November 22, 2017

What’s Wrong With Us

Vibe’s June/July 2012 Issue

It’s still hard to digest the madness that happened this past weekend in Colorado at the opening night of Batman: The Dark Night Rises.  The Penn State scandal is finally coming to a close, with all their football wins being eradicated from 1999 – 2010 and Sandusky facing 442 years in prison.  And of course, the Trayvon Martin case that was mishandled from the night of incident.

You know what’s shocking?  None of it.  We as Americans have become so desensitized to tragedy, drama, and vulgarity that instead of taking action, we gossip about it until the next big thing happens.  Almost everything we do, see and hear has to have some sort of shock value to it or we won’t listen, watch or buy it.  And believe me, the news stations and entertainment industry is well aware of that.

Take this Vibe cover photo.  I’m guilty of watching Basketball Wives, and a couple of other less than educational reality shows.  And I like watching to see what the heck these crazy people are going to do next.  Do I believe it’s real?  Of course not!  Do I condone their behavior?  Heck no!  But I watch, and watch faithfully.  And I have a problem with what I’m seeing.

My problem is not with the show.  I take it for face value which to me, is virtually nothing but entertainment and something to chat about.  What I have a problem with is that Vibe chose to call these ladies “role models.”  Role models for what?  For whom?  Why?    Because they are watched by millions?  Because they may have come from humble beginnings but are now successful business women with their own brands?  Or because they are, as Vibe states on the cover, “sexy?”

When I watch most of these reality shows, I do so strictly for entertainment purposes.   I started watching Basketball Wives because I wanted to see what the heck women of pro ballers did to sustain their identities.  I found out, in season one, absolutely nothing!  These women were broken and were seeking to find their own identities instead of being known as so-and-so’s girlfriend, ex or wife.  I felt compassion for them at first, so I kept tuning in. Now I watch because I don’t know what the heck they are going to FAKE next.  Like I said, mere entertainment.

To others though, it apparently isn’t a mere form of entertainment.  For Vibe to consider these reality actresses role models, they had to dig through the mess and find something to glorify.  I didn’t read the article, but I gander that in addition to them being “sexy”, Vibe portrayed them as self-made women who used their opportunities to build their own brands.  And to those who are incapable of discerning the real from the fake, will see them as role models.

What’s wrong with us?  Well I could sum it up by starting with what’s wrong with me.  Instead of boycotting this crap or writing the television networks to add programs of substance, I do nothing.  As a writer, I could even pitch scripts. Instead, I pick what’s most convenient and entertaining.  I watch what’s hot, I follow the trends, I like the sensation.  In essence, I sit and do not stand.  Because I tune in, I perpetuate the problem.

Don’t get me wrong, these women are beautiful.  But they are so far from reality it isn’t even funny.  Most of them have had some type of cosmetic work done and do not represent the core values we as parents, professionals, and spiritual beings hold dear.  They do not represent love, education, loyalty, compassion or determination.  They should not be, no matter how self-made or sexy, anybody’s role model.  What they do represent, is  America’s entertainment driven, capitalist driven, sensationalist driven and sex driven market.

My blog topic can be seen as both a question and imperative statement, but dare we even ask?  I know I’m guilty of watching and listening to things that do not speak to my beliefs.  Our music, news, even our consumer products are sensationalized, using reality actresses (notice I fail to call them stars) to entice us to buy their products.  In my season of purge, no more Basketball Wives, Single Ladies, or any other show that does not positively impact my life.  We, starting with me, have to restore what we value.  We cannot allow tv shows, music, movies and video games to desensitize those who cannot discern real from fake.  We cannot let the media raise our children.  Vibe cannot speak for us.  If we allow the purpose of reality entertainment replace our core values, we will be ripening the grounds for more Batman, Trayvon, and Penn State incidents.

What Do You Need To Purge?

 

Every now and then you need to have a life fire sale. Everything and everybody prohibiting your growth and well-being must go!  Similar to spring cleaning, we should evaluate the stuff in our lives, keeping what we need and removing what we don’t.  We need to treat jobs, hobbies, habits, romantic relationships and friendships like old files.  After they have served their purpose they need to be purged, sent away or marked for destruction.  

Do you have any relationships or habits in your life that you need to get rid of?  If you do, but don’t know where to start, here are 5 things to consider purging.  Believe me, once you remove some of these things, you’ll feel lighter and brighter!

