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Category Archives: Inspirational

Catch and Release

Was just sitting and thinking about all I am grateful for and one odd thought that crossed my mind is that I truly appreciate now recognizing the messages—the unhealthy messages—that repeat in my mind and likely have for a long time. I know it seems like an odd thing to note, but it is really a great thing when you come to place of living consciously aware of the tendency of your mind to interpret situations, interactions, etc. to mean the same thing over and over, or to reinforce a message that you’ve likely held since childhood.

Some messages that repeat for people are: “I am not enough,” “I am not good enough,” “I am in this by myself,” “No one will ever love me,” “It will never get better,’ and even “I am just like my ______.” In a time, when positive affirmations are so prevalent, one can only imagine what repeating negative phrases such as these can do to shift the trajectory of ones life.

A few months ago, I came to the realization that one of my “messages” is “I am not enough” (and the other version “I am not doing enough”). It stung when I realized how many areas I repeat this horrible phrase, but it was such a gift to my life to see it and now make a conscious decision to acknowledge it and dismiss it as not true.

CATCHNRELEASE

A lot of times we think that ignoring the negative is the way to stay positive, but the truth is that while we are ignoring it, our mind is often storing and embedding the message deep within us and it will come wafting up in so many situations. One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to acknowledge the negative message—the horrible phrase that our “inner critic” says about us that makes us feel bad about ourselves when we make a mistake, someone blames us for something, or things just don’t turn out as we planned. The more that we become keen to catch those thoughts, the sooner we can overcome them.

Now, when I find myself feeling bad about something (usually an interaction with someone else that didn’t go as planned), I think to myself, “Oh, that’s just another “I am not enough, which I know is not true. I’m awesome!” and I let it go.

So today, as I created my list of gratitude, I find myself grateful for the ability to catch my negative messages and release them. So that is my my advice to you. Begin to catch and release the irritating, self-defeating messages of your inner critic and release them knowing that they are no longer your truths.

 

>> Positive affirmations are an amazingly powerful way to retrain our minds to believe good and empowering truths. These mugs can be personalized with your own affirmations for no additional charge. Visit http://bit.ly/affirmationmugs to view the whole collection!

#Proud2BNaturalMe Affirmation Mugs on Zazzle

 

Even My Scars Are Perfect

It is a blessing to be loved… an even greater blessing to be loved as is. I have the most amazing friend who taught me the most valuable lesson of self-acceptance. See, I have this scar on my foot… it almost appears to be like a bunion (gross, I know) and it bothers me. I look at it… stare at it.. hating it, EVERY DAY, several times a day. Whenever I wear sandals, I hope by some act of God or the alignment of the Sun and the planets, he will not notice this disgusting, discolored, blemish on my skin. I know, it’s such a silly thing, but it really bothers me. After all, I have always prided myself in having the most beautiful feet. I even remember a time when a guy I was dating in college, looked down at my feet one day and referenced a scene from the movie Boomerang, (where Eddie Murphy inspects his date’s feet to see if they are beautiful, or not). After taking a gander at my feet, he pretended to wipe imaginary sweat from his brow, with a “Whew!” like he was happy to have dodged the pretty-girl-ugly-feet bullet. lol

"Hammertime Feet" scene from Eddie Murphy's movie Boomerang

Anyway, my point is, I have always adored how perfect my feet are—no corns, all in proper height order, and definitely no blemishes. Well, that is no longer the case. And this new truth has brought me much frustration. I have done homemade sugar scrubs, rubbed my feet with lemons, Bio Oil and everything under the sun to return my feet to the beauty they once knew. However, today, I finally got to understand why with all my efforts, the blemish has remained. There is a lesson in my scar that I need to grasp.

