View the photos and video below of a Dodgers Stadium Tour I attended. I had a great time with my guy and Laurie, our tour guide, really impressed everyone. She knew Dodgers Stadium inside and out.
I hope to return to LA one day and tour the home of the Lakers next. :)
All of us have our truth. Some of us bask in it like a child frolicking in the summer sunshine. Others cower from it in shadows of a façade. What I know for sure is that it takes courage to embrace your true reflection in the mirror. It’s a sign of maturity. So here’s my attempt to face my truth.
I’ve just returned from my whirlwind trip to Los Angeles, California. The sights and sound of the city were captivating and invigorating but more times than I thought was possible I had to face some hard truths.
In this blog, I write about things to inspire you or expose you to something you may not consider on your own. This blog is the place my family, friends, readers, and fans can see what I’m thinking about when I’m alone. Good or bad, it's my testimony and sounding board.
I remember vividly how I felt on the day of the trip that we missed one of our pre-planned excursions. (It had to be re-scheduled for the next day.)
I watched as other couples in the same predicament dealt with their situations with determination to make the best of it, while I had the opposite occurrence.
It wasn't an ideal day.
I wish the day would have progressed differently but it didn't. Things were said that hurt deeply. I wish I could re-write it like a movie in need of a new script. but it was my truth...on that day.
Relationships and people aren't perfect but we have to embrace the lessons we learn along the way. In the interim, all of us have to live our lives as honestly as possible. Laugh when we want to laugh, forgive when we also seek forgiveness, speak up when we want to talk, and take time to be alone when we need that to, without worry that our relationships can’t withstand the weight of any of us standing 100% in our authenticity.
Either our bond will be resilient to the truth of our reality or it will crumble under its weight, but it will be what God intended. All of us must trust His wisdom over our own. (UPDATE: This relationship officially ended on Sept 3, 2013.)
I’ll post the photos from my L.A. trip soon for those that care to view them. It was memorable because it reminded me to have self-compassion and to listen to my intuition again.
Below is India.Arie’s second single from her highly-anticipated fifth studio album, SongVersation. It's my summer anthem. It’s called “Just Do You.” Take a listen and be uplifted.
Gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse where the abuser manipulates situations repeatedly to trick the victim into distrusting his or her own memory and perceptions. Gaslighting is an insidious form of abuse. It makes victims question the very instincts that they have counted on their whole lives, making them unsure of anything. This tactic has been seen many times in popular films.
In ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, Jessica Chastain plays "Maya," a CIA officer who, at one point, treats a detainee to a sumptuous dinner to reward him for sharing critical information that she says saved American lives. The truth is, the detainee doesn't remember telling his captors anything. But weak in mind and body, after several sleepless days and nights of torture, he accepts what Maya says as the truth. This is gaslighting.
The term itself was popularized by the 1944 film Gaslight, starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. "Gregory," played by Boyer, maintains that a gaslight his wife "Paula" (Bergman) sees growing dim then brightening is in fact a steady flame. This small deception is followed by countless others. Paula initially protests her husband's accusations about her "forgetfulness," but in time she questions her every action and memory. In reality, her husband Gregory is plotting to have her committed to an asylum so that he can take her inheritance.
In every gaslighting situation there must be a gaslighter, the agent of the abuse, and a gaslightee, his or her target. "Over time you [the gaslightee] begin to feel like you don't know your own mind or you don't know your own reality. Worse than that, you've allowed someone else to define it for you," says Dr. Robin Stern, author of The Gaslight Effect and a research scientist at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
How do you know if you are being gaslighted? If any of the following warning signs ring true, you may be dancing the Gaslight Tango. Take care of yourself by taking another look at your relationship, talking to a trusted friend, and begin to think about changing the dynamic of your relationship.
Here are the signs:
1. You are constantly second-guessing yourself.
2. You ask yourself, "Am I too sensitive?" only after interactions with the possible gaslighter.
3. You often feel confused after arguing with a likely gaslighter.
4. You're always apologizing to this gaslighter.
5. You frequently make excuses for the gaslighter’s behavior to friends and family.
7. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don't have to talk about the gaslighter.
8. You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
9. You start lying to the possible gaslighter to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
10. You have the sense that you used to be a very different person - more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
11. You wonder if you are a "good enough" girl/boyfriend, husband/ wife, employee, child, or friend to the likely gaslighter.
Gaslighting can be used on you by your boss, neighbor, child, parent, and mate and it’s up to you to determine whether you are enabling them. What should you do if you’re being gaslighted? Firmly counter that your memory is resolute, express yourself, and don't accept a gaslighter's labeling.
