Love Lessons – A Letter to a King

My King,

I prayed for you today; I do every day. I prayed for wisdom and strength and patience and peace. I prayed that you took time to eat well, take care of yourself, and find joy in today. I pray that you know how much I love you – that your dreams are my dreams and my heart is yours. I pray that you know I’m fighting for you just as much as you’re fighting for me. I pray that you find comfort and strength to withstand trials and temptations, knowing I’m waiting for you.

I know that you’re working on you so that you can be the man He’s called you to be for me.

I just want you to know I’m doing the same.

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There have been more than a few guys who’ve tried to take your place. There have been times, I have to admit, that I’ve found myself in the arms of one of these imposters – feeling a sense of emptiness – knowing he wasn’t you.

I’m so sorry my love.

There have been times when my impatience has led me to seek the affection of actors playing your role.

It took a long time to recognize the Queen in me. It took heartbreaks and heartaches, hurt, pain, shame, and disappointments to learn how to spot these imposters. It took assaults on my heart to learn my worth. It took building up walls and then taking them down, brick by brick. It took the love of a Father to repair what selfish men had broken.

But I’ve never been sorry for loving. I never will be. How can I regret experiences that taught me the immeasurable capacity of my heart? My battles have made me stronger. I’ve learned to embrace the beauty in my scars.

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I’ve learned to see right through everyone who isn’t you. Once I saw the Queen in me, it became easy to recognize their lack of royalty. None of them have the perfect combination of your character, ambition, strength and tenderness.

The reality is, no one can compare to the man you are.

You are bold yet forgiving, passionate yet patient. You are thoughtful and considerate and giving and kind. You’re fun and funny, spontaneous yet deliberate. Your greatest strength lies in your heart for service, your most beautiful quality – your heart for God. You are the most compassionate man I’ve never known.

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You have the faithful obedience of Abraham, the unquestioning faith of Noah, the unbelievable tenacity of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, the purpose-filled vision of Paul, the patience of Joshua, the humble leadership of Moses, the humility of Daniel, the strength of Gideon, the heart of David, and the selfless love of Christ.

I promise to do my best to love you the way my Father loves me; to show you agape love in the best way I can. Though my love won’t be perfect, I promise to give you a love without conditions, a love without strings, a love that strives to embody Corinthians 13: Patient and kind and keeping no record of wrongs; Forgiving, humble, bold, and selfless; Not jealous or prideful, but proud of you. I will protect you, trust you, hope for you, and persevere. I will find peace, strength, joy, and fulfillment in the love you have for me. I will never fail you.

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I can’t promise there will always be sunshine. There will be times when I push every button, days when we don’t see eye to eye. There will be moments when the world seems like it’s crashing in on you. There will be trials and temptations and disappointments. I can’t promise perfection.

What I can promise is support, communication, patience, and love. I can promise to do my best to think before I speak, to try to understand before seeking to be understood, to listen with the intent to hear you, rather than with the intent to reply. I can promise to do my best to make you feel important, respected, desired, heard, and needed.

I promise to embrace your vision and hold you accountable to your goals. Let me encourage your purpose and help you achieve your dreams as much as you help me fulfill mine. I promise to be your biggest supporter, #1 fan, greatest confidant, and best friend.

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I promise to trust you. I will not allow the pain of past deceit to cloud the truth in which you live. I will open my heart and entrust you with its wellbeing.

I know you’ll do the same.

I look forward to coming home to you on Friday evenings and waking up intertwined in you on Saturday mornings. I can’t wait to rub your shoulders and scratch your back; leave notes for you on the bathroom mirror and the scent of me on your skin. There will be few greater joys than the privilege of whispering in your ear how much you mean to me, to the people you work with, to the world. Let me cook your favorite meals for you – the ones that remind you of family and love and childhood joys. Let’s make breakfast together on Sunday mornings and walk hand-in-hand through the doors at church.

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I smile at the thought of you planning beautiful memories for us – amazing trips and sunny beach days, hikes in the rain and bubble baths at home, exploring museums, seeing concerts and shows, coming home to notes telling me to be ready by 8. I’ll lay out your clothes for the morning in the same way you lay out mine for the evening.

