Let’s Make Commitments, NOT Resolutions!

By Talya Flowers

There’s a running joke in my house around the New Year that we each start our resolutions on Dec. 31 and then break them on Jan. 1. That’s a stretch, but it never fails. We become motivated to begin— we start, and then slowly everyone forgets what their new year’s resolution was in the first place. Incredible. Now instead of making ourselves crazy by starting and stopping, we just do nothing. Nothing is easier than making a resolution and sticking with it throughout the New Year.

But let me tell you a secret: doing nothing is for the mediocre. You and I are not mediocre. Doing nothing is harmful because we are subconsciously telling ourselves that we do not matter, we do not trust ourselves, and/or that we do not value ourselves to commit to our goals and see them to fruition. When I realized that I was sabotaging myself and killing all of the potential chances that I had for success: I stopped making resolutions.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

I became self-aware and critical of the damage that I was causing myself. I became critical of myself, and I started to see a major flaw with my resolutions: I had the heart, the motivation, and the drive, but I lacked action. I constantly told myself that I would lose weight this year and when winter hit, I was back to the old me. It was a vicious cycle: I exercised extensively during the summertime. I would lose all the weight that I had gained. BUT I was not enjoying my summer because I was too busy exercising all of the weight off. By winter, I had amassed even more weight than what was lost. I was in a sense driving my own self crazy and sending the message that I could not be trusted.

A major shift occurred when a friend said “you are letting yourself go!” It was the truth. I did, I was, and I had. I had to start making some drastic changes. The next day after our heart-to-heart, while at work, I pulled out some construction paper, a marker and began to write out the goals that I had for the year. High on my new list was a healthy lifestyle and daily exercise. Instead of telling myself that I would start in a week or so, or when I felt like it, I started the next day. I woke up at 5 a.m. and began to run. On days that had prior commitments or needed to go to work early, I woke up even earlier. Why? Because instead of making a resolution, I made a goal, and a commitment to myself. I told myself that I was too valuable to accept any more lies. I told myself that I deserved to consume nothing but the best foods—healthy foods. As I reprogrammed my palette and mindset, the weight came off, and I began to work on other goals, always aware that being healthy is the first priority.

I am proud to say that was two years ago, and I am still going strong. I even went running in the cold several times, and it was fantastic. On the days that I do not go outside, I join a workout class, and, for me, it is mandatory and not optional.

Here are my six tips for keeping commitments:

1. Decide now

You are not a victim. You have the power to create and choose. Colossians 3:2 is a powerful reminder that once a decision has been made our minds will actively create pathways for success, but you cannot be double-minded. You have to decide and be firm and resolute.

2. Value yourself

I have been on this two year life style change because I learned to value myself. How much are you worth? How much do you value yourself? Those are two of the best questions to ask yourself before starting a new commitment.

3. Use Declarations/Affirmations

I am a giant fan of affirmations so on the days that I did not feel like getting out of bed at 5 a.m., I would ask myself “How much do you value yourself?” and then my body would jolt out of bed. Two of the best affirmations for starting difficult changes are “I can do whatever I need to do in life through Christ, and I am disciplined and self-controlled,” which came from Joyce Meyer’s book Power Thoughts.

4. Visualize success

I never visualize myself to be skinny, I visualize myself to be healthy. And even still, I try not to visualize myself skinny because it becomes frustrating when the image in my head is not congruent with my body. I don’t do that, instead, I visualize myself cooking a healthy meal, getting out of bed excited to go running and fuel up my day, or meeting new friends during a group fitness class. Train your mind, like your body, to work for you and not against you.

5. Write out your goals

The minute I wrote out my goals on a large piece of paper and put them on my wall, my brain automatically reminded me of the commitment I made. Your mind will ensure that you do not forget.

6. Make a commitment

Once a commitment has been made on the inside, life begins to portray the fruits of your labor on the outside. It requires dedication and self-control and discipline. But you are worth it, remember?

Well, what are you waiting for? If you’re nervous, make a small commitment and increase as you go. I know right now, I am making huge commitments because I trust myself to only succeed. I know that I used the example of weight loss but you can make a commitment in any area of your life that has left you feeling stumped. For some, it is financial, mental, emotional, or relational struggles, but whatever it is make a decision that some things are going to have to change, and then begin to implement strategies for those changes. For 2016, the biggest commitment that I have made is stepping outside of my comfort zone and aiming higher because I want to succeed. How badly do you want it? Only you can define what “it” is, exactly.

10 Things I Want To Tell My Daughter

By Talya Flowers

I believe that God has a great sense of humor.

I will believe this until the day that I die because several months ago, I started working with children, and not school age—I worked with toddlers. You know the group of kids that every parent, as they drop their kids off with us, says “I just don’t know how you do it.”

Neither did I.

