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Iron Sharpens Iron

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I’ve seen a lot of Instagram memes that say:

“Surround yourself with only people who will lift you higher.”

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I genuinely think that this quote is right on the money. I believe the people you choose to have in your life should add to your life. On the flip side, you also have a responsibility to add to someone else’s life. Relationships should not be one-sided. When these amazing people come into your life, what will you be doing? Are you an asset or a liability? Are you a giver or a taker? Are you a breath of fresh air or a ball and chain? I believe in divine connections. I also believe that God will place people into your life to help you become a better person. However, we can not solely latch on to someone else to take us higher.  It’s about God, you and others. Who are you going to lift higher? The beauty of “Iron sharpens Iron” is this… both parties actively sharpening each other.

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Sharpen Yourself

You have to first get sharp! If you try to cut something with a dull knife. Listen, it is the worst. It will not be as effective. If anything you would have to put more effort into cutting the object. A blade that is sharpened is more effective. In the same light we must be “sharp” to be effective. There are different areas in our lives that must be assessed in order for change and growth to take place. What I have learned about God is this, the closer you get to building your relationship with Him through prayer and reading your word, you will begin to look at your reflection. God will reveal to you areas of your heart that you need to work on. Brace yourself, it may not be pretty. Take heed and ask God to help you work on those areas. Don’t beat yourself up about it because in your weakness He is strong. Building your character is so important to God.  In becoming more like Christ it is a life long process. Sorry no drive-thru breakthroughs over here.

Get Help

If you ever played the arcade game “Whack-a-Mole,”  the object of the game is to hit each mole that pops up out of it’s hole and you get points. Here’s the kicker, when you hit one mole 2 other moles pop up at the same time. You have to hit as many as you can until time runs out. Sometimes that’s how self-improvement may feel like. Just when you thought you had things on lock. BAM here comes something else that needs to be dealt with. Whoosa… Breathe…  and Get help… Could you image 3 or more people helping you hit those moles… You can’t do that with the actual game though, I would call that cheating lol but in real life, it’s okay to get help. Invest in a life coach, consultant, or a mentor in areas of your life that you believe that you need to be sharpened in. If you think you’re all good and that you don’t have anything that you could improve in your life. Houston we have a problem. There is always room for improvement. Just so you know, your life coach is not your crutch or someone who will enable you or carry you. They are meant to be your accountability partner on this journey. They may be with you for a season but while they’re on this journey with you they will see your blind spots and point you in the right direction.  You have to actually go out and execute the steps that you need to take in order to fix your life. Every area in your life is important. Do an assessment, take responsibility and actively work on areas that need improvement. Not all at once… baby steps. Take it easy, but get Excited 🙂 because the best project that you will ever work on is you!

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Sharpen Others

Once you have a mentor in your life then what? Okay, you watched Oprah walk on fire and Iyanla fix my life … now what? Now you have to take what you have learned and impart it into others. Each one teach one. I am a teacher by nature. I’m teaching when I ‘m not even trying to. At the same time, I will forever be a student. I was always taught that I can learn for anyone or any situation. I may not agree with everything that is said, but I can still look at the world through another person’s eyes. Once I get it, I share it with someone else. Those who are around you have a huge influence on who you are today and who you will become. It makes me think about how Jesus walked on water and He called Peter to come to Him and Peter also walked on water… (Matthew 14:29) (I don’t care how many steps he took… give that man some credit lol) After Jesus left the disciples and  completed His mission on Earth through His death and resurrection. Peter and the crew could have said forget it… Oh No they kept fighting the good fight of faith. Peter and the other apostles, later on, with the help of the Holy Spirit were healing people like Jesus did when He was with them (Acts 5:15-16). Jesus was around the disciples for a short time and had a HUGE impact on their lives. We are ALL called to make disciples and change this world! I say We have some HUGE shoes to fill, but God sent His Helper. The Holy Spirit to Help us. When you’re in someone’s presence spread some sunshine… let your light shine, leave them with something special!

Some of you may be thinking that you don’t know enough yet… Yes you do. You are an expert! You always have something to share based on your life experiences, testimony, perspectives and ideologies you become an expert in your own right. Be careful not to become a crutch for someone or enable them to continue a behavior that is inappropriate. The whole point of mentorship is to help them to help themselves. There are parts of someone’s life that only God can fix. Give what you can, pray for them and allow God to do the rest. If you are feeling like you don’t have anything to share or your “blade” is becoming dull … go sharpen yourself, learn something new, read a book, pick up your bible, join a group, go to an event, or get a new hobby!

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Hurt people Hurt people…

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The gift and the curse of someone entering your life is this. They can make deposits or they can make withdrawals. Ask yourself is this person a friend or a foe? Everyone who comes into your life comes for a reason. I am someone who tends to see the best in people and I can be an optimist. Through that, I have also learned that there are people who may not have my best interest at heart. I never understood why someone would intentionally cause another person harm for no apparent reason. I’ve learned that the saying is true that “hurt people hurt people” and that you must guard your heart. What is more difficult is that you can hurt someone you love and not even be aware of it. That’s why self-awareness is so important. We must OWN our stuff! Our insecurities, baggage, disappointments, and struggles. What you don’t know can hurt you and someone else. Pain can cause you to push people away who genuinely care for you.