  1. Old Exes.  There’s a difference between being cordial, being friends, and being in limbo.  There’s nothing wrong with the first two, but the latter spells deep trouble.  If you clearly have feelings for an old “boo” or whatever you chose to call your ex, it’s best to cut off communication until you establish a clear understanding of where you stand.  And if you are not in agreement of the terms, close that chapter.  There’s nothing worse than waiting for someone to give you another chance.  It’s not mutually platonic therefore, not mutually beneficial or healthy.
  2. Rollercoaster Road Dogs. These are the type of friends that for some reason, they love you one minute and are cold the next.  You normally have a great time with them, but sometimes, they act like they are angry at you, or find a reason to be angry with you.  In actuality they are probably insecure, jealous or paranoid in some sort of way when it comes to you.  Why try to fix them or figure them out ?  A true friend should always be a constant.  Life throws enough curve balls without wondering where you stand with someone who’s supposed to stick to you closer than a brother.
  3. Homies in the ‘hood.  They are rollercoaster road dogs and childhood friends mixed together.  You broke a few rules with them, maybe failed a few assignments or classes.  You played, T-ball, kickball, hide-and-go-seek, duck-duck-goose and red rover with them!  Basically, you were extremely close with this person when you were growing up.  Even though you’ve matured, this person is still trying to take you back to the days when you were acting an @$$.  They do so intentionally and unintentionally. They secretly hate the new you but miss their old friend.  These types of people are the hardest to let go of because you have deep history with them.   At some point you will hit a crossroad with this person and will have to make a decision either way.  The earlier you purge them, the better.
  4. Unhealthy pleasure-seeking habits.  When you do anything in overabundance, it can be dangerous.  Drinking, smoking, and sex are the top three activities that comes to mind when seeking personal pleasure.  These things negatively effect the body and if they consume you, they can be a matter of sickness, disease and death.
  5. Insatiable love for money.  Allowing money to be the primary motivating factor in all you do will make you miserable at some point in your life.  Staying at a job you hate, working with people you hate or committing unethical acts to acquire money will bite  you in the butt sooner or later.  Whether it be stress, depression, poor job performance or ramifications from unethical behavior, the truth will show its head.  Make your living doing something you can be proud of and are happy with.   If you need more education or skills, make the sacrifices needed to obtain it. 

I’ll close with a quote from my role model Stephen Covey who passed away yesterday, “You can’t talk yourself out of problems you behave yourself into.”  This quote always reminds me that I am responsible for the people I allow in my circle and the situations I find myself in.  When it comes to growth and productivity, there can be no grey areas.  Ultimately, the things and people I choose to affiliate with will influence my thinking and thus my actions.  I have quite a few things to purge this year.  How about you?

Until next time,

-KB

 

 

Better Body, Better Lover?

Courtesy of jimmythomas.com

 

Does having biceps, triceps, a six-pack, and buns of steel really make you better in the bedroom?  According to Men’s Health Editor-in-Chief and New York Times Best Selling Author David Zinczenko, it can!

Why?  Because looking good gives you confidence.  When you are confident, you’re more apt to explore and take risks. The  Men, Love and Sex author says to women, “The better you feel about your body, the more you’ll do with ours!”

At first I thought this was a crock of you know what, but then I thought about the confidence factor.  When we are confident about the way we look we are more assertive, even aggressive, in all we do.  We know when we get our hair, nails, and toes done, find a pair of smoking hot heels and a fly fit…our inner Sasha Fierce is unleashed!  Looking good naked  can only give us more moxy!

As I read more of the, “What Does He Really Think About Your Body?” chapter, I was even more surprised at the results from a poll.  58 percent of 5,000 men said that intelligence was sexier than a great body!  So what does all that mean?  You guessed it, men are harder to figure out than we could ever imagine!

Seriously though, it shows that beauty starts within.  If you are a woman of intelligence and confidence, you are already sexy.  AND, an intelligent woman would want to lead a healthy lifestyle, not only to “look good” but to feel good as well.  When you are in shape and eat healthy, your energy level increases, as does your libido!

To close, you really don’t need a better body to be a better lover.  But you do need confidence.  I know plenty of confident people who are overweight and confident in themselves.  But I also know that plenty struggle with how they look in the buff and are afraid to try new things based on those  insecurities.  If you find yourself in that category (hand raised high), you know what to do.  Speaking of which, the gym awaits me!

