Sunday, July 19, 2015


Do you ever feel that you’re wearing a mask or smothering who you really are? Well, you aren’t alone. Thousands of people do the same thing every day (and you may just not notice because hey, they’re doing a great job of hiding it). Why do we hide from ourselves? Perhaps the most common reason is for approval: we all want to be liked, right? And, with the rise of social media and other online “masks,” it’s fairly easy to create a false perception of ourselves. Maybe we believe it’ll bring us happiness, or something along those lines. The truth of the matter is, we are all unique individuals and embracing who we truly are is probably one of the most liberating things we can do for ourselves. Even renowned psychologist Carl Jung once stated that “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
There’s the day-to-day stifling- when we stop ourselves from saying or doing something because we are afraid of another’s judgment. Unless it’s harmful to another person (following the whole “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” rule we’ve all heard), there’s no reason why you should minimize your own feelings because of someone else: “Don’t try to please others at the expense of your values and your integrity. 

At the end of the day, you want to like yourself when you look in a mirror” (Millen Livis). A common example of this is in schools, when a child will go against what he/she feels is right in order to fit in with a group. Adults exhibit the same behavior. Being inauthentic doesn’t just harm us, it can harm others (directly or indirectly).

Another way of suffocating one’s self involves wishing we were more (or entirely) like someone else. Today, we tend to compare ourselves to what we see on t.v. or social media, even if we know it’s not realistic. 9 times out of 10, when we measure ourselves in this way, we come up short. “Ah,” we sigh, “I wish I could be more like that…” But what does being more like “that” accomplish? I’m guilty of this, but I don’t have an answer for it, either. 
What I do know is that once you become “more like that,” you’re still dissatisfied. There will always be something just beyond your reach, another “that” to aspire towards. It’s as though you’re chasing something that’s forever out of reach, which is a silly way to spend one’s time. “To wish you were someone else is to waste the person you are”- there is no one else in the world like you, so why stifle yourself?

As it turns out, pretending to be someone we aren’t can have some serious side effects on our health: “If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief” (Brene Brown). It may take some time and practice, but only you can stop minimizing your feelings, speak up when your gut tells you to, and learn to love the things that are amazing about you.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015


You may have heard the old proverb “Fall down 7 times, stand up 8.” We all get knocked down at some point, unfortunately it’s a part of life. Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” You may also know it as “grit.” Oftentimes, resilience is something we recognize more in others and fail to see in ourselves. It’s also something that must be tested. You can’t truly know whether you’re resilient or not unless you’ve endured some hardships and persevered. After all, “a calm sea never made a skilled sailor.”
We know all the Hall of Famers and the Nobel Prize winners, those who have triumphed in the face of adversity. But guess what? They often failed just as many times as they succeeded. They endured heartbreak and doubt along the way- but they managed to gather themselves and keep pushing forward. Babe Ruth didn’t hit every pitch that came across the plate, but he kept swinging (so to speak): “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” You never really know when your home run is going to happen, but you do have to have faith that eventually, you’ll hit the ball again.
There will be a time in your life when you are completely blind-sided- when a seemingly normal day suddenly flips, and you feel as though the wind has been knocked out of you. From experience, I can tell you that for awhile, it seemed like I was stumbling along, not sure of where I was going, or on the really bad days, wondering if there was any point in pushing forward. Doubt doesn’t creep in- it has dropped from the sky like a cartoon piano, and you question everything you thought you knew. It’s was at this point in time that I started to rely on my faith to guide me: 2 Corinthians 5:1 “I will walk by faith even when I cannot see.” It really gives a whole new meaning to “blind faith,” doesn’t it? When you’re feeling this down, this is the time to dig deep and have faith that no matter what happens next, you will be okay: “However long the night, the dawn will break” (African Proverb).
The thing is, life is full of peaks and valleys, and some will simply be easier to push through than others. Whatever it is that you have gone through, are going through, or will go through, you will come out on the other side. And then, at some point, things will feel low and dark again. The cycle is going to continue, and it’s so much easier once you accept that the world will keep moving and changing- whether you want to or not. Resilient people may not like change, but they learn to move with it, or roll with the punches Even famous biologist Charles Darwin recognized resilience as the most important survival skill in any species: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” You are stronger than you know- have faith and push on!