Healed People, Heal people…

I believe that healed people, heal people. One of my mentors told me this, she said “We build walls to protect ourselves from getting hurt but those same walls can hinder love from coming in.” Sigh..  that’s a catch 22 isn’t it? Everyone doesn’t have an ulterior motive.  We can say “no new friends” and push people away but Guess what? What if that person had an antidote to heal a certain area of your heart that you didn’t know needed to be healed?  God is the ultimate healer and He truly knows the depth of our heart, only He can truly help us to repair what is broken. The unconditional love of God is a beautiful thing. We have to learn to give that love to people and receive that same love from others. The people in our lives that He places in our circle are strategically there to support us and walk with us on this journey.

Be What You Want  

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Soo… ummm… where are these iron sharpen iron, shine bright like a diamond, giving, supportive, encouraging people, who love with everything they have? Don’t look at me, I don’t know lol no, seriously, when you’re ready they will come! You first have to BE sharp! Shine your light, sharpen others, love yourself so you can love others properly. Then, you have to be open to having great people in your life. Trust me it’s a process. I love the people I have in my life! I am truly blessed. I am also a blessing to those in my life as well! To be quite honest you may need to make room for the people you want in your life. Push the blood sucking parasites out of your inner circle. Pray for divine connections and Godly friendships/relationships. You will reap what you sow. If you sow love to people… it will come back!

Check Motives

How do you check the motives and the intentions of people… discernment! Listen, I can spot a Taker easy (<–click the link to my blog about “Takers”). You know the ones. Take, Take, Take and they never pour into your life because they don’t have the capacity. They only call you when they need something. They really don’t even know you, but they know what you can do for them. STOP THE MADNESS. Own your power! Givers, you have to set boundaries. Even if you love them, if they do not care about your well-being, you will find yourself depleted, running on E, trying to please someone who doesn’t even truly care about you.  When you allow someone into your space, you give them access to hurt you or heal you… keep that in mind. You don’t have to put up with anything you don’t want to.  Ask yourself… When you’re in this person’s presence does this person make you feel drained or uplifted? Are you adding to the people in your life? Are you in a one-sided friendship/relationship? You can have a Taker in your life or be a self-centered Taker and not even know it. Evaluate your friendships and relationships. Remember, Iron Sharpens Iron, while others are lifting you up be sure to lift them up to. <3

Vicky S. Joseph

Vicky is a Public Speaker, Spoken-Word Artist, Actress and Writer. With Her sparkling personality she wants to ignite moral change in individuals! <3

 

Be Human

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Have you ever poured your heart out to someone and you were given a cliché response? You know the… “It could be worse,” or “Everything happens for a reason,” or “There are other people worse off then you.” These responses have been ways that people encourage others to look at their glass half full. However, if one of those responses are said without an individual truly taking the time to empathize with a person, it can come off callous and a bit robotic. I know that those responses are what we know to say. It’s how we have been conditioned to comfort people. What if I told you there is a different way. You can say the same thing but the timing of when you say it makes all the difference. The truth is, when someone comes to you with an issue most of the time they just want you to listen. Most people want to be seen, heard, and understood. You can’t just shove answers down someone’s throat without listening fully to what the person has to say! The truth is most of the time “You ain’t got the answers” *Kanye Voice* (I had to do it lol) There is nothing wrong with giving a solution. However, when you problem solve before you can truly comprehend what a person is saying, what happens is you mute that persons voice. They will retreat, repress their thoughts and shut down. Here is an example.

Take 1

Person 1: How was your day?

Person 2: I had a really tough day at work today.

Person 1: Well at least you have a job.

Person 2: Yes. I know, but my supervisor yelled at me today.

Person 1: Robert down the street isn’t working. He would be happy to take your place without complaining.

Person 2: I hear you, I know Robert has been looking for work, but I am trying to tell you, my supervisor made a huge scene in front of everyone. I felt so embarrassed.

Person 1: I mean if you made a mistake, as a supervisor, He was just doing his job.

Person 2: You don’t even know what happened… I didn’t make a mistake…

Person 1: Don’t worry about it. Look at the bright side, at least God has blessed you with a job.

Person 2: I know but…Never mind…

You tell me how the Heart to Heart conversation went with Person 1 and Person 2? Was person 1 really listening? NOPE. Person 1 was shutting Person 2 down by saying at least you have a job. I mean the SHADE that was being thrown. Yes, that may be true that there are people in America who do not have a job. But Person 2 is entitled to how they feel and should be able to express themselves without feeling guilt. Person 2 said their supervisor made a huge scene and embarrassed them. Person 1 didn’t even ask what happened, they already jumped to a conclusion. Plus they topped it  off with “encouragement” don’t worry about it… Look at the bright side, at least God has blessed you with a job! Person 2 just pretty much shut the conversation down and said Never mind! The main thing that was missing was empathy.

