By Stacy Hawkins Adams
Ever heard the phrase Don’t just talk about it, be about it?
It offers a nudge to stop explaining what we would do if there weren’t obstacles and to start doing something – anything – that moves us in the direction of our dreams.
A guest minister at the Virginia church I attend delivered an electrifying message yesterday that reiterated the importance of growing past one’s comfort zone. Her tone wasn’t fiery, but the truths she delivered were, and I thought they were worth sharing. Here’s a paraphrased summary of the wisdom she imparted to encourage each listener to get up and get moving:
– If you really want something different, act like it.
– Don’t talk about wanting a change while settling comfortably into your longtime (uncomfortable) status quo, and don’t expect anyone else to do your heavy lifting.
– When you get serious about growing as a person and enlarging your territory, your desires can direct you to your destiny.
– Exceptional desire yields exceptional results.
– Every inch you take toward a new destiny moves you closer to actually achieving it, no matter how small your movement and no matter how long it takes. Your effort, multiplied by God’s grace, will get you there in His perfect timing.
– Do what you must in order to thrive, not just survive.
As the guest minister advised in her closing, we each must find the courage to stop living where we are not challenged, because in challenge comes change, and in change comes growth and opportunities to live out our unique purpose.
Are you up to the task? Are you ready to shift – to actually receive what you’ve long claimed you want? If so, now is the time. Today is your day. Go seize your victory – one prayer, coupled with one step, at a time.
(Note: The guest minister’s sermon was based on John 5:2-9.)
By Stacy Hawkins Adams
I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently about what mid-life holds. Is it a point at which you look back and reflect on opportunities missed, hopes dashed, dreams deferred and resign yourself to whatever may come?
Or, do you see yourself at 40-, 50- or 60-something (and beyond) on the verge of new opportunities, just waiting to be seized? Your perspective, and the actions you take as a result, make all the difference.
Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her first novel in the Little House on the Prairie book series when she was 65.
One of my mentors sought and obtained her master’s degree in her early 70s.
I read an article recently about Etta Baker, a mother of nine who appeared on her first album recording as a blues guitarist in her 40s and went on to record a solo album at age 78 and perform with musical greats well into her late 80s.
More examples abound.
So what chapters are you continuing to craft for the story of your life?
It’s not over until you decide to stop reaching, seeking, growing and pursuing. If you dream it and put some strategic thought, muscle and focus behind it, you can do it.
Don’t give up on you.
By Guest Blogger Dawn McCoy
At the time, it seemed so wrong. It was something that happened to other people. Then it happened to me.
I found myself so blindsided by my company’s sweeping corporate layoff that almost 10 years later, I still cannot recall what was said during the announcement. This was a position I was sure was secure – so much so that I relocated from California to Virginia to oversee a regional office for the organization.
After the layoff, I chose not to move elsewhere or return to California. Instead, I assumed that my college education, leadership positions and 20 years of work experience meant I could readily transition into another top organizational position.
Networking skills and political acumen helped me navigate in the unfamiliar region. However, dead-end interviews and lukewarm job leads ended with closed doors. It was the first time I felt defeated despite my accomplishments. Occasionally I glanced at my diplomas and awards shaking my head in disbelief.
As with other life-changing experiences I’ve gone through, I faced the harsh reality and decided I had to think fast. In this case, that meant reinventing myself and shifting my thinking beyond the expected “climb up the career ladder.”
I began to approach my next steps by thinking beyond checkboxes on a job application. I leveraged my expertise to speak, teach and write, and translated those areas of expertise into a hybrid of part-time work and contract opportunities.
Thankfully, my background in drafting technical user manuals, regulatory policies and corporate compliance requirements paid off. I was able to translate those skills into valuable lectures, life-learning guides and proposals. Networking and strategic thinking also morphed into valuable grant-writing and fundraising opportunities. Who knew!
The same year as the layoff I launched a leadership development and communications firm to empower others with training modules and tools. Looking back, it was the beginning of a new chapter to serve others and at the same time chart a different career path.
Interesting enough, within three years of the layoff, my young son’s special needs and chronic health issues required a more non-traditional work schedule to accommodate his therapies and medical appointments. Not to mention that he had repetitive, unpredictable health problems. Thankfully I was already in a work capacity that nurtured my role as mother of a special needs child.
Had the unfortunate corporate downsizing really manifested into an unforeseen blessing?
The silver lining in my 10-year journey means remembering the layoff as a life-changing event that no longer makes me frown, but cherish even unsavory situations. Turning the corner does not mean that I have lost time or given up a future cushy-corner office. On the contrary, I continuously remind myself to embrace a new paradigm that nurtures my creativity and makes my spirit soar.
