Monthly Archives

April 2017

Inspiration and Motivation

S.T.R.E.T.C.H.

April 30, 2017

When you wake up in the morning and your limbs are feeling a bit tight, what is the first thing that you seek to do? You stretch. You stand up, you stretch your arms up to the ceiling, you may even stretch down to touch your toes. Doesn’t that stretch feel so good? Don’t you feel like you can proceed in your day? Stretching is an integral part of starting our day on the right foot. Have you ever considered that stretching could be an integral part of starting your life and keeping your life on the right path that leads to growth and development?

As a newly certified group exercise instructor, I have learned the importance of stretching and keeping your muscles limber.

Stretching is necessary for optimal muscle and joint health.  Stretching helps to increase blood flow throughout the abdominal muscles and it keeps them nice and limber. 

Why is stretching important for our bodies? 

According to Harvard Medical School (2017), stretching allows the muscles to maintain flexibility, and to stay strong and healthy. Flexibility is also needed to maintain range of motion in the joints. Without stretching, the muscles will exhibit atrophy (shorten and become tight). 

If you don’t stretch your muscles, they will be no good to you.
Your muscles will not be able to successfully function the way that they were made to. Without stretching your muscles, you will not be able to sustain over the long haul. Without stretching your joints will become ineffective, which will minimize how much walking or how much movement you’re able to do. Pretty much, if you don’t stretch you run the risk of becoming stagnant. It may not happen immediately, but it will. 

It is a truism that stretching your muscles are integral for living a healthy life, but my main point today is not about  stretching muscles…

It’s about stretching you.

In my last post I talked about never losing sight of your dreams. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, check it out. You know what you want to do in this life that you have. You know that you were created for a purpose. However, you are not living to your fullest potential. You are not stretching yourself to your maximum capability. You are allowing yourself to atrophy , shrink , become tight,  and minimal…

Almost nonexistent…(mic drops) 

You are afraid to step out for whatever reason that you tell yourself, but I want to tell you today that it’s time to stretch.

Very often in life we find ourselves complacent. We have good jobs and the routine of life seems sufficient. 

“Everything is good the way it is”

That was me… 
Any deviation from this norm would be a devastating blow to my cool.  

My life was so predictable!!!
You’ve read about it before… wake up… take kids to school,  go to work…. pick them up… routine dinner, shower, and bed. 

I could do it all with my eyes closed. 

Once my 4th baby came into this world… it was a whole NEW world

for both of us. 

That routine that I once knew was abolished. I constantly tried and STILL continue to try and resurrect it, but it’s done.  My stretching has begun. 

I know that I’m more than just a mother raising 4 kids. 

I know that I’m more than just what my routine defined me as… but I’ve been hiding… hiding behind the shadows of my off springs… hiding behind my inner fears of judgement and rejection. 

Hiding behind my fullest potential.  I have become my own worst enemy. 

Are you an enemy to your own soul today? Are you holding yourself back? 

Points to Ponder:

1. Very few are born with a desire to live stagnant lives. ( For those that choose to do so… mercy)  
2. Success doesn’t just fall into your lap (unless you inherit wealth/ fame/ businesses). You have to do something .
3. You only get out what you put in. The more you give, the more you achieve. 
4. Making it to the top does not define your fullest/truest potential.   Being at the top is still not enough. 
5. Never forget where you’ve come from.  Stretching has a starting point and in order to know how far you’ve progressed you have to remember your beginnings. 
6. Take someone along with you on the journey.  Stretching means stepping out of your comfort zone and reaching out to others.  It’s about helping someone trek that road you’ve already passed through.  Through leadership and mentorship, you continue to grow, blossom and stretch.  
7. Never settle.  When you think you’ve done enough…. there’s always room to improve.  Assess yourself…evaluate… then evaluate again. 

Stretch.
 

Stretching can be seen like as having to do more than you think you can physically do at that time. Last Thursday morning I decided to walk to ShopRite to pick up something that I needed for that day. I wanted to walk early (around 5:30am) because the mornings are so nice and quiet and it’s a great time for me to think. Being that I’ve been working out all week my body was extremely sore. Even walking hurt, but nevertheless I set out anyways. As I’m walking, strolling along, I am passing this house where I see four standing animal figurines on the lawn. As I’m walking along, listening to music on my phone I’m like, “how nice… statues of deer.”  As if the deer heard my comment, one of the deer turned its head and looked at me. My heart jumped because literally I was right next to the deer. Typically, deer run away from you when they see you too close but not these deer. They watched me.  I started to make my way across the street to get away from them and one of the deer started walking towards me. The deer kept proceeding in my direction and my once sore body that could hardly walk a step turned into survival mode and I literally started running. Running as fast as I could without looking back to ensure that I could get away from the deer that apparently was chasing me. 

After I was assured that I was safe, the word “stretch”   immediately came to my mind. 
At that moment I had to be stretched beyond my perceived limits. I had to step out of a place of comfort to get to a place where I felt that I was safe. I had to be stretched out of my alleged limits to get where I needed to be. We have to be able to stretch ourselves–beyond our perceived limitations in order to get where we want to be in this life.

Today I challenge you to stretch!

S. Trive
T. O
R.each
E. Xcellence,
T. Otality,
C.onsistency and your
H.ighest dreams ever dreamed!!!

~ Candace Mezetin 

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Inspiration and Motivation

The Silent Assassin: Depression

April 27, 2017

Many times when we hear the term “Silent Killer” our minds often revert to Hypertension (a.k.a. – High Blood Pressure). In a recent Google search I typed in the phrase “Silent Killer” and nearly all the top results were directly linked to Hypertension/Heart Disease. Indeed that speaks volume to my above point as well.