As a mother, I can say that there is no greater blessing than my children (and every mother I know will tell you the same thing). From day one, you learn to put their needs first, to feel their pain as well as their happiness. And, despite all the advice and guidebooks about parenting and motherhood, there’s no real book out there with THE answers, The Ultimate Guide to Raising Children (Unabridged). I like to think that we all do the best we can with what we’re given, and that  is what being a good mother looks like. In honor of the day, this post is dedicated to a few lessons motherhood has blessed me with:
Selflessness. As a parent, your needs move to the back of the line, whether this means loss of sleep in the early days as you comfort a crying infant, taking on a second job to make ends meet, pushing your personal hobbies or passions to the backburner to give your child your full attention- these are some common sacrifices made by the average mother. A parent truly understands that “Life isn’t about getting and having, it’s about giving and being” (Kevin Kruse).
Accomplishment. If you talk to someone who has graduated, run a marathon, or reached any sort of goal that they’ve been striving toward, they will often tell you the same thing: all the hard work, the proverbial “blood, sweat, and tears,” were all worth it in the end. Motherhood feels a lot like that. I wholeheartedly agree that “Motherhood is the most challenging as well as the utmost satisfying vocation in this world” (Nite Ambani). You offer your children lessons and all your love, and yet, you have to accept at a certain point that they are autonomous beings that you can’t control/protect forever, and must hope that you’ve given them all the tools they’ll need to pave their own way.
Empathy. “Motherhood was the great equaliser for me; I started to identify with a mother, you have that impulse to wish that no child should ever be hurt, or abused, or go hungry, or not have opportunities in life” (Annie Lennox). This idea extends beyond children- when you get down to it, we’re all someone’s daughter or son. Every one of us has a mother. For me, it took becoming a mother to fully appreciate this sentiment.
Perseverance. The greatest lie I’ve ever heard told to a new parent: “It gets easier as they get older.” Easier? Compared to what? Instead, I’d revise this statement to say that the work doesn’t get “easier,” but it changes in nature. You move from diapers and teething to coordinating after-school obligations and homework to dating and driving to college...even just thinking about it all can be exhausting. But, somehow, you adjust and learn to pull through all of this: “Motherhood is wonderful, but it’s also hard work. It’s the logistics more than anything. You discover you have reserves of energy you didn’t know you had” (Deborah Mailman).
Of course, this is only a glimpse of the lessons I’ve learned as a mother. What is the greatest lesson? Unconditional love- but, this is something better explained through feeling rather than writing

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


When you hear the word “miracle,” what comes to mind? It’s a subjective word, so everyone has a different answer based on their experience and perceptions. We all tend to agree on the “large scale” miracles- walking on water, mothers lifting cars, people (and pets) returning home after being presumed dead, and so on. But I’ve found it’s how we perceive the smaller scale miracles, that is, the miracles in the everyday, that directly affect our joy and appreciation of life.
With the things that are possible today in terms of education and technology, it’s so easy to become cynical and take certain things for granted, including the very fact that we are alive. We’ve come to expect 2-day shipping when we purchase something online, not considering such a thing was inconceivable 100, or even 10, years ago. Watching incredibly advanced graphics on a screen in high-definition often takes priority over seeing something in real life. It’s no wonder many of us have grown disenchanted with the world around us.
Part of this may have something to do with the monotony of schedules and the feeling that we’re “just getting by.”  “You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle” (Paulo Coehlo). It’s true- when we put on our blinders, the world loses its colors and we move through days on autopilot. Things must be really grand and spectacular in order to stand out and grab our attention, otherwise they go by unnoticed and unappreciated. Albert Einstein once said “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” If you could choose, which would you pick?
I believe many of us would choose to see the miracle in everything and in each moment: “To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle” (Walt Whitman). You don’t have to be a poet or a dreamer to find the beauty in everything, nor do you have to be a survivor of a traumatic event to know how to appreciate each sunrise, each breath. There’s no limit- nothing can stop you! “To be alive, to be able to see, to’s all a miracle. I have adapted the technique of living life from miracle to miracle” (Arthur Rubinstein)
Today, I’m able to see and be blessed by the miracle of life. Being surrounded by my children has been incredibly beneficial to me. As they grow, I’ve been granted the gift of seeing the world anew through their eyes, as they grow and interact with the world. As much as I wanted to be spiteful and angry at the world for my oldest son’s experience, he endured, and continues to thrive.
It’s profoundly amazing when you think about how, of all the ways things could have gone, for reasons beyond our comprehension, everything happened exactly the way it did, so that you, me, and everyone else arrived here in the world. If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


What have I done to deserve this?
We’ve all had this thought at some point or another in our lives- whether about something good or something bad. The idea of “deserving” and fixating on this notion is a recipe for resentment, disappointment, and sadness. In believing we deserve something (be it an object or circumstance), we assign the labels of “good” or “bad” to ourselves. This affects how we interact with the world and our perception of our role within it. This post is about the danger of “deserving” and shifting toward acceptance.

