All posts by Cathy Mott

No Peace for Me…

I recently had a situation where I felt like I needed to reach out to someone I thought I might have offended. Oh, how my heart, soul and mind was in total conflict. You know the conversations we have with ourselves to justify not addressing the situation? They sound a little like this, “it won’t do any good, they will never change, it wasn’t all my fault, and they should be calling me!” These are our default phrases to justify staying on the path of least resistance, comfortable but not peaceful. From this vantage point it’s never about us, it’s always about “them.” We excuse ourselves from going deep enough to examine the real emotions behind why we won’t have the real conversation to resolve the issue and restore peace. I was indeed feeling fear and a lack of courage. My internal peace had been stripped away and I was just plain tired of the conflict that was going on inside of me. So I decided to get real with myself in a quest to restore my inner peace. I believe that peace with God and peace with yourself are two of the greatest gifts in life. So have a seat and grab a cup of coffee as I share with you the internal conversation I had with myself by way of poetry. Poetry seems to be a place of deep discovery for me.

Between the voice in my head and the traitorous heart in my chest, how will my soul and spirit ever again be able to rest? When I sit in silence my inner voice yells at me; spewing lies and untruth that sting like a bumble bee. (Could it actually be the sting of truth?)

Like an allergic reaction to the stinger a bee leaves behind, the physical manifestation of this internal conversation goes unnoticed only to the emotionally blind. My countenance falls, my energy wanes and my knees buckle. My chest aches and my stomach churns as if I’ve been punched with a brass knuckle.

After much prayer and meditation, the yelling stops and the dust finally settles; the inner wisdom bubbles up as if from the moisture of a whistling tea kettle. The message seems soft and ever so kind, therefore it penetrates my heart, soul and mind. “Seek out the offended party to have the crucial conversation, thereby restore your inner peace that could be permanently forsaken.”

I listen to this moist and appealing gentle voice; I then pick up the phone and call the offended party feeling as if I had no choice. With words chosen carefully to mend what was lost, I humbly took a back seat to his emotions and let him be the boss.

Audibly there was a meeting of the minds and hearts, but for me the internal peace that had begun return is when the conversation really starts. As I quietly listened to his concerns, my heart was softened and my stomach no longer churned. I could finally feel the calm of what my mind and heart so desperately yearned…

Yes…peace for me…had finally returned!

Great things happen in the silence; what conversation would you be moved to have it you sat in the silence and listened to your inner voice?

“Happiness is like A Donut”

I was recently sitting on the couch with my 4-year-old grandson, Noah. He was using my cell phone to play video games and wanted to download a new game. He kept trying without my assistance because at this age, they want to do everything by themselves. He finally asked for my help and as it turns out, he needed the password to my account. Once I entered my password, the game was finally able to download. He looked up at me with those big brown eyes and that smile of satisfaction and excitedly said to me, “Grammy, I’m so happy!” I then said to him, “Noah, what does that feel like?” His response blew me away. He said, “Like a donut!” At that moment, I felt as if I could literally feel his happiness. His word picture affected me mentally, physically and emotionally. It was a moment I will never forget.

As a Social & Emotional Intelligence Coach, I’m always acutely aware of how people in general convey their emotions during conversation. It’s been my experience that most dance around their feelings and often share what they think as opposed to what they feel. Many relationships go awry because of our inability to recognize, connect with and effectively share an emotion in the moment; thus my amazement at my grandson’s ability to demonstrate social & emotional intelligence at such a young age. It was a moment that deepened our relationship and made me fall deeper in love with him. I often wonder, what would the world be like if most adults could be that openly vulnerable and childlike in their communication with their spouses, friends and family? (Matthew 18:2, 3) What if the listener could create a place of safety for heartfelt dialogue and sheer vulnerability? (Proverbs 20:5) We no doubt, would move to a place in our relationships where we could not only hear the words coming from our partner’s mouth, but see, feel and be moved to respond appropriately once the words have landed in our heart. Yes…happiness for Noah is like a Donut. So, tell me what is happiness to you?

Tears of a Clown

Tears…babies shed many of them and it is our job as a loving mommy to try and stop these tears from falling or at least limit the amount of tears they shed. The less they shed the better we feel. Because babies can’t talk, crying is their special way of communicating to us that something is wrong. It’s amazing how we as mothers can distinguish between the hungry cry, the fussy cry, the angry cry, or the, ” I just want to be held” cry. We at this point in our lives are the master at listening to the tone of the cry. This even continues beyond the toddler stage, but there comes a time when we tell our young children, “use your words, don’t cry, tell mommy what’s wrong.” We even teach them to wipe away the tears. At that moment we listen…we want to know what has evoked our precious children to cry. We want to fix it.

Well what about us as adults what do we do with our tears. For a few years now, I’ve made a conscious decision to observe the crocodile tears that adults shamefully or even secretly shed, including my own. Tears are quiet communicators, but they can yell a story to those who will listen. It’s interesting how we can produce the tears, but not know the story or take the time to discover what’s lurking behind the “tears of a clown.” The mask we wear that some how holds back the flood gates of tears that could provide an emotional cleansing. I personally refer to crying as an “emotional enema.”

Think about the last time you cried, or observed someone begin to cry…what’s the first thing they do? They immediately wipe them away and then apologize for crying. Why??? Can we stop and stoop down low as we would with a child and examine the story those tears are trying to tell?That story has been there for years, but no one is listening. “Who will cry for the little girl inside of us?” Use your words…allow yourself to listen to your story. The psalmist David knew the value of tears, for he asked God, “Do put my tears in your skin bottle.” (Psalm 56:8) He wanted our Heavenly Father to know the story behind them, remember them and honor them. David knew his tears had a story.

I well know the tears of grief. I remember what they taste like and the sound that accompanied those type of tears. I can remember the hollow feeling and the void of losing someone. I can remember feeling like an orphan at the orphanage and wanting someone to chose me on, “adopt a child” day. Losing my mom was like no one showed up that day to chose me. That was the story behind my tears of grief.

Tears not only flow in sadness…there are happy tears. I recently experienced a gut busting laugh when my husband and I went out for date night. Remember, I’m still in the process of observing tears, so my husband told a funny joke and I couldn’t stop laughing. I laughed so hard that I momentarily lost my breath, then I began to hold my stomach and the tears rolled down my face. I remember what they felt like and the pace in which they rolled. I wanted to stay in this moment. As I listened to the deeper story, I could use my words to describe it to myself, thereby being able to access the beauty of that moment at anytime. So here it is ladies, I was amazed that I could be married to this man for 32 years and he could still make me laugh like this. I was so happy that I could feel just as giddy as I did on our first date. That’s the story behind those tears.

For your Journal: There are an array of emotions between happiness and grief that may cause us to produce tears and then mask them. So ladies….If your tears could tell a story, what would they say? Please, by all means use your words.

Enjoying the Stretch

I was recently engaged in an exhilarating conversation with my husband about personal growth. I had just watched him navigate through a “sticky” situation and I immediately noticed his personal and spiritual growth. (1 Timothy 4:15) I’m a firm believer in acknowledging people when they do great things, so my comment to him was, “you’re growing.” He proudly smiled as he stuck out his chest and said, “thank you.” I then asked, “Are you aware of it?” His response, “yes.” So those of you who know me, know that I didn’t end the conversation there. My next question was, “How would you describe your growth?” He said, “It’s kind of like when I was a kid and my grandparents would stand me up against the wall and measure my height every year. They would proudly put a little mark on the wall so as to have something to compare it to next year’s measurements. Well this time, I feel like I surpassed the mark on the wall before the year was up.” As he described his growth process his entire being lite up. His eyes brightened and his smile widened as he shared a piece of his soul with me.

