Monthly Archives

May 2017

Inspiration and Motivation

Three Faces of Love

May 28, 2017

Love is such a big and powerful word that can have simultaneous meanings.

Love is generally the term utilized to express strong feelings of attraction towards the opposite sex. However, I would like to also infer that love is the antidote for happiness, the remedy for peace in a broken world, the fix for the brokenness that permeates our society.

Love is a very important component to life and without it…. there is no hope or purpose for being. 

Love.

Love has THREE faces that are inadvertently different, but are still yet the same.  The three faces of love are:

  • Philos love
  • Agape love
  • Eros love

 

Let’s explore Eros love first.

Eros love

Eros love originates from the Greek god of love—a term that means to long for and heavily desire. This love is equated to erotic, sexual love, and is founded upon physical characteristics. This type of love is common during the first stage of a love relationship. Eros love is driven by physicality, and can easily become obsessive and self-seeking. Eros love is not meant to be shown towards everyone—as it is meant to be shared between a couple.  This type of love is very important to maintain a healthy relationship, including marriages.

Agape love

I like to term agape love as a type of sacrificial love.  This type of love was seen and exemplified through the life and death of a well-known leader, Jesus Christ.

Agape love is the type of love that first should never be determined by the way we feel. Agape love is the type of love that we bestow upon others regardless of how we feel or think.  It can be seen as a set of behaviors or actions. The thing with agape love is that we should be able to love people without having any feelings towards them.  That’s where the sacrifice and self –denial lies. Agape love says I love you just because…

Philos love

Philos love is the love you have towards a close friend, someone who is like a brother or sister to you. This love is developed based upon multiple experiences shared between you and the person. It is also a love that develops over time. This type of love is commonly practiced by the majority of people, as we tend to “love” people based upon the development of experiences that we have with them. This kind of love is beautiful, but unfortunately it can quickly become sour.  For example, if there happens to be an altercation between two friends… that love can dissipate quickly.

 

I’m sure we all can attest to experiencing a situation like that during some point in our lives.

This past week… I’ve been struggling with love. Struggling between the different types of love, and the impact it’s absence has had on me.  I’ve realized that in order for us to live fulfilled and complete lives… we need all three types of love to be manifested in it. There may be varying degrees for each individual, but conclusively… we ALL need love.  

Behold my “Facts of Love”:

  1. We all need Eros love. We were created with a desire and an attraction for physicality. Our bodies NATURALLY creates hormones that arouse the desire for physical/sexual love. If this love is manifested in the wrong way, it can lead to our demise…emotional, physical, and spiritual. We have to be careful and in control of ourselves. Eros love is a beautiful love when manifested in the right way, but this cannot be the only love we have…as this love is centered on self and can easily dissipate. So this love MUST be coupled with agape love and philos love. It should never stand alone, because if it does…it will not last long.

 

Think of those individuals who work in the sex industry. They practice eros love all the time…but once the moment is over…that “love” is gone.

Again, this love should NEVER be used alone.

  1. We all need philos love. I believe that we all are in need of a friend. No man is an island and we need socialization. This brotherly love is developed when we establish relationships with other people. The shared experiences allow for the development of love. This past week I reflected on some of my philos relationships. Some of them are still current…some of them dormant…and some have become non-existent. Regardless of the current status of my philos love relationships…I still have love for these individuals. Whether I spoke to you 10 years ago, 10 days ago…yesterday or 10 minutes ago…I love you. The moments we have shared as friends will always hold a special place in my heart and in my life. Some may disagree with me and say that they no longer have that brotherly love towards those individuals whom they no longer connect with. I can understand why that may be said, but if you have agape love…then philos love can last forever.

 

  1. We all need agape love. In my opinion, agape love is the greatest love of all three. This love is the sacrificial love that is not based upon feelings or personal desires, but loves because it’s the right thing to do. Agape love says I haven’t spoken to you in 20 years, but if you called me up I’m there for you. Agape love also says you hurt me…stabbed me in the back…destroyed me…but I still love you and if you need me I will be there. Tough right?!?! Agape love is not an easy love to manifest. As people, we love based upon our feelings. However, agape love is the opposite of that. Simply put—you love because it’s the right thing to do.

 

I’ve had practiced showing agape love in my life. It is difficult!!! I have had a specific situation in my life where I was abused, hurt, and nearly destroyed— and to this very day I’m still dealing with the impact of that situation.  The great news here is that in spite of everything done…that individual is still loved by me.

I bet you’re wondering what the heck is wrong with me? (Smile)

To be honest…nothing is wrong…I have learned and am still learning to exemplify agape love. The greatest example that I have of one who exemplified agape love is Jesus Christ.