However, today I want to bring to your attention a different type of silent killer—one that often goes under the radar and/or is commonly downplayed to being merely ‘down’ or ‘sad’.   This mental disorder I speak of is called “Depression”. This week on social media alone I have come across two high profile stories where 3 individuals had lost their battle with the silent killer, as they felt the only option left for them to escape its wrath was to take their own lives.  The first story involved a Czech football (soccer) player, who took his own life by hanging himself. His entire team was both shocked and saddened as they described this young man as one of the ‘happiest’ people they knew. Oh…the pain many individuals hide behind the beautiful smile that they wear daily. The second story involved a young teenage couple where the young woman took her life, due to her depressive state. Her young boyfriend then takes his life two days later as he felt that life no longer had meaning without her.

These stories are so tragic!!! As I am reading about these unfortunate individuals, and their loss against their battle with depression, I began to ponder the following questions:

  • Did they ever show signs of depression?
  • Did their loved ones, or the people that surrounded them even know the true signs of this mental disorder?
  • Were they afraid to speak about their depressive state, or seek the right medical professional help due to the stigmatizations they might face from their culture or society as a whole?

In my opinion, the word “Depression” is thrown so loosely around that I feel that it causes many individuals to not take it seriously when someone is actually exhibiting signs of it. From my personal experience, I am guilty of saying, “I feel so depressed today”, when in truth the terms that I should be using are “sad” or “down”. If the word keeps on getting watered down, then we eventually become desensitized to it.   This is dangerous because it leaves those people who are truly battling with this issue in a vulnerable position.

So what is the definition of depression, which is also referred to as “Major Depressive Disorder” and “Clinical Depression”?  According to Mayo Clinic, depression is the following:

A mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living. (Mayo Clinic, 2016)”

A very noteworthy point that was made by the Mayo Clinic is that one cannot simply ‘snap out’ of it, which is often the advice given to individuals who say I am depressed. People who are in a true depressive state need to seek professional/medical help—usually in the form of counseling or medication. Another key item is to know the signs/symptoms of depression.   Please see below for the signs/symptoms that are linked to this mood disorder (Mayo Clinic, 2016):

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that aren’t your responsibility
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

*ATTENTION: If you or any one you know is suffering from the above signs/symptoms, please remain encouraged and seek HELP*

Truth is your life is worth so much to those around you. I have also included below links to organizations that were designed to help individuals battling depression.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

https://www.dbsahouston.org/depression-bipolar-disorder/?gclid=Cj0KEQjwioHIBRCes6nP56Ti1IsBEiQAxxb5Gz3il-SMIlv7knsYDnY-Q3tDQ4FVSt88k-e5wKKlmO0aAh388P8HAQ

Anxiety and Depression Association Of America

http://treatment.adaa.org

Good Therapy

http://www.goodtherapy.org

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/#

Many of us will not feel comfortable seeking medical/professional help right away. In those cases, please find a close friend, family member, or etc., which you can confide in to help you talk things through.  By having a listening ear, it can empower you to take bigger steps towards getting better. Additionally, here is another helpful website that I found that can assist individuals with coping with their depression.

Coping with Depression (HealthGuide.org)

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/dealing-with-depression.htm

Depression (DrugRehab.com)

https://www.drugrehab.com/co-occurring-disorder/depression/

Growing up in a West Indian culture, I often felt like being depressed or admitting to being depressed was taboo. If you said to your parents, or family that you are depressed, they would most likely say, “No, you are not…hush, hush” or “No, you are okay.” This was their way of fixing the problem or placing what they deemed as an effective bandage on your emotional wound(s)— with the hope that life would then resume as normal.  Yes, this is an unfortunate reality in many cultures.

Another area where I feel like depression is often overlooked is in the church.   So many times the answer that is given is to “pray about it” or “I will pray for you”.   Yes, I definitely believe in the power of prayer. Nonetheless, I believe that God also wants us to be proactive and has given us the wisdom to seek the necessary professional/medical help if needed. I do not think that it makes anyone less of a Christian or love/believe in God any less just because they may need additional help—along with all the great prayers of course. I would compare this situation to someone having a heart attack.   As a church, we pray for a person who has experienced one, but we all recognize the need for direct medical attention in order to increase the likelihood of that individual surviving.   The same goes for mental illnesses/disorders. Yes, the danger may not be as visible as with a heart attack or stroke, but that does not mean that professional/medical care is not warranted.   Sadly, many of the times, we as a society do not see the true effects of depression until it’s too late—after lives are lost.

I call everyone to take a stand against this “Silent Assassin” that often goes undetected or ignored. The hope is that we will help saves the lives of others, or our very own.  Let us not be a statistic, but a SURVIVOR!

~Contessa Thomas 

References

Mayo Clinic (2016). Depression (Major Depression). Retrieved on April 26, 2017 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/definition/con-20032977

 

 

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Inspiration and Motivation

Never Lose Sight of Your Dreams

April 23, 2017

You’re strapped in and ready to go. Your heart starts to beat as you anticipate the ride.  You start to move. You close your eyes as the coaster makes its way up… higher and higher.  Your heart is beating and your throat closes up.  You’re afraid and start to regret getting on the ride in the first place.  You climb higher and higher and then…. You… SOAR!!! The best part of the ride is experienced as you zoom through the ride.  You are faced with ups and downs, unexpected turns, feelings of nausea and dizziness, but once you have completed the course you exit with a sense of fulfillment and you then say to yourself,  “That wasn’t so bad…let’s go again.” The next time around, you’re ready! 

Life can be equated to that of a roller coaster ride.   You have a purpose in your heart as to what you want to do.  The vision is clear in your mind… but it’s difficult to take that first step.  You’re afraid of what may happen to you along the journey…maybe fearful of opposition, challenges that may arise or a lack of support. Whatever it is, something is holding you back from getting on that ride. 

Today, I implore you… take that step.  This step will change your life – and believe it or not it has the potential to make a positive impact in the lives of those around you.  