When something bad happens, people will often either take the stance of “What have I done to deserve this” or “Of course, this is happening because I deserve it.” Both of these thoughts can be damaging. They invite the “I am a victim” stance on the world. Unfortunately, once we develop this relationship with our surroundings, it gets perpetuated and becomes a difficult pattern to alter. But how? It involves a perception shift from thinking about bad experiences as opportunities for growth, rather than punishments (and yes, it is a tough pill to swallow at first). After all, “You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you” (Mary Tyler Moore). Difficult situations are never intended to break or destroy, but to give us an opportunity to see how strong and capable we really are- what other way is there to discover this? “Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it” (Buddha). The blessing may be that in facing a difficult situation, you overcome a fear that has held you back in the past. After, you migh be able to face other situations without this fear, knowing that you have already defeated it.
On the other hand, there are those who question when good things come their way, wondering what they have done to deserve such good fortune. Or, they are perhaps skeptical that a situation is too good to be true. Again, this isn’t something for us to judge- “God never made a promise that was too good to be true” (Dwight L. Moody). If your life is being rewarded, accept that it is happening for a reason beyond your control. A force greater than yourself believes that you are deserving, and that is enough. A common response to situations that seem to good to be true is self-sabotage, where a person will ruin a situation (consciously or unconsciously) because he/she is so utterly convinced of being unworthy of anything beautiful or good.
When you feel that something is a punishment or reward, remember that there is a reason for everything, even if you don’t understand what it is yet. As Idina Menzel has said, “Things happen for a reason, and in their own time.” For anyone whose children love Frozen, she also said (or, more appropriately, sang) “Let it go” and it isn’t bad advice. It’s also pretty catchy. Good, bad, or indifferent-there is a purpose for everything that happens in your life-stay strong and have a little faith.                            


Friday, April 24, 2015


“If all you did was just look around for things to appreciate, you would live a joyous, spectacular life” Abraham Hicks
I have written about gratitude before, and it only makes sense to write about joy, too, since they go hand in hand. When we think about all the things we are grateful for in our lives, the end result is often a feeling of joy. When we are joyful, expressing gratitude becomes easy and effortless. The two create a reinforcing cycle of positivity, when you experience one the other often follows. Learning to cultivate both will allow you to create a “joyous, spectacular life.”
First, what is joy? It is defined as “an intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness, or an instance of such a feeling.” Joy does not necessarily need to be felt with such a force. It can be more of a slow, simmering feeling that builds up and gathers strength as it goes. It can also be maintained for a long period of time-a lifetime even, rather than cycles of becoming  bright and hot too fast and burning out. One way to maintain joy is to identify sources of joy in your life.
What brings you joy? As I suggested with cultivating gratitude, create a “joy list” as a way to actively cultivate joy. This can be anything that lifts you up or makes you smile (a recommended starting point is at least five). If you can, try to make them “big picture” items (as opposed to “I’m really thirsty and a glass of water would bring me joy at this moment). In spite of hardships in my life, there are still plenty of things to be joyful of. My family and my faith, for starters: “You have filled my heart with greater joy” (Psalm 4:7). Recognizing what expands upon our joy and writing it down allows us to have a physical reminder to revisit. In less joyful times, this list can be a way to help maintain joy, in spite of what is happening around us.   
What many of us don’t realize- or take the ‘long way’ in discovering- is that joy is an entirely internal state, independent of external circumstances. Whether you get a lottery ticket or a parking ticket does not need to dictate your joy level (or lack thereof). Joy may not come easily at first, in fact, for many people it doesn’t. Like anything in life, it is a practice that requires some work. Many of us get stuck in a routine, a search for constant improvement, and we become wired to constantly get better, reach the next level, never settle. There’s always something more for us to do, be, or have, just beyond our reach. Part of joy is learning to be content with where we are now, otherwise we’ll push it aside, saying “I can be joyful when I reach this next point in my life. That’s when it will be ok.”
Joy can be as easy or as difficult as we make it. If you find yourself putting your pursuit of a joyful life aside for other items on your “to-do” list, consider this proverb: “The body heals with play, the mind heals with laughter and the spirit heals with joy.” Maybe, with a little joy, you can reach goals you’d never believed attainable.


