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January 2017

Inspiration and Motivation

Bitter…..No……Better

January 29, 2017

When my sister and I were young, we used to make fun of our baby brother who sucked his finger religiously. Morning, noon and night, that finger was in his mouth.  It was so bad, that his finger stunk and had a fat callus on it. It was bad! My grandmother always threatened to put his finger in dog poop to motivate him to stop. She never did but it was worth the shot. What she did do was place his finger in a jar of bitter aloes (which was a Jamaican remedy). As the name suggests, that thing was bitter as ever. The taste lingered in your mouth for days. After my brother tasted that bitterness, his days of finger sucking ended. That finger was now a bitter element in his life and he let finger sucking go that very same moment.

We laughed at the time but as I now reflect on it, an object lesson can be learned.

Bitterness -sharpness of taste; lack of sweetness, anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly; resentment (Merriam-Webster)

Are you bitter?

Are you holding on to something in your life that tears you down mentally, spiritually, physically, and socially? Bitter.

Are you harboring a grudge that leaves you angry every time you see that individual(s)? Bitter.

Are you taking steps backwards or living stagnant, bound by meaningless chains? Bitter.

Are there people in your life that bring out the worst in you? Bitter.

Do you feel as if you’re always cheated out of what is rightfully yours? Bitter. 

All of these things represent bitterness in our lives. Bitterness brings out the worst in us. Bitterness is that cloud that blocks the warmth of the sun, the extinguisher that puts out the fire even before it’s lit, the worm embedded in the sweetest apple.

Bitterness affects your atmosphere. It affects your relationships, friendships, and marriages.

Bitterness is a destructive element that must be eradicated from our lives.

Bitterness. It sucks you dry, depletes you, leaves you with nothing but emptiness, loneliness, and sadness.

Just as my brother tasted that bitter hollows and immediately did what he had to do in order to never experience that again, it’s time for us to do what we have to do to eliminate bitterness from our lives.

Is there someone you need to forgive?

Yes the hurt was immense, even debilitating, but its time to forgive so you can be released from the bitterness and pain that enshrouds your life. Whether or not they are sorry is beyond your control but forgiveness will set you free.

“Holding bitterness and not forgiving is like placing sulfuric acid in a tin can. It will eventually destroy the can from the inside, i.e. – it does more damage to you then anyone else, including the person originally at fault.” – Hopeton Thomas

Is there a situation you need to separate yourself from?

Change is difficult and sometimes we would rather stay in our misery and pain than to move away from it and start afresh. Don’t be afraid to move forward and leave the past behind.

As told in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, one woman did not want to let go of her past life that served no good purpose for her and in staying in her place of “bitterness” (living in a destructive place) she became stagnant (pillar of salt). She was no longer able to make an impact.

Is there an opportunity that awaits you, and all you have to do is take that step forward, but feelings of poor self-worth, low self-esteem and comparing yourself to someone else holding you back?

You have a purpose and you were created to make an impact! Don’t let bitterness get in your way.

As noted in the lyrics sung by Jessica Reedy

“I used to be so broken, lost, empty.

A heart with no beat.

A singer with no song to sing.

So I know the feeling

The silence is deafening

But in your pain lies a blessing

A sweeter song of victory

So keep walking, walking, walking

Though it seems so far.

No matter who you are

See, there is one thing that I know

Life it can leave, you so bitter, bitter, bitter, bitter

But you must believe

That it gets better, better, better, better”.

Whatever the source of your bitterness it’s time to let go because it CAN get better.

Things will get better. It’s not as easy road but freedom is only a decision away. Today make that choice.

Get rid of the bitter and your life will get better!

– Candace Mezetin

 

 

 

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Inspiration and Motivation

Obtaining a New Hand of Cards When Life Deals You A Lousy Set

January 26, 2017

Physical abuse, depression, feelings of neglect, molestation, suicidal thoughts, temporary foster care, near loss of life, multiple divorces are all things that heavily marked the childhood experiences of my sister Candace and I (sadly, our story is not unique).   This list can go on for us, but you get the point. You see life dealt us a terrible hand by default.   O how I wish I was exaggerating. Why did we have to suffer such things at the hands of the person who vowed to love and cherish our mother? Why did that person seek to rob us of our childhood innocence? Why? Why? Why?