Perfection is a figment of our imaginations. There is someone out there who’s just right for you, yes, but that doesn’t make them unflawed. By the way, you’re not without blemish either. So stop demanding perfection from your mate because it's just a mechanism of control. And no one can control love.
If you think you can find a partner who's spotless, you have a WARPED sense of reality. Take a look to see if any of the following applies to you:
* Do you have very high standards for a potential partner?
* Has anyone ever accused you of having unrealistic expectations?
* Are you looking for the ‘perfect partner’?
* Do you believe someone needs to accept you as-is, no matter what but you keep a running list of the things they need to improve?
* Do you maintain a list of deal-breakers for relationships?
* Are you unbending about your vision of love and what someone must do to win your heart?
You need to understand that our flaws make us unique and lovable. So begin to embrace the imperfections so you can see true beauty – your own, and that of others.
Do this simple exercise, write down everything that’s “right” with you.
Then, and this is the tough part, list everything that’s “wrong” with you.
Whether it’s physical (“My nose is too stubby”), spiritual (“I really pray to God”), mental (“I second-guess everything I say”), or emotional (“I can overreact sometimes instead of acting rationally”). Own up to the best and worst of yourself – don’t be shy about writing it all down!
It might be tough to list your flaws on a piece of paper, if you have a perfectionist attitude. But that's good and bad.
It’s good because you normally think of yourself in a positive light. It’s bad though because you may not be seeing yourself honestly and clearly. So really truly ask yourself – are these things that would be a dealbreaker for you? Would you refuse to love someone because they had a stubby nose? See the absurdity? If you can’t give yourself a break you’re never going to be able to do that for someone else.
Then consider one or two of your most important relationships. Recall everything that was “wrong” with these people, in detail. From the most mundane to the glaringly obvious, get into the nitty gritty details about yourself and those who have touched your life – whether they were your sweetest mistake or your biggest error in judgment.
Now, reread what you’ve written about yourself. In retrospect, or with the new clarity you’re developing, are these items really helping you find the perfect mate or are they merely a character flaws you need to work on.
The idea of perfection can be harmful to whomever holds onto it. Someone shouldn’t have to exhibit specific traits before they’re considered “viable” relationship material. You can’t ask more of others than you ask of yourself. So be honest with yourself. Acceptance is the real gift for you and for them.
Self-discipline is the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state. My personal philosophy of how to build self-discipline is best explained by an analogy. Self-discipline is like a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger you become. The less you train it, the weaker you become.
Everyone possesses different levels of self-discipline. Everyone has some, just as it takes muscle to build muscle, it takes self-discipline to build self-discipline. The basic method to build self-discipline is to tackle challenges that you can effectively accomplish but push you near your limit. This doesn’t mean trying something and failing at it every day, nor does it mean staying within your comfort zone. You will gain no strength trying to lift a weight that you cannot budge, nor will you gain strength lifting weights that are too light for you. You must start with weights/challenges that are within your current ability to lift but which are near your limit.
The first step in developing discipline is finding the fears that are preventing you from not taking action. So think about something personal or professional that is important to you that you have been putting off. What are the fears and limiting beliefs that make you resistant to doing this thing? If you’re lucky, you’ve learned to do this type of self-reflection as a child. Most parents work diligently to instill self-discipline in their children.
One of the primary tasks of raising children is to help them develop self-discipline. Parents often find themselves correcting their children for interrupting, being wild, not following instructions, or for not controlling their hands or mouths. These all require self-discipline or self-control because young children are by nature impulsive. A person armed with self-discipline has a tremendous asset for addressing life’s challenges. So many relational and personal problems can be avoided or controlled when one has self-control.
Concentrating, inhibiting initial impulses, and delaying gratification are important forms of self-discipline. Each distinctly involves overriding different, unhelpful tendencies and plays a pivotal role in the course of a young person’s life.
Concentrating requires overcoming the tendency for the mind to wander, and sustaining intentional focus despite distractions, boredom, frustration, or fatigue. As it involves directing one’s thoughts to the topic at hand, concentration is the form of self-discipline that most clearly draws on our capacity to deliberately direct attention. The ability to concentrate is important because it enables an individual to mentally ‘buckle down’ and stay on a task long enough to make progress and be effective.
Inhibiting initial impulses requires overcoming the tendency to jump to conclusions or to act on impulse. It involves overriding one’s initial response to a problem or situation, in order to consider alternatives or consider the potential costs and benefits of a course of action
Delaying gratification requires overcoming impatience and the tendency to favor short-term rewards over long-term goals. It involves internalized standards and morals. It assists the individual in persisting at goal-oriented behaviors for the good of their future.
