Old Enough to Be Bold

Face it, you’re not young anymore. Don’t worry, you’re not old either; you’ve still got a long life ahead of you. But you’ve spent enough time on this earth to get it together and should have a clear – or at least opaque – vision for your future.

It’s not like you’ve got to have everything figured out at this point, but it’s time to take a deep, honest look at your priorities. If you keep wandering down the path of what ifs, hoping for something or someone to intervene and place the answers in your lap, you’ll end up lost. Forever searching in the dark for a light you’ll never find.

This time in life is confusing. It’s a matrix at the edge youthful playfulness and stressful, adult decisions. It’s easy to convince ourselves we’re still ripe with age and don’t need to have all of the next moves calculated. But that night out we used to quickly bounce back from now serves up a day-long headache and harsh reminder that we’re not; and that we kind of do. Not all the moves, per se, but at least enough to establish a solid game plan for the future.

Think about your dream job. Is the one you’re at now a stepping stone to get there? Are you surrounded by co-workers who are empowering you with the skills you’ll need to get through that next door? If not, then walk out of this one and into one that will. You’ll experience a world of difference when you work with a team of people who recognize your talents and encourage you to reach your goals.

Are the people in your life like-minded, positive influences that encourage you to challenge yourself while constantly bringing the best side of you to light? If not, it might be time to let go. As hard as it may be to end a relationship or recognize the final straw in a friendship that only drags you down, one day, you’ll cross paths with people who will help you realize the reasons why those individuals are no longer in your life. And at that point, you’ll finally understand what trust, respect and genuine happiness truly feel like.

You’re still young enough to be bold, but old enough to be wise. Each decision you make has the potential to impact the rest of your story, so approach every single one with caution, passion and an end goal in mind.

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Don’t be bound by boundaries

Boundaries: They exist to keep us safe – to shelter us from what may lie on the other side. As children, it’s embedded in us to color within the lines – our creativity limited to a solid black outline that’s pre-determined by someone other than ourselves. The older we get, the more opportunities we have to define those boundaries on our own. Then, the onus is on us individually to decide how far we want to push them.

All too often, we put those boundaries up too close to home; in near proximity to what we know because anything that stretches too far touches upon the territory of the unknown. And with this notion comes the risk of confusing comfort for fulfillment. We somehow convince ourselves that we can’t venture further, so we don’t. We stay, and we obey, the lines that have come to define us.

While the choice is ultimately ours, those we care for and trust have the potential to impact the placement of the boundaries – whether in the right direction or wrong. Fear of disappointing or letting others down can limit the strides we take toward something new, something better. But if the urge within you is to push those limits, and you don’t because of the potential impact on anyone else, a new set of dotted lines will be sketched for all of you. And redefined, dotted lines may never connect.

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There’s No Place Like Home(stead) for the Holidays

You’d think the awe and wonder of a vacation destination would diminish a bit after three visits but it’s just the opposite with the Omni Homestead Resort. Nestled into the scenic mountains of Hot Springs, Virginia, is a magnificent 250-year-old structure that boasts a rich history and impressive roster of past visitors, including 23 U.S. presidents.

The drive up the mountainous terrain can be a bit daunting, but any knots in your stomach will disappear as soon as you begin to see the outline of the resort above the hill. I’ve only visited during the month of December and though I have no doubt the place would look beautiful any time of year, there are few locations in the world that get me in the holiday spirit quite like the Homestead. Guests are greeted by the friendly staff and as soon as the doors opened, you’ll be instantly immersed into a winter wonderland. The fire-place filled Great Hall is adorned with a massive live Christmas tree, anchored by boxes of wrapped presents (if only they were real and filled with shoes!).

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With endless activities and top-notch amenities, the Homestead is the perfect destination for any occasion – a family vacation, girls’ getaway or romantic weekend. Guests can take a wagon ride through the mountains, shoot skeet and shotguns, golf, horseback ride and much more. If you’re the type of person who can’t sit still on vacation, look into the Unlimited Activities package but if you want to only do one-or-two things, piece meal is the way to go. Make sure to save time (and room in your belly) for afternoon tea and cake, served each day.

It can be hard to relax in the hustle of the holidays, so my mom and I took a day to do absolutely nothing but be spoiled in the spa. With any 50-minute service you’ll have access to the aqua terminal suite that has four stations including saunas and scented chill showers. I was a little skeptical of the ice shower but it was seriously awesome when followed-up by the hot chair and sauna. Pure relaxation!