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Let’s play mini golf and race go karts and have water balloon fights and play tag. I want to swim in oceans with you and kiss under waterfalls. The songs I write for you will be the words of my heart.

I can’t wait to meet you in a place, a world, a realm beyond all understanding – pure euphoria, a greater high than any drug could provide, every time my soul meets yours when we make love. I’ll be the one to fulfill every wish, desire, fantasy & prayer.

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We’ll throw parties on Super Bowl Sunday and host game night dinners with friends. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and the Fourth of July will be annual events in our home. I want the love we have for God and the love we have for each other to inspire even strangers passing us on the street.

I love you the way the sun loves the moon, the way the moon loves the tides, the way the day loves the night. One does not thrive without the other. They are each other’s balancing act.

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I love the way you manage to find joy and peace in less than perfect circumstances, the way you laugh at my stupid jokes, make stupid jokes of your own, and the way your smile lights up a room. I love your laugh.

I love the way your humble strength makes people feel safe, warm, and welcome. And I love your grounded sense of perspective that keeps you from losing your cool. I love the way you speak so eloquently, holding me to a higher standard, calling me out when I need it, but always in love. I love the brilliance and unlimited potential of your mind. I love the way you effortlessly lead. I love your quiet confidence. I love the determination in your grind.

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I love the way your eyes shine when you look at me, telling me the depth of your love more eloquently than your beautiful words ever could. I love your artistry and creativity and your dedication to your craft. I love your passion. I love watching you work. I love the genuine heart you have for people and your desire to leave the world a better place. I love the way you listen, I love the way you care.

Most of all, I love your hands – those five-fingered cradles made to hold my heart, caress my skin, grab me by the waist, run through my hair, pull out my chair, smooth out my dress, rub my feet, cradle my face, massage my skin, smack my behind, open my doors, catch my tears, and hold our future children. Your hands – a perfect combination of tenderness and strength – they are my favorite part of you.

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I look forward to the day when the work I’ve done to become the woman you deserve lines up with the life you’ve prepared to be the man I need.

Until then, I’ll be praying for you and working on me.

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All of me loves all of you.

I love you,

Your Queen.

 

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Morning Lessons

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Isn’t it remarkable how a good morning often translates into a good day and vice versa? Think about your morning routine. Is it inherently positive or negative? Is it deliberate? Does it even exist?

“Successful people make habits of doing things that failures don’t like to do.” ~Albert Gray

It boils down to habits. The good news is we can control them. The bad news is they can control us. Thankfully, attitude is 100% within our control. The fastest, easiest way to change your reality is to consciously change your habits.

With that in mind, here are 12 morning habits that can literally change your life. Don’t believe me, just watch:

1. Set your alarm for when you’re actually going to get up.

First things first: Break the habit of snoozing. Hitting snooze in the morning is literally starting your first waking moments with a negative thought – “I don’t want to start my day”. Instead, set your alarm for when you’ll actually get up.

2. When your alarm goes off, jump out of bed. Seriously.

Studies show not just the physical benefits of movement, but the mental boosts as well. You immediately get your blood pumping and release endorphins which literally translates to happier feelings. If you have to set your alarm on the other side of the room to do so, do it. You’ll thank yourself later.

3. Positive affirmations work!

What you tell yourself first thing in the morning is critical. What you tell yourself ALL the time is critical. Say something positive. Literally. Out loud. It will be uncomfortable if you’ve never done this before. But do it. Nothing great ever came from comfort zones. My go-to mantra: “It’s gonna be a great day!” The less I feel like it, the more I say it. Our words become our reality. Speak positivity and possibility. Studies have shown that you cannot physiologically say one thing and think the opposite at the exact same time. So the more you speak positivity, the less time you give your mind to think negative.

4. Make your bed.

It’s not just something for your mom to chide you for. It’s the quickest, easiest way to start your day with structure, order, and a small win. Private victories pave the way for public victories.

