Chapter 40: Gratitude Changes Everything (Still Standing)

Can I be honest with you? Do I have your permission to be vulnerable and transparent? Is it OK if I share something with you?

adult, blur, businesswoman

A few short weeks ago I came across a post on Facebook that one of my acquaintances posted which solicited participation from his followers and friends. The post asked that you post your age as the Chapter of your Life, (EX: 40) followed by the title of your chapter, (EX: Over the Hill). I thought to myself wow, this is going to be fun. However, after I typed in the number 40 and attempted to add a title- nothing came to mind. A deer in a headlight moment. Then a few single-word statements came to mind. None of which could be appropriated to my chapter 40, as it pertained to what I wanted it to say.

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I was finding it difficult to do something that I thought should be so easy for me since I have all this “self-awareness” about myself. The fact that I could not come up with a title as fast as I thought I should was nerve-racking grounds for a more solemn discussion to take precedent over the fun, Facebook activity before I could proceed. Now, I could have been over-thinking this moment and maybe I was, but it made me earnestly ponder the question of why I at a loss for words? I thought I had already reached the point of Self-Actualization, so what was the problem? Wasn’t this just an exercise that simply called for a reflection of the following questions: Where are you? Or, where are you going? And, where do you want to go? How will you resume and finish this story? I mean, seriously, this is how you write any book, right? Talk about a humbling moment!

Person Wearing Gray Long-sleeved Mini Dress in Front of Green Leaf Plant

I toggled a few more titles but still, none worthy enough to adequately described or depict what my title should be in CHAPTER 40 of my life.

I couldn’t summarize it in a Chapter title, so I bargained for answers with this approach: Niedria, do you even know where you are and what you want? What do you intend on doing at this point in life? That would be your chapter title.

I had to break it down: I began to focus in on the perfect title that would describe where I am as it related to where I have been and then consider what I want and where I want to go. (Side note: Sometimes we are so caught up in where we are trying to go and what we want, that we forget that we must acknowledge where we are first because that’s our starting point or our point of continuation) So having a complete, sound, embracive and merciful understanding of where I was, was important. Being transparent, forgiving and truthful with ourselves will open the avenue for this understanding to flow.

There’s nothing wrong with knowing where you want to go or what you want, but you must know where you are first.

I arrived at a title by telling myself to instead, first come up with a title that would speak to where I am at this moment which would address the question. In doing that, I would clarify some things for myself first. And so, I decided to use a statement to describe what I have learned, which I believe is helping me to live my best life in this present moment at 40, which provided dual-purpose in moving forward: Chapter 40: Gratitude Changes Everything (Still Standing) From where I am, all I can say is that I am grateful that I am still standing.

Woman in Blue Jeans Standing on Clear Glass

I came up with the title only because I considered where I was at 20, at 25, at 30 and at 35. (Being through a lot, but having done a lot of things) Just like any book, you want the next chapter to be an extension of the last chapter, expounding more on the story. So, you must know where you are in your book. I had to scan back over my life so that I would know for myself where I was. I am still standing. That’s where I am.

Since we are in a current and constant state of living, we know that life is an “on-GROW-ing” thing until we make our final departure. All we can do to make it better, is to make sure that we are “living” out our best life. Chapter 40 is not about one thing. It’s a culmination of things that I have learned and how I am applying gratitude, to make it my best life today in order to have fulfillment in the rest of my life