Jamaica: In Need Of Another Vacation

My husband and I went on our first vacation without children in July. We visited Montego Bay, Jamaica. The vacation was well overdue and needed. We spent 7 days there.

The scenery in Jamaica is breathtaking. I never felt more at peace. We loved watching the sun set. The food and drinks were amazing.

The resort, Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton, had multiple restaurants on premises. There were different themes daily. There were also a variety of entertainment options each night.

The options for excursions were endless. For the most part, the excursions were a bit of a drive. When booking an excursion, it’s best to plan on being away from the resort for the majority of the day. We enjoyed horseback riding, driving ATVs, visiting Bob Marley’s home and final resting place, and swimming in Luminous Lagoon.

Visiting Jamaica was very therapeutic. We were able to forget about all of our worries back home and just enjoy being in each other’s presence. Visiting Jamaica was also a humbling experience. The residents of Jamaica were so humble and grateful. It was an eye opener to see how the things we take for granted in the United States is appreciated in Jamaica.


Clear Bag Policy: Are We Really Safe?

I’ve recently began paying closer attention to events I attend that implement the clear bag policy. I’ve noticed a few issues that are very concerning, especially traveling with children. One of the main issues I’ve noticed is not every facility that implements a clear bag policy has the same rules in place.

I’ve been to some events where everyone is checked by security, including children. In this case, security uses metal detectors and pat downs. I have also been to events where it seems the women are the only concern. In this case, security only focuses on checking the clear bags women arrive with. Everyone else goes through the line without being checked. It’s embarrassing enough to have to carry a clear bag with personal items clearly visible.

My family attended a football game recently where security grabbed my clear bag and checked it while everyone else just walked through. My issue with this? If only clear bags are being checked, what is being allowed into events with those that get to bypass the security check? We attended a game prior to this recent game where security saw I had a clear bag and just waved me through without checking it.

If security measures are going to be in place, they should apply to everyone. After all, everyone’s safety should be a top priority.

Shine Bright Beautiful

Beautiful one, did you know you have the power to change the world? You matter. You are important. You are loved. Never give up on your dreams because one day your dreams may come true in a way you never imagined.

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Don’t let anyone try to make you hide your talents to make someone else look better. Your capabilities are endless. You deserve happiness. You deserve to be treated equally. You deserve to be loved. You deserve to be respected. You are valued. You are treasured. You are special. Never be ashamed of who you are. You are beautiful just the way you are.

Girls need to be encouraged at a young age. They need to know they have the capability to be anything or anyone they choose to be. The way girls are taught and influenced at a young age plays a part in their beliefs as they mature. Teaching girls that they do not have to limit themselves because of the beliefs of society gives them confidence and empowerment they need to one day make a difference in the world.

Never stop believing. Never stop dreaming. Never stop encouraging. Never stop shining.

Know Your Worth

When we learn our true self worth, we begin to expect better. We stop accepting anything less than the best. Learning to value ourselves brings a fresh mindset.

The good thing about developing a new mindset is our energy begins to change. Anytime we lack self-worth, we attract the wrong people and the wrong energy. If we don’t care about our worth, how can we expect anyone else to care?

The way we present ourselves teaches others how to treat us. It teaches them what to expect from us. Presenting ourselves in a positive light will show others we expect positive energy. When you’re a positive person, negative energy makes you uncomfortable.

If you’re attracting negative energy, it’s time to evaluate yourself. Evaluate your surroundings. If negative energy doesn’t make you uncomfortable, you may be a source of the negative energy. Once you begin to value yourself, and the energy that surrounds you, things will begin to change.

Know your worth and don’t expect or accept anything less than the best.

Your Mental Health Is Important

Today is World Mental Health Day. Mental health is a topic that definitely needs more attention. Oftentimes mental health is not a priority due to the stigma that is associated with mental illness. The negative judgement, discrimination, stereotypes, and negative comments often cause those that are suffering silently to avoid seeking help.

