Tag Archives: relationships

LENT: Look to the Positives

What if you rephrased the question of “What will I give up?” to “What will I gain?”

This short blog will utilize the counseling paradigm of the BIOPSYCHOSOCIOSPIRITUAL Model that focuses on the premise that each person is a unique and complex human who is composed of a physical being, an emotional being, a relational being, and a spiritual being.

What if you decided during this Lenten season to focus on one particular area of your life – based on the above concept – and focused on what is to be gained instead of lost?

BIO = Your body

What one thing can you do each day to better your physical health?

Take note that by doing something better, you’re actually giving up something that is of much lesser quality that may be harmful for your physical health.

How would this change your view of what you eat, drink, or improve self care since you are created in the image of God and your body is a “living sacrifice?” [Romans 12:1,2]

PSYCHO = Your mind

What can you do each day to take ownership of your thoughts and choose to think on things that are “true, noble, right, pure, admirable, and honorable?” [Philippians 4:8]

Do you need to “crucify” an attitude of entitlement and, instead, focus on gratitude for 40 days?

Take note that by choosing better things to think about, you’re actually giving up thoughts of much lesser quality that may be harmful for your emotional health.

(Are you starting to see a pattern? 🙂

SOCIO = Your relationships

What can you do each day to improve the relationships in your life? No, not what OTHERS should do, but what YOU decide to do to improve your marriage, friendships, relationships with your children, etc.

Do you need to start focusing on what the people in your life are doing well as opposed to what they aren’t? Does your attitude of harshness or selfishness need to be “crucified?”

Take note that by choosing to improve the relationships in your life, you’re actually giving up the right to only seeing things from your perspective.

SPIRITUAL = Your relationship with God

How can you choose to intentionally meet with Him each day?

Take note that by choosing to improve your relationship with your Creator, you’re giving up something of much lesser quality that demands your energy and time.

Side note:  You may say you don’t worship God.  Well, okay.  But look at WHAT or WHOM you DO worship, because we all worship something or someone.  And misdirected worship never satisfies. Never has, never will.

Focus on what you’re gaining this Lenten season as opposed to what you’re giving up.  It pales in comparison.

This is Hope Unveiled!



Relationship Tips as You Gather

“The Heritage of the Past is the Seed That Brings Forth the Harvest of the Future.”

This quote from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. is dense with meaning and application.

Gathering Together…

The first gathering for thanks most likely occurred in 1621 even though it wasn’t officially recorded until two years later. As you learned early in your academic studies, the settlers had had many obstacles in the heritage of their past that posed challenges unlike any other.  Let’s face it.  The majority of us will never know what kind of hardship and trials they faced.

These families focused on what they DID have, not what they had lost.  Unlike the photos and popular belief, they wore clothes of bright colors and enjoyed song, dance, and outdoor activities. In fact, this tradition began after they had experienced a two month drought. Gratitude.

As You Gather Together….

These are the “seeds” that you plant in the present:

