The Importance of Stewardship

  It was love at first site for me. I was totally and completely smitten. Although, not everyone understood why. I’m not sure I did exactly. I think it was a “short-girl thing”. 

My family had moved into a new community my Senior year of high school. I was feeling pretty nervous those first few weeks and months. Until, Warren Mahan drove up one day. My eyes lit up. As soon as he jumped out of the car, I ran over with excitement and intrigue. I knew in that moment that I was in love…

With his car!

What did you think I was talking about? 

He drove a VW Bug and I thought it was the cutest little thing I had ever seen.

Oh, the “short-girl” thing. You see, my parents always drove these huge cars. The kind that look like a cruise liner coming down the road. That was a problem for me. Being 5’1″, I could never see over the hood of the car, parallel parking was a nightmare and feeding the gas tank was like trying to feed a grizzly bear.

But the VW Bug wasn’t like that. It was small like me. I could easily see over it’s nose. Shoot, it even had curves everywhere like I did.

A dream was born in my heart.
I was into my 40’s and had just gone through a pretty ugly divorce when I was finally able to buy my first Bug. (That’s right, I’ve owned two and would have another in a heartbeat!)

I loved that car! I know, it’s not the same as real love but let’s just go with it. I loved that car.

And I was a good steward over that car. I was careful with it. I kept it clean inside and out. I made sure it was serviced regularly. It was my baby and I had waited a long time to have it in my life. I didn’t want ANYTHING to mess that up.

You could say, I was protective. Maybe a wee bit over protective like a father of a newly dating teenage girl. Just Maybe.

However, my stewardship paid off. She was a great little car and everything I had hoped she would be. 

I’ve learned over the years that if you care about something or someone, stewardship is a value key to protecting it. 

Growing too familiar causes us not to give the care, respect and honor that is required. 

You might have a career, a dream or relationship that means a great deal to you. Maintaining it’s value to your life requires that you be a good steward. Sometimes, we have to adjust an attitude or work on our behaviour or give respect or be less selfish. It can be hard work. That’s why courage is required.

The root word “cour” means heart. When we are courageous we go with our whole heart. When we put our heart into something, we give it the very essence of who we are.

It can be easy to lose heart. 

Especially when our heart is broken. And love isn’t the only thing that breaks the heart. However, we can’t afford to lose heart and not protect the things and people we really care about.

Good stewardship is one of the ways of living that I protect. It’s a discipline that has benefited every area of my life.

If it’s worth having, it’s worth looking after.

Do you have an area of your life that could use a little extra TLC? Your health? Your marriage? Your job? Or Your confidence? Your healthy boundaries? Your wholeness?

Even when things are messy, I’ve found that I can turn things around by getting my heart back in the game. A little TLC works wonders.

Dee

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Connection Is Why We Are Here

deeclarknz.comNeuro-biologically, we are hard-wired for connection. Connection is why we are here. Connection gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The feeling of being connected is the ability to link or associate with something, to belong; like what holds the pedals of this flower together.deeclarknz.com

Ask your closest friends and family about connection and they will tell you their most excruciating stories of heartbreak and feeling excluded. That place where we see at a distance what we long to grab hold of and feeling like it is too far away or attainable.

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That place that screams from the deepest part of our heart and says, “I feel alone and it doesn’t feel right”. I have been there. I have been holding the hand of someone whom I desperately desired to connect with and feel the distance is too great a span for meaningful connection to occur. I have felt that no matter what I do, there is no kindness or gentleness or acceptance. It makes my heart weep and scream and whirl.

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In the midst of the screaming and feeling alone, we begin to gather shame. Shame is the fear of disconnection. It is the belief that there is something about me that if other people know or see, that thing will make me unworthy of connection and I will remain alone.

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Universally, we all feel shame unless we have no capacity for human empathy. It looks like: “I’m not _____ enough.”

  • I’m not smart enough.
  • I’m not thin enough.
  • I’m not rich enough.
  • I’m not beautiful enough.
  • I’m not successful enough.

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Shame unravels connection.

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In order to connect, we must find the courage to tell the story of who we are with our whole heart. We must be willing to be imperfect and fully who we are, letting go of who we think we should be to be considered worthy of connection. We need to be brave enough to see that we are different from those standing right next to us and that truth makes us beautiful and unique.