Every day I would come into work, bright and early, and see the prettiest little girl. I’d come in and she’d hover near me, give me a hug or ask me a million and one questions. Then I’d begin my daily routine: Lip-gloss. Deodorant. Lotion. “Taya, what is that?” “Can I have some?” she’d say in the cutest voice, with her hands wrapped around my thigh.
I’d squeeze the tube so that just a dab of lip-gloss came up and then I’d place it on her finger. As she placed the lip-gloss onto her lips, I’d tell her “you are the most beautiful girl in the world.” And she’d smile the biggest smile.

Looking down at her, I’d picture my own daughter one day saying and doing the exact same thing. She’ll want to do what mommy does because she can only do what she sees. She’ll want to know what mommy knows because she can only know what she has been taught. As a queen, I want to raise a queen.

Here are 10 things that I want to tell/show my daughter; ten non-negotiable facts about her worth.

1. God loves you unconditionally.

I can tell you all day that God loves you, but you have to believe it for yourself. He does. He really does.

2. Know your value.

When you accept that God loves all of you, you begin to see yourself as he sees you: worthy, deserving, a queen. God raises queens. Always know your worth.

3. You are more than enough.

Everyone has their own interpretation of who somebody should be. Define yourself and never allow someone else to determine your worth. We have raised you better than that.

4. You are beautiful.

When I see you, I hear the scriptures “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” and “you are altogether lovely my darling there is no flaw in you.”

5. Honor your body.

I have heard this scripture quoted so many times in church. I understood what the intention was, but then I started analyzing the scripture. God tells us in scripture that a house divided cannot withstand. Then he tells us to honor our bodies and that we are a temple (we are a house). Hear me out. When you honor your body, you are honoring your mind, your body, and your spirit. To deny one of the three (mind, body, soul) is not honoring you.

6. Wait. Wait. Wait.

We meet people. We fall in love. We fall out of love. We are heart broken. We learn not to repeat those steps. Who you are in elementary school will be different from who you are in high school. Who you are in high school will be totally different from who you will become in college. Don’t rush. Wait. Wait. Wait. God blesses those who wait.

7. Guard your heart, don’t gate it.

I have a big heart, and I pray that I am going to pass that down to you. Guard your heart by wisely choosing who will be close to you. Love everybody but only allow those into your queendom who are willing to do the same for you. Never gate your heart but become selective in who gets to get close to the gift. You are the gift and not everyone can afford you.

8. Believe in yourself.

I will support you. I will fight for you. I will motivate, encourage, and uplift you. That will mean nothing if you don’t believe in yourself first. Believe in yourself and you will take on the world.

9. Work hard for what you want.

I am in a place mentally where I know that my decisions now will impact you. I am working hard to figure out what is going to be the best decision for the family. I am working hard. I value hard work. And you should too. It’s okay to rely on other people, but you have to work hard for what you want. Become your own cheerleader.

10. Your life, your rules, choose wisely.

I know I will see myself in you. I pray now that you do not inherit my stubbornness or self-sufficiency (you can have some but not all :). It’s your life. Period. Point. Blank. I can only offer guidance from what I have experienced by having a heart too big in a sometimes cruel world. Every choice you make has a consequence. As your mother, I’d advise you, of course, to reread number 6 on the list.

If you know that God loves you unconditionally and you know your value, then I am sure you will be just fine.

I love you, and I haven’t even met you yet.

Sincerely,

Your mother

6 Ways to Value Yourself

By Talya Flowers

Our values often shape who we are, how we view life, and our expectations and standards that we have of ourselves and others. I love and enjoy people because we both can learn something from one another. I value an amazing sale because material items come and go. I’m not one who pinches pennies, but I do like to save. So, finding an item that I really like that’s marked down makes me feel like I am being wise with my money, especially when it frees me up financially to be a blessing to others. Others may value love, success, trust, family, and/or careers. Either way, what we value speaks highly of how committed we are to a particular thing or person.

In the past, I valued other people above myself and would go above and beyond to make sure someone else was comfortable and happy because I believed the unconscious lie that humility was a true mark of beauty. When I denied myself, I subconsciously told myself that others’ needs were more important. And that their opinions thoughts and desires were more valuable than mine. I was sending myself the message that I should go above and beyond for other people but not for myself because that would be considered stingy and selfish.

I watched “What are your values?” by motivational speaker Kenny Graham and I was shocked when he asked “What do you value about yourself?” I have really never asked myself that question. I was so caught up in valuing other people that I forgot that I, too, am valuable. I am more than enough. I deserve the best. I am the best. I am a jade emerald. And that’s not in a conceited or arrogant way; it is a certainty, a fact that cannot be compromised.

When I know my value, I stop running toward things that hinder my success or my self-respect. I stop allowing people to hurt, use, or abuse me. I become more selective of the people that I allow into my inner sanctum. I watch and study their life principles. I compare them to mine and then I either promote or demote. I no longer have time to be telling people what they should be doing because I value myself. I am no longer going to pour water into an empty bucket.

