Be Brave. Be Free.

So often, we fail to reach our full potential because we hold things back locking our goals and desires deep within.  We often think that we have nothing to offer, or that no one will receive our gifts and talents, etc.  In some cases, we are arrested in a stagnant state because of something that happened in our past or because of something that someone has said to us that affected our self-esteem.

The fact of the matter is that words are very powerful.  Each time someone says something to us those words are written on the tablet of our hearts.  Whether the words are positive or negative they will have an impact.  They will either empower us, or they will cripple us.  Words are containers and they produce their meaning in our lives.  I know… it sounds deep, but it is a reality.  Have you ever seen someone that expects negative things to happen, or they are always speaking negative words?  Then you look at their life and nothing is going well for them? If we were to trace their past, I’m sure that there would be a trail of negative things that had been spoken into that person’s life.   On the other hand when you see people that are happy and looking to produce positive results…that person has been in a space where positive words have been spoken around them.  In either case, the person has chosen to believe the words that have been spoken around them and to them.

There are other areas that also hold us back if we let them, and one is bad experiences and circumstances that have happened to us.  The keywords that I want you to focus on are “have happened”- which are past tense.  The things that have happened to us DO NOT determine our future.  They are not who we are, and they don’t define us.   In fact, they are designed to fuel our purpose if we allow them to. However, it all depends on what you choose and what you want to be your outcome.  If anyone can speak to this, I can!  I have had my share of things that “have happened” to me from loss, hardships, and attacks from others.  I also grew up with people in my extended family circle that were very negative, and occasionally spoke negative things to me, and about my future.  However, although my parents, on the other hand, spoke positively, but the reality still remained that the negative words had been spoken and were already imprinted on my heart.  Because I was quiet and very reserved some saw that as a weakness and would always mock me in that area.  Sadly, many did it both in my extended family and at school.  As I grew older those negative words remained as a silent voice that would try to rise up every time I would work on achieving positive things in my life.  If honest… they still do!  However, I’ve learned how to take authority over them and have chosen to walk in my purpose because negative words, past circumstances, and situations don’t define me. Why?  Because I know who I am!  It took years for me to learn that.  However, there came a point when I decided that I was no longer going to allow things and negative words control me.  So, I learned to master filtering out the negative where it concerned words, circumstances, obstacles, and negative or bad actions from people.

There are times when situations and circumstances can be so traumatizing that it can stop someone in their tracks.  I totally understand that, but it is in those times is where we must muster up the strength to find our worth and purpose.  In those times is where we turn the bad into good, by using it towards our purpose, and to help others find their purpose.  Also, in those times we must stay true to who we are, and make a decision that our future holds beauty and blessings ahead.  There are also times when we endure people hurt, and sometimes that can leave deep wounds and scars on our hearts and emotions.  People hurt can actually cripple us emotionally because it is a matter of trust being broken or a situation that our minds can’t conceive why someone would do what they did to us.  However, in those times is where we learn to discern.  We learn not to put all of our trust in people and promises.  We learn who we are, and we learn that people come into our lives in seasons and that’s OK.  Some come for a lifetime, some for a period of time, and some for a moment.  In each instance, there is something that we are to learn from them, and in some cases, we must give to them as well.  Lastly, and most importantly we learn to set healthy boundaries during these times.

There are many things that can hold us back if we choose to allow them to do so.  However, when we realize that we are in control of how we master situations, then we can stand strong, be brave and then we can be free.  What negative words have been spoken to you?  What circumstances or situations “have happened” that is robbing you from moving closer to your full potential?  What people hurt are you holding on to that is preventing you from being true to yourself?  I encourage you to release the negative words and take authority over them by speaking positive words over your own life.  I encourage you to move past the circumstances and situations that “have happened” and muster up the strength to start dreaming big for your future.  I encourage you to let go of the people hurt and embrace your inner discernment and set healthy boundaries.  Lastly, I encourage you to Be Brave and Be Free!  Grab hold to the beauty and purpose of what you were created for.  Always remember that you were beautifully and wonderfully made, so embrace it and walk in it with joy and happiness!

This article was written by Linda Barbour © copyright 2017 All rights reserved.

Self Love is a Beautiful Thing!

As women, we are often so busy taking care of everyone and everything around us, that the last person we tend to care for is ourselves.  We love and take care of our children, our husbands, our parents, our extended family, our friends, our coworkers, and social acquaintances.  However, there is something that is very crucial to our health and well-being and that is “self-love and self-care”.  When was the last time that you told yourself that you loved the person that you are?  When was the last time that you did something just for yourself? Self-love and care should be something that takes a front seat in every woman’s life.

