Finding Me…

I was looking through my website and came across these random, (not) posted thoughts:

my similarities to the sun

  • sometimes overshadowed by clouds
  • occasionally eclipsed by the moon
  • but always living to rise to a new dawn

I started this list – Three years ago… wow… that would have been 2014.

Some things are the same about me and my every day existence – yet I feel different! Probably because the lens that I view life through, has changed.

Even though on the outside everything looks status quo, I can feel what would be missed by the naked eye and random observer.

No longer do I feel like I’m wandering aimless and purposeless.

No longer do I feel in the shadows, eclipsed, or overlooked.

I have found my voice. I have found my stride. And I’m excited for what the future holds!

It is a new dawn indeed! But this reality is better than I ever could have imagined! Because before I was waiting to acquire things or a certain status to feel peaceful, happy, and whole. But lo and behold, I have arrived to my happy place – and it didn’t happen because of a material possession, relationship status, or career promotion.

It’s comforting to know that this secure place is nestled inside of me – forever mine!

It all began with a Thought…

Have you ever took a moment to think about how cool you are? And not in a cocky, obnoxious way – but in a serious deep reflection about the unique things that make YOU – YOU…

Well I had that moment this morning!

As I sat in a swinging chair (my favorite type of chair by the way), on a porch of a landmarked Victorian home, in the sleepy suburban area of Frederick Maryland (just south of the Mason Dixon line and founded in 1745), I thought about how cool it was that I manifested this moment… I brought it into being with a simple thought that I backed up with some action (to actually make it here physically).

I’ve always been a go-getter / a risk taker – so this mini vacation to stay at this B&B was definitely something I have a track record for doing. But I’ve never really stopped to appreciate that part of me… the side of me that sees what she wants and then does it!

So here I am, sitting on my swing & giving myself a pat on the back. Kudos to me! Another wonderful life memory to cherish. Another story I’ll be able to one day share with my children’s children 🙂

When I turned 30, I began to somewhat entertain the idea of becoming a mom. Then at 35, I was first resentful and then saddened that pregnancy was not something that I just fell into or stumbled upon. For some of my friends, many of my friends, motherhood came easy for them… Alas, that was not my story and it made me sad – really sad! But now… after 12 long years, I look back on my journey with feelings of gratitude. Go figure! Because in those years (since age 30) there is so much that I’ve accomplished and experienced that was just for me – ALL ME! And now, I’m truly ready to share the lessons, the wisdom, and the love with someone else.

I hear my future child calling me – and I am ready 🙂  But in this moment, for now, I just sit, swing, and appreciate all that I am – right now.

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

 

 

 

When you look up the phrase hopeless romantic… I bet you find my picture! I am one of those naive for love types! I love happy endings, believe in “magic”, and I’m always rooting for love. So you can imagine why being without my soulmate, for years, has been wreaking havoc on my psyche!

However, I recently had a moment of clarity that led to me making a decision that was sort of a jolt to my system:

I am going to remain single for 2017

Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought this would be the route for me, yet here I am.

This thought process was probably brewing for some time, but I believe my recent 42nd birthday was the proverbial icing on the cake. I am 42 and have never ever been single for an entire year.

Since I began dating at the age of 16, I have never truly been single… 26 years of spending time with numerous iterations of “mr wrong” has taken it’s toll! So I’ve decided to step back, be a bit selfish, and take this time to just spend it on… ME!

Now don’t get me wrong, I still know that one day I shall marry again. And I also know that our relationship shall be amazing (how do I know, well because I’m preparing for him – but that’s a different blog post, for another day).

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A preview of my preparation for my future marriage… here are 2 books that I’m currently reading.

 

But for right now, in this brief snapshot of time, I am going to take a little time to focus on Donna…

Feels good to love myself!

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

 

 

 

HANGING by a thread… In Life and Laundry…

My task this morning was to do the laundry. The bag overflowing with clothes cued me that this routine chore was overdue. I grabbed the detergent, clutched the laundry bag, and walked out. I took several steps in the direction of my car, but realized that the bag may not survive the entire trip. It was literally hanging by a thread!

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The irony of my current situation was that at various points in the last month, I felt like I was hanging by a proverbial thread.