It’s definitely not cheap to eat on the resort but if you’re feeling fancy, do one dinner in the Main Dining Room for an elegant setting – and bring your dancing shoes! Plan ahead though during winter months as this room is only open on weekends. There are several awesome local restaurants nearby and accessible via shuttle like Lindsay’s Roost Bar and Grill and Country Café. Or, hop in your car and up the road a short bit to Cucci’s for pizza or the Waterwheel for a more elegant, yet rustic experience. The latter is about 10 minutes away in Warm Springs but well worth the trip – there is a wine cellar where guests can select their bottle of wine for the evening or to take back to the resort (even half-finished bottles from dinner thanks to Virginia’s corking rule!).

My 76-year-old father is not impressed by many things in life, and the fact that by the third day he said the place was “starting to grow on him,” means that you’ve all got to get to the Homestead and experience it for yourself!

What places have you visited that just put you right into the holiday sprint?

Here are the details on my outfits from the trip!

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This Tommy Hilfiger dress is perfect for the holidays and at a price of $19.99 from Ross, it was a no-brainer, despite my attempts to not shop for myself this holiday season. The Aldo boots are also from Ross.

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img_1887Seemed like the ideal place to take the tags off of this $25 winter white Jessica Simpson coat.

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Nighttime was for lounging up by the fireplace, with a after-dinner cocktail, PJs and conversations with my momma. These Vermont Store fannel pajamas are the absolute best.

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img_1932This cold shoulder top is from Target and the jeans, which are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever had, came from Old Navy.

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To say I love this velvet-embellished dress is an understatement. Picked it up on post-winter clearance last season at Dillard’s for just $35!

 

Need-to-Knows for the Nashville Novice

Statistics show just under 100 people move to Nashville each day, and with all the place has to offer, this comes as no surprise. The city has everything – rich culture, diverse cuisine and more musical talent per square capita than any other place in the world. Whether you prefer hopping from honky tonk to honky tonk down Broadway or immersing yourself into history, Nashville promises to keep you satisfied and planning out your return as soon as you depart.

Where to Eat

Brunch is a must and my top pick for starting your day off on a high note is The Southern.  The portions aren’t huge but that’s just fine because it saves room for more indulgences later in the day like ice cream from Jeni’s. If you’re in the mood for more of a grab and go meal, check out the Frothy Monkey.  With a few locations around town, this is the perfect spot for a morning pick-me-up minus all of the frills (and lines).

Nashville might be known for its country music connections, but there’s another thing synonymous with the city that’s gaining popularity: hot chicken. For those of you brave enough to try it, this now basic food group of Nashville can be found in restaurants across the city but there are a few recipes that stand out above the rest: Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack and Hattie B’s.

It’s probably hard to go wrong when it comes to dinner options, but here are a few places to consider. If you’re craving a casual vibe, give South a try (along with their Lavender Lemonade). For a slight step-up, sip from mason jars while enjoying slow-cooked BBQ and local talent at Puckett’s Grocery. If you want something a tad more upscale, look no further than Husk, brought to you by award-winning chef Sean Brock. The Crispy Chicken Skins, though perhaps not the most appealing by name, are truly phenomenal.

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Where to Drink

There are 51 bars along Broadway that keep the beer flowing and the music bellowing. A few of the staples along the route include Tootsie’s and ACME Feed & Seed (both with rooftop views), Honky Tonk and Rippy’s.  Another favorite of mine is Big Shotz on 2nd Ave., right off of Broadway and a little less crowded during the day with awesome drink specials and incredible entertainment.

Nashville’s burgeoning brewery scene is also worth exploration with the likes of Tennessee Brew  Works, Yazoo, Czann, Fat Bottom, Jackalope and Tailgate – just to name a few.  For those of you who prefer the lighter drafts, I’d highly recommend Tailgate’s Watermelon Wheat.

If you’re bold enough to stand in line for anywhere from 30 minutes up to two hours, The Patterson House speakeasy is well worth the wait. The low-key environment transfers you back to the prohibition era as soon as you pass through the curtain.

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Where to Shop

The 12th South neighborhood offers a blend of chic, yet electric shops and eateries – plus plenty of Instagram backdrops. Ranging from Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James to holistic pet shop Wags & Whiskers, this up-and-coming neighborhood has something for everyone (four-legged friends included).

Venturing back to the heart of downtown, you’ll find a plethora of shops and an endless selection of boot stores like Boots & More and French’s. Muse Inspired Fashion is an adorable and somewhat affordable boutique on 2nd Ave. that is also worth a gander.