Graham asks the question “what do you value about yourself?” in his video. I am going to take his question further and ask “do you “know” your value?” Not by the worlds standards, but by Gods standards. What does it mean to know? It means to be certain, to be firm, to be steady, to be assured, to be secured, and to be anchored. What does it mean to “value?” It means to protect, to cherish, to embrace, to accept, to admire, to love, to respect, and to invest.

Do you know your value? That’s the key to winning in life. Realize that you are a priceless, precious treasure that the maker has created in his image. Despite what anyone says or does to you in the present, the maker loves you and considers you valuable. Despite what may have happened in your past, the maker is the anchor which makes all things new and gives us assurance that we can begin again. Know who you are in Christ and give from a place of love. And that my friend can never be taken by anyone. Here are my suggestions for knowing your value:

1. Trust God

He is the orchestrator of your value and he never changes. He is the same today, yesterday and forever. Allow his stability to become yours.

2. Exercise

When you and I exercise, we have more energy to get all of our tasks completed. More energy means that we annihilate our to-do list, which makes us feel much more confident and valuable.

3. Eat healthy

Exercising and eating healthy are two of the most important aspects of our life. Eating healthy gives us more fuel for our day. Instead of feeling tired and fatigued, we feel energized and ready to take on the world which increases your value in yourself.

4. Affirm yourself

Think and say: “I am valuable, I am love, I am loved, I am more than enough, I am special.” How can anyone know your value, if you don’t believe it for yourself?

5. Love yourself

If you could see me writing this, I am shouting “LOVE YOURSELF.” You have to love you first before loving anyone else. You have to show yourself that you love all of you. And then tell yourself as well.

6. Keep commitments

We love over committing our schedules and helping everyone else but ourselves. Value yourself enough to keep the commitments that you’ve made to yourself.

5 Ways To Be More Accepting

By Talya Flowers

“Love means that you accept a person with all their failures, stupidities, ugly points,
and nonetheless, you see perfection in imperfection itself.”

 

We are all seeking and searching for something.

For some, it is fame, fortune, happiness, a rewarding career, or if your path is similar to mine, a deeper relationship with Christ. Whatever it is, I would argue that above all else, we are searching for love. Once we receive the fame, fortune, happiness, or a rewarding career, then what else? We begin to seek someone with whom we can share our lives with. We want someone who accepts and approves of the life that we have built or are building for ourselves. With that knowledge in mind, consider the following:

Imagine my hypothetical relationship as it unfolds: I become more and more critical of my significant other. By my actions and by my words, I tell him that I don’t like the way he dresses, I don’t like who he hangs out with, I don’t like his family members, I don’t like the way he thinks, I don’t like the career he has chosen, I don’t like the way he cooks, I don’t like the fact that his spiritual life is not on the same level as mine. Would my relationship go very far? Am I fostering an environment for intimacy? Am I displaying Christ?

If I constantly did that to my significant other, I am killing the very core of who he is. I have taken it upon myself to change who he is by demanding that he become more like me. When the problem is not him, it’s me. The scripture tells us candidly that we are made in the image of God. We are not made in the image of one another. I cannot tell someone to change (this is not for abusive relationships. If someone is being abusive, they will have to change to stay in a relationship with you or they will have to move on without you). Giving more of yourself does not eradicate the abuse, tolerance worsens the abuse. I cannot demand, manipulate or control someone to change because abuse is a heart problem, and Christ is the only one with the ability to transform hearts.

So, in the process of lording over someone, I’ve damaged the one person who I’ve claimed to love. Why, when I chose him? I have a choice in the matter. You have a choice in the matter.
Here are my five suggestions for ways to be more accepting:

1. Stop criticizing

Constant criticism coming from someone who claims to love you becomes emotionally draining over time. There is one thing to offer constructive criticism but another to just be criticizing for the sake of criticizing. If someone is making an effort to learn, don’t criticize his or her efforts. If anything, praise them. In your praise, they will be willing go above and beyond for you.

2. Stop judging

Judging is damaging. I’ll say it again, judging someone is damaging. Judging someone for who they are and the choices that they’ve made is detrimental to the relationship. Why destroy something that you are trying to build by judging another person, unless you know, of course, that you won’t be sticking around to heal their emotional wounds.

3. Allow growth

Acceptance/growing together is a process because it does not happen overnight. I once had an acquaintance tell me that his mom and dad could read each other thoughts. He was expecting/demanding that in his present relationship. Slow your role; couples do no wake up and start reading each other’s minds. That requires time, effort and vulnerability—none of which he was giving in his relationship.