I can remember way back in my youth…as early as 3rd grade, I had a passionate love for writing. My imagination was always on 10 and I always had a story to write. As a child, I used to write stories relentlessly. As I grew, and life’s responsibilities started to shift, I realized that I didn’t have as much time to write as much. In attending John Bowne High School, I was afforded the opportunity to participate in the Center For Writing program.  Through this program, I once again had a venue to speak through with my writing.  I was writing for the newsletter, writing short stories…I even wrote a poem called “Weird Jamaicans” that received great attention and was even featured throughout the school.
Want to read it? Okay, here it goes

Weird Jamaicans

It was always said

Jamaicans are weird people

Neon green hats, striped pants

Uninformed altogether

 

They eat weird foods

Juicy dumplings, sweet bread

Spicy salt fish

Bun and cheese

 

Others laugh at the dialect

“Mina tink its fair fe dem

Fego a talk bout me suh”

“I don’t think it’s fair for

them to go talking about me”

 

“Boom boom shek, boom boom shek”

Winding up our waists

Shaking what nature gave us

Nibbling up on the opposite sex

As we dance

That’s how we do things

But they scorn us

 

A golden ball rests on

The ocean bed

Squishing sand

Soothing between the toes

 

Cool winds

Whisper in your ear

Reminding you where you are

Jamaica

They judge us

But love our land

 

Okay we’re the weird ones

So you say

Whatever

~ Candace Beckford 2000

I love writing!!! It’s funny to see where my head was back in the day. (Smile)

As life progresses, as is true for all, things become harder. There are more responsibilities, more pressures and stressors all of which make it difficult to fulfill your passion. 

As much as I loved writing…I didn’t get to write as much anymore. I felt cheated because I didn’t have the time to do what I loved! 

In 2007, my life changed completely and I went through an experience that almost broke me and destroyed me. I took a great hit, but thankfully, I wasn’t destroyed. I was saved by my pen.

I wrote the Musical production, “I Love You Forever More”, which was talking about the unconditional love that we should have for one another despite the hurt and pain that may be inflicted upon us. I also wrote the theme song for that play which conveyed everything that I was feeling at that time:

“Through the eyes of the world I see a sinner

Broken, condemned lost forever more

Mercy exists in a utopia

Nothing here has ever been heard

Guilty, shattered, broken into two

No love found until I found you…

He said I love you forever more

My life I lay down

I love you forever more

My blood is poured all over you

You don’t know that change he’s made

I love you is what he said.”

After that musical, I continued on to write another musical entitled “A Miracle Set Free”. This was a play about teenage pregnancy, mother- daughter relations, and how to love past faults and failures.  

Writing has been my passion… what’s yours?  What’s that thing which keeps your heart beating with excitement…that thing that you’ve always dream of doing?

You have to make a decision to do what you love.  Don’t waste your time loathing over others. See them…congratulate them in their successes, pick them up in their failures but YOU keep your eye on your prize as well. 

Life can seem unfair at times, and it may seem as if you just can’t find your yellow brick road.  Maybe your circumstances aren’t quite lining up the right way, and it’s hard to fulfill that passion. 

I want to encourage you today to never lose sight of your dream. 
As far fetched as it may seem it is in your arms reach. 

Martin Luther King Jr. never lost sight of his dream. He knew what he wanted. He knew what it would take to get there and he was determined to not allow anything to get in his way. In the face of opposition, he kept pressing. In the face of opposition, he believed, and in the face of opposition he kept achieving.
Dream big…

Live with courage…

Never give up…  

Never lose sight of your dream!

~ Candace Mezetin

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Inspiration and Motivation

Adventures of Babysitting…No…Spring Break (Hold On To Your Seats!)

April 20, 2017

This past week and a half reminded me of a movie that I loved to watch growing up called the “Adventures of Babysitting”. This movie was released in 1987 and starred Elisabeth Shue as Chris Parker, the young and beautiful college student babysitter who looks after 3 children, ranging from the ages of 8 years old to 15 years old. For the main plot— an evening of babysitting that was supposed to be quiet and calm actually turned into this big whirl of an adventure.   What a great movie! If you haven’t seen it before I sure do recommend that you check it you when you get a chance.

Well, over the last week and a half my children were on Spring Break, and what was supposed to be a smooth flowing week with my sister Candace in Upstate New York, turned into my own real version of the “Adventures of Babysitting”.   It was so eventful I had to share it. Looking back at it…I can truly laugh, but while going through the situations I actually wanted to cry.

Hmmmm….where should I begin? O Yes! Monday, April 10th, the day my sister and I planned a lovely trip to the Bronx Zoo with her husband, and a few of our friends along with all of our children.   So, as the day commences everything was going smoothly despite our late start due to various reasons with getting everyone on the same page, and traffic stemming from an alleged accident/road construction.   However, despite the small setback in time we were well on our way around 11am that morning to the Bronx Zoo. The GPS projected a destination arrival time of 30 minutes from Queens, NY.

On our way to the zoo, the traffic was moving right along, until we reached exit 6 off of the Bronx River Parkway, and saw that the Zoo was filled to capacity. There were so many people that all of the car/visitor parking lots were closed. At that time we all decided to split up in groups. Our friend and myself along with the children we had with us went one way, my older sister Candace and our younger sister went a next way, and my brother-in-law, went his separate way—all in the name of finding parking on the street so that we can enter the zoo.   Long story short, it took us nearly 2 hours of driving around to find parking that was close enough…what a nightmare!   If you have never been to the Bronx, New York, it is extremely challenging to find parking on the street. However, we were all determined to give the children a great day, so we persevered.   I guess everyone had the same idea that day being that it was the first day of spring break and such a nice day.

Yes, so that was adventure number one…thankfully everything turned around from that point on in the day and the zoo trip turned into a great success. After we all left the zoo I headed to Upstate New York with my sister Candace, as the plan was to spend the remainder of the week with her and her family. We wanted our children to have a week to hang out and have a great time together. Well, this fun was soon marked with pain and blood on Wednesday April 12th, when my youngest niece who is 5 years old rocked the chair at the dining room table causing my daughter/her cousin to hit her mouth on the marble table. Ahhh!!! This accident caused my daughter to suffer great trauma to one of her top front teeth. Thankfully, they are due to come out soon as she is 6 years old, but that particular tooth was not ready yet. So that accident landed us in the dentist office, where the damaged front tooth had to be extracted. What fun!!!! I know!!!