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What to do

If music is your thing, then you’re definitely in the right place. Rewind through musical history with a tour of Studio B – you may even get a chance to play Elvis’ piano. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Jonny Cash museums are also a must. No trip to Nashville is complete without a visit to Opryland or the Ryman and here’s a hint: if you’re going to be in town for a few days, wait to book your tickets and keep monitoring until the timing gets close before you purchase your tickets as new talent gets added to the line-up regularly. You never know who will be in town so it’s worth waiting for the best schedule! For a more intimate sitting, The Listening Room gives you a a front row seat to raw, unadulterated singer-songwriter talent.

If you’re in town to party, add a little exercise to your day with the Nashville Pedal Tavern. Biking through the city streets will make you feel better about all of the beverages you’re consuming (only you will still be drinking while doing it so maybe the purpose will be defeated but who cares, you’ll still have  fun).

If you’re looking for something more relaxing, stroll through Centennial Park and check out the Parthenon. Visits to the Cheekwood Botanical Garden or Belle Meade Plantation are also in order – plus, the latter even has wine tasting!

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Sure, Nashville is known as a center of musical talent, but the city has so much to offer and will keep you coming back for more.

 

 

 

Big World, Bigger Aspirations

Back in Richmond a few weeks ago for a wedding, I stopped at the office building of my first “big girl” job. I remember looking out across the urban landscape from the balcony fresh out of college, recognizing the opprichmondortunities that flourished in the city below and being energized to take on the world.  But there were a lot of lessons that naïve and worry-free, wide-eyed 22-year-old would learn along the way.  Some were difficult but all were critical in getting me to where I am today – a place I know would make that young girl proud.

Don’t let the opinion of others dictate your destiny. You and you alone possess the power to unlock your full potential; the unwarranted words and doubts of others hold no merit.  Don’t look at the naysayers, and those who try to put you down, as hurdles but rather as propellers pushing you forward to your greatest achievements.

Don’t spend so much time looking forward that you forget to live in the moment. If you’re always on the go, planning your next adventure, you might miss whatever is right in front of your eyes. Each moment we have on this earth is a gift – feel it, embrace it – and don’t let it slip through your fingertips.

You need to let go – of people, of things, of circumstances dragging you down. It can be hard to separate from certain possessions, memories or relationships because they seem so engrained into who you are as a person but letting go of the old makes room for the new – and that might just be better than anything you’ve imaged before.

Listen. In a world full of noise, drown out the chatter. We’ve each taken different roads to get to where we are but there may be others who took similar steps in the days and years before you, and those individuals may have a takeaway that will help you on your journey. Lend an ear and you could learn a valuable lesson. Take a walk to the beach and listen to the water crashing on the shore. Strike up a conversation with a stranger and listen to their life story. Listen to your friends. Listen to your preacher. Listen to your body. And most importantly, listen to your heart.

Radiate kindness. It’s contagious and it will always come back around. Be the source of a smile on someone else’s face. This one applies not just to people you know, but those you don’t as well, as they have the potential to pass it on to others you may never touch.

The world is big, but so are your ambitions. Let no one, including yourself, stand in the way of your dreams.

Taking a chance on change

Change can be a scary thing.  Finding comfort in the familiar is an easy default.  Sticking with what you know, perfecting your daily routine – these are all things that provide us a sense of security and are far more appealing than the idea of walking away from everything you know and taking a leap of faith.  Why?  Because chances come with risks.  But guess what?  Living a life in which you are simply content lends its fair share of risk, too, albeit of a different nature.

You see the thing about change is that it’s natural, even when it does not feel that way.  Like the subtle shifts in seasonal scenery or the gentle flip of a wall calendar, change is engrained in us.  Everything in the world around us changes.  The earth keeps moving and it’s important that we do the same.  It’s not going to stop moving and fighting against it will only leave you exhausted and defeated.

When going through a transitional period in your life, here are some important factors to consider:

Don’t let the opinions of others divert you from the path you’re meant to follow.  Everyone will have their own opinion on what is best for you but the truth is, you’re the only one who really, truly knows what is in your heart.  Be open to the wisdom of others, but take outside thoughts with a grain of salt and don’t allow them to control your decision to make a move.

It’s good to have a big heart, but don’t let that set you back from doing what is best for you.  Sure, being selfish is usually frowned upon but there are actually times when it is okay.  It’s easy to get caught in the idea that you need to make others happy or don’t want to hurt the feelings of those you care about but sometimes, just sometimes, the best thing you can do is to look out for yourself.  Those that care about you, in the most sincere of senses, will accept this.