    Thursday, April 16, 2015


    Throughout history, we’ve heard incredible stories of people who have received divine messages from a being beyond themselves, giving them the courage and direction to perform a great feat. There’s Moses and the burning bush, Joan of Arc, and English artist William Blake, to name a few. In fact, the idea of divine inspiration still fascinates us today, as it has a place in our pop culture with movies like Angels in the Outfield. These people are all different nationalities, ages, gender, and yet they have something in common: they were open to receiving a divine message. They may have initially had fear and resisted action at first, but there was a greater force inside of them that granted them the ability to hear. Here is an even greater secret: we all have that ability.
    Here’s an analogy using modern technology. We are all like phones, capable of sending and receiving calls. However, some of us may have voicemails that are more full than others. These past messages may be old ideas, insecurities or beliefs that are taking up space. What happens when you don’t clean out the old messages in your voicemail? It fills up, and you can’t receive any new messages. Until you clear out whatever is spiritually blocking you, you won’t be able to receive any new messages. Do your best to clear out those old messages, and if something or someone is keeping you tied up on the other line, you may need to hang up. As author Paulo Coelho says, “If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”
    I’d also like to express the importance of opening yourself to receiving messages without constantly expecting one. There is a balance between keeping your ears, heart and mind open to receive without looking for meaning in everything. If you try to make everything you see into some sort of sign, you become distracted and ultimately block yourself from receiving new messages. The messages you look for do not work like a magic 8 ball that you can ask whether or not you should buy a certain pair of shoes or what you should eat for lunch.
    You may encounter something difficult or find yourself at a crossroads, with no idea which path to choose. These are the moments when we are most likely to crave some sort of sign or message- and become impatient when it does not arrive on our time. I am definitely guilty of this impatience. But, doesn’t it defeat the purpose to have these signs available to us at the snap of our fingers? To be able to just say “Okay, Universe, I need you to tell me which way to go now” and get a clear, instant answer. Signs are much more powerful when our own influence is absent from them.
    The bottom line: keep your “lines open,” be it through prayer, meditation, or whatever works best for you, and don’t force it.  Be open to receiving and “Believe with all your heart that you will do what you were made to do”( Orson Swett Marden), and more will be revealed.


    Friday, April 10, 2015


    Life is a series of peaks and valleys, ups and downs, good days and bad. One day, it may seem as if you’re on top of the world, only to feel knocked down the very next day. Life is a balancing act, and we have to take the good with the bad. But I’m talking about the severe valleys- the ones that go so deep, you lose reception for hope. Let me first say, you will make it out of the valley, because that is how life moves. In the meantime, though, let’s discuss the nature of sorrow and it’s purpose in our lives.
    It’s hard to imagine a grander plan in the midst of pain and suffering. Why do terrible, horrific things happen in our world? Why do things like sadness, despair, and heartbreak exist? These questions are powerful, and can shake the foundations of even the most spiritually sound people. Sorrow is perhaps one of the most devastating emotions (rage being the most misunderstood, and joyful the most sought-after).
    In the thick of the storm, I recommend trying to find refuge in the belief that “This too shall pass,” far away though it may seem. Nothing is ever put in our paths that we are not capable of getting through, no matter how hopeless it may initially seem. The difficulties you are facing today are the valleys you must climb through, perhaps crawling at times, to get to the top of your next mountain. You may not notice the progress you’re making at first, but the point is to keep moving forward.  As Roman poet Ovid suggested, “Bear and endure: this sorrow will one day prove to be for your good.” A helpful exercise is recalling a past difficulty that you experienced. Despite the pain you felt at the time, you made it through and became a stronger person.   
    Yet, in spite of this knowledge that brighter days are ahead of us, perhaps we have languished a bit too long in the gray, rainy days and have strained our eyes from searching for a break in the clouds. This is a good time to remind ourselves that life is a balancing act: “We enjoy warmth because we have been cold. We appreciate light because we have been in darkness. By the same token, we can experience joy because we have known sadness” (David Weatherford). We are not allowed the benefit (or curse) of experiencing only one side of the coin- that is not the way our world was designed. Sorrow is only a small part of the larger spectrum of emotion that we are capable of feeling. When you’re feeling low, remember that it’s all part of the process, and it will pass.
    Even Carl Jung said “The word ‘happiness’ would lose it’s meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” Because we have sorrows, we are better able to accept happiness and truly understand what it means when we feel it. Sorrow is just as beautiful as happiness, and just as important


