We Are In Control

Last night I hosted my very first Reflection Connection Virtual Check In and was joined by a handful of wonderful women (my apologies to the ladies who had issues joining). It kicked off with this short message I’d like to share with all of you…

Someone shared an article online that said the biggest side effect of COVID-19/ Corona Virus is mental health. While I didn’t click the article to see its validity, I do know that our minds are powerful. And that’s the focus of this little tid bit. I am a Christian so I try to embed my faith into everything I do. However, I also respect that not everyone shares my same faith or if they even have any faith at all. So I choose two things – one faith based and one scientifically based.
Part of 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “we take every thought captive.” I did a little research and found that in Greek it translates “to control, to conquer, to bring into submission” WE take captive. WE are in control.
Dr. Caroline Leaf says, “As we think, we change the physical nature of our brain. As we consciously direct our thinking we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts.” This is something that can be achieved through repetition.

Both scripture and science tells us that we are in control. We are in control. Although right now, we’re in a situation that literally takes away our ability to control much of anything. But I believe we can control our minds. These are three things that are helping me maintain a positive perspective – we can’t believe everything we think, we have to guard our minds from garbage and we need accountability. Collectively these things can help us reshape the way we see this pandemic, to give it purpose rather than focusing on all the problems it has caused us. We are in control of our thoughts. 

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Thank you to all the ladies who joined. Thank you to all the ladies who shared. Thank you for your vulnerability. Thank you for your inspiration. Thank you for the laughter. Thank you for the positivity. Thank you for reminding each of us that we are not alone in this. And a final thank you Ana Colgan Shop for sponsoring our giveaway.

 

I’ll be hosting another Reflection Connection Virtual Check-In soon so be sure to follow on Instagram for all upcoming dates.

 

Imposed Isolation

How are you? How are you, really? This entire situation is unprecedented. I honestly had no idea how to address it. Or even if I should say something at all. It seems COVID-19 has caused some form of chaos for all of us. Some of us are learning what it’s like to be a stay at home mom while working from home, some of us have been laid off, some of us are being overworked to meet the demands of a nation in despair and some of us are actually sick. Is it safe to say we’re all scared or in the very least unsure? I know I am. Two weeks ago my life had a rhythm and this week I can’t seem to find my footing. Every morning I have to choose to find the beauty in all of this and some days I have to remind myself that dozens of times. But the truth is, there is still beauty.

All around the world at this very moment each and every one of us are experiencing a different version of the same thing. If this scary situation has shown us anything, it’s how truly connected we all are. And I think that is beautiful.

I shared that on social media just a few days ago and I’ve taken great solace in it. What is helping you through these trying times? Can you find the beauty in this imposed isolation? Can you find ways to connect while social distancing? Can you make the choice to not only survive these uncertain times but to thrive during them? I think you can. Actually, I know you can.

Reflection Connection 2020 – Tickets Now on Sale!

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I cannot contain my excitement!

I held my first Reflection Connection gathering two years ago in my backyard and it has grown tremendously within that time. Women from all over Connecticut, even neighboring states, coming together to celebrate sisterhood. I’m in complete awe!

I’ve enjoyed all of my Reflection Connection gatherings but this one is going to be the best one yet! Joining me this year is Kimani Sioux and Pamela Rosario. The three of us are eager share a powerful experience with each of you. Come on out to connect and celebrate with us July 18, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. in Branford!

So, what’s included in the ticket price?
*Food and drinks
* Conference Materials (journal, pens, highlighters, etc)
* Limited Edition Reflection Connection Swag
* Raffle ticket for chance to win one of five giveaway boxes (including accessories from Ana Colgan Shop and customized art work from Colon Collections and much more)
P.S. The first 20 women to purchase their tickets will receive two raffle tickets instead of one!

Order Your Ticket Now

Want to attend Reflection Connection can’t afford a ticket? Message me.
Can’t attend Reflection Connection but would like to donate to the gathering? Click here.

Tory’s Choice

I had a friend, let’s call her Tory
Her very last wish was to tell her story
So I’m here today to spread the news
In hopes that it can save one of you

She died that day, trying to escape
She was running from a place
A place she called home
But in this home she was a drone
Merely a machine
Continually acting out these scenes
A place where contentment was just a dream
Because once she had it, she was on to the next thing
Unable to see it was a scheme
A strategic ploy, some sick trick
Because she was too distracted to face it
You know, that thing she tried to hide
That thing slowly killing her inside
Allowing herself to wither away
To fade more and more with each day
Rather than stand and say, “Hey!
Hey! Help me, please
Because she was too embarrassed by what was underneath
Embarrassed by the truth that she is to blame
Embarrassed that she chose to play the game
Embarrassed that she chose to engage
Engage in the very foreplay that caused her decay
Enticed by a lie that led her astray
A lie that led directly to her grave
She died that day, trying to escape
But her death wasn’t in vain, you see, she died for me
So that I could be set free
From the choices I’ve made that took from my happy