  • Refuse to react.  If someone “pushes your buttons,” you make the choice that it will not bother you. Take a deep breath, leave the room, or let it roll off your shoulders. Learning the skill to de-escalate will take you a long way.
  • Find common denominators. There tends to be a focus on what divides in relationships.  I encourage you to intentionally find what unites. This could be as simple as watching a movie, playing board games, cooking, sports, etc.
  • Focus on the people. Focus on the people who are present.  What do they enjoy? What are their interests?  What are their hobbies or career interests? What current challenges do they face? How can you encourage them?
  • Don’t “go there” with hot topic issues. Decide ahead of time that if you know people at the same gathering have different philosophical ideas, a boundary should be erected before the conversation begins to snowball.  If someone tries to push buttons among the group, kindly respond that it’s not the time or place. Use appropriate body language, words, and tone. Shift the focus on an idea or topic for all to contribute.
  • Ask open-ended questions.  Nothing will diffuse a potential argument than incorporating this technique.  If someone offers an opinion,  ask the following: “Tell me why that’s important to you,” and then leave it at that.  Don’t offer your own side of looking at things. You won’t change someone’s belief system while gobbling down turkey.
  • Ask each other what you are thankful for.  This is an especially useful “tool” if you’ve experienced hardship or grief this last year.  Why?  Science has proven that if you intentionally focus on what is going well, it balances out your cognitive thinking so the negatives don’t spiral you emotionally. The perfect ratio is >3 to 1 (listing at least 3 things you are thankful for even in the midst of the one negative event).
  • Be flexible. If families have changed, are blended, or experienced loss, be flexible and forgiving with the traditions of the past (what to fix, when to meet, etc.).  Remember:  it’s not the tradition that you’ve held, it’s about creating memories with people you care about.
  • Forgive. This isn’t about the other person, it’s about you.  Forgiveness is a process (much like grief), and must be “walked through” with a pastor, counselor, or life coach.  Forgiveness is about letting yourself off the hook, not the offender.  Life’s too short to hold to grudges and bitterness.  Do something about it now. It’s about YOU moving ahead in life.
  • Grief. If you have experienced loss, somewhere along the line you’ve adopted a belief that says, “I must stay strong for the family.”  You have permission to cry and acknowledge your loss among your gathering. Of course things are different. You are embarking on a “new normal” and right now you have no idea what that looks like.  So, cry together, laugh together, and remember the person who is no longer there.  It promotes the healing promotes and is the first step in the grief process. In holidays to come, you may want to remember their memory in a special way at family gatherings.  Be creative and allow your idea to fully embrace the person who is no longer with you.
  • Dress colorfully. As simple or silly as this may sound, there’s psychological benefit to wearing something that positively affects your emotions and makes you feel good.
  • Hobbies. Between gatherings, be sure to build your resiliency “tool box” with things you enjoy – reading, resting, painting, etc.  These hobbies and healthy coping skills make you resilient during times of stress.

Let this season of gathering be joyful – regardless of hardship and trial – and decide now to take ownership of what YOU bring to the table.

Life Coaching Tip:

Regardless of the “heritage” behind you, you decide what “seed” to plant TODAY that will reap a future “harvest” in your life.





Why Hacksaw Ridge Brought Me Full Circle

It was only fitting that I would choose this movie as the week closes on Veterans’ and Election Day.

I watched the movie as close to home as I have gotten in the last 15 years – Smith Mountain Lake – since my parents have passed. Ironically, this location is only an hour from the setting of the movie and where my parents took retirement after active service (Lynchburg, VA).

One of my earliest memories is meeting my father in Honolulu while he was on R & R from Viet Nam. He had already served in World War II and Korea. I wasn’t more than five years old when we swayed and danced to The Girl from Ipanema. He led while I positioned my feet on top of his. But something happened in those post retirement years, not long after our dance. How one handles horrific experiences of combat is unique.

In the years that followed, I went to college, married, and became a mother. My young adult self would utter, “I just don’t understand,” when my father, this Army colonel, never volunteered to discuss his more than 30 years of active service.

A few years before his death, I imploringly wrote a short note inside a Father’s Day card, asking him to share his experiences with his young grandsons. The card was coupled with a shadow box of medals I had stumbled upon that had been tucked away in old bandaid boxes. How could something so valuable be hidden or kept in this manner?

I “consciously objected” to what I perceived as his lack of understanding on my part to know his history. I was trying desperately to understand the father I didn’t. And to know the father who had survived 3 wars and 8 combat campaigns, but slowly died in life engagement during post retirement years. But you don’t know what you don’t know. And, because I didn’t know, I lacked understanding.


The graphically visual scenes of this movie left clear understanding of what these veterans lived through and died for on behalf of each of us. We don’t know what we don’t know. And we don’t know what we don’t see, live through, or experience.

Except for those who are or have been serving in the last decade or so, many in my generation have no idea what sacrifice means. And neither do our children. I don’t know what I don’t know. They don’t know what they don’t know. And for this I am convicted and feel ashamed. I have no idea what sacrifice means. Really.

The awareness that this movie provides is impetus for shattering some beliefs while strengthening others. Here’s what is true about life:

  • Battles in life can make us better or bitter.
  • Faith carries when foes throw us down.
  • Stamina is strengthened when strained.

My encouragement is for you to see this movie. Perhaps it will lend insight into a family member, yourself, or another.

And now I know what I know. And because I know, I understand. And because I understand, I can accept that to which I previously consciously objected. And maybe you will too.

Dad, I miss you. I have come full circle.

This blog is dedicated to all the men and women who serve this country. You truly know and understand. I salute you

Anxious Living: “C” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y.