God demonstrates agape love towards his son Jesus and Jesus exemplifies that love towards humanity. Historical accounts reveal that this man was crucified…brutally murdered for no just cause. He gave his life because he loved humanity unconditionally.

Love can be complicated…but at the same time beautiful. Understanding love a little better can help us to love a little more.

Love will change the world as we know it.

Let’s learn to show the 3 faces of love in their appropriate context.

Here is another great article that can further explain the three faces of love:

http://theseekeroftruth.blogspot.com/2005/02/3-types-of-love.html?m=1

 

 

~Candace Mezetin

 

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Inspiration and Motivation

Sound The Alarm! Danger Zone: Women and Emotional Affairs

May 25, 2017

Women. We are beautiful creatures that were designed to be delicate, nurturing, and yes emotional.   I view being highly emotional beings as a two edged sword at times.   Yes, it makes us very affectionate and able to share our love with our family, friends, and loved ones, but if those emotions are influenced or channeled by the wrong person or thing, they can become destructive—devouring everything in its path.

One particular path I would like to touch on in this article is… the danger of women having emotional affairs with people of the opposite sex, as a way of finding fulfillment in order to satiate a void created by a spouse.  As we may or may not know, most men are known to be physical beings. Meaning, that a man becomes easily aroused by what he sees.  For example, when a man beholds a beautiful woman in his visionary path, his feel good receptors start to go off—causing his sensory input wires to go wild. On the contrary, for most women this is not the case. We can see an extremely handsome man and appreciate the sight, but not become physically aroused by what we see.  For many of my fellow ladies, it is the emotional component that becomes our entrapment.

I can personally attest to the reality that there have been periods within my marriage where I have hit an emotional drought.   I felt like I was alone in those moments, and that my husband was not understanding me emotionally. I felt starved.  As we know, when in starvation mode, the body will do anything to survive. I find the same to be true with emotional starvation. This emotional starvation that I am referring to usually begins with what I like to call the ‘casual’ conversation.   As a talkative being, I like expressing myself to others, and discussing interesting topics about life.

Most women have family and/or close friends whom they can just call and let it all go with.   I am not speaking about those individuals. I am speaking about that one guy that tells you “I am here for you, if you need me.” The mister who gently strokes your emotionally hurt ego with the hope of landing you right in his night chambers.

Yes ladies…I know that this sounds pretty cliché, but I have seen it so many times, and have experienced it personally.

I want to be very CLEAR on my stance by saying that I DO NOT think that anything is wrong with having male friends. The instant it becomes dangerous is when you begin to have an emotional attachment to that individual— knowing that you have committed your life to another. Ladies, you must pay attention to the red flags, and know when it is time to flee like Joseph did in the Bible. He broke free and ran for his life away from the ravenous grasp of Potiphar’s enticing wife, who became emotionally attached to this beautiful man who was her slave.   Her emotional attachment to Joseph led her into an obsessive state, which meant doing whatever she could to have him all to herself. Again, I am positive this all begun with an innocent casual light conversation. Also, who knows just how emotionally starved Potiphar’s wife was, as she was married to one very highly ranking individual in Egypt. Hmmm…let that sink in. Husbands should never neglect their wives for work or any other reasons, and vice versa…it all leads to a slippery slope.

This brings me to my next point. It is important to spend meaningful time with your significant other. Yes, we have to work, and tend to children, but personal time MUST be factored into a relationship in order to guarantee its survival and growth.

So, if you are facing a situation where you know that you are becoming emotionally attached to a person—TAKE A STEP BACK from the relationship before you end up doing something that you regret. For it can cost you your family, friends, and only God knows what else. Truly not worth it in the end, no matter how good it may feel in that moment.

What can one do to avoid falling prey to emotional affairs?

Very simple…SET BOUNDARIES.

Every individual should have a set point where they draw the line if a relationship starts to spiral out of control.

If you do not have one or some created at this time as you are reading through this article, I sincerely ask that you take the time out to make them. In life I have learned that people only go as far as you let them. The instant you feel as if that person is overstepping your boundaries, it is there you make that executive decision on how to slowly or quickly end that relationship before it gets out of control.

Another excellent point that I will stress is to be OPEN with your spouse. Communication is truly key. I know that my husband can testify to my candidness, even though I know it stresses him out sometimes (I am indeed a work in progress…LOL). People are not mind readers as much as we want them to be.   Therefore, let your significant other know that you are not being emotionally fulfilled and find ways to resolve the problem. This may also mean that seeing a counselor or therapist is necessary in order to help bring both parties back into one accord. Please DO NOT be afraid to seek professional help if needed.   It is much cheaper on all levels then a divorce that was fueled from infidelity (emotional and/or physical).

