I am happy to report that since my initial post about my dance goal of accomplishing splits on both sides (initial post here), I have made TREMENDOUS strides!

I’m still a ways from completion of the goal but how exciting that I can visibly SEE the differences made in just two short months!!

Right split – in April the furthest I could get to was ~ 12 inches from the ground… But, now, I’m about 6 inches from the ground. OMG!

Left split – in April the furthest I could get to was ~ 6 inches from the ground… And now, I’m about 2 inches… yes that’s correct – 2 inches from the ground. Whoo-hoo!

I’m still astounded by my progress!  Though I’ll admit that it hasn’t been easy, quite painful in fact, as I attempt to convince my leg, groin, and hip muscles that getting into a split is possible at 42 (even though I haven’t been in one since my teen years!)…

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But in spite of the pain – little by little – improvement was made. Seeing myself make these physical gains has been quite encouraging… a great reminder that big things are accomplished by taking small steps on a consistent basis…

It reminds me that we Choose what Tomorrow looks like by the Choices we make TODAY!

I can’t wait to post my next update, as I anticipate continued GROWTH.

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

GOD I’m TIRED… The Complaints of a Dream Chaser.

Sometimes life is such a lonely journey because you are the only one traveling your particular course… family, friends, loved ones can listen, empathize, and attempt to relate but have you ever had a moment where that was just not enough?

Well last night I was having one of those evenings…

I am in the midst of following a path that I believe I was destined to follow, but sometimes staying on the path is hard because of obstacles, challenges, and setbacks. Each difficulty seems to beg the question:

– Maybe you’re not on the right path Donna?

And the follow up to that question, is the thought:

– If you’re going in the right direction, why haven’t you reaped rewards for your efforts, by now?

Those questions, those doubts, the fears make it so tempting to give in, to turn back, and to give up. But if I did that then I would be sealing the coffin on my fate. Quitting is a guaranteed loss, whereas to persevere means I continue to put myself in position to win!

Yet I was still at a loss – my options seemed to be 1) continue to sacrifice and struggle while chasing dreams that seem so far-fetched and out of reach or 2) take the more realistic approach, play it safe, and take the well intentioned advice to give up my dreams…

Neither option seemed to be appealing and I went to bed with a heavy heart; a heart full of hurt that had no more tears because too many were shed during the day.

As I closed my eyes I had the final thought: “the advice they’re all giving won’t work because I’ve been doing it already. I’ve prayed. I’ve fasted. I’ve read. I attend church. I do self-care activities. I’ve waited. I’ve done everything humanly possible, so now what?” And then I remembered the line from Donnie McClurkin’s famous song Stand: “after you’ve done all you can, you just STAND!”

And as if to confirm that I am on the right track, this morning still needing some encouragement I decided to read another dream chasers story. Figured they too had experienced moments of doubt. Thought their story might inspire me. I Google’d ‘Tyler Perry and Quit Your Dreams’ and stumbled upon a 2008 post from him that said:

I am a dreamer and sometimes when you have dreams you are met with obstacles, and your dreams will start to fade. But what I’ve found is that when God has given you a dream, no matter what it is, when you want to give up and believing becomes hard, and when you can’t go any further, the dream itself will start to believe for you. The dream itself will start to carry you through with visions and hope and encouragement.

So, the new mantra for Tyler Perry Studios is “A Place Where Dreams Believe…” Don’t worry if you’re met with opposition on your path to your goals. When you’ve done all you can, stand and surrender. God will allow your dream to motivate you.

What confirmation for me that I was indeed on the right track. That others before me had felt the same moments of doubt and questioning. And to continue on my path means that in the end I will WIN!

So I intend to STAND.

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

www.donnadoctora.com

Twitter: donnadoctora6

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

Your Gifts and Talents… Get to Work!

I sit here reflecting on a recent sermon I heard in church. The pastor spoke about the importance of “working your gift”. I thought this title was quite fitting and a bit ironic because earlier that same morning I was singing along to the contemporary gospel song “The Gift” by Donald Lawrence and Company. Both that song and the sermon expressed three important points:

  • We are each “gifted”
  • No one else on the earth can exhibit our gift the way that we can, for we each are divinely unique
  • We have to work our gift

Although all of the above points resonated with me, it was the last that I seemed to fixate on… the importance of working the gift that we’ve been given…

That third point held a lot of weight because it reminded me that although we are given talents and gifts – it’s not until we do something with the endowment that we get to see and feel the power of the blessing.

How many of you have talents that you are just “sitting” on? Gifts that are going wasted because you feel you’re too busy, tired, or afraid to step out on faith?

I can relate to your reluctance, for at times I too want to shy away from using my gifts, for with gifts comes responsibility.

For even the bible talks about this greater responsibility in Luke 12:48: But what about the servant who does not know what his master wants? He also does things that deserve punishment. But he will get less punishment than the servant who knew what he should do. Whoever has been given much will be responsible for much. Much more will be expected from the one who has been given more.

And with increased responsibility, comes increased pressure. Sigh. Yes, pressure!

However, despite the heavy load of responsibility and pressure, I know that I can’t not walk in and make use of the talents I’ve been given because there’s always this little push or voice from within that keeps propelling me forward. And more importantly, I know that my gifts were meant to be shared, to be a blessing to someone else. Or in the words of the pastor delivering the sermon: “the gift is given TO us but NOT for us… so be not prideful and be not a hoarder…. Bless the world around you.”