I personally learned about self-love many years ago when I was first out of college and trying to find myself and beginning my life journey as an adult.  At the time I was going through a difficult time walking away from an abusive relationship while at the same time I was busy trying to take care of the people around me, and assisting with the care of a grandmother that was dying of Pancreatic Cancer. I was trying to make sure that they felt supported and loved. I was busy making sure that the people I loved weren’t falling apart, but I didn’t notice that I was losing myself in the process.  During that time, a close friend of mine told me to love myself and to take care of myself. Take care of myself? Love myself? Aren’t I already doing those things? I’m eating, I’m sleeping and I’m working! I thought I was, but the reality was that I didn’t even know how. I had grown up in a world that was built on pleasing others and supporting others at all cost.  I spent my life giving every ounce of love in my heart to the people around me without saving any piece for myself.  In fact, it was and still is the core of who I am, a “selfless” person to put others first.  But, I soon realized that I wasn’t the only one that dealt with a lack of self-love.

I realized that women, in general, put others first… that’s our God-given internal nature.  As I started looking around at my close friends, I realized that none of us knew how to love ourselves properly. We practiced what we thought was self-love and taking care of ourselves.  You know things like getting your hair done; having pedicures and manicures, etc., but in practice, none of us really knew that pampering isn’t the same as “self-love”. I think the saddest part was that none of us even knew where to start implanting self-love in our personal space.    None of us really knew how to self-love, so we faked it the best we could.   Think about it… We faked loving ourselves –  Isn’t that just the craziest thing?  We learned to mask it through shopping, pampering, going out, and having girl trips.  Sadly, we were so busy seeking that love in others, and things that we stopped looking for it within ourselves, and that was our biggest mistake.

The real truth is that I’ve always felt a strong need to please others, to make others happy, even if it meant sacrificing my own happiness, mental health, and spiritual well-being. Also, I think a lot of my friends felt the same way. The fact is that we were all strong and resilient women, but yet when it came to loving ourselves, we fell short.  As I’m maturing and growing in life I see the same pattern still exists in women today.  We live in a generation full of women who don’t know how to love themselves properly. As women, we are beautiful, clever and capable, but somehow many of us have fallen to the deception and lies that society has ingrained so deeply into our minds that we don’t even realize it’s there. We are all worthy of love. But, that love doesn’t need to come from others and our worth is not defined by the love we receive or don’t receive from another human being, through things and/or accomplishments. We must unlearn the stigma of society and look within ourselves to find the love we truly desire. Think how it would be if we could have a do over if we could start from the beginning before our minds were filled with the need to please and the need to sacrifice. Good news… we can have a FRESH start and we can start today!  Once we focus on self-love and are happy on our own, then we learn how to love ourselves without faking it, the rest of it won’t seem so difficult anymore.

Lastly, I want to encourage you to focus self-love in the following areas:  Body, Mind, and Self-Trust.

Body 

As women, Our Body is our temple.  It encompasses who you are and it should be honored by self-care and self-love.  Yes, unfortunately, it will occasionally have a few aches and pains, and it will even try to tell you yes when the mind tells you no. But in the end loving yourself is to practice loving your body despite how you feel physically or emotionally.

1. Decided to be beautiful, confident, and remain grounded everywhere you go and in every situation. Embrace your uniqueness and your genes. Straighten your spine, open your chest, and stand tall in your skin. Focus on the entire core of your being.  Purpose yourself to eat whole and healthy foods and eat them slowly. Drink plenty of water.

2. Do this for yourself. Only move in the direction that feels right to you. Choose to pursue interests that inspire, and fulfill YOU. Fall in love with you!  Find a passion, hobby, place, or thing, or all the above on your own terms, at your own will, and at your own pace. Take care of yourself first, THEN and only then open your heart to the world.

3. Exercise. Do it because it doesn’t just make you look good, but it will also make you feel good. Your body works for you all day long, it sorts thoughts while you’re sleeping and beating blood through you while you wake. Decide to give back to your body – It gives to you twenty-four hours a day all year round every single year of your life.

Mind

Be kind to your Mind. Your mind deserves a life free of worry. When your mind is clear then you can be free to be who you were created to be.
1. Laugh at the little things. Don’t take life too seriously… will things happen to try to distract you from being in your happy place?  ABSOLUTELY!  However, you have the power to steady yourself through your thoughts. 

2. Let go or be dragged. Things from your past and focusing on the “what if’s” of your future will forever drag you away from the now. Stay in the present! Love, Peace, and Joy are the goal.  Be sure to get enough sleep, and meditation is a great practice to clear your head of those little pesky thoughts that trickle in from elsewhere that try to get you off course.

3. Get to know yourself and be true to yourself. Ask yourself questions, and look up, down, and around for the answers to reveal themselves. Study the person you are, and understand the way you move is built in your character and never let anyone alter that.