Please understand there is so much at stake
Be very careful with the choices you make
Don’t fall for the lie, don’t fall into the trap
Because Tory is gone and she’s never coming back

Thank You

I love January – it’s the first month of a new year. I spend a great deal of time reflecting during the last week of December and the first week of January. What will I do with the next 365 days? And as I scroll through social media I can see I’m not the only one. I love seeing first day of the new year photos and videos, mantras, resolutions and words of the year. I love reading about those who did (and didn’t) accomplish their goals for the previous year and how it influences how they will handle this one.

I’d like to share one of mine with you. It’s simple but strong. It’s…thankyou
This is my 2020 mantra. These are the words I aim to start and end my day with (and use many times in between). By its very definition it means acknowledging a gift. And life is a gift. Right now this moment is a gift. Each and every second is a gift, whether good or otherwise.
Within my time of reflection I found myself whispering, “Thank you” to God time after time. I realized I didn’t stop to say it enough in 2019, especially during the more trying times. And yes, even those times were a gift. So this year I’m adamant about saying thank you.

Thank you for my loved ones for without them I’d feel alone
Thank you for the hurts and hardships because they’ve allowed me to grow
Thank you for the good for it has taught me to always have hope
Thank you for this moment because the next is unknown

Thankfulness is truly a treasure. Thankfulness amplifies joy and you deserve joy. So, if you struggle with acknowledging the gift of life, try this with me. Together we can shift our perspective, we can start a new chapter in our story, we can say thank you.

“If we only say one prayer let it be thank you.” – Unknown

Collision

I haven’t had my license very long, in fact, it’ll be two years next month. Just the thought of driving would make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I came to find that it was the possibility of a car accident that triggered this level of anxiety.

Last Monday this fear stared me right in the face.

I had been sitting in my car for about 7 minutes, traffic had come to a complete stop (as it often does around 5 o’clock on i95), I had just received a text saying, “Ok drive safe” when the cars slowly started to inch forward. Finally! Some movement. I was eager to get where I was going, as I’m sure all the other drivers were. After about five miles of steady movement, I noticed two cars ahead was someone driving absolutely terrible. They were swerving left and right, speeding up then suddenly breaking and I remember saying, “God please get this person off the road before they hurt someone.
That’s when it happened.
They slammed on their breaks and the car in front of me crashed right into them. I swerved so quickly to the left I swear I just missed the barrier then BAM the car that was behind me was rear-ended.
Two collisions.
One directly in front of me.
One directly behind me.
Tears immediately filled my eyes and my entire body started to shake.

It was one of the scariest moments of my life.

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I am alive. I am safe. I am okay.
I must’ve repeated that to myself several times throughout the night.

I’m not sure what scary moments you’ve experienced lately (or if you’ve even experienced any) but this morning I’d like to remind you that you are alive, you are safe and you are okay. So many of us dread Monday’s but these are three small but significant reasons to be thankful today.

Dear Diagnosis

Mrs. Lopez, can you come in today to discuss your test results?
My heart started to sink as I braced myself against the wall. Time stood still. I could see my sons’ as men, my husband with a head full of grey hair, my sisters with multiple smile lines embedded in their faces. There they were. Altogether. Without me. I couldn’t picture my life past that moment.

But I was getting ahead of myself – as so many of us
do when we’re expecting bad news.

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Appointment after appointment, test after test, more and more unanswered questions. I spent weeks being poked and prodded, parts of my body being invaded and even removed. All while silently screaming, “Please God please! Let me be healthy!

Please God please, my son’s need me
Please God please, my husband needs me
Please God please, my work here isn’t complete

One night I laid in bed nestled in my husband’s arm and just stared at the ceiling with all my fears staring right back. In the dark of the night – the darkness found me. Every what if question you could imagine crossed my mind. Every worst case scenario played out like a back to back live performance. Each thought more torturous than the previous. I reached for my journal and jotted down, “Diagnosis you do NOT define me!”

Cancer, you do not define me
Anxiety, you do not define me
Fibromyalgia, you do not define me
Infertility, you do not define me
Autism, you do not define me
Hypothyroidism, you do not define me
Depression, you do not define me
Endometriosis, you do not define me
Eating Disorder, you do not define me
OCD, you do not define me
PTSD, you do not define me

I am not the wisest person in the world. I do not know the answer to every question.
But I do know…
No diagnosis, no name, no label – none of it defines me
No diagnosis, no name, no label – none of it defines YOU

Words Matter

While filling out an ambassador application earlier I was asked a personal question and this was my answer…

Words are incredibly important! The words we hear, the words we say, the internal words in our head and heart.