As I close out…I want to encourage all those who are reading this article to be wise. Please look out for those emotional affair snares, which we all can easily fall victim to. Remember… the thrill only lasts for a short moment (relatively speaking). However, the consequences can last a lifetime. So please feel inspired to ALWAYS do the right thing…no matter how good the wrong one may feel.

~Contessa Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s the Deal with my Meal?

May 21, 2017

Eating food is one of America’s greatest daily activities; one that the majority of people engage in, unless they are living under extenuating circumstances. Eating is done for necessity, for leisure, for recreation, and for celebrating.

Everyone loves to eat!  (I know I do! )

Growing up, eating was one of my best qualities. I could eat any and everything.  I would eat my food and then finish my sister’s.  I would eat bread, rice, meat, grains, beans, peanut butter, fruit, vegetables, chips, candy… you name it and I ate it! It was all so good to me!  I never seemed to have a problem with any kind of foods that I was eating. The only issue that I had was being a butter ball (super chubby), but that’s beside the point (LOL).

Over the years my palate has changed (THANK GOD). I have eliminated many of the processed foods, and meats.  However, I still continue to consume grains, bread, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and some processed foods (vegetarian meat substitutes).  Now, when I attempt to eat some of those same foods, my body can no longer tolerate it. I experience severe bloating and gas, stomach pains, and feelings of discomfort.

This has created a major problem for me, as eating had lost its savor! I decided to participate in an elimination diet, which consisted of cutting out one type of food per week to see if there was a reduction of symptoms.  I’ve learned through that process that my body can no longer handle gluten, or nuts/ seeds in excess.  This discovery has caused me to do away with breads, nuts, vegetarian meats, cakes…pretty much anything with gluten in it.  This omission has been difficult for me and whenever I cheat—I pay the ultimate price of pain and my stomach being upset.

I am presently on a journey from Vegetarianism striving towards Veganism. This journey is a difficult one, and I have not yet mastered it.  Nevertheless, I keep on pressing and striving to reach my goal.

In my quest to eat healthier, I’ve learned that all the foods we purchase from the stores are not all they are cracked up to be.  Today we have to battle between natural foods and genetically modified foods (GMO), and between organic and inorganic foods.

GMO Foods

The abbreviation of GMO is short terminology for Genetically Modified Organisms. Genetically modified organisms are plants, or animals that have alterations made to their genetic make-up. Foods that are genetically engineered have had their DNA altered. The modification in the DNA permits the introduction of new traits— to enhance greater control over the traits/characteristics of the food. Creating GMO allows for unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not happen naturally through traditional crossbreeding methods (Non-GMO project, 2016).

One of the rising concerns with GMO’s is with the insertion of genes into the DNA of a food plant. There is no real way to monitor or predict where the inserted genes actually end up. This can hinder the functionality of the already existing genes. This can also create new proteins that previously never existed, therefore causing a rise in toxins and food allergies.

Many of the foods we consume on a daily basis may fall under the GMO category.

Some of these foods are:

Corn

Soybeans

Cotton

Canola

Sugar

Beets

Alfalfa

Papaya

Yellow “crook neck” squash

Zucchini

“Arctic” apple

“Innate” potato

According to research and studies, GMO foods are unhealthy for us. The research on GM foods in animals reveal organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. Research on GM foods in humans also shows that they possibly cause long-term problems.  Also studies have shown that the genes inserted into GM soy, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and as a result it is deemed unhealthy. Studies have also revealed that the toxic insecticides produced by GM corn were found in the blood of pregnant women and their fetuses. (http://responsibletechnology.org/10-reasons-to-avoid-gmos/)

Organic vs. Non-organic

What’s the big deal between organic and non-organic foods?

Organic foods are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.

Organic livestock are free range and fed with organic grains/foods.  They may not be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal by-products. (https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/organic-foods.htm)

Non-organic foods are the opposite. They are grown using dangerous pesticides and chemicals that have long term effects on our bodies. Non-organic foods are sprayed with several chemicals, which include:  fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides.

Non-organic livestock animals are pumped full of hormones, treated with antibiotics due to diseases, and are fed non-organic foods. They are also treated inhumanely.

This video will shed light on some of the horrible conditions of “non-organic ” animals and the harsh treatment that they endure: https://youtu.be/2w7TCmJUD7g

Eating organic foods have proven to be beneficial in many ways.

According to Help Guide:

  1. Organic foods have less pesticides.
  2. Organic food is often fresher because it doesn’t contain preservatives
  3. Organic farming is better for the environment. This is a truism because organic farming seeks to minimize polluting the earth, conserving water, minimizing soil erosion, seeks to increase soil fertility, and overall uses less energy.
  4. Organic eating decreases diseases. Animals that are considered organic are NOT given antibiotics/growth hormones.
  5. Organic meats and milk are more nutrient dense.
  6. Organic food is GMO-free.