Trust Yourself

One of the most important steps in loving yourself and self-love starts when you identify your inner light and choose to let it shine. You have inner gifts, talents, and ideas that are unique only to you, and we all are guilty from time to time of letting out light dim because of the lack of trust that we possess.
1. Bring up your creative nature! Create all day long every day, any time. Sew, paint, write, paint, draw, design, illustrate, brainstorm, build, blog, etc. The world is your oyster and it is up to you to sculpt that shining and shimmering pearl. Go on… Get crafty and have fun.  Take your big box of packed emotions off the shelf and let them loose on your blank canvas.

2. Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance in your office, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, or out on the town with your best friends.  Stop living in fear of judgment, no one knows what you’re really about (truth is they don’t even know what they’re really about). Find your rhythm and flow in it

3. Sing a Tune! Sing in the shower, in the car, to your kids or to your pets if you must.  But SING and do it from your soul and say each word as if the sound was laced with meaning. Make up a song or sing a hit song; it doesn’t matter as long as you are singing. Speak up! Don’t allow others to suppress your inner wisdom and knowledge. Cultivate sharing your opinions openly while accepting fully the perspectives of others.
Purpose to connect with self love through Body, Mind, and via Self Trust to fully discover your full potential. There is no stopping you!  You are beautiful!  You are powerful! You are loved!

Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams will Follow

I want you to FLOURISH in 2017!  How exciting it is to face a new year that is filled with unlimited possibilities.  I know that we can accomplish anything that we set our minds to.  It’s a fact, that when one believes in themselves, sets goals, visualizes them, dreams big, remains determined and remains focused, things begin to move.  Then when you add the mindset of refusing to compromise on what they have set their minds to receive, the results are ALWAYS favorable.  I know this to be true because it’s the way I have lived my life and have had favorable results over the past thirty years.  Oftentimes, where we miss it is that we believe in the dream more than we believe in ourselves.  And… that’s what causes many people not to realize their dreams and goals.   It is the power of the belief in ourselves that opens the door for the dreams to manifest in our lives.

As women, we have several things in common and we strive to improve ourselves in many areas of our lives.  Many times it is evident in our impeccable time management skills that we possess.  I think this is an internal gift that we all have which allow us to multitask: let’s face it we master getting up in the morning, making lunch, fixing breakfast, getting the kiddos ready for school (sometimes driving them there), going to the gym, doing a load of laundry, getting ourselves ready for work, sometimes doing a quick clean of the house… and then actually getting ourselves to work.  Whew!  I’m tired just thinking about it.

Perhaps we decide there’s an area that we want to improve in our personal lives.  Let’s say it is the area of health we want to improve. We as ladies are always interested in learning more about the latest healthy fad that promises to help us shed those extra pounds, and that craze that will keep us healthy and full of energy – in only 4 weeks or less!  Or maybe it is a goal to become more organized so that we can fit everything into our lives with a little more ease.

Wouldn’t you agree that with what we have going on in our day-to-day lives, it can all become quite a challenge and an overwhelming task to get everything done?  Let’s face it by the time evening rolls around, we can end up doing a lot of well-intentioned planning and then run out of time to actually do all the things we wanted to do that were on our “to do” lists. Sound familiar…?  Thus, leaving us thinking about our dreams a little less often, yet still hoping and wishing that one day they will happen; while in the process we are losing our way, our drive, and our belief in ourselves that if what we desire could really become a reality. This is a reality for many women.  We have so much to do, so many people to care for, that we lose our focus, and our dreams and goals get put on hold.  Sadly, many never muster up enough energy and willpower to trust that they really can become a reality in our lives.  This becomes a roller coaster of emotions leaving us feeling like we are no longer worthy to have our personal desires and dreams.

Well, it all stops here… No more spinning wheels, it’s time to FLOURISH!  Over the next 4 weeks, I have a plan that will help you move from Flustering and begin Flourishing!

Each week let’s make a few small changes in our daily routine so that we can start flourishing. If you aspire to ‘flourish’, then these simple changes will help build something that will bring a little more ease to life, and make it a bit more enjoyable.


Week One:  Gratitude – Healthy Attitude 

Practicing daily gratitude cultivates a healthy attitude.  Start daily with a moment of gratitude and end your evenings with a moment of gratitude.  Get a writing journal and use it daily to log the areas in which you are grateful.  Be mindful not to duplicate the same entries each day.  There are many things to be thankful for, from life itself to having the choice to select from multiple purses that best suit your outfit.  Expressing and living in a place of gratitude, makes room for more abundance and amazing things to come into our lives.  Although this exercise is for one week to help launch you into FLOURISHING for 2017, I encourage you to make it a daily part of your life.  It’s amazing the power that this daily action will have in your life.  What’s more amazing, is when there are days when you may not feel your best, you can revisit your previous journal entries to uplift your mental and spiritual mood.