Happy Healthy Living,

-KB

The Skinny on Being Skinny

Me and two tall class bikini competitors at Universe Weekend

My friend and I went to the Universe fitness competition in Miami this past weekend. I must say, I enjoyed myself thoroughly! Other than being around hundreds of folks that reminded me that I still have a long way to go to reach my fitness goals, I really was inspired by the people who were competing. Military men and women, firefighters, teachers, physical therapists, former athletes and Olympians were all there, showcasing their physiques for the world to see. There were several “biggest loser” success stories, from women and men losing over 100 pounds, to first time competitors over the age of 35, to grandmothers! I only watched the bikini and model competitions so I missed out on the eye candy for ladies. Sorry! But I did get a glimpse of a few men in the model competition.

Men – Model Competition

Last year’s model universe winner

My major take-away was the information I learned at a seminar held by nationally known fitness trainer and model, Jennifer Nicole Lee. Her personal story is amazing! She lost over 80 pounds AFTER the birth of her two children. Instead of talking about herself most of the time (like most famous people do when giving “how to” presentations), she talked about brand building and being your own publicist. Her insightfulness was refreshing, as her information was not only fitness focused, but for anyone interested in being their own boss.

At the end of the seminar a protegé of hers by the name of Nissa Salas shared her weight loss story. She’d lost over 100 pounds after having life saving surgery to remove a tumor. Not only did she use her tragedy for triumph, she also used it to launch a side career. It was inspiring to hear from women who had not only conquered their battle with obesity, but are using their personal victories to encourage others to do the same.

So what do they do to lose weight and look great? Well, nothing you haven’t heard before. They diet and exercise. They make their eating habits a way of life. They make sacrifices, like making time for exercise and getting enough rest. After Friday’s competition, most of the competitors headed to their rooms to prepare for the next day. The ones who hung out in the hotel lounge were rarely drinking. The few that were, weren’t getting hammered. And surprisingly, they were a close-knit group. They were encouraging each other and were rooting for each other, in spite of competing agaist each other!

In short, these people work extremely hard to maintain their physiques. Being in shape, or being “skinny” isn’t easy, especially with age. Genetics may play a part, but only a select few are that lucky. Most of them will tell you they work extremely hard and consistently eat well. So when those lights come on, they earn the right to flex!

Bikini Tall Class

Back view – Bikini Tall Class

Group Photo – Model Competition

Your Slow, Super Efficient Guide to Weight Loss – Part II

Spring is almost here!  Before you know it, it’ll be time to pack those sweaters away and put on those pretty skirts, dresses and shorts.  And for you guys, not too much of a change-up in wardrobe I know, but we do have one thing in common.

We ALL want to be slimmer when the weather gets warmer!  We feel better about ourselves and how we look in our clothes when we shed a few pounds.  Equipped with our new year’s resolution and gym membership, we’re on track to have a beach body by summer.  But is it really feasible to do so in 4 months?

It all depends.  It depends on what you are eating, how much weight you need to lose, if you are exercising and if you are consistent with your eating and exercise regime.  I’ve learned several things since I last blogged about weight loss, and I want to share them with you:

  1. Stop believing the infomercials and fitness ads.  There is no pill, powder, shake or liquid that is going to instantly make you look the way you want.  We have to realize there are no short cuts.  Furiouspete123 on youtube has a video that exposes advertisements on weight loss gimmicks.  Most of those commercials are shot in the same day.  The models bloat themselves after taking the “results” pictures.  Know this: if you are not going to put in the work a pill or potion won’t help, especially not for the long term.  I used to think I needed extra protein to build muscle and a fatburner to lose flab.  Since I’m what’s called an ecto-endo body type (skinny-flabby), I don’t build muscle very well.  I was eating the suggested amount of protein (1 gram per pound), so I was consuming roughly 120-180 grams of protein per day.  What I didn’t realize is that the protein wasn’t metabolizing because I wasn’t doing enough cardio. I ended up gaining weight instead of losing it, even though I was firmer from lifting weights.  Protein helps with muscle-building but not necessarily with weight loss.  So I was building muscle but not losing any weight, and my goal was to do both.  I thought about using a fatburner but they scare me.  The few times I tried them I experienced a racy heart and insomnia from the caffeine.  I’ve conceded to the fact that I need to run more, even though I hate it with a passion.  But the old ways are truly the best ways, and I’ve noticed a difference already.  I’ve increased my cardio from two days to four.  I am now aiming for five.
  2. Don’t underestimate how hard it is to lose weight and to maintain your goal weight.  I just finished “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” By Marshall GoldSmith (I’ll do a book review in another post) and he did an excellent analysis on goal setting and goal achievement.  He applied his principles to weight loss and listed the following reasons why people do not succeed in their weight loss goals: time, effort, distractions, rewards and maintenance.  According to GoldSmith (best-selling author, business professor at Dartmouth and top executive coach), these 5 reasons are commonly underestimated and are ultimately why we fail at our weight lost goals.  My achillies heel had been time, effort and distractions.  But no more!
  3. My Fitness Pal.  It’s an app you can download on your phone.  After you download and create an account, you plug in your current weight and your goal weight.  It then tells you how many calories you are allowed each day based on how many pounds you want to lose per week. I lost about 3 pounds last week!  My fitness pal is great for me because I can also see what nutrients I need to get in before the day is out.  It also made me aware of how much dining out was a hinderance to my progress.  I know I promised pictures but I accidentally erased my November pictures when I restored my computer to factory condition (I forgot to back up years worth of pictures and my favorites). I will put some up though, I promise!  I’ve put on some muscle but I  have quite a ways to go…wish me luck!