Think about how self-disciplined you are in your life and ask yourself who helped you develop that trait, or who stifled it from developing. Self-discipline is the art of doing something that you don't want to do but know that you need to do for a long-term benefit. Modeling disciplined behavior, teaching by precept and creating consequences all have a part in helping your child become more self-disciplined.
Lenny Kravitz's grandfather, a man who learned the value of hard work and discipline at a young age, helped raise a rock star with those same values. Watch as Lenny recounts one of his grandfather's character-building exercises and how it helped him achieve success as a musician, producer and actor.
With Father’s Day fast approaching I have to give homage to a man that had a profound effect on my life. Jessie Redden, the late patriarch of my mother’s family. My grandfather kind of acted like Ben Cartwright (from Bonanza, played by Lorne Greene), looked like a lighter Morgan Freeman, and talked like Melvin Van Peebles. When he laughed, the laughter always drifted up to his eyes and made him tear up with every chuckle.
What I adored about my grandfather was the way he led his family. He uplifted and molded us with his compassion and held firm on his beliefs and convictions. He never tolerated anyone disrespecting his wife, in word or deed, and that included his own children. He made sure his family followed his lead by respecting her even when they had their disagreements. He had seven children with my grandmother: Jessie Jr, Anthony, Flora, Gertrude (Teri), Sharon, Jennie, and Elsie. My maternal grandparents were married for 59 years and knew the meaning of love, romance and devotion. I’m so thankful for the roadmap they’ve laid and the wisdom they gave.
More times than I can even remember, my grandfather enjoyed talking about what matured a man. He thought the journey from boyhood to manhood was one that needed to be navigated carefully. And the journey could be made easier if a boy had a grown man to show him the way (i.e. his father, grandfather, uncle, pastor, etc.).
Nothing made my grandfather dislike a young man more than seeing him failed to have the maturity required to lead his own household. There was a certain mentality that required a man to be tempered in his words and adamant in his convictions, and my Grandfather knew how to spot it head on.
For my grandfather, grown men cared about:
Their Appearance: Clothes are well-fitted and possibly tailor-made. Personal grooming and cleanliness makes a man look smarter, sexier and edgy when they stand next to immature men. Nicely trimmed nails and hair, unless you’re bald, always catches a woman’s eye. Most importantly, correct posture is deemed as strong-willed and strong-minded. Grown men keep in mind the old saying, ‘Clothes don’t make the man, the man makes the clothes’.
Their Relationships: Whether it’s personal or professional, real men always respect the others involved. They are able to communicate effective without name-calling, profanity, arrogance, disrespect, and unnecessary loudness. My grandfather use to say, “A man doesn’t start out with his ass on his shoulders” meaning men state their position with dignity, not with whining and theatrics. They never want to appear to be a throwing a tantrum because something didn’t go their way.
Their Health: A focused man will stay on top of all of his health exams, practice good eating habits, and weekly exercise rituals that are vital to maintaining a good physique. They don’t wait for a doctor to tell them their body is starting to show the effects of too much partying or late night TV watching. Stop acting like a college kid and take better care of yourself.
Their Career: Regardless if employed by someone else or taking the entrepreneurial route, grown men know professionalism includes: meeting deadlines, producing high quality work, and always exceeding expectations.
Their Intelligence: Grown men enjoy learning and put one’s self in a position to continue to do. They build a substantial library of works that increase brain productivity and study other cultures as a means for global awareness.
Their Finances: Men know the importance and rewards of investing and saving, unlike boys that enjoy spending their money as soon as they get it. They do extensively research before purchasing large items and loved getting the most for their money. They learned long ago to stop playing around with their debts, they pay everything on time, and work hard to maintain an excellent credit history.
Their Life: Grown men take responsibility for their own actions. Abides by laws of their country and understand the importance of seeking a spiritual balance. They know mental strength is often more necessary then physical strength. And they know a real man will blaze his own path and be self-sufficient.
Their Woman: Grown men know women are the only ones that can teach them compassion, patience, and tenderness. Without women, men would think all pain is weakness, sexism is okay, and a tough guy attitudes will correct anything but that’s just NOT true. My grandfather once made a statement to one of my friends that he has never forgotten to this day. He said, ““Every time you choose to view porno, attend a strip club, pay for a prostitute, or in any other way, treat a woman like a piece of flesh rather than a person, you need to remember one thing: That girl is some man’s daughter.”
Men with daughters, sisters, nieces, and cousins will take a moment to contemplate those words. While real pieces of crap won’t think twice about the statement. I guess it all goes back to a man’s mentality, right?