    Wednesday, April 1, 2015


    Happy April! This time of year is associated with beginning, rebirth, awakening, and growth. (Is it any coincidence Easter is this weekend?) It is a time for coming alive and appreciating the beauty that surrounds us. It’s a time of year that brings a breath of fresh air to our lives. Think of the ritual of spring cleaning: we clean our homes, ridding closets of old clothing, neglected crevices and crannies of dust, fix leaky faucets, and begin planning gardens. It’s a time of year that inspires a fresh start. But, as anyone may ask before beginning a behemoth task like spring cleaning, “Where do I begin?”
    Are there some areas of your life that you are dissatisfied with? This is the perfect time to make positive changes! By embracing the notion of rebirth, you can begin again. It may be a new diet, commitment to a health change, career related goals- whatever has been occupying space in the back of your mind, there’s no time like the present to get started! “You can’t change your life until your mind changes” rings true for many. Your thoughts carry a great amount of weight and have the power to shape your reality. Constantly thinking “I can’t” or “I’m not ready” only solidifies that core belief in your life, and the truth is, you will never be ready until you decide to be ready. Once you decide “Yes, I can and I will,” the rest of your life will catch up!
    Part of the “self” spring cleaning process is identifying the problem areas- the places that have mentally gathered some dust for you. Perhaps it’s a matter of confronting your doubts and/or insecurities. It may involve breaking the habit of hitting snooze 3 times before finally getting out of bed, or going to the bakery after work. Maybe it’s carving more time for yourself out of a schedule bursting with commitments. You probably already have an idea which areas of your life have been neglected, and in spite of external factors, you can turn any ship around. All it takes is a bit of willingness: “You are a mirror reflecting a noble face. The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; Everything that you want, you are already that”- Rumi.
    Let’s go back to the spring cleaning analogy. Pretend that whatever is holding you back (the snooze button, a busy schedule, a series of doubts, fear, etc) is a bunch of grime covering the windows of your home. It’s time for spring cleaning, so you roll up your sleeves, grab soap, water, windex (or any other tools you would like to implement), and apply some elbow grease. Bit by bit, you see some progress. Once you’re finished, your windows are sparkling, and look at all the light that’s now shining in your home! You may even wonder how you lived before, with all the grime casting darkness over your life.
    No matter what challenges life has presented you with recently, there’s no better time than spring to shed that former skin, whether it be blemished by insecurity, doubt, fear, and so on- and let the authentic you breath the fresh, spring air!

    Friday, March 20, 2015


    We are very thankful for our '5 Star' book review rating from :

    Currently there is a lot of controversy around packaging vaccines and mandatory administration of vaccines to children entering kindergarten and up to a certain age. The purpose of the vaccines is to ensure that there is some type of safeguard, not only for your child but against diseases and sicknesses that other children could be carrying. Flu Shot Gone Wrong: The Life Changing Story of Maurice Lamkin, Jr by Michelle Mouille gives a touching account about how a flu shot given to her son Maurice caused him to experience an adverse effect to it which placed him in intensive care. Despite being a Christian, can Michelle’s faith overcome her emotions and what she sees is happening to her son?

    Flu Shot Gone Wrong: The Life Changing Story of Maurice Lamkin, Jr by Michelle Mouille was not only a great story, but provided a wealth of information about the vaccination industry. It educated me on so much that is involved with these types of cases, such as: 1) The CDC and FDA monitor these cases and collect information when an adverse effect happens due to the vaccines and 2) The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is designed to handle these types of injury cases. Now I know that nothing is perfect but the question is: should it be mandatory for children entering kindergarten to be vaccinated?

