It’s interesting how what you want in life changes over time. When I was a little girl I wanted a big wedding, a big family and a big career. But when I found my purpose in life, which was to work with those who have a mental illness, my hopes and dreams began to change. Suddenly what I wanted in life started to fall in line with my real purpose. So I had to stop, take a look around and continue to listen and observe carefully — which is a big part of what I do anyway. Without listening closely to others you can never know what they want, only what you think they want. When we start listening to what others are saying we are able to love and understand and help them in ways we never knew before.
At first it was hard for me to listen. Then I realized it was because I did not want to hear anything bad, either about others or myself. But mostly I realized I was afraid what I heard might hurt me. Now, I understand hurting is a natural part of our journey through life. Even the greatest hurts we experience teach us things we desperately need to know. I have also found that by listening closely we become more accepting of those around us and those who are special in our lives. It is also important to remember that, when listening, it is not our job to judge anyone, or anything. That job is meant for a much higher power.
There are so many things to consider in life. Most of us strive for balance. It may be balance between work and family, or between career and personal growth. Whatever it is, it’s not always easy to maintain your equilibrium, especially with the huge investment of time and energy it takes just to live day-to-day. Myself, I prefer to work away at things the majority of the time. Yes, I am a thinker, but sometimes I process information long after I receive it. (There are also times when I react without thinking, but that almost never helps me and I usually regret it.)
What I do know and think about all the time is that anything is possible in the universe. Your dreams will become reality when you believe in them and act on them. Yes, it does take work. And there are also risks. But just thinking doesn’t move you into action. Just know that if you truly believe you can achieve anything. So stop over-thinking and take action! It may be letting someone know how you feel about them, pursuing the dream house you want, or kick-starting your life’s purpose into real action to receive the abundance you deserve. Just let go of your thoughts and give 100 per cent of yourself to making your dreams become reality.
Will things always work out? Does it just depend on luck? I cannot answer that question. None of us truly knows what the future will bring. What I do know is…the days I stop thinking and doing are some of the absolute best I have. So thank you Universe for sharing the treasure of balance with me, of guiding me to know when to stop thinking and begin doing each and every day.
This is by far the best message that the Universe has ever to me. (I am also happy to report that the messages I receive are flowing more and more in the same direction as my hopes and dreams!) For many years, a lot more than I would like to admit, I have been allowing others to determine who I am. The result has been my light was dimming more and more. Now I know that there is only one person who can rescue me. It is me! So, I have started to do the work, the tedious, hard — oh so hard — work of really taking a look at what is going on around me, professionally and personally. This is a time for me to remove anything negative in my universe. It is a for me time to really open my eyes, move away from denial and see what it is that dims me.
So I have taken my own advice from my last blog and simply surrendered to where the universe is taking me. I have made up my mind that no matter what I do I will shine a light so bright it cannot be ignored. I have resolved to be braver than I have ever been and sail into unchartered waters towards a better life.
Lately the universe has unfolded so fast that I have had no choice but to keep up. Happily the result is I have made some decisions that, for the first time in my life, let me breathe. I have no chains. I am free. And, I intend to roar louder, shine with a brighter light, and move on to new heights. From this point in my life I will be beautiful and unstoppable! I can’t wait to see what is in store for me and my universe. But one thing I know, I am looking forward with confidence to a life of peace, love and understanding!
The Universe has sent me a message. It tells me, “Stop, look around, observe, and wait to see what unfolds!” And I am paying attention! Especially this past week, I am being told to stop fighting battles that aren’t mine and stop being the caretaker for everyone around me.
We cannot really control other people’s behavior. Instead we must trust in our own strength, surrender to the Universe and wait for signs on how to proceed. If we truly want to move forward from all the crossroads we encounter we must take the time to listen. When we talk instead of listening, we miss the signs. When we don’t take time out for ourselves, when we are too overwhelmed by all our day-to- day business, we miss the signs.
Sometimes you must take a deep breath and surrender to the Universe. Listen to the sounds around you, appreciate the day. Walk away from anything that no longer serves you. Walk away and stop making excuses for the unacceptable. Remember what you like to do and do it. Draw on your inner strength. No matter what people are saying, or doing, it ultimately reflects back on them, not you. If it is toxic, surrender to the beauty in the world and rise above it! Surrender does not mean standing up for what you believe, it means believing in it so strongly, no one can touch you. Revel in your own power! It turns out it is an interesting place to be.
