Which one is it? Problem, Challenge, OR Opportunity?

I woke up early this morning ready to begin my day. I stood in the mirror going through my typical routine. During this time, I usually allow my mind to wander as it may. On this day, various thoughts ran through my mind. I thought about my soon to be published children’s book, I thought about the bloated look I want to get rid of around my torso, and I even thought about the fact that I was feeling quite happy this morning. I paused to ponder that last thought a bit more. I was HAPPY… not sure why, but I was… It wasn’t because my problems miraculously disappeared and it definitely wasn’t because I somehow found a way to put aside all rumination about my difficulties.

I was happy because it that particular moment all was well. And as long as I didn’t veer into the past or too far into the future, I could feel happy.

Isn’t it funny how HAPPINESS can be achieved by staying in the PRESENT MOMENT? I once heard a speaker say: “your mind is your most powerful tool.” He also noted that the MIND is so powerful that in the bible it is stated that we worship the Lord with our mind.

And the bible isn’t the only source that discusses the mind’s strength; take a look at a few famous quotes:

  • Not he is great who can alter matter, but he who can alter my state of mind” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet
  • How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most” – Stephen Covey, Author
  • The secret of living a life of excellence is merely a matter of thinking thoughts of excellence. Really, it’s a matter of programming our minds with the kind of information that will set us free” Charles Swindoll, Writer

So if the mind is so powerful, why aren’t we all using our minds to its fullest potential? I believe the answer to that question points to the two infamous culprits – Fear & Doubt…

Fear will cause you to be frozen, immobilized from taking any necessary steps forward

And Doubt will cause you to question yourself so that even when you take a necessary step forward you stop in your tracks or even turn back to retreat to the familiar.

However, success, in any endeavor and towards any goal will require you to use the strength and power of your own mind to overcome fear and conquer doubt!

I leave you with these lyrics from the song Hold On by James Fortune & FIYA. I hope it encourages you on your journey –

Know that flowers bloom when rain falls

You just hold on

The tears may come, but stand to the end

Remember you CAN succeed in spite of the fear and despite the doubts!

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

www.donnadoctora.com

Twitter: donnadoctora6

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Spring Anticipation, Patience, and Strength…

Most of us look forward to the spring season because it’s a time of renewal, new growth, and FLOWERS! However, spring is also the time of rain showers and the dreaded pollen that blankets the southeast!

For the past few days I’ve been struggling with these awful headaches, which I’m thinking, are pollen induced. So I was semi glad to see the rain that came this weekend because it would clear the air and wash the pollen away… So there I was laying around on one of those damp, overcast Saturday mornings feeling somewhat restless and out of sorts. I was reflecting on life and wondering when the metaphorical rain would come to wash away my struggles, disappointments, and the depression that often blankets my happiness.

I’m tired of waiting, tired of striving, tired of feeling I’m not there yet…

I needed something to motivate me, something to encourage me to keep going – so I turned to music…

And there were two songs that seemed to champion my cause of pushing towards the finish line… Here are a few of the lyrics –

Doubt by Mary J Blige:

I’ll keep getting up

Cause that’s what I’m gonna do

I’m gonna be the best me

Sorry if it kills you

 I am a conqueror by Estelle:

Got a vision that no one else sees,

Lot of dirty work, roll up your sleeves,

Remember there’s a war out there,

So come prepared to fight!

You never know wherever the road leads you,

Not everyone’s gonna believe you,

Even though they’re wrong, don’t prove them right

After hearing those two songs, I felt encouraged to keep forging ahead, even though my tomorrow is still a day away. My hope was returning… And just like that the depressed feelings receded away and I was left feeling recharged, refocused, and ready to tackle the day! My spirit felt so renewed that I found myself dancing around to ‘Just watch’ by Mark Ronson. As I grooved to the beat, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror thought you doubt the future that is coming, and as that thought floated through my mind, I could hear Mark Ronson croon: “don’t believe me just watch”! The timing of that brought a smile to my face.