(https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/organic-foods.htm)

As my mind digested this large amount of information, all that I kept asking myself was, “How do I make this change? “

You may be asking yourself the same question.

It may not be feasible to just completely switch to organic foods, as I know firsthand that there is a financial component to this as well. The better the quality of food…the more it will cost us. It’s a true reality.

As I personally seek to live healthier, I have sacrificed to start buying better quality foods. I’m not 100% there yet, but as I transition, I am making clearer, conscious decisions about my food options, and paying more attention to whether it is non GMO and organic. I am sure that some of my stomach issues and bloating concerns are linked to the rise in GMO production and pesticide use in the last decade.

While it may not be feasible to go 100% organic— there is a list of specific fruits and vegetables that we should DEFINITELY buy organic as these foods have a high absorbency and are highly contaminated with chemicals and pesticides.

These are called the “Dirty dozen”:

Apples

Peaches

Nectarines

Strawberries

Grapes

Celery

Spinach

Sweet bell peppers

Cucumbers

Cherry tomatoes

Snap peas (imported)

Potatoes

Hot peppers

Kale / Collard greens

There are also foods that are determined to have less chemicals sprayed on them and may be ok to consume even if they are non-organic. These are called the “Clean Fifteen“:

Avocados

Sweet corn

Pineapples

Cabbage

Sweet peas (frozen)

Onions

Asparagus

Mangos

Papayas

Kiwi

Eggplant

Grapefruit

Cantaloupe

Cauliflower

Sweet potatoes

So…what’s the deal with my meal?

What’s the deal with your meal?

These are good questions that only we can personally answer.

As for myself, I am on a journey to lead a healthier life and to include my family as well.

This process will more than likely not happen overnight and therefore; we must take baby steps towards our purposed health goals.

I recommend taking some time to learn more about non-GMO foods, and organic foods. Knowledge is power. If you are able to start a garden… do it. That’s the best way to control your food to ensure that it’s non-GMO and organic. Also, farmer markets are a great place to buy fresh organic produce.  Just be sure to validate with the vendors that their products are non-GMO and organic.

~ Candace Mezetin

 

 

 

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Emotional Rollercoaster

May 18, 2017

Emotions…how fickle and quickly changing they can be. One day emotions can have you feeling on top of the world, and the next moment you feel down in the pits. It seems as if the events of life constantly has us on this emotional rollercoaster, where predictions are near impossible.   We are at the sheer mercy of our emotions, as we work endlessly throughout our lives to control them before they overwhelm us—and take us hostage within ourselves.  

This week has been an emotional rollercoaster for me.   One moment I felt great and in control and the next, I felt helpless. Ahhh…the pressure seems so much to bear during those moments of despair, but I know that I must hang in there and never give up.   All who have experienced riding a real life roller coaster can attest to the fact that with every low or steep drop comes another high.   So, I must ride out this ocean calm and continue to tread water so I can stay a float—until I catch the next big wave.

I am not perfect, and neither is my life. I have never, and will never pretend like it is because transparency and reaching others is one of my best God given gifts. At this very moment as I am writing this article, I want to cry and just wake up from this day renewed. Again, I feel the weights of life pulling at my ankles. I do not feel like fighting right now, but sinking as I raise my flag of surrender. However, I can’t and I will not give in…I will fight, YES! I will fight and I will come out triumphant. As a person with a strong faith in God, I know that He has seen me through many difficult times and that He will continue to do so. I know that God has not brought me this far within my life, and over so many hurdles just to leave me stranded.  

So for all our readers out there, who are riding their very own emotional rollercoaster at this moment…HANG ON! It may seem as if you are screaming your head off and no one is paying you any attention, but don’t give up. Tomorrow always brings with it another opportunity to do and be better. Last summer, as I sat by the pool in my apartment complex…the following words just flowed from my heart entitled “Life Amidst The Waves”:

Buoyancy… the ability of an object to rise to the top after being fully submerged.  As I think about the definition of Buoyancy, my mind quickly reverts to a life jacket.  

Life! How it can be so rewarding, but also such a difficult thing at times. Sometimes we feel on top of the world, and other times we feel buried by it.  As I think of the waves of life that constantly tends to sweep over me again and again— as I lay submerged in my fears, broken promises, the loss of loved ones, and in the need to find true fulfillment… I rest with an internal peace.  