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We have to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. Even if we never experienced what they have gone through. Even if we had a similar experience. Do not minimize someone else’s experience. Some people push this whole “You need to be more transparent message.” Then turn around and perpetuate this cycle of “Perfection”….you have to be happy all the time and not have any problems message. Guess what? If someone is going through something they’re not going to call Ms. Self-Righteous or Mr. Know-It-All to pray them through! It never fails, when there is a major tragedy, that same person screams at the top of their lungs. “Why didn’t he or she talk to me… I was available.” The truth of the matter is, no one is going to be transparent or share the depth of their soul with someone they feel is judging them or someone who doesn’t listen to them. What Individuals don’t understand is when you give people a cookie cutter, one size fits all response, we remove the human side of encouragement. You are speaking to a human being who is discouraged, frustrated, or down. In order to move from a surface relationship to one of substance, one must learn how to empathize. Let’s try it again..

Take 2

Person 1: How was you day?

Person 2: I had a really tough day at work today.

Person 1: Really, What happened?

Person 2: My supervisor yelled at me today.

Person 1: He yelled at you? Oh no! Why?

Person 2: He made a huge scene in front of everyone. I felt so embarrassed.

Person 1: I can hear how hurt you are over what happened. If anything, He should have spoken to you one-on-one and not in front of everyone.

Person 2: Here’s what happened, my supervisor continues to dump his work on me and I wasn’t able to finish my work and his on time. So he made this huge scene. Sigh… I feel overworked and overwhelmed.

Person 1: So you’re doing His work and your work. That’s messed up. Have you tried bringing this up to his superior. It sounds like He may be taking advantage of you.

Person 2: You know what, I have thought of it a while back, this time, I think I will have to make a phone call!

This is the same conversation from earlier. There is a huge difference! Person 1 was present in the conversation. They listened. The greatest gift you can give someone is an ear and an open heart… Just listen! Without judgment and empathize with that person’s situation (even if you’ve never experienced what they’re going through). You’ll be surprised, how much healing takes place. The main difference here was active listening. Person 1 didn’t jump to a conclusion right away. They asked for more details,  identified the feelings (I can hear how hurt you are) that were not said… Person 2 was hurt, and because Person 1 was so connected to Person 2’s story. Person 2 felt safe and opened up even more and started to share details. Relationship is about connection. Empathy brings us together in such a humbling way. You have to be able to relate to people in order to connect.

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We’re All Human: We have to stop acting like we have it all together all the time. The truth is we do not. NO ONE HAS ARRIVED! Strength is not one-dimensional. There is strength in standing in your truth. There is strength in being vulnerable. I want to break this ideology of pretense and phoniness. What people don’t realize is the counselor needs to be counseled, the one who offers encouragement needs to be encouraged… the pastor needs to hear a word… the healers need to be healed. The strong one deserves the right to be vulnerable as well.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle-Plato

FYI: Even Christians battle with depression and suicidal thoughts…everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about… All you see is the surface and make assumptions. Individuals are held captive, hiding behind masks, in this prison, scared to show their scars, because of fear of condemnation. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Christ has set us free…  Your expectations for Believers may be that we have to wave, smile, kiss the babies and we don’t have problems… that is a lie. Yes. We count it all joy when trials come, but God allows us to be honest with Him through every experience. David kept it real with God. Job kept it real with God. Jesus kept it real with God.

1. There are modern day Pharisees. Don’t allow them to condemn you and point a finger of Judgment into your life. It is not their fault, they don’t know any better. Pray for them to Allow God to reveal Himself to them in a way that will soften their hearts.

2. You may feel misunderstood and alone because no one understands you. Listen, Jesus understands you. He was touched by our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15). He is able to empathize with us! We have to strive to be Christ like and if God who became flesh and dwelled among us is able to understand what we are going through yet He did not sin. We have to learn to empathize with others.

Everybody Can’t Hang : I’ve learned along the way that everyone can not carry the weight of your cares. Talk to Jesus First. Then pray for divine connections, confidants who can handle the depths of your soul with care. Everybody can not hang. Nor should they have the right to. They could be a family member, a spouse or a close friend they still might not have the capacity to comfort you. Being emotionally available is an emotional workout… some people may not know how to tap into those parts of their heart yet or they might not want to. One of my good friends always reminds me “Do not give your pearls to swine” (Matthew 7:6). Everyone should not have an “All Access” Backstage pass into your heart. The truth is, only special people can handle your heart with care. Be vulnerable… yes… with safe people only.

Vicky’s Final thoughts:  Since I was a kid, I was always a good listener. I was the one who was easy to talk to so I studied psychology in undergrad because of it. What’s interesting enough my day job allows me to be a listener. I never fully understood the power of listening, until I knew what it felt like to not be heard! What can be painful is pouring out your heart and soul to someone who does not have the capacity to comfort you. One of my spiritual gifts is the gift of mercy so God allows me to connect with people. It warms my heart when I hear “Thank you for listening.” Our society can be so Robotic. Get over it, move on, hurry up and heal! Sigh… I wish it were that easy but it’s not!

