From Dreaming to Living the Impossible Dream (A Prayer to the Father)

This morning before rolling out of bed, to begin the day, I laid in bed and started speaking to God. My morning ritual typically begins with a word of thanks to God, but this morning the word of thanks included just a little bit more. You see I ran across a tweet by Sandi Krakowski, which stated “Ask God to put you in the right place at the right time with the right people and the right open doors! ASK ASK ASK that is the key friends!” I had no prior knowledge of Sandi Krakowski, but there she was telling me exactly what I needed when I needed it!

So back to this morning…

I thanked God for: 1) health, 2) life, 3) peace, 4) purpose… You see I no longer take any of these things for granted. I wake up each morning feeling that I am on solid footing because I am alive, I am well, I feel whole & happy (ON THE INSIDE) despite my external circumstances, and I know my life’s purpose!

After expressing thankfulness, I decided to take Sandi Krakowski’s advice; advice that I have heard previously while reading books about the Law of Attraction (e.g., Ask And It Is Given)…

So, I asked God for, 1) open doors, where they don’t yet exist, 2) open windows when doors are not there, 3) the ability to fully live out my purpose (i.e., Social Emotional Leader) to a level that even I don’t yet realize, and 4) to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people so that my desires and my purpose can be fully borne out… Now That’s a TALL ORDER!

But, I believe in a God who does the impossible… so why not shoot for the stars! And because I truly believe this – why not take the action steps to make the impossible – possible…

Initially I said to myself: I intend to live the dreams that seem impossible 🙂  After some reflection I reframed that initial thought into: I am living the dreams that seem impossible! Now that’s a kick azz mantra!


The Rising Sun… :-)

My reminder to myself this morning… and what an awesome reminder this was! It was one of those mornings where I needed to not forget that it is my hope and my faith (you only need a little bit) – that give me the fuel to keep facing each day and each new challenge and each new struggle — knowing in the end, I WIN!

“Every high and every low you’re gonna go through
You don’t have to be afraid I am with you
In the moments you’re so weak you feel like stopping
Let the hope you have light the road you’re walking” The Sun is Rising… by Britt Nicole

Facing Suicide

When you first hear about a suicide, I think the first natural response is “how could someone even think about taking their life?”

However, to the person who is going through that dark moment, their thought is how could I not… You see – for in those moments of pain you just want relief…

Think about it, if you burn your hand you instantly remove it and run it under cold water, hoping the burning “pain” sensation will subside. If you stub your toe you instantly yelp and start rubbing your foot to ease the “pain”. And, if you hit that funny bone spot on your elbow or knee (you know the spot that hurts so much!), you instantly want the “pain” to go away.

When we’re talking about physical pain, most people can rationalize wanting to ease the pain. However, what is one to do when the pain is not physical, it is emotional? And not only is it emotional, but you feel like that pain will never subside, never ease, never go away? What then?

Such is the quandary some face when they are battling inner turmoil. I know this pain well, and I know it firsthand. For there were moments, I contemplated suicide…

So what stopped me? What did I do when I was alone and floundering in that very dark, dark place where suicide feels like the only option?

There were three things that saved me:

1) I remembered that although my pain was momentary, suicide is everlasting. Meaning not only is death permanent, but a completed suicide, can then serve as a risk factor for other family members. I didn’t want to leave that legacy to my future children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

2) I gave myself permission to feel again. You see when one is in the dark place, the last thing you want to do is… feel. You don’t want to feel the sadness, the despair, the restlessness, or the pain. However, I reminded myself that I was strong, that I was meant for a greater purpose, and that I was equipped to endure. Those self-encouragements gave me the strength to actually feel the pain, so that it could go away. For the only way to ease an emotional pain is to face it, not run from it.

3) I decided to go to the root and heal the discontent. I share and discuss my process of healing in my soon to be published memoir entitled “Life Left Me Better Not Bitter” (Copyright © 2014 Donna Gardner. All Rights Reserved).

Emotional pain continues to be something, as a society, we need to better understand. So that people no longer suffer in silence and shame, and lives are no longer cut short in hopes of easing the pain.

I always believe knowledge is key, so here’s information to further your understanding of suicide:

A Confirmation

Jeremiah 29:11.

What are the odds that two separate individuals, one in NY and one in Orlando would both assert that Jeremiah 29:11 was a forecast for my current life?

It was the Sunday after attending the Life You Want Weekend with Oprah Winfrey. I was on a spiritual and inspirational “high” after hearing sage words from the likes of Oprah (herself), Deepak Chopra, Elizabeth Gilbert, Rob Bell, and Iyanla Vanzant. I briefly shared with my mother the weekend highlights, to which she responded “I see big things in your future daughter, you should read Jeremiah 29:11”.