5. Wash your face with cold water.

There are all sorts of benefits to this including clearer skin. Google it. And do it. It feels amazing.

6. Have a morning playlist that gets you motivated and moving.

For me, this includes Pharrell, “Happy”, U2 “It’s a Beautiful Day”, Charles Jenkins “Awesome”, and Beenie Man “Rum & Redbull”. Whatever floats your boat. Hold off on the sappy love songs. Save those for sexytime evenings with (or without) your boo. The morning is not the time to reminisce on what could have been. Start your day with something that will put a smile on your face and a pep in your step.

Sunshine she's here, you can take a break.
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break.

 

7. Eat breakfast.

Anybody who knows anything about  health will tell you how important it is to eat a healthy balanced breakfast. Seriously. Tony the Tiger says it so it must be true.

Be grrrrreat!
Be grrrrreat!

 

8. Exercise.

Hopefully, I don’t need to list all the reasons you should be exercising. (See #2). But I will say, do it in the morning. Wake up earlier to get it done. Like anything else in life, if you put it off until later, often times it won’t get done. And getting your body moving first thing in the morning just makes you feel better for the entire day. There’s something so rewarding about knowing I’ve knocked out my workout before I’ve started my workday.

9. Read something positive.

My go-to morning reading material since I was in college is “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino. It’s quick, easy, and an amazing way to start the day. Take a few minutes to feed your mind. Read some scripture, a devotional, something from Brian Tracy, Stephen Covey, Dale Carnegie, Dr. Seuss… Read SOMETHING. Readers are leaders. According to the Wall Street Journal, the top 1% of income earners read, on average, a book a week; They also read the front page of a major news publication… DAILY. There has been too much genius passed on through history in the form of print for anyone to say they’re “not a reader”.

10. Express gratitude.

There’s something so humbling about consciously remembering all that we have to be grateful for. It’s hard to have a “bad” day when we’ve reminded ourselves of all the reasons there are to have a great day. Write down all the things you’re grateful for – even if all you can think of is that you woke up with a roof over your head.

Isaiah 40
Isaiah 40

11. Write down your goals.

Studies have proven the impact of written goals. Write down your goals for the next 10 years, 5 years, this year, quarter, month, week, and day. No matter how much you think you know what you’re working toward, writing down goals on a daily basis is quite possibly more powerful than anything else you can do. Like anything else, setting and writing goals is a habit that has to be cultivated. The more you do it, the better (more clear, precise, and focused) you get. Write down your focus and goals for today.

12. Take one last look in the mirror and tell yourself how great you are.

Write on your mirrors if you have to. Remind yourself how beautiful, talented, capable, driven, focused, successful, thoughtful, loving, and impactful you are. Whatever character traits you’re working on cultivating, meditate on them. We’ve all heard it a million times – You have to love yourself first.

I woke up like dis
I woke up like dis

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Notice “Turn on the TV and watch the news” didn’t make the list. The point is to start the day with POSITIVITY. If you absolutely can’t live without television, A. Try it. and/or B. Turn on sports. You can almost always count on SportsCenter to put you in a good mood.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Try something new for the next 21 days. Schedule it into your day. Wake up a little earlier. Cultivate positive habits, see positive results. Try it. See what happens.

 

Not Interested

I sold books door-to-door in college… 80 hours a week, for 12 weeks, for 5 summers. I knocked on roughly 15,000 doors. I’ve heard the phrase, “I’m not interested” at least 500 times. “I’m not interested” doesn’t really phase me.

But say “I’m not interested” to a man, and he looks at you like you have a third eye. Along with the “Why are you single?” question often comes the assumption that you should be interested in whatever said question-asker has to offer. They seem perplexed and offended that a woman may just not be interested in getting to know them. Gents, before you get your feelings hurt, understand that it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with you.

 

Flawless
Flawless

 

So before you ask for her number before you’ve even asked her name, and before you get offended by her response, here are 13 reasons she may not be interested:

1. I’m not interested in getting to know someone who I already know doesn’t share or respect my values. It’s a waste of time. And I’m not in the business of wasting time.