Alright, I know what you are thinking….could this vacation get any worse?!?!   Heck yeah!!!!   This next adventure will really bring you to your knees with laughter.

Please keep this one detail in mind—as it will tie in with the subsequent story.   So that same Wednesday (tooth trauma day), I see my daughter coloring a gray jewelry box at the dining room table that looked identical to the one I had in my luggage. However, I know I had my jewelry boxed tucked safely away and that could not be mine…right!!! WRONG!!!

Now let us fast forward to Friday morning, April 14th.   Here goes the agenda for that day:

  • Get the children up
  • Feed them breakfast
  • Review my sister’s new blog article
  • Lastly head to Stop Hop and Roll with the children (a play center like Chuck E. Cheese)

Well, well, well…I finished reviewing my sister’s article and was in the process of getting ready to leave for Stop Hop and Roll—and lo and behold I realized that my gray jewelry box was missing.   Instantly, like in a sci-fi movie I had this instant flashback that seemed to zoom in seconds to that Wednesday, when I saw my daughter coloring a gray jewelry box at the table.   At that moment all I could whisper was “NO, NO, NO!!!”   You see…in that jewelry box apart from my earrings was my extremely expensive 10-year wedding anniversary ring set. Instantly, my stomach started to contract and I had to take a deep slow breath as I yelled my sister’s name.   Immediately she came to my rescue and I quickly explained to her my dilemma.   Being the passive investigative type, she calls all the children upstairs and there begins the hours of interrogation/ring hunt.

My oldest niece who is 7 acquired the jewelry box (up to this very moment, no one will confess who went into my bag and removed it), she then tossed both pairs of my earrings in the upstairs bathroom garbage, because “they weren’t her style”, and took out my wedding rings and began playing with them.   She told her older brother (age 9) and my son (age 8), what she did, but neither of them felt it was important to tell an adult…deep sigh.   Next, she conspires with my daughter to play with them, before returning the engagement ring into the jewelry box and putting it into the craft drawer. Sadly, she left the actual wedding band on the dining room table. My head started to hurt as I thought who knows where the wedding band could be in my sister’s big house.

At that same moment my sister and I looked at each other with a heavy heart, for we knew that there was a possibility that it could have fallen on the floor and she could have swept it up.     This led to the next detestable step…searching with a fine eye through three bags of garbage. Thankfully due to the holidays the garbage pick up was delayed.   So yes, my sister and I spread a huge blue plastic covering over the kitchen floor, and started shifting through mounds of garbage. The last bag was the worst, being that it was sitting outside for a few days.   Our noses were screaming for help…it was torturous.   Nonetheless, the mission had to proceed accordingly as my articles had to be found…no questions asked.

After searching all three garbage bags we located my earrings, but no luck with my ring.   This then sparked a second round of interrogation with my sister playing the lead detective…I must say she was excellent with her questioning and composure.   I think that she actually watched too many episodes of “Law and Order”. Well it surely did pay off because as a result of this interrogation, her oldest son led us to her bedroom, where an alleged conspiracy took place between my son and my oldest niece, where they were handling the rings last.   What seemed like a cold case… got hot really quickly.   Finally, my sister searched her room and found my wedding band on the floor by her window under some papers.   We were so happy!!!! I was so worried…but Thank God it all worked out in the end.   Lesson learned…my rings stay on my finger.

Alright!!!!! For the big finale ending…are you ready for this?!?!   We have a tire blow out on my way home on Sunday, April 16th on Interstate 15 in Pennsylvania!   I know…I know…you are saying really?!?!   Well, yes really…I wish I was making this up, but sadly I am not.   So around 3pm with an hour left to arrive home, I heard a loud noise and eventually looked out my driver side view mirror just in time to see my left back tire fly off onto the highway.   I quickly fought for control of the car, and was able to pull over safely to the side of the road.   Through all of this, I know God’s hands were guiding that steering wheel and keeping me very calm.

Long story short, I called roadside assistance, they dispatched my case to a ‘local’ tire shop that was located in Maryland (40 minutes away), and who inevitably could not find my location. Two State Troopers and two lovely strangers later, my tire remained unchanged as no one could loosen the last bolt (it was stripped and therefore difficult to remove) on the wheel to change it.   So I had to wait for the tire company to arrive.   Well this kind stranger took us to the nearest store where we could use the bathroom (my children and I) and get some snacks, while his sister waited with my van…What God sent angels!!!!

While his sister was waiting with our van, a random tire company (which we didn’t know at the time, as we thought it was the company contracted by my insurance) pulls up and removes the stubborn bolt in less than a minute and changed the tire.   We arrived back to the van shortly, where the tire man says 85 dollars is the cost. However, I pay for roadside assistance via insurance, and never had to pay cash upfront before. So I explained this to the man, who said “no, you have to pay me cash and then you can submit this receipt to your insurance company for reimbursement.”   I then said with a confused look on my face, “well I do not have 85 dollars in cash—do you have a card machine?”   He then looks at me and says… “Ma’am I do not have time for this…have a great day”. He then gets into his truck and leaves.   I was like wow…despite whatever intentions this man had he just changed my tire for free. Yes, a praise moment was due.   So I got my tire changed, by a random tire truck company for free. On top of that the man was able to loose the bolt that no one else could…all I could say was, Thank You God!

After the first tire truck company left, almost immediately a tow truck pulls up in front of me. The kind stranger and his sister said “get in your car now and leave”.   So, I did just that (3 hours after my tire blew out on the highway). It was like a stern warning that required quick action. So, I complied very fast. He then proceeded to direct traffic away from us on this busy interstate risking his own life that my children and I could drive off safely.

If you ever thought that there are no longer any good people out there in the world…please don’t. That day, I had the great honor of meeting a few of them.

What a week of adventure…right!!! This was supposed to be a break week, am I correct? I mean they don’t call it Spring Break for nothing…buda boom ching (Drum Roll)!

Despite all…I am just happy that my family and I were able to make it safely home— while enjoying a great time with my sister and her family, along with our wonderful friends.