    Yes, people are raised differently with different morals and ethics, different economics create different household environments, but there is such a thing as being allergic and having the inability to suppress foreign objects that enter the body. I am astounded as to the bravery that Michelle Mouille weathered to make sure that her son's story was heard, despite the outcome. “Through reading this book, my hopes are for you to have become more informed when deciding whether the flu shot is right for your child,” says Michelle Mouille. She truly has me convinced to pay more attention about what is being administered to our children - what about you?


    Thursday, March 19, 2015


    See the light in others, and treat them as if it is all you can see”- Dr. Wayne Dwyer
    Somedays, you feel as if you’ve reached the end of your rope. You spilled coffee as you herded your children out the door, simultaneously leaving your lunch on the counter, getting cut off in traffic when you were already running late…And all these little things add up, draining you of your patience and overall goodwill. By the time you get to work, or class, or wherever it is you need to be, you have officially decided “It’s going to be a terrible day.” And, because of this decision, you may take it out on others who you encounter through the rest of the day.
    It probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but once you have mentally taken on the attitude that it will be a terrible day, guess what? You have just vastly increased your odds of having a terrible day. But what’s a person to do when it feels as though the world is conspiring to put you in a terrible mood and derail you? Perhaps practicing compassion, as crazy as it may seem!
    First and foremost, remember to be compassionate towards yourself on these days. After all, you are human and cannot be expected to have perfect days all the time! If you lost your temper or said something unkind, try not to let it be a dark cloud on the remainder of your day. Take a breath, apologize to anyone you need to, and forgive yourself. When we think of compassion, we often overlook ourselves. Some might think it is selfish, but think about it: you cannot feed others from an empty cupboard. If you don’t practice compassion towards yourself, you can’t truly give it to others.
    Second, if it is another person who is testing you (perhaps the person who cut you off in traffic earlier in the morning), remember that they are humans too, and for all we know, they could be having a rough morning as well. So, before you fly off the handle at the next person who rubs you the wrong way, take another deep breath (or two or three- there’s no such thing as too many deep breaths). Remind yourself that this person has thoughts and feelings too, and is fighting a battle that you cannot see or know about. Just as the quote at the beginning of the post suggests, this person has an inner light and redeeming qualities that make them lovable. Remind yourself of this, and love them in spite of their limits. Eventually, the anger or resentment you feel towards them in that moment will leave. It may take some time, but you will feel all the better knowing that you acted from a place of compassion rather than anger.
    When we practice compassion in our daily lives, no matter how trying or difficult the day may seem, we become better people and the world becomes a better place for it. Some final words of wisdom to take with you today: “Let us fill our hearts with our own compassion- towards ourselves and towards all living beings” Thich Nhat Hanh

    Saturday, March 14, 2015


    “When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. When life is bitter, say thank you and grow” - Shauna Niequist
    One of the greatest components of building a happy life is gratitude. No matter how fast paced or unmanageable our lives may feel, it’s important to take a few minutes out of each day and find something to be grateful for. It’s amazing how generating a mental gratitude list can snap you out of a funk, and it’s almost guaranteed to make you feel positive once you’re done! As with most things, the hardest part is getting started.
    When you’re in a difficult or trying place in life, starting a gratitude list may seem pointless or like a waste of time. Put these negative thoughts aside, even if only for a minute at first. Start with the very basic elements, no matter how “obvious” or “silly” they may seem at first. For instance, being thankful for: your life, the opportunity for the blank slate of a new day, your family, your friends, the sun, the earth, the ocean, rain, modern technology- anything that surrounds you or makes you happy. You can be grateful for a certain childhood memory or a favorite book. And, if you really want to dig deep into the core of gratitude and it’s potential for happiness, express gratitude for your adversities and obstacles. Pain is temporary, after all, and challenges offer an opportunity for growth. They are merely a push in the right direction, a catalyst for action that we may not take if left to our own devices. And, once the challenge is overcome, are we not often the better people because of it? Even sadness is worthy of gratitude, because without it, what would we have to compare happiness with?
    Mentally listing what you are grateful for is a great way to start your day, but there’s even more work that you can do! Gratitude is an action word. It is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”  There are three verbs in this definition: “being,” “show” and “return.” The quote at the beginning of the post also emphasizes the action-oriented nature of gratitude: it’s a matter of saying “thank you AND “ celebrating or “thank you AND” growing. The work begins with a thank you, but ends with an action.  
    This means gratitude is more than a mere feeling, or saying “Thank you” to the open air (although it’s a great start). If you have specific people in your gratitude list, make sure to take some time to thank them in person, if you can. I’m sure they would love to hear it, and it will make you feel good, too. As William Arthur Ward points out, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Expression can, and often does, involve simply telling a person, “Hey, thank you for being in my life!”
    Some final food for thought as you pave your way to happiness through gratitude: “It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.” No matter where you are in your journey, whether you feel that life has given you a bounty of lemons or that it has backed you into a temporary corner, say thank you and be happy!