4. Be realistic

Everything in life is a choice, choose wisely. The more you are able to understand someone for who they were in the past and who they are in the present; you’ll be able to learn and to understand their behaviors and attitudes. Time is your friend. Be patient, be gentle and most of all take your time.

5. Be open

Communication is the glue that keeps couples together. Intimacy is formed by communication. Being verbally demanding, manipulative or controlling stifles all forms of security. Do not get in a relationship if you are going to use your words, on your spouse, as a punching bag. Do not get into a relationship where the person treats people poorly but worships the ground you walk on. Everyone, from the janitor to the president, deserves respect and to be treated kindly.

Acceptance forms the foundation for love, for without it, all relationships will fail. Christ accepts and loves us just as we are. Then he begins to shape and mold us into his image after we begin to see the beauty of giving our lives to him. Do the same for your significant other. Allow them to fly and to grow into who God called them to be before you start berating and belittling them for who they can never be. Luckily, we can change by making a choice. It just depends on the path chosen. if you are searching to find love: look within. If you’re already in a relationship, instead of criticizing and condemning the person you chose to be in a relationship with why not take the time to grow together?

Always remember that no matter what, you are more than enough not because of who you are but because of whose you are.

 

The Difference Between NEEDING And WANTING A Man

By Talya Flowers
I am not a male-basher.
I don’t hate men.In fact, I appreciate them for all the qualities that I do not have. Men, to women, are like a glove. If you find the right one, it just fits. You don’t have to force or fake it. It just works.Lately, my dad has been away on business, and there are some things in the house, like the toolbox, that my dad loves but it is not easily accessible to us. I needed that toolbox because I had to remove the license plate off of my car to be able to use it for another car. I was using a flat heads screwdriver at 11 o’clock at night with a pile of snow everywhere.  Now, realize that my dad is like 6 feet and weighs probably a solid 275 pounds, easily. I am standing outside in the cold singing the mantra “righty tighty, lefty loosey” trying to unscrew screws that a man twisted so tight just so that his baby girl would never get her license plates stolen. With enough singing, the screws were loosened, and I ran to my house. Satisfied that I did it. I did it.I came in and shook the snow off my boots and my sister said, “Look, Talya, you don’t need a man.” I threw the biggest tantrum and exclaimed back at her,”All women need men! How else am I going to procreate?”Once the words left my mouth, I knew that it was time to do some soul searching. Do women need men?

Need: Something that you have to have
Want: Something that you would like to have

My sister was right, “I don’t need a man.”

I believe that needing a man comes from a deep internal lack that breeds  fear, insecurity, doubt, loneliness, desperation, rejection, abandonment, and shame. That list is not exhaustive. I can probably come up with millions of other words to describe not feeling adequate enough to be alone. The mentality that you have to have a man will leave you always seeking for a love that you will never be able to find. Your love life will be a never ending revolving door because after one break-up, you’ve already moved on to the next. Let’s be realistic. One door can’t close unless you’ve healed, and that is why you need a man to cover up the insecurities. In this state, you will gladly take anyone because you are desperate for love, attention, and affection.

Now, if you see the shenanigans of needing a man, then you’re ready to have an “I want a man mentality.”

When you want a man, you won’t settle for just anything because you know your worth. You see yourself as valuable. You see yourself as special. You see yourself as having a lot of good to add to someone’s life, and you’ve done everything that you can possible do to be in the best relationship, not with somebody else, but with yourself. Wanting a man comes from a deep internal sufficient reservoir that breeds hope, security, certainty, love, peace, acceptance, self-control, and honor.  You are adequate being alone because you know that it is part of the journey, and all journeys must come to an end.

When you arrive at your destination, you will look back and realize that the time spent with yourself were the best moments of your life. And eventually, you will meet another soul that has an internal sufficient reservoir and both of you will pour abundantly into each other.

By wanting him, you will need him for all the right reasons, and the two shall become one.
P.S. You are more than enough, not because of who you are, but because of whose you are. ​

5 Ways To Make Your Words Count

By Talya Flowers

Words are seeds.

Whatever you say, will grow.

Whatever words you use for or against yourself, will be.

Choose wisely.

Words are powerful.  They have the power to kill and destroy relationships, demolish an individual’s identity, self-esteem and self-worth, and build up strongholds in a person’s mind.

I have mentioned several times in my articles about the importance of renewing the mind because that is where every issue begins – and from the mouth is where every issue is settled. Where are your seeds settling?  I wholeheartedly believe that whatever comes out of the mouth, in anger, spite, or resentment, is truly what that person believes. Because the seeds that fall out of our mouths stem from the very thoughts that we have ruminating over and over in our minds.