Spring Break 2017 will definitely go down in my history bank as one of the most memorable yet!

~Contessa Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

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Inspiration and Motivation

True Colors

April 16, 2017

Have you ever felt like you were the only person going through a problem or situation?

Have you ever felt one way but showed a different face?

Have you ever felt like you were about to explode because you held your true feelings and emotions inside?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then this post is for you.

Looking at my life, I realize that I CAN answer yes to all of the above questions. One may ask, why have you felt this way?

Truth be told, I don’t know.  It is possible that my issues stem from my upbringing, life experiences, or from areas that were lacking in my life.  Regardless of the source  (which is something we can explore another time), the focus is how do I get out of this situation? How do you get out of this situation? How do we get out of this situation?

These last couple of weeks have been hard for me. I felt like I was carrying the weight of life on my shoulders. Between homeschooling, church life, COOP (which is a home school cooperative learning environment) responsibilities, home life, and relationships…I felt alone. It seemed as if no one could fully understand what I was feeling. I lived each day carrying this burden, and the once jovial Candace I knew myself to be started to transform into someone that I didn’t know.  I was becoming easily frustrated with my husband/children and I wanted to stay away from situations that would cause me to open up. 

I knew that things were getting worse when two of my good friends kept asking me what was wrong. They noticed that I wasn’t myself. I was able to share some of what I was feeling and they seemed to understand and even offered viable advice.

Even though I was able to communicate with them, I didn’t feel that much different.  I realized that I had to get to a point where I wanted things to be different.

We have to get to a point where we want things to be different. 

God has blessed me with one special friend who always seems to call me or reach out to me at the RIGHT time.  He was scheduled to preach the word at church one week for a youth service and it was then I received my break through. 

I remember sitting there as he made the appeal, he was calling for those who were ready to let go of their pride, let go of their egos and be open…. to be vulnerable. He was saying that in being open, people can see us as we are and truly connect. It is then we realize that we are not going through situations alone and that there are actually others who may be going through similar, or the exact same issues that we are challenged with. He encouraged us that we should not be fused by fear, but to instead put fear aside and be open. 

That same day, I was browsing Facebook and one of my friends was sharing the words of her late daughter who passed away from cancer. Her daughter’s words were compiled into a journal. As encouraged by the family to do, I emailed her father in order to obtain the full copy of her writings. In his response, he shared with me many beautiful things about his daughter, but these specific words opened my heart in a new way:

“As you read through my daughter’s writings I encourage you to think about several things:

She was not a saint.  She was just a young woman trying to figure it out.  And she did figure it out.

She was a private person in live interaction, but she had the guts to be vulnerable and open with the world through her journal.  I encourage you to find ways to be open and vulnerable.” K.B.

These words directly spoke to me and I want to share them with you. This was the exact thing I was struggling with…being vulnerable and open.

I’ve decided that I’m going to be open, saying what I mean and meaning what I say. I have decided to express my feelings, even if the recipient doesn’t like what I have to say. I will express myself.

It’s time to not just keep our feelings inside, but to be open and ultimately free. 

The song “True Colors” by Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick captures the essence of being vulnerable:

“You with the sad eyes

Don’t be discouraged, oh I realize

It’s hard to take courage

In a world full of people

You can lose sight of it all

The darkness inside you

Can make you feel so small”

My Interpretation- Here we have a person dealing with situations that is leaving them sad, discouraged and even dark. This person is afraid to open up, and through it all they feel so small. It seems as if they are living… but not really living.

“Show me a smile then

Don’t be unhappy

Can’t remember when

I last saw you laughing

This world makes you crazy

And you’ve taken all you can bear

Just, call me up

‘Cause I will always be there”

My Interpretation – Here is a call to be vulnerable, and open. This is what I call…the moment of freedom.  You’re not alone and people actually care about you. Express yourself.

“And I see your true colors

Shining through

I see your true colors

And that’s why I love you”

My Interpretation  – Show people who you are. Reveal your truest self.  People love those who are open, honest, and real.  In showing your true colors, you will draw people to you who want to love you and help you through.

“So don’t be afraid to let them show

Your true colors

True colors are beautiful

I see your true colors”

My Interpretation – Your true colors are what makes you YOU!! Your story is unique and gathered specifically for you.  Don’t be afraid to tell your story.  Don’t be afraid to open up.  Your life is beautiful and your story can turn someone else’s life around for the better. 

I want you to know that you are not alone.  There is someone out there that is going through the same situation as you. There is also someone out there who shares the same hurt, same sadness, or even the same joys. It’s time for you to be brave and to express your feelings. It’s time to let your true colors show. It’s time for you to accept that no one can truly judge you.

If everyone’s life were an open book we would all see that we are the same in one way or another. We are all human with the same struggles, and the same situations. If we learned to stop judging each other and to start loving each other—this world would be such a strong and beautiful place to live. Without the fear of judgment, truthfully it is only then we can live in love and harmony. Until that day, BE OPEN and BE FREE! It starts with you and it starts with me. Together we can slowly but surely make our world better.

~Candace Mezetin

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Inspiration and Motivation

That Old Thing We Call…Love

April 13, 2017

Love, love, love…a word we hear thrown around in so many terms and settings.   However, what is love and how can we distinguish ‘real’ love from ‘infatuation’ a.k.a. ‘Fake love’?   My good pal Merriam Webster has defined love as the following:

  • a (1):  strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties maternal love for a child (2):  attraction based on sexual desire:  affection and tenderness felt by lovers after all these years, they are still very much in love. (3): affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests love for his old schoolmates.  b: an assurance of affection give her my love.
  • warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion love of the sea.
  • a:  the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration baseball was his first love  b (1): a beloved person: darling —often used as a term of endearment (2) British —used as an informal  term of address.
  • a:  unselfish loyal and benevolent (see benevolent 1a) concern for the good of another: such as (1):  the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2):  brotherly concern for others.   b:  a person’s adoration of God.