A peace that stems from my life jacket of hope—which I make sure to put on each morning when I rise.  You see, even though the waves of life keeps knocking me over, and at times overwhelm me—to the point where I feel as if I can’t catch my next breath.  I just take a deep breath and go under…lying very still with sureness— as I know that I have put on my “Life Jacket of Hope”.  So yes, the waters may have me trapped at that moment, but this I know is only temporary because of my hope and inner fight to persevere. I WILL rise back up and my head will break the surface—as I take a breath of fresh fulfilling air and move forward in sheer confidence… knowing that I did not fall victim to life. 

~Contessa Thomas

 

 

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Tribute To Mothers

May 14, 2017

Today is a special day.

It’s Mother’s day!! Happy Mother’s day to all the mothers out there!!!

I love my mother tremendously. She is the epitome of what a mother should be; with her imperfections and all.

Growing up in a single family home was not an easy task for my siblings and me. Watching our mom slave day in and day out was hard for us to endure. Why so? If she was working all the time, that meant we didn’t always have the quality time we craved from her.

We understood her sacrifice, and we embraced her struggle. We learned to live through it, and even though my siblings and I have been scarred in some way by this, we made it through.

I don’t know your story, or your experiences with your mother, but take a moment to reflect on your mother. Reflect on the experiences you had; both good and bad. How have these experiences shaped you? How have they molded you? How did they make you…the version of YOU?

As I look back, I can remember NUMEROUS experiences that I share with my mom; some of them wonderful, and others not so great. Through it all, I know that I am a product of my mother.

While you will think of many experiences you’ve had with your mother, I just want to share a few of mine. These memories are specifically chosen as they have in some way helped to shape me into the woman I have become today.

Reflections

Every August, my mom would take my siblings and I to Aqueduct Flea market to go school shopping.

This was a time of excitement for my siblings and I! We loved walking the rows, looking at what all the vendors had to sell. My mom had specific things she was looking to buy for us, but she always snuck in a few things that we simply wanted, even if she didn’t want to. She always tried to do things she knew would bring a smile to our faces. What started out as clothes shopping and school supply shopping turned into getting some toys, ice cream, pretzels, and other little gadgets. To this day, I carry that same desire. I want to do those little things that I know would bring a smile to the heart of my children. I want my children to enjoy those little moments of having a random ice cream cone, or a surprise Chinese food dinner; both of which are rare occurrences.

Cooking Jamaican breakfast Sunday morning

My mom could cook!!! She is an authentic Jamaican, who knows how to shake a little here, and there and create a masterpiece of a meal. I remember waking up Sunday mornings to the sweet smell of porridge boiling, fried dumplings, ackee and salt fish, and Milo hot chocolate drink. I long for these days again. These moments stand out to me, because I now realize that all of that took time and LOVE. Cooking elaborate meals is no easy task, and my mother did that for us! Now that I’m a mom, I realize that cooking for multiple children is difficult. Everyone has different taste buds and it’s hard to find something that everyone likes. When I was growing up…we really didn’t have a choice.  We ate what was given to us. Point blank. I am not so strict like that with my kids, however I do try to cook meals that I know they enjoy. There are some times when time is limited and dinner will be bowls of cereal. Nonetheless, I know the impact special meals made in my life. It made me so happy. (Even to this day my mom still sends me some good ole’ Jamaican food and I LOVE it!!!!)  So, at least once a week, I cook my children one of their favorite meals, that they devour- no questions asked.

Riding the Q42 with me on my first day to JHS 238

I remember my first day of JHS, where my mom literally rode the bus with me to school to ensure that I knew the way. I don’t think my other siblings had that opportunity, because by the time they got to JHS, they had me to help them. Now-a-days it would be considered “uncool” for your mom to ride the city bus with you to school, but back then in 1995…I appreciated it a great deal. It was my first time going out on my own; a scary event. I was only 12! Some may think she was babying me, but I call that loving me. She cared about my well-being. She wanted to ensure that I knew my way and that I was safe. I am her first born and she wanted to ensure that she equipped me with what I needed to take the trip on my own. Now that I have children, if they were to go to public school or traditional school (I currently homeschool) I would probably do the same thing. It’s tough out there, and I believe that we have to walk our children through the course of new experiences if we can, to help them achieve greatness.

Mommy believing me when I told her about an abusive situation when no one else did

This is one of the major reasons why I love my mommy and appreciate her so much. I experienced an abusive situation during my childhood years; one that could have potentially destroyed me. My mother did not accuse me of lying, my mother did not try to defend the other party, my mother did not try to cover anything. She believed me. She stood by me. She was my lawyer. Even when the accused confessed, then in front of the “jury” denied the claims, my mom was there. This situation has opened my eyes to really listening to and “hearing” my children. When they complain that something happened to them, I will believe them. I have to be their advocate. They have to know that they have a confidant; one who they can be completely open with and honest with without fear of rejection, and humiliation.