Mental health stigma can cause many effects. As previously stated, those suffering silently may avoid seeking help. Those that are receiving treatment may discontinue treatment due to stigma and lack of support. When loved ones, coworkers, friends, and others display negative behavior, this can make coping with mental illness all the more difficult. Bullying, embarrassment, and harassment can cause, and aggravate, mental health symptoms. Mental illness and stigma can also affect self esteem. When any or all of the mentioned factors come into play, those living with mental disorders may begin to develop negative self thoughts.

It is important to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness. Common signs and symptoms of mental illness include: feeling down, depressed, or hopeless, frequent mood changes, becoming easily agitated, frequent confusion, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, frequent unexplained tiredness, difficulty sleeping, delusions, hallucinations, frequently feeling anxious, paranoia, difficulty coping with daily situations, stressors, and people, changes in appetite or eating habits, multiple symptoms that cannot be linked to a medical cause, beginning or increasing drug or alcohol use, increased anger, hostility, violence, suicidal thoughts, and homicidal thoughts.

It’s okay to not be okay; just never give up. If you are concerned about changes in your mental health, or if you’re concerned about someone’s mental health, it’s okay to voice your concerns. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of worsening mental illness. Routine primary care and mental health professional followups are important. Whether it be routine appointments, medication, counseling, support groups, or a combination, compliance is very important for the management of your mental health. Taking care of your physical health can help balance your mental health. Declining physical health can impact your mental health. When a change in either is noticed, it is very important to notify your healthcare provider or mental health professional. Try to work on improving your sleep hygiene, consume healthy meals, become and remain physically active, and engage in healthy conversations.

If you or a loved one shows signs of mental illness, it is important to have a support system in place. Help is available. Knowing you are loved and supported can be a major key in the deciding factor to seek help. If suicidal or homicidal thoughts occur, or if any mental health emergency occurs, there are many options available to get help. Go to the ER or call 911. Contact your primary care provider or mental health specialist. Reach out to someone you can trust. There is also a 24 hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline available. The number is 1-800-273-8255.

Keep Shining

When we live to please others, it’s often difficult to realize our own worth. Basing our worth on the input of others can have a negative impact on us. Have you ever given your all, and felt great about it, then ended up feeling horrible because you didn’t get the credit you thought you deserved? Don’t let this stop you from giving your all.

Remember that science project, presentation, or essay you did your best to complete? You thought your work deserved an A+ but the teacher gave you a B-. It may have hurt to receive a lower grade than you expected, but you gave it your all. The important part is you gave your all.

While at work, it’s easy to feel overlooked. You try to do everything by the book. You bring positive vibes. You leave your stress at the door and display that beautiful smile. You get the job done. You feel great about your performance. Even in the midst of all of your great work and feelings, one thing is missing: your supervisor doesn’t acknowledge all of your hard work, dedication, and positivity. Once again, the important part is you gave your all.

If we give up each time we don’t get the credit we believe we should receive, how far would we make it in life? Not everyone is going to appreciate the gifts you have within you, support you, or be a fan of you. You have to be your biggest fan. You have to believe in yourself. Never let someone else be the deciding factor in the path your life takes. If the input you receive is positive, use it as a tool to better yourself. If the input is negative, don’t let it get you down and discouraged. No matter what, always strive to better yourself.

This world we live in is full of people that were rejected by someone at some point in their life. Some of those same people didn’t let being overlooked or rejected stop them from becoming someone great. They didn’t let the naysayers deter their journey to greatness. Neither should you.

I frequently say “You never know who’s watching, you never know who you may inspire.” Over this past week, I started doubting myself. I began to wonder “Am I on the right path?” Just when I started to think about all of the times I wish I had more support, I began seeing posts about Tyler Perry’s grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios. Here is a man that faced many obstacles in his life, yet he never gave up. Imagine if he gave up on his dreams the first time someone didn’t believe in him. He has touched the lives of countless people over the years. This weekend, he inspired me. I refuse to give up just because someone else doesn’t see my potential for greatness. His story has encouraged me to push myself harder to get to my desired destination in life.