Before you assume, learn the facts_ Before you judge, understand why_ Before you hurt someone, feel_ Before you Speak, think_

I’ve learned to watch my words, not to dismiss people’s feelings. Disconnect when I need to. Cast the cares of others to God. He’s the only one that can do something about it and although I give advice it is up to that person to decide what they want to do. I thank God for allowing me to be myself and hold my hand along the way. He shapes me into who He wants me to be. He also teaches me to empathize, still speak the truth in love, be honest, correct when necessary and most importantly, He gives me permission to… Be Human..  <3

{P.S. I am an advocate for counseling! Seek help. If you are a college student and you need someone to talk to visit your counseling center. For 24 hour help if you need to talk to someone call 211 or 954-537-0211 First Call for Help 211 Broward.} <3

Vicky S. Joseph

Vicky is a Public Speaker, Spoken-Word Artist, Actress and Writer. With Her sparkling personality she wants to ignite moral change in individuals! <3

 

Something Else

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dirty-dishes

Who likes washing dishes? Not me! Hey, it’s the most loathed chore known to man. Do you know what I hate the most about washing dishes? As soon as you get into your groove and you’re almost done… You start cleaning the sink out and wiping the counters down… You turn around… BAM… there’s another plate you missed, then you go in the fridge.. WAIT… there’s a plate in the fridge. You THOUGHT you were finished, but the task becomes even longer. Don’t let someone stop by the sink and add more dish to the sink, you just might cut someone. lol *Twenty minutes later*  the sink gets filled up with all these new dishes and you’re back where you started. Sigh… there’s always something else. Isn’t that how life feels like sometimes. Just when you thought you figured it out, just when you thought you had the formula to life down pat. BAM! You’re right back where you started, the cha-cha slide of life. Unfortunately it’s not so fun.  It can be so frustrating.  You finally started standing up for yourself, here comes a new bully. You finally  paid off your car, here comes an unexpected expense. You finally went back to school but because of your full-time job (which helps pay for classes) it’s hard to carve out time to study. There’s always SOMETHING! Ugh…

Something Else… Projects and Events

Improvise.  There may be technical difficulties  with a PowerPoint or the computer doesn’t work or the videos won’t load. That doesn’t mean to just wing it every time, you should most certainly plan every detail of an event, but I also know that no matter how much you plan there may be some random “something else” that may take place, if so… improvise. Make sure you have your presentation printed out, have an ice breaker activity handy just incase or you have a plan B. Be ready for anything. Be flexible.  If you know me, you know that I need to be mentally prepared for things, may it be house guests, hosting events or the like. I would love to know ahead of time, what I am responsible for, so I can prepare. There are times when I don’t have that luxury and I have to adjust accordingly. I have learned that things will not always go exactly as planned. You just can’t go. Listen… There will always be something else… a wedding, meeting, baby shower, quinceañera, a bar mitzvah,  a shin dig, a pot luck, a get together and a just because… guess what? You may not be able to attend every single one. I know Diddy and them make being a socialite look sooo easy on social media, but it can be exhausting spreading yourself too thin. I love a good celebration like the next person but I know that I will not be able to do everything or attend everything. You may have to say no sometimes. Real friends will be able to see your heart and understand if you are not able to attend.  Be honest with yourself and your friends about how you are able to show your support.

Something else… Flaky People
Find someone new! If someone is helping you with a project or you’ve hired someone to handle a job for you and you’re doing more work then the person who’s supposed to do their job, maybe it’s time to get a new person. If you are putting out all the fires and have to monitor all of their progress and call them every five minutes, that’s not going to work. When dealing with flaky people, loyalty has an expiration date. It’s time to hire someone else. With flaky people, they are not thorough in keeping things in order.  There will always be something else YOU have to take care of. I understand things will not happen over night. There will be cases where things may happen that you can’t control, but if the person who is supposed to help you is causing you more stress it’s not worth keeping. That goes for relationships (platonic or romantic) business wise. I have two blogs on flaky people be sure to check them out here: Stop Flakin’ and Stop Flakin’: Business Edition.

Something else… Self development I don’t care how many self help books you read. You will never “arrive” there will always be things that you need to improve on. Self development is a life long process. Being the recovering perfectionist that I am. I always thought I had to have it together all the time.  I’ve learned that some issues are surface level, whereas others will take more than a week to change. What is crazy is that what hurt us for 10 years… we think in 2 days we will be healed. Don’t beat yourself up, do the best you can at the moment. I know with the New Year, people are so excited. Truth is for most, the new years resolutions may get tossed out the window with life’s “something else.” One of my mentors always tell me… “Vicky, you’re not starting from scratch.” I just want to tell you, you’re not starting from scratch, you’ve come a long way! If you miss it, just start where you left off on your journey and go from there. 

Something else… Life experiences

Life will send you… something else circumstances that you won’t be able to run from. You have to go through the process. Microwave healing doesn’t exist and just when you thought you were making progress a trigger from the past comes and you’re taken aback. I have had many of those experiences, but I would say, feel it, express it and allow it to pass. Don’t pretend that you’re not bothered by it by being “positive.” Yes I’m all for positivity but don’t ignore how you feel. Feel it, but don’t live in those feelings. Find a new game plan once you’re settled. Let’s be honest some situations will not go away, and it’s a matter of learning how to deal in the mist of the chaos. You may not have the answers yet, but it’s okay ladies and gents lean on God through those times.