So what’s the moral of the story? Anticipation can be hard sometimes. But I do believe that in the end, the fruit from my waiting and working will be worth it!

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

www.donnadoctora.com

Twitter: donnadoctora6

Time to Move On… Say good-bye to Regrets!

In life we are accountable for making millions of decisions. That’s a huge responsibility, and sometimes we may not make the best choice. However, the mistake is often not realized until later, for as they say “hindsight is 20/20.” When you look back you typically have more information than you previously did, and that’s why you can say: “I wished I had handled that situation differently” or “I wish I could change that decision.”

But guess what? It’s done… you can’t get it back, so why mull over it, why beat yourself up, and live your life focused on regretting decisions of old. Isn’t this the type of advice often given? However, it’s often hard to forget the poor choices of your past because they can have real consequences in your present and future!

So how do you move beyond the past, even when the past is having an effect on your right now? That was a question I asked myself and that question remained unanswered for a few days until I this morning while I was listening to the song Different by Tasha Page-Lockhart.

At first I was focused solely on the tune and the catchy beat, but then I honed in on the lyrics. She sang about making unwise decisions. Allowing temptation, distractors, and negativity to cloud her good judgment. However, she really caught my attention when she sang:

But there’s not a hole too deep

That God won’t reach down and save me

See he cleaned me up and made me new

Said welcome back and now I’m standing here in front of you

That part of the song really got me to dancing because it was the reminder that even though I could never undo any decisions made in the past, God could help me through any of the consequences (of those decisions) I would have to endure in the present and future.

It felt good to be reminded that I would never be alone even amidst “the mess” that I created by my former decisions. And the bonus – I am different, better now because of all the lessons learned through my experiences.

So now I fix my gaze to the present and future, acknowledging that I am shaped by my past BUT I am NOT my past. As Olympian Jacki Joyner-Kersee is quoted as saying: “It’s better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.”

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

www.donnadoctora.com

Twitter: donnadoctora6

Frowners never win… Coping with the Blues…

Coping with the Blues…

Have you ever wondered how to feel the SUNSHINE in your life? How to bring HAPPINESS, LAUGHTER, and JOY into your everyday? It would seem that SUNSHINE, HAPPINESS, LAUGHTER, and JOY comes when you let it in

I came to this conclusion as I sat wrestling with my own “blue thoughts”. I was feeling sad, restless, and incomplete. Nothing new had occurred to trigger those emotions, but there I was facing the same old struggle. My initial thoughts were “things will never change”, “I will never get better”, and “I will always struggle with depression”. Those first three internal judgments did nothing but pull my mood further down.

Then a fourth idea struck me! From somewhere within I remembered the saying “once an addict, always an addict”. I toyed with that idea for a bit… could it be true? Would I struggle with depression for the rest of my life??? That was a frightening thought!

However, the fighter in me… my rational side refused to give in to, to believe the defeatist side in me. The warrior within reminded me that no matter the emotions, I am not my emotions which meant – no matter how long I suffer with sad emotions, that is not me. Reminding myself that I am NOT sadness, and I am NOT depression, helped to elevate me out of “my funk”. I was lifted up enough to also remember that because I am not my feeling; I was the one who could decide how to handle those feelings.

So what did I decide to do?

I chose to refer back to an old childhood song that I remember watching on an old episode of the Flintstones, Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sunshine In.

Do you remember the song? Here are a few lyrics to jog your memory:

When you are unhappy the devil wears a grin

But oh! he starts to running when the light comes pouring in

I know he’ll be unhappy ‘cos I’ll never wear a frown

Maybe if we keep on smiling he’ll get tired of hanging round

So let the sunshine in.

So let the sunshine in face it with a grin smilers never lose and frowners never win

So let the sunshine in face it with a grin open up your heart and let the sunshine in

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

www.donnadoctora.com

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

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