A few years ago, I was living in “poverty” in a sense. I had no money, no income, and no real home of my own. We were staying in a transition house in Georgia, where a very kind lady offered temporary housing in her home to couples and singles who needed to get on their feet. While living there, I only had two pairs of shoes and one pair of flip-flops. The shoes I had were very uncomfortable, but I still wore them everyday because I didn’t have a choice. And the continuous rubbing of those shoes against the joint of my big toe formed a large dark scar. Yesterday, as I was talking with my friend, I shared with him that although I am generally pretty confident about my appearance, the blemish on my foot is something I am very insecure about. His response was both shocking and hilarious. He texted, “You are such an IDIOT!!!!! Your imperfections are perfect.” His words completely caught me off guard. His acceptance of the thing I attempted to hide from him constantly, his total acceptance of me “flaws and all,” helped me to see how silly something like that really is. I mean how many guys (worth my time) are going to look down and say, “Dang. You were the perfect catch ’til I saw that dark mark on your foot.” lol It’s silly, but we do this to ourselves. We pick a random unique trait and make it bad.

Follow Garcelle on Instagram. She posts and is doing amazing things!

So let’s fast forward to today. Spending time together, he discovered something that very few people know about me. I have two auburn strands of hair. My natural hair color is black and has never been colored, yet I have always had two strands of red hair. He saw them today, I guess because the light hit them in a new way. He was so fascinated, tugging gently at them to see how long they are. I, of course, begged him to “be careful” and not accidentally yank them out. I told him that they are “two cool, unique things I like about myself.” He smiled at me, and sounding like Sherlock Holmes, sarcastically replied, “Ah… an imperfection.” I rolled my eyes…

When I thought about his comment later, I said to myself, “What does he expect me to do, look at this thing on my foot like it’s my cool, unique, thing?” Then I thought, “Hey. That’s not such a bad idea. What if instead of secretly hating my right foot for not being perfect, I choose to look at this blemish from now on as an awesome imperfection?” I could  practice what I preach and … drum roll please… accept myself “as is.” This “blemish” can forever (or at least ’til I find the right fade cream) serve to remind me of where I’ve been. When I look down and see the callous, I will remember that I am a survivor, that no matter how challenging things may be at the present moment, they are nothing compared to being homeless. Having only thirty dollars in my account now, pales in comparison to cutting receiving blankets into triangles so my baby could have diapers. Having only a quarter of a tank now, is not the same as running out of gas while driving uphill in GA, and having the gas station attendant take $2 out of their own pocket to buy enough to get us home, since I had already spent our literal last penny the day before. Our “scars” in life help us to remember times we’ve overcome. Maybe you have some scars that up ’til now have caused you much pain when you look at them. I challenge you to give your scars a new, empowering meaning.  When I look down at that blemish, I will now remember that every state of life is temporary and the rough times don’t last always. Even my imperfections have a purpose… and so do yours!

 

From Me to You

More personal than usual. This is a letter from my future self to my present self, requesting insight on the rough journey… just in case one day I forget. Similar to K’Jon’s “On the Ocean,” a song that got me through many rough moments. I would pick up my baby and dance with her everytime it came on the radio, believing that one day my ship would come in, too. 

From me to you.

I will never fully remember your pain, the frustration, the lost sleep, the angry moments waiting for our ship to come in.

I will likely not believe the stories you’ll try to tell me of sleeping in cars, heating baby bottles in gas station microwaves, or of drinking 2% because WIC didn’t cover soy.

I will likely doubt the 8 hours sitting on the side of a Georgia road just shy of exit 333, the site of the Kroger that was home to you more nights than one.

I will likely forget the days of no diapers where onesies were cut along with receiving blankets into triangles to attempt to catch the moisture.

I will likely not remember the cold showers the first week because the homeowner forgot to pay the gas bill in that house with mansion sized rooms.

I will likely not remember the Cobb County library being our only entertainment next to the visiting the park down the street from the Dominoes Pizza we could never afford.

I will likely forget my “first born” sitting on my lap, curled up against my pregnant belly with my little one kicking her from inside, or the startled look of confusion on her face each time.