Vicky S. Joseph

Vicky is a Public Speaker, Spoken-Word Artist, Actress and Writer. With Her sparkling personality she wants to ignite moral change in individuals! <3

 

They Smile in Your Face…

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“They smile in your face…” is the beginning of an O’jays classic entitled “Back Stabbers.”  If you went to an HBCU or a high school with a decent marching band lol you have heard this song’s instrumental before. For the purpose of this blog we won’t be talking about backstabbers. I will be talking about another B word…BULLY. Being bullied is not only a childhood phase. Bullies grow up and become controlling adults. They are everywhere! At the workplace, in the classroom and even at church (yes church). Most of us are used to bullies who are overly aggressive and abrasive in nature. That is not always the case for a bully. They can smile in your face and still be disrespectful. I am going to focus on the “nice” bully. They have the appearance of being nice but the truth is they can be condescending. The don’t fight fair, they fight their battles by being indirect.They throws jabs, snide remarks, with sarcastic undertones laugh at the end of it all. You were just cursed out and you didn’t even know it. This person is passive aggressive with their under handed comments.

Pay attention. The “nice” bully claims to have your best interest at heart. Honestly, it is really about their own interest. They want control and power. This type of person if you give them access into your life they will takeover! You give them an inch they will take a mile. Although they want to help… it’s your life. Once they have access, get ready for the control, personal investigations (aka being nosy), micro managing and being over shadowed in your own life.

I want you to know, no, you are not crazy, yes they did go there, and yes, you need to address it or it will continue. How could I miss it? you ask. Easy! You dismissed your gut feelings. If you ever feel uncomfortable or you feel like someone has overstepped a boundary, chances are they are doing just that. Stop ignoring that feeling. Don’t be fooled be a smile, listen to the message and read in between the lines. I am the queen of letting things slide because I HATE conflict! I don’t like drama at all. I’ve learned that, the more I let things slide… the more I got tried! (that rhymes! that’s my poetic side ya’ll watch out lol). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you kick down doors, and break windows to tell people to get it together. The truth is we have to stop going with the flow, you need to ruffle some feathers and rock the boat! ROAR!!! 

Just because you love Jesus, It doesn’t give people the right to take advantage of you, manipulate or bully you! Jesus was not a pushover or a people pleaser. He stood up to the two faced Pharisees. He was honest, He said what He meant and meant what He said. Identify those who are over-stepping their boundaries in your life and own your power! #standup 

Books that Have helped me with this Journey is:

Boundaries by Henry Cloud

No More Chrisitian Nice Girl

Assertiveness by 

In order to get into a battle you have to be equipped and 

 Remember you are an adult. Trust yourself to make your own decisions. 

Control need thing to be done their way…

2. Be assertive. Stand your group

3. It’s not all in your head. Trust that you feel uncomfortable. If you feel pressed or that person is invading your space. Chances are they are over stepping their boundaries. Although they want to help it’s your life.

 

Authenticity: Keep it Real With Yourself [Part I]

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Many people say trust and honesty is the most important thing to keep a relationship thriving! The thought of believing a lie has had many individuals uncertain about dating or establishing a friendship with new people. No new friends we say, out of fear that new people will hurt us. So we start off with conversations like “Keep it real with me,” as a FYI memo so that the individual in question knows what is required of them. That is not an issue; the issue is that what we so desperately crave from others we don’t even give to ourselves… trust and honesty.

Many of us are not honest with ourselves. We repress our feelings, deny our needs and put our desires on the shelf. In order to bedaisies honest with yourself, you must trust yourself. How can you trust someone you barely even know? That’s right, I said it! Many of us do not even know who we are! You look in the mirror everyday and yet your reflection is a stranger.

Some of you have healthy relationships with others yet you may not understand that you also have a relationship with yourself. I remember watching a message by Joyce Meyer and she explained that we are with ourselves 24 hours a day… “You can’t get away from you” she said. You might as well be at peace with yourself.

Mr. Shakespeare said it best: “To thine own self be true!” That is the beauty of being authentic. The definition of authenticity is being true to one’s personality, spirit or character (thanks Webster). Many of us have not been authentic for different reasons. It may have been because of fear of rejection, self-doubt or we may feel misunderstood.

Let’s talk about how to be honest with yourself:

Start with writing!  Writing is my refuge. Once I start writing, I tap into my true feelings, I may not want to go there but the more I carry it, the heavier it becomes. Avoiding feelings doesn’t make them go away. I learned that quickly. When I do write, I am honest and uncut. Find an outlet that will help you tap into your thoughts and your feelings. Sometimes we become so skilled at repressing our thoughts and feelings that we disconnect from ourselves.

Accept how you feel and begin to  heal! Authenticity doesn’t mean, Screenshot_2014-01-03-18-04-27-1sugar-plum, fairy dust and gum drops. Every emotion is not tailored with smiles and bursts of joy. Being authentic can also trigger other emotions like: hurt, fear, pain, disappointment, despair and anger! These emotions may be challenging to deal with. I would not suggest dwelling in those emotions for extended periods of time, but pretending as if “all is well” when it is not, will not make the pain disappear either. Some of these emotions can be buried deep in your soul and you don’t even know it!