I’d like to close this post with the picture below.  I got it from my friends RawTwins on facebook.  If we would take the time to eat properly, we’d be 70% to goal.  Instead of stopping off at a fast food place after a long day’s work, I now take cucumbers, carrots and grapes to work and make sure I am drinking 80 to 100 ounces of water per day.  That’s only 5 to 7 water bottles!  You can do it!  Remember, what you put inside yourself is a reflection of who you are!

-KB

You Are What You Eat - Courtesy of RawTwins

Are You On The Balcony Or In The Basement?

Be like the goldfish "Carpe diem!"

When I came across the analogy of balcony verses basement people I was immediately intrigued.  Judy Landorf, author of Balcony People, used an interesting metaphor comparing balcony and basement people to the likes of living in a fishbowl.  In her analogy two-thirds of life is at the bottom, in the murk and grime of the bowl.  Remaining forms of life are at the top.  Basement people are in the murky water and balcony people in the clear.

To piggyback off Landorf, we can metaphorically compare basement people to scavengers.  They wait for opportunity to come to them.  They settle for what’s left and will fight for scraps.  If you know anything about scavengers you know they always operate in survivor mode.  Since two-thirds of the population is at the bottom, one can expect slim pickings.  This is probably why there is so much trickery, back-stabbing, clawing and scratching in the world.  Crabs in a barrel!

Basement people are pessimistic.  They are uncertain of their future because they can’t see through the murk of their environment. They feel like they’ve been denied opportunity and never caught a break.  In fact, they feel oppressed.  Ironically their sense of oppression makes them oppressors.  They will tell you that you can’t or you shouldn’t because they wouldn’t.  They do not realize they are mentally bound and their way of thinking is the only reason why they are at the bottom.   Basement people lack the ability to break free from mental bondage because they do not have confidence or faith.  They will not be genuinely happy for you and will offer little support.  Their discouraging behavior stems from their fear of you changing and leaving them behind.

Balcony people are just the opposite.  They are go-getters!  They will not wait for opportunity to fall in their laps.  Like fish swimming to the top of the bowl when food hits the water, balcony people jump on opportunity.  Since there’s room at the top there is plenty to choose from and plenty to go around.  There is no reason to fight, scheme or manipulate.  Seeking higher ground gives balcony people a clearer vision.   They are confident in themselves and do not need to take from others to be happy or to survive.  Balcony people are ambitious, supportive and encouraging.  They will be your biggest fans because they know their success comes at their own hands and that the harvest is ripe.

Balcony and basement people both have the power of transference.  When you associate with people who complain and are complacent you will start to see life from their point of view.  If you fortify your circle with people who are inspirational and optimistic you will share their sentiments.  Basement people are toxic and should be not be allowed space in your head, heart, or life.

Before you start cleaning house on your facebook friends list and unfollowing folks on twitter, examine your own heart.  We often don’t see our own flaws because we are mentally bound ourselves.  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you self-motivated?
  2. Are you genuinely happy for others and supportive of their ambitions?
  3. Do you wait or make opportunity?
  4. Are you confident in yourself and is your faith strong?
  5. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

Five Qualifications Needed on Your Date and Mate Checklist

Have you ever been told that you should have a list of qualities you desire in a mate?  A potential suitor asked me that the other day and I declined to disclose.  I feel it’s better to let a person show you who they are.  For the most part, people serious about settling down are looking for the same things.  Time will reveal if they meet the qualifications.  Yes qualifications!  Those are what qualities are right?  If they don’t meet them, they get the ax!