Much to my delight, my husband returned the compliment and asked me to describe my growth process as well. So here is the picture I painted for him. “I feel like a short basketball player in the WNBA who has been told by most people that I can’t dunk because of my height. Well, I see myself dribbling the ball down the court with my opponent close behind and all of a sudden I go up for the lay-up and find myself flying high above the rim! Well, with my adrenaline pumping and feeling the exhilaration of flying in mid-air, at that moment I make the decision to dunk! In my excitement and amazement I then hang on the rim, not to show off, but to enjoy the moment for as long as I can. While hanging there I feel my arms stretching, ahhhh this feels so good. When I finally let go and my feet hit the ground my arms feel disproportionately long, as if my hands are scraping the ground as I run across the court. Instead of feeling weird or awkward, I actually began to notice that more things are within my reach. I can now grab hold of things that I previously thought were out of reach for me.”

This is truly the story that I’m living right now! After giving much prayer and meditation for guidance to make one of my recent decisions has been like a “slam dunk,” and because of that one strategic move, so many other opportunities are within my reach. (Exodus 36:1,2) With my Heavenly Father’s help, I have stretched myself beyond what I thought possible and I’m loving every minute of it! I’m enjoying the roar of the crowd from some of my biggest fans, (my friends and family.) We often hear about growing pains and the discomfort that accompanies the growth process, but I wanted to take a minute and share the joy of hanging onto the rim and enjoying the stretch.

For your Journal: Okay ladies, so write about a time in your life when you’ve noticed your personal growth and please describe what it was like for you.

Reflection

Today is one year to the day I lost my mom to an ugly battle with lung cancer. This lost has left such a void in my life. Sometimes the pain of the void stops me dead in my tracks. It feels as if someone has punched me in my chest and taken my breath away. The blunt force of this trauma has left a crack in my heart. In the midst of reflecting on what this last year has been like without her, I stumbled across a poem I had written when I first found out my mom had stage 4 lung cancer and I’d like to share it with you as you sip coffee with me:

Window To My Soul

Open my blinds or my curtains…what would you see?
You would discover what is truly inside of me.

Come closer to my window, feel free to peak in side.
My feelings are intense and I feel no need to hide.

At first glance you would see a playful scenery,
but no quick glance could reveal what’s deep inside of me.

With blinds wide open and curtains pulled apart,
you would see a little girl at Cedar Point amusement park.

As strange as it may seem, this is a familiar place
one she and her family visited often putting a smile upon her face.

As we married and multiplied this annual trip kept us united,
with enthusiasm and much planning we still remained excited.

As time went on our families grew and we drifted apart.
I often wondered could it be the limited capacity of the heart?

Well here we are again, reunited and close…ahhh
these familiar feelings is what I remember the most.

Their smiles their faces
as I step into familiar spaces.

Bumper cars, merry go rounds and roller coasters you’ll see.
I’m a grown woman is that really what’s stirring inside of me?

Come near, lean into the window and look a little closer.
I’m the one because of my mother’s cancer on the emotional roller coaster.

No seat belt, no arm rest, or bars to hold me in place.
My family wants to reach out and help me, but they’re in the same space

Those smiling faces that used to stand and cheer me on,
has turned into troubled faces, with hope and happiness that seem far gone.

I’m climbing up the first hill with no seat belt, and I’m afraid.
Oh no, what to do? I remember…Jesus prayed.

I leave you here it’s time to pull my curtains and close my blinds.
I’ve shared my wounded heart and hope I’ve made an impression on your minds.

One year later as I read this poem, I felt the same fear that held me captive during that 13 month cancer battle with my mom, however  during my moments of reflection, I discovered a beautiful transition that has taken place inside of me. I no longer live in fear of losing my mom, I live with the sure hope of the resurrection and of seeing her again. (John 5:28, 29) I’ve learned that fear can be crippling, but a sure hope is inspiring!  Because of my mom’s example I am motivated to rejoice in the memories of what we had and walk in the legacy she left behind.  What a woman…Monica Florence Jones.

Until we meet again!

The Caged Bird Who Couldn’t Sing

In November 2014, I started taking singing lessons, which has been an absolute delight! This new endeavor took flight after a wonderful session of “Coffee With Cathy,” where all in attendance agreed to learn something new. One participant discovered during this session, that for most of her life she felt like she didn’t have a voice until recently. I suggested she take singing lessons, but her response was, “no, that’s not for me…why don’t you try it?” So here I am nine months later still taking singing lessons and absolutely loving them. My artist of choice to sing is Whitney Houston and my, what a talented artist and songstress she was. I did not recognize the brilliance of her talent until I started taking singing lessons. I started out singing some of her easier songs and I progressively chose more difficult songs as time goes by. My vocal coach patiently works with me while making me believe I can sing anything.

Well about eight weeks ago, this particular session was a little different. You see, my vocal coach carefully goes through the lyrics of each song, marking and highlighting on my lyric sheet when I should go to head voice, switch to chest voice and even putting large commas where I should breathe. He is even teaching me the intricate technique of belting, which is no easy task! You see, it is all of these little nuances that really make a difference while singing a song…especially a Whitney Houston song! So, this particular week in the midst of me singing, “I Will Always Love You,” I was feeling very unsure of myself and caged by the fear of not being good at something new. Frankly, I was feeling defeated! I wanted so badly to just give up and I was anxiously waiting for my vocal coach to stop me and just walk me through. Well this week he didn’t stop me, he let me continue to sing this song and I knew it wasn’t my best, for I had given up and gone back to what was comfortable for me, flat line singing…I was deflated. I thought to myself, “This is how you sang before you started taking lessons”

Finally, before the big finish to the song, he rescued me with his hand motion for me to stop. He then asked, with a tone of confusion in his voice, “Are you making the changes we marked on the lyrics?” I said, “No.” He then responded with a very powerful question, “Then why are we here?” That question along with the look of disappointment on his face was a painful “Aha” moment for me. I felt like the caged bird who couldn’t sing. I recognized in that moment that I only wanted to do what was comfortable for me. Then my vocal instructor said, “if you keep doing the same thing over and over again you will never improve.” I thought to myself, “that’s the definition of insanity.” These were short powerful statements that made me stand back, readjust and put forth the needed effort and to make the changes we discussed even it meant being uncomfortable for awhile.

As I was leaving my lesson this particular week, I asked myself, “How often does this same behavior show up in my life?” How often am I caged by my own fears, lack of confidence and desire to be comfortable, thereby, stifling my growth and making it difficult to get to the next level? My drive home from that singing lesson was very instrumental (no pun intended) in helping me make a major life change. I recently transitioned from my comfortable career of 12 years to “sing” in an arena that I have come to love for many years as a Life Coach/Executive Coach. Were there moments of being uncomfortable as I was making this change? Absolutely! Was there fear? Indeed, for I was walking away from what was comfortable for 12 years. (1 John 4:18) However, because I am no longer caged by these feelings, I have learned to acknowledge them, validate them and then open the cage and let them fly away. I’m amazed at how being able to manage these emotions, along with my strong support system, not only has my singing greatly improved…but I am now the caged bird who confidently sings, “I believe I can fly.” (Philippians 4:13)

For your Journal: Okay ladies…are there areas in your life where you feel caged? Areas where you keep doing the same thing over and over again, not because you want to, but because you like to being comfortable? Do share…

“Just Breathe”