(Sighs) I could talk about this man for days. I miss my Grandfather dearly. He put so many things into perspective for me. I think I'll always miss our long talks under his massive Weeping Willow tree on a nice Florida afternoons.
Rest In Peace, Grandpa and know I’ll always love you.
You’re gone… but never forgotten.
Okay, it’s time for FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Fridays. This is the time I pull questions from my email bag and take a moment to answer what’s been on some readers’ minds.
So I hope you enjoy today's mail bag selections.
Q. Does a romance author need to be in love to write love stories?
A. It helps to know the depths and heights of love, romance, loss, and pain to write love stories. There are so many facets to love that you can’t write it from an observer’s perspective. You can’t write about how Cupid did a number on a character’s heart unless you’ve felt it. It won’t read true to your readers and you may have some difficulty getting characters fully engaged with each other.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t attempt to write a love story if you’ve never been in love, you can do whatever you want. I’m just stating love should be in your life in some form. I truly believe your words will flow easily when your heart in engaged in the process.
Q. What is the best advice you would give your daughters about men?
A. Men are wonderful, complex, loving, funny, demanding, cocky, passionate, and strong. They can make you giggle like a school girl, swoon like a southern belle, and shiver like a woman in heat. So I would tell my girls to never underestimate them, or yourself. Enjoy how they challenge you to be the best you can be but don’t tolerate being disrespected. They should treat you as good as you treat them in a relationship and remember ‘like ALWAYS attracts like’.
Q. I just signed with Soul Mate Publishing, how do you like working with their staff?
A. Soul Mate is a small independent publisher and I appreciate the work they do. The staff is still relatively new, so some things are still need polishing, in order to create the best products but there are some many wonderful things about being part of something new. I love my fellow authors and SMP has been a great publishing home for the Sheridan series.
Q. Which Sheridan sibling is your favorite and why?
A. It comes and goes in phases. When I was writing SOUTH BEACH, Laila was my hands down favorite because of her fire, fashion sense, and the way she dabbles in neology (creating new words). She was very fun to write because she was so layered but now her twin brother, Latrell is my favorite. I’m presently working on WILD WEST and Latrell reminds me an awful lot of my grandfather as a young man.
Latrell is a hard-working, determined man, with a great sense of humor and knows his way around horses. It’s been so much fun to see Oklahoma through his eyes.
Q. Did you create the Angie Awards so your staff can nominate you for an award?
A. Ah, NO! As the founder, I’m not eligible to be nominated. AMB Ovation Awards, or ‘The Angies’ were created to acknowledge the literary efforts of my peers. As a writer I don’t have the time to read all of the works of my colleagues but I need to be aware of the wonderful works that are being published in my field.
Presently, when I speak to readers about my novels I also speak to them about some of my author friends and promote their works as well. It creates a synergy effort in my genre that work really well in book sales for everyone. With so many great AA/IR/Multicultural romance authors out there, my staff and colleagues wanted a reader based award that the recipients could receive and know with a certainty that their readers love their efforts and their characters.
Paris Jackson made my world stop yesterday. She's the only daughter of the late, great Michael Jackson. She’s so young, smart, and talented and yet she attempted to take her own life. The media is speculating on her reasons as her family rallies around her to help ease her pain.
Did you know the 11th leading cause of death among Americans. But suicide deaths are only part of the problem. More people survive suicide attempts than actually die. They are often seriously injured and need medical care. I’m not sure if you’re aware of the resources out there for the prevention of youth suicide but please take a look at the information on the Jason Foundation website.
Youth suicide can be prevented, and that is what the Jason Foundation is all about so get involved. Together we can help stop this epidemic. Ask for their material. Read it. Then share it with your friends, family and others. Please help us reach out to hurting teens with another choice.
Rascal Flatts and The Jason Foundation, Inc. created the B1 Project in 2010 as a new program to aid in the prevention of youth suicide. Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney, the members who make up Rascal Flatts, have been involved in many philanthropic and charitable endeavors throughout their career and believe in the gift of giving back.
In addition to their roles as Celebrity Ambassadors for The Jason Foundation and participation in public services announcements, public awareness programs, and fundraising; Rascal Flatts promote the B1 Project
If you or a friend need to talk with a counselor for help or for resources available in your area, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you.