And it will take you to the next level.
As we work each day caring for individuals who need our help, we often see them trying to cope in ways that may be hurtful to others. In my opinion we are all guilty of behaving badly sometimes. As we try to take care of our personal needs we sometimes repress feelings, say things that are mean and passive-aggressive, or just ignore others by saying nothing at all.
Who benefits from this? No one, really. It only leads to unhappiness and guilt all around. What to do? Maybe we need to stop and ask ourselves, “What’s not working in this relationship and why?”
It doesn’t really help anyone in a relationship to blame someone for asking us to give them what they desperately need. They deserve it! If a relationship is not working with a friend, family member, or significant other, it may be better to just walk away – if only for a little while — so you can figure how to can fix it. If a relationship doesn’t honor your own needs, it shouldn’t be allowed to undermine your self-worth. In fact, you can make your self-worth soar knowing you had the strength to move on when you weren’t getting what you needed – and deserved – from a relationship that needs repair.
I have been reflecting over the past week on administrative changes I have made at Elegant. I was able to make some much needed improvements in accountability and structure. Instead of not knowing where an activity is from day to day, there’s now a structure and plan. This means less uncertainty for our staff and individuals. In making changes I took into consideration all that we love to do and then, boy ,did I make it happen. I scheduled a cooking class. I made fitness a top priority. I scheduled weekly bowling and art and monthly music therapy. Everything we deal with is a lesson and I view the world through that lens for my state of the art program, Elegant.
Just a few years ago I was struggling personally and professionally to do better. I was getting caught up in my personal drama. But in less than three years, I was able to build a program and a life that I am passionate about. Not that I didn’t have a team to help me. I sure do. However, it is my own vision coming more and more alive as we speak.
Over the weekend I was able to relax a bit and watch the movie “The Intern.” It really resonated with me given my incredible hours, focus and passion for Elegant. I don’t want to give away the story line, but I felt so close to the main character played by Anne Hathaway. I am always looking for someone to bring to Elegant creative thought, problem solving and my kind of love and dedication. But I have yet to find that person. What I realize now is that it is my job to do all that. It makes me feel good to know that I was always intended to carry out my purpose as CEO of Elegant and that is exactly what I am doing. I must also accept other people for the wonderful things they bring, not keep looking for my clone. Sometimes things come up for us and we may not know the meaning. But as time goes on we see the lesson we were meant to learn. Because the lesson is always there – if we just listen.
Genuine is a word someone used to describe me recently. I’ve always loved that word, but never thought it fit for me. Genuine means being sincere, being authentic. I have used it many times to describe Elegant. Now that I have had a few days to think about it I am reflecting on what the Universe might want me to learn from it. Genuine is such a powerful word!
Being genuine allows you to offer support with true love for others while they jump onto their path of choice and travel through this life. When you accept others without conditions and travel with them on their journey — while they travel with you through yours — you share the experience even if you truly weren’t on the same path. Everyone has a story on our journey here on Earth — our individuals, myself and my team included.
The way the Universe works, an entire chain of events will happen to help explain “genuine” to me in a way that I fully understand. I greatly respect the person who said it to me and I take seriously that the universe is working for me to understand what it means. I have many inspirational private discussions with amazing people that I come in contact with at work, or outside of work, and I always put the best interests of others in the forefront when I am giving any feedback to someone.
Every minute of our time is spent for a reason. I am well aware of all of my actions and at the same time responsible for them, although sometimes I do not want to be!
The truth is, I have been through trials and tribulations on my ongoing journey to be exactly where I need to be at a given time for a given purpose. When we let go of judgments we open ourselves to possibilities that we never knew could exist for us. Trust me, I am living proof!
Over the past few weeks I have been returning again and again to a common theme. As I look at the people we serve at Elegant, I watch individuals struggle to get the things they desperately need from us. Yet it has become more and more clear that what they want and need is love. How do we provide something so precious?
