is his favourite quote of all time and he said "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”. Uh? What does this mean? What???

So I sat and started to think about this quote and what comes in my mind is all those little sentences, says, you hear or say over and over again without really understanding the meaning of them. Sentence like “When I die I want to come back as…”, “This is déjà vu”, or ‘I must have been….in my past life” and I think about the good old KARMA… Yes I start to think about the concept of karma, which I summarize by one's actions in the past have shaped one's present reality, and one's actions in the present will in turn influence one's future. This law of karmic interconnection operates in permanency, carrying over from one lifetime to the next and remaining with one in the dormant state between death and rebirth. Because of Karma I believe that we are what we are and where we are in direct response to thoughts and past actions. My everyday situations and predicaments are opportunities for understanding, for growth and improving my life, myself for better tomorrow. Since I do believe in karma it is easy for me to agree with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s quote (those frenchies are so smart. LOL!)

So in believing in life before life and life after life, I consequently believe we are spirits. 
We definitely aren't human beings having a spiritual experience, because not all human beings have spiritual experiences. For me a spiritual experience is the experience of being visited or recognizing whole heartedly that there is a power greater than you that have an immediate, direct impact on you, your life, and your soul. The latter speaks my truth.
Not all of us in the human form believe in spirituality and the connection with God. I believe that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. I AM a spirit, and I live in a human body…now.  In the present, I am immersed in a human experience. My spirit will live on long after my human body is gone. I am aware that I am not a mere material being, I am a spiritual being pursuing my growth and learning to strengthen qualities like kindness, understanding, love, truthfulness, compassion, and justice

From the time we are able to comprehend life and its cycle we know that today is temporary, we know we are all born and we all will die…the key is to find the purpose, our purpose. And boy, there is a big gap between understanding that concept and putting it all in use.  Depending on how long our experience will be in this life, we eat and sleep, work and play, we acquire responsibilities we have to take care of (bills, children, home…), manage relationships, on and on… And in the midst of all of that our spirits are growing and being shaped. We learn and explore, we open up, we shut down, we experience grief, we experience healing, and hopefully through the many ups and downs of our internal experience we learn what’s most important which is to love.

To be human means to be governed by your senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing).
To be spiritual means to be governed by ethics and morals, to have strong spiritual beliefs that govern your behaviour. I like to think that I am not one of those being governed by my senses and am trying to be spiritual, I am a being who is in fact spiritual and who also have 5 senses.

“Philosophy of religion teaches that the need of God is a valid and inborn human need”… Something else to think about…

Have a great Sunday you all!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Listen to Silence and Appreciate its Answer!...

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
~Norton Juster

A couple of days ago, I was truly aggravated that someone had chosen to invade my moment (my privacy, my quiet space) by wanting to engage in an uninvited conversation. Granted, I was sitting by myself on a barstool at Starbucks (you can’t be any more public than that), yet, not on the phone, and not reading a book… I was simply sorting things out, while enjoying my “grande skinny vanilla latte.”
So many times we completely miss the boat. We prejudge; we assume - with the quickness - what someone else needs, as if we have all the answers. We sit in judgment of what other people do with their time, and contemplate how to enrich their moments. Our brains analyze the visual aspect of a situation, and suddenly we assume that we know the why, how and the solution. All this we’ve conquered, even before we are made aware of what we are stepping into or looking at. And that’s why it is hard for us to understand silence… others’ need for silence.

Silence is the opportunity for me to spend some time with myself. I come from a very large family of 11 kids. Granted, we never lived on top of each other and there was always space and opportunity to be alone, but even while alone, you always knew there was someone around. While I wasn’t a recluse (far from it actually J), I was still very selective about who I would spend my time with and how much time I would allot them. When I didn’t want to be bothered, I would start to write in my journals, or read for hours on end. I’d listen to the whispered messages that my mind sent my consciousness, and listen to all the questions my mind had stored up about myself. I learned to ignore the noise, my surroundings, and I spend a lot more time listening to silence. I was listening to the answers silence gave me. With age, I now realize that it is a necessity. Silence allows us to truly pause, reflect and appreciate the situations we are in for what they are.
Don’t we all like to just be our own company at times?

