Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Reclaiming Your Time

A few years ago, I found myself struggling with finding time to work on some important personal goals I had set. Between the responsibilities that came with starting a new career, building a new business, and getting acclimated into a new environment, meeting professional expectations meant putting those personal goals on the backburner. During that time, I never “clocked out.” 

It wasn’t until, while having my regular check-up, my doctor asked, “Are you okay?” and my unsuspecting response, “Yes. Why?” that I found out my blood pressure was elevated. It was time for me to hit “pause” on the way I was going about life and recreate a new way of existing that prioritize my health. 

A critical factor for me to do so, successfully, was managing my time. My dilemma, however, was I had so little of it. 

Most of us have too much to do and not enough time to do it. With the pandemic adding more distractions into the mix, it is easy to overlook the little things that really matter. Things like resting, exercising, connecting socially with people, volunteering, and working on hobbies make a difference in the way we feel about ourselves. Creating time in our daily schedule to do them should be a priority. 

For busy professionals, this can seem easier said than done. But it does not have to be. Mapping out the activities that we pack into a normal day and assessing them is a good start. This gives us a visual of when we are productive and when we are losing time. In reclaiming the lost time, we can bring a healthy balance to our lives.

In mapping out my activities, I saw most of my time was lost early in the day. During that time, I spent more time completing the same tasks that I was able to zip through, easily, in the afternoons. I checked my emails throughout the day and responded immediately to every notification that required my response. I didn’t take breaks. And every day, except on Sundays, I worked until midnight. 

To build my ideal 24-hour day, with a priority on my health, I had to take inventory of myself. Why was I more productive later in the day than in the mornings? The rationale that I’m not a morning person was not enough. A deeper self-assessment brought me new insights. 

  1. I was more creative in the mornings and more intellectual later in the day. 
  2. I carried guilt while working on my professional responsibilities, which required my intellect, instead of pursuing my personal goals, too, which required my creativity. 
  3. The battle between the two, in the mornings, left me unfocused and that slowed me. 

The unattained personal goals, hanging in the back of my mind for years, also had an effect. With negative self-talk, I reminded myself of them constantly. Even though I was meeting the expectations in my professional life, in pushing aside my creative thoughts instead of exploring them, I felt unfulfilled and unaccomplished. Needless to say, living with this conflict within me, unchecked, year after year, impacted my health and my feelings about myself. 

In reclaiming my mornings, I built a 24-hour day that included waking up earlier to focus on me. Incidentally, the creative thoughts I often wake up with, and now embrace instead of push aside, produced the jolt of energy I needed to get out of bed. I suddenly found time to have a healthy breakfast, exercise, and prep a healthy lunch before sitting down to explore my creative ideas- developing plots, characters, and outlining manuscripts- or working on my business; whichever I scheduled. 

By midday, I usually feel accomplished. I take breaks to have lunch and rest before I start the second half of my day, with activities that require my intellect. To restructure that part of my day, I assigned each task a beginning and end time, and scheduled manageable tasks that I can complete way before midnight.

While adherence to the schedule requires self-discipline, mapping out my activities and assessing them was a good start to finding and reclaiming the valuable time I needed to complete the little things that work to improve my health and bring balance to my life.

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Monday, June 8, 2020

Healing A Father-Daughter Relationship

Breaking Down the Fatherhood Theme in the Book, 

Everything She Needs

One of the major themes in this book is a daughter’s need for her father.

That need is the most obvious reason, Victoria Davenport, the protagonist in the story, left her affluent lifestyle for the small town of Beautiful, in search of her father. 

The prologue takes you back to the heartbreaking experience Victoria’s mother, Alana, had in a forbidden relationship and offers insight into how the bitterness of it framed the decisions Alana made from then on in her life. 

In the story, you see the decision to keep Victoria away from her father left a void.

As the story unfolds, you experience the agonizing battle Victoria fought, within herself, to accept that having a mother is enough but desperately desiring, too, to know her father, defied her mother's wishes. 

Her journey to Beautiful to find him, unmasked a painful history of a family dealing with the actions of the father that tore the family apart.

In this emotional subplot, two mothers, each at different stages in life and with different sets of circumstances, sacrificed to keep the father in their daughters’ lives.

It exposed the blind love daughters sometimes develop for their fathers, and the impact of a father’s rejection, whether real or perceived, on the decisions daughters often make in adulthood.   