Among other things our program strives to get people working and make them productive members of society. In order for this to happen, we must go through the process of talking to employers about the benefits of hiring our individuals. Meanwhile we are working to build better relationships with local employers to overcome ignorance surrounding what people with disabilities can do. More importantly we strive to develop a strong sense of commitment from the individuals we are attempting to place. In most cases, due to mental illness, we are not able to get full work days from them. Yet we must keep going, getting better job coaches for them, along with many other things they need. But in reality, we are all working for the common goal of employment, independence, and of course, fulfilled promise. A critical missing element is often that we need to find a better way to achieve success. It is not just a good resume, better training, or improved job coaching methods. We must assess what our individuals really need to succeed.
For example, we have an individual who came to our program who works hard, inside or outside. Most individuals have a preference. And she is willing to do almost any work. But as good as she is, to find employment for her we need to do something different. We need to focus on what SHE needs. What she needs is love, to feel a sense of belonging. We all need that feeling as much as she does. However, sometimes she swims through a world where others have no idea how to give love and are themselves struggling with a sense of belonging. So how do they provide that necessary love? We all need to look deep within ourselves and recognize what is missing within us to fulfill ourselves and be able to find the love that is so necessary for success in what we do.
I really understand this dilemma. I have searched my whole life for many things and, more often than I like to admit, I have been let down. If you are never taught how to love, how do you love deeply? Unless we are able to find fulfillment ourselves by truly loving ourselves, we do not have the capacity to love others. Certainly not in the way our individuals need.
So maybe we are all looking to be saved by someone, or something. The toughest part is that we are the only ones who can save ourselves and be free to truly give love to others. So, sometimes what you want to give is something that you do not possess. When you hear a person say, I need trust, I need loyalty, I need love, I need intimacy, a little reflection may be in order to look within yourself and see if you possess those qualities yourself. They may not be there no matter how badly you want them. So I advise you to go back and nurture your soul. Then 2016 can be a year where you find the happiness and love you need to help and nurture others.
Over the past few weeks I have learned a few things about the keys to program success, especially during the holidays and the sheer emotional intensity they create. At this time of year structure goes out the window, consistency is missing and days don’t flow the same way. We humans like structure, or at least predictability, of some kind. Some of us have families to go home to during the holidays and some of us don’t. So it is a tough time of year, for positive or negative reasons. Often we are not as health conscious as we celebrate. That can throw our moods off, at a time when there are so many variables to contend with!
So what can we do to help keep the positive energy flowing? Well, we can give more hugs, and generally introduce more love into our lives. It is a time of need and giving! If we cannot love more, then we fuel negative energy that can spread like a virus. With unpredictability in the air, we need to share ourselves by loving more, giving more of ourselves and getting through the Season in an elegant fashion!
Here at Elegant we have adapted our program to the demands of the holidays by including healthy snack incentives, increasing fitness to four times each week, and adding social skills training that relates to the holidays. Lately we have had unprecedented success with our programs and we continue to track outcomes closely. We are thrilled with the results. By seeking outcomes that are measurable and using love to achieve your goals you have the keys to fulfilling your mission all through the year!
So…my Blog with Special Mentions for those who need to know I see them.
I am so blessed to have such an amazing family at home and extended family at Elegant. I have my true number one and soul mate, Mr. Tracy Mark Gaston. Without him, Elegant would not be. I would never have found the love for myself I needed for my mission in life without the love I have for this man. My babies, Lita and Nyla are both blessings. Lita, who is always testing me with her brilliance, has my sense of humor and the same ability to follow a calling that was meant for the two of us to share. Nyla, my youngest, so far… has taught me patience and wisdom and how to keep my own emotions together to stay positive throughout the day. Negativity pushes her mood to the dark side, so energy is everything for her. I am forced to keep it together for this little one. My next child, or children, will be calm. I need peace and tranquility and I know that’s what I will get.
As for my team, Ms. Jackson keeps it real, does her job and carries the Elegant Bee Mission far beyond what I could do. She embodies our mission and beauty all in one. Chantel, is someone I can count on and the love she gives is something that I deeply admire. You are exceptional. Miss Monica, you know I love you. You are so direct and truly fit in my world. The rest of my team, know that you are each appreciated and never forgotten. You all are just a few of those around me I am grateful for.
I came from a very negative team early in my journey through this world, but now I have truly found the right people. You are the right fit at the right time and all the time. As I have said before, those who don’t belong make a quick exit. That is not because I don’t think they will find a place to fit in, or because I won’t pray for them. They are just are not a fit for the Elegant world I am so blessed to have around me.