Years ago, when I was pregnant with my third child I can remember asking my gynecologist,
“Why does labor have to be so hard?” His response, “labor is the closest women come to dying without really dying. Everything in woman’s body shuts down to focus on the sole purpose of giving birth to the baby.” I thought to myself wow, “then why is it in Lamaze classes they tell you to just breathe, when I feel like I’m dying? It’s interesting to note that during this most difficult and painful experience, if we don’t breathe the body will tense up and make the pain even more intense…If you can believe that! Breathing allows the body to relax and do what it was designed to do. Oh yes, I’m like most women who’s husband is in the room while you’re in labor telling you to just breathe and even breathing with you and you just want to inflict pain upon him at that moment. I’m also the woman who at some point during the transition of labor became very angry with my husband and the blamed him for everything wrong in the universe. I also yelled, pushed, scratched and screamed until I saw this little face that would make me forget about giving birth to the placenta too. It’s amazing how shortly after childbirth you somehow feel the pain was all worth it, and you would willingly do it all over again because of the end result. (Psalms 139:16)

It’s funny how life can sometimes throw you a blow that feels like the most difficult thing you have ever had to deal with. The emotional pain can be just as intense as the physical pain of labor. (Genesis 3:16) For me, it is grieving the loss of my mom. Oh how I miss her so. I recently went shopping and visited one of the stores my mom and I shopped in a few short weeks before her death. For sixteen months now, I have purposely avoided this store. So this past weekend, I mustered up the courage to actually shop at this store. I can remember my mom shopping for a winter coat. I clearly remembered the coat she tried on and the mirror we both looked into as we smiled at each other knowing this was the coat and that our time together was limited. We were also excited that she had the energy to shop and enjoy the experience. While I was in that store this weekend, I decided to actually go to the same mirror and re-live the experience in my mind mentally and emotionally. As I walked towards the coat department and that particular mirror, it seemed as if every emotion was stirring in my heart and soul; fear, anticipation, grief, sorrow, joy, contentment for the memory, anxious about my response and afraid of the reality. There was an emotional hurricane stirring inside of me. As I moved closer to the coat department, I realized that the store had done a “remodel” and the coat department was no longer where is used to be and the mirror was gone. I was devastated and moved to tears.

After a few moments of standing there and giving myself permission to cry, I told myself, “just breathe.” I thought to myself, “You still have all of those precious memories in your head. You have the coat she purchased and you have the joy of knowing and feeling how special this moment was for the both of you.” I stood there in the store in a different department and yet with the same memory, all because I remembered just like when I was in labor to “just breathe.”

In that moment of taking a deep breath, the emotional hurricane within me subsided. I recognized that although the mirror was gone, my memory and experience was still fresh in my mind and heart. I could see and feel my mother’s presence and love within me. Ahhhh, the power of the breath. I’m so pleased that amidst the intense pain of grief, I had the courage to stay in the moment and “just breathe.” During my long exhalation, I recognized I had to be purposeful about letting go of the exterior things I could not control and give birth to the deep moments of grief. This shopping trip down memory lane helped me to move to the next level of missing my mom; that level is being able to remember her in quiet moments and smile. I would have missed this beautiful moment had I seized up and ran away from the shoe department that just sixteen months ago was the coat department.

For your Journal: Okay ladies…are there moments in your life that cause you to tense up? What are they and what would happen if you took a moment to “just breathe?” Do tell

How Old Are You?

Isn’t it amazing when you ask a young person this question they will tell you, five and a half, six and three quarters, and then there is the infamous 14 and nine months. (the age you can start driver’s training) However, as we get older the 1/2’s seem to drop off; worse yet are the people that hit 39 and never get any older.

I’m blogging this week to talk about my version of what I think the 1/2 added to our age should represent as we get older. You see, I have learned that no matter how old we are, we still move about and function as the children we were during recess in grade school. The way we resolved issues back then is more than likely the way we do it today. Think about it, the bullies on the playground usually grow up to be the bullies at work. They don’t always use their fist or openly bully others, they show up with aggressive body language, biting sarcasm and secretly rallying the support of others behind closed doors. It’s the same old thing…grade school recess becomes the break room at work or the cafeteria.

If you were the silent partner in the relationship with your BFF when you were 10 1/2 more than likely that is how you show up today and function in other relationships. Without the awareness of our behavior patterns we repeat the same cycle over and over again. I was the loud cheerleader type at recess who just loved to have a good time! I was the one chanting all of the cheers and getting everyone else involved. Oh yes, we were going to have a good time on the playground. (Ecclesiastes 3:4) Well how did that show up in my adult life? I was the one in conversations who could not keep my mouth shut long enough for someone else to finish their thought. I was the one who thought that everything should be a party. I was the one who felt they had to shoulder the responsibility of everyone in my presence having a good time. Whew! as an adult that can be exhausting.

For six years, I was blessed to have a boss who could see right through me. (Toni Flowers-Jefferson) She was also very skilled at holding up the mirror for me to see myself just in case the mirror I looked into was cloudy. She played a very pivotal role in my life in helping me to see the person I was on the playground. She frequently took me back to grade school recess mentally and emotionally to teach me vital lessons about myself and others. It was Ms. Flowers-Jefferson who taught me the value of watching children play during recess. With this awareness I started to make changes in the way I communicate and the way I show up in relationships. I now take a 1/2 a minute and access the situation, the environment and the relationship I’m in at that moment. I then take another 1/2 a minute to quiet my mind and focus my thoughts so that I can be fully present in conversations and not interrupt others. For I am now keenly aware that great things happen in the silence. (Ecclesiastes 3:7)

Things are different on my playground now, at 50 1/2 years of age, I am relieved to know that it’s not my responsibility to make sure everyone has a good time. I can choose to do that if I want. My relationships have moved to a deeper level because instead just listening with my ears, I have learned to listen with my heart and dwell in the quiet spaces with others if they choose silence. Instead of always being the cheerleader…I am now the person who inspires others to create their own cheers and I have found great enjoyment in standing on the sidelines watching them flourish. I am proud to say that pausing for a ½ minute has allowed me to add that ½ to my age when people ask the question, “How old are you?”

For your Journal: Okay ladies…How old are you and who were you on the playground? If you practiced pausing for a ½ minute, what would you change in your behavior?

“Faith is the Antidote to Fear”

As a Life Coach, I am often staring smack dead in the face of fear. I know what it looks like in others and I can distinctively hear it’s deceptive and sly approach. I know how to coach this emotion and how to help my clients discover strategies to successfully navigate through these muddy waters and sleigh this monster. Oh, but when this sly snake slivers it’s way into the back of my head and shows up on my face, I don’t immediately recognize it. It is crafty and subtle and can wiggle it’s way into your head and heart, hidden by the weeds of self-doubt and vulnerability.

Just like venom, it can be debilitating with long lasting effects unless we muster up the courage to recognize it for what it is, and call it out. FEAR is False – Evidence – Appearing – Real. I can recall when I first began public speaking on a regular basis. Whew!!!Talk about fear, it had taken up residence within me for quite some time. Every week I would speak in front of 35-50 people. I would hear the hissing noise of this subtle enemy in the back of my head saying things like, “you’re not good enough, Who do you think you are? No one is going to listen to you.” Oh an here is another one, “it’s just a matter of time before they find out you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Every week before my sessions, I would engage in “knee pad” praying and Bible reading looking examples of people who were at one time unsure of themselves as well. This helped me to see that I’m human and my feelings are a result of imperfection, but they are real and can be debilitating. I read about Jacob, the Apostle Peter, Elijah, David, Hannah, Rehab just to name a few. My fear still continued for six months. Once I really began to meditate and apply what I was learning, I began acting in harmony with my prayers and my Faith began to grow; it became like a giant who could, with God’s help squash the monster that was in my head and heart. (1 Samuel 17:32,37) Shortly thereafter, I began to immediately crush the negative self-talk that would try to reside in my head. I would replace it with the wonderful words and reassurances found in the scriptures. (Isaiah 41:10) These words had so much more strength and power than my imperfect words. They were stated by the Supreme Being who had demonstrated on several occasions his ability to help and with His help I could become tantamount to any assignment I received from Him.