While the daughter-father dynamic is a central theme in the book, an intentional focus on fathers, overall, is clear, also, through the experiences of other characters, both male and female.

For example:

  • The book begins with a glorified presence of Victoria’s grandfather and maintains the essence of his presence, throughout the book, as a legacy.
  • It introduces Pastor Myles Avery, the deuteragonist in the story, whose father trained him to lead a church and the community.
  • You are privy to Myles’ thoughts as he stepped into the role of fatherhood for his late brother’s daughter and took on the responsibility of helping to raise her.
  • Slone, Victoria's love interest, shed insight into his reasons to not become a father while he was unprepared for the role.
  • The story draws attention to another character, Nena, whose father raised her after her mother died in childbirth.

Everything She Needs examined the critical role of fatherhood from fresh angles, as it brought healing to a broken family.  

Everything She Needs is available online at your favorite store.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Not Easily Broken

I saw an article of a young girl, only in elementary school, who committed suicide because of school bullying. It brought an experience back to mind, and it left me grateful for the day my mother prepared me, psychologically, for the world.

Her intent, I imagine, was to prepare me for first grade. She took my hand and pointed to my very strange and very visible birthmark on my right arm. She told me because of it, children will taunt me and make fun of it.  She told me to not let them know if it gets to me because they will only continue if they see they can bother me with it.

I was six years old then, and I learned to make my birthmark my pride and joy. I wore it openly and proudly well into my adult life, until medical experts forced me into surgery to have it removed for health reasons.

The birthmark is gone, but the lesson my mother taught me is still with me. I don’t succumb to the attempts of others to destroy me. I have enough scars and enough victories as proof that I’m not easily broken.

I understand that every situation is different. However, I do hope and sincerely pray that we do not undermine the job of preparing our future generation to deal with adversities or brush aside the signs of the mental impact on those who are not able to cope effectively.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Valuing Friendship

Exhausted from the activities of a three day business meeting out of town, I was met with traffic jam and bad weather on the way home. Torrential rain fell from dark ominous clouds looming above, slowing the long lines of vehicles ahead of me to a snail’s speed on the stretch of highway.

Nearing home, the loud prolonged eerie beep from the emergency system periodically blast, across the airwaves, warning of tornadic activity in the city where I live.

The announcer warned, “Take cover”.

The ordeal could not have been more untimely. I was to attend a friend’s birthday party that evening and had been looking forward to it.

The invitation came from the host, who planned it. Her voice was warm when she extended the invitation over the phone. She paused between words, searching for the best ones, and choosing those words carefully to explain her reason for wanting to host it.

In the end, she strung together a series of words that went something like this: She does things for others with no expectation of anything in return.


Still, something about the way she said it made it original- new- authentic. In life, few things are this way.

We engage in the same activities that are, for the most part, routine. We drive to work, turning from street to street, almost automatically. We interact with people we’re familiar with, and watch the same television channels for entertainment or news.

In the process, we easily overlook or take for granted the little familiar things that work together to enrich our lives. Often, it is only in their absence, we realize their value.

The host had taken notice of those little familiar things about the friend and recognized the value. She wanted to celebrate it- celebrate her.

I saw the host through new eyes, and I wanted to value her. Despite feeling exhausted, facing terrible weather, and the emergency warning, I went to the party. Others had made the decision, too, as I saw when I arrived.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Standing by our bedside, he touched my shoulder, and I raised my sleepy head halfway to meet his goodbye kiss.
“Happy Valentine's Day,” he whispered.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” I mumbled, accepting the kiss, and then lowered my head back onto my arm for a pillow.

It’s been nearly twenty-eight years now since we got married, and I like to pretend there’s no need to make a big fuss about a “day”.

(He knows not to fall for it.)

He left for work that morning, but returned a few hours later, calling out my name as he always do when he comes through the door. Today was no different.

I made my way downstairs to find balloons, chocolate, and a bouquet of white lilies on the table.

(He also knew anything other than the traditional red roses would be equally pleasing.)

I covered my mouth to hold in a delightful laughter, and an “Oh my God! They’re beautiful!” escaped me.

It never gets old- the sentiments of Valentine. In fact, every marriage needs its “Valentine moment” periodically throughout the year.