There are SO many reflections that I have of my mother!! I can go on and on and on, but the last thing I want to mention is that:

My mother never gave up on me.

I was not a perfect child. I made MANY mistakes, some of which I paid a high price for. I have lied to my mother, I didn’t always come home on weekends from college (when I should have), I have gone places I should not have, I have said things I should not have…I have been a mess too. Despite it all, my mother has loved me and continues to love me unconditionally. This is not only true for me, but this is a truism for all six of her children. She loves us UNCONDITIONALLY! This is the greatest lesson I have learned from her. I desire to love my children without reservations; to love them in their mess, to love them in their successes, to accept them when they go “left”, to accept them if they bring shame upon themselves, just to LOVE them.

I want to thank you mommy for teaching me another side of love. It is easy to say “I love you” all day long, and many people count that as love. Funny thing is that you hardly ever said those three words, but EVERYTHING you did screamed “I LOVE YOU”.

I am the mother I am today because of you; using both the seemingly perfect experiences as well as the flawed ones.

Mommy…I love you. Thank You SO much for being your best. Thank you so much for the endless sacrifices. Thank you for teaching me all that I would need, and for exposing me to what I could potentially become.

This poem is for all the mothers out there.

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

A Beautiful Woman

A beautiful woman

Formed by the ashes that lay beneath her feet

A masterpiece

Both on the inside and out

Her face

You embrace

With serenity and peace

How sweet

Her lips

Her hug and her kiss

Her sacrifice

For my life

Unconditional love

She gives

A beautiful woman

That is her and now it is me

A prototype

Of her type

Unique yet the same.

I love her and she loves me

A mother- yes that is she.

Written by Candace Mezetin

 

~ Candace Mezetin

 

 

 

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The True Power Of Forgiveness: UNPLUGGED

May 11, 2017

The power of forgiveness is such a complex and profound topic that I decided to go more in depth with it.   The initial article, “The True Power Of Forgiveness” touched on the lives of my neighbor and myself. It discussed the unfortunate circumstances that we had to endure in our lives. It also spoke about how we chose to forgive in spite of how we felt.   It was about true self-denial.   If you have not read it, and would like to, please check it out in the following link: http://sisarias.com/?p=350

In this article I will discuss forgiveness as it pertains to forgiving those individuals who I crown the ‘repeated offenders’ who you can’t avoid or simply just ‘put aside’. These people usually fall under the categories of husbands, wives, children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, close friends, and etc.   Hmmm… so how does one cope with the many disappointments and pain these people can bring into your life? How does one learn to ‘stay alive’, while constantly fighting the urge to just give up and grow a heart of ice? Life is not an easy thing, and it constantly throws these major curve balls at us, which in turn causes us to question life, God, our purpose for being, and many more areas in our lives.  

How can we take a handle on those ‘repeated offenders’ and learn to love them unconditionally, while also living and being true to one’s self?   Below are 4 strategies I came upon to help achieve that place of Zen (Psychology Today 2017):

  1. “Constantly Remind Yourself That We Are Terribly Flawed”– Let us remind ourselves that we ALL are flawed human beings in need of saving grace. We as individuals are not perfect, so how can we expect others to be. “We are all hopelessly flawed” (Psychology Today, 2017). Coming to terms with this ever so present truth sooner than later, can make a world of a difference in how you perceive the mistakes of others, and your willingness to forgive them on a continuous basis.
  2. “See The Divine Spark In All” – Look for the Creator’s mark in all individuals. I know for some people this task is comparable to finding a needle in a haystack, but don’t give up. Search deep and wide for that spark. By looking for and acknowledging that divine marker, it can really help to highlight just how special that person is—despite all their other undesirable characteristic traits. This can also be extended to one’s self. Many individuals have difficulty forgiving themselves…well know that the Master’s hands created you as well in spite of the flaws, and that you are indeed very special.  
  3. “Practice Mindfulness” – In the words of Elsa from the movie “Frozen” Let it go…Let it go. That embodies the very essence of practicing mindfulness. This strategy aids us in not holding on to the hurt, anger, bitterness, and resentment that can eat us up emotionally, physically, and spiritually, like a highly malignant cancer.   Choose to de-stress today, and “Let It Go!”
  4. “Focus on Coping Rather Than Curing” – I don’t know about you, but I can certainly speak for myself when I say…Yes! I have been guilty of trying to ‘cure’ others as a way to cope with the hurt and pain they have caused me.   As great as one’s intentions may be and how driven you are to fix that individual, the truth is—YOU CAN’T. We have to recognize and accept that we cannot fix anyone. The only true jurisdiction that we have when it comes to this topic is correcting and working on ourselves. Instead of using the ‘curing’ method as a way to self-medicate, choose a less toxic medication, with minimal to no side effects.   So what falls into this category: prayer, meditation, and religious/spiritual practices just to name a few (Psychology Today, 2017).  