Week Two: De-Clutter

Set aside just 10 minutes a day to cleaning out clutter. This includes your living space, your vehicle; social media account connections, unused contacts in your phone, and yes….even negative relationships.   When you clear your “whole space” of clutter and things that are not bringing value and positive energy into your life, you will also keep your emotional space clear.  It is also a good idea to schedule 15-20 minutes to deal with all household paperwork, too. Things like that mail pile, and that “catch-all drawer” (we all have those!).  Make sure you take this seriously: you will need to mark the time on your calendar and stick to it. Believe it or not, the emotional freedom that will come from these little changes can make to your emotional well-being is surprising!

Week Three: Self Awareness

Take this week to hone in on Self Awareness. Often times as women we put everyone else first.  Although that is our nature, it’s not exactly the best practice if we want to live long healthy lives, and fully be there for our loved ones. This is where we need to change things up a bit; and make a serious effort to do some things just for ourselves.  Make a list of things that you have wanted to do and haven’t done because of putting everything else first.   Here’s the thing… they don’t have to be done in one week, so pace them out over the next 12 months and use that as your monthly “me indulgence”.    Also, take an assessment of things that you have been tolerating that you know you shouldn’t be.  Make a list and decide that you will eliminate these areas of tolerance.  Choose to stand in your true self, if there are areas where you should be saying “no” and you have been saying “yes”, and vice versa decide to make those changes in order to have a peaceful and fulfilling 2017 without regrets. Pamper yourself and be good to you!

Week Four:  Action Plan

Change requires action and dedication to a plan.  Therefore, in order to FLOURISH to another level in 2017 making a few changes will be required.  In addition, there must be a targeted goal in which to achieve.  Set some short term goals to kick off the new upcoming month.  Start with a seven-day goal, a two-week goal, and a one-month goal.  Include small steps that can jump start you in your personal business goals, as well as your personal health and wellness goals.  It may be something as simple as incorporating more water in your diet, creating a contact list, making a daily to-do list, or doing check up calls with your clients.  Regardless of the short-term goals, make sure that there is a solid action plan and that you follow through. Follow through is key and is what will make everything start to flow and fall into place.

All of the above steps will set the pace and a plan of action to FLOURISH in 2017.   Don’t get discouraged; don’t become impatient with yourself if you miss a step or two.  All that is important is that you work at it with good intentions; any movement in the right direction is progression. The reality is that where most people get frustrated is that they start off with good intentions and fail to follow through until the end without quitting. Therefore, they miss seeing the results of their intended goals fulfilled.  As women, we have a load of things on our plate, but remember you can do anything that you set your mind to do.  You have been equipped with internal super powers that when tapped into can produce a FLOURISHING life in our homes, our families, our personal spaces, as well as in our businesses and our communities.  Here’s to a wonderful and flourishing year filled with unlimited possibilities!

Peace Love Joy

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Holidays are about enjoying those special moments with family, friends, and loved ones.  Holidays are about enjoying the festivities of gatherings and events that embrace our personal, professional and spiritual communities.  However, because of all of the pressures of shopping, planning, and travel, etc., it often brings forth feelings on the negative side, that you have little or no control over what’s happening around you. Sometimes, we get so caught up in holiday rituals that that overwhelm is a given.  Let’s face it… sometimes we find ourselves surrounded by squabbling family members and old tensions, we can become over budget on our shopping lists, as well as feeling stress because we’ve over committed ourselves.  All of which add a stress factor on top of the normal hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

But, there is GOOD NEWS!  There is a way to avoid the “holiday stress factor”, by centering yourself and setting expectations for what you want your holiday season to be. Repeat this out loud:  “I want peace. I want love. I want joy.”  That’s right!  In order to maintain a level of sanity, we must be intentional.  Realistically, if you are like me you will have to repeat these things out loud to yourself throughout the holiday season.  It may sound extreme – But, it works!

The only person that can set your level of peace, love, and joy during the Holiday Season is you.  You can set your personal compass on how you will flow, which will also allow you to bring peace, love, and joy to those around you.

Here are a few ways to bring Peace, Love, and Joy during the Holidays.