Dawn McCoy is a leadership strategist, speaker and the author of Leadership Building Blocks. She is also founder of Flourish Leadership Group, LLC, and a senior service facilitator with Moms in Motion, a consumer-directed Medicaid Waiver service facilitation case management provider. Dawn and her son reside in Central Virginia and enjoy the arts. Learn more about Dawn at Flourish Leadership Group (www.flourishleadership.com). You can also connect with her on Facebook at Dawn McCoy Books and Twitter @dawnmccoy02
By Guest Blogger Renee Spivey
I vividly remember the day 25 years ago when I sat on a bathroom floor with a knife to my wrists, ready to end it all. I was tired of the devastating challenges I was enduring, and thought death was better than what I was going through.
That’s not the only time I was suicidal. The second time was when I was sentenced to prison for eight years. Me, the church going, good grade-getting, mostly-obedient child. I had no business going to prison, but sure enough, it happened. Even though I was a first time offender, I was convicted of felony theft by check, and I would go on to serve almost two years of that eight-year sentence.
The day I arrived at the minimum security women’s prison, I was so devastated that I was put on suicide watch. I was asked during the intake process if I was thinking of killing myself and I said yes, because honestly, once again, I thought death was better than what I was facing.
Every hour or so, an officer was at my cell calling my name, making sure I was still alive. After the first two days, I was fine. I had read, cried, prayed and accepted my situation, and a peace finally came over me. After that second day, I told them I was fine and no longer thinking of killing myself. They took me at my word and didn’t perform the hourly checks anymore.
Being locked up for 22 months was the roughest thing I have ever experienced. To be treated as simply a number and not a person was a very humiliating, but humbling experience.
Even though this was the worst time of my life, it ended up being the best time of my life. It took me going to prison to realize that God had more in store for me than just a continual life of heartache and pain. He had a calling specifically for me.
The road has definitely not been easy, but through it all God kept me and blessed me. I did not let my past dictate my future. I refused to be known only as Smith #744519.
I’ve gone on to do some incredible things, such as go back to college at age 40 and obtain an associate’s degree in Information Technology/Web Design. I am currently working on my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. I own a business called Literary Signature Services, where I work with authors and small businesses, helping them with their website and graphic design needs. I’ve held the same full time job since my release in 1997. And now, I am working on becoming a published author.
I am a wife, a mother, a homeowner and founder of the Women of Worth ministry, which was started to encourage women to step out of the shadows of their past into a brighter future. ~ © Renee Spivey, 2017
Renee Spivey, an avid reader and aspiring author, owns Literary Signature Services, a company that focuses on graphic and web design. Her client list includes authors Suzette Riddick, Regena Bryant, and New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Brenda Jackson, to name a few. Renee also has a short story in the recently released anthology, When Women Become Business Owners. Learn more about Renee at her websites The Masters Vessel and We Are Women of Worth. She is also active on Facebook at Empowered Women of Worth, Instagram at Renees1971 and Twitter @empoweredwow.
By Guest Blogger Margo Clifford
I woke up one morning and realized I was living in a nightmare. My partner had told me the night before, that if he couldn’t have me then no one would. He brought out his rifle and leaned it against the headboard of our bed. He meant every word. I was in an abusive relationship and needed a way out. I was scared and ashamed. How did I let this happen?
Abusive relationships don’t start out that way. At the beginning he was charming and thoughtful. Wanted to meet my friends. Loved that I had a college degree. He wanted the same things I wanted. Family was important. I was sure I had found a keeper. However, 3 months in and the tiny cracks began to show in the perfect boyfriend. His temper began to eek out. An unprovoked outburst, accusations of betrayal, and jealousy over friends became my new normal. It was no longer a loving relationship. No matter what I did, it was never good enough. There was always the feeling of dread not knowing how he would come home from work. The abuse was usually done in a rage followed by his denial that he had done anything wrong because according to him I deserved it.
At that point I became driven to understand him, to figure out how to fix the relationship and examine my part in all of this. I began reading books about people with anger issues and domestic violence. I wanted to know why it happened to me. My search for answers led me to volunteer at a shelter for battered women, take a crisis counseling class and help abused women. I realized my relationship was not going to change and I needed to leave. My good friend witnessed one of his tirades and contacted my folks. I had been too embarrassed to admit to them what had been happening. My concern about what others would think about me had gotten in the way of receiving the support I needed. Without any questions my family was there for me. I realized that I couldn’t do this alone and was able to escape.
My mom asked me recently if I regretted that time in my life. I had to admit that the relationship had a silver lining. That experience made me a stronger woman. It was the push I needed to move away and go to graduate school. I realized I had been playing small, and that there was so much more that I could do with my life. And I have.
Margo Clifford is a crusader for children’s rights and empowering young minds to think, create and believe in themselves. As an educator for over 40 years, she has witnessed the amazing resilience that children have to overcome the obstacles that stand in their way. She is currently working on a book about two brothers dealing with homelessness. When she’s not working with children, she is writing, doing art, beekeeping and spending time with friends, family and her dog, LuLu.