Dig deep to find out what truly matters to you.  This one is tough and can easily be skewed by the world around you.  It’s easy to be tempted by more money or big promises, but in the end, are these the things that will make you finally feel fulfilled?  Will you be able to look back on your life and say “I’m so glad I was able to do this or make that?” If the answer is no, it’s time to reevaluate.  You don’t want to reflect back later in life and think, “I’m so sad I’m missed out on this because I was too busy being focused on that.”

A world of unknowns awaits you if you’re brave enough to take a chance but the reward may be far greater than leading a life in which you’re always wishing for something more, something different.changing-seasons

Gift Giving: The Magic of Memories

Though a gift granted to us, life is not a thing we should take for granted.  The older I become, the more I understand how precious a gift this life really is.  Another year passed, another group of people that will only live on in memories, hearts and photos.  Be it friends, family, or family of friends, each time I hear of another life taken away, it’s another reminder that there is no guarantee of tomorrow.  That’s why it’s so important that we soak up all the time we do have with those we care for most.  Chances are when you lose someone, you don’t look back and remember the things they bought you.  You remember the things they taught you, the special moments you shared.  Things don’t matter, but people do.

A few years back, my mom got very sick before Thanksgiving and although one to never miss a Black Friday sunrise, reality set in and my priorities shifted.  That particular season was about catering to her, helping her recover, and not about finding the best deals and boxes to stack around the Christmas tree.  There was nothing my mother needed nor wanted more than to feel better and I realize nothing I put under the tree would make that happen.  I decided that instead of buying more “things” for my parents for Christmas, I would invest in memories.

As they get older, I’m not oblivious to the fact that there will come a day, eventually, when we can’t take trips together, when we can’t embark on adventures.  With that in mind, the only gift they received that year was a piece of paper – one that detailed the trip we would take together that spring to Savannah, GA.  From pictures of our accommodations to an agenda tailored to each of them, though not something they could physically use that Christmas morning, it gave them something to look forward to at a time when my mom would be able to enjoy it.  That April we took our trip (yes, ours, because of course I imposed on them).  We got to experience a play at one of the oldest theaters in America, rest our heads at Savannah Bed & Breakfast, tour the town on a sightseeing bus, shop the streets while sipping Mojitos and indulge in the most amazing meal at the Olde Pink House.  My dad and I even rode in a hearse for a nighttime ghost tour and still to this day laugh hysterically about a woman who chased it down.  Those are memories that will last well beyond the time all of us have together.

Following in tradition, this year’s adventure took us to back down I-95 to Charleston, South Carolina.  Again we caught a play at the local theater, took a private horse-drawn carriage around town, ate until we were stuffed and walked around a plantation (and the Swamp where Shrek is from)!

While I’ll still get a few small items for under the tree, I see far greater value in spending money on memorable moments.  If you’re still trying to find the perfect gift for someone you love, give this approach a try.  Don’t buy things just to buy things.  Clothes become dated, children grow out of toys, but memories will always remain.

Creating a Checklist of Thanks

In the days to come, many of us will be spending time with friends and family and eating far more than our bellies can handle.thankful

By definition, the impending holiday is a time to reflect on the things in life we value the most.  But how many of us actually sit down and think, I mean really think, about what we’re most thankful for during this time of year?  The hustle and bustle of the season can often cause a distraction and lead us astray from focusing on what Thanksgiving is all about.

Even if you do have enough internal discipline to keep your mind focused on the most precious points of gratitude, do you take any action to express your appreciation?  Do you simply think, or do you “do?”

This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to take the extra step.  Instead of just acknowledging what you’re thankful for, turn those feelings into action by giving back in a way related to whatever it is you hold dear.  Begin by jotting down your List of Thanks.  Similar to prepping for exams back in the college days, transferring these pieces of gratitude from your mind to the paper will force you to dig deep and put genuine thought behind your selections, rather than just rattling off generic terms about the dinner table.  Then, think about how you can physically show your appreciation for each item on the list.

Here are some ideas to help get you started:

If you’re thankful for your friends and family:

Hug them.  Tell them.  Make sure they know how much they’re loved.  Capture the moment in a photo.  Any day could be our last, or the last time we ever see the ones we love, so don’t take any moment for granted.

