Posted in Inspirational

Open the Box and Release the Gift

Fifteen years ago, I sat across from a principal who was interviewing me. He asked, “Where do you see yourself 15 years from now?” I didn’t hesitate at all when I answered that question. I knew the answer because it was the only one I had. I proudly stated, “I see myself right where I am today, in the classroom teaching.” That’s what I saw and that’s what I meant. I couldn’t see anything else for me other than what I saw growing up, so it made sense that that’s the life I would have too, right? WRONG!

Years later, something happened. I wish I could tell you exactly when it happened and what caused it to happen, but all I know is it happened and my life hasn’t been the same since. One day, the walls were removed and I was able to visualize a life for myself outside of the classroom. Maybe it was when I was promoted to Reading Coach. Maybe it was that move that showed me there’s more to my life than being in the classroom. It took me a while, but I soon discovered that the classroom was actually my clutch. It was my comfort zone. I wanted to stay there forever because that’s where I felt safe. The children didn’t judge or critique me. In their eyes, I knew everything. Whatever I gave that day was good enough for them, but once I stepped out I realized there was so much more I needed to learn, to do, to see, and experience, and I was ready for it all.

In 2009, I wrote my first novel, “Dirty Little Secrets.” It’s amazing how you start out doing one thing, and just when you think you finally know what God’s calling you to do, BAM something happens that takes you on a whole new turn. When I was in the classroom I thought, This is it. This is what I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life. Then I published Dirty Little Secrets and I thought, No the classroom wasn’t it. This is it. Writing novels is what I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life. So, at that moment I decided this is what I want to do. I want to spend my time writing and selling novels.

Well, that was all good for a while, but then something happened. God gave me the idea and the name to start this blog. Initially, if you ever feel like scrolling back to the beginning, you’ll see that it started off with general, motivational posts that then turned into a blog series. Secrets From the Bayou was supposed to be a weekly blog series. I thought I was supposed to write and publish these weekly posts and something amazing would happen from them. When I thought something amazing, I was really thinking more like, I’d gain more readers AMAZING, not I’m filming based on my blog AMAZING!

Some days it still doesn’t feel real. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I get seeing others acting out the words I’d once held in my head. Very few people get to see their words come to life and I don’t take that for granted at all. 

I thought this is it! I want to write and produce films for the rest of my life. This is what I’m supposed to do, but then…. something happened again. I found myself coaching more and more people through writing their novels. I LOVED it! I love everything about teaching, motivating, and writing so I guess it made sense for me to love teaching writing. I invested in myself and signed up for a coaching program that would help start my own program. I had the teaching part down pat, Southern University and EBR Parish School System, prepared me for that part, but the business side was different. I needed help. I finally understood that if I wanted it, I had to be willing to sacrifice and pay the price. 

Today, I’m still filming, still writing, and now about to launch my coaching program. Throughout this journey I found myself doing the same thing I did all those years ago as I sat across from that principal. I was placing myself in a box. I thought novels was it, I thought filming was it, but then coaching came along and I realized I deserve to use all my skills. I’m not saying what’s it. I’m opening myself to whatever new adventure God brings my way. 

Where do I see myself in 15 years? Exactly where God needs me to be!

Posted in Inspirational

A Life Worth Living

There’s so much I could say about this lady… my friend… my writing partner… my Sissy! One week ago today, God held out his hand and she took hold and allowed Him to lead her back home. A place where she no longer has to suffer. She no longer has to worry about doctor visits or bad reports. She is free to live with her Master. The God who created her and the God she spent her life serving. If you know nothing else about Tanishia Pearson-Jones, you know that she was a faithful believer and there was nothing anyone could say that would cause her to doubt God’s love for her. When the pain increased, so did her faith.

I spoke to her the day after she’d taken the picture above. She said, “Sissy, I got my report and it doesn’t look good.” Before I could respond she continued. “The tumors are back and it’s inoperable. I was having a rough day, but I decided to go ahead with my photo shoot. My body was full of cancer, but I didn’t want to show it. I wanted people to see the God in me and the God in me don’t look like cancer.”

We hear people say all the time, “I’m so glad I don’t look like what I’ve BEEN through,” but it’s a lot different to say “I’m so glad I don’t look like what I’m GOING through.” The picture above is a true example of a child of God, who was deteremined not to look like the diagnosis she’d just received. She looked beautiful, flawless, peaceful, joyful… everything a child a God should look like. Tanishia was handed a death sentence. We all know that inoperable means there’s nothing more we can do to help you. How can someone who knows that death is a great possibility sooner than later, still get up, get dressed, pose in front of a camera and smile like nothing’s wrong? I know the answer to that million dollar question…GOD. 

You’d have to know God the way Tanishia knew God to be able to do that. The walk she walked, the trials she endured, the pain she suffered, wasn’t for the weak or the mild, it was only for the strong and I can tell you with great assurance that Tanishia Pearson-Jones was one of the strongest women I’d ever met. She was young, just turned 36 on October 19th, but she had an old soul. She reminded me so much of my grandmother who’d take in anyone in need. Tanishia gave birth to two children, but she was a mother to many. Someone posted that she made everyone feel as though they were her best friend and that’s so true. We’d only had a few conversations before she started calling me “sissy.” She knew that term would make me feel special like I played a major role in her life, I know she played a big role in mine. 