It’s not the flowers, chocolate, or balloons. It is the emotion that is evoked in the giving and receiving. Love.

Some argue love is not an emotion at all. Some say it is different for everybody. Others say it’s whatever two people want it to be. Then, there are those who conclude, simply, you’ll know it when you see it.

I say you’ll know when you feel it.

I’ve come to realize, you can’t mistake love after you have felt it come alive inside of you.  

It is the emotion from which all other positive emotions spring. It is realized in an unpredictable awakening of a selfless desire to be the conduit through which those emotions flow- to someone else. It releases inhibitions, opening one's heart to reach outside of self, connecting with another without stipulating that the other reach back to you.

It is in this awakening love is unmasked, and you discover it for yourself. You know what it will and will not allow a heart to do.

You won’t mistake it once you feel it flow through you.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Guarding your Position

On my home from campus one evening, I found myself reflecting heavily on a topic we covered in class. The students are developing a business plan for a start-up company this term, and they were to determine the market positioning. This is not a physical place in the market, but a unique space a business occupies in the minds of consumers. With so many options available in today’s market, companies must have a strategy to influence how consumers perceive them. Market positioning is the activities involve in creating the image companies want them to have. 

The reality is, though, with or without a strategy, consumers will form a perception about a company eventually. The objective of positioning is to bridge the gap between the perception consumers have and how the company wants to be perceived. Companies that are well-positioned operate in such a way that when the need for a product they offer arises, they stand out above the competition.  

For example, in class, I asked my students which company comes to mind when they think of shoes. In one voice, they said “Nike”. When I mentioned Walmart, they said convenience. 

It was that part of the class discussion that stayed with me. As I made my way home, I wondered: What space do I occupy in the minds of those with whom I interact?  Is it Godliness? Jealousy? Dependable? Selfishness? What brings me into focus when that unique space is tapped? 

Every day, we interact with people, and, whether we intend to do so or not, we fill spaces in each others minds and form perceptions about one another. Some say they don’t care about what people’s perception is of them. They don’t have time to worry about that. They know who they are and that's all that matters. I admit, I’ve said that. To some degree, too, as an individual that type of thinking is necessary for the sake of sanity. (lol). I recognize now, the risk in that is we give up control of our positioning. 

Who we are, in fact, does matter. We are unique. We have qualities that distinguish us from others. We should guard that. When others don't see us as we want to be seen, we should want to correct that. Companies understand the impact of doing so. We serve each other better when we know each other better. Just like companies that are effective in doing so, however, it takes being mindful in the way we operate in our interaction with one another. Positioning requires effort on the inside to influence minds on the outside.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Journey Into 2017

On a train, going from France to Switzerland, I remember staring out the window, simply appreciating the fine scenery unfolding as we ripped through a wide open welcoming space, crossed over tall bridges, and moved swiftly along green hillsides, and over wooded valleys.

There were a few stops along the way. People got off and people got on the train. Some sat silently and some engaged in friendly conversations. I heard many conversations on that journey, in strange languages. A family sitting across from me spoke in English. It was a man, a woman, and a child. Truthfully, by then, even English sounded strange in my ears. It took a moment before I recognized it, and I remember thinking, ‘ah!’

They got off at one of the stops. They had reached their destination. I watched them greet a woman who was waiting there. They all hugged, intimately. The woman took a hold of one of the suitcases, and together, they walked away. There were some, though, who were on the train the whole ride.

This morning, it occurred to me how similar life is to that journey. People come into your life and people leave. There are those who stay silently. They don't require much from you. You know they’re there, and it's enough that you know they're there. There are those who take your attention. You see and hear them, but you never quite understand them. Then there are those who require your energy. They actively engage you. You are familiar with them. You understand them.

Funny, though, you can get to a place where they, too, begin to sound strange in your ears. Before long, they disengage you, attach on to someone else, and walk away. You imagine this is as far as you were meant to go with them. Last year, 2016, was a lot like that. People reached their destinations. Familiar voices disengaged.

I pulled out of 2016 with new people. Some sharing thoughts about the new possibilities, the new relationship, and the new experiences ahead. It’s the essence of the journey I suppose. Life’s journey. There are more stops ahead. I’m sure. Still, I will forever appreciate the journey. The welcoming open spaces. The bridges. The hills. The valleys. Those staying silently the whole ride.