The truth is that by asking those numerous amounts of WHYS, you run the high risk of remaining stagnant—stunted in your ability to forge ahead. In fact, it will continually feud a vicious cycle, one that resembles a constant episode of DeJa Vu, with you playing the leading role.   So, the question I began to ask myself instead of “WHY?” was “HOW?”. HOW can I get out of this situation? HOW can I move forward in life despite the scars of my past that constantly try and remind me that I am nothing? HOW do I find the hope and courage to move on and be successful in life? HOW do I learn how to love, when all I feel is hate? HOW do I become that parent to my children that I always yearned for? To ask “HOW”, made me search for better possibilities and solutions.

Through all of the “HOW’S”, I finally got the answer. At the age of 17, I was at my hairstylist and I began to open up to her about my feelings of despair and HOW I am searching for answers to help me become a better individual despite my debilitating past (I know what a mature conversation to have at 17!). That is when she led me to the book “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren.   At that tender point in my life, I understood that I needed HOPE in order to find the strength to BELIEVE that I deserve better and that I CAN move forward to greater things and successes in my life.

That marked my quest to ‘force’ life to deal me a better hand of cards. No, I was not going to back down, and yes, I meant business.   I knew in my heart that life was not going to willingly give me a new and improved hand, so I had to take it by force (the Mahatma Gandhi type of peaceable force of course)!   That is exactly what I did. I set my eyes on the goal, and with faith and courage I marched towards it with all of my might.   The result…14 years later here I write as a mother of two, a wife to husband of over 10 years, a successful professional and scholar.   I will never take that journey that I had to take to obtain a better hand of cards for granted— and these are the life lessons I will always take with me for the rest of my life:

  • Stop asking Why and ask HOW
  • ANCHOR yourself in Hope
  • BELIEVE that you can and do not stop until you obtain the prize
  • SHARE your experiences with others to strengthen them along their life’s journey to obtain a better hand of cards.   Amazingly, it helps to facilitate further healing (e.g.– emotional) and personal growth for both parties.

A great man once said, “The race is not given to the swift, nor the strong, but unto those who endure to the end” –Apostle Paul

This could not be more true as it sums up my life.   Do not rely on how fast you think you will be able to overcome life challenges, or on your own strength to make it through the toughest times—but focus on endurance. Pace yourself, gradually build up your muscles as you travel along the difficult pathway, in order to prepare for the next biggest hurdle on your quest to a new set of cards.   Stand strong and believe that you can make it.   I know that as bleak at my situation appeared numerous times, if I can be triumphant—I know that you can find victory as well.

So “When Life Deals You A Lousy Set of Cards”… just believe with all your heart that it is not the end— but just the beginning of something GREAT, once you persevere and are determined to overcome it all.

-Contessa Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inspiration and Motivation

Super Mom

January 22, 2017

It is quite often told to me,

“You’re a great mom!”

“You’re superwoman!”

“You deserve mom of the year award”

I humbly appreciate the compliments every time, but I often question what these people see in me that would warrant such a title.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m just doing what a mother should do, right?

I began to assess myself and what motherhood meant to me. It was then I realized that the definition of motherhood varied from person to person. There is not one blanket definition of motherhood, as everyone steers their ship in different directions. To some, motherhood could be raising children, to others it may be bringing home money to provide for their needs, and to others motherhood may define their being.

Every mother has their antidote, so here is mine.

How do I define motherhood and how does it work for me.

I look at my children as an investment. I understand that what I put in will determine what comes out. I also understand that raising children only lasts a short moment so I am driven to be the best I can be for the time that I have.