With so many hurting people today, I am making it my duty to make everyone I come into contact with know that they are valued and that they matter.  If there is a long line in the store, I refuse to take it out on the cashier. If my food is not being “prepared” fast enough at a restaurant, I refuse to take it out on the waitress, cashier, or busboy. If someone is yelling in my face and telling me off, I refuse to reason with them in that manner. I refuse because we never know what each person is facing in their personal lives when we meet them at that particular time. I realize now that sometimes the ones who hurt us the most, need to really be shown an example of God-like love.

I once gave an acquaintance a compliment about a teal sweater he was wearing, and his eye sparkled. Then he took a step back and stammered to push “thank you” out of his mouth.  I was being honest with him, but his reaction showed me just how powerful our words can be.

Here’s another example: Several months ago, I reached in to give one of my friends a departure hug. After a second, I stepped back, and he held me for a second longer. I wiggled to free myself, and sternly said “what are you doing?” He looked at me intently and said, “I was just appreciating the moment.”  His seeds grew immediately. But I played tough, and told him to stop being a creeper. As I turned to walk away to get in my car, my jaw dropped. I sat in my car for 5 minutes, as it warmed up, really thinking about the words he had just said.  That one seed: “I was just appreciating the moment,” turned into, “I appreciate your time, I appreciate the time we spent together, and eventually, I appreciate you.” I cried like a baby – and that is how much I am drawn to the words that people use.

Here are my suggestions for always making your words count:

1. Be kind

If you are ever involved with someone whose love language is words of affirmation, try not to verbally criticize/correct your partner all the time. If it is a small matter, then leave it a small matter; don’t make mountains out of molehills. If what a person is doing is hazardous to your mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual well-being, politely bring up the issue and use a buffer (“I love how you do this … x,y,z but you could do this like this!) Those fortunate individuals like me whose love language are words of affirmation, hear criticism differently than most people.  Tread lightly and always choose kindness.

2. Be encouraging

Encouraging people comes easily to me (it’s my gift!). I believe that we all have unearthed potential that can be cultivated and then used for a greater purpose. Be your friends, family members, or spouse’s biggest cheerleader. Encourage them in an area that they are truly passionate about. Use your words to encourage them. When you encourage someone, then your words are being used to instill courage into them.  Never encourage them in an area that they are not passionate about; follow your spouse’s train of thought, so to speak.

3. Be honest

Don’t give meaningless compliments, encouragement, or feedback. Your words should come from a place of sincerity and honesty to be uplifting.

4. Be gentle

Sometimes it is hard to be kind, encouraging, honest, and gentle at the same time because we want to quickly get what we want to say off of our chests, never realizing that our tone of voice is all wrong.  A gentle critique is heard, whereas a condemning critique causes a person to shut down and never hear what you are trying to say.  I read a book that said “you can be right but wrong at the top of your voice.”  Excessive mentioning of faults crushes the spirit, so be very gentle in your tone of voice when you have to use your words to rebuild.

5. Be open

An open heart is ready to receive all that life has to offer, so always be open to receive whatever someone is saying to you. Do you have to cling to their every word? No, but people want to know that they are being heard. If someone has the courage to come and tell you something about yourself then listen and be open. Be willing to see things from their point of view. I bet you both can gain something.

Always remember, your words have the power to touch the soul and leave a person feeling more loved and appreciated by just being in your presence.

6 Ways To Silence The “Woodpecker”

By Talya Flowers

The woodpecker is a near-passerine bird that spends most of its time pecking away at different trees in the forest.

I am not a bird fanatic, but the woodpecker is a metaphor for an individual who chips away at the emotional and mental health of another person. The first peck doesn’t make the biggest impact because it’s often very subtle. These can often come in the form of comments or jokes that appear to be helpful but upon second thought, actually, cause damage to the other person.

By the one millionth peck, there is nothing more to take and nothing more to give; you’ve allowed another person to exhaust your overall sense of self. There is no more love because you’re in state of resentment. And you, who were once a secure human being, are now insecure, fearful, walking around on egg shells because at any moment a misconstrued word or phrase can turn into the nastiest argument.

Ironically, most birds don’t create new holes; they’ve already scouted out a tree that had a couple of cracks and fissures, so that they can easily begin the cycle. Often times, they latch on to people who have had horrific childhoods, endured painful/damaging relationships, confrontation avoiders, and those who have a willingness to “help” other people at the detriment of their own well-being. The woodpecker uses the other persons past as a weapon to keep them firmly attached to the relationship. Any thought, word, or phrase that doesn’t coincide with the wishes of the woodpecker is another nasty argument filled with blame, guilt, shame, condemnation, and nauseating threats/remarks.

When the breakup comes, oh, and it will come, the woodpecker will remind you that they deserve better, that you are no good, and that you’ve changed. You will be crushed but over time you will begin to feel as you did in the beginning: whole again and emotionally and mentally sane. You will have finally realized that a) love isn’t about damaging another person b) love is about acceptance and gradual change, and c) there is a lesson and beauty in everything.