2. I’m not interested in a textationship. If you can’t pick up the phone and have a conversation, I don’t have time for you.

3. I’m not interested in pretending to be attracted to people I’m not attracted to. Don’t get me wrong, a great personality can make you look better and a terrible personality can make the most physically attractive person ugly. Call me vain, call me shallow, call me whatever you like, but if I spend more than a few days with you and your shining personality still hasn’t made you any cuter to me, I’m not interested in faking it.

4. I’m not interested in “hanging out” with a man who hasn’t offered to TAKE me out.

 

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5. I’m not interested in giving my number to someone I’m going to have to politely decline later. Let’s just save ourselves the hassle now.

6. I’m not interested in someone who doesn’t live in my city. I did long distance. I was in college. It didn’t work. I grew up.

7. I’m not interested in taking care of someone who can’t even take care of himself, let alone me. I’m grown. I support myself. I expect that you do the same.

8. I’m not interested in listening to married men complain to me about their wives. I’m not your therapist. I know you “can’t talk to her the way you can talk to me”… That’s probably because you’re busy talking about her to other women.

9. I’m not interested in giving the green light to someone who’s been pursuing me, only to have him pump the brakes. Boy bye. If all you’re interested in is the chase, get a puppy. You can chase him around all day.

10. I’m not interested in wasting time with someone who wastes mine.

11.  I’m not interested in responding to texts asking me for pictures. I have an Instagram account with 900 photos for you to peruse at your heart’s desire. You’ll get pictures without even having to ask when I have decided I WANT to send them. STOP ASKING RESPECTABLE WOMEN FOR PICTURES!!!!!

12. I’m a strong woman. I want a stronger man. I’m not interested in mentally, spiritually, or emotionally weak men.

13.  I’m not interested in being your “friend” either. I have more than enough friends. I’m not interested in pretending to be “friends” with someone who’s not actually interested in being my friend.

We appreciate the effort. We really do. But when she says she’s not interested, get your panties out of your @$$ and keep it movin. Don’t insult her just because she’s not interested. If you do, your immaturity is precisely what she’s not interested in.

She’s been through it all. She’s tired of the Tom foolery. She’s made excuses for boys masquerading as men. She’s fought for men who didn’t fight for her. She’s given too many second chances to cowards and creeps. She’s compromised in constant efforts to give the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe she’s interested in someone who doesn’t act like the rest. Maybe she’s interested in someone who understands that a great woman is a man’s best asset. Maybe she’s interested in a man who has an attention span longer than a squirrel’s.

There are plenty of fish in the sea; thousands of other doors to knock on. Don’t take something so personal from someone who doesn’t know you personally.

…..
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PS

Find me a man who loves God above all else, understands the value of communication, knows how to court a woman, is more interested in pursuing his career than chasing tail, understands the definition of loyalty, is a considerate not entirely selfish human being, has good credit, makes sound financial decisions, is a man of integrity, knows how to pick his battles, knows how to fight for what needs to be fought for, follows through on his word, has goals he’s actively pursuing, is ready for a partner, doesn’t have several children that are accompanied by unstable homicidal baby mamas, makes me feel special, and knows how to spell… THAT’S the guy I’m interested in. I still believe he exists…  Scratch that. Just find me the first part. The rest will fall into place.

What Happened to Integrity?

The 8th Deadly Sin: Wasting Someone’s Time.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Time is money.” I’ve been running my own businesses, setting my own schedule for the majority of my adult life. Ask anyone who’s run a business, owned a business, been in sales, etc. and they’ll attest to this truth.

But ask anyone in their later years and they’ll almost always tell you that in actuality, time is more valuable than money.

You can always make more money. But you can never buy back more time.

……

Remember when we were in middle school, back in 10 BC (before cellphones) and we made plans to meet up with friends at the movies on a Friday night? Remember how we actually showed up? There was no way to call or text someone last minute to say we were running late or weren’t coming (because something or someone “better” popped up. 😳). If we were late, we missed out. Remember when we made plans we actually intended on keeping? Remember when “I’ll call you later” really meant “I’ll call you later”? Remember when we were taught better?