  1. Unconditional love – We have to love our children unconditionally. Regardless of what they do, we should love them. This type of love is not easy to give. As a matter of fact, of our own effort, it is impossible. Only God can love unconditionally, so in order for us to love our children despite of, we have to accept the love of God in our hearts. God’s love through us will give us the opportunity to love our children unconditionally. I love my children so much. I thank God for them daily and I realize that they were entrusted to me and I have to be a good steward and build them up. Building them up goes past my feelings, my personal desires, and my fears. I am called to raise these children up correctly and I have accepted the challenge.
  1. Sacrifice – According to Merriam-Webster, sacrifice in this context means “the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone” When you raise children, in essence you are sacrificing. You have given up a part of yourself, you have opened up your heart, and emotions, you have eliminated the “I” and replaced it with “them”. I sacrifice for my children every day. I left behind a career with potential to make a six figure income. I rearranged my life to be available for them at this tender age. I have given up a part of me for them, so they could “live”. Through them living I also get to live. This desire within me comes from baggage in my own life, but God works all things together for good. (Romans 8:28). There is no one standard of sacrifice, as everyone has different situations and circumstances in their lives. However, regardless of how big or small, being a mother equates to sacrifice.
  1. Dedication– Dedication is synonymous with commitment. We are dedicated and committed as mothers to raise our children. According to Merriam-Webster, dedication is defined as a feeling of very strong support for or loyalty to someone or something. When we are dedicated as mothers, there is a strong desire to support and give to our children the very best. I am dedicated to my children. I am in a committed relationship with them. I organize opportunities for them together and individually. Even when I am feeling frustrated and question what I am doing, I never give up. When the journey is smooth I keep on trekking, and when the journey is rough I keep on trekking. I am dedicated to the cause, and I will not give up.
  1. Chastisement – Correcting and punishing our children when necessary is an integral part of motherhood that I hold dear. Many people compliment that my children are well behaved and this is one of the reasons why. My Jamaican upbringing has also instilled this value in me. My mother did not play! You better believe that a broom stick, a brush, or whatever she had in her hand at the moment was coming our way. I can laugh now, but during that season of life, it wasn’t funny. However I have learned why discipline is important. I have seen children disrespecting their mothers, and it breaks my heart as this should not be. Teaching our children right from wrong can pose a great challenge; especially living in a society where wrong is the norm and is prevalent. We have to stand on our principles and reinforce them in our children. Even when it seems as if they just don’t get it, keep on drilling it in. However small the progress, progress is being made. Words of wisdom from one of the greatest books ever written: “Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame,but whoever heeds correction is honored” Proverbs 13:18 “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline  Proverbs 13:24
  1. Have fun – Quality time is everything. Have fun with your children! Yes, life is filled with pressures and responsibilities that can seem overwhelming at times. Nevertheless, your children desire to have fun with you. Get down, and play dolls with the girls. Start building Lego building with boys. Kick back and watch a movie together. All of these moments will create life time bonds that will never be broken. As for me, when it’s time to have fun, I have fun with my children. I am the grown woman that you would see running around, chasing the kids, tickling them, playing “I’m gonna get you”. Having fun with them allows me to enjoy them and for them to enjoy me.
  1. Organization and structure – “Good order is the foundation of all things. – Edmund Burke” Being organized helps our minds to be ready and equipped to deal with the children. With organization and structure, things tend to go smoothly, and efficiently. This principle also helps me a great deal. Routines work well in my household. The kids know what to expect and they follow suit. Training the eldest makes your job easier for the ones behind to follow. Having organization helps the children to understand the importance and value of time. Homeschooling them affords me the opportunity to hone in on this principle that I live by.
  1. God – God is the one who grants me the wisdom and ability to be the type of mom that I am. He grants me patience, strength, and guides me daily in my interactions with them. When I am frazzled and overwhelmed, he helps me to regroup and focus again. We love God and he is a daily part of our lives. At the end of the day, I am nowhere near perfect, and I make tons of mistakes. I am still learning how to be a mother as every age yields new surprises. Things are not always peachy keen, but the one consistent aspect is God and he is the one who holds us together.

At the end of the day, we are all super moms, in our own way, shape and form. We are not perfect and there is always room for us to bloom, so let’s keep living, loving, and learning how to be better and better at what we do as mothers.

Candace Mezetin

 

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Inspiration and Motivation

Can We As Women Have It All??? A Modern Day Superwoman???

January 19, 2017

A recent visit to the ER, only confirmed in my mind the issue that many women battle with in today’s competitive world.   The daunting question, that lurks in the back of our minds as we desperately try and digest it with ‘tums’ of assurance.   Is it possible for us to be professional women, successful entrepreneurs, devoted wives, fiancés, and girlfriends, loving and caring mothers—dedicating our very souls to the welfare of our families, and at the same time live up to the world’s standards of ‘being accomplished’? I do not know about you, but this question plays like a broken record over and over again in my mind quite frequently.

While in the ER, I met a veteran registered nurse, and asked her about herself as it pertains to her profession of caring for others.   While in deep discussion, she said something that hit me hard. She said to me, “we as women try to find that right balance between being a wife/mother, and going after our professional dreams”. As our conversation continued, I learned that she left a job that she loved dearly earlier on in her career as a pediatric nurse as soon as she got married to better accommodate her husband.   In her voice I detected a slight bit of sadness, and I knew all too well where it was stemming from…the many sacrifices we as women make to please others—putting ourselves last constantly.