Here are my six suggestions for silencing the insidious woodpecker:

1.      Go back to your first love

I ran back to my first love like I was about to lose my footing on a balcony. I guess I was about to lose my footing in life. I find that there is no one more secure than Jesus Christ. He has helped me to see what I chose to ignore. He also helped me to see what is vitally important in my life: being in a relationship with him. I am emotionally and mentally healthy now because I went back. I sprinted back because I know that he is my anchor. I also know that we attract how we feel about ourselves on the inside. And because I didn’t like what was happening to me, I embarked on a journey to never put abuse above my own well-being. That battle was never mine, it’s the Lords.

2.      Find your voice

I am a confrontation avoider, which means I want peace more than anything else in this world. But coming out of a situation like that allowed me to see the importance of finding my voice. I found out that is okay to verbalize why I am disagreeing with someone. Actually, it’s healthy for a relationship and disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean that you no longer love them. It means that you love them enough to let them know that what they are saying or doing is hurting you. It’s okay to speak. And it is okay to say “no” without having to give a 127-page explanation.

3.      Accept/respect ALL of yourself

No one is perfect and the person who believes that they are is setting themselves up for a major fall. When we expect perfectionism of ourselves, we expect that in others, which means that our significant other does not have the potential to grow because we have an unrealistic expectation of how they should be. Accepting all of your flaws, believing that you’re worthy and more than enough are the keys to avoiding this type of environment in the future, so that it leaves no room for people to affect how you view yourself.

4.      Validate yourself

This is a hard area for me because I found out in 2013 that we all have Love Languages and mine is Words of Affirmation. Sigh. But don’t wait for someone to thank, praise, or validate what you are doing for them—even if you are going out of your way to please them. Don’t do it for them, do it for God (if that is your belief and path like mine) because then your validation will come from an inner reservoir.

5.      Seek help

When I said I sprinted back to God, I did it with my whole heart. I knew that I had to firmly seek out getting healthy again. I grabbed my Bible, The Battlefield of the Mind and Power Thoughts books by Joyce Meyer, and I read several books about codependency.  And I am proud to say that I am reading and applying, and I’ve seen a major turnaround in my mind and in my life.

6.      Take responsibility

I took full responsibility for what happened to me, I apologized for everything he falsely accused me of, and when I did, I set myself free, so that I will no longer loop in that area. I now view that situation as a challenge that needed to happen so that I can finally see my self-worth and value.

If you find yourself mending from a breakup with a woodpecker, first, breathe, they were attracted to what you could do for them or whatever you had that validated their self-worth. Second, it is going to be okay, what was once cracked and then broken can always be repaired just allow time to run its course. During the process of healing, begin to focus and love all of yourself. Once you are healed, you will know that you are capable of loving someone else fully.

And always remember: you are more than enough, not because of who you are but because of whose you are.

Are You ‘Looping’ In Your Life?

By Talya Flowers

In life, we will go through the same situations and conflicts over and over again—a term I call looping—until we learn how to confront the issue we are running away from. Madness, like my pastor used to say, is doing the same thing over and over, and yet expecting a different result. In the beginning, running from an issue is easy, but staying when a situation gets tough takes much more dedication and commitment. I often imagine how much farther some of us, myself included, would be into our careers, relationships, or life in general, if we just stopped running from ourselves.

I once overheard a conversation between two women. One of the women fervently discussed her plans for obtaining a doctorate degree. Then they started discussing work. The future doctor was quick to point out that she could never maintain a steady job. As she poured her story into her friend, she explained how she has cursed several employees and bosses out. She has walked out on company meetings because of her anger. All because she felt that it was important to give her coworkers and bosses “a piece of her mind.” Ironically, she didn’t understand why she couldn’t keep a job.

She’s a looper.

She has blamed everyone for her present circumstances but hasn’t confronted herself in the mirror. I saw the solution to her problem, clearly. So, if you are the type of person who runs from job to job, or from relationship to relationship, expecting change—and change doesn’t happen—you may want to take time to analyze yourself, first.

Remember, running away appears to solve the “right-now” problems, but it will catch up with you in the long-run. Avoiding or side-stepping an issue for the sake of not confronting an issue is a sure-fire way of never maturing, because these issues will be present in the next job, or next relationship that we commit to.
We then have to come to a point in our lives where we say, “Enough is enough! Despite what our present circumstances are, we are firm and stable.” (This is strictly for healthy relationships. I am not talking about being firm and stable in an abusive environment). With that being said, the key to confronting an issue is to recognize, accept, and change it.