I am a firm believer that every trial we successfully navigate through prepares us for the next one. Each trial is an opportunity to build our faith and strengthen our relationship with our Heavenly Father. You see, my initial audience that I began speaking in front of on a weekly basis was quite small in comparison to the privilege I had about three years after I began public speaking. I received the privilege to share my experience in detail in front of over 5,000 people. It’s amazing how the hissing noise was no longer there, because I now had a story to tell that would highlight God’s strength in my life. I stood before my family, friends and fellow worshipers with a heart full of faith and joy as I recanted my journey. The voice that now took up residence in my head was very different. It whispered, “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” (Philippians 4:13) This doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous, for indeed I was and can remember the butterflies fluttering in my stomach, I looked out and saw my husband and remembered his reassuring words, “it’s okay to have butterflies in your stomach just pray that they all fly in formation.” with his approving smile, the support of my friends and family and most importantly my Heavenly Father, I could feel the healing effects of my strengthened FAITH being the antidote for the venomous fear that previously held me captive. Ahhhhhh…what a beautiful moment that was…I’m just happy to say my mom was there to experience it with me.

For your Journal: Ok ladies…what venom is growing in your garden sewing the weeds of fear? How will you strengthen your antidote of FAITH to help you overcome the debilitating effects of FEAR?

To Forgive or Not to Forgive…

That is the question? We’ve all heard that forgiveness is something we do for ourselves. We hear it and it resonates with us mentally, but the message for some reason cannot make the six inch journey from our head to our heart. Every time we try, the mind seems to take over adding even more vivid details to the original offense. The offender eventually becomes an evil monster or an everlasting enemy. In our head, the decision not to forgive is justified and on some level we convince ourselves that this particular offense goes beyond what God requires us to forgive. The pain can become so deep that we become the offender’s judge and jury. We sometimes render a life sentence of “not to forgive” the offender and they not even know about it. Sadly, their offense continues to take up space in our heads and our hearts. We become bitter and allow the weeds of bitterness to stunt our growth spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally; therefore, I ask again…to forgive or not to forgive?

Oh, but wait, what about when we’ve made a mistake and we are the one seeking forgiveness? Where does the story we tell ourselves about our mistake come from, our head or our heart? More than likely this story comes from the heart because we understand why we made the mistake. We can also provide all of the extenuating circumstances that led to our offending someone and the reason why we should be forgiven, but for some reason, we struggle do this for others? Often because we stay in a place of anger and we feed it. This emotion makes us feel strong and powerful, it’s a more comfortable place to dwell. Unfortunately, we do not allow the natural healing process to take place. I often liken it to a literal cut on my finger. We are so wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14) that in 7-10 days that cut will automatically heal on its own. However, if I after a few days, notice it starts to heal and produce a scab and I pick at it every day until it is infected, I do not allow the natural healing process to take place. The same can be said for hurt feelings or the pain of a broken heart caused by an offender. In time we can heal if we allow the natural process of emotional healing to occur. This involves visiting a range of emotions along the way to forgiveness and emotional well-being. However, if we pick the scab, or continue to relive the story in our mind and tell the story over and over again to get supporters and other condemning jurors, we do not allow the natural emotional healing to take place. We again, are hurting ourselves. Should we at this point choose, “to forgive or not to forgive?”

I can remember being deeply hurt by a friend. I chose for a long time, “not to forgive.” I can’t tell you how much time, space and negative energy this offense and this person took up in my head and in my life. Forgiveness did not come until I could begin to engage my broken heart in the matter. I moved from a place of anger to a place of admitting that I was hurt. Once I was able to admit that my heart was broken, my spirit changed and I was ready to learn the lesson from this trial. I allowed my Heavenly Father to mold me. (Ephesians 4:32) I was finally able to make the six inch journey from my head to my heart. I began to look at the person’s background, culture, birth order and every extenuating circumstance I could think of to understand why they offended me. Instead of making this person out to be a monster, I found that she too was broken hearted and wounded from our disagreement. From this place, we both were able to seek forgiveness. I am pleased to say that we can stand in each other’s presence and be at peace. This is the gift we give ourselves when we choose to forgive.

Our relationship is not the same, I’m not sure it will ever be and I think we are both okay with that. Sometimes we just outgrow relationships and we have both comfortably come to this conclusion. However, I can say that allowing myself to truly forgive has brought about internal peace, spiritual growth, clarity and most important God’s blessing of a clear conscience when I offer the prayer, “forgive me for my debts as I have forgiven my debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
Okay ladies…To forgive or not to forgive…that is the question. What’s stewing in your filter?

Adam & Eve Moments…

I was recently asked to share “words of wisdom” for a lasting marriage. As I approach my 32nd wedding anniversary I had to stop and think of what lesson I’ve learned that would be most beneficial to new couples. My response was, “learn how to create Adam and Eve moments,” so as to truly be a complement to your husband. You see when Adam was created, he spent many, many years alone working on his God given assignment; that of naming the animals. I would imagine this took quite some time. Adam no doubt studied the animals so as the give them the appropriate name highlighting their characteristics. If you have ever seen a sloth, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Adam perfectly named this animal.

Finally after Adam completed this assignment God told Adam, “it is not good for you continue by yourself, I’m going to make a helper for you, a complement.” (Genesis 2:18) Adam was elated to meet his new bride. He probably could not wait to show her around their beautiful garden home and introduce her to all of the animals he’d named. She no doubt was amazed at his wisdom and the choice of names he decided to give to each animal. These had to be beautiful moments they both shared and enjoyed together which only strengthened their relationship I’m sure.

Well we all know what happened after that! Their sin certainly changed the dynamics of the family unit. (Gen 3:16) Fast forward thousands of years after Adam and Eve, are there times in our relationships with our mates, or other men in our lives that we can allow them to feel the joy of teaching us women something that is dear to them? Let’s face it women, we are very smart and can be efficient at doing so many things. I recently read an article in Essence magazine and it referred to women as “Chief Everything Officers.” Who knew…we are all CEO’s. Just imagine what it’s like to try to lead women today who are now holding down a home and career and sometimes in leadership roles. How are men ever going to have an “Adam and Eve” moment? If you have good men in your lives who are working hard to earn your love and respect, then why not look for opportunities to create them.

When I’m spending time with my husband and he is sharing something dear to him that I already know, I ask myself…Which need is greater at this moment, for him to teach me something or my need to show him how much I know? Most often the need for him to teach me something is greater, and I’m okay dwelling in that moment. I did not always feel this way, but with age comes wisdom…sitting in this “Adam and Eve moment” teaches me something new about my husband, it is not a battle of the minds, it is two hearts joining together to share something special. I try to listen to different nuances of the subject and read his body language rather than thinking about what I know. This has been a beautiful transition.

This weekend I had another Adam and Eve moment if you will. My son gave his first public Bible discourse on the subject. “How the Bible Transforms Lives.” As I was sitting in the audience the overwhelming feeling that kept dancing through my mind and simmering into my heart was, “Wow…my son is teaching me.” As I sat in this place, I was saturated with many pleasant emotions such as, gratitude, pride, love, happiness and joy, just to name a few. Some of these emotions could have been inhibited if I would have continued to see this young man as just “a boy.” (Jeremiah 1:6.7) I was happy to be in this trans-formative state of allowing my son to teach me. “Another Adam and Eve moment,” indeed!

