How to Dance in the Rain

Have you ever had one of those days where it just seemed like everything that could go wrong, did? Well, that’s the kind of week that I’ve been having… Door after door seemed to be closed, and opportunity appeared to be nowhere around. You name it – I’ve been stressing about it… money, bills, relationship, and career. It was all too overwhelming and so standing in the shower this morning I burst into tears. “ENOUGH GOD”, I shouted… “I’M TIRED OF LOSING”.

As I stood there allowing the tears to stream down my face, I could feel the emotional weight of my plight shifting. Although nothing tangible changed, at least I was no longer carrying the burden of how I felt, and that brought a huge sense of relief. The sense of calm that I now felt even allowed a SMILE to creep in. Just the act of venting my distress helped to break up the cloud of depression.

I finished my shower, dried off, and pondered for a bit what had just transpired. I went into the tub sad and depleted. I stepped out feeling just a little bit lighter, just a tad bit more motivated to face my day. It seems I had just experienced what one might call “DANCING IN THE RAIN”.

I share this with you because there may be some days that you’re going to have to dance in the rain. So how do you do that?

  • You acknowledge what it is that you’re feeling. Be completely honest with yourself and then vent it. You may decide to let it out by writing in a journal, by singing a song, or by just yelling it out as I did. Whatever you do, just allow yourself to express it
  • Allow yourself to feel, whether it is a feeling of sadness, frustration, confusion – whatever. And if that means tears fall, allow them to.
  • Then take a deep breath

You would have now learned the art of dancing in the rain. Nothing about your situation would have changed. However, your mood will change, which means your outlook will change, which translates into having more energy to face the challenges that lie ahead!

And you WILL face your challenges! Be assured of that! I find the toughest challenge is not the situation, but instead to believe that each and every situation will be overcome!

Be encouraged and remember as gospel singer J Moss sings in Psalms 150 “he moves right before we stop believinghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqkdzgGv8H0

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

www.donnadoctora.com

Needing Energy… SAME God…

I was feeling a bit melancholy this day, as I have been diligently working but still waiting to see the manifestation of my labor.

It is a hard thing to till the land but see no fruit. I began to falter and question and wonder: should I give up? Are my efforts in vain?

In the midst of my doubts I turned to a trusted loved one who reminded me that each and every action matters and is positioning me for my desired outcome. Then he reminded me that he believed in me. His convincing argument helped to bolster my flailing confidence, and it caused me to reflect on another time in life where I doubted my ability to keep going. At the time I was at the tail end of my doctoral program. I was navigating the murky waters of completing my doctoral research and wondering if I would have the energy to make it through! But I persevered and guess what? It’s been ten years since I completed that degree… and I am thankful that I didn’t quit then – so there was no way I could quit now!

I shed a few tears of frustration and reminded myself that if my loved one believed in me, then I should too. I gathered up my courage, dug down deep to unearth some resolve, and sent a prayer up to heaven –

God I just need a sign… please let me know that I’m on the right track.

Later that evening the sign came. I participated in a webinar and the facilitator stated that people should “Stop looking at the ending and celebrate where you are right now!” That was a great reminder for me, because that perspective helped me to see that I was defining the fruit of my labor as the finish line or completion of the goal. But I needed to take a step back and appreciate all of the little things – all of the baby steps that I’ve been taking.

This quote from David A. Bednar also served as a helpful reminder to me about the importance of stepping back and appreciating what we have been given in each moment, instead of waiting for a future moment to come:

Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals” Former president of Brigham Young University

So I realized that I needed to take stock of the strides I had already made! And I also realized what’s the sense in worrying when I know that I serve a God who keeps his promise. As Gospel artist Tye Tribbett sings: God is the SAME GOD! So the God who saw we me through my journey to finish my doctoral program is the same God who will see me through to my next level.

I hope whenever you face moments of doubt and despair, you too will take the time to reflect on how far you’ve come and be reminded that the SAME GOD will see you through each and every time.

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

www.donnadoctora.com

Questions as I approach 40!

What’s your DESTINY?

Do you ever WONDER where you’re headed? Or what direction your LIFE is taking? What is the point to each day?

Well I often wonder about these things… Especially as I approach the age of the BIG 4-0!

I look forward to turning 40!

I look and feel great! Especially when the young people say: “you don’t look your age”.

However I must confess that 40 looks nothing like I thought it would. When I was 18, I thought that by the age of 40 I would be married, with teenage aged twins, living in some suburbs of New York.