There will be times when others don’t believe in you. That’s perfectly fine. Believe in yourself. Know your self worth. Stop living to please others. When you feel like giving up, reevaluate yourself, reevaluate your plans, remember why you started, and keep going. Never let anyone dull your shine. Keep shining bright. Your light might brighten the life of someone else.

Learn To Listen More And Speak Less

Sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen. There are times when every situation does not need a response. Don’t be so quick to respond to every situation.

Listen to your children. Vital information can be missed by tuning children out when they speak. It may seem like they’re “just talking” sometimes, but that one moment you decide to ignore them could be a moment that will forever be regretted. I’ve made it a daily routine to tell my children to have a good day before they go to school. When they return from school, I ask “how was your day” and I listen to every word. When they go to practice, I ask how practice went. I’m concerned about every aspect of their lives. I let them know I care. I let them know they are loved. Imagine if the one time a child may be depressed or angry, and the one time they’re ignored, is the time they carry out a plan that may have been preventable if we only listened.

There are so many times where situations may have been avoidable if just one person took the time to listen. It’s so easy to tell someone how they should deal with situations. It’s so easy to tell them how we would’ve dealt with a situation better than they did. How much easier would it be to just listen and try to obtain a true understanding of their thought process? Speaking over someone while they’re trying to pour their heart out, when they’re possibly at their wits end, is not the time to shut them down. Listen to them. Wait for the appropriate time to speak. Sometimes we find our own answer in the midst of venting.

Imagine how you would feel if you knew your words, your lack of patience, or your decision to not hear someone out was the trigger to someone’s actions. What if those actions could have been avoided if you let them know you cared? Sometimes all it takes is just listening. Show someone you care. You don’t always have to have the final word. Try to understand where others are coming from. Try to understand their thought process. Show compassion. Show someone you truly care enough to listen, and to be the support they need during tough times.

Never be too busy to listen.

Put Yourself First

It’s a new month. The year is almost over. When is the last time you put yourself first? Do you take the time to make yourself a priority?

Sometimes we get so busy with daily responsibilities, we neglect ourselves. As a parent, it’s easy to devote countless hours to our children and their schedules. School and work can also take up a lot of our time.

It’s absolutely fine to make yourself available for others. It’s also fine to make time for yourself. Making yourself a priority isn’t selfish. It’s necessary.

Take time to relax. Give your mind and body a break from the day to day hustle and bustle. Taking a walk on the beach, taking a bubble bath, reading a book, and gardening are all inexpensive ways to relax. A good massage can also be relaxing. Whatever works best for you, try to devote time to find a way to relax on a consistent basis.

Getting a good laugh in can be very relaxing. Constant stress, no matter the source, can take a toll on you. Smiling can help with relaxing. Deep breathing exercises are great as well.

Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. We all deserve time to relax. If it’s only once a month, it’s a start. Take time for yourself and enjoy it.

Trying To Keep The Faith

This will be one of the most difficult topics for me to discuss. It takes a great amount of courage to discuss this aspect of my life. As with every topic I discuss, I hope this one helps someone that may be able to relate.

There have been many times I felt like my prayers weren’t being received or heard. Sometimes life can become so painful we don’t know what else to say or do. I’m human. Sometimes I get discouraged. Sometimes I lose faith. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just meant to live in pain. “I’ve prayed. I’ve believed. What else am I supposed to do?”

Some of the most painful moments are surrounded by some form of loss. I lost my maternal grandfather and my father within four months of each other when I was only seven years old. At the age of 13, I watched my oldest brother take his last breath in Hospice. These three men left a void in my heart. I began to experience a hatred from my mother a child should never feel. The worst part about it was hearing “you know how she is.” Everyone made excuses for her actions.