  •  Be easy on yourself.  Disappointment will be inevitable if you expect everything to go perfectly during the holiday season. Be mindful that people are weighed down by demands they make on themselves.  So make an effort to consciously search for ways to be as easy on yourself as possible. Take time out for a few quiet private moments to relax and meditate, this is a sure way to lighten the stress level.
  •  Avoid toxicity. Do not engage in toxic opportunities that arise from others such as bad emotions, tension, stress, and or conflict.  If you find yourself getting sucked in, do your best to walk away and remove yourself from the situation. 
  • Practice gratitude and appreciation towards others.  When interacting with your family, friends and loved ones show them how much you appreciate them.  Make a conscious decision to be in the present moment.  Allow them to feel your positive vibes and good will.  Also show empathy and compassion for those around you.  Empathy isn’t always “feeling sorry” for someone, it can also be displayed in the form noticing how happy someone is, and giving positive compliments, etc.
  • Set some boundaries.  It’s inevitable, someone may attempt to revive old issues or possibly find ways to drop their inhibitions, when this happens things may be said and done that could lead to regret. It’s going to happen, someone will ignore boundaries. However, it is up to you to maintain your boundaries, it is OK to politely point out when you are uncomfortable. If the other person can’t pick up on a hint, there’s no need to continue to repeat your objection, take the high road and gracefully walk away.
  • Enjoy, the season!  There is so much beauty to be enjoyed during this time of year.  Decide to embrace every magical moment with family, friends, and loved ones. Life is short, and tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone.  Make every dinner party a super special one, receive every personal encounter as a gift, and realize the fact that you are surrounded by others means that you are blessed with the gift of love and relationship.

These few areas can give you a personal agenda for the holidays.  You can personalize them to fit your life with a little creativity.  Remember, you have the ability to maintain peace, love, and joy during the holiday season… it’s just a matter of setting your expectation and deciding to do so.

Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas, Joyful Holidays, and Happy New Year!

Joyful Gratitude

Woman Jumping at Sunset with Autumn Leaves

Joyful Gratitude  

by Linda D. Barbour ©

Joy is the greatest form of gratitude, and the fullness of life is unlocked through the amazing gift of thanksgiving and appreciation.  Learning to cultivate living in a place of joyful gratitude brings endless possibilities to us on a continual basis.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  Gratitude can change denial into acceptance, it can transform chaos to order, and reverse a state of confusion into a place of clarity. Gratitude can also do amazing things like turning a dream into a reality.

Oftentimes, we can get so caught up with the cares of life that we get preoccupied with chasing after the many things that we want.  We can become so busy spending our time looking for the things that we desire that are somewhere out there, that we actually forget to enjoy the present precious moments that are right in front of us, resulting in forgetting to be happy. Imagine that… forgetting to be Happy!  Have you ever heard people say things like… I will be happy when I will get the job paying a six figure income, or life will be better when I get married, get a new car, when I will do this and that?  Sadly, when those things do happen and things manifest that are wanted, they forget to rest in a place of gratitude; and go on to planning to get the next thing and the next thing all while forgetting to enjoy the things they achieved so far, and forget to appreciate the things they had longed for.  If you think about it, this is a bit sad.  Why? Because life then becomes more focused on obtaining things to the fullest; rather than living life to the fullest and being happy in the process. By doing so people also forget to enjoy what they already have, they forget to be happy, and they forget to stop and be grateful.  They don’t realize that gratitude is the catalyst for receiving more. Don’t let that be you.

Realize that now, in this very moment you have more than enough, and you are more than enough. It’s okay to have dreams, it is also okay to aspire to grow, to learn, to evolve and to achieve big things in life. But, it’s also very important to celebrate yourself, to celebrate your accomplishments, to celebrate the present moment, to celebrate your life, to celebrate the beauty that surrounds you, and to celebrate your loved ones, as well as live in a place of joy. With gratitude comes happiness and with happiness comes more gratitude, and this creates a mindset that I call “Joyful Gratitude”.

Gratitude is an immensely powerful force.  It’s a force that we can use to expand our happiness, create loving relationships, realize our dreams, and even improve our health.  Actually, scientific studies have shown that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional well-being and physical health than those who don’t. It is also proven that when cultivating a lifestyle of gratitude people feel better about their lives as a whole, experience greater levels of joy and happiness, they get sick less often and are more optimistic about the future.  In addition, they have more energy, exercise more, have more focus, and more enthusiasm.  Gratitude also awakens a greater progress towards achieving personal goals, it also fosters stronger family ties, less stress, better sleep patterns, as well as opens an awareness to offer emotional support and the desire to help others.

If you feel that you would like to experience more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial action to begin to cultivate in your daily life. Gratitude is a fullness of heart that moves us from a level of limitation and fear to love and greater expansion in our lives.

When we appreciate something, our selfish ego moves out-of-the-way and we are then able to connect with our heart and begin to see greatness in the things all around us. Gratitude shifts our attention into the here and now, which is the only place where miracles can unfold, and we can appreciate the beauty for what we currently have. The deeper our appreciation for what we have in our present state, the more we see with our heart and the more our life flows in harmony with the purpose of our lives.  Gratitude can actually turn not enough into more than enough, it attracts more of what you appreciate, and broadens your territory to realize those unlocked desires within.