How vastly different my life is from that? Which causes me to wonder if my 18-year-old vision of 40 was so off the mark, what other vision do I have to guide and order my steps? And I also question why would God have me on a path so different from where I thought I would be?

But in the midst of my questioning I am reminded of two things:

  • If we live our life according to God’s guidance we shall be immensely blessed (see Proverbs 29:18)
  • Sometimes God’s plans don’t seem to fit with our plans (see Luke 22:42), but God will bless us if we obediently follow his plan (Luke 11:28).

So I boldly embrace my upcoming 40th birthday, trusting that God has amazing and awe inspiring plans for the next 40 years! This first phase of my life was all about preparation for the purpose that God intended for my life (from the start!)

As for the specifics of that purpose, I think it’s encapsulated best in this quote by novelist Ayn Rand: “Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values

Each day I now awaken with renewal of energy and a determined focus to go after and achieve EACH and EVERY dream, desire, & aspiration.

Will you too adopt such a courageous spirit? I have faith in you, Do YOU?

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

www.donnadoctora.com

Who do you TRUST?

Where do YOU place your TRUST?

Do you ever wonder who has my back? Have ever questioned who is GENUINE and TRUE in your life? Or maybe it’s not the people in your life that you wonder about, but the path that your LIFE appears to be on…

For me, the issue is definitely the latter… I often sit and think about my day to day, as I try to make this journey the best it can possibly be! See, I believe since I’ve been given the gift of life, I should make the MOST OF IT, each and every day! But, I must admit, I wasn’t always this positive and I definitely didn’t always think this way.

There was a time that I would become engulfed by the negative pressures of the world. I let the gossiping whispers of detractors – distract me. I allowed the uncertainty of tomorrow – to worry me. And I let the regrets of my past – weigh me down in sadness. However, I am happy to report, I am that woman NO MORE.

But, yes there’s a But… I am still human. So some moments, I do worry, I do care about what others say/think, and I do get sad. In those times I’ve found it helpful to remind myself that I am only worrying, sad, or distracted because my trust has wavered.

Let me explain…

The gospel singer Fred Hammond (I’ve always loved me some Fred Hammond) has a song called I Will Trust. In the song he says:

Some put their trust in earthly possessions

But in the end it won’t bring them through

I will not lean to my own understanding

But with my whole heart here’s what I’ll do

I will trust (trust in the name of The Lord)

I love those lyrics because they remind me that nothing on the earth will be able to consistently make me happy, so why put my trust in it… Instead, I should put my trust in the Lord.

So on the sad days I remind myself – (Deuteronomy 31:8)

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

On those worrisome days I tell myself – (Matthew 6:31-34)

31 “Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 That’s what those people who don’t know God are always thinking about. Don’t worry, because your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 33 What you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what he wants you to do. Then he will give you all these other things you need. 34 So don’t worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Tomorrow will have its own worries.

And when the detractors (yes those haters) attempt to do their thing I keep in my heart – (Matthew 5:11)

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

I hope you will take comfort in the fact that our trust in God will see us through each and every time!

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

http://www.donnadoctora.com

Your BREAKthrough… Thrive…

Are you waiting on a BREAK through?

In the bible there is a verse that talks about God TRANSFORMING sadness. Psalm 30:11 states: You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.

What I LOVE about this verse, is that it reminds us of two important lessons.

The first lesson is that though life is often plagued with struggles and strife, we can find PEACE amidst the chaos. The ability to dance or praise in the middle of mourning or sadness, would suggest one has the ability to feel GOOD no matter the external circumstance. How’s that possible, you may wonder? Well… Our feelings are not caused by the things that happen to us instead our feelings are chosen by us in response to the things that happen to us. In other words, we have a CHOICE. We can choose distress or ease? We can choose anger or calm? We can choose sadness or happiness? We make these choices by deciding what to concentrate on and what to give our attention to. You want to feel good, you want a sense of peace – choose that, even when you find yourself in the middle of a challenge or adversity.

The second lesson is that all situations can be turned around. No matter how bleak or hopeless a circumstance appears, it’s not over until it’s actually over or you quit. So adopt an attitude of persistence and perseverance. Be ENCOURAGED that you will make it through and be ready to remind yourself of this, on those days when it just seems impossible! I personally have experienced many situations that seemed hopeless, yet here I still stand. And my ability to keep going motivated me to share my story in my soon to be published memoir (Shedding Perfection: A Psychologist’s Journey to Self-healing). However, we each have a story. We each can have the conviction to keep going, we just need to be reminded of it, from time to time.