There were many days during the months of May and June where I felt frustrated, disappointed, and fed up! Maybe it was the agony of waiting for dreams deferred to come true. Or maybe it was that wicked bout of food poisoning followed by a week of bronchial wracked coughs. Whatever it was, I knew I felt like quitting – just throwing in the towel.

But I was rescued by a consistent support team of family and friends, who continued to believe in me even when my vision became so foggy that I could no longer believe in myself… With their encouragement I forged ahead and I began to find the strength to attend to the things I had sorely neglected during my weeks of pity, agony, illness, and despair.

There were many things I learned during this time of instability, but the greatest lesson: even superheroes need a little help. Even though I was courageous, strong, and determined – I could allow myself to lean on those I trust. My ultimate success did not need to be won by “doing it myself.”

Accepting this lesson was a monumental step for me, as I always prided myself for doing things my way, independently and without the assistance of others. However, I’ve come to realize that the truly successful don’t make it to the top because of sole might. Instead their journey was made possible because of knowing when and whom to reach out to for help.

The Greek philosopher Plato is quoted as stating: “people are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.”

It’s nice to know that in this season of my life wracked with difficulties, I am planted amongst a group of family and friends determined to see me thrive!

If you too can’t make that same assertion, it’s time to reassess those you’ve surrounded yourself with…

Just in case you’re wondering, the laundry bag made it – and so did I. But I decided to make a slight detour, on the way to the Laundromat, to buy a new bag…

Continue to grow, continue to expect, continue to believe…

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

www.donnadoctora.com

Twitter: donnadoctora6

I’m Annoyed! Accepting my flaws…

I’m annoyed…

He rattled off a play-by-play of the activities taking place, as he drove in the car. I held the phone to my ear and listened for a bit, until I couldn’t take it anymore. “I don’t care to hear about what’s taking place on the roads”, I impatiently snapped. He simply replied “okay”, and I excused myself off of the phone.

That very short and simple exchange had me wondering is something wrong with him for his topic choice? Or is something wrong with me that I was experiencing annoyance? I wasn’t sure of the answer, but it did cause me to stop and think.

Throughout my life I’ve had a tendency to be easily annoyed. And the immediate and typical conclusion that I come to is to avoid the source of my annoyance. However, in the spirit of seeking to grow and learn, I challenged myself to dig deeper in order to better understand my annoyance.

“Hmm, I wondered, is it that I don’t like this guy?” But then I stumbled across this quote by Swiss author Alain de Botton: “You have to be quite heavily invested in someone to do them the honour of telling them you’re annoyed with them”. As I read that quote I couldn’t help but to burst out into laughter. Ha! So I guess lack of interest was not the impetus for my annoyance.

I then decided to peruse some of my old reading materials and I found these two very important points:

The minute you start to close and defend yourself, get back up” – author Michael Singer

“Try to stay open to learning, not judging yourself for the things you do” – authors Erika Chopich and Margaret Paul

These quotes both echoed the point that it is important for the heart to remain open. So instead of running from my annoyance (prior way for handling things), I was on the right track by seeking to understand it (current way of handling things). The moral of this story is that we each have a choice, everyday, to learn something new about ourselves. We can grow and welcome new life into our atmosphere, as long as we stay courageous to remain open.

As for my feelings of annoyance, each day I am learning to make peace and accept myself, just as I am – flaws and all…

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

You Have What You Need…

The poem Invictus by W. E. Henley is a well-known and often cited work because of its last two lines: I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. 

A central theme of the poem is the notion of choice and self-responsibility over one’s life path. Therefore, this poem was an important piece of the curriculum during my work as a counselor for the Prep for Prep program (https://www.prepforprep.org). Prep is a program created to provide at-risk minority youth with opportunities for acceptance into and completion of studies at various prestigious institutions, of higher education, throughout the country. The curriculum developers understood that in order to “beat the odds”, these students would need to be intellectually and emotionally strong!

Although, it has been several years since I have worked with the Prep for Prep organization, the Invictus poem has never left my memory, particularly the first two lines which read:

Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole. I thank whatever Gods may be for my unconquerable soul. 

An unconquerable soul… an unconquerable soul… that means – no matter the circumstance, no matter the obstacle, no matter the challenge – that soul cannot be defeated.