Here are a few of ways that one can cultivate joyful gratitude.

  1. Keep a Gratitude Box with Personal Notes of Gratitude

Get a small box and a small notepad.  Every day write down your areas of gratitude for that day, or as you think of them throughout the day, write them down and fold them to keep in your gratitude box.  This not only keeps you in a place of awareness but will also act as a reminder during the times when you forget what you are grateful for.  How?  You simply open the box and start reading the tiny notes of gratitude, and you will quickly shift back to a place of joyful gratitude.

  1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Every morning and every evening take a few minutes to log daily areas of gratitude.

  1. Who or what inspired me today?
  2. What brought me happiness today?
  3. What brought me comfort and deep peace today?

As you write in your journal, challenge yourself by not repeating items from the previous days— this will make you look more deeply at all the little things that enhance your life and give you joy … waking in a warm bed, your favorite song, a phone call from a friend, the ability to touch, see, or hear, electricity,the beating of your heart, a hug, and so on.

You can either write in your journal just before bed, early in the morning when you rise or just before your daily meditation. The actual time of day isn’t important; what is most important is that you consistently take a few moments daily to consciously focus your mind on your blessings. Commit to keeping a journal for a full month. What we put our focus and attention on expands in our life. Also, by offering gratitude for all the goodness that we experience, we’re also inviting more abundance to flow into our lives.

  1. Take a Gratitude Walk

This specific action helps me tremendously when I’m not feeling one hundred percent or off-center.  Gratitude walks are a particularly useful practice when you’re feeling down or have a  stress and worry. Set aside 30 minutes (or longer if you can) and walk alone in your neighborhood, through a park, around your office, or somewhere in nature.

As you walk, take your time and consider the many things for which you are grateful; such as nurturing relationships, material comforts, a functioning body that allows you to experience the world, a mind that is functioning, and your essential spiritual nature. As you are walking take the time to breathe, pause, and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible.

Pay attention to your all of your senses—everything that you’re seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and see how many things you can find to feel grateful for as you are walking. This is a powerful way to shift your mood and open to the flow of abundance that always surrounds you.

  1. Write a Thank You Letter

When I do this, it not only blesses my life but also that of others.  Sit down and make a list of at least four people who currently have, or have had a profound impact on your life. Choose one and write a thank you letter each week for a month expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person.

While we may often say “thank you” to people verbally, there is something about a written word that is even more powerful because someone has taken the time to write their appreciation.  A letter can also be re-read and treasured , creating much joy and love that will continue to ripple throughout someone’s life, ultimately causing a lasting impact, and creating joyful gratitude in their life as well.

Learning to live in a place of “Joyful Gratitude”on a continual basis opens us up to receive unlimited peace, joy, and abundance in our lives.  It is a sure way to have a happier and more fulfilled life.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

You were Created to Win!

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You were Created to Win

by Linda D. Barbour ©

Have you ever heard sayings like “If the door doesn’t open, it’s not your door” Or, “If one door shuts, another will open”?  The truth is, people used to tell me these things all of the time whenever I was facing what looked like a disappointing moment.  So much so, that these statements became a cliché to me.

I was reading something a little while back about “doors of opportunity”, and it really caught my eye.  I realized when reading the book that this was much more than mere clichés.  When I look back at my life, every single time a door closed, another door really did open, and when it did there was another opportunity for me to grow.  I also realized that at times I actually kept trying to walk through the doors that had been closed, or doors that weren’t meant for me and those were the times when I struggled the most.

I have had many doors in my life open and many shut right in my face.  When I was in my twenties, I had a vision of which I was certain was my destiny.  It started out great, then BAM!  Life Happened – and the door shut.  Then a new door opened, and I embraced it without a clue of what the future held in store for me. What if I told you another door shut?  It did, however, another door of opportunity opened up. Fast forward a few years as I was rocking my corporate career traveling the world making a generous six-figure salary, and out of nowhere I was downsized (door closed).  At the time, I felt as though my life had crumbled right under my feet.  However, what I didn’t know at the time was that a new door was being opened for me.  So, picking up my pride as I brushed myself off and straightened my crown, I walked through a newly opened door of opportunity.  Much to my surprise, it turned out to bring another great level of success for a while.  But, then things started to feel a bit uncomfortable, I was finding myself in a place where I wasn’t happy, and surrounded by people that challenged me to go against my values, so guess what?  That time, I chose to close the door myself in order to stay true to my character and core values; as well as maintain my sanity and peace.  It was a hard decision, but I “asked” for a new door of opportunity to open and I “believed” that it would happen. I desired an opportunity that would allow me to walk in purpose, one that would fulfill my desires, and most importantly one that would allow the lives of others to be touched.  I realized that I had learned a lot from my past experiences and that I had the ability to change my course if I wanted.  However, I had to fight to protect my vision, and it took a sacrifice of time, much energy, major trust and much self-belief that I could do it.  But, I also understood that it was a door that I must walk through to reach my fulfilled purpose.