I want to leave you with a final word from a song that I came upon by happenstance. I was at the gym, my usual Sunday spot since I am raising a boy that loves basketball! As we were preparing to leave I hear on the radio these words ”we were made to thrive”. I immediately stop in my tracks so that I can Google the source of the lyrics. It is a song by Casting Crowns. When you get a moment, you may want to check it out… It is a great reminder that in this life we are living – breakthroughs are possible! Joy is possible! Transformation is possible!

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

www.donnadoctora.com

Are you Alone or Lonely?

ALONE but not lonely

It seems that the fear of being alone is something that starts at a very young and continues well into adulthood. We perceive loneliness as a punishment, so it’s used on children (in the form of time out), and it’s even used with adults (in the form of solitary confinement within the prison system).

So why are we so afraid of being alone? Where is the fear coming from?

Maybe it’s the realization that when we’re alone we are stuck with and have to actually face our own thoughts, our own fears, our own SELF.

So we’re afraid of being alone, but IMAGINE the FREEDOM that is possible if the fear could be conquered.

Well that’s the space in life where I now find myself… I can be all by myself, without feeling lonely. Alone but not lonely! And I must say, it’s a pretty awesome feeling.

The realization of being alone but not lonely hit me when I was unexpectedly granted a Saturday to do absolutely NOTHING! I was scheduled to work, but the client needed to reschedule, so that left me adrift. My 13 year old was with his dad, I had no dates on tap, and so I pondered for a bit how exactly would I spend this day.

As I contemplated a few options, I settled on changing into my favorite pair of lounging pants and curling up in my bed with a favorite book, my laptop, a writing pad, and a pen. The hours melted away as I alternated between writing, journaling, and catching up on a few favorite shows, saved on my DVR. Before I knew it, the sun was starting to set and the day was nearing a close. As I stopped to reflect on the day, that’s when it struck me that I was alone but not lonely.

So how did I stumble upon this place of peace, you wonder? It seems that the secret to feeling wonderfully happy, even when you’re alone, is to be able to feel a sense of inner fulfillment. Getting to the place of fulfillment is so important that I will discuss it in a future post. But for now, just remember that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely.

Theologian Paul Tillich expressed it best when he said: “Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone”

My wish for you is that you find some time of aloneness, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day. And may that time refuel you to accomplish all of the tasks and responsibilities that bombard you.

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

www.donnadoctora.com

P.S. reply to this post by sharing how you spend your “alone” time.

Do you have ANYthing to be THANKful for?

Praise Before the Blessing

This past Sunday in church my pastor shared a message about the importance of having an attitude of gratitude. He reminded the congregation to FIND A REASON TO BE THANKFUL. And as an exclamation to his point, the choir sang a song with the lyrics I constantly thank you, you constantly bless me.

I left the sanctuary with these thoughts reverberating through my mind. Be thankful, be thankful, be thankful, echoed the reminder. This task is particularly easy when you are able to look around and see whatever it is that you desired and asked God for.

However, what are you to do, when the blessing has not yet arrived?

How can one be thankful for something that is yet to come?

In other words, how can you praise before the blessing?

These are the questions that may run through your mind as you expectantly wait on God to fulfill unanswered prayers.

The good news is that gratefulness, thankfulness, and praise do not begin with what you don’t have. Instead it begins with what you ALREADY have! That means, acknowledging, appreciating, and saying thank you for things you’ve previously received. Be it your health, memory, senses, family, or the simple act of the sun rising on a new day. Give thanks! Not only will this help your mood, it will also open up the windows of opportunity for more goodness to enter your life!

Here are a few useful quotes about gratitude:

  • Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough – Oprah Winfrey
  • Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life – Robert Louis Stevenson, Novelist
  • Often people ask how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose. I chose gratitude – Nick Vujicic, Motivational speaker
  • Be thankful for problems. If they were less difficult, someone with less ability might have your job – Jim Lovell, Astronaut

My wish for you is that you choose a spirit of gratitude! You deserve a life of joy, happiness, and fulfillment! The first step to attaining that life begins with heartfelt thanks and praise.

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

www.donnadoctora.com

Find and Work your Purpose

Purpose is the reason for one’s life. It’s often said that our purpose on earth is to help one another. There are an infinite number of ways to help. But we are all different. Therefore, our unique purpose is identified when we find our individual way of helping others.

Purpose is such a central piece of who we are that most of us spend life trying to identify our purpose.

Do you know your purpose?

Do you know what special contribution you were created to do in order to help others?

If you’re wondering how to identify your purpose, the first place to start is to consider your gifts. For when we find a way to use our talents to help others, we have discovered our purpose.