    Wednesday, March 4, 2015


           "Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing”- Greg Anderson.
    As many of you know, this blog began as a way to share the personal journey of my family in overcoming adversity and appreciating the many blessings we have been given. It was also a way to open dialogue about my novel, “Flu Shot Gone Wrong.” In just one week, my story, “Flu Shot Gone Wrong,” will be published. It’s a long awaited time that has at last arrived. I’ve been dreading and anticipating it in equal measure. But why? Is it because I’m viewing publication as my “destination”? Or is it perhaps dread of the unknown, the “what happens next” of releasing a very personal story to millions of people?
    The anticipation makes sense, after all- this is the result of years of work. Navigating the world of writing, finding the courage and strength to not only share our story but feel that I’ve done it justice, in between raising four children and maintaining faith has been hard work, but it was my calling. I have strong hopes that others will read our story and find the inspiration and strength within the pages to continue their own personal journeys. We never have to walk alone. In many ways, my anticipation is the equivalent of seeing the finish line after running a physically taxing race. The end is in sight, and I am eager to cross that line, taking some time to catch my breath and rest afterward.
    The dread is a more difficult feeling to explain. Perhaps it is because all writing is a work that comes from within, it’s an opening of heart and soul. This particular bit of work exposes a huge piece of my own life, laying it bare for all to see. It’s opening up, and, as with any type of opening, it leaves an exposed, vulnerable place. Vulnerability, as Brene Brown says, “is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think.” In writing my son’s story, I am opening our lives to the eyes of many: “This is real, this is me, this is us.” It is an invitation to exposure. In many ways, publishing is a gigantic leap of faith.
    As March 10 draws ever closer, I try to push aside the dread, fear and anticipation, and remember instead that this is only one leg of a journey. The overarching theme in this particular journey is without a doubt love. When I remember that “Flu Shot Gone Wrong” began as an act of love for my children, all my strength returns. No matter what comes next in this journey of life, they will always be the most important part. It is their love and faith that keeps me afloat through the ups and downs. In fact, they gave me my voice. The truth is, in spite of the difficulties, I have experienced a vast amount of joy during this journey. Here’s to the ending of a chapter and the beginning of a new one!        

    Thursday, February 5, 2015


    "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." Psalm 91:4 (NIV)

           Our shield of faith is very important. "Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." Ephesians 6:16  When we think of the word shield, we envision soldiers holding off their enemy and using their shield to block incoming attacks, no matter what direction they might come from. This is exactly true, as we need to be sure our own armor is deployed every second of the day.
           When speaking of faith, Jesus said if you had faith as a mustard seed you would be able to speak to a mountain and it would move. We know that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen. Sometimes we might pray for something in faith and when it is not answered in the timeframe we would like, we start to question God. The truth is God knows what's best for us and we must learn to trust in Him, even when He doesn't do what we ask.
          The story of  Peter in the Bible is a good example of the power of using our faith and the outcome of not trusting in God. The disciples were inside a boat watching and were afraid when they saw Jesus walking on the lake. They actually thought he was a ghost! Peter called out to Jesus, "Lord if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," Jesus replied. Peter got out of the boat and was walking toward Jesus. Everything was fine until he felt the wind and saw the waters moving. He became afraid and started to sink. "Save me!" he cried out. Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter. "You of little faith," He said to his disciple. "Why did you doubt?"
          The story shows when Peter trusted Jesus, ignited his faith, and focused on God, he did fine walking out on the water. It wasn't until Peter had given in to his fear that he started to sink.
          As we all pass through our own floodwaters in life, finding refuge in Jesus and activating our shield of faith is key in holding our own head above water. When we stay in faith, no matter how long it might take, God sees our pain and will bring us through what we are facing.
    "I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron." Isaiah 45:2 (KJV)


    Monday, January 12, 2015


    "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." --R. Buckminster Fuller--

        I hope everyone is having a great evening! The Maurice Lamkin Jr. Amelioration Act Petition, to bring about much needed Flu Vaccine reform, is now ready to sign! Please watch our new video at and then visit too sign the petition! Thank you for the continued support and Together, we CAN make a difference in people's lives!                    