At that moment in time, I was so happy that I jumped and stepped out on faith, for once in my life putting my priorities closer to first place rather than last.   As I laid there on the gurney (hospital bed), my apprehensions of how I was being viewed for not having adequate insurance (left the good one behind with my great job in NYC) and needing supplemental state insurance faded. My slight shame turned into encouragement, as I knew that me going after my dreams and life purpose was not only for myself, but also for all the women out there who could not pursue their very own due to life circumstances. I became stronger and more determined. I honestly believe that the nurse was smiling on the inside as she witnessed the profound spirit of courage I embodied in order to push myself to jump and to take a chance on Contessa.

So again, I ask the question, can we have it all as women? Can we assume the role of a real life superwomen hero character? Will we have the courage to take ourselves from the back of the line and place it few steps closer to the front?   What steps can we take to ensure that we are successful in our efforts to achieve what at times seem like ‘The Impossible’?   Here are some valuable life lessons, I have learned from witnessing a few ‘Superwomen’ in my life:

  • Never Comprise Your Values – know who you are and what you stand for at all times. That way others around you will never be confused about who you are and what you represent.
  • Eliminate All Self Loathing – .. love yourself.   Yes, we all have this epitome of being the ‘perfect’ woman.   Be realistic, there is NO, such thing.   As women we are who we are…accept it and continue to build upon that foundation that has been laid to achieve greater things and opportunities.
  • Take Time For Yourself – In order for things to grow and become stronger rest is vital.   As women, we often get caught up in the cycle of going like the energizer bunny. Putting everyone and everything before ourselves—yes, I myself have been guilty of this very thing time and time again. Take the moment out of your busy schedule to factor in some “Me Time”.   As in the sport of bodybuilding, rest is just as essential to the growth and development of bigger and stronger muscles as is the vigorous and grueling weight training sessions.   You are more than worth it…take the time to reflect and grow.

As the list of questions we may continually ask ourselves seems endless, stay focused on the three points listed above. Make them a part of your daily routine. Repeat them to yourself over and over again until it becomes a part of who you are.

Overall, based on my experiences, as a wife, mother, professional, and budding entrepreneur, the sky is not my limit, and I may not be able to have it all as I am just one person, but you bet your bottom dollar…I am aiming for the stars and going to grab as many as I can during the process.

I encourage my fellow women out there to do the same.  “Yes, You Can!”

-Contessa Thomas

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Inspiration and Motivation

Pseudo Smile?

January 15, 2017

It is my want to greet all whom I come into contact with a smile.  A smile that ranges from ear to ear, that genuinely expresses gratitude towards the encounter.  I am accustomed to hearing that I have a beautiful smile and I give God thanks for such a wonderful gift.

I remember 10 years ago walking on the campus of my Alma mater and I ran into a friend.  And of course I greeted him with a big smile.  Instead of responding in the affirmative he said” why do you always smile so much?! People who smile a lot are fake.”
I recall feeling so hurt and confused.  He was so wrong.  “I’m not hiding anything. This is me. “
I continued living my life and of course you know that I kept on smiling. 

Many years later, I now reside in Middletown NY where I attend the local YMCA. I’m always walking around smiling at everyone.
One day one of the trainers I interact with on a daily basis says ” Why are you always smiling so much? ! I don’t trust people who smile a lot.  They’re hiding something” 

I laughed it off and disagreed but it left me thinking. ..
“Am I really hiding something? “

After much contemplation, I realized that my smile IS a mask. Truly a cover that deflects what I’m really feeling inside.  It serves as a protective mechanism to divert any attention to myself and rather focus on other things around me.

Why do I smile?
I smile to conceal the hurt
I smile to numb the pain
I smile to force my mind to believe everything will be OK
I smile to release the stress
I smile to decompress
I smile for the hope of true happiness

I also smile because I know who holds my life in His hands
I smile because He lives 
I smile because I know I have another chance to make it better 
I smile because of the promise given to me.

Even though life can be bitter
A smile can help things to get a little bit better.

Regardless of what you are faced with living day by day
Keep that smile on your face.
There’s healing in that smile.

Am I still hurt?

Am I still struggling?

Am I still living with confusion?