Somewhere along the lines of text messaging and cell phones, of being politically correct and not wanting to “hurt anyone’s feelings”, we lost the value of our word. It’s too easy now to run late or cancel plans. We’ve developed “smarter” technology and dumber communication.

What happened to integrity?

Running late is one thing (Sorry Mr. Davidson/Southwest Airlines/every boyfriend I’ve ever had… I promise I’m working on it). Rescheduling is another. Going ghost on someone you’ve made plans with (even if said plans are tentative) the rest of the day/week/month when that person tries to get in contact with you is just flat out inconsiderate.

How you value someone’s time is indicative of how you value them.

For a generation that is on our phones for an obscene amount of time (guilty as charged 🙋), consistent lack of response to anyone is a deliberate display of disrespect. If you can post a tweet but can’t respond to a text, don’t even bother responding. Your message is loud and clear.

If it happens once or twice, we get it. We’re all busy. We’ve all missed texts/fallen asleep/lost our phones/had a battery die/forgotten to respond/had a text message get stuck in iMessage-less cyberspace. But if this is a consistent habit, you may want to check yourself. People aren’t going to give you unlimited chances to waste their time.

An opportunity is a terrible thing to waste.

Word is Bond
Word is 007

If you’re worried that having to reschedule or cancel plans will make someone upset, so you decide the better option is to just not contact them at all, you’re dealing with the wrong people.

In friendships, in relationships, in business in life, as soon as you know you may have to change or reschedule or cancel plans/a timeline you previously set as an expectation, just let someone know. To have someone waiting around indefinitely is tacky. And rude. And selfish. And inconsiderate. Flake on me once, shame on you. Flake on me twice… good luck with that. ✌️ (Cue Beyoncé “Irreplaceable”. 🎶You must not know bout me. You must not know bout me🎶).

IF YOU WOULDN’T DO IT TO A CLIENT/BUSINESS CONNECT/POTENTIAL OR CURRENT EMPLOYER, ETC. WHY DO IT TO SOMEONE WHO SUPPOSEDLY MATTERS TO YOU? If you wouldn’t treat your wallet that way, don’t treat your heart that way. Remember, the right partner will help you build a bigger empire than you could ever build on your own.

A wise man once said, “A man has 2 things in this world: his word and his balls”…
And testicular cancer is on the rise.*

Communication is sexy.
Common courtesy is required.
Get with it.

*Disclaimer: I have no idea if testicular cancer is actually on the rise. It’s just my only explanation as to the current state of affairs.

Lessons for the Question, “Why Are You Single?”

The most important relationship you will have is the one with yourself.
The most important relationship you will ever have , outside of your relationship with your Creator, is the one you have with yourself.

Friendly reminder:

“Single” is not a sickness.

Before you utter those 4 famously annoying words – “Why are you single?” – here are 7 reasons she may be CHOOSING to ride solo dolo:

1. She may be focused on what she’s building & she may not yet have found someone who doesn’t distract from her goals.

2. She may have standards that haven’t been met yet. And she may have passed the stage in life where she’s willing to waste time on people, places or things that show no promise for her future. 

3. She may be single because she receives text messages asking if she wants to “hang out” instead of phone calls asking to take her out.

4. Maybe she’s single because God has yet to reveal her King. HE may be the one who’s not ready for her yet.

5. She may be single because the last guy waged war on her heart and she knows the next guy doesn’t deserve to be punished for it.

6. She may be single because she knows she’s not yet ready to give the time, energy, & effort that a relationship deserves… and she’s not in the business of wasting people’s time. 

7. And finally, maybe, just maybe, she WANTS to be single.

When you ask a woman why she’s single with that ever-present twinge of astonishment in your voice, we get that it’s supposed to be a compliment. (“You’re so amazing. How have you not been ‘snatched up’ yet?”). In reality, it comes across as either too lazy to come up with something original like an ACTUAL compliment, or a not-so-cleverly disguised back-handed insult (“Let me Sherlock Holmes you to find out what’s ‘wrong’ with you that you ‘can’t keep a man’.”).