I am committed to looking for opportunities to create these moments in other relationships in my life, with my dad, my brother, my nephews and the list goes on. From where I stand, I will always be learning something because in these moments we are not sharing head knowledge, but with the right perspective we are sharing pieces of our heart.

Okay ladies…had any “Adam and Eve moments” lately? Let’s brew something special…let me hear your thoughts.

Move over Mom…

Move over Mom…I still love you 😉
While many spent this past weekend thinking about mothers, I’d like to share my experience of becoming a mother-in-law to a daughter-in-law. About 10 years ago, I remember when my son first starting dating this young lady named Dayna. This was the first young lady that he dated and actually asked me to chaperon their first date. They were going roller skating and I loved roller skating. Absolutely, I would chaperon this date! I must give you the back drop to the relationship I had with my only son. We are very much alike; we connect to everything on an emotional level. We would often go for a ride in his car and discuss the lyrics to some of the songs we had in common and some songs we could clearly define the generation gap that existed between us. Those were good times, just the two of us in these emotional moments.
Now, back to the infamous “date night,” with Dayna. Previously I had always ridden in the front seat of my son’s car, for some reason this is where I thought I would sit that night as well, oh boy was I mistaken! I can remember walking out of the house and headed towards the car, but my son was already there with the passenger door opened for Ms. Dayna. He escorted her into the car and then politely walked to the driver’s side of the car and got in. Where was I? Standing outside moving subtly and regretfully to the back seat on the passenger side. I can distinctively remember putting on my seat belt and saying to myself, “I feel a shift here, this is different.” The night went on and we had a wonderful time. I still could not help feeling that something was different on the ride home. I found myself again thinking, “this won’t last long…I’ll be back in the front seat soon.” That never happened.
Months went by and they were engaged and soon to be married. I was not ready for this! I went through this whole process of planning the wedding emotionally kicking and screaming and grieving the loss of the special place I had in my son’s life. It’s interesting while it’s happening you don’t know what it is. We quickly default to, “no one is good enough for my son.” Most women go through this process, but can’t seem to call it what it is, therefore, they look critically at their future daughter in law instead of looking internally for what’s really going on. You understand that it is the natural progression of life, but I not seem to progress. I was stuck and I wanted my place back. While planning the wedding my heart wasn’t fully present and I missed out on some moments that I could have made more memorable if I had recognized what the transition was and given myself time to grieve the loss.

So when did I recognize that I needed to move over? My son never had to ask me. I can remember shortly after they got married and I invited them over for dinner. I was in the kitchen cooking and I “told” my son to go to the store and get an item I was missing. I recall thinking to myself at that moment, “if I wanted her to respect him, I have to respect him and see him in a different light, as the MAN of his household and no longer a boy.” That was a, Aha moment for me. I restated my request in the form of a question. At that moment I knew I was headed in the right direction of making my transition. Another powerful motivation for me moving over is when I recognized that she could give him something that I could not. And I wanted my son to enjoy the gift of marriage.
(Matthew 19:5, 6)

As I finally began to transition, I really wanted a relationship with my daughter in law. It didn’t happen overnight. I believe we both wanted the same thing. We began to have lunch together just the two of us, and really work on our relationship. One time we had a disagreement and we were able to talk it out and I received roses from her the next day. I can truly say that I love my daughter in law.
Once I fully let go of the fear of what I was losing, I could finally look at what I was gaining. I had another daughter who is a complement to my son. What I love about her the most is that she fully supports my son’s dreams and she is all about supporting the family. She’s at almost every family function with a homemade dish in hand. What a blessing. I truly have moved over, and have found great joy in my life as the grandmother of seven. I have six handsome grandsons and one little girl, Princess Aaylah, which is another little lady in my son’s heart that I have happily moved over for. Being a grandmother is a special kind of love that is a gift that I celebrate being in this new space. I now see myself out of my son’s car because it is filled with his wife and two children; and I now see myself waving a supportive goodbye to them as they drive away after each visit. Ahhhh…what a beautiful place to be and yes…I do know for a fact, “I am still loved!”

Okay ladies…tell me about your transition, are you looking at it externally or do you have the courage to go within? Let’s talk ladies…

(the attached picture captures Aaylah’s response to finding out she was having a little brother instead of a sister at Dayna’s reveal baby shower, she was not happy. That’s where we found out Dayton was a little boy;-)

The Gift of Womanhood

I have heard others refer to this gift as,” the curse, Aunt Flo, or even worse, the rag.”I can remember being in the 5th grade and having very little knowledge about the gift of womanhood.  There was a girl in my class who unexpectedly got her very first visit from “Aunt Flo.”  No phone call, no advance notice;  Aunt Flo just showed up and literally flowed all the way down her legs and made a puddle on the floor around her feet.  I wondered if this is why they call it “the rag,” because we certainly needed one.  I can remember the terror and embarrassment on her face and the uncertainty on my teachers face as to how to handle this situation.  I’m sure in her mind, at that moment this was indeed, “the curse.”  I was so frightened I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my mom all about it.  She then explained in detail the monthly menstrual cycle that I had only heard in code words from my older sisters;  now all of those words made sense.

Well three years later, I received my gift of womanhood.  I will never forget that moment, we were on our family vacation and it happened to be a road trip.  When I told my mom, she for some reason was so excited.  The one phrase I remember from our long talk was, “you’re not a little girl anymore, you are becoming a woman, what a gift!”  I didn’t feel like it was a gift at the time, I felt awkward and concerned as to how I would stay fresh and clean during this monthly visit from “Aunt Flo.”  I also had flash backs to my class mate in the 5th grade and wondered if this would prove to be, “the curse” for me as well.   After my mom and I had our “gift of womanhood” talk, we get back in the car with my dad and my 14 year old brother and my mom makes the announcement to my dad, “our little girl is not a little girl anymore, she’s becoming a woman.”  I wanted to instantly crawl into the trunk and disappear.  This is still not feeling like a gift to me.

So when did Aunt Flo transition from the curse into “the gift of womanhood” for me?  Well there were several occasions early on in my marriage when Aunt Flo was late, and oh boy when she arrived…it was truly a gift! I was so happy to see her.  When my husband and I planned our second child, I was truly appreciative of the “gift of womanhood,” because now I could use it for the purpose our Creator intended,  to bring forth life. (Genesis 1:28) What a gift!

As I moved past the child bearing years and had time to study some of the changes we go through as women, I learned a lot about why Aunt Flo shows up once a month and all of the hormones that she creates and leaves behind.  It is these wonderful hormones that make us feminine.  It is these hormones that narrow our waist and broaden our hips so that we can house our babies for nine months.  Yes ladies our powerful, womanly hormones makes us automatically love and nurture our children and develop long lasting relationships. as  I love the gift of womanhood because it makes us feminine and attracts us like a magnet to everything that is pretty; shoes, purses, earrings, makeup, fragrances and the list goes on.  For without these hormones, we could not step into a 3-5 inch pair of high heel shoes and walk like a gazelle. (Men can’t do it)   As I approach the time when “Aunt Flo” doesn’t visit as often, and I notice the subtle changes in my body I wonder what the next phase of my life will be like.  I am not afraid because the initial  “gift of womanhood” has allowed me to have three beautiful children that will always remind me of what the Psalmist said, “In a fear inspiring way, I am wonderfully made.”  (Psalms 139:14)

So ladies…what’s the gift or womanhood for you?  When and how did it show up?