Not too long after our conversation came to a close. I hang up and receive a text message from a good friend. She was excited about the pictures I had texted from my Oprah weekend and she wanted to share that God laid the following scripture on her heart:

  • “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

I was floored! Just a few minutes ago, my mother had spoken the same exact verse! After wrapping up the text conversation with my girlfriend, I call my mom to excitedly exclaim “Laine just made a reference to Jeremiah 29:11, TOO!”. My mom replied “wow, you should make it your mantra”.

I share this brief experience because it is one of those examples where God provided confirmation of things to come. I hope this also reminds you that God indeed has amazing plans for our lives, if you (we) have the faith and courage to see it through!

Oprah Life You Want Weekend (Entry 3) – Highlights from the Weekend

I’m back to post my third entry about this past weekend with Oprah for her Life You Want Tour… I’ve already shared how I stumbled upon going to the event (in entry 1), and then I shared a few of the celebrity run-ins that I had (in entry 2) Now I’d like to share a few of the highlights from the weekend…

There was so much that I learned, heard, saw, and felt… So these highlights in no way summarize the entire weekend but they are a few of my favorite moments from the weekend with Oprah!

Here they are:

Just arriving to O-Town - Friday Afternoon

Just arriving to O-Town – Friday Afternoon

Seeing the main stage for the first time - Friday evening

Seeing the main stage for the first time – Friday evening

Seeing the O-Bands light up for the first time - Friday evening

Seeing the O-Bands light up for the first time – Friday evening

Receiving our O-bags designed by #PeaceLoveWorld #AlinaVillasante

Receiving our O-bags designed by #PeaceLoveWorld #AlinaVillasante

Can't forget taking selfies... LOL...

Can’t forget taking selfies… LOL…

Taking my first (ever) Soul Cycle class with instructor Angela Davis! It was AMAZING!  #soulcycle #shapewithAngela

Taking my first (ever) Soul Cycle class with instructor Angela Davis! It was AMAZING!

And last (but certainly NOT least) - realizing just how close our seats were to Ms. Oprah and her amazing team of Trailblazers! @lifeyouwanttour #Oprah

And last (but certainly NOT least) – realizing just how close our seats were to Ms. Oprah and her amazing team of Trailblazers!

I will be back later to begin blogging about some of the valuable life lessons that were gained during this weekend of the Life You Want with Oprah and her Trailblazers (Chopra, Gilbert, Bell, & Vanzant.

Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend (Entry 2) – Celebrity Run-ins

This past weekend with Oprah was absolutely AMAZING on so many levels!

One fabulous aspect of the weekend was how accessible it was to interact and vibe with well-known faces! It’s one thing to be able to take a picture of a celebrity, but it’s a whole ‘nother level to be able to trade jokes, swap thoughts, and share a hug with people who you feel like you know because they’ve entered your life through a book &/or the television screen… But that’s exactly what occurred this weekend, I had a few celebrity run-ins and it was inspiring to see just how down to earth each of them were… I cherish each of those interactions because I believe in the power of “positive vibes”.

Here are a few images of the meaningful celebrity run-ins that I had this past weekend:

Telling jokes with Angela Robinson (Veronica from Tyler Perry's Have and Have Nots)

Telling jokes with Angela Robinson (Veronica from Tyler Perry’s Have and Have Nots)

Angela Robinson (Veronica from Tyler Perry's Have and Have Nots) -- Awesome Lady

Angela Robinson (Veronica from Tyler Perry’s Have and Have Nots) — Awesome Lady

Telling jokes with Peter Parros (David from Tyler Perry's Have and Have Nots)

Telling jokes with Peter Parros (David from Tyler Perry’s Have and Have Nots)

Talking about fashion and then taking a pic with the designer of our Oprah weekend bags (Alina Villasante)! We love our bags! Thanks Alina and Angie M :-)

Talking about fashion and then taking a pic with the designer of our Oprah weekend bags (Alina Villasante)! We love our bags! Thanks Alina and Angie M 🙂

Getting a hug & encouragement from Elizabeth Gilbert, as we talk about me writing my memoir (Life Left Me Better Not Bitter)

Getting a hug & encouragement from Elizabeth Gilbert, as we talk about me writing my memoir (Shedding Perfection: A Psychologist’s Journey to Self-healing)

Often in our busy lives we forget that we all are just human. This becomes even more heightened when that human has garnered some level of celebrity status. However, Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend was focused on the ideas of authenticity, open hearts, and collective souls, and each of these celebrities were the epitome of this! So to them and to Oprah herself, I say thank you 🙂

There's Oprah. And no my iPhone is not that good... our seats were that close!