It implies that we need one of you (yeah, you – in all your belchy, crotch scratchy, oblivious, smelly, leave-whiskers-on-the-sink-and-socks-on-the-floor glory) to complete our happiness. Maybe she’s single because she doesn’t want to have to put the cap back on the toothpaste or the toilet seat down every morning… Maybe she likes that she has the freedom to talk to whomever she so pleases without having to worry about her man getting his feelings hurt. Maybe she prefers the solitude and sanctity of her peaceful Saturdays to herself, or carefree Sunday Fundays with friends. Maybe she’ll want to share those things with a significant other at some point. (As disgusting as some of you may be, you can be pretty amazing sometimes too). Or maybe she won’t. And guess what? She’s entitled to that.

Single is not always indicative of a problem. Serial monogamy on the other hand is. Choosing to be alone and work on your personal growth is a greater display of strength than needing a warm body to sleep next to at night. 

I don’t want to need you. I want to want you. I want to choose you. Choice: That’s more powerful than need. The goal is not dependence. The goal is interdependence. 

Whatever “marital status” category you fall under, I hope it brings your more joy than sorrow, more smiles than tears. There are plenty of lonely people in unfulfilling relationships. 

Please remember, love is not just about finding the “right” person. There is no perfect person. Love is about BEING the right person. 

Fall in love with the person you see in the mirror first. When you have something great, you don’t waste time on anything that might compromise that.

“My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude”

~Warsan Shire

 

Eph 5:25: “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. HE gave up his life for her.” 👈 Maybe she’s waiting for the guy who still believes in that kind of love…

50 Lessons I’ve Learned Thus Far

There’s something about birthdays that often calls for reflection. What have I learned? What would I do differently? If I could go back 10 years, what would I tell 21 year old me? How can I continue to improve?

I’m a continual work in progress. I’ll never stop learning, growing, making mistakes, and trying to be better. As I look forward to the next 10 years, these are a few of the lessons I’ve learned along the way…

Birthday Lessons

 