Pray without ceasing! Prayer is also a lovely place to be. I have learned being honest with God also helped me to be myself. (I will go deeper into this subject in  Authenticity: “Keep it Real with God” Part II).  Being authentic is connected to vulnerability. It may be difficult for you to articulate your thoughts to others at first, that’s okay, as long as you can identify how you feel about yourself. You must have a sense-of-self beyond who others say you are. Your likes, dislikes, values, preferences, opinions and experiences are all important because they are tied into who you are today.

Identify your truths in each realm: self, spirituality, love, career and family

What are your needs, wants, and desires?

What are you afraid of?

What are your core values?

What are your strengths?

What are your vices/weaknesses?

How can you grow?

What are you going to do to change?

Answer these questions privately, and without judgment of yourself. The answers to these questions may change tomorrow, but you have to evaluate yourself. When you start being honest with yourself… freedom will come. You are who you are, that is enough.

When you want to beat yourself up remember:

Grace Card: All in all accept where you are today and where you have been. You are in the human experience and you are becoming! One of my mentors always tells me when I am hard on myself “Progress not Perfection.”

Comment Below:

Why do you think it is difficult for people to be honest with themselves? What do you think holds them back? How are you honest with yourself?

 

Let it Roll: Life Lessons

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We are officially 9 days  into the New Year! Happy 2013!  While I sit and think about my future 2013 adventures, I started to reflect on 2012 and my experiences. 2012 was indeed a roller coaster, I had my ups and downs but thank God we made it through! I wanted to share with you some life lessons I have learned that will roll over into 2013 with me.

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1. Drop the Ball

Everything is not my responsibility

If you know me, you know I am someone who is proactive and takes initiative. What I have learned is that many people begin to expect that I will always come through. Which is great! I love being dependable, but the down side to that is I have been taken advantage of because of this very thing. Team work has become… Vicky’s work! Things that I was asked to “help” with eventually became my whole project. While I was stressed out and pulling my hair out, some people kicked up their feet and relaxed. Why? They KNEW I would “hold it down!” That was not fair!

I remembered what one of my professors told me long ago. She told me to drop the ball! Stop allowing people to take advantage. She was right. In order for some people to step up and take responsibility I had to step back… and drop the ball! I had to stop coming to the rescue by not picking up the slack. I also had to remind myself of what my responsibility was and that meant being honest with my own limitations.

Reflect: Where do you need to “drop the ball?” Are you doing way more than you are supposed to do in a relationship or a job? Are others slacking off while you work hard?

2. VIP seating

Experience has been a great teacher. After several disappointments, I have learned that everyone should not get VIP seating in my life. That was a hard call to make. When I started evaluating some relationships, I realized that I had several one-sided relationships. I realized that I deserve mutually beneficial relationships. One-sided unbalanced relationships will no longer suffice. It is time to assess ALL of your relationships and begin to evaluate the balance level.

Reflect: Do you have one-sided relationships/friendships? Are you giving more in the relationship than you receive?

3. Outlets… break out

2012 was very chaotic for me. One thing that I can say that kept me sane was outlets. I performed in stage productions entitled “Hoztage” and “Hispaniolove.” I enjoyed fun activities and events here and there. I wrote in my journal and performed my Spoken-word pieces. All the activities and things that I did, I called them mini vacations, a break from the everyday stresses in life. Although there was so much going on in my life, while I was “away” I made sure I enjoyed myself and stayed in the moment.

Reflect: What are some outlets, groups and fun activities that you can join to help you break away from the stresses in life?

4. I am Vicky Hear Me Roar

I found that in 2012 I was more comfortable with voicing my opinion to others. In the past I would repress my voice and my feelings by going with the flow. Some of my outlets are Spoken-word poetry and writing. For a long time I would only voice my true emotions on paper, in my journals or perform pieces that would depict how I felt. The past year, I became more and more comfortable with sharing how I felt with others even if others disagreed with me. I have learned that my voice is very important. I may have to roar here and there but I give myself full permission to ruffle some feathers! Besides, I find that it makes conversation spicy and interesting! I will continue roaring in 2013!

Reflect: Are you holding back your thoughts and going with flow? Is your voice being heard by those around you?

5. Pencil myself in

Making myself a part of my life has been a process for me. I started this Journey in 2010 it’s rolled over into 2012. I found that I had everyone else down to a science because I like to learn people and really understand who they are so I could relate to people better. What was happening was although I had everyone else down pat, I didn’t even really understand my needs, wants and desires. I made everyone a priority but I was not even a factor in my own life. So I had to learn to pencil myself in. That meant I had to be more aware of my value and understand that I mattered. I also accepted the fact that taking care of myself is NOT selfish, it’s actually healthy! I had to learn how to say “no” to others and say “yes” to me. This is still a process but it gets better with time.

When I find myself getting caught up in someone else’s situation. I remind myself of things that I need to do for myself. Balance is very important. Whenever I get out of balance, I do things for myself that make my heart smile. I also have great friends that remind me to take care of myself and that really keeps me balanced.

Reflect: Are you a priority in your life or does everyone else get first priority with your time, energy and resources?

Final Thoughts:

Be Sure to reflect on each point and see which areas you can grow in and make 2013 your best year yet!

What are some things that you have learned in 2012 that you would like to share with me? What are some of your 2013 future goals? Be sure to comment below!