If you’re thankful for your health and the health of your loved ones:

Remember those that aren’t so lucky.  Choose a health-related non-profit, such as Susan G. Komen or ALS Association, and make a donation.  Alternatively, make a commitment to participate in an organized walk or run during the next year.  Volunteer at a children’s hospital (check the website of your local hospital).

If you’re thankful for those who keep our country safe:

The sad reality is that many of the men and women who defend our country won’t get to spend the holidays with their families.  Explore ways to give back to them this holiday season, demonstrating your gratitude for the sacrifices they make.  Though it won’t make up for not being home to open presents or experience the joy of watching their loved ones doing the same, even the slightest bit of joy could help morale.  There are several organizations that send Christmas cards to the troops or stores that allow you to purchase candy bars for them at the register.

If you’re thankful for the feast you’re about to devour:

Be sure to think about those that don’t know where their next meal will come from.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen.   Deliver meals to the poor or elderly.  Participate in a food drive.

If you’re thankful for your pets:

First, give them a little love.  Then, look for ways to help out the animals that aren’t fortunate enough to have a loving home.  Volunteer at a dog shelter or make a donation to your local SPCA.  Think about adoption.  Or, for something more temporary, check our Dogs on Deployment, an organization that places dogs in foster homes while their owners are serving our country.

If you’re thankful for your job:

Pay gratitude to the people that helped to get you there.  Send your first hiring (or favorite) manager or mentor a note thanking them for the early lessons they taught you.  Repay the help you received by offering advice to college students or young professionals.  Become a mentor.  Tutor students from a local high school.

If you’re thankful for being free from financial burden:

Share what you have with those who don’t have as much.  Adopt an angel through Project Angel Tree where you buy gifts for children in poverty or with parents in prison.  Collect items for Toys for Tots.  Reach out to a local retirement home and ask if they’re accepting donations for residents.  Consider giving items or a monetary donation to victims of the South Carolina floods; last week we met with the LISC who said many families are just getting back into their homes finally learning what they lost after the flood devastation.  Donations are still desperately needed.

If you’re thankful for your children:

Remember the children that don’t have loving, safe homes like yours.  Volunteer at your local children’s home.  Give donations to a women’s shelter – often the only safe haven for women and children in dangerous situations.  Seek out organizations that provide support for foster children like Mercy for America’s Children, a North-Carolina based non-profit organization advocating on behalf of children awaiting adoption in the US Foster Care System.

Unmasking Depression: Looking Behind the Smiles to See the Truth

For the first time in two years, my mom is back.  She didn’t take a long vacation to bask in the rays of retirement.  She didn’t leave our family to find herself.  Physically, she’s been here all along.  But, she hasn’t really been with us.

Two years ago, we almost lost her.  It was a cold, but sunny Sunday afternoon and I was on my way to watch the Vikings-Packers game with some friends.  I called my mom before the games as I always do but on this particular day, my dad answered and I knew instantly something wasn’t right.  He said he was on the way up to the hospital in Richmond; my mom had been transported to VCU.  The only thing he could tell me was that something went wrong that morning during church with her kidneys.

I lived only a few minutes up the road from the hospital and was the first one to arrive in the ER.  I found myself standing in front of a faded, nearly motionless version of my vibrant mother.  Soon, I was joined by my father and our family minster and together, we learned that my mother had a tumor burst within her kidney and lost an excessive amount of blood.  Shortly after, we were awaiting an update from the doctor who performed her emergency surgery.  Over the next few days, each up seemed to be followed by another down.  She was diagnosed with something called Angiomyolipoma, essentially non-cancerous, blood-filled, fatty tumors within the kidney (the non-cancerous point was a huge blessing, and sigh of relief).  Between multiple blood transfusions, endless dialogues with the urologists and seeing the brightest of personalities not even flicker, that week will be forever marked as one of the toughest in my life.  Little did we know that while the bleed stopped, and eventually the physical pain ceased, she would develop a lingering, hidden pain.

I’m not being biased when I say my mom is one of the sweetest, happiest most genuine people in the world.  A serial smiler, she has never met a stranger.  She was always the first to strike up a conversation with a random person in the store, only to leave with their contact information and the beginning of a new friendship.  Whether with children, the elderly, or a sick friend, my mom was there offering a helping hand and making them smile, no matter the circumstance.  One of her biggest talents is making people laugh; those that saw her in one of her many costumes like Lucy Ball, Dennis Rodman or Dolly Parton surely understand this statement.