  1. Compare yourself to no one but the person you were yesterday. Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t let anyone tell you you haven’t done enough when you know you’ve given your best.
  2. Think before you speak, listen more than you talk, give more than you take.
  3. The loudest person in the room often has the least to say. Let your successes speak for you.
  4. Spelling and grammar matter… 100% of the time.
  5. No FLOTUS ever sent a nude. Be careful with actions you can’t undo.
  6. Cry when you need to cry. Don’t apologize for your emotions. You don’t have to be perfect. Give yourself a break.
  7. Forgive those who hurt you most, yourself included. You’re allowed to forgive people without allowing them back into your life. People are allowed to do the same to you.
  8. It is not your place to ask God, “Why?” Trust His plan, trust His timing, and appreciate unanswered prayers. When God closes a door, lock it.
  9. Nobody is worth you compromising your dignity. Nobody. Love and respect should go hand in hand.
  10. Tithe. God multiplies.
  11. Words have power. Be mindful of yours… Especially the ones you tell yourself. Honesty never has to be brutal. And just because you can voice your opinions all over the internet doesn’t mean you should. Get a journal.
  12. Know when and how to say “Please”, “Thank you”, “No thank you,” and “I’m sorry,” without having to defend yourself. An apology with conditions is not an apology.
  13. Have a deliberate, positive, gratitude-filled, solo morning routine. How you spend your morning will shape your entire day.
  14. Be mindful of what you put in your body and how you treat it. You have one life to live and one body to live it in. Don’t poison it. Eat the dessert… but in moderation. An hour on the treadmill does not erase eating an entire cheesecake. Exercise regularly, eat well, drink lots of water, and get adequate rest. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is stupid. If you don’t listen to your body when it tells you to slow down, it will MAKE you slow down. Just listen.
  15. Travel. Early. Often. Everywhere you can. Try the food. Learn the language. Swim in the ocean. Dig your toes in the sand. Step off the grounds of the resort…(safely). Don’t be so busy taking pictures that you miss out on the whole experience.
  16. You’re as strong as you choose to be. You have little control over what happens to you, but total control over your response. Refuse to live your life as a victim. Your history does not have to be your legacy.
  17. Don’t ignore red flags. Trust your intuition.
  18. A handwritten note is a powerful thing.
  19. Your gifts are meant to be shared. Share them. Use your blessings to bless others.
  20. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed. Ask for what you want. Speak up. Voice your expectations. Clear communication will solve 99% of your problems with other people. If you want God to answer your prayers, you have to start by praying.
  21. Be impeccable with your word. Follow through. Words without action are useless.
  22. Surround yourself with people who you can continuously learn from. Ask questions, even if you think you have all the answers. (You don’t). If you want to be great, study the greats. Never. Stop. Learning.
  23. The 3 things that will impact you most in life are the people you meet, the places you go, and the books you read. Read good books.
  24. Be the person that the person you’re looking for is looking for. The most important project you’ll ever work on is yourself.
  25. You cannot change a man. Just find one who’s willing and committed to growing with you.
  26. Give someone adequate time to prove who they are before inviting them into your intimate space. Guard your heart. You’ll save yourself a whole lotta heartbreak if you’ll just slow down the process.
  27. If you “loan” someone money, consider it a gift. Let yourself be pleasantly surprised if they ever actually pay you back.
  28. Be patient with, kind to, and helpful toward the elderly. They have a lifetime of wisdom to share if you’ll let them. And God-willing, you’ll be one of them one day. Treat them with the dignity and respect you hope to receive.
  29. Wear sunscreen. Wrinkles and cancer aren’t worth a tan… Besides, there are lotions for that now.
  30. Your parents may not have been perfect, but they probably did the best they could. Even if they didn’t, forgive their mishaps. Be grateful for the lessons you can learn. You cannot build a positive legacy with a bitter heart.
  31. The best things in life require work, dedication, perseverance, passion, positivity, enthusiasm, and patience. Know what you want. Give it your all. Give it time. And if it really matters to you, never give up.
  32. There’s a difference between busyness and productivity. It’s better to work smarter than simply to work harder. Learn how to delegate.
  33. Always have something ready to wear to a formal event. You never know when you’ll need it.
  34. Save. Early & often. Make your money make money for you. Don’t sacrifice long term goals for short term gratification.
  35. Whether you like it or not, you are a reflection of the people you surround yourself with. Choose wisely.
  36. Admit and embrace your mistakes and shortcomings – Early, humbly, and before criticizing or condemning someone else’s. The sooner you address your own issues, the sooner you can grow from them. It’s amazing how much more open to constructive criticism people are when it’s coming from a place of humility.
  37. Celebrate diversity and be open to change. There is beauty in variety and you are not always right. A closed mind should come with a closed mouth.
  38. Don’t let anyone tell you that you “can’t” do something, yourself included. If it does not harm someone else and you want it bad enough, find a way to make it happen. Nobody is really interested in your excuses anyway.
  39. Children need their fathers. Keep your negative comments about him to yourself and your therapist. At one point in time, you chose him. How you speak about your children will stick with them. A distant, negative, uninterested father is a damaging thing.
  40. Understand the difference between secret and private. Love doesn’t require sneaking around. It also doesn’t require an audience.
  41. Wake up earlier. Show up earlier.
  42. You get one chance to make a first impression. Hygiene matters. Smile all the time. You never know who’s looking. Look people in the eye when speaking or being spoken to. Address people by the titles they’ve worked to achieve.
  43. Speak up when something isn’t right. Resolve to be a voice for people who can’t or won’t speak for themselves. Strive to do what’s right, not for recognition, but simply because it’s right.
  44. Eyes on the road. Seriously. Pay attention because almost nobody else is. Learn right-of-way rules and follow them. And for the love of everything holy, use your turn signals!
  45. Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you the best way they know how. The goal isn’t to get everyone to love the same. The goal is to find people who love like you do.
  46. Volunteer. Nothing reminds you of how blessed you are like seeing people who are happier with less. The key to achieving everything you want is in helping enough other people achieve what they want.
  47. How you maintain your home is a reflection of how you maintain your life. A cluttered home reflects a cluttered mind. Color your home with art, music and laughter. They are literally the backdrop and soundtrack to your life.
  48. Be kind, courteous, and considerate. You never know what people are going through. And you never know who you’ll need a favor from later. Nobody makes it to the top alone. Nobody.
  49. Don’t let fear, doubt, or concern hold you back from what you know you were put here to do. Your greatness is waiting for you outside of your comfort zone. Be great. Leave your legacy. Your purpose does not require anyone else’s approval.
  50. Stand up for what you believe in; Fight for what you love.