These are just the top four definitions on the list. However, there are a few others that follow these. Furthermore, I think I have given enough definitions to paint a fair picture of what we as individuals or the world deems as love. Many of the above definitions of love I can certainly relate to, nonetheless I will say what love personally means to me.   When I think of love, my mind instantly reverts to sacrifice, going above and beyond for those you care about (e.g. – spouses, children, friends, relatives, and etc.).   Additionally, I think of patience and happiness. For me, love embodies being patient with those whom we say we genuinely care for beyond how we may be feeling at any given moment in time. As for happiness, yes, you are truly happy inside when you are around those whom you say you love. For me, love does not conjure up feelings of animosity, boredom, annoyance, and etc. Ugh, how this seems so contrary to our actual human nature.  

Well, I have to be honest and say growing up I had a skewed view of what love should be.   Growing up I was taught through example that love means that you work hard and provide money for those whom you ‘love’.   Today as a wife and mother, I have learned that only is a part of what love drives you to do. However, that in and of it self is not sufficient for claiming that we truly ‘love’ someone. I learned this valuable lesson as a married woman when my husband pointed out to me that I put all my energy and time into showing ‘love’ by working long hours in order to provide for our family.   Based upon how I was raised, I should have been getting an A for showing love, but No, I was actually failing. It was a rude awakening for me.  

My second outlook on love was that to love actually meant you had to endure great pain—both physical and emotional.   Yes, I would witness my dad and stepfather beat my mother all in the name of ‘love’.   At a very young age, I made up my mind that if this is what love is then I do not want it.   This led to me not showing any real interests in dating when I was of age. In fact, my friends use to have a running joke that I was asexual. I laughed with them at the time, but in my heart, I knew what ‘love’ supposedly required (hurt), and I did not want to have anything to do with it—not in the slightest form.

However, my third outlook on love was so different from the rest and that was the result of being a part of a church family.   This view of love actually began to negate the first two I mentioned above. My sister Candace and I began attending church (without being forced or beaten) at the young ages of 14 and 12.   That was a major turning point in both of our lives and how we viewed and received love.   Being part of a church family, we witnessed love that was shown by hugging, sacrificing, listening, and sticking together in spite of our own selfish human feelings.   Ultimately, we also learned about The Almighty God who loves us unconditionally, despite the many wrongs we have done.   This type of love was so foreign to me, that I was awe struck.   It was at that moment, at age 12, that I decided, it would be the type of love I would aim to embody and show the rest of my life. It was not easy, as we are creatures of habit and our environment, but God gave me the strength each and everyday to strive to be better and work towards that unconditional, self-sacrificing love.

Hey, that was the main contributing factor that led to me even giving my husband of almost 11 years a chance at age 17.   Instead of being closed off, I became open to experiencing love in a new and exciting way.   My love story did not have to end the same way I saw it end for so many others growing up as a child.   I believe with all my heart that if we make the extra effort to ‘love’ in a way that is independent of how we feel, we can make the darkest skies bright again.

Love is very complicated, with many different facets.   As with a diamond, there are certain characteristics that make it what it is…so it is with love.   Love can take on many shapes and forms, but I strongly stand by the position that: unselfishness, patience, and the willingness to bring true happiness, are all part of the required facets on the diamond we call love.   If not, I would categorize anything else as a cubic zirconia (gem that resembles a diamond) love.   It looks like the real thing, but under extreme pressure we will eventually see that it is not. It is just a close representation of the authentic love. I encourage all to dig and look far and wide in faith to find and give that diamond inspired love…for only that form of love will stand the test of time and the harshest conditions of life.

~Contessa Thomas

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Inspiration and Motivation

Let the Past Pave Your Way

April 10, 2017

There are some days where I spend a good amount of time reminiscing or reflecting on the past.  I also like to reflect on the many societal memories of my time.

I remember when I was young: 

-Bell bottom jeans were in style
– Having a perm was the way to go
– Spice Girl’s music was hot
– The Lion King movie came out
– Bay watch was the show on My 9 T.V. station and there was DAVID HASSALHOFF!!!
– Tu Pac was a popular artist 
– Michael Jackson’s music was on the charts 
– Back Street Boys and N’sync were the heart throb of many young girls (including myself) 
– CD players became in style 
-Crash Bandicot video game was an all time favorite.

Oh my…. so many memories from my era!! 

On a more personal note, I also reflect on my past successes and past failures and
I remember those positive and negative moments in my life. Moments that have shaped me and molded me into who I am today…. both in my strength and weaknesses. 

When I was in High School I had 3 goals in mind: 

1. To excel academically.

2. To participate in as many extracurricular activities.

3. To do as well as possible so that I could attend a good college. 

When I started high school I was introduced to a program called POSSE, which was only available to high school seniors. Through this program you had the opportunity to receive a full scholarship to one of eight schools in their network.  The requirements were simply excelling academically and demonstrating excellent leadership skills. I really wanted to receive this scholarship.  I would be the first generation to attend college in my family and a full scholarship would assist my mom financially.  

Once I entered the tenth grade, I joined the basketball team, and the softball team. I also joined the student government where I held the offices of secretary and vice president, and I was also a part of the International Christian Club.  I was really busy!!  In addition to my extracurricular activities, I also studied hard to ensure that I maintained an A grade point average throughout the course of my high school years. Thank God I was successful.  Things were looking good for me and I actually saw the scholarship well within my reach.

Finally, senior year came and it was time to start applying to college. I finally had a chance to apply for the POSSE scholarship.  There were many high school seniors who applied for this scholarship right along with me. We all had to go through a series of group interviews and after they were done, a select number of interviewees were invited for a second interview, and then after a third.  By the time we got to the third interview, there were only three seniors left and out of the three only one would receive the scholarship.  I was one of the 3. We each had individual interviews and after the process was done I was hopeful that I would receive the scholarship.  After an intense waiting period, I received news that I was not chosen for the scholarship. 

My heart was crushed! I couldn’t understand! I felt that I had earned the opportunity to attend Brandeis University. I met with my college advisor who was also shocked that I was not chosen and in looking into it learned that the reviewers felt that I would have other opportunities for scholarships because of my excellent grades, and offered it to someone else that they felt didn’t have as much of a great chance as I did. 