Vicky S. Joseph

Vicky is vibrant and vivacious and she exudes versatility. With Her sparkling personality she wants to ignite moral change in individuals through creative expressions such as acting, writing, public speaking and poetry.

 

Value Your Preferences

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I found something very interesting. The other day I was observing an interaction between a father and son. As they walked into the building, the little boy said hello to everyone one who was present. He was very confident and friendly.  Everyone was raving about his new hair cut. The little boy expressed that his hair was cut too short for his liking.  I was in shock. Even the father was surprised by his conviction.  This two-year old knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that his hair cut was too short and he would have preferred something different!

At a young age we knew we hated broccoli, brussel sprouts and the boogie man. We knew we liked Power Rangers, dance music and Blossom (for those who remember that show lol) what happened to us? Now, many of us don’t even know what we want anymore. Somewhere along the line our preference took a back seat.  I want you to know that your preference is very important.

I was at a place where I was so intertwined with others that I didn’t even know what I liked or what I wanted. Who is this Vicky person? Everyone’s issues became my issues; everyone’s wants became my wants. Meanwhile, I was repressing my desires. Eventually, what begins to happen is an internal conflict between what you want and what others want. While listening to a Terri Savelle Foy teaching entitled “Can you Imagine,” she spoke about honoring our preference even in the small details.

Here are some tips that have worked for me!

1. Separate, Explore, and Experiment: Sometimes being in a clique or a group of friends can stifle the “individual” voice. What can happen is everyone in the clique thinks the same, wears the same clothes, and the same hairstyles. All that is fine, but it doesn’t help if you are trying to find your own voice. Having similar interests with friends and family is great! The issue arises when you cannot distinguish your interests apart from your friends/family. Maybe a slight separation may be good. Nothing drastic. Ask yourself: What is your style? What do you like to do? Where would you prefer to eat? Exploration may mean joining a separate group or organization from your friends that sparks your interests. It may mean going to a different school, selecting a separate major. Try something new! Experiment apart from the norm; you’ll begin to learn more about yourself as time progresses.

2. Personality Tests: I love, love, love taking tests! Not the scary, ‘your whole academic career depends on it’ tests. No, I’m talking about personality tests. I love them! They give you a small look into some of your personality traits where  you discover things that you may have overlooked. A personality test won’t be 100% spot on, but it will help you to practice choosing your preference. Other tests that I like to take are career assessment tests, love language tests, and spiritual gifts tests. Each one of these tests, in their own right, will help you discover new things about yourself. It’s interesting that as you grow as a person, your test results may change over time.

3. Ask Your Creator:  (A) Ask God to help you on this journey to discover your preferences and ask God to reveal to you your true self.  (B) You can also interview those you have spent the most time with. You’ll be surprised the great things people can perceive about your character as a person.

4. Brace yourself: If you’re normally a go with the flow, accommodating type of person and you switch it up and start voicing your opinion and “keep it real,” brace yourself. Those who are close to you may be taken aback. It’s okay. When I started being assertive, it made some people uncomfortable. That did not stop me. I hope it doesn’t stop you. Your thoughts, emotions, feelings, and preferences are very valuable to the world; step out and discover your true self! “Dare to be Different!”

 

Moments with God

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I was supposed to go to a church function and my heart was telling me that I have unfinished business so I simply could not attend the church function. I made sure that everything was already set in place since I wouldn’t be there. I sent Powerpoint decks out along with detailed e-mail instructions, so everyone knew what to do in my absence. Nonetheless, I was going through withdrawal symptoms in the process. While sitting in a Wi-Fi café, random thoughts started to surface in my mind: “Who’s going to turn on the light switch if I’m not there? Did they receive my e-mail? Is everything okay?” Lo and behold, I didn’t receive any calls asking where anything was or how to do something. Everyone handled their fair share…business as usual took place. I had to calm down internally and be okay with that. In this café, I was finishing projects that I put on the back burner for a while. I got frustrated in my research and I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I prayed and asked God for help. The researching process became a lot smoother, because I was trusting God to help me.

When I completed my research I started reading the Bible and I was led to Psalm 33 v 16-20.

Psalm 33:16-20 New International Version (NIV) 16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. 18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.

God was speaking directly to me at this moment. I wasn’t at a service; I was in a Wi-Fi Café. I started to cry. I remember praying to God regarding some of my inadequacies. God was now responding to me. The skills, titles, education will not be the MAIN contributing factor in my success. It is God who is the main contributing factor in my success. I then went on my former blog and started to read old articles I had written. Oh, the tears started rolling again. God wanted me to read examples of how he had given me the victory so many times before. I couldn’t believe it; my own blog was ministering to me. God has taken me so far. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for me next. I felt so close to God at that moment. Nothing in this world could replace that moment I had with God. I started to sing a song in my little corner and thanked God for that revelation. By all means I am not saying to neglect assembling together in a church setting. fellowship is very important. I listened to a Joyce Meyer message once and she said we can go to every conference, buy every sermon on cd, but nothing can equate to spending quality time with God. I heard what she was saying, but I don’t think it resonated with me until now.

Sometimes we get so busy in ministry that we forget about God. It’s crazy how God literally had to snatch me away from my routine just to talk.  Do you want a moment with God? God wants to speak to you as well; break away from the routine and spend quiet time with God.