 

Here’s to the next decade of lessons… xo.

D

Lesson 2 – A Woman is a Force of Nature

She
She

 

I recently posted what I thought was a beautifully artistic photo on Instagram. I came back from a workout and caught my reflection in my hotel mirror. I loved it. So I snapped it and posted it. (@dmarilove on Instagram). It involved incredible intricate wallpaper, perfect lighting, contrasting shapes, and my own silhouette. The critical responses (as well as the silence) from other women inspired this post. Ladies, let’s do better…

 

Societal expectations, plastic definitions of beauty, our painful pasts, not measuring up, not being “good enough,” being unappreciated, being cheated on, suffering eating disorders & image issues & abuse, being passed over for promotions, having motives questioned & successes undermined… The world is hard on a woman. No matter how beautiful or amazing or kind or impactful she is, she will be criticized for something.

A successful woman is either a b*tch, or she slept her way to the top. God forbid she may have walked in favor and has the credentials, abilities, and work ethic to achieve her accomplishments. A woman in a position of influence has to walk a fine line between too feminine and not feminine enough. Finding a man who celebrates her strength yet understands she still needs his is the journey of a lifetime.

Her own insecurities are hard enough on her…

SHE DOESN’T NEED OTHER WOMEN TO BE CRUEL OR JUDGMENTAL OR SPITEFUL.

Why are women so critical of one another? Why are we expected to live up to unrealistic expectations of “beauty” and not celebrated when we embrace our natural beauty? Why do we celebrate strangers who embrace their beauty yet criticize friends for doing the same thing? Why so many double standards?

We see you guys – the same ones saying you want a “real” woman leaving 🌾👀🌾 all over photos of plastic. It’s discouraging. It’s depressing. It’s disappointing. It’s… weak. We see you girls – your jealousy spilling out of insecure mouths, gossiping and criticizing and sneering; Refusing to support other women simply because you’re not where you want to be.

I believe in the strength of a woman’s spirit, the power of her intuition, the honesty in her tears, and the beauty in her honesty. There are few things more beautiful than the shape of a woman. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who celebrates other women.

The woman has been the subject of art since the beginning of time. She’s often objectified, but always celebrated. Her body is a miracle. It gives life, inspires art, and survives the unthinkable. The greatest of love songs and poems, stories and films have been breathed to life by the inspiration of her company. Her mind is both analytical and emotional, colorful and logical. The pursuit of the woman has inspired arias, sparked wars, and brought meaning to lives. A woman’s heart is the reflection of her Creator.

I love my curves. I work hard to maintain them. I spent enough of my life apologizing for them. My body is my temple. I believe in excellence in every area of life – spiritual, mental, emotional, financial, & physical. I won’t bite my tongue. If something isn’t right, I refuse to be silent. I am my mother’s daughter.

I’m grateful for those who see the necessity of a woman’s experience, & those who appreciate the perspective of a woman’s eye. I’m grateful for those who embrace her strength and ambition and vision and passion. The world needs our strength, grace, love, care, hope, passion, dedication, faith, and voice.

I don’t apologize if my strength offends you. I won’t if my femininity does either.

 

“Behold, you are beautiful my love. Behold, you are beautiful.” -Song of Sol. 4:1

A collection of life's not-so-little experiences…