There’s Oprah. And no my iPhone is not that good… our seats were that close!

Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend (Entry 1) – The Tapestry of Life is Interwoven and Cyclical

I arose this morning reflecting on this past weekend. I had attended Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend…

I will post several entries about the weekend, but I wanted this to be the first one and to begin the entry with this:

Our lives are interwoven and cyclical in nature…

I say this because, once we choose to become aware – we can see how each step, each experience, each decision impacts and relates to every other step, experience, and decision we take! I’ve always believed this notion, but let me share my recent confirmation of this belief…

In 2005, I was going through a mini existential crisis! Feeling somewhat adrift and unsure of who I was and where my life was headed. I recall reading a book (title & author escapes my memory) that suggested the reader should identify a person (hero) to serve as a visual cue of how they want to see themselves. In that space and time, strength was what I needed most. I started pondering about females who I consider strong and the name that came to mind was Oprah Winfrey. Now I should let you know that at that time I had never watched an episode of Oprah, never picked up her magazine, never even heard an interview. My only exposure to Oprah came from her role in the Color Purple (which was Phenomenal!) and watching a Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous television episode that reported “Oprah’s empire makes money while she sleeps”! That seemed like a good enough reason for her to serve as my archetype of strength. And, I didn’t (consciously) know it at the time but life was going to take a turn – requiring me to be strong indeed!

In July 2008, I would spend that summer month reading a book that would shift my entire perspective about life, love, and ME. Eat, Pray, Love was gifted to me by a student, as an end of the school year gift. Although it was given to me in May, I would not actually read the book until the month of July. I spent everyday of that month, slowly – savoring each page of that book. It seemed to be a balm for the emotional and spiritual burns that my soul had endured. I was so inspired by this book that I decided to do my own weekend monastery retreat (in upstate NY – October 2008) and I began enjoying yoga and meditation (which I still continue now, 6 years later, in the form of Bikram Yoga).

In August 2008, at the time I was dating a man that was an avid golfer. He decided to attend that year’s Black Enterprise’s Annual golf tournament. He wanted me to travel with him, but I was not interested in the game of golf; thus the golf package it was for him and the spa package it was for me 🙂  The interesting thing to note is that typically the tournament is held in Florida, but this year (our first and only year there – the tournament was held in Carlsbad California). The host hotel for the tournament was the La Costa Resort and Spa, which coincidentally also houses the Chopra Center. The name Chopra did not resonate with me, but in that space and time I was open to the idea of relaxation and meditation and thus thoroughly enjoyed my stay there! I also learned a lot to further my understanding about the need to be “still” in order to find relief.

Since 2008, many – MANY changes have occurred and even more lessons have been learned! Hence, my desire to write my memoir, entitled Shedding Perfection: A Psychologist’s Journey to Self-healing.

However, what makes this all come full circle is the fact that in 2005 Oprah became relevant to me, in July 2008 Elizabeth Gilbert (in the form of Eat, Pray, Love) became relevant to me, and in August 2008 the name Chopra became relevant to me…

Fast forward to April 2014, my younger sister calls to inform me that she is planning to buy us tickets to see Oprah in September. My first thought was “can you afford that?”, after which she replied “God is going to make a way” – I immediately knew then we were going. But what was even more amazing than that – was when my younger sister calls me a few days later to say that Oprah is bringing others to speak with her… and guess what their names are – Elizabeth Gilbert and Deepak Chopra.

What are the odds? Coincidence? Maybe… but I don’t believe in coincidences…

I take this as a confirmation that my life has indeed come full circle…

Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra

Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra

Elizabeth Gilbert signing my 2008 copy of Eat, Pray, Love :-)

Elizabeth Gilbert – Friday evening

Elizabeth Girlbert

Elizabeth Girlbert signing my 2008 copy of Eat, Pray, Love – Friday evening

Elizabeth Gilbert - Saturday

Elizabeth Gilbert – Saturday

The names Oprah, Gilbert, and Chopra became relevant during a time when I needed to find strength, encouragement, and peace. Over the past 6 years, I went through various trials that would test my fortitude. Now, I have finally emerged on the other side and decided to write a memoir about that journey and guess whose names show up in my life, yet again, Oprah, Gilbert, and Chopra…

I think God is awesome… Don’t you?