I hope you find the inspiration and the courage to share your gifts and talents with others, knowing that we each have something valuable to contribute to this planet we call Earth.

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

Want Success? Then you must Ask and Receive…

How specific are YOUR requests?

In life we are each on a journey, and along the way there are various things we desire, dream, and want. However, when I look around I see that there are those who attain what they want, and those who seem to fall shy of crossing the finish line. I wonder, what is the difference between the people that make it and the others that don’t? Is it based on luck or chance? Or is it based on the idea that some people are just more fortunate than others?

Hmmm…. Well it can’t be luck or the idea that “some people are just more fortunate” because there are many who have been elevated to success but they started out from humble, meager beginnings. So what is it?

I wonder if the missing piece is that the successful are very specific in their requests. Let me explain…

The bible suggests that we should “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). I have often heard this verse, as it is commonly cited. So much so that even secular references have been made to this idea in books on the Law of Attraction. But I found something even more interesting when I went to re-read this verse. I discovered another translation of the Matthew 7:7 verse, it states:

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you – Matthew 7:7, New Living Translation

Wow… now this is really powerful because the key word in that verse is KEEP! Keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking…

So it would seem that the successful have attained that status because they kept on asking, seeking, and knocking on various doors until they found the very specific requests of their heart.

I am seeking from God: a book deal for my memoir, a job that is not toxic/constantly stressful, a supportive husband, a biological baby, and financial freedom.

What things are you seeking for your life?

In the Untethered Soul Michael Singer states:

“Does anything in God’s creation, other than the human mind, actually pass judgment? Nature just gives and gives to whoever will receive. Should you choose not to receive, it doesn’t punish you. You punish yourself because you choose not to receive”

My hope for you is that you find the courage to keep asking for, seeking, and knocking on the doors of your dreams. And may you be ready to receive the overflow when it comes!

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

Do and Persist in 2015

Ugh, was the feeling I had as I rolled over, in bed. Limbs still somewhat sore from the previous evening’s dance class, and the brain still not fully awake – I was struggling to get up and moving. What was sort of funny about this morning’s fight was that as soon as I got out of the bed, I could hear my 12 year old across the hall going through a similar battle! I called his name several times, but it was to no avail, he was not ready to be awakened. However we had 45 minutes to get to his morning basketball practice, he had to wake up now! I called his name for the sixth time. He groaned in response and said “I’m not going to practice today”. Initially I paused, but then I responded with “get up, you’re going!” He dragged his lazy bones out of bed and proceeded with his morning routine.

On the drive to practice I explained to him the method behind what he perceived to be my madness. “Get up, you’re going was said in order to teach you the importance of persistence”, I explained. We then had a discussion about the value of doing things, even when you’re tired, discouraged, or frustrated. We spoke about the difference between the successful and those who aren’t. The successful continue to do despite how they feel!

And as if to confirm the legitimacy of my stance, later that day my sister sent me her morning devotional, from mydailybible.org, which read “for whatever was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope”.

So my question to YOU is what are you willing to endure on your path to success? Will you continue to pursue your dreams even when you DON’T FEEL like it? If you do, keep going no matter what, I bet on the other side of that journey will be your happy story ending.

Take a look at this quote from American Essayist Og Mandino:

“The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them. Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams”.

It’s the New Year (2015)… I hope you decide to begin doing and persisting… and WHEN you do – come back and share your triumphs, with me!

Battling your addiction(s)… What are you running/hiding from?

“I need a cigarette” complained the man sitting across from me, to his wife. What perplexed me about his request was that he said this amid a series of hacking coughs that seemed to be in sync with the hacking coughs of his wife! Why continue to smoke when it’s clear that it’s causing bodily harm?

The above reflection took place during a recent weekend trip traveling via a regional bus.

During my journey I ran into many other smokers. However, in the midst of me judging their addiction – I had to finally ask the question – aren’t we all addicted to something?

For some it’s cigarettes, others it’s alcohol, shopping, gambling, sex, porn, love, or even exercise. As humans we are constantly seeking for ways to fill ourselves up &/or to avoid facing whatever it is that we are running from in life!

Recently on my Facebook page I posted “No one and no earthly thing can fill me up. What a sobering and healthy thought to have! ‪#‎personalgrowth‬. That post was my public confession that I have finally arrived to an emotional, mental, and spiritual place in life where I no longer have to seek external things to avoid pain, to cope with sadness, to manage worry/stress, to redirect anger, or to chase away loneliness.

The author of the Untethered Soul, would suggest that my refusal to look outward for comfort was my decision “that [I no longer wanted] the weakest part of [me] running my life. He (Michael Singer) cautions that “if you don’t solve the root cause of the problem, but instead, attempt to protect yourself from the problem, it ends up running your life”.

So what will it take for you to finally go to the root of your addiction(s)? I know for me I had to hit rock bottom before I finally decided that I no longer wanted to be ruled by my addiction. Instead I found the courage to face my fears and go to the root of my discontent. I’ll admit that I made that decision while being racked by doubt and fear. But I refused to let that stop me, because I already saw the alternative; so I surmised – what do I have to lose?!

The gospel singer, William McDowell, states: “I’ve been changed, healed, freed, delivered… I’ve found joy, peace, grace, and favor… So, I won’t go back, can’t go back, to the way things used to be…” I share those lyrics hoping that you will ultimately make that same resolution for yourself.

Have the courage to battle your addiction (whatever it is), and give yourself a life where you truly are free! No more running… No more hiding…

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.