I likely will forget the meals of lentils, grits, and ramen that I made while 6 months pregnant that fed us, me sacrificing and giving away the greater portion, and saving some to feed my “first born” too.

I will likely forget the roaches that made life there damn near unbearable. That beautiful, spacious, Marietta apartment with the pool and exercise room that was damn near uninhabitable for me.

I will likely forget the day we knew we’d have somewhere to stay so we left only to have to return and find the door locked and our calls unanswered, too broke to go anywhere we slept in the driveway hoping someone would come home. They didn’t.

I will likely forget staying up late with my little one sleeping on my lap, working on my first book while everyone slept.

I will likely forget all these stories and that is why I am grateful to you for writing to me tonight. The rough moments will one day be faded memories that seem like myths and fables. This is our life. These things did happen. We will arrive. I promise you that. I promise you that.

 

Maybe you can relate, maybe you gave up on your dream. Please support me as I stand in courage reclaiming mine. http://fnd.us/c/0dg5f/sh/6waf0

Maybe you can relate, maybe you gave up on your dream. Please support me as I stand in courage reclaiming mine. http://fnd.us/c/0dg5f/sh/6waf0

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Inspirational

 

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Bounce Back

Let me say I never intended on being “one of those” parents. I had a plan. I was going to get married my junior year of college, be pregnant during my senior year, and give birth right after graduation. Or so said my seventeen year old self. What did she know?

Saw this inspiration on Facebook a while back.

Instead, my Bible beating self, went off to seminary, met the man of my dreams—well, not really, met the man I knew I was going to marry—fell in love, graduated with my master’s in counseling, moved in with him, got pregnant soon after and the rest, as they say, is history.

The greatest blessing of veering off the road of my life plan, was having my daughter. I think, at times, that it all happened—all the rough stuff, dark times, and detours—so I could be her mom. She is without question the greatest gift God has ever given me. Not only is she fun and funny, intelligent and beautiful, but she challenges me to be more of the real me, and always has.

I will never forget the day I saw her for the first time, on that ultrasound. As I sat waiting in the parking lot of the unemployment office later that day, I wrote her the most heartfelt and sincere letter. The part I remember the most is this, “I will overcome every fear, to ensure that you have none.” As I look back on those words, I realize  I have been on a journey toward fearlessness, or better yet, a journey to “feel the fear and do it anyway” ever since….

So without going into the details, I’ll just say, things didn’t work out between her dad and I. When our relationship ended, I was a stay-at-home mom, with no money of my own. And when I say “no money” I mean NO MONEY. All I had was her, the contents of our apartment, and my family so I gathered those resources, humbled myself and began to rebuild our life….

Most people (I think) would be shocked to know that all my products and my children’s book, I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! were all created during my “bounce back” time. I opened the store with my first product designs two days before the end of my relationship (around this time in 2011). Since then I have designed nearly a hundred products in two online stores. I wrote, illustrated, and self-published my children’s book last year. And I say all this, not to pat myself on the back so much as to let you know that when life knocks you on your… patootie, you don’t have to give up! You make a choice, everyday. You can either lay on the couch depressed or you can choose to bounce back. You can let bitterness consume you, and allow anger to alter your spirit, or you can choose to bounce back. You can destroy your child’s spirit by constantly taking your frustrations out on them, or you can choose to bounce back. We make that choice EVERYDAY to either lay on the mat, or bounce back.

Through tears I sat at my computer night and day, often while she was sleeping on my lap, and created because I believe that this is not the end. I want a better life for my daughter. I want a better life for me. I refuse to allow pain to make this a permanent residence. I want more for us. That’s what drives me. What will drive you?

Find out more about Marlene Dillon by visiting her about.me page, a listing of various ways to support this single mom in her journey to bounce back. http://about.me/marlenedillon 

If you would like to support via a monetary gift (which every single parent can use), please do so via FundRazr at http://fnd.us/c/fXX72

Check out my promo video for my children’s book below. Thank you for your support!