The “C” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y. acknowledges four concepts for buffering stress. Consider the following:


Learn to cultivate calm evenings.  In particular, there are two recommendations:

  1.  Do not discuss “heavy” topics at night with family members.  This activates the brain in ways that is not conducive to restful sleep.  If needed, discuss stressful topics during daytime hours.
  2. Develop a calm bedtime routine.  This may include a relaxing bath, soft music, no blue light (for an hour and a half before bedtime),  reading a hardcover book, etc.


Share your stress with a trusted friend or professional.  You are a “jar of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7) and need to have an “inner circle” to connect and commune with during challenging times.  In addition, these trusted individuals can bear the burden of your stress by either just listening, or actively serving you to lighten the load. In either instance, put pride aside.


The tendency to be stimulated during a time of stress is a vicious cycle, especially if you haven’t been able to sleep well.  Be intentional about greatly reducing your caffeine intake.  If you’re used to caffeine at all three meals, begin by deleting it at the dinner hour.  Once your body is used to this, delete the caffeine at lunch as well.  Ideally, drink your cup of Joe in the morning and be done.  Your body is already stressed enough; caffeine doesn’t help the cause.


My grandmother always told me that a good cry was good for the soul.  Neurobiology has confirmed her wisdom.  The hormone that causes the production of cortisol is found in your tears.  Specifically, a 2-4 minute cry has stress reduction benefits. So go ahead and cry; however, beware of a pattern.

With these 4 concepts in mind, how can you…..

A. Make one change – and eventually more – in your bedtime routine to alleviate stress?

B.  Identify a trusted friend, family member, or professional to share your stress with?

C.  Monitor and delete your caffeine intake? Perhaps a family member to hold you accountable?

D.  Not suppress your feelings and give yourself permission to cry?

In summary, use these tips to manage stress.  Remember: The idea is to buffer and build (resiliency).

This is Hope Unveiled!


Serving Up Another #HPMKT Experience

No one understands the preparation it takes for the International High Point Furniture Market unless they are involved in some capacity.  Each person has their respective duties, whether it’s designing, planning, delivering, setting up, or dismantling.  And oh the time it takes before the Market even begins…
The sights and colors of the showroom wares where I work are eye candy to lure in any visitor.  Beautifully coordinated paint and furnishings are backdrops to the decor on display, each color group sectioned off to stand alone to the buying eye.
And tucked away amongst the palettes of color is the market kitchen.  Not just a kitchen, but a room with a view, where I can look out my window to drink in the fashions of the season.
My role is a self imposed one that I have enjoyed for the previous four Markets – catering a showroom solo.  Planning, buying, cooking, serving, hosting, and cleaning, to be exact.  And I love every minute of it.  Why?  Because I love to create and cook.  This list gives just a glimpse into the amounts purchased for consumption (think Christmas …. ):
12 heads of lettuce, 11 pounds of poultry, 10 tiers of cookies, 9 bags of popcorn, 8 drinks in liters, 7 sleeves of crackers, 6 cups of sour cream, 5 golden plates……, 4 egg casseroles, 3 bags of ice, 2 bags of bacon, and a continuous bowl of chocolate candy.  Give or take.
The sights and sounds of my kitchen work move in rhythm to the sounds on the speakers, keeping me on track in an upbeat fashion for a daily 11 hour shift.  The usual sounds can be heard – chopping, clanging, and cleaning.  But the sounds that mean the most are not the ones I create, but those shared for my listening ears:
â–Ş The rep who wants a second helping of homemade cornbread for a late night snack or for the drive home.
â–Ş The designer from a neighboring state who compliments the availability of healthy food while sharing her story of a changed life because of nutritional changes.
â–Ş The buyers who share that their adult daughter is intentional about feeding her family well who also influences the lives of the Millennials in her circle of influence.
â–Ş The rep who, with tears in her eyes, shares that she is so thankful her adult child is getting the necessary help and support to move forward in life.
The beautiful table filled with homemade food for visitors is just an appetizer to what is really on the showroom menu.  The food is served and consumed.  But the food for the soul is that which lasts – a smile, a sharing of a story, and serving up a good experience for those I meet.
These are the sights and sounds that last after the table has been cleared and cleaned until next time.  These are the memories that linger long after the menu is forgotten.