I learned just because you’re a part of a family, it doesn’t mean they’ll have your back. My first harsh life lesson was being raped, at the age of 14, on April Fools Day, and having my mother and brother not believe me, having them curse me out and call me heartbreaking names. My brother even said “it’s people like you that get people killed.” I’ll never forget those words. When the truth was revealed, and I said “If you would’ve had the testing done, you would’ve seen I was telling the truth” my mother sarcastically said “Well I’m sorry if I hurt you.” My brother? He didn’t say much of anything. How could he say anything? He still associated with the guy that was responsible. Even after the truth was revealed, he continued to associate with him. This same brother had absolutely no problem taking my inheritance from me. My father left our home to me. My mother was still responsible for it since I was a minor. Somehow when she made him Power of Attorney as her health changed, they found a way to make sure my brother gets the house. I told this same hate filled mother “I forgive you. I don’t know why you were so hateful, but I forgive you.” These were the words I told her before she passed. I also watched her take her last breath. My brother became just another relative.

I’ve experienced homelessness. I’ve been divorced. After the divorce, I became a single mother that sacrificed beyond measure to make sure my children would not go without anything. It was at my darkest moments I realized just how much of a black sheep I was. I faced, and overcame, many painful life moments alone.

When it seems like you just can’t catch a break, hang in there. There may be something better in store. I remained on a job where I felt uncomfortable on a daily basis. I never realized the reason for the discomfort. I never realized it was partially self-inflicted pain. I remained on a job way longer than I should have. There was a great sense of relief, of peace, when I clocked out for the last time. The life experiences I’ve discussed are just a portion of the pain I’ve experienced. Somehow, I’m still here.

Not only am I writing with the hopes of inspiring and encouraging others, I’m writing to inspire and encourage myself. This is therapeutic for me. It’s helping me release so much hurt and stress I’ve kept deep inside for so many years. It’s helping me show others that may be in similar situations realize “you’re not alone.”

Don’t let the pain of life silence you. Your life story can help someone else.

Drama Free Zone

One thing that I’ve noticed gets under the skin of negative people is refusing to conform to their ways. Negative people tend to get offended when you choose not to participate in their negativity. Never feel bad about being your own person. Never let anyone make you feel bad for choosing to be positive. Don’t feel like you have to contribute to the latest gossip because you don’t want to feel left out.

Negative vibes can bring an atmosphere down. Negative vibes can bring your energy down and those around you. It can make your day less productive. Sometimes, if we’re not careful, we can project those negative vibes onto others without realizing it. If you’re around someone that’s always negative, someone that always has negative energy, don’t let them bring you down. Don’t let negative energy affect your peace.

You don’t have to feel obligated to blend in. You don’t have to participate in conversations that go against your values. Upon awakening every day, something as simple as saying “I will have a positive day” can keep you motivated. Don’t waver. If you have to repeat this multiple times a day to remain positive, that’s perfectly fine.

As I was approaching my breaking point on my job, I found myself frequently saying “Today’s going to be a good day. I don’t have time for the drama. I’m not letting anyone disturb my peace. I will have peace.” I didn’t realize it then, because I thought I was just trying to help myself get through what seemed like endless days, but I was actually speaking my peace into existence.

Don’t be a chameleon. Don’t change based on who you’re around. If you’re a positive person, be positive at all times. Stay true to yourself. Speak positivity and peace into your life and your environment.

Take a moment to evaluate your life. Evaluate your surroundings. How is your energy and the energy of those around you? Do you have peace? Speak into your life and environment what you desire to have.

If you may be the person that’s not so positive, if you may not have the best energy, if you enjoy affecting the peace of others, take a moment to evaluate your life. Think about how it makes you feel when someone affects your peace. Be that change that’s needed. Be that positive example to those that may be used to the negativity.

You never know who’s watching. Your boldness could inspire someone else.

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