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We must fully embrace vulnerability. We must allow ourselves to be seen, really seen. On my walk to the beach this morning, I met this gentleman who was walking his pet lamb (isn’t it cool that he has a pet lamb and is taking it for a walk?). I stopped to say hello and make a connection. He told me, “She does not like the lead. She is a bit stubborn.” I rubbed her ears and said, “We girls can all be a bit stubborn at times, can’t we?” As I walked away, I was flushed with a sense of shame that I had just told a complete stranger that as a woman, I have a stubborn streak. Yet, after thinking about it, I felt brave as well. I looked at an imperfection and declared it openly with vulnerability.

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Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and joy and creativity and of belonging and love. When we find that vulnerability and tenderness are important, we will surrender and kind of walk into it. When we do, we find a willingness to take risks that bring us closer to each other; let our hair down, ask for help, initiate an embrace, love without guarantees and more.

According to Brene Brown, true, meaningful connections can be made if we will follow these 4 simple steps:

  • We allow ourselves to be deeply and vulnerably seen.
  • We love with our whole heart even if there are no guarantees.
  • We practice gratitude and lean into joy during moments of terror when we wonder, “Can I love you this much?”; “Can I believe in this as passionately?”; “Can I be this fiercely brave about this?”
  • We believe that “We Are Enough”. Because when we believe that we are enough, we stop screaming and we start listening. We are kinder and gentler to ourselves. And we are kinder and gentler to those around us.

To feel vulnerability means that I am alive. That you are alive. Being vulnerable opens the door to being connected which gives fulfilment to the purpose of our lives.

We live in a vulnerable world. What makes you feel vulnerable?

Embrace your vulnerability and get connected!

D

Serenity

I was awake early this morning which rarely happens. I watched the sun come up as the birds sang their songs of praise. Calm and quiet enveloped me. The light of Love was shining down on me like a warm embrace. I didn’t hurry to the tasks awaiting me…I just sat there. I was given a gift. A brand new day. A fresh clean slate. My soul is refreshed, calm, and serene. I might need to get up early more often.

Once I did get going, I put together a little video for you. Something new for me. 😉

3 Reasons Your Colors May Be Dim

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Because our schedule is quite hectic this time of year, some days it can feel like all we do is work, eat and sleep, especially for my husband who carries most of the weight of our growing business. Couple that with unpredictable weather and it’s easy to lose perspective of life outside of our four walls. One of the things my husband enjoys is taking a walk in the fresh air.

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Yesterday the weather was beautiful and sunny and then it looked ominous and then the sun shone through the cloud covered sky just before the clouds dropped buckets of rain on us.

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Even during the dreary part of the weather the view is pretty spectacular.

deeclarknz.comBut when the sun was bright, all of the colors around me seemed to be far more vivid.

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The water was several shades of glistening blue and green.

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Even the weeds were color-full.

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At one point I felt a rush of wind go past my head; this beautiful wood pigeon perched himself in a tree near by unconcerned with my presence.

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My colour filled walk made me think about how we as women color the world and bring a brightness that no other creature on earth brings. Creation was incomplete until woman was set in it’s midst. Then creation was complete and a special brightness existed.

However, there are times when we don’t show our true colors. Normally, we we discuss a person showing their true colors, we think of it in a negative way. The idiom came to be used because long ago ships were identified by the flag colors flown on the mast. Pirates used to use false colors to hide their true identity.

Times of stress, conflict, adversity, failure, or when we feel angry or fearful challenge us on our journey. Critical situations can put our moral impulses, courage and strength to the test.

Maya Angelo is attributed to have said that, “You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

How we respond, how we deal with, and how we resolve those situations are said to be the times that we show our true colors.

But today I am not talking about the negative aspect of who we are. I am referring to the richness and quality of the person we are that sometimes gets hidden out of fear.

Sometimes we reserve the truest, richest colors of our be-ing for 3 reasons:

1. People Pleasing. When we feel the need to be loved by “all” fear of disappointing someone keeps your true colors suppressed. As long as you continue to exist just to fulfill other people’s ideas of who you should be, you will never be the truest you.

2. Negativity. Negativity and self loathing change our perspective on life. Judging others and ourselves negatively increases our fear that others will see us the way we perceive things. Positivity is nourishing as is having a grateful perspective. Practice looking for the good in others, in situations and yourself. You will find that you are freer to show the world your true colors without fear.

3. Confronting ourselves. Confrontation is not easy at the best of times. But we need to confront ourselves. We need to ask ourselves the difficult questions concerning why we do the things we do so that we are keeping true to the big picture…our purpose. We all need to be accountable and I’ve found that holding myself accountable, although difficult, keeps me shining at my brightest.