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2013 in Inspirational, Just For Fun

 

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The Sweet Spot

Special thanks to Getty Images & awesome photographer Colin Cooke for use of this image.

I am the last person on earth who would ever do a post on watermelon. Honestly, the history alone makes it difficult for me to even eat it in public. However, it is the best fruit for describing what I am calling, “rinsing the sweetness out of life.”

A very dear loved one of mine has done this thing, that I personally think is really odd, but to each his/her/it’s own (whatever the phrase is, lol). I’ve known her since childhood and every single time she eats watermelon, she stands at the kitchen sink and holds each slice under the cold running water.  I have watched her standing there for what seemed to be at least a half hour, rinsing piece after piece before eating them. The whole time shaking my head, looking on with utter disbelief. In my opinion, watermelon’s sweetness is its gift, but for her, it’s just “too sweet.”

This morning, I had a huge epiphany. I’ve come to realize that in some aspects, particularly in regard to my career path, this is exactly what I’ve done with my life. I have been gifted with the most amazing creative abilities—most of which I don’t use because I’ve felt they are too sweet for me. I have watered myself down, with limiting beliefs like that’s something other people do. People who are more talented than me, more passionate than me, more confident than me, or simply born into a different environment than mine are the only ones who can pursue something like that. I could never be a fashion designer. I could never make and sell my own jewelry. Who would ever take me seriously as a songwriter? and so on.

You know, this morning I woke up early with a vision of the most outstanding shoe design. It was for a bridal shoe that has the most amazing button closures going down the back—a high stiletto that would make the average shoe fiend go bananas, and what was my first thought? You’re never gonna make that. What’s the point of getting up to sketch it. So many times—more than I could ever count—I have listened to that voice, which I call my inner critic. She has been standing at the “sink” probably all my life, trying to rinse all the sweetness out. Without even realizing it, I have been sitting by watching her do it. But now that I am aware of it, I won’t let any more sweetness go down the drain… 

So my question to you is, what is your sweet spot? What area of your life are you ignoring because it just doesn’t fit with who your sweet thief says you are? An ever better question is how long are you going to stand by and be robbed of your sweetness? Take a step today and share your hidden sweetness below. I’d love to hear about it. (Just FYI, I nearly didn’t get up to type this blog. The sweet thief strikes again.) 

 

Check out my promo video for my children’s book below. Thank you for your support!

 
 

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Scared Great

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have spent most of my life paralyzed by fear, making choices based on what others would think, what I felt I was expected to do, and what I believed I could do perfectly. I rarely challenged myself to go outside of my “box” for fear of failure, criticism, rejection, … you name it. Well, yesterday, as I read my Facebook friend’s status, I realized her month of gratitude had come to a close. For the entire month of November, she posted a status each day of something she was grateful for. I thought it was an awesome idea and a real challenge. I mean, it’s a lot easier to gripe via Facebook than to be positive and find thirty things that you’re happy about, much less to commit to doing it publicly. So I thought to myself, “Hmmm… I wonder what can I commit to for a month.” Then I heard, “do it afraid.” The words of my dear friend—and fellow blogger—Danielle Navonne, rushed back to me from our conversation earlier that night. We had talked about how fear was keeping me from making major advances regarding my new children’s book. So, I decided last night that I will commit to facing my fears every day for one month.

For the entire month of December, I will push myself to do one thing each day that freaks me out, totally terrifies me, and pushes me forward, exposing the greatness within me. I am going to “scare myself great!”

Why don’t you join me? For the entire month of December, do something each day that you’ve been putting off because of fear—something that you know you should be doing, or have wanted to do, that will push you forward (not backwards ;)). This month just started so just do two things today, that terrify you and you’ll be caught up. 😉 Whether it is to join a meetup group for songwriters, sign up for that half marathon, finally say “hi” to the cute chick in your building, or pass out flyers to strangers for your upcoming book signing, do it.