These first two lines resonate with me because no longer are they merely two abstract sentences from a poem. Instead, they now describe a journey that I can personally identify with… you see I have had to face many difficult and downright overwhelming circumstances. Yet, here I still stand. Unconquerable, not defeated, unstoppable.

In the book, the Untethered Soul, Michael Singer explains that “through the ongoing journey of self-realization, you will develop a tremendous sense of respect for who you really are.” This discovery of self-respect and self-appreciation came as a result of realizing just how capable and strong I could be, in the midst of adversity. I wasn’t strong because I avoided trials and mistakes – instead I was strong because I challenged, faced, and overcame the trials – head on.

However, I will admit there were many days that I thought about quitting, but in each of those moments I found the resolve to keep going because of my renewed faith in the power of God. Psalm 138:3 states that “in the day when I cried thou answerdst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in soul”. In other words, when we cry out for help, God will answer; so cry out I did! And guess what I discovered… not only would God accompany me for the journey – but I was already equipped with EVERYTHING I needed to endure, to survive, to recover, and to thrive. How could I already have all that I would need?

Glenda the Good Witch, from the Wizard of Oz, would explain it this way: “You’ve always had the power, my dear. You’ve had it all along”

Michael Singer, in the Untethered Soul, would explain it this way: “once refocused, you will realize that you not only have the ability to find yourself, you have the ability to free yourself.”

Either way – the answer was still the same… we are each equipped to be strong, we just need to be reminded of it from time to time.

I challenge YOU. Are you up for the challenge?

As an 80’s child I recall being inundated with slogans like RIF: reading is fundamental and Knowledge is Power. I reflect on these phrases now because they remind me about the liberating power of reading.

You may wonder what has me in this contemplative mode about reading…

I sit here, traveling, and working my way through the first few chapters of a book called the Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. Thus far, the book is exploring the notion of “awakening one’s consciousness” to the realization that we are not our thoughts – just as we are not defined by, objects that are outside of ourselves. It is a very interesting point and it definitely serves as confirmation for the process of self-discovery that I decided to begin several years ago.

As I read and took notes in the margins, a thought popped into my head… it was my mother who purchased my copy of the Untethered Soul and it was that same woman who nurtured my initial love for reading. It seems my mother, from the start, was an unconscious or intuitive supporter of my emotional and spiritual growth!

During my preschool years, I recall her reading to me and then listening to me as I read books such as Goose Goofs Off and Little Miss Bossy. These two books tickled me to death, as a young girl, because the characters reflected what I had come to understand about the Donna that I was at that time: a procrastinator, who was DEMANDING. LOL!

However, gone are the days of books about demanding-ness and procrastination. Nowadays my mother is buying me books such as Why You’re Not Married Yet and the Untethered Soul.

Thank goodness my mother’s book selections have expanded – I guess to fit the ‘me’ that I have grown into. Isn’t it interesting how life, and our experience of it, will often be a reflection of what is occurring within! As if life is merely just a mirror image of our inner world. So if you want your external environment to change, I guess you should begin by changing your internal world.

We are often told to work on ourselves, but that work is often the hardest thing we’ll ever have to do! Isn’t it so much easier to complain, or to whine, or even to blame others? It is… but that route only leads to heartache, headache, and misery! We can’t change others and often (most times) we can’t change the things happening around us. So what can we change? Ultimately, the answer returns to the idea that the only thing we are ever in control of is OUR SELF.

I challenge YOU to go within… examine your heart, challenge your mind, change your thoughts, acknowledge your feelings – and watch your reality transform and expand! You may even surprise yourself and find that in the process of changing yourself – everything around you mirrors what you’ve always desired… You could wake up one day and find that you landed yourself in a place called peace and happiness.

Find the Love Balance… A Continual process…

There’s the old adage that relationships take work… but why is that? Does it have anything to do with the fact that we were warned by our mothers, as the Shirelles sang in 1961: Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQlImg2bm28

Maybe… But there has to be another reason…

I recently came across a picture of stick figures working to find the love balance. There they were – putting their little red hearts on the balance beams, until they were finally able to reach the point where each individual was equally invested. That picture illustrated several important relationship points:

1) Achieving balance will require the efforts and investment of BOTH parties

2) Imbalance will be inevitable, until balance is achieved

3) The process of finding balance is evolutionary – it is not a static/fixed point, which means it can and will change.