Silence is a funny thing… When you learn to appreciate it, you also learn when it is required from you… at least most of the time.
Silence has taught me the value of that difference. So much can be said in silence. Silence can simple mean, “I understand and support you.” Silence can simply indicate that we need to think, think and think some more for ourselves. Silence can mean fear. Silence is guided by circumstances. Silence can be a reflection of sadness or happiness. Silence is at times, the best answer to complex questions. I personally find it disturbing when people feel the need to fill every moment with meaningless comments and conversation. I like to surround myself with people who have mastered the art of enjoying comfortable silence. I have been called rude, anti-social, and an introvert because my timing is not always appropriate, but far from me to be that person… I simply like to listen to my thoughts and my feelings… to have some “me time.”

So many times friends want you to be their shoulder to lean on; they want you to be the person they confide in. And while on occasion what’s needed is advice, opinions and conversation, sometimes your silent presence is what’s mostly appreciated. We all should bear in mind that listening is sometimes worth more than any advice you can share. One of the great paradoxes in life is that we humans are so much alike in so many ways, yet we are as different as different can be…we are individuals.

While we naturally want to advise and help, we have to listen first. Listen and read the clues of what the person needs rather than jumping in with advice and opinions right away.
Stop working on your response while someone is still speaking! Don't interrupt and just listen, you may be surprised at what is actually said and what it actually means and what they actually need from you. Your history and experience may tell you one thing is true, but another's history makes for a different truth. So that is why listening to silence will give you answers you will appreciate and your friends will value.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday Guest Post "Raising Princesses...or Princes?" By Teddy N

Teddy N.

Guest Blogger married and mother a beautiful 2 year old boy.     

“The thing that impresses me most about America,
is the way parents obey their children”
-King Edward VIII

In a month, my son will be 3 years old. This morning, I saw him pick up his breakfast bowl and with his little hands, take it to the kitchen counter for me. I see how he often takes things to the trash, a snack plate or a cup back to the kitchen. When my husband and I do our weekly clean up on weekends, he gladly asks for paper towel so he can wipe the glass table, or hop on the dinning chair to wipe the dinner table, or simulate me cleaning other furniture pieces. If he spills something, he will mop it out best he can with a paper towel.
Does he just like to clean?  Or like someone told me today, being clean and wanting to clean around is something you are born with or without. Either you have it in you or you don't?

Today, over lunch with a few co-workers, we had an extremely heated debate concerning chores for children.
Now, before I go deep into the details of the debate, let me give you guys a little bit of my background. I was raised at home in D.R. Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo) which I left at age 18 to pursuit studies abroad. Some of us can testify to the fact that at home, having maids wasn`t an issue. So like many, we had maids, without counting the many family members that were always there and could help around. However, mom always found a way to have us LEARN how to clean, cook, do dishes, laundry etc. Yes, they were times when it was done with tears because you'd rather be playing than cleaning or cooking. There always were some chores to be done. And while at time (most of the time) we truly despised them, it wasn`t a subject of debate! Mother did not have to remind us. You did it because that was your chore, your duty, your responsibility at home, as a family member.
Mom always used to tell us in reference to the maids or the cousins and aunts that could help ``No one can ever love your place, your nest, better than yourself. If you can`t clean it, no one will do it better than you. ``!

Well today debate came about during lunch when someone who has a 14 year old daughter claimed that she does not do a thing at home. She does not help in any way; she does not even clean her room or her own bathroom. There was another lady with an over 20 year old with the same claims. So, I went into explaining how I was raised and how thankful I am that my mom was tough when it came to chores and how grateful I am that she did! Married with a son, If I did not have those bases, I wonder how much tougher my life as a mom and a wife would be.
I got many arguments and comments, to name a few:

  • Because they are raised in a clean home where their moms do EVERYTHING for them, when they get out, they will be forced to clean to keep up the standard
  • Nowadays, you can`t Make kids do the things they don’t want to do, they are strong headed.
  • Kids have it hard at school, so they need all their time to study and at downtime, relax!!My kid goes to one of the best schools in the state.
  • Oh my Gosh! Your parents made you do too much, sounds like you were abused!
  • Not everyone has the cleaning genes in them, if the kid does not like it so what?
  • I was told today I will be the mother in law from hell because I expect girls to know so much around the house!
  • My kids like beautiful, expensive things, I see them in beautiful homes which they will be cleaning to keep it up
  • Eventually, your children will revolt against you because of your belief in chores.