Be who you are, be your genuine self.

Follow your own value system and common sense.

Listen to the advice of others, but make up your own mind.

Recognize, appreciate, and develop your unique talents.

Stand up for what you believe in and you will gain respect.

Know that being ‘different’ is a gift.

Understand that you are enriching others by being yourself.

No one can color the world quite like you can!

D

The World I Want Begins With Me

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There is so much pain in the world. The murders displayed on the news breaks my heart and reduces me to tears.

It can feel overwhelming on many levels.

Yet, the world I want begins with me.

Anger can be a useful emotion as it directs me to a core issue that is out of balance in my life. It is destructive when I allow it to cause me to react in a way that is devastating to the lives around me.

Anger is the core issue in murder. Period. Uncontrolled, unresolved anger drives a person to act dispicably. Taking someone’s life occurs along way down the pathway of angry emotions. Often, it begins with contempt. Contempt directs our thoughts and attitudes toward fear, negativity, prejudice and hatred.

You must first look within yourself to eliminate the fear, the anger, and the imbalance in your life.

Then and only then can you move forward to create peacefully and powerfully the changes needed in the world.

Today, following the news of 4 killings in Israel, I read that a young Israeli woman called for acts of kindness in response to the murders. This cry for good only comes from a heart that is at peace from within and an understanding that an eye-for-an-eye does not create a better world.

Yesterday, as I was shopping for some treats to have at home, I came across a woman and her grand baby that I had not met from my community. They were retrieving a small bottle of chocolate milk  from a cooler in celebration. The child had recently been weaned from her mother’s breast. I stopped and celebrated with them. I cheered for the 2 year old and congratulated her.

I introduced myself to the grandmother and her face beamed with happiness. It kind of shocked me, really. Who am I that meeting me in the grocery store and sharing a few kind words would make any real difference in this woman’s life? But we all know how it feels to have someone appreciate our children or our accomplishments, don’t we?

The woman told me that most of her time was spent working at a local restaurant and she asked me to stop in and visit her. I will, too.

That is how we change the world. I can not fight terrorists in a foreign country but I can…I CAN…work on my heart so that it is open to the people in my community. I can work diligently on the big issues in my heart that prevent my life from being worthwhile. I can also learn self-control so that my issues do not spill over onto the people I meet.

There was a day in my journey that I may never have given this woman the time of day. It might have only been the fact that I was preoccupied with my own world, my busy schedule or that I was exhausted from a full day at work.

People matter. People are what make the world – the world. So, it matters that we relate to each other in meaningful ways, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.

The world I want begins with me.

I must be a person who makes life worth living, first, in my own life and then shared with those around me.

I have failed many times in my past at this. I whisper a prayer. I get back up. I look inward. I follow wisdom and truth until the values I want to see in the world are firmly planted in my own heart and behaviours.

How about you? Will you join me and peacefully and powerfully create the changes needed in the world – beginning with yourself?

Be kind to someone today and demonstrate a better way of life.

Journey on, dear reader,

D

 

 

Reflections and Self Worth

IMG_8745.JPGReflections represent an original. The reflections of our mind recall past events, images and experiences. The reflection of water, mirrors or metallic surfaces project an image through a filter of light and surface. The reflection of character, behaviours and achievements provide insight to the inner person.

IMG_8744.JPGThe quality of the reflection depends strongly on the clarity of the surface being used to produce the reflection.

Looking for a reflection of our self-worth and value from another person is like looking into a cracked mirror in order to access our appearance. Hurting souls can reflect brokenness and pain. Therefore, allowing our self-worth and value to depend on the perception others reflect back to us is unhealthy. When someone we love treats us in an unloving way for prolonged amounts of time, there is a tendency to view ourselves as unlovable. Yet, the reflection is distorted. Their broken heart will not provide an accurate reflection of love.

Nor will young women find their body image correctly reflected through trends, magazines or movie stars. When I view my short legs, thick thighs and curvy structure to the model industry standard, I will always come up wanting. The key is to shape the view of my body on a true reflection.

Our mind sees what it believes, according to the Discovery Channel. I have known many beautiful women who could not see their beautiful uniqueness because of their belief based on external reflections. Those reflections tormented and haunted them to the point of misery.

Reflections are a tool…only a tool. They can help us repair, adjust, fix, or improve the original but they are never intended to be the truest representation of the original.