At that time I just couldn’t understand. Why would God not allow me to receive such an opportunity?  I would be the first generation in my family to attend college! I believed that I deserved it.

At the time, I was broken over this lost opportunity.  I felt cheated. It seemed as if I was “penalized” for excelling.  

How has this situation shaped me and made me better today? 

My high school experience created a leader in me.  My experiences helped me to build ministries, plan events, lead out in my church,  teach my own children elements of basketball and softball, write drama musical plays just to name a few.  

Also, not going to Brandeis University opened up opportunities for me at Stony brook University; where I played a part in developing a ministry, serving as choir director for the gospel choir, working as an Resident Assistant (RA), and ultimately earning a Master’s degree in occupational therapy. 

Another moment that I can recall was growing up in a single family home. Life was hard for me growing up as a child and I had to witness and endure various situations that children should never have to experience. I witnessed my mom go through two abusive marriages, having to work hard to support her family, having to hold it all together when she really wanted to break down. I remember when we were taken away by ACS(Administration of Children Services). I remember being separated from my mother, and from all my siblings. I remember the hurt and emptiness I felt as I watched tears roll down my sibling’s cheeks. All this was happening as Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last” song was playing in the van. (I’m tearing up as I write this—it was really a sad moment).

This experience has scarred me for the rest of my life…but

How has this situation shaped me and made me better today? 

My desire for family is so great. I want to stay married, and I want my children to be raised in a two parent home. My parenting style has been originated from this experience; my desire to be with my children and be there for them is strong. My level of patience with them is greater, my love for my siblings grew and this experience has helped me to love better.

Our past serves as a stepping stool for our future. We all go through different trials and situations and we have to learn how to pull the “motto” or the “lesson” from our situations and use it to build the present and the future. 

I want to encourage you to let the past pave your way for your future.  Let your experiences serve as your foundation.  You were created to live with purpose, to fulfill great dreams and aspirations.  You have to chase after your dreams and not allow your past to hinder you.  Instead let your past push you into greatness!!

Aspiring Quotes

1. “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard

2. “The past beats inside me like a second heart.” – John Banville, The Sea

3. “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” – Rick Warren, The   Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

4.”Study the past if you would define the future.” – Confucius

5. “The past was always there, lived inside of you, and it helped to make you who you were. But it had to be placed in perspective….” – Barbara Taylor Bradford,

~ Candace Mezetin

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Inspiration and Motivation

Chasing Your Dreams…The Lion Chaser

April 6, 2017

This past Monday, I was lying in my bed surfing the internet trying to get a quick relaxation in before the kids came home— and in the room walks my husband to ask me if I was busy.   Well, as much as I wanted to say yes, I know that question usually arises when he needs my opinion on something, or when he simply wants me to check out some amazing material he has discovered.   So, I say “no” and bam! He pulls out a book and drops it on the pillow next to me, and says “hey, when you get a chance read the first chapter of this book”.   What he really meant was please read the chapter now.

I sighed in a low tone, as reading is the farthest thing from my mind at the moment.   Let me add…being 8 months pregnant and having a waning concentration really did not help either.   I honestly just wanted to take a nap. Nonetheless, I decided to sit up in the bed and read the first chapter of the book my husband left for me, which was entitled “Chase The Lion”. I must confess the title was pretty catchy, and that did play an important part in me deciding to fight the mental lethargy and read it.

As I began reading, the chapter opened with the story of one of King David’s mighty men named Benaiah chasing a lion on a snowy day, instead of the other way around (2 Samuel 23:20).   The author Mark Batterson then goes on to paint the dramatic picture of the chase and the unfortunate demise of the lion at the hands of Benaiah. Whoa…it was truly breathtaking, it was like I was reading an academy award-winning screenplay.   So the chase ends when the lion falls into a dark pit, and Benaiah jumps in with his spear and fights the lion until he achieves victory.

Now Mark then goes on to speak about courage, and lists two types: “regular courage” and “two-o-clock in the morning courage”.   He mentioned that Benaiah embodied the latter form of courage, and that is what propelled him to embark on his lion chase—instead of being the one hunted.   This is the type of courage that is needed by us as individuals to chase our biggest and wildest dreams—and for us to catch them in sheer triumph.  I don’t know about you, but my mind was so blown away.  At that moment I become even more encouraged in my quest to fulfill my dreams.  

Another profound thing that Mark said was in regards to helping others achieve their dreams— by being a “dream catcher/inspirer”.   To be a “dream catcher” or one who inspires others to attain their dreams is important in one’s success. Versus one who selfishly purses their own dreams and desires, without a thought about anyone else.  He affirms his readers as “Dreamers” to find company and grow together.  In other words…form a pride, just like lions do in the wild.   It is the key to their survival in the great wilderness.  What a point!

The truth is when you set out to chase your biggest and wildest dreams, you do actually step out into a form of the ‘wild’ in your life and in the world.  You are faced with many dangers, tests, and survival of the fittest moments.  Indeed, having a group of individuals to support and grow with you is in fact more than beneficial—it is vital for survival.  

So go on and “Chase The Lion”—go full speed after your biggest dreams despite how scary they may seem.   Don’t let fear cripple you in your quest to be the greatest.  I believe that God has given us the wisdom and courage to persevere, we just have to step out in faith and trust Him. As I continue to read on, I know that there will be many more great points that Mark will bring to my attention— in turn I will share them with all of my readers.   Lastly, chapter one ends with this amazing line, which really invoked deep thought on behalf of the reader—“…remember, if your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small.”  

So, does your dreams scare you? Does it keep you up at night?   If not, then I challenge you to dream bigger, and learn how to embody that “two-o-clock in the morning” courage to help guide you on your journey in ‘Chasing The Lion’.

