Monday, June 27, 2011

Recently I was speaking to a young woman half my age who was complaining about how hard her life is. Holding back tears she complained that she can't find a good job, was not happy in her living situation and her life is just not where she wants it to be. As I sat and listened, I began to compare her life to mine when I was her age. I also had some of the same issues except I was a mother and I didn't just have myself to take care of, therefore I never had time for pity parties. So I patiently waited for her to finish her two-person pity party and then I repeated a quote I heard Pastor T.D. Jakes say recently:

"Don't write a book about it, because no one will read it."
In other words we all know life can be hard. The question is what steps are you taking to make it a little easier? I know this sounds like harsh advice but I believe in a little tough love. The truth is if you are not satisfied with where you are in your life then get up and do something about it. Only you are in charge of your life and there comes a time when you just have to get in survival mode! Now don't get me wrong there is no harm in throwing an occasional pity party if that is what temporarily makes you feel better but after the party is done get up, get your tail in gear and start moving toward changing your situation.

First thing you need to do is prioritize your goals. What is the most important thing that needs changing in your life? Then find a way to achieve those goals and make that change! At work we use S.M.A.R.T goals for determining how our students are achieving success. S.M.A.R.T goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Why not set some S.M.A.R.T goals for you life?

Specific = Set specific concrete goals for your life. It's not enough to say I want to change careers. Figure out what career you really want, find out the steps you need to take to work toward achieving that goal and start at step one.

Measurable = Your goals need to measurable. You need to have a clear objective. How are you going to track your progress to make sure you are staying on track? For example, if your goal is to lose weight then a measurable goal could be losing 10 pounds in 3 months.

= Make sure the goals you set for yourself can be achieved. It's good to set high goals for yourself but make sure you have to resources and/or requirements to attain the goals. You can't just say I want to get a job paying six-figures when you don't have the qualifications. First, get the qualifications and then make a six-figure salary your goal.

Realistic = Your goals need to be realistic. In other words in order for you to reach your goal you have to believe in yourself enough to know you can achieve it or else your goal is just a dream.

Timely = Set a time frame for setting your goal. Stop saying someday and actually set a real day, month or year for accomplishing your goal. This will help you to remember that things don't just happen overnight but it's a process that you are working toward.

I know that all of this seems easier said then done but it can be done. One thing I know about us women is that when we set our minds to accomplishing something there is no stopping us. We don't have to stay in any situation that we don't want to be in. The truth is sometimes all we need is a gentle push in the right direction.

So here you go...........*push*

The Summer of Us!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Friday was my last day of work and my summer vacation began! For the next 75 days I am officially off duty as a teacher. Now it is time to relax, recharge and rejuvenate myself. A few years ago I started a daily summer journal documenting each one of my fun and carefree vacation days! It is a great way for me to look back and remember everything I while on vacation. It can go by so fast and writing about it helps me to savor every moment. Some may think this is corny but I also name my summers. Yes, my summers have a theme!!! Why? Well it helps me to reach a specific personal goal that I want to accomplish during this time. Some of my past summers have been: The Summer of Gratefulness, The Summer of Renewal, and The Summer of Reinvention. Each one of these themes has a special meaning to me.

My theme for this summer is simple...the Summer of Us! Who is the us? Women, of course. Now this is a different type of theme since usually my summers are all about me. But recently I have noticed that many women including myself just need so time to simply be us. We have so many titles wife, mommy, employee, should I go on? All these roles can eventually take a toll on us. We spend so much time taking care of everyone else but how often do we just get to be Us? Just, Nikki or just (insert your name here). So this summer I plan to spend time with a few phenomenal women....w/o kids, men or agendas! Just us girls getting together for a few hours here and there to eat, drink, talk, laugh and have fun!

We all tend to underestimate the need to socialize with other amazing women. I am a strong believer that we all need time to be free to say what we feel without little ears listening and to socialize with other women who can relate to your everyday issues. It all about loving yourself enough to know that it is okay to take a break away from your family once and awhile. Trust me the house, kids and husband will be right there when you return…probably messy, hungry and happy to see you. One great effect of hanging with the girls is that our families need to know that it’s okay for us to have fun and be carefree every once and awhile. It doesn’t mean we love them less but it helps us to appreciate them more.