I am scared of the state of generations to come. As parents, many of us are not doing well our share. We think that by dotting our kids with everything they want and by letting them do what they want and how they want it, we are doing them a favor. Now, our receptionist who is a 22 year old raised as a princess testified that she blames her mom for letting her be that way. Saying that had her mom enforced the rules, she would have known how to do those things instead of learning when she moved out to stay with her fiancé. She told me I was absolutely right, she wishes her mom or dad, had put their feet down when it came to chores.

I am surely not one to judge, I have no teenagers yet. But I am strong in my opinion that it`s not doing our boys or girls any favor. I mean since when do our kids know better than their parents to decide what`s good for them or not? I have a hard time picturing a family dinner where the children just get up after every single dinner not helping out to clean the dishes (be it by hand or dishwasher!!! at least load it up!)
How many men have you seen caught up in dating -even women they did not want to be with- just so they could have someone to cook or help them around the house? How many of this generation of princesses have been dumped because they could not fry an egg? Or simply make a decent meal? My husband has a nephew who is 24 years old and he recently told me that it sucks out there with girls, most of them don`t know their way around cleaning, or cooking  so he thinks, marriage in his generation will just be a big dirty houses!.(This is a man who when he comes over for weekends, I don`t lift a finger to clean dishes, he helps me mop my kitchen floor, he helps me when am cleaning and this, without me asking).

Today`s debate really affected me. I was in constant state of gratefulness towards my mom. She did well by us! I may not have seen it then, but after I left her side, I thanked her countlessly! I feel that I owe it to my kids to do the same by them. Boys or girls, I will expect them (No negotiations or rewards involved) to stand up to their chores. So that someday, they won`t have to regretfully say ``I wish I had learned this earlier with mom``
All I know is, I won`t be raising princes and princesses. My mom did not raise one, and I turned out pretty good!

“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground,
put some responsibility on their shoulders.”
~Abigail Van Buren

Sunday, April 7, 2013

My Sunday Quote of The Week...

"Let your market value be so high that only people rich in character will be able to stand in your presence. Let your value be so high that those who can’t appreciate others will not walk into your life’s “store” and ask about your cost. Be an exclusive item; after all, there’s only one you, made especially for this world to respect and treasure!"

This was the last sentence in my post about what we think our value is in this world. While everything I wrote in that post resonates with me, this was THE message. This stayed with me long long after it was on white paper…long after I hit “publish”…
Love yourself, uphold yourself to the standards you see fit to follow in your life and require from those around you (in or out of your space) to acknowledge you with respect and to recognize those standards you have for yourself and your life…


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What Am I Worth in Today’s Market?

“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against,
but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me.
How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company?
It’s beyond me.”
~Zora Neale Hurston

 It’s funny how society (as a whole) likes to assess our worth in all different aspects of life, programming us to always feel the need to be “at our best.” In the workplace, your pay rate - unlike your position - determines your worth. In friendships, we assess each other constantly to determine the level of trust we should give. In romantic/intimate relationships, we are always being judged and evaluated/monitored to see if ultimately we (ladies) deserve that ring on our left hand, or if we (men) deserve her hand in marriage. From the onset of the relationship, we begin to ask the questions, “Is he a good kisser? I wonder if she’s good in bed? Will his mother like me? Is she still in contact with her exes? Is he really the one? Is she good with money? Is he from a good family? Does she have solid goals for the future? What does he believe in? Is she the one I ask to be my wife? Will he be good as the father of my child(ren)? Can I build my future with her? Would he be a good leader for my family? Will she/he be faithful?”