Do you have a list of qualities or need one?  Well I wanted to share my top five.  They are:

  1. Values.  There is a scripture that says: “A house divided against itself cannot stand”.  This is true when it comes to building a solid foundation, starting a family and weathering the storms.  In the beginning you need to value the same things and stay true to those values.  As time goes on your values will be tested.  If the will to work together isn’t there, kiss your relationship goodbye.  In most cases relationships are built on the physical.   By the time people realize they do not value the same things, it’s too late.  Many marriages and relationships end bitterly because once the physical attraction fades, there is no substance.
  2. Character.  This stems from common values.  Your mate should be a strong reflection of what you value.  What confuses me about some people is they’ll say they want a person of good character, then will date men or women who mistreat people, who are vain, insecure, irresponsible, or unprepared.  Some people can change when they fall in love but that’s a risky gamble.  You will soon realize you do not have a relationship but a high-risk, low reward project.  Good luck with that!
  3. Chemistry.  Physical attraction is only a small part of chemistry.  You can have chemistry with a person who is not necessarily physically attractive.  I’m not saying that physical attraction isn’t important but it shouldn’t be the main driver.  Have you ever sat with someone who just blew you away with their intellect, humor, confidence, ambition or talent?  These qualities stimulate more than just your libido.  With time and age beauty will fade.  What’s tight and ripped will become loose , stretched and flabby.  I’d much rather be with someone who has a captivating presence than a figure head.   Dig deeper than the surface!
  4. Goals.  If you are a day-to-day person, date a day-to-day person.  If you are goal driven look for someone who is the same.  Why?  Because at some point your opposite will irk you with their complacency or ignore you with their chase for achievement.  If you have your own goals or can help your mate with theirs, you’ll have more to share.  If both of you are day-to-day people, spontaneity will spark your relationship.  And if you have the same goals, imagine how deeper the connection will grow once you start to achieve them together!
  5. Wisdom.  This is where you will have to watch how they handle stress, how they treat people and how they approach life.  Do they get medically depressed when life comes at them?  Do they display signs of uncontrollable jealousy or rage?  Do they seek to get revenge or rectify conflict?  Do they lack common sense or speak profoundly?  Do they practice what they preach?  I believe a wise person seeks help when in need, can receive constructive criticism, and keeps a positive outlook on life.  They understand that they are not perfect and don’t expect you to be.  In fact, they bring out the best in you because they know what to say and when to say it.  They are perceptive, encouraging and caring.  They may not make the best decisions all the time but most of the time they are dead on.  Wisdom cannot be bought or taught.  Wisdom is the use of divine understanding and knowledge.  It is easy to distinguish a wise person from a foolish one.  Foolish people will show themselves if you give them time.  However if you are caught up in good looks, sex, or are preoccupied with a “project” then you will not be able to distinguish their foolishness from flaw.  None of us are perfect, but we all have good to offer.  If a person lacks in most of these qualities they are not long-term material.  Be wise enough to realize that!

Your SLOW, Super-Efficient Guide to A Better Body

Happy New Year!  You’re probably wondering, “Why would anyone want a slow guide to weight loss”?  In my experience I’ve learned slower is better.  Every time I’ve tried to lose weight on a quick time schedule, I’ve gained it back shortly thereafter or have gotten discouraged with my results.  I am so sick and tired of the, “transform your body in 21 days, 6 weeks, 90 days, or lose up to 2 pounds a week eating this/taking this” gimmicks!  Some of them do work but let’s face it…most of us are not going to count calories, points, or take diet pills for the rest of our lives.  Nor are we going to go cold turkey and cut out all sweets, sugars, caffeine, pastas, breads, and fast foods to become full-fledged vegetarians or vegans.  But we can take the best of the good stuff and transition at a slower pace.

Well this year is my year, and I’m doing it without a gimmick!  Instead of giving myself a hard and fast goal, I’ve decided to stop using methods I know are not going to be lifelong habits.  One personal trainer gave me the best and most reasonable goal that almost anyone can achieve….aim to add a pound of muscle a month.  One cheat meal a week is also okay as long as you eat relatively healthy the rest of the week. My goal is to add 15 pounds of muscle.  I started in August.  So by the end of 2012, I should have accomplished my goal.

I believe adding muscle at a realistic pace will yield longer-lasting results.  Since muscle burns calories even when not working out, I know my weight will take care of itself.   With the timeline gone I can focus on developing a healthy diet.  My desire to eat shrimp scampi, chicken fettuccini alfredo and garlic bread can be quenched as my cheat meal.  Since I’m not tracking my calories or points, I no longer get discouraged if I have a few slip ups.