IMG_8746.JPGThe still water serves as a mirror for the tree, and its reflection is what makes the photograph sing. -unknown

The image sings only because of the stillness of the water.

IMG_8747.JPGSamantha Pearson is a contributing photographer for my blog. Although, I did not take this photo, it demonstrates my point about reflections. The beautiful sculpture is reflecting it’s surroundings yet the snow and the curvature of the piece distort the images it portrays. The truest beauty can be seen by simply turning from the reflection to the original.

In my journey, I have learned the value in turning from distorted reflections to look at the original standard for which I was created. Only then can I be the singing image that portrays that I was fearfully and wonderfully made.

D

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Reflections and Shadows

How To Prevent Failed Relationships

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How can two walk together unless they agree?

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Relationship is the hardest work you will ever do. Don’t you think? Two or more people with differing cultural, family, traditional, spiritual and economical values, opinions and aspirations attempt to walk together. We join others in relationship for sports, business, hobbies, community, life and a variety of other reasons. Once we make the decision we want to work together…the fun begins as long as we keep a clear focus on why we wanted to be together in the first place.

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Otherwise, we loose our minds in craziness. Have you ever noticed how purely ridiculous things can become when we attempt to walk together and don’t agree? That’s the point we are in danger of no longer walking together.

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Agreement is the key. Do we always agree? NO!!!! When we don’t agree, what then?

IMG_1860.JPGWhen I ask that question, if your mind only goes to the differences people have in the areas I mentioned above, you most likely will never reach agreement.

Agreement is harmony. The sound of a beautiful melody or symphony. The dictionary used the word accordance. A chord is made up of differing notes put together to make music. Accordance happens when we take our individual differences in opinion and feeling and make them work together for the relationship. I like the thought of that. But then, again, that is the work of relationship…and remember I have already said that its the hardest work you will ever do. However, the reward of walking together is much easier on the heart then a break-up and heartache.

Did you know that another meaning for agreement is consistency? Everyone who has taken to hard work understands consistency and its benefits. My home town, Chattanooga, just hosted an Ironman Competition. The preparation for entering the race commands hours, days, weeks and even months of hard, consistent training.

We know this concept.

We’ve got this down pat in many areas of our lives.

We consistently get up day in and day out and head to work. There are days we want to cover our heads with the blankets but we like eating more, so we get up.

Speaking of eating, I consistently feed my face. To be honest, I’m not always thinking about the health of my body. Somedays it’s all about the chocolate. Nonetheless, I am consistent to fuel my body because I want to stay alive. I’m not crazy about the alternative.

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Here’s the thing, we understand the importance of consistency in most everything we do. We have practiced it over and over again. Really, we are agreeing to do what it takes in those areas of our lives to make things work. I think, as hard as it is, it’s also that simple. Looking at the signals, coming to terms together on the best course of action and then doing it together to ensure the best or desired result.

The individuals in a relationship may be the greatest stars in the world, but if they don’t work together, they won’t succeed.

Relationship is an ever growing process. It develops in the ups and downs, when you’ve suffered together, cried together, and laughed together.

Succeeding in relationship requires that the people involved recognize that they have responsibilities as well as rights. Asking only what’s in it for me means we forget our destinies are bound together. Without commitment to others, without love, charity, duty, and consistency (agreement) we destine ourselves to failure.

Together we can face any challenges as deep as the sea and as high as the sky.

Do you know the saying, “Birds of a feather flock together?” Let me just say this, if you are constantly entering bad relationships check your feathers. If you possess a hurting heart full of pain, rejection, anger, bitterness, and hatred, you will notice those types of birds flocking toward you. Get well. Search for wholeness…fix those things. Believe me, I know you may not have the energy, feel brave enough or know where to begin. I have been in exactly the place you are sitting. It’s excruciatingly painful. It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating. And it’s numbing. However, wholeness is better. You will need time. You will need support. You will need help. You will need courage.

But YOU can do this.

You must do this to break the continuum of bad relationships.

Anytime we come together with collective intention, it’s a powerful thing.

When we work smarter not harder, we can argue real life issues together and solve problems. Both sides who are willing to work together will make great progress.

And isn’t the the real reason we gather together anyway? To make life better, stronger, happier?

Let’s keep our focus. Let’s accomplish long lives of love, hope, and joy.

Start by walking together in agreement. I know you can!
D

One Word Photo Challenge: Fushsia

The One You Will Never Lose

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She is always there.