Speaking of said (perceived) worth -16 years ago, my dowry included a couple goats, some money and a few odd requests (mostly for the sake of acknowledging the tradition)…For those of you who have only experienced American/Western culture, “dowries” are the old school way of showing a family that you were really serious about their beloved daughter. If you wanted someone’s hand in marriage, you’d better be prepared to give the father/family whatever items/price they found acceptable for the interaction. Spend a few moments on Google and you’ll find some outrageous things given to families in a dowry. Funny enough, now that I come to think of it, I wonder if the hubby feels like he made a good investmentJ… I think he got off easy! Some might feel like the dowry given for their hand in marriage is their worth. Some others might feel like the amount of people who think they’re attractive, is their worth. Some might feel (although most times, not true) that the applause they get after a speech/performance is their worth. And I guess for some, our ultimate value is calculated by the net sum our organs can fetch on the black market; which I think (for me) must be a pretty penny as I’m not a smoker and only a light drinker…
The common thread in all the examples I listed above is that your value, your worth, is determined by someone else. As I said before, we are judged at all times and everywhere around us.

BUT how do I value myself? What do I feel I’m worth?

I would be lying if I said, “I don’t care what others think about me.” People’s approval has always been somewhat important for me because it helps me gage my behaviour and actions, and also gives me a standard to uphold. I’m pretty good about placing less importance on the approval of strangers, but the approval of my family and loved ones is quite significant. Whatever the case may be, your own self-worth is what matters in the end. It will be determined by your own awareness and confidence, as how you see yourself and how others view you can vary to extreme degrees. While most will say that appearances shouldn’t hold any substance in assessing your own worth, I know I can’t attest to that… We all know that the fashion, cosmetic, movie, and almost every other industry employs the age old philosophy of “You’ll be accepted if you look like this” to sell their products and ideas.  

There are a lot of things that come into play when assessing my own sense of self-worth. If I had to base it upon academic abilities, I would have the lowest self-esteem imaginable, as I didn’t like school very much. I endured every single year like a good soldier but I had no choice, I had to have an education. I essentially base my view of myself on my own innate intelligence, on my definition of virtue, goodness as a person (which stems from my religion), of character, and everything that implies loyalty, generosity, and endurance...

The way society will see you (and value you) is by what you show them of yourself.
These past few weeks, I’ve been the shoulder to cry on for a young lady who is just going through heartbreak. The young man decided to part ways after a year and a half, for no other reason than he wants to enjoy what’s out there (that is my personal conclusion from the given facts). Now, the young girl - although fully aware she has been treated very wrong in the past and even now in this particular situation - is finding all sorts of excuses (and reasons) to forgive and forget the behaviour… I mean, seriously? Writing this reminds me of the Chris Brown and Rihanna story; although the situation I’m privy to is in no shape or form abusive (physically), the bottom line is the willingness to compromise your own standards and your own self-worth to salvage, maintain or keep what you know is not best for you. We should value ourselves more than that, no matter who else can’t.

People treat you the way you allow them to treat you, so let them know how you want to be treated. And turn around and treat people the way you would like to be treated.
Once you’ve accepted behaviors that are not in line with your values it becomes a habit for those you let get away with such transgressions. It is harder to break that habit, and it becomes acceptable by default. You have to train people to treat you the way you want to be treated. This can be done by putting your foot down when something demeaning has been done to you and make it clear that you will not tolerate it. If you make yourself clear the first time around, it sends a clear message across to the other person that, “I refuse to be treated that way” and people tend to not repeat it and take you for granted.

So my new mantra is to let everyone know my market value in today’s society. As I’ve said before, people will treat you the way you let them, so it’s up to you on how you want to be treated. Let your market value be so high that only people rich in character will be able to stand in your presence. Let your value be so high that those who can’t appreciate others will not walk into your life’s “store” and ask about your cost. Be an exclusive item; after all, there’s only one you, made especially for this world to respect and treasure!  

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