 

I believe there are two big lessons we can learn from Tanishia, way more than two actually, but for the sake of your time and the length of this blog, I’ll keep it at two:)

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1. Always trust God. No matter what. Trust His decisions and His timing. Trust that even when the answer is no, it’s still for your good.  As you can see from our inbox message, Tanishia made it clear she knew how to fight. She fought with prayer and the word of God. 

2.  Stop talking and start working. Tanishia worked hard at her house, in her church, in her community, and in the literary world. She was always doing something, but the one thing she really wanted was to write her own book. So many days we laughed about doing everything except what we should be doing…writing! She thought she had time. She was going to finish her book and start speaking about her journey. Those were her plans, but God’s plans were different. Thankfully, Tanishia did finish writing, and as she requested, Joyce and I will carry the torch to the finish line. You’ll get to read about her journey in her words. 

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Tanishia sent this to me. We had plans. But so did God. 

James 4:14-15 

14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.    
15 For that ye ought to sayIf the Lord will*, we shall liveand do this, or that. 

 

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We thought we had time. I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing too. The truth is,  as the scripture clearly points out, none of us know.

Do what you can do while you can do it. 

Posted in Inspirational

When Did You Die?

For the record, no I haven’t lost my mind. No, I didn’t make a mistake. Yes, I meant to ask that question, and yes I really want an answer. Do you know when it happened? Was it all of a sudden or gradually? 

For me, I’d say it happened gradually over time. One day, I looked around and realized I wasn’t living, and as far as I know, the opposite of life is death. Now, of course, I don’t mean death in the physical sense but more in the mental sense. The fun died. The excitement died. Your life, like mine, felt like it was on constant rewind. Today felt the same as yesterday. 

I wake up, go to work, come home, cook, help with homework, go to bed and wake up again and do it all over. Sounds exciting right? Well, it wasn’t, but it was routine, and it was comfortable because I knew exactly, or at least had a close idea, of what the next day would bring. Some things, of course, I couldn’t predict, but what I could control remained the same. 

Do you know when I realized I’d died mentally? When I started writing my novel Dirty Little Secrets. This novel was about a schoolteacher, which I was then, but when I was planning the novel, the thought came that she had to have something going on in her life. Her life COULD NOT be like mine because, let’s face it, who wants to read about me teaching, cooking, and sleeping. I know I wouldn’t want to read that. However, just to be clear, I also don’t wish for the life of Holly James either, the main character in my book. She had more drama than this little country girl could handle LOL!

So, plotting the book showed me that my comfortable life was quite boring, but that wasn’t all. Writing that book gave me a new feeling. I was stepping into unfamiliar territory, and it was scary, yet very exciting. My mind was experiencing something new and different, and though there was some push back and hesitation in the beginning, that changed the more I wrote. Before I knew it, I’d finished the book and found myself agreeing to do book signings and speaking at different events. I went from no calendar at all to a full calendar of events for ME, not for my husband and not things I needed to do with the children, but something I enjoyed. 

Standing in front of a crowd of people was something else that was new for me. Up until then, my audience consisted of little people all under the age of 10. In their eyes I was smart, sometimes funny, most of the times mean, but they loved me anyway :). They were my comfort, but they weren’t the people I was talking to about Dirty Little Secrets. No, these were grown people…my peers. People who could judge me and talk about me if I messed up. I was sooooo scared, but again soooooo excited. 

I guess what I’m trying to say in this very long blog is that it’s time that you evaluate your life, and if you’re on constant rewind, then do something different. Something scary. Something exciting. Something that reminds you that you’re not dead. You’re very much ALIVE, so start LIVING!

Posted in Inspirational

Tired of the Lies!

I’m tired of the lies I’ve been feeding myself all these years! “I don’t have time” “I don’t have the money” “I don’t know enough” “People are going to question my ability.” ALL LIES! At least some of them are lies. People may question my ability but WHO CARES? As long as I believe in me.

This summer has been a summer of transformation for me. I’ve stretched myself in my business and personal life to uncover the lies I’ve told myself. I’ve worked through most of them, and still working through some of them, to reveal the me that God designed me to be. The new me understands the importance of pushing past the excuses to get the results I desire.

Let’s face it, there’s always going to be a million reasons why we shouldn’t step into something new. I now know that there’s a logical explanation to our thinking.  I’ve learned that the brain is trained to keep us in a comfortable place. Once we try something new, or think about trying something new, the brain says “Hold up! What’s this new thing you’re trying to get me to do? Oh no! We don’t have time for that!” (In my brain speaking voice).

It’s up to us to recognize that the brain is simply doing it’s job to keep us safe and comfortable. The only problem is that growth doesn’t happen during comfort. We have to push ourselves until the brain starts to work with us instead of against us. Have you heard of people who once hated working out, but they kept doing it anyway? Before long they found that what they once dreaded they now crave. That’s how the brain works. It realize that this new thing isn’t so bad after all.

Now, it’s your job to let go of the excuses and get to work. Even if you don’t feel like it…do it anyway! Push past the mental lies until your brain and your body are working together to get you where you deserve to be!