Here are my five suggestions for overcoming ‘loopiness’ (madness) in your life:

1. Renew your mind

Joyce Meyer, a renowned Christian, published her book “Battlefield of the Mind” in 1995. I started reading her book after a very traumatic situation occurred in my life. And it has been very helpful to see that our hearts might be in the right place, but if our minds are corrupt, we tend to speak illogically, abuse people for no reason, and think that our actions are okay. Renewing the mind is a constant battle because some of our thoughts are stuck in the past. We haven’t healed from past traumas, and then we see people through the lens of the past. We hurt people because we haven’t moved on, which can be pretty damaging to the present relationship. As you think in your mind, you will see it in your life. Once you recognize that your mind needs to be renewed, go after it aggressively.

2. Visualize confrontation

Sometimes avoiding confrontation is a part of how we are raised. In the heat of the moment, we tend to shrink back in fear and keep our lips shut when we should be articulating our feelings. I found that the greatest success came when I learned to visualize a person’s temperament before I actually was in their company. It is actually a pretty calming thing to do because when they say something that rubs you the wrong way; they’re more likely looking for the same reaction that you’ve always given them. Ironically, some people feel powerful by being able to alter the emotions of another person—but not that day because you’ve already seen it coming.

3. Analyze yourself

It is so easy to blame someone else, but sometimes the issue is with us, which takes me to suggestion number four.

4. Take responsibility

You can’t move on until you take responsibility for your part in a chaotic job situation or in a damaged relationship. Case in point: I once dated a guy who was still stuck on a woman he dated three years ago. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he didn’t take an ounce of responsibility in why that relationship ended. He blamed her, and that is half of the reason why we are no longer dating today. When you take full responsibility, you are able to free yourself from that situation so that you don’t loop in that area anymore.

5. Change

I know what you’re thinking, “why does this have to be a suggestion?” Change is rough because it requires us to really analyze ourselves. Some people are knee deep in traumatic experiences, and they may not even know where to start. Begin where you believe is the underlying issue. Then go after that problem aggressively.

So, if you are going from job to job or from relationship to relationship, you are a looper. Either you haven’t learned from the past or you’re still stuck in the past. Regardless, both situations need to be thoroughly analyzed as well as your role in these situations. Learn from it, give yourself time to heal, take full responsibility, apologize, even if you didn’t do anything wrong, and you will see that the ‘loopiness’ (madness) will come to a halting end.

5 Reasons To Keep A Positive Perspective

By Talya Flowers

October seemed like the perfect month for implementing a new plan, especially with all this nice weather we have been experiencing where I live in Ohio. One day, I was at work and I stooped down to help tie a child’s shoelace. The sun hit my eyes. I smiled. Then a light bulb went off in my head—instead of trying to plan when I would go to the gym (I wasn’t having much luck), I would start walking.

I daydreamed, and thought that tomorrow would be the perfect day to walk to work. I was prepared. I could do it. I visualized my success. I saw myself getting out of bed early, eating a great breakfast, and leaving the house in time for my morning walk. And I felt deeply how I would feel after achieving my goal. It’s only 45 minutes, I reasoned.

My morning began exactly how I imagined. I left the house on time, everything was perfect. I even had time to praise myself for how much gas I would save.

Except, I forgot for one small detail: I hadn’t checked the weather.

I stepped outside the townhouse, and I could smell the rain. So, I ran back inside to get my umbrella. Then I heard the sky grumble. I wasn’t frightened because I knew that I could do it. I took one step, and soon I started walking toward my job. As the rain held, I became more and more confident. “Look at me,” I thought. Then 20 minutes into my walk, there was a light drizzle. I pulled out my umbrella, happy, of course, that I ran back to go get it.

From a drizzle, the rain turned into a downpour. I was determined to keep a positive attitude, although, I was becoming increasingly wet. By that time, it was too late to turn around. So, I stopped at the nearest gas station to get some plastic bags to cover my sneakers.

The bags didn’t hold.

Thirty minutes into my walk, the umbrella stopper broke.

I literally had to hold the umbrella open the whole time.

What a picture: me, moving through the rain like molasses, body completely soaked, and right arm cramping from holding the umbrella open. Then I took a wrong turn. At this point, I had two options: I could worry or laugh. I laughed and continued to reroute myself so that I could get to work on time.

I tell you this story because it is an example of how I keep a positive perspective.

So I want to share with you 5 reasons why this is important:

1. Worry does not solve problems but magnifies them.

By worrying, my situation would not have been any better. Worrying was not going to make the rain stop or suddenly cause my umbrella to be fixed. In fact, it could’ve caused a Tsunami or my umbrella could’ve blown away.

2. Laughter causes us to look through different lenses.

Sometimes a situation looks bleak but there is always something to be grateful for. I have realized that when I focus on a challenge, that challenge grows bigger and bigger. If I decide to change my focus on to something more positive, the challenge seems to always disappear.

3. Think of that awesome story you can tell your friends and family.

“Oh my goodness, you won’t believe what I just did,” is a great introduction to a juicy or funny story. Use it. We can’t be ashamed of our story. Tell everyone that you fought with the rain (or whatever obstacle you’ve faced) and won—you survived.