Okay, I’m sure many of you have heard Kelly Rowland’s new song ‘Dirty Laundry’ where she admits she was jealous of her Destiny’s Child band-mate, Beyoncé Knowles Carter. The public has known how Kelly felt for YEARS. She always wore a fake smile when reporters would ask her how she felt about her childhood friend’s success. And she seemed to avoid being around her friend when she was on tour or in the studio. It was weird to see close friends drifting apart especially when we could hear the sadness in Beyoncé’s voice whenever she spoke about Kelly’s absence in her life.
It’s a shame that as thrilled as some women can be to have an inner circle consists of successful, happy women, it’s normal for them to question whether they’re as successful and happy as the most successful one. Women instinctively compare themselves to their friends. When a friend has more of something or does something better—whether it’s looks, a career, a family or money—it’s natural to feel some degree of jealousy. But competition can cause you to be aggressive toward your pal or avoid her completely.
Did you know that jealousy is more intense when someone close to us does well in an area in which we also wanted to succeed? So, if (for example) you and your sibling are into writing, you will feel more jealous when he or she lands a publishing contract before you. Interestingly, the other side of the coin reveals we don't feel jealous if someone close to us does well in a field we’re not that interested in.
For example, if our best friend becomes a well-known broadcaster and we’re not into reporting the news and talking to people, we feel genuinely happy and even bask in the reflected glory of our friend's accomplishments. So, jealousy mainly happens when someone close to you does better than you in a domain that is relevant to your dreams.
Being aware of your envy is a good first step because then you can devise strategies to overcome the negative consequences of that feeling. If you’re not sure how to deal with your competitive streak, remember one thing –act in a way that you would have acted had you not felt jealous.
That’s right, act happy and proud for your friend, colleague or sibling. Research show that we often infer our values, attitudes, and opinions by observing our own behavior, which is why we feel happier when we force ourselves to smile. Likewise, others will assume that we are a more generous, giving person, a compassionate person capable of rising above petty competitiveness, when we force ourselves to congratulate others for their accomplishments when we feel jealous. (Yes, it’s the old adage; ‘Fake it, until you make it’ works well here.)
Taking such action is guaranteed to improve your chances of success. Specifically, if your success depends on how far others will go to remove obstacles from your paths and in helping you achieve your goals. Your chances of getting the next dream job may depend even more critically on the references you get from others than on your qualifications. So, do yourself a huge favor by taking action to overcome jealousy.
And jearn a lesson from Kelly Rowland and put an end to your envy because a close friend, colleague, or relative is waiting for a call from you. If you don’t believe me, just ask Beyoncé.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is very me-centered. A few of my friends have been a little frustrated with their partners lately. Most of this stems from the fact that they are not getting what they think they need or what they think they should be getting.
Now let’s be honest, most people say that they want to be best friends with their mates. They want to talk constantly, go on long walks together, and enjoy each other’s company but how many are willing to make the investment in their relationship. If you’re willing to do the work, think about implementing the following things to make your partner your best friend:
Make a list of what you would want in a best friend. If you were going to advertise for a best friend, what would the ad look like? How about this:
WANTED - BEST FRIEND
Prospective candidates will:
* Make me feel good about being me.
* Affirm my best qualities (especially when I am feeling insecure)
* Brings out the best in me, and hold me accountable to the best version of myself.
* Listen without judgement or with the desire to try to fix me.
* Give me the benefit of the doubt.
* Extend grace to me when I am moody or having a bad day.
* Remember my birthday, favorite foods, music, and hobbies.
* Know my story and love me regardless.
* Enjoy spending time with me because they like my company.
* Speak well of me when I am not present.
* Serve me with a joyful spirit and without complaining.
* Speak the truth to me when no one else will.
* Never shame me, diminish me, or make me feel small.
* Become excited about what I am excited about.
* Celebrate my wins!
Now become that person for your mate. That’s right. Turn the table. Make this a list of the kind of friend you will become. I can promise you this: anyone who does half of these kinds of things will have more friends than he or she knows what to do with. But what if you focused this effort on your partner? Think of the possibilities.
Nurtures the relationship. How long will it take to create this kind of relationship? It all depends on where you are starting. For some, it might be several months. For others, it might take years. Friendships are like gardens; they must be cultivated. The key is to be consistent and persistent—without expectations.
In building your relationship it is always important to remember that the only person that you can change is yourself; you should never focus on changing someone else. If you want to be better friends with your partner, you need to start with you, and work on being a better friend to him or her. Really, this is just the golden rule, “Do to others what you would want them to do to you.” It takes time, effort, commitment, patience, wisdom, perseverance, understanding, and a forgiving heart to become best friends with your mate.
To become best friends and avoid breaking up or fighting incessantly, make time for one another, respect each other, talk to each other, and work hard on your relationship every day.
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