For the first few post-trauma months, she was timid, quiet, but after what she went through, anyone would understand.  Only as spring turned to summer and so on, nothing really changed.  We’d see glimpses of her old spunky-self, but then they would disappear as quickly as her smile.  She didn’t want to leave the house and would sleep constantly even though she wasn’t doing activities to exert energy.  She’d feel paranoid, nervous, and anxious; a far cry from the woman who was always up for an impromptu adventure.  It was though a piece of her, the most influential of pieces, was gone.  Not until this summer did we truly understand why.

In August, my mom was diagnosed with depression; sparked by the trauma she experienced on and during the days, weeks, months and years following that cold November day.  Depression is a silent killer.  It’s not a disease characterized by external features or malformities.  It’s not something that will show up in a culture sample.  It’s internal, and in many cases, those suffering have the innate ability to shelter others from the reality they are living in.  Much like Robin Williams, my mom always had the ability to bring joy and laughter to others, only she lost the ability to latch onto those positive emotions to the benefit of herself.

After three months on medication, my mom is finally back.  Hearing her laughter and trying to keep up with the massive amount of energy she possess are two seemingly simple, but truly incredible, gifts.  I thank the Lord that we did not lose her two years ago, but for the past two years, we didn’t have her wholly.  Now we do and my heart cannot contain all of the gratitude I have.

While this has been a difficult story to share, it’s necessary.  None of us know what is going on behind the scenes, or within the minds, of those we know and love.  Don’t take a smile for granted; there could be much deeper and darker thoughts behind the upward curvature on a person’s face.  Depression is an illness that has no outward characteristics, that holds no prejudice.  As a society, we need to eliminate the stigma attached to depression.  We need to actively support those that may be going through difficult times.  We need to seek help if we’re experiencing internal struggles or turmoil.  There is NOTHING wrong with offering or seeking help; the only wrong we can do is to stand by in silence.

During this month of gratitude, I have so much to be thankful for but everything else pales in comparison to having a permanent ray of light back in this life of mine. I selected the pictures below because each one was taken during her battle with depression, but one would never know by the smile and antics. While the medication has had a noticeable, positive impact on her well-being, it is by no means the end-all be-all.  Depression is an uphill battle; one that can only be managed with proper care and support.  If you know someone suffering from this disease, the best thing you can do is to be empathic and understanding of the struggling they are going through.  Lend a hand, an ear, a cup of sugar or whatever it is that person needs.  Be there for them when they’re struggling to be there for themselves.

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Happiness is a choice

Happiness is a choice.  Not for all, but for those of us who are fortunate enough to be in full control of our emotional well-being, it is a choice that we make the moment we open our eyes each morning.  For the most part, I’ve always considered myself a persistently positive person but as of late, I’m feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders and realize the strength to lift it cannot be found through toying with dumbbells or equipment at the gym.  The power to break through comes from within.  It often requires taking a difficult and critical look at yourself and opening your eyes to the toxins that have the ability to bring you down.

I realize that I am incredibly blessed with abundant love and opportunity, but yet sometimes, I let life’s stressors get in the way of recognizing those blessings.  Strangely enough it was my dermatologist, who typically rambles on and on about nothing of importance, that made me stop and think about the changes I needed to make in life.  Without any prompting, he went into a lecture on how we are the only ones to blame if we’re unhappy.  If someone constantly gets under your skin, you’re the one that keeps interacting with them and giving them the power to do so.  If work is wearing on you, you’re the one preventing yourself from finding new opportunities.  If someone cuts you off on the road, it’s up to you to decide if it’s necessary to blare your horn at them in range or to just keep on driving along with a smile on your face.  He explained that we are the only ones that can control whether the little things, or actions of others, get to us.

That conversation is the only one I’ve had with the wacky doctor that ever made any sense at all, but it was a message than dug far deeper than the skin he specializes in.  In a month where we celebrate the things we’re grateful for, I’m taking a new approach to recognizing and realizing those gifts.

I’m in no way shape or form a morning person (or a night person, really), but I’m forcing myself out of bed an hour early each morning for a period of reflection.  With a cup of coffee in hand, I’ll begin each day reading devotion from Joel Osteen’s Every Day a Friday, along with the associated Bible scripture.  Then, I’ll take a moment to think about something that took place on the previous day for which I’m thankful.  While we can’t let the little things the kooky doctor described get to us, we mustn’t also forget about the positive little things because sometimes, they can have the biggest impact on our happiness.

The holidays are a perfect reminder of the things that propel us forward in life.  If you’ve been feeling down or disconnected, I encourage you to make time to rediscover the things that make you whole.  Feel free to come along with me on this journey and share your experience!