A Letter to My Birth Mother: Thank You for Not Aborting Me

Dear “Mom,”

I don’t know if you had a choice almost 53 years ago.

This letter is neither a political statement nor a call to judgment. I refuse to go “there.” Simply, this is a letter of gratitude and thankfulness.

The day was October 11, 1962. The place was a foreign country. I’m sure if you’re still alive, there’s not a day that goes by that you don’t think about it.

While the world viewed Johnny Carson and the Cuban Missile Crisis, I can only imagine where your focus must have been. Was there anyone looking at you and the emotional pain you may have been in? Were you alone?

I don’t know what motivated you to give me up for adoption. Was it because you were single? Was it because I was biracial? Was it because your lover wanted nothing to do with you once it was discovered you were pregnant?

I’m thankful for many things because of what you decided to do.

I was given a family who loved me. Probably too much. My maternal grandmother, my mom, and my dad, all of whom I miss terribly.

I’m thankful for piano lessons, dance lessons, and life lessons by my grandmother. I’m thankful for friends with whom I have shared nail polish, current fashions, and laughter.

And tears. Oh yes, especially the tears.

And as the years have passed, the friends and life events have revolved around caregiving, death, raising a family, and how to “do” marriage. I’ve learned many things to this point by trial and error.

I’m thankful for the gift of marriage and my husband who loves me unconditionally. I’m thankful that I’m a mom to two sons who share physical traits with me. When I look in their eyes, I see myself, in more ways than one. And for those traits that are my polar opposites, it painfully and gloriously grows me into a better woman, mother, wife, and friend. I would not be who I am if it weren’t for the three of them.

Just so you know, I would never say I have all the answers. I don’t. But my life’s experiences have taught me to be teachable. And I’m a work in progress, for sure. I learn the most when my “epic fails” are ever before me. It keeps me humble and dependent on God as He continues to transform me into a person who can bring Him glory and credit for everything He has done in my life. Including – especially including – your decision to release me.

I’m thankful for the red, white, and blue. The flag. This country. Hot dogs covered with mustard, and the national anthem loaded with emotion.

I’m thankful for sunrises, deep conversations, music, chocolate, and warm weather. I love to sink my teeth into a filet mignon and a meaty book. I’m thankful for the passions in my life that motivate me to encourage others.

The world has changed in 52 years. You can find me in an instant.

I’ll be good either way. The choice is yours.


Your Daughter

HOPE for Holiday Gatherings: UNVEILING Tips

Holiday parties and get togethers sometimes get stickier than the gooey treats on the Santa Claus serving platter. While the latter disappears quickly, the former potentially lingers from one year to another.

So what do you do when confronted with these situations?

These tips are for YOU, not the ones who necessarily need to change their behavior:

(Sorry…This is not about THEM.)

1. Control and take responsibility for your own behavior. You can’t take ownership for others’ behavior. Even if you see a need for others to change, release yourself from this expectation.

2. Anger prepares us for a state of preparedness when confronted with a “flight or fright” mode. Here’s the main point: If someone pushes your buttons, choose to NOT react. Being angry isn’t sinful, but reacting to anger in a sinful way is.

Remember these points for ANGER MANAGEMENT:

Know what/who triggers your anger

Stop/cool down/count to 10

Imagine the results/empathize with the other person/surrender your right to retaliate/keep your distance if needed

Deal with the issues that cause you anger so that you can confront it in a way that leads to restoration and healing

3. Words account for only 7% of communication. Tone, nonverbals, and body language say more than your words. Ask for clarification and don’t assume you know what the person meant.

4. Make a choice to NOT be part of the drama.

5. You don’t have to be right.

6. Forgiveness is a process. If you have been offended, consider seeing a therapist or pastor to walk through the stages of the forgiveness process. Remember: After walking through the steps of forgiveness, it doesn’t let the other person off the hook, it lets YOU off the hook.

7. Listen, keep quiet, or ask questions. Take the focus off of yourself. Asking open ended questions results in others’ revealing their belief/value systems.

8. Seek to understand the other’s point of view.

9. Validate what the other person is saying even if you don’t agree with them. You don’t have to agree with someone in order to validate their point of view.

10. It doesn’t matter what you know. If the other person doesn’t perceive your actions as loving or if they do not feel loved, you are nothing more than a clanging cymbal (I Corinthians 13).