Again, forgiveness is not an easy feat and to reach the pinnacle of that mountain, it takes an insurmountable level of self-denial and unconditional love. This formula is pretty much set and has been proven over and over again in helping people move on from their deepest hurt. I also want to be very clear when I say that the journey of forgiveness is not easy, but if you give it your all and persevere you can accomplish great things.

I am not perfect, and every day is a struggle for me as new challenges arise to test my patience and love. However, I chose to push through and not be held captive to the hurt, and indiscretions that others put me through (especially from those people who are the closest to me). In the words of Tom Hanks from the movie “Forest Gump”— “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gonna get”.   I hold this phrase to be spot on as it pertains to people’s actions and being able to forgive.   Expect those great disappointments that will eventually come your way (remember we are all flawed), but also have your survival pack in tow to cushion the impact.  

Don’t be held captive to the pain inflicted by others, but instead be captivated and encouraged to push through even the most difficult situations.   TRUE forgiveness is TRUE freedom!   So…get on that freedom train today, and ride to that final destination of inner peace. Come on, you can do it!

~Contessa Thomas

 

References

Psychology Today (2017). “Forgiveness: 4 Helpful Strategies To Do It Better”. Retrieved on May 9, 2017 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/do-the-right-thing/201403/forgiveness-4-helpful-strategies-do-it-better

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Inspiration and Motivation

SEX Talk 101

May 7, 2017

Let’s talk about sex baby let’s talk about you and me …”

You remember that song? That song sold a great number of records and was very popular back in the 90s.

The message of the song portrays the essence of how our society views sex today. Sex has been perverted and has become a vessel of selfishness, immorality, and degradation. Some use it for power, pleasure, and idolization, but the question is… where did sex originate? 

I am interested to see what society’s thoughts were on the origin of sex so I typed the question into the world renowned internet search engine “GOOGLE” to find out. 

“Scientists announced this week that they have traced the origins of sex to an ancient fish. Turns out that a fish called the Microbrachius dicki, or M. Dicki, pioneered intercourse (kind of) as we know it 385 million years ago in what is now Scotland, according to a report published in Nature on Oct. 19 2014″

I chuckled at this as I was taught something different growing up. I learned that sex originated in the Garden of Eden when God made man and woman. He told man and woman, Adam and Eve that they were to be fruitful and multiply. (The book of Genesis)

This origin sounds a little better right?  (Smile)

We know that Adam and Eve were the first husband and wife and God created them for each other. She was his and he was hers. 

Sex was intended to unite a man and a woman… two souls becoming one.  

Looking at our current society, the essence of sex has lost its value. 
Everyone is “doing it” with the intentions of seeking pleasure and acceptance.  

As a mother of 4 young children, I know that sooner or later they will be exposed to the ratchet, polluted version of sex and therefore I need to be the one who breaks this down for them.  

If I don’t… someone else will…
If you don’t someone else will…. 

I remember when I was growing up, my parents did not talk to me about sex.  It was as if that thing never existed. I recalled feeling lost during conversations during my latter elementary school years because I had no idea what these girls were talking about.  

One day I was in the bathroom talking to some of my school friends.  I remember being 12 years old in the 6th grade. They were using the term period.  So, I gleefully interjected (thinking I knew what they were discussing) “Oooh… The period is not over!  The bell didn’t ring yet.” Immediately these girls busted out laughing hysterically at my comment and with that they left me in the bathroom.  
They didn’t even break it down for me!(lolol)

It’s all good. 

So that evening I went home and told my mom and step dad what happened that day.  They listened but didn’t say anything more.  The next day after school they handed me a book that taught me about periods and that same book introduced me to sex. 

I definitely do NOT want my kids to have an experience like that. 

So, I bet you’re wondering…”How did you tell your children about sex?”

Well… before I tell you about it, let me say that we did not use the watered down version of the birds and the bees.  We wanted to keep it real, ensuring that our children know the facts from us before they learn the “facts” from somewhere else. 

My husband and I sat down with our eldest son, who is 9  years old and we broke it down like this:

Sex Talk 101 (BASED ON MY BELIEFS) 

Human Anatomy:
We explained to our son that males and females have different private parts.  Men have a penis and women have a vagina. Both the penis and vagina are used so we can use the bathroom to pee pee (urinate). The penis and vagina also have another purpose.  They are used for sexual intercourse.  (What is sexual intercourse?) Sexual intercourse also known as sex is when the penis goes inside the vagina. 