    Wednesday, January 7, 2015

    Through Tragedy Comes Good

    'Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed." -- Psalm 57:1

       Our journey has definitely been like a roller coaster ride of sorts ---going uphill, downhill, and many twists and turns along the way. I often think of the song, 'Need You Now' by Plum:

                                  "Standing on a road I didn't plan
                                      Wondering how I got to where I am
                                  I'm trying to hear that still small voice
                                      I'm trying to hear above the noise

                                   How many times have you heard me cry out
                                        "God please take this"?
                                   How many times have you given me strength to
                                          Just keep breathing?
                                            Oh I need you
                                   God, I need you now."

         The words in this song have often rang true for many of us. Whether standing on a road we didn't plan or completely blindsided by unforeseen circumstances, life can all too often leave us broken and bewildered.  During certain periods, when we find ourselves treading through the darkest moments, it's not always clear how to dust ourselves off and figure out how to rearrange the now shattered pieces. We know in this world bad things do happen to good people all too often, and when tragedy does strike, it knows no race, color, or creed. It is then we must dig down deep inside ourselves to a place we didn't even know existed and muster up every ounce of strength and courage. The many miracles and blessings witnessed along our own life changing passage has forever impacted me in so many ways and has shown the importance of staying in faith, especially in the moments it seemed pointless to do so!
         As we know from many stories in the Bible, sometimes the greatest things can come out after people have went through their hardest tribulations. Look at what happened when Moses was in the desert for forty years. When he finally was called out by God, he went on to successfully complete one of the greatest deliverance missions there is.
          As we all pass through our own floodwaters in life, finding refuge in Jesus is the key to being able to hold our head above water. We have to remember, no matter how tremendous the pain and grief might be, we are still in control of our reactions in those trying times. You may ask yourself, as I did so many times before, "How can I keep going?", "Is there really a light at the end of this tunnel?" These questions can be very perplexing, especially when the tunnel seems never ending. I believe the answers lie in our ability to stay in faith through all of the agony and tears. When it feels as if we can't give anymore and have reached our wit's end, God reveals a way for us to reach the light.
          I knew my son, Maurice's, life was meant to touch others. I hoped his story would one day make a difference in people's lives. Over the years, in the midst of the greatest obstacles/adversities of my life, I prayed for God to show me the best ways to accomplish this.
          I felt God laid it on my heart to start a nonprofit organization that would grant wishes to brain injured children and also to write the book about my son's story. The Maurice Lamkin Jr. Brain Injury Foundation was soon founded and I then worked diligently to complete, 'Flu Shot Gone Wrong,' an unvarnished account of how my son's life was transformed perpetually after receiving the vaccine and the love, faith, miracles, and countless lessons learned along the way ! At first, I wasn't sure I'd be able to convey the right words or even have enough energy to complete such a task. I thought to myself, How can I do this with no formal writing training ?--- I'm just A Mom ---
          A Mom who finds pleasures in the simpler things of life---that first cool sip of iced tea, gazing wondrously at a rainbow, and tucking the kids into bed at night.
         A Mom who would give anything for her children and never expect to travel down such a tortuous road.
         A Mom guided by God and on a mission to help her fellow mankind and have the story of my precious son heard.
          I soon realized that the book was one of the ways God would use to reach out to people, so for the next year and a half, I worked assiduously at it. Every word I've written has been like reliving our journey all over again. I am still amazed with God's astounding goodness, and He has opened my eyes even more through my writings.
          I am very excited to announce that the official release date for 'Flu Shot Gone Wrong' is March 10, 2015. You can now order copies and e Book download cards on the Tate Publishing website at: ! My hopes are for people to become more informed when deciding whether the flu shot is right for their child or loved one, and will also benefit from our experience. It is my prayer that Maurice's story will inspire you to never give up and to know, no matter what trials may come against you, God loves you and will never leave your side! God has promised us beauty for our ashes and wants us to lean on Him in our greatest times of suffering. We must always remember that when you stay in faith, God turns tragedy into good.
       "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20