Who Broke My Coffee Cup?

Who broke my coffee cup?

When I was a little girl, since I was the baby of six I was the last to join the daily rotation of dishwashers.  You see, back then parents didn’t  buy dishwashers, they made them; much like televisions did not come with a remote control, the kids were the remote controls. I hated washing dishes because I was never the dainty type of girly girl.  I had a brother who was just 13 months older than me, I couldn’t afford to be dainty he was my playmate and we wrestled; therefore when it came to washing my mother’s china and fancy dishes, I would always break them.  My mother loved fancy dishes and she loved to entertaining.  One day my mom came home with brand new fancy dishes with the most beautiful coffee cups and saucers.  Why did this day have to be my day in the rotation for washing dishes?  She said, “please wash these for me so I can put them in my china cabinet.”  Wouldn’t you know it, I broke one of the coffee cups. I refused to get in trouble again for breaking her dishes, so I guess I began at an early age to develop my critical thinking skills.  I decided to secretly crazy glue that cup back together and my mom put it in her china cabinet with much joy and pride.

Keep in mind, my mom loved extending hospitality and entertaining.  She was a nurse and worked the midnight shift, so one summer morning she decided to inviter her boss over for coffee after work.  She was so excited to use her new dishes, I remember the joy on her face as she pulled them out of the china cabinet.  I was full of anxiety this morning hoping no one would get the “broken cup.”  Well guess who ends up with the crazy glued cup?  I purposely stayed in my room all morning and  all of a sudden I hear a bone chilling scream…It was my mom’s boss.  The crazy glued coffee cup could not hold the hot beverage and it spilled all over her lap.  It was later determined she suffered second degree burns on her thighs.  I vividly remember my moms concern, embarrassment and disbelief.  After her boss left, my mom came marching back towards our bedrooms with the most appropriate question…Who broke my coffee cup?!!!  Can you imagine what happened next?

Fast forward 40 years later, I find myself asking that same question when I cannot hold or contain the goodness and blessings that my Heavenly Father has in store for me.  I sometimes shy away from assignments or bigger tasks that I feel are a part of my ministry,  because they seem to be “too hot to handle.”  I sometimes feel inadequate or ill equipped for the work at hand.  When I catch myself in doubt, I talk it out with my husband and supportive friends.  I then seal the deal with prayer by pouring out my heart to God and telling him how I feel.  I’m always amazed at how He responds.  His love and reassurance is much stronger than crazy glue.

I sometimes will run into people who’s coffee cup is broken and they are not aware nor can they hold the goodness in store for them.  It shows up when myself or others offer them a  compliment that is meant to make them feel good, to nurture their soul and spirit and they will reject it.  Even worse, they will point out something negative about themselves.  At this point, I ask them to please accept my compliment and not rob me of the joy of giving. (Acts 20:35) Instinctively, I want to offer them some crazy glue, but quickly remember that didn’t work when I was a little girl.   Growth and godly wisdom has taught me to point them in the right direction towards something much stronger with long lasting effects…God’s love.

I often think about when God gave his son the ultimate compliment at his baptism.  (Matthew 3:17) Jesus did not reject that compliment, but fully accepted it and allowed it to prepare him for his ministry.  He at the moment received love, acceptance, and approval from his Father, something we all need on a daily basis.  So the next time someone is extending you a compliment, notice your initial response.  Is it “too hot to hold in your cup?”

So I ask ladies…Is your coffee cup broken?  Do you turn down greater roles in your life  because of feelings of inadequacy or reject well meaning compliments, If so…what will you use to fix your cup?

 

 

Think Spring!

Okay ladies…lets think spring and get ready  for spring cleaning. Many take pride in cleaning out their closets, exchanging winter clothes for spring and summer, putting away those boots and pulling out our sandals. It brings a smile to our faces as we check our toes to make sure that pedicure is fresh. As we’re cleaning our homes, we no doubt will notice cobwebs, dust bunnies and clutter. We take pride in ridding our homes of these unsightly elements  that we didn’t even notice during the winter months. Ahhhh, but when spring arrives and we open our  doors and windows, there they are for all to see. We take immediate action to get rid of  them.

Well what about the cob webs, dust bunnies and clutter we carry around all year mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Let’s take this time ladies to do a little internal spring cleaning. I’ve been thinking about a few things that I would like to shed or get rid of this spring and here they are:

Cobwebs – One cobweb that’s been hanging around in my mind for quite some time is the belief that, “I’m not organized.” I say this to myself, it seems,  a million times a day as I’m running around looking for my keys or my shoes thereby reinforcing my belief. Someone recently said to me, “that can’t be true, you are a full time minister, work a full time job, and run a small business. There is no way you can’t be organized!” That was a huge eye opener for me. So from now on, a better way for me to think of my organizational skills is, “I would like be to more organized,” just typing it this way makes me feel empowered to continue to make strides in the right direction. That’s one cob web that’s coming down permanently.

Dust bunnies – The dust bunny that has been blowing around internally, on a mental and emotional level for years is my view towards technology. I’ve been so intimidated by technology only learning what I felt I had to learn to survive. Well, I’ve recently come up with a new phrase to help me adjust my view.  It has taken away the mental wall and the emotional frantic I would feel every time I felt I was being forced to learn something new. I now say to myself and others, “me and technology are dating; we’re getting to know each other. We’re not a couple yet, but we’re working on it.” I can’t tell you how much this phrase or positive self-talk has changed the way I feel about technology. I’m currently using it to help manage my weight, video chat with my grand sons, and run a business. I would be remiss if I did not mention that becoming a Blogger has turned technology into a blessing for me. This experience has been soooo fulfilling on a mental, spiritual and emotional level. I still struggle on a weekly basis to post my blog on Facebook (fb) and Instagram (ig) because every week, I feel like I’m doing it for the first time. I’m so thankful to my daughter and the many others who patiently help me along the way. There are still times when I feel that angst starting to rise and I quickly remind myself, that just like dating, it’s a process and I don’t have to know everything at once. This gentle and encouraging self talk allows me to open the window to my soul and allow those dust bunnies to float on out. I’m embracing technology and moving forward ladies…spring cleaning indeed!

Clutter – Fear is clutter because it acts as a restraint. (1 John 4:18) What does it restrain you from??? Your heart! When we are afraid, we spend most of our time in our head orchestrating and creating the worse possible scenarios, which causes our fear to  grow.  Most of events that we spin around over and over in our head will more than likely never happen, but we can’t see that because of the clutter. We in some respects become like hoarders in our mind. We can readily look at a hoarders home and say, “they need to clean house and get rid of some of that junk,” but what about the clutter that is collecting dust in our heads? Maybe there is a particular fear that has been there for a long time and only you know what it is. Fear has been said to be, “False Expectation Appearing Real.” I was originally afraid of opening up and being vulnerable on my blog. My initial goal for blogging was to provide inspirational quotes and positive stories that would be a reflective moment for others throughout their day. Once I moved out of my head and into my heart my goal for my blog changed. I could cast my fear aside and be vulnerable for the sake of myself and others. I now wanted to create a forum where women could share real life experiences and learn from one another. I deeply want women to know that we share a common bond and that we are never really alone even in the valley of depression. (Psalms 34:18) I am forever grateful for the more than 500 readers who log on every week to see what’s “Brewing with Cathy.” Your love and support has definitely helped me to find clarity in my purpose and reaffirm why I do what I do. (1 John 4:18) I’m putting things in order ladies and moving fear out of the way. It acts as a restraint!