Yes. But this smile gets me through one more day.

Regardless of what life throws your way, don’t ever lose that smile.

-Candace Mezetin

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Inspiration and Motivation

~Lily Grace~

January 12, 2017

Sisterhood a term defined as “a feeling of shared interests and support among women” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2016). For me sisterhood neither begins nor ends at blood ties—but are rather meaningful and nurturing relationships built between a small or large group of women. Race, age, sexual preferences, religion, social economic statuses, and the list can go on forever, should never be deciding factors on how or when we choose to support or build relations with other women.   The truth is that we all share common struggles for which we all can use a shoulder to cry on, and a hand to hold from our fellow equivalents.

Lily Grace…marked the beginning of a sisterhood that I began building at my new public library in Maryland this past summer. At that time it was my first week officially living here in the state. As a new stay at home mom, and student after working for over 10 years in the Corporate America/Medical arena—it was truly a work culture shock. Nonetheless, that morning I awoke determined to find local programs that my five-year-old daughter Joelle could benefit from—as her father and older brother were both out of town at the time.

We arrived at the play and greet program at the local library, Joelle quickly made friends with the cousin of Lily Grace, thus facilitating a vector through which his aunt and I started conversing. After about a half hour of conversation about our lives, I asked what was her daughter’s name (who was sitting in the middle of the ground contently playing by herself).  She then replied Lily Grace. I then commented on how beautiful her name was, which then opened up the conversation of how she came up with the name.   See, Lily Grace got her name from the promise that God will take care of us, because if He could take care of the lilies in the field (flowers) as beautiful as they are—how much more would He care for us (His Children).   As Lily’s mom continued to explain Lily Grace’s name, she confided in me that Lily was the miracle after three previous miscarriages. At that point, tears began to gather in my eyes as I tried to hold them back, as at that time it was a mere 8 months since I lost my baby.   To hear the miraculous birth of Lily Grace was like a cup of hot soup to my soul on a cold winter day.   Internal praises to God filled my heart, as a sisterhood began to brew between two strangers, two individuals of different races, two people of different professions, with one thing in common. We were both women who shared a similar hurtful experience—the lost of our babies.

Over the past year, I have met numerous women who have experienced at least one miscarriage/still birth in their adult lives, and I usually find out about them by sharing my story of the precious life I lost (I am an open book).  So many women suffer in silence, as if it is something that we must hide, or be ashamed of, or even ignore in order to get through the pain. However, I ask… Why? One word…Sisterhood! This is one unfortunate common bond shared by many women. Let us do our part today and be that supportive shoulder to lean on for our fellow sisters in our lives and throughout our communities.   The saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” well I also believe it takes a village to overcome the lost of one.     In closing, I will leave you with my new name of hope…Lily Grace.

~Contessa Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

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Inspiration and Motivation

My Sister, My Best friend: A Sister’s Love Like No Other by Contessa Thomas

January 6, 2017

On Wednesday, June 5th, 1985 I entered this world, a whooping 7 pounds; 14 ounces. O what a special day that was! Little did I know it would be even more special to me as the years progressed. You see, I was not just born into an already established brew of children—No I was actually the second to enter this world for George and Merlene Beckford.   So, the question is who was the firstborn—that is where my life becomes all the more special.   Candace Therese Beckford was the blessing that I followed in birthright.   From day one, she has been my protector, keeper, mother, best friend, and awesome older sister. I remember in my early years, I would bite her, hit her, make her cry for the fun of it, and through it all she just loved me—NEVER retaliating once.   O how God smiled on me the day that He gave me Candace as my older sister.   For He knew that she was the hand to fit my glove, and the water to my plant.

There is not a day that goes by, that I do not thank the Father above for the blessing He has bestowed on my life even before I was a mere thought. Candace you are the Ying to my Yang, the true balance to my life.   Throughout the years, I have come into contact with many sisters who are at war, and it truly breaks my heart, for sisters we are each other’s keeper. To love, protect, and to guide each other through the winding, and uncertain roads of life.   Yes, things are not always perfect between us, and yes at times we chew each other out. However, I thank you Candace for always being there for me, even when I felt like the world was against me.   This is a journey that we are both embarking on together in order to share our lives, love, and professional views, with the whole world. It brings me an abundance of excitement for I know the great things that will transpire through our voices combined—Sis∞Arias United!

Love You Always Big Sister!

 

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