So go ahead celebrate the Summer of Us with me and everything that is fabulous about being a woman!

Happy National Best Friends Day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

“There is a marked difference between acquaintances and friends. Most people don’t really become friends. They become deep and serious acquaintances. But in a friendship you get to know the spirit of another person; and your values collide.” ~Maya Angelou

The older I get the more I am convinced that we should all have a few amazing friends in our lives and at least one phenomenal one!

So in honor of National Best Friend Day I am re-posting an oldie by goodie:

Never Too Old For a Best Friend!

“Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be a true friend with anyone else in the world.”

I have had many friendships in my life, some like a good wine have matured over time and others I realize now were just for a season. When I was younger having a BFF was almost a necessity, I mean whom else could I talk to about that boy I was crushing on or call to find out what they were wearing to school the next day so we could dress alike (yes, I was a little corny when I was a tween). However, as an adult having a best friend became less of a priority and after a series of unhealthy and in some cases toxic “friendships” I convinced myself that I could have many friends but I did not need or want a so-called best friend.

So I became my own BFF. In order to do this I had to be brutally honest with myself just like a real best friend would. This meant being straightforward and telling myself the truth about things that I really didn’t want to admit. It meant laughing at myself and having a good cry when necessary. Most importantly it meant forgiving myself while understanding that I am not perfect.

Learning how to be a friend to myself taught me how to appreciate a real friend and helped me to begin a fabulous friendship with one of the most amazing women I know. Our friendship has become a healthy necessity for us both. We have become each other’s therapists! Even with our very busy lives we make sure that we have time for each other. This can be a phone call or a girl’s night out where we can vent or laugh about anything we want with no interruptions from the kids or our hubbies. One thing that makes our friendship special is that we both know what it means to be an unconditional friend. We know when to listen, when to offer advice and when to just pour another glass of wine and be silent. That is the beauty of our friendship. NO EXPLANATIONS NEEDED! I love it!

So in my opinion you are never too old to have a BFF once you know what it means to be your own best friend first and you have an unconditional friendship like I do!

Get Your Happy Back!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The definition of happiness varies for each of us at different times of our lives. When I was in my twenties happiness meant being married with 2.5 kids, living in a house with a white picket fence.... you know the American dream! As I got older I stopped looking for people or materials things to make me happy. Happiness now is more of a state of mind it's not about the material things, it's a feeling of being content with my life and the choices I have made. Since I no longer rely on people to define my happiness I have no one except myself to blame if I lose it.

Unfortunately many of us base happiness on the successes or failures of our relationships with men. This is the ultimate happiness stealer. Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with being happy with the one you love but when you do not have happiness as a state of mind then it can be stolen. It took me some years to get it right, but I have finally learned that in order to love and be loved the way I deserved I had to be content with me. I had to lay down some rules for my happiness. I was determined to get my happy back...by any means necessary! So I am sharing with you some surefire ways to get your happy back:

Put YOU First - I know to some people this seems selfish especially when we have families who needs us constantly, but you really have to make yourself a priority; if not you will become burned out, resentful and unhappy.

Reassess Your Circle - Surround yourself with people who aren't joy stealers. Deep down you know who these people are. They are the ones who constantly criticize your looks, words, clothes and decisions. Most of the times these are the people who are the closest ones to you and that is why they are able to rob you of your joy, sometimes without you even knowing.

Consider the Source - I realized that sometimes people tried to give me advice based on their issues NOT mine. Nope...not gonna happen! Just because you are unhappy in your situation doesn't mean I have to be unhappy in mine.

Understand Your Worth - This one is the most important to me. We all deserve to be happy! You don't need anyone to determine your level of happiness or your sense of worth. Only you control that and no matter how much you love someone you should never give them that power!

So go ahead and take it all back!! Get your SEXY back, get your JOY back and GET YOUR HAPPY BACK!!!!!