So ladies, what cob webs, dust bunnies and clutter is hiding in your closet or taking up space mentally, spiritually, emotionally? It’s time for spring cleaning…what will you get rid of?

 

Phantom Pain

Put your cup down and move with me through the growth process.  Personal growth can mean leaving behind habits and behaviors that you miss along the way.  There comes a time when you know you can never return to that place, but the pain of leaving it behind is like Phantom Pain.  You ache for the way things used to be.  If given the opportunity, you would psychologically reside there, but mentally and emotionally you know you’ve out grown this space.

Now, pick your cup up and come with me to a place not so far away.  This place for me is the comfort of being the “baby” of the family.   I am the youngest of six children and loved having so many protectors and caregivers in my life.  However, when my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that safe comfortable place would soon be lost. I could remember the fear that consumed me at family meetings to discuss my mom’s health.  There were times during these discussions when I just wanted to stand up and scream, “this can’t be happening…Everyone assume their assigned roles!!!”  In my mind this meant, everyone else stand up and protect me from this awful tragedy that has become our reality.

Initially from my perspective, no one could because we were all suffering.  There were many days, I wanted to recoil and assume my role as the “baby,” with many protectors.   I can remember the constant ache for the place of safety and security as I awaken every day to the reality that I was losing my mom.  Phantom pain indeed!  After much grieving, heartache and pain, I began to recognize that just as an amputee could not grow another limb and had to learn to navigate through life with this painful change in circumstances…I had to do the same.  So, instead of looking for others to take away my pain and make me safe, I began to pray for wisdom, strength and courage. (Philippians 4:13)  From this vantage point, I began to grow and my focus began to change.

It’s  amazing how those family dynamics automatically come into play, however, as I made a conscious decision  to “grow up,” I was now determined to use my God given talents and abilities to help my family navigate through this very difficult time.  I began to notice as the months went by, the family meetings became more intense and the discussions more difficult, I could now pull out my tablet, take notes and record my mom’s medications.  I could now ask the difficult questions and support my siblings in a way that I didn’t think was possible for me.

If I’m honest, I still look back and want the safety and security of having my mom.  She was definitely a place of safety and one of my biggest cheerleaders.  I am forever changed by this loss. This too is another Phantom pain.  However I do love how the dynamics with my siblings have changed.  While I am still the “baby” of the family, no one refers to me that way anymore.  Now, when they introduce me, they say, “she’s the youngest.”  I love that…it was a difficult transition, but here I am today, and I love being the YOUNGEST!

Phantom pain can come in the form of any loss. Sometimes it’s there masking itself as something else. It’s tricky…Had any Phantom pain lately???  I’d love to hear about it, please share

B.L.O.G.

 

Beautiful Ladies Observing Growth

I’m sure most of us have experienced going to a restaurant and ordering a cup of coffee either because we need a pick me up during the day, or we want that smooth robust flavor to roll across our tongue.  We’ve added our cream and sugar to our liking only to lift the cup to our palate and find the coffee to be old, burnt and stale.  We know instantly that the coffee has been sitting on the burner for quite some time, or someone forgot to change the filter.  Ughhhh, this coffee is bitter!

Well how about us?  Do we always recognize when we’ve been sitting in one place or situation in life with no movement, no growth? Have we become burnt, stale or even worse, bitter? Over the past 10 months I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with over 40 beautiful women who are committed to the growth process.  These women have chosen to “Sip Coffee with Cathy,” and become part of a community of women who support one another through life’s ups and downs.  They are the subject of this week’s BLOG.  Beautiful Ladies Observing Growth.  I invite you to take a peek at what has come through the filter…

“My growth has made me check myself when I am not sure of why something is happening and to see what my role is in the problem.  I now really look at people that I have as friends and evaluate those relationships to see if those relationships benefit me too.  I have learned to be present in my pain, so that I can learn the lesson its teaching me and make the needed change.  I am so thankful to Cathy for putting a wonderful group of women of all ages together to support each other.” WL

“My sessions at Coffee with Cathy have left me feeling enlightened about self-discovery! Discovering who I am and being victorious in doing so and learning that self-care is not selfish. I am enlightened about what God wants for us. His peace and joy to name a few.  I am now on a journey after His peace and the joy of the Lord! I am determined to be Victorious in my pursuit of happiness! I NOW know that I deserve it.” JK

I would have to liken my growth to the transformation of caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly.  I know I have grown because instead of running and hiding out of fear as a caterpillar might,  I live my life with the freeness of a butterfly with its wings spread wide open and flying  with the excitement of discovering life.  What a joy. DF

“I walked into these sessions with many questions about my life that were haunting me up until this point.  It was so refreshing to receive the answers to these questions from such a supportive group. My growth started the day I walked into “Coffee with Cathy.”  I finally feel like peace is on the way.”  MR

I’d like to say thank you so much to my BLOG – Beautiful Ladies Observing Growth.  I’m honored to be a part of your growth process, as I am growing along with you. (1 Tim. 4:15) So for those of you who would like to add your brew to our discussion,  I’d love to hear your response to this question…How do you know when you’re stuck in life, just sitting on the “burner,”  and how do you change your “filter” to start the growth process and began to “brew a robust life?”

My Exodus

My time in the valley was very difficult, but it eventually proved to be a blessing. All of the busyness in my life came to a screeching halt. In my weakened state, I no longer had the energy to pop into a phone booth, put on my cape and fly off to rescue someone else. I was keenly aware that I needed to focus on myself and figure out who would rescue me.

This was no easy feat, Ughhhh I can remember the internal darkness and the emptiness that enveloped my soul and spirit. I immediately wanted to go back to what was comfortable for me, which was being a mom. So I quit my full time job and went back home to take care of my family. The thought of sending my three kids off to school with a hot breakfast and a nicely packed lunch every day brought a flicker of light to my soul. However, that flicker was quickly extinguished the following Monday when my children who were 11, 13, 15 at the time awakened early, made their own breakfast and lunch and headed off to school before I woke up. I was devastated that my children didn’t need me as much anymore. I then had a bright idea…I asked my husband if we could have another baby, he quickly said, “NO!”  One of the best decisions he ever made, however I didn’t think so at the time. For this decision meant that I could not go back to taking care of someone who was completely dependent upon me…a new baby.

His decline to my request moved me to think about other relationships in my life. You see, I seem to be quite comfortable with taking care of others. For most of my friendships seem to be one-sided. When I tried to change the dynamics of those relationships and look for support, most of them would not budge. They seem to want things to stay the same, so I was frustrated and angry that I could not receive what I had given out.

So here I sit face to face with this villain called Depression. What is it? I learned, it to be anger turned inward over an extended period of time. So I asked myself, “What are you angry about?” I was angry because I couldn’t answer the more important question, “Who am I?  Outside of being a mom, a wife and a rescuer?” I knew the answer would not come overnight, nor could I answer it alone.

I was afraid to deal with this anger and emptiness alone. I would need the help of my Heavenly Father. Finally without looking for distractions or blaming others, I did a lot of soul searching and seeking Godly wisdom as I daily pondered the question, “Who Am I?”  I discovered that I am a woman of God who began to do things in His power instead of my own. My focus shifted from taking care of others, to imitating Christ and bringing glory to God, which includes giving myself permission to take care of me before I go taking care of someone else.  I often remind myself, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” I also find great joy in helping others to tap into His love, strength and wisdom.