Although point #1 seemed like a no-brainer to me… I must admit, #2 and #3 did cause me to pause. Let me explain.

Point #2 points out that imbalance is a natural part of achieving balance within a relationship. So why did I find that so unsettling? After reflecting, I realized that I was hoping, in some naive way, that “the right relationship” would mean that I could avoid any and ALL uncomfortable feelings! However, not only is that impossible, I also now realize that way of existing would be limiting.

As Michael Singer explains in the Untethered Soul,

“don’t think you’d be free if you didn’t have [negative] kinds of feelings. If you can be free even though you’re having these kinds of feelings, then you’re really free – because there will always be something”.

So moral of the story, it’s important to get cozy with the idea that there will be imbalance and discomfort in a relationship. That’s okay. If both people are invested, you will work through and get to the place of balance.

Now on to point #3. That one was unsettling because it raised the idea that after putting in the hard work to achieve the balance earned in point #2, there would be moments where the whole process would have to be started all over again! Yikes! Which then leads back to my opening line about relationships requiring work.

Yes… the process of sustaining balance is a continuous one – just as the process of understanding oneself is a never-ending one. We will always need to make the conscious decision to love — love for others, love for ourselves. Each moment, of life, will beg the question of will you take the risk to be aware and learn or will you retreat into old habits and patterns?

Although I initially felt somewhat intimidated by the uncertainty involved in finding and keeping the balance in love, I now find comfort in the fact that I always have the power to choose. It is this ability of choice that leaves me feeling empowered, strengthened, and encouraged to love each and every day. And that I believe is what they call finding the balance…

Choose Consciously… What will you choose?

Relationships are a great way to learn about … your SELF! Does that sound counterintuitive to you? Did you think that I was going to say that you choose relationships to learn about the other person? Well that is actually not the case. We choose relationships to learn more about who we have been and to explore the potential of who we could be! Dr. Margaret Paul discusses this notion throughout her website (www.innerbonding.com). You can also find similar ideas in a book by Cheri Huber called ‘Be The Person You Want To Find’.

Based on this understanding that we engage with others to develop a better relationship with self, I have been reflecting on the course of my past relationships. This increased thinking about my dating patterns was sparked by a recent situation that occurred in my current relationship. I began this interaction feeling very enthusiastic and excited by our future. However, there came a day when we “bumped heads” and momentarily did not see things “eye to eye”. We maintained differing opinions and appeared at a standstill. Conflict is inevitable in any relationship, whether that relationship be an intimate one, a friendship, or familial. However, that conflict, our conflict, had me questioning the future of the relationship. I even began wondering was the person I now disagreeing with, the same individual that I was so mesmerized by? It was all quite perplexing… And then… I read the following quote:

“[Your inner voice can pull] you right out of whatever you’re doing, no matter how enjoyable, and suddenly you’re paying attention to whatever it has to say”

This quote, from the book The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, reminded me that when we are conscious (paying attention) we are able to experience the fullness of life. However, when we fail to pay attention, we can slip into old habits, habits that may be destructive and leftover residue from past experiences. Just think about Erykah Badu’s song Bag Lady. Mz. Badu sang “Girl I know sometimes it’s hard. And we can’t let go; Oh when someone hurts you oh so bad inside”. If we don’t learn to put down (i.e., let go) of our (emotional) bags, then we are destined to carry them around – weighing down our present and future hopes, dreams, aspirations!

So how does this relate to my relationship? Well, there I was allowing my old baggage to impact my current interaction. Somewhere in the past, I learned and adopted the mantra that conflict = bad, conflict = destruction. As a result, whenever I even sensed conflict, I would “run for the hills!” However, thanks to all of the emotional and spiritual growth that has been occurring, I no longer have a need to run. I have learned to “relax in the face of melodrama” as Michael Singer would say. Yes, I must admit that I can be quite dramatic! J I have also learned that letting go is a matter of choice. I can choose to “take the risk to let go, rather than go with the [negative] energy” (Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul).

Two take away points for you:

  • Remember we always have a choice! Nowadays I am choosing happiness. What will you choose? What will you focus upon?
  • Even when you make a mistake (and mistakes will happen), by slipping into old patterns, at ANY moment you can choose a new path and start anew.