You may be thinking that I make it sound easy, trust me I know differently.  It took overcoming much adversity and withstanding things that were thrown at me.  Was it easy?  No!  I was criticized in many ways for choosing to go against the grain of the corporate mindset because of my past experience and success.  Being your own business owner, especially when you are starting something from the ground up isn’t easy, to begin with, but the added scrutiny from family, friends, and colleagues never helps.  Because what they saw from their perspective and viewpoint of my life was that I tried and failed, tried and failed, and tried and failed some more.  But, this wasn’t the case I was on my “purposed path” for my life and the door that had just opened for me was the door that was purposed for me. I also had a new perspective, and a new level of tenacity like never before.  All of the other doors had been preparing me, teaching me, training me, and cultivating me for my purpose.  I am a firm believer that nothing in life happens by accident, and that everything we endure is for our greater purpose; the good, the bad and the ugly.

You may be reading this and find yourself in a place where you feel that nothing is working.  Maybe you are in a place where you feel stagnant, or that everything you try fails.  I want to pose this question…  What would’ve happened if Walt Disney had given up when they told him that his big eared mouse cartoon idea was crazy, and no one would pay to bring their families to his harebrained fantasy of a theme park?  What if the Walton family would’ve bought into the idea that no one would want to buy groceries from a local department store?  What if Bethany Frankel would’ve stopped after hearing that Skinny Girl drinks were a stupid idea, or when someone knocked down her idea of offering low-calorie cocktails? These individuals all ran into roadblocks but that didn’t stop them. They kept having doors close, and new doors of opportunity open for them.  There are doors of opportunities for each of us.  And… it doesn’t mean that because one door closes in your face, there isn’t going to be another door of opportunity that will open.  What it means is you have to be willing to hear and endure the no’s, be willing to face the challenges, and overcome the ugly stuff that life throws at you and allow all of it to build your faith, grace, and endurance muscles.  It means that you have to roll up your sleeves, put your big girl panties on and make it happen!  Don’t ever give yourself permission to give up, quitting is not an option.  You have to trust and believe that great things will happen even before you step foot across the threshold of the doors of opportunity; and you have to be willing to endure in the midst of the doors that close on you in the process.  Never, ever let an obstacle knock you out of the game.  Trials and tests are a sign that what you are embarking on is leading you to the place of your purpose.  If you get knocked down, learn from it, get up, brush yourself off, straighten your crown, and move forward!

Here’s the real raw reality, there are still doors that I’m fighting to burst through in order to realize my full purpose, and yes doors still close from time to time. But, I’ve learned to cross every threshold with grace, even when under fire.  My crown may get knocked to the side, it may even fall off once in awhile, and sometimes sadly others may try to take it off. But, I refuse to quit.  I challenge you to take the same approach.   I encourage you to do the same.  Whatever your goal, whatever your promise, whatever your purpose, decide today that you won’t give up until it’s yours. Take possession of your dreams and goals, even if you can’t see them just yet.  Straighten your crown, stand tall, and look for doors of opportunity to open for you, no matter what your current situation may appear to be.  Grab your grace and overcome any firestorm that comes your way, and watch what happens.  Mastering grace under fire will ultimately carry you through whatever comes your way… You were created to win!

Shine Baby Shine!

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Shine Baby Shine!

by Linda D. Barbour ©

It’s time to shine!  No more hiding your talents, no more dimming your brilliance, others are waiting to reap the benefits of what you have to offer.  So often it is much easier to just tuck our gifts and talents away and pretend they don’t exist.  But, it’s time to remove the lid from our individual uniqueness, and let our God-given gifts and talents shine.  The thought of shining can be fearful to many people.  Oh my, isn’t that dangerous? Who me? Shine?  Yes, you!  Why not you?  There comes a time when we must realize our ability to excel, and it’s time to crush past the glass ceiling that we set for ourselves.