Yes,  Israel made their Exodus out of Egypt with the help of our Heavenly Father. In his infinite love, wisdom and power he parted the Red Sea, dried the sea bed and congealed the waters. Spectacular indeed!  But closer to my heart is, he helped me make my Exodus out of the valley of depression. He extended his wings of strength and allowed me to climb onto his pinions as he lifted me up out of this dark place. (Exodus 19:4) I learned I no longer needed a cape to fly because I’m now soaring at greater heights on wings of His love and because of Him…I believe I can fly.

So I ask ladies…Who are you and how do you fill your cup? Join me this Saturday for our next session of “Sip Coffee with Cathy” as we discuss shedding the guilt while we fill our cups so we can soar!

Spotlight

My Moment in the Spotlight

When I was in my late 20’s I had a memorable moment in the spotlight. I had the privilege of being a guest on a local morning TV show called, “Kelly & Company.” You see, they ran a promo ad asking their viewers to call in if they knew anyone who was a “supermom.” My best friend at the time called in and told them all about me! It’s funny, I never considered myself at the time to be a supermom, nor was I trying to be. I was just imitating life…the life I had seen as a child. However, when I look back, I had three young children all exactly two years apart. I loved being a mom. I thought I was put on this earth to be a mom. I followed in my mother’s footsteps in many ways. I was also quite the home maker. I made clothes for my children as well as myself, and made neck ties for my husband. I wallpapered, painted, made bedspreads and curtains. I even ran a small sewing business from my home. Whew! I’m tired just typing this. When I look back, I guess I would fit the description that moved my friend to make that call.

So the day finally arrives for our appearance on Kelly & Company. We take the stage and my friend begins to tell the audience about all of the things I do on a daily basis. She even told them that I made my outfit the night before. Marilyn Kelly then asked me to stand up and model my outfit. The audience applauded in disbelief. Here is my moment in the spotlight! Shortly after, they asked for home viewers to call in with question or comments. I will never forget the comment made by one caller who said, “I used to be the same way.” What she said next came back to haunt me, “You can’t keep running at that pace. You will eventually give out and have a nervous breakdown like I did. It was my body’s way of shutting down and saying you’re doing too much!” I immediately thought to myself, “Oh that will never happen to me.” The show continued and it was a wonderful experience.

After the show, I continued to wear the cape of supermom. About five years later, I found myself in the deep dark valley of depression. There are no capes in this valley. It seemed to be filled with Kryptonite, for my heart was heavy, my soul was empty and my outlook was bleak. I recognized that I had saved everyone but myself. Who would rescue me? It was during this time of darkness in my life, that I remembered my moment in the spotlight. However, my thoughts were not about the limo ride to the TV station, the green room, or the applause from the audience. This time, I did not see the spotlight as much as I heard the voice of wisdom that came from the caller, who said, “You can’t continue at that pace, you will give out.” It was those words that helped me find my way out of the darkness of depression and to leave the cape behind. After much soul searching and seeking Divine wisdom, I  was humbled and learned the second greatest command, “love my neighbor as I love MYSELF.” (Luke 10:27) I recognized that I loved everyone else at the expense of myself. I now understand the beauty of self-care. I have learned how to fill myself up and give from a reservoir instead of painfully giving from an empty soul and spirit (cup). It is one of my passions in life to share the lesson learned from my moment in the spotlight with as many women as possible.  So I say ladies… Don’t wait 5 years to take off your cape and fill your soul and spirit!

Join me on the March 28th for Coffee with Cathy as we discuss guilt free self-care.  Visit my website to register.

Knowledge is Power…

Knowledge is Power…Know when your cup is empty!

No warm ups, no refills, just empty!  Who forgot to refill the coffee pot, replace the filter, grind the coffee beans???  ME!!!  Did the time in the week just slip away?  Did someone distract me?  No, take accountability for pouring into everyone else this week, but yourself Cathy.  Thursday hosted family brunch with all seven of my grand babies, Friday supporting my dad in his grief and sorrow as well as my own from the death of my mom 12 months ago. Juan Valdez was picky about his coffee beans always careful to pick just the right one.  “Remember this feeling Cathy,”  I say to myself consciously so as not to revisit this place anytime soon.  I’m weakened physically and emotionally, mentally tired, and need to be recharged spiritually.  I need to be careful about how many coffee beans I give away and how many warms-ups I graciously pour.   I almost feel like I’m beyond the point of doing something for myself.  My next thought was, “I must have others do something for me.”  I can’t wait for that, I need my refill now. It’s like the pain of caffeine withdrawal.  Gotta have my fix.  I muster up the energy to indulge in a bubble bath with patchouli essential oils, ahhhhh exquisite. Shortly after, I treat myself to 90 minute full body massage, which was the perfect setting for prayer and meditation. As the massage therapist works on my feet, I think to myself, “mani/pedi next stop for sure!”

Mmmmmm…I’m feeling warm on the inside now…Could this be the first drop into my empty coffee cup?  As I snuggle into the massage chair at the nail salon savoring this moment,  two ladies are placed on each side of me for the same service. They both want to talk. One wants my opinion on nail polish and the other wants to talk to anybody about anything.  I will not be her next victim, because this moment is all about ME! Emotionally I smell the aroma of a fresh pot of coffee brewing. I can feel my energy, enthusiasm and zest for life returning. (2 Corinthians 4:16) Therefore, I consciously and graciously decline to give warm ups to these two women.  I gave myself permission and the power to say no, because I had the knowledge that my cup was empty!  At that moment I had a warm sense of pride.  Internally I was roasting, brewing, and French Pressing a decadent cup of coffee for myself.  So I say ladies…Know when your  cup is empty and give yourself the POWER to say NO.

Join me for our next brew of Coffee With Cathy as we discuss guilt free self-care.  Remember ladies, “we don’t stew, we brew!”   Visit my website to register.

 

 

“Keep Your Head Up”

Each day we are confronted with situations that could make us want to hang our heads and decide it’s going to be a bad day. Every day I make a purposeful decision to “keep my head up” no matter what. Today I had to appear in court for a traffic ticket. Most would consider this a “bad day,” but I love new experiences!   I’ve never been to court, so I decided to “keep my head up” so as to learn, observe, and absorb everything. Criminal offenses were heard first. I never expected that. One door opens and out comes the judge with all of his authority as he takes the bench. Another door swings open and out comes two men in hand cuffs and ankle chains. At this moment I was saddened for the two gentlemen in which I locked eyes with as my heart mourned their present situation. As feelings often do come and go, shortly behind the sadness came gratitude for where I sat. Most would have thought coming to court for a ticket is a bad day. I was so thankful for my place in life and even in the court room. The judge finally called my name. In an effort not to receive the points that would come with the ticket, I admitted responsibility with an explanation and was quickly ordered to pay the ticket at the window outside of the court room. I had anticipated the fine would 150.00 (ouch!) I get to the window and the cashier says 125.00, so at this point I’m thinking…Wow that’s 25.00 extra that I have to treat myself to something special. I whip out my debit card to pay and the cashier says, “are you sure you want to put this on your debit card, there will be an extra 5.00 charge.” I said, “what other options do I have?” She said, “cash, check, or money order.” my response, “I don’t have any of those.” She then stated, “or I can give you 30 days to mail it in.” I said, “I’ll take that option!”   Which means for me, I now have 150.00 to treat myself. I went shopping bought a new dress, new make up, and a pair of shoes. I’m a thrifty shopper ladies. As I was leaving the shoe store with my head up…I saw the most beautiful sunset which reminded me of the love and warmth our Creator has for each and every one of us. As quickly as I walked to my car and looked up again, the sunset was gone…I could have missed it if my head was hanging down. So I say ladies…whole heartedly…make a conscious choice to keep your head up! You never know what blessings will come your way.