If you are obese or haven’t worked out in a while, you should check with your doctor before starting an exercise or diet regime.  If you’re good and ready to rock, here are my 5 tips for your slow, super-efficient guide to a better you!

  1. Change your eating habits first.  Changing your eating habits and working out at the same time will make you miserable.  As you deprive your body of junk, you’re going to crash.  Putting your body though the stress of exercise and junk food deprivation is a lot to handle at once.  You are likely to stop working out and go back to eating crap because you are miserable.  Start eating healthier at least 21 days before you start working out.  WATER IS YOUR FRIEND!!!
  2. Work out every other day.  Cardio twice a week and lift weights twice a week.  You should be sore and the day off will help your body heal.  A day’s rest is all you need.  Do not confuse fatigue with a weak will, or pain for soreness.  Inability to push through the soreness will cause you to quit.  That is the biggest mental hump to get over…know that you are not tired.  You are just weak mentally and you want to give up.  Stay at it!  Pushing through an injury is another thing…so listen to your body.  If you over extended something or strained something, stop lifting until the pain subsides.  If it is in the lower back or knee, see a doctor.  If you are already active or athletic, cardio should be done at least three times a week and weight training every other day.  Aim for five days a week.
  3. Change your workouts every six weeks.  Your body is smart and it adapts to repetition in about four weeks.  You should not be doing the same thing every time you go to the gym.  You need to introduce the body to something new.  After a six week period you can increase your workout days and combine lifting and cardio on the same day.
  4. Increase your weights, your intensity and your reps every six weeks.  If you want to increase strength, increase your weights.  If you want to increase muscle tone, increase your repetitions.  If you want to burn more calories, start and end with 15 minutes of cardio on your weight training days. Increase your cardio intensity on cardio days as well.  You should not be at the same pace you were six weeks ago.  If you do not increase your intensity, you will be doing nothing but maintaining your current fitness level.
  5. Revisit your diet after 3 months.  Have you eliminated fried foods?  Have you stopped eating canned foods?  Are you eating foods high in fiber and vitamins?  Are you avoiding foods high in saturated fat, processed sugar (anything ending in ‘rose’) and sodium?  If not, change your diet again.  Now that your body is used to working out, a change in diet won’t be as drastic.  Furthermore, working out is now a part of your day and you love going to the gym.  This next crash won’t get the best of you!

I started monitoring my progress in November and will post comparison pictures in February.  Wish me luck!

Reflections – 2011

Mood - Grateful

Today I cried hard, harder than I have in a long time.  I cried tears of joy and pain, happiness and hurt.

I cried today because as I was washing dishes a bouquet flowers were delivered to my door.   Attached was a note with words of encouragement.  No one has ever done something so thoughtful for me before.  I was moved to tears and to write this reflection.

Looking back on the past year  I moved out-of-state with no job, got a job, quit a job for a higher paying job, lost the new job before I started but was able to get another job.  I met a great guy and he broke my heart.  I learned some family secrets should stay secret.  I’ve accepted the fact that I may have to adopt or foster and that I may be single for the rest of my life.  And I still have some medical issues I need to overcome.  So I needed to cry today.

You see, in spite of all that I’ve been through this year I’m still standing.  I get up each morning knowing today will be better than yesterday.  I have another opportunity to right all my wrongs, to try new things, to love and to laugh.  Life is a gift and I am utterly grateful for it.  I’ve been losing friends to prison and the grave since I was a kid, knowing in each instance it could have been me.  I know that if it wasn’t for God having mercy on me I wouldn’t be here to tell my story.  Where would I be without His unmerited favor?  He’s a miracle worker.  He makes a way out of no way.  He inspires me to keep pushing .  He’s given me the strength not only to carry my own burdens but the burdens of my loved ones as well.  And because I carry that responsibility and that strength,  quitting is not an option.

I cried today because I am happy to see 2011 go.  I had an eventful year.  But I know my events have made me stronger and more prepared for 2012.  I’m not claiming or decreeing anything because what is mine will be mine, good or bad.  But I am walking in rejuvenated faith. In spite of this past year’s events He still gave me much to smile about.  Life isn’t without its downs.  It’s not always fun or fair or easy. Each obstacle is an opportunity for character building and I’m grateful to be in the land of the living to experience it all.   When things get tough it’s good to know that  just like my fresh bouquet of flowers, when I least expect, it my Lord and Savior will be there.  Here’s to 2012.