I grew up in an urban area – where people were expected to fail; to fall prey to things like gang violence, teen pregnancy, living off the state, etc. In fact, I was even told that I specifically would become one of those people who fell prey (by a teacher no less). Those words marked my life. Those words planted a seed in me. A plan. A plan to prosper despite what I was told, despite where I was from and to use HER hurtful words to remind me to always use MY words to heal, to empower and encourage, to bring love and light to everyone I encounter, especially other women.

I was too young, too naive to fully understand that she was trying to knock me down. But when I did, I came back up swinging. Now I’m always ready and willing to stand in the corner with the next woman to help her with her fight; to cheer her on, to coach her, to yell “tag me in” and beat the beast of destructive words before the sound of the bell.

Words are incredibly important and it’s my personal mission to change the world with mine.

I’d like to remind someone today that words matter – the words you hear, the words you believe, the words you say to others and the words you say to yourself, both out loud and silently. This reminder isn’t coming from a place of perfection (or a perfect person) because let me tell you, I struggle too! But that doesn’t define me. And it doesn’t define you.

What words are in your life? What words are you choosing? Do you need someone in your corner? If so, come find me! Let’s win this fight together!

Cabin Fever

I recently read an article that said people are prone to cabin fever during the colder seasons. Within the New England area, particularly during the months of December, January and February, women (and men) focus more on their misery – finding themselves discouraged, desolate, even depressed.

I easily could’ve been (and have been) one of those people.

If I started to list all the things that have been going ‘wrong’ during this colder season, I’d be writing for a while. But instead, I chose to shift my focus on all the things that are going right because if I’m being honest with myself that list is much longer.

Isn’t yours?

I cannot count the number of times I’ve taken the ‘little things’ in life for granted.
Are there little things in life that you find yourself taking for granted?

You know, things like…
waking up this morning. Your home. The food in your cabinets and refrigerator. The clothes on your back. The shoes on your feet. Your spouse. Your children. Your health. Your car. Chances are if you’re reading this you have at least one of these things. Most of us have almost all of them.
No, maybe they’re not exactly what you want.
But it’s still more than what others have.

Wouldn’t you agree?

I took a drive with my oldest son yesterday. As we drove down the same local road we’ve taken for months now, he still smiled and pointed out the trees, the stores, the different colored cars, the people walking, etc. It didn’t matter how many times we’ve taken this drive, he was still mesmerized. He was still soaking it all in, smiling, enjoying every second of it.

I don’t know about you but that’s how I want to live life – that’s how I’ve been trying to live life. Opening my eyes each morning, thanking God for another day to be here and using that day to be intentional.

Are you being intentional with your day?

I ask these questions, not because I have the answers, but because I hope that it calls attention to the (type of) cabin fever you may have experienced or are still experiencing. I mean, it’s March 20th, Spring is officially here. So yeah, that cabin fever (or whatever you want to call it) will soon fade away. But if we don’t start making changes now, it will start creeping back into our lives the second summer is over.
So I ask you…

What can you do to find joy in every day?

Trauma

I think it’s safe to say that our definitions of trauma are all very similar BUT how we experience and recover from trauma – that is very different.

I can’t speak for everyone but I can speak for myself and I say that trauma is a sneaky little bitch.

I’d much rather her rear end me, sending me flying head-on into a brick wall BOOM instant shatter. But no. No, that’s not her style. She waits. Patiently. Searching for an open space then swiftly but silently infiltrates and once she’s in – there’s no escape.

She starts chipping away. Not even every day. But little pieces here and there from specific places at strategic times. Fragments start falling from everywhere and once the unraveling starts, there’s no stopping it.

She wants to break me and she wants it in the most painful way.

If I had to give her a name it would be Valerie. Valerie was my middle school bully. Much like middle school Valerie, the blows of trauma started small. So small I can’t even really call them blows. Not a gust of wind but rather a gentle breeze. I guess you could call it the calm before the storm.

A simple eye roll
A point and a laugh
A bunch of books knocked off a desk
A trip in the cafeteria
A shove in the line
A piece of gum in the hair
A pin against the wall
A scream in the face
A punch in the gut

That is trauma. My trauma. That sneaky little bitch Valerie.

She makes moderate, measured movements – all generated to effortlessly penetrate barriers. Barriers I built to protect myself. Then she flanks me in a battle I’d yet to know I was facing. It wasn’t until I reached for my belt that I realized all of Valerie’s chipping away had left me defenseless. So there I stood, caught off guard and completely disarmed.

It wasn’t until the dust finally settled that I was able to see what trauma had left me.

Nothing.