I learned yesterday, as I walked up on strangers handing them flyers, that the stories we tell ourselves about what is going to happen when we put ourselves “out there” are typically far worse than what actually happens. The gas station attendant didn’t yell, “GET OUT OF HERE! NO SOLICITING!” and throw my flyers on the ground. She actually said, “Good for you! I’m glad to help. Put your flyers here on the counter, where people can see them.” Surprisingly, most people were very happy for me. I’m glad I overcame myself and did it.

Publicly outing myself about this on my blog was my challenge for today, although, I may do a few more terrifying things before I go to bed. (It’s a little addictive once you get going.) I think this will be great for you as it is already paying off for me. So, what will be your terrifying thing, today? Tell me below, how will you scare yourself great?

 

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Just Do It!

Last month I challenged myself to spend all of December scaring myself into my greatness. In short, I made a conscious decision to do things that I normally would avoid because they were “too scary” or just “not me.” So last month I took my introverted self to a huge natural hair event (organized by Rachel O.), the following weekend I hosted my first book signing for my new children’s book (I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!™), and my scariest undertaking of all… drumroll please…. I registered for Fear Experiment 4!

image

What is Fear Experiment 4?

FE4 is an amazing opportunity for people like myself to face our fears in an environment of support and … mutual terror. I, for example, am completely terrified of doing anything that I am not great at. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. So every time I find a typo in my blog (I know you’ve already found some), I fight the urge to crawl under a rock and never blog again. I like to be prepared, rehearsed, and virtually incapable of failure at all times so what better class to sign up for than improv? Yeah, I signed up for IE3, which means that on Friday, April 5th, at 8pm, I will be on stage at the Park West intentionally making a fool of myself, in front of seven hundred plus people! I am so excited and completely terrified at the same time that I can hardly wait for Thursday’s rehearsal. I’m looking forward to sharing this awesome experience with 17 of the most amazing people who, like me, dared to scare themselves great.

Fear Experiment 4 - Improv

IE3 – 17 of the most courageous people on Earth!

So, enough about me. What are you going to do to scare yourself into your greatness? What decision will you make today that will push you a little bit closer to your goals? How can you challenge yourself to do the thing that you’ve been telling yourself for years is “too scary” or just not you? I had a dream the other day where I told someone “every decision you make either brings you closer to your dreams or farther away from them.” Stop wasting time thinking of every reason (or excuse) for not doing something challenging. Just do it. My thirty-day journey in December helped me realize that scaring myself great is the way I want to live my life. I decided a few weeks ago that I was going to guide my 2013 by Nike’s signature phrase, “Just do it.” Being afraid is not an excuse anymore. I hesitate each time I tell a new person about my children’s book, and quite frankly, I am terrified about getting up on that stage April 5th. But I am more afraid of living a life that is less than what I want for myself and my family. So the next time a great opportunity comes your way, don’t talk yourself out of it. If it’s going to move you forward, JUST DO IT!

If you’d like to come out and support us in April at the Park West in Chicago. Click the link below for more details! I’d love your support. Maybe it’ll inspire you.

*** TICKETS TO FEAR EXPERIMENT 4 ON SALE NOW! Click here for tickets and information.***

************* UPDATE *************

The show was beyond awesome! We received a standing ovation. The experience shook me so far out of my fears I can barely recognize the person I was before. It has been tremendous for me socially and in networking. Find away to shake off what’s inhibiting to you.

We now join the list of greats who've performed at the Park West!

We now join the list of greats who’ve performed at the Park West!

(Hint: if it doesn’t feel REALLY uncomfortable, it probably won’t do the trick.)

Oh, and we got a standing ovation. :)

Nothing like a standing ovation from 700 people.

Read my previous post “Scared Great” to hear the full story.

 
 

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