Will you accept her?

Will you love her?

Will you value her?

Will you esteem her?

If you will, there will always be someone in the room who accepts her.

She, my dear, is YOU.

(A Word A Week Challange: Chilled)

3 Simple Steps to Take to Stop Burnout

flowers and beesAre you busy as a bee today?

Nature can be an invaluable teacher of wisdom. For example, the busy little bee shows us a great example of work ethic, productivity, and community. There many interesting habits these little guys have that we can learn from. Did you realise that in the height of honey production season, a bee can literally work itself to death? The normal lifespan for a bee is 9 months during cooler temperatures but in warmer weather when conditions are right for getting their work done…bees will work themselves to death. There is work to be done and they are determined little creatures that are committed to their purpose, even if it costs them their life.

As a business owner, I love to have staff members who have owned the vision, work with us and not just for us, and who are willing to go the extra mile. As well, as the owner, often times I am required to give every last ounce of energy, both physically and mentally, in order to get the job done. It can be exhausting and stressful. Can I get a witness?

Constant stress can leave you feeling disillusioned, helpless, and completely worn out, leading you to burnout. When you’re burned out, problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak, and it’s difficult to muster up the energy to care—let alone do something about your situation.

Most of us have days when we feel bored, overloaded, or unappreciated; when the dozen balls we keep in the air aren’t noticed, let alone rewarded; when dragging ourselves out of bed requires the determination of The Hulk. This becomes a problem if these feelings continue without relief.

Relentless stress sends us spiralling into burnout. There is a difference between being stressed and burnout. Stress involves too much: too many demands, too many pressures, and too much effort. Under stress, you still believe that if you get things under control, you will feel better. Hope is alive and pressing for change.

However, burnout is about not enough: feeling empty, loss of motivation, and absence of care (“I just don’t care anymore”). Hope is illusive and you begin to feel like quitting altogether.

Stress feels like you are drowning in your responsibilities; burnout feels like you are dried up and have nothing left to give.

This can appear to sneak up on you but it actually occurs over time when stress relief is hindered. In order to prevent burnout, it is important to recognize symptoms to your health, emotions and behavior.

Things to look for include:
~feeling drained, low immunity, frequent ailments, and changes in appetite or sleep habits.
~sense of failure, feelings of being trapped, feeling defeated, feeling alone, increasingly cynical and negative, heightened frustration, and decreased satisfaction.
~withdrawing from relationships and responsibilities, procrastinating, taking frustrations out on others and substance abuses (food, drugs, alcohol).

If you recognize the symptoms beginning to develop, you can take steps to get life back into a healthier balance. However, if you are already past the breaking point, trying to push through and continue on the destructive path you are on, can cause further damage. Pay attention to your body’s signals and take action.

1. Slow down. Give yourself time to rest, reflect and heal. You may not be able to stop everything but force yourself to take a step back where you can.

2. Ask for support. Friends and family will not be able to “fix” your situation but sharing what you are facing may relieve some of the stress. Opening up builds trust and strengthens relationships. This is important because we all need support at one time or another. When you are feeling better, you will be able to return the favor. If this step does not help, as always, I suggest seeing a professional. It’s important not to try to be “too strong” or in control. True strength is demonstrated when we know our limitations and reach for the help we need.

3. Reevaluate. Burnout is a flashing red light that something is not working. Are you neglecting something important in your life? Balance is vital to healthy wellbeing. Take this opportunity to discover what brings you joy and balance life to include more of it.

I am imagining the focused little bee flying out, gathering, returning, depositing, doing whatever bees do to produce the honey, and then buzzing off to do it all over again. Driving itself further and faster and busier until…well, the picture isn’t pretty. We sometimes do the same thing…adding more and more and more until something has to give. Let the “give” be to what we do instead of to our well being. Yes, I know -there is a lot on your plate. Yes, I realize -it is important. Yes, I understand that you must be responsible.

Just remember, for you to continue offering your brilliant gifts to the world, you must recognize that your most valuable resource for accomplishing your purpose is YOU. Be sure to take responsible care of this important asset. In the long run, you’ll get more accomplished.

Are you busy as a bee? Keep up the good work but don’t over do it! Be wise.

Here are a few quotes to help encourage you when you need added strength:

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”-Isaiah
“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”-David
“Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.”-Isaiah

This is my entry for the One Word Photo Challenge: Mustard. Thank you for checking our my contribution and the other amazing entries.

Having fabulous week, my friend.
D