4. Each step taken in adversity makes achieving a goal much sweeter.

I could’ve given up on my trip, but I guess I wanted to prove to myself that I could make a commitment and stick with it. Adversity is going to come; ultimately, it is our decision whether we are going to learn how to push past the rain to get to the goal that we’ve outlined for ourselves.

5. There is always better weather ahead.

Once the rain subsides, the sun always comes back out.

Next time it rains in your life, think of me -w hether it’s real rain or the metaphorical kind. My hope is that we continue to push forward to achieve the goal(s) that we’ve set out for ourselves.

The best part of the story is when I made it to the door of my workplace. I entered in the code, closed my umbrella, and I stepped inside, allowing the door to slam behind me. Every part of me was soaked. With the amount of water that I wrung out of my socks, I could completely fill a 32-oz water bottle. I laughed. Then I put my shirt, socks, and sneakers into the dryer at work.

I learned something valuable that day: if I can make it in the rain, I can make it through anything.

5 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

By Talya Flowers

Creating boundaries in a relationship is tremendously important. I know because I’ve been in a relationship with no boundaries. I was left emotionally and mentally drained. Without a clear set of limitations, the relationship can easily turn from being in love to being in resentment. I’d rather stay in love.

In a relationship, there are two unique individuals coming together to form a union. That doesn’t mean that the people have no boundaries in their unity. No. There are bound to be differences, and that’s okay. I like to say, God has a great sense of humor by sending two opposites into a relationship with each other. Like any new habit that is being formed, it is going to take dedication and commitment.

So I urge you to ‘break up’ with unstable boundaries and move forward to have a more rewarding and fulfilling relationship with easily and clearly defined limits. These can be as simple as going to bed by 10 p.m., setting aside leisure time to read, watching television without interruptions, or something more difficult as learning to speak what’s on your mind. Whatever boundary has to be created, with the right person, it will be respected.

Here are five tips to creating and setting healthy boundaries:

1. Start out small

There is an old proverbial saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” So, of course, you will not create boundaries overnight. Sometimes the best way to change and set anything is to confront the situation. Then start making steps to eradicate it. What I like to do is write everything down either on a notecard or in a journal (I can’t remember everything, there are only 24 hours in a day/7 days per week). From there, a working list is generated. Then each day for three weeks, meditate on one of the boundaries that you wish to see in your life. In your journal, also write about and track your progress to see if you are staying true to your needs. Within three weeks to one month, you will have created a new boundary. Keep moving forward and allow your partner to help you out too. Be each other’s support system.

2. Articulate your feelings

Sometimes it is hard to articulate your feelings, and it’s even more difficult to articulate your feelings in an unhealthy relationship. Unhealthy relationships breed fear, and fear stifles communication. But hopefully you’re in a healthy relationship, and so going to your partner with your concerns won’t even cause him or her to bat an eye. Say what you have to say, and watch their reaction. They should be supportive and understanding because they want what is best for you.

3. Be direct

Let me be honest, this is not my strongest quality because of what I was taught as a child. I learned that it is easier to avoid than to confront, and that is very unhealthy. We often model the communication patterns of our parents and never recognize that their conflict-handling styles are not productive. Learning to ask for what you want (I said ask, not demand) is vitally important because it portrays healthy communication skills. Being direct is, well, being direct. There is really not an explanation that is needed for it, yet if you see that it is hard for you to be direct, then work on changing it.

4. Accept and understand your feelings

This is a gray area, and it ties well into being able to articulate your feelings. Some of us have grown up in households where our feelings were never important or never heard. It is crucial to know that it is okay to feel a certain way (anger, hurt, upset, and frustrated) and be okay with what you are feeling. The problem is when we allow our feelings and emotions to override sensible requests or worries from our partner or others. Spend time alone with yourself to figure out what why you feel a certain way, and then run to your journal to write it about it. Or shout it out.

5. Consider your past and present

How you are raised is a clear indication of your ability to create, set, and implement healthy boundaries. Sometimes we take on needy or emotionally withdrawn people because we have an undying need to focus on their issues, so we won’t have to focus on our own. Abusive or alcoholic households are breeders for hurt and wounded adults … and damaged people, hurt other people (and the cycle keeps on going). For once, you have to dig deep within yourself and try to understand why there are unstable boundaries in your present relationship.

Conclusion

If you are certain that you have to create boundaries, then create them. Your partner will respect your desire to implement new, healthier boundaries in your life. If not, then that’s a red flag, and even further discussion may have to take place.

For healthy relationships, practice creating and setting boundaries. The more practice you get, the more confident you will become in sticking to them and becoming more self-aware. Whatever you choose, make sure that it is healthy and will benefit you and your significant other. Have I always known this? No, this advice is solely for me: from my heart to yours!