Here are a few quotes on the idea of purpose:

  • The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others – Philosopher Albert Schweitzer
  • I believe that God has put gifts and talents and ability on the inside of every one of us. When you develop that and you believe in yourself and you believe that you’re a person of influence and a person of purpose, I believe you can rise up out of any situation – Pastor Joel Osteen
  • I believe that if you don’t derive a deep sense of purpose from what you do, if you don’t come radiantly alive several times a day, if you don’t feel deeply grateful at the tremendous good fortune that has been bestowed on you then you are wasting your life. And life is too short to waste – Author Srikumar S. Rao

I mentioned earlier that identifying one’s purpose is an important part of life. Not only because it allows us to help others, but also because with purpose we experience an increased sense of fulfillment, joy, and peace – in day to day life.

So are you willing to discover your purpose? If you’re needing a resource to help you figure it out, take a look at this quiz from Oprah’s website: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Who-Are-You-Meant-to-Be-Self-Assessment-Quiz

This year, may you endeavor to find more fulfillment, joy, and peace in your life!

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

Tap into endless Creativity

I am a new blogger. Or at least I view myself as new, considering that I began consistently blogging about six months ago. For years I contemplated starting a blog, but just never got around to it. I made excuse after excuse.

I didn’t have the time

I didn’t have the energy

And even scarier, I didn’t have enough to say…

Or at least I didn’t think I’d have enough to say. I wondered things like “how will I know what to post?” or “what if I run out of topics to discuss?”

However the amazing thing is that as I write more I find increased motivation and inspiration. The more I blog, the more I have to blog about. This is the wonderful cycle I’ve found myself in…

And the best news is that creativity is infinite! So there was no need for me to fear running out of things to say. Poet Maya Angelou eloquently captured the endless fountain of inspiration in this quote: “you can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have”.

So what’s the moral of this message? If you want more, you have to do more. If you want to be inspired, you want to achieve success, and you want to tap into your creative abilities, you just have to start. You just have to use them!

If you’re wondering how to start… just take the first step by doing something different, something new. Take a look at this quote from motivational speaker Denis Waitley: “A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown

And if you’re wondering where your creativity lies, remember that we are all creative, just in different ways. As educational advisor Ken Robinson states: “you can be creative in anything – in math, science, engineering, philosophy – as much as you can in music or in painting or in dance

So as I end this post, I want you to remember that creativity is infinite, we are all creative, and we tap into our creative potential by stepping out and doing something new.

I am excited about life and have renewed purpose as I delve into my creativity within the areas of writing, teaching, and speaking.

What is your creative ability and what new things will you do with it this year?

Life According to me,

Dr. Donna

Forget Perfection, Be Persistent

I recently gave a presentation that went really well until… I made one mistake. I hesitated but quickly regrouped, attempting to gloss over my error. On the outside the misstep was probably not noticeable but on the inside my stomach was in knots and I continued to replay the blunder, over and over and over, in my head. While reviewing comments from participants no one seemed to notice the error, even when I pointedly asked: “so how obvious was my stutter?” No one heard it.

It was confusing, why was I fixated on something that others didn’t even seem to catch? Maybe because somewhere in my mind I have the false notion that success is equated with perfection.

However, the funny thing about success is that the “accomplished” individuals achieved their position not because of perfection but often in spite of their imperfection. For it was their mistakes that provided exposure to valuable experiences and necessary lessons.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at a few examples:

  • The American Negro Theater initially rejected Sidney Poitier. He was later was accepted into the theater and went on to become the first African American male to win an Oscar for a leading role.
  • The University of Southern California (USC) Film School denied Steven Spielberg’s application. Years later he was chosen to become an honorary alum by USC.
  • Michael Jordan’s high school varsity team rejected him when he was a sophomore.
  • Twenty-seven publishers rejected Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book.

And these snippets are just a few! There are many more stories of individuals who achieved greatness, only after an initial failure or setback. Their testimonies were the reminder I needed that excellence comes through persistence not perfection.

So in the end I needed to get over my mistake, and instead focus on the positive experience that I gained from doing the presentation.

How might this post help you? I hope it inspires you to persevere even when you face setbacks on the road to bringing about all of your dreams.

I’ll leave you with a final point, a quote that I came across:

“Good things come to those who work their Asses off and never give up!”

Note: if you want to read a few additional examples of successful individuals who overcame setbacks, here is the link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/kimberlywang/extraordinarily-successful-people-who-failed-miserably-be#.ndBOb500j