 

Takers: How many times have you felt used?

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A friend of mine had a Facebook status along the line of, “Why is it that I am always there for people and when I need them, they are never around?!” I know firsthand exactly what she meant. I have been on the receiving end of a “Taker.” Let me tell you, afterwards you feel used, abused and even violated (I will be using the term “Takers” in a different manner from how it is used in the 2010 movie “Takers”).

Unfortunately, we have everyday relationships with “Takers!” “Takers” aren’t always strangers in our lives. Sometimes they are people we love. The Bible refers to a ‘taker’ as a leech. “The leech has two daughters. Give! Give! They cry” (Proverbs 30:15). What is a leech? A leech by its first definition is basically a bloodsucking parasite. The second definition of leech is “a person who clings to another for personal gain, especially without giving anything in return, and usually with the implication or effect of exhausting the other’s resources; parasite”(Dictionary.com).

In this context –> Drum roll please…. Taker = Leech!

As we continue, I want you to do a mental inventory of your relationships. Are there any individuals in your life that leave you drained after interacting with them? Do you experience many one-sided relationships in your life? Example: You Give and He/She takes.

Well, I may have some bad news for you. There is nothing that you can do to change the “Takers” in your life. Only Jesus can do that. All you can do is change your response to the blood thirsty “Takers” in your life. Here are several tactics that work:

(1) Say No!

Identify your true feelings. Many times we create these “Takers!” We are afraid of saying “No.” Be honest! If you really don’t want to let your friend “borrow” $900 (I say “borrow” because you know you will never see that money again. He hasn’t paid you back since 1999) say “No.” I know it’s hard. I am on the “No” Journey as well, so I can relate. Practice makes perfect!

(2) Be prepared

Be prepared for the guilt trips. “I thought we were boys,” “Hey you’re the God mother of my child,” “How could you do this to me?” I know we don’t want to hurt those people we care about, but we have to remember that we must take a stand to be taken seriously.

(3) Find Balance

It is okay to give of ourselves in a healthy manner. There is a thin line between helping and enabling. It is not easy to set boundaries. I have found it hard because I did not want to hurt someone’s feelings. I know how it feels to be used and taken advantage of. What is even worse when you need help those who you’ve readily been available for suddenly are not available to help you. I had to realize that if I am in a relationship where I can’t be honest with my friend, I should not be in that relationship. Learn where your responsibility to that person starts and ends. If you have evaluated your relationships and you notice you are giving way too much, start creating boundaries between you and that friend.

(4) Christians are not Doormats

For some reason, “Takers” like to pull the “Oh I thought you were Christian” card whenever they want to make us feel guilty about standing up for ourselves. In reading the book, “No More Christian Nice Girl,” I learned that Jesus was very straight forward. He said what He meant, and meant what He said. He was honest; when He disagreed with something, He spoke up for what He believed in and He was loving. As we are learning to be more like Christ, remember Jesus had a backbone! Don’t allow others to manipulate you into believing that Christians should Say “Yes” to everything. Let your “Yes” be Yes and your “No” be No (Matthew 5:37).

What I love about Jesus is that He had the perfect Balance. He knew when to speak up for injustices. When he was being bruised for our transgressions, He said nothing. He knew which battles to fight. Ask God for guidance in how to approach every situation.

(4) PRAY!

I can’t guarantee that you will NEVER be used or NEVER be taken advantage of, but the Bible says to pray for those who despitefully use you (Matthew 5:44).

 

New Year, New Me!

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New Year Buzz is usually followed by a “New Year, New Me” declaration. Interesting enough, in order to be a “new you,” a wardrobe change, a new hairstyle, even a new beau cannot bring into your life the instant change that you so desperately desire when a new year begins. Let’s be honest. Who wants to sit there and evaluate personalities and investigate character flaws to deal with hidden issues? (Raises hand) “Not Me!” The fact is, however, it will be difficult to be a “new you” with the same old thoughts.

It takes more than simply writing goals out and declaring what you want to happen differently in your life. The way you think is a huge denominator in determining your outcomes in life. Sometimes you keep repeating the same mistakes without understanding why you do the things you do. You may have to begin with your thoughts and review your core belief system. For instance, if you want to start a new blog, a business venture or an exercise plan, and your core beliefs are,  “I never finish anything I start,” “This will never work,” “Who’s going to invest in me?” or “I am not worthy enough to have success,” then you take yourself out of the fight for becoming a better person.

What is interesting about this concept is, oftentimes, you don’t think you feel this way but deep down you do. You may not say it outright, but you shut yourself out of opportunities because you listen to negative self talk and believe the negative things that people have said. You would rather claim to be “realistic” as opposed to stepping out on faith and trusting God with every step  taken. Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. All you can see is your past and the mistakes that you’ve made. What about the possibilities of being a great writer and perfecting your craft? What about the potential that you have for being a great speaker? You’ll never know if you don’t explore it. I believe that what stops our new years resolutions in their tracks is old belief systems. I even think to myself from time to time about my imperfections, but I have to remember God thinks that I am precious in His sight. If He is rooting for me to make it, I might as well keep my head in the game. To become a “New You,” it takes hard work but you are worth the work!!