~Contessa Thomas

 

References

Batterson, M. (2016). Chasing The Lion. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Crown Publishing Group

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Inspiration and Motivation

Parenting- “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”

April 2, 2017

Raising children in this day and age is not one of the easiest tasks to do. It requires much patience, diligence, perseverance and strength to accomplish this great work. I know for me, being a mother of four children, this undertaking is a great deal, one that I do not take lightly. I remember when I first became a mom; I was always concerned about how my children would turn out, if they would be respectful, obedient and if they would love God. I really wanted to be a good parent to my children, and knowing that I was disadvantaged because of my own upbringing, I had to work that much harder.

It is essential to know that there are going to be both good and bad days as a parent. Good days will consist of your children following instructions, doing what they have to do, being of good spirit and just making you straight-out happy. Bad days will consist of them trying your patience, getting on your nerves, disrespecting you, and straight up just annoying you to your wits end. It’s easy to deal with our children when they are behaving and obedient. Hands down, it makes us want to give our kids the world. But how do we deal with our children on a bad day?

How do we cope when we just want to “shot them a box and a kick” as my Jamaican mom used to say to me?

Unconditional love 

For starters, we have to love our children no matter what. In fact, we have to love people no matter what…unconditionally. This type of love is hard to fathom. We are generally accustomed to loving when everything is going well and we are happy with our interactions with people. When things are not going so well and individuals hurt us, then our love seems to dwindle or we just flat out no longer have love for them. One of my friends recently had a baby and, she posted this comment from her husband on Facebook that supports the essence of unconditional love.

“I have learned something of the Character of God last night. My daughter would not stop crying, and as it is frustrating, I had to patiently sing to her for 45 minutes so that she could calm down and go to sleep. If I had to do this for anyone else, I would get upset, but because I was doing this for MY OWN CHILD whom I love, it did not bother me. There, I saw the love of God…… No matter how much trouble or how much noise I make; I will never annoy God because nothing can separate me from the love of God. He will patiently love me into the calm of His righteousness…… I love God SOOOOO MUCH.”
~Efb Ricketts #HeavenOnEarth

We have to learn to love our children unconditionally, and the only way to understand that type of love is to parallel God’s love for us. 
On our own, that love will fail, but if we think of how undeserving we are of love and blessings because of our sinful nature (but God still loves us anyway), it will become easier to love unconditionally. 

Loving our children with an unconditional love will help us cope during those trying moments- resulting in us not giving up. Loving them unconditionally will help us to look past their current issues, mishaps and failures. It will propel us to focus on what they are on the inside and what they can become.

Looking at love from this perspective has helped me to love my children better.

Confidence

Another way that proves helpful in coping is to have confidence. We have to be confident parents!!! We have to be confident in our abilities and choices as we raise our children. We have to be confident in our disciplinary approach as well! My friend, Nicole Venters actually introduced me to this term called “Momfidence”. On her You Tube channel “Half Mom, Half Amazing”, she talks about some of the struggles that moms face.  As I watched her vlog, I laughed at the points she highlighted because they were so true.  She talked about how mothers have a way to subconsciously bring the confidence level of another mother down. It may not be intentional, but sometimes overemphasizing our glory buries another’s confidence. 

Additionally, Nicole gave an example that I personally experienced, where a woman I met told me that she did not allow her children to eat food coloring and how she buys her children all organic snacks…etc. I listened to her and understood where she was coming from but inside I felt like a bad mom. I did not always refrain from dyes in food and I knew at that time I couldn’t afford organic food! Thank God I have tough skin, so it didn’t totally destroy me, but what about others who may not be as tough?

We have to accept that we do not know it all, and that we always have room to bloom and stay confident, by doing the best we can in our given situation. As moms let us always remember to be CONFIDENT!!!

As I mentioned before, we also have to be confident in our disciplinary actions. I do not support or condone abuse at all and any parent who does such an act deserves to be jailed. However, I personally don’t believe it is wrong to spank my children when their behavior warrants it. I do not hit my children regularly. When they are rude, or disrespectful, I talk to them, put them on time out, or I take away privileges. There are times though when I have to give them a spanking. I know some folks who don’t beat their children and that is ok for them. I am confident in my methods of discipline and that helps me to cope when the going gets rough.

Trial and error

Parenting is trial and error. There are no set rules to parenting. What works for one may not work for another, and we just have to accept that. Sometimes a certain type of punishment may work for one child that miserably fails for another. We must be open to assess and change our method of parenting to help us through those rough patches. I have learned that what worked yesterday may not necessarily work today. I am modifying my approach accordingly, on a consistent basis. Whenever you find a consistent way to successfully deal with your children and cope, stick with it!

I don’t have “perfect” kids at all. My children have good days and bad days, and just mediocre days. Being that I home school, I am with them for the majority of the time. Sometimes my expectations of them become higher and higher by the day. This was brought to my attention by a complete stranger at Wal-Mart a few weeks ago. On that particular day, we were food shopping and the kids were driving me crazy! I bet you’re wondering what they were doing, right? Well, they kept touching the food under the claim they were trying to help me. They kept bickering over who gets to push the cart, and my little guy kept whining for ice cream. My brain was on overload and all I wanted them to do was tag along, without touching anything. So we get to the checkout line and the children are standing there with me looking at toys and gazing at the candy that I told them they couldn’t have. The woman behind me commented that I have the best-behaved kids she had ever seen. I looked at her like she was crazy and I was like, “ma’am they give me a run for my money.” She looked at me and said, “Your kids are beautiful and well-behaved. I cannot remember the last time I saw 4 kids waiting quietly in line. The last bunch I saw were running around, and disrespecting their mother. Kids will be kids, but yours are perfect.” Her words totally melted my frustration. Here I am feeling upset at the “little” they were doing. I agreed with her. They are good kids.

We will face good days with our children and then some not so good days, but we have to remember that we are to:

  • Love them unconditionally
  • Live and parent with confidence
  • Be flexible to change our parenting approach when necessary
  • Accept that kids will be kids

When all of this is balanced out, we can then cope with the hope that we will make it through this stage of parenthood.

~ Candace Mezetin

 

References

Half Mom, Half Amazing- Nicole Venters, Mom Confidence https://youtu.be/vg94ys26z98

 

 

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