Purpose of sex: We taught our son that God created sex so a husband and wife can enjoy each other in a pleasurable way. We also told him that sex is how children are created.  We explained that women have eggs and men have sperm, and that when they both meet life is formed. 

Why did God create sex?:  God created sex for a husband and a wife to enjoy each other as well as for procreation…to be fruitful and to multiply.

When is sex permitted?: We explained that God intended sex to be between a husband  (male) and a wife (female). The two should be married. We explained that sometimes it happens when the man and woman are not married, but God’s way (as per our family belief)  is only when you are married. 

Our son took everything in that we said and with that came a lot of questions (Lol). Patiently we talked with him and answered him.  

For our younger girls/and son…we know that they are a bit too young to handle what we told our eldest son so we taught them about protecting their bodies, and to love and care for themselves.

I believe that this is something important for every parent to do with their children. 

Things you should teach your children, or things your children should know: 

1. Their bodies belong to them.
2. No one is allowed to touch their bodies (private parts) – Not even family members.
3. Show your children love and attention.
4. Little girls need their daddy’s. This relationship plays a role in a girl’s sexual/love relationships.
5. Be real with your kids. Tell them the truth about things.  
6. Connect with them so that they can connect with you. 
7. Regardless of their failures and disappointments- LOVE THEM

This is a subject usually avoided by most, but it is one that needs to be openly discussed. Giving our children more knowledge will give them more power to love and respect themselves.

 

~Candace Mezetin

 

 

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Inspiration and Motivation

Beating the Odds

May 4, 2017

Beating the odds…a term that can be used in a rather cliché form at times—thus contributing to a more watered down effect when it is mentioned. Last summer, one morning while I was preparing for worship, I was searching for a meditation song on YouTube, I happened to stumble on a P&G coupon Olympic Ad featuring one of the most talented gymnast in the sport ever—Simone Biles. In the opening seconds of the video, the advertisement team intelligently featured Simone’s mother/grandmother in an interview about her talented daughter.   As many individuals today, Simone was born in an unfortunate situation—to a mother who had a drug addiction and was rather unfit to care for her and her younger sister. Fortunately, her grandparents stepped in and adopted them both and the rest became history.

Let’s review some important details/lessons highlighting Simone’s life:

  1. She had no control over what family she was born into, but she did not let that stunt her ability to grow and become great.
  2. The support of her family and/or friends played an essential role in her “Beating the Odds”.
  3. We are our own biggest enemy, and the cause of many of our OWN failures. However, Simone was aware of that from a very young age, and she refused to let herself get in the way of her success.
  4. We are to think big, and believe that all things are possible as long as we remain faithful and work hard at whatever it may be that poses as a challenge. Again, just look at Simone. A life that many would have automatically written off to be ‘doomed’ actually yielded an insurmountable level of achievement, through perseverance and unwavering belief.

Simone’s life reminded me of my “circumstances” in life. Yes, I was born into a very dysfunctional family, where abuse was ever so present. Despite all, and by the grace of God, I was able to graduate from college and obtain the opportunity to work at some very amazing places.   I also met my wonderful husband and here we are today with two beautiful children and another one on the way.

What is the main point I am trying to get across here, hmmm…NEVER GIVE UP! No matter how much those odds may seem to be against you.   Over the last few weeks, I had the great opportunity to really hang out with my younger sister who relocated to Maryland shortly after I did.   From our constant interactions, and the many trials she is currently facing (all coming at her non-stop), I realized that her mindset was riddled with negativity and despair (results of our broken home).   I truly thank God that I was able to be there for her and help her see that despite our upbringing and her personal unwise decisions that she has made in her life, that SHE CAN prevail and come out on top! Our hardships and pain does not have to be the final scene to our life’s screenplay.

We have to stand strong and at same time be somewhat flexible.   For example, look at palm trees.   They are very tall and strong, however one key characteristic that they have is flexibility.   Why??? Most palm trees are located in tropical regions where very bad storms (with high winds and rain) usually occur.   You see that palm tree has a trait that helps it to survive even in the harshest weather conditions.   They are able to bend and twist when those strong winds come with the intention to knock them over.  

The same with us, we need to learn to be flexible, in order for us to be able to bend and twist with the storms of life.  If we neglect this very important step, then the odds of us breaking are much greater. Yes, we may not always feel up to it, or think we can do it. Nonetheless, the first step is again to believe in yourself and know that it is achievable— that is the victory over whatever you may be facing.  

Through Simone Biles’ story we learn that sometimes we have no control over what life brings our way.   However, we do have control over how we react to those challenges, and whether or not we will be a causality of those circumstances or a great overcomer.  

What do you choose to be this day? Be a winner, as you work towards “Beating The Odds”.

~Contessa Thomas

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