It’s time to take the lid off  of our uniqueness, and trust in our abilities. We have gifts that are only specific to us that are just waiting to be unwrapped from deep within, and we must allow others to see that uniqueness shine. Have you been hiding your talents?  Is there something deep with that you are gifted with?  Perhaps it may be creativity, humor, a level of compassion for others, a specific skill set, or maybe even an idea that can change the lives of those around you. We were created to shine and in doing so our gifts are to be shared with others, and likewise theirs with us.  Doesn’t this sound exciting?  Let me assure you, I if anyone understand the fear associated with stepping out of a comfort zone, and sharing deeply rooted ideas, and setting forth something in motion that goes against what most are accustomed to.  However, I want to encourage you that once you take the first step, you will gain the momentum and courage to keep on trucking.  Fear can no longer be a factor when it comes to the unique gifts and talents that you possess that will cause you to shine. That’s why you have them burning deep within, they are your compass for your life’s purpose.

Are you hiding what you have to offer?

Does the power behind your gifts and talents frighten you?

Everyone has a “reason” or series of “reasons” that holds them back.  And… even sometimes we have our own individual “buts” in the way.  We all have a “yes, but what if” lurking in the back of our minds. That’s what causes us to want to hide our potential, or that prevents us from sharing what we have openly.  The raw truth is that we all have had experiences that remind us that we better play it safe, “remember last time?”  Now is the time to settle these conflicts within and become the best that we can be, it is time to shine!

I love tackling the little “buts” that hold people back.  Here are a few… do any of them resonate with you?

(1) I know that I have things to offer, but I’m not sure how it will be accepted.

This means that somewhere in your past you stepped out, only to be knocked down by someone’s negative response, or reaction. This doesn’t mean that you weren’t successful.  It only means that the opinions of others determined how you would, or if you would move forward.  In order to shine in your best you possible, you must adopt the mindset that I am going to be true to me, and do what I feel convicted to do by the promptings that I feel deep within.

(2) I don’t want to be in the limelight, I think that it’s self-serving.

When, and where did you learn that standing out was a bad thing?  You were created to FLOURISH, and in standing in who you were created to be, your gifts and talents will be most beneficial to others.  Your standing out will give others hope that they too can accomplish great things. If I’m totally honest it’s self-serving not to shine!  Why?  This way of thinking causes one to become focused inwardly and it prevents others from being impacted in a positive way.

(3) I have been hurt in the past, so I’m afraid to shine, or stand out.

What was it that hurt you from the last experience?  Was it a comment?  Was it rejection? Or, could it have been that someone saw your ability and hurt you through their actions because they were jealous of your uniqueness? Remember hurt people, hurt people.  So, give it another shot, and be your AWESOME Unique Self and shine!

(4) It is too much work to shine I’d rather not be noticed.

Make no mistake about it, standing out and flowing in excellence will take a lot of time and effort.  There may even be people who might not like you for it.  But overcoming the challenges and obstacles will make it all worth it in the end.    Don’t let your gifts and talents go unnoticed, they are yours to display for the world to see.

(5) Shining is arrogant.

Not shining is not being a good steward of your God-given gifts and talents.  Shine, and shine brightly!

(6) I don’t have anything to offer.

Come on, really?  What makes you think that? Did someone tell you this? Where did you get this idea?  Every one of us has unique gifts and talents, and not utilizing them to the best of our ability is not only depriving us of being our best, but it’s also are depriving others around us.

(7) I don’t know who I am, how can I shine?

You can shine simply by using your gifts and talents, as you begin to do so your identity will no longer be an issue.  Operating through your gifts and talents will confirm who you are because they will realize your purpose.  Don’t be afraid to try, or to change.  Living life never tapping fully into our gifts and talents can result in a mediocre life, when there is so much more for us to experience as we begin to shine.

Did any of the “but” reasons above resonate with you? Don’t allow yourself to be held back because of fears or levels of resistance. The important question is:

If you are not shining the way you know you should be, ask yourself… Why am I not already shining and bringing my unique brilliance to others around me?

Sometimes when we feel we may have failed to shine at something from a past experience, there are blocks that appear that prevent us from moving forward. You may be able to identify your block by asking yourself the questions below, rather than measurement of the above statements.  See if any of these questions help you uncover any possible blockage from being your shining unique self:

  • What’s the “downside” to being your most successful self?
  • Can you see yourself shining?
  • Are you just fine the way you are?
  • Do new things make you nervous, or afraid?
  • Has something happened in your past when you tried to step out to let yourself shine?

In closing, what if you really started shining in your community, as a leader, in providing service, or maybe even helping others who need help. Or maybe you start your own business, foundation, or start a movement around a cause that you are passionate about. Just think of how awesome this would be to shine in something that was created from within using your own personal unique gifts and talents.  Allowing yourself to shine ignites your own passion and creativity, others will gain energy from being around you, and by experiencing your excellence.  In doing so, you will shine, attract more abundance, and those associated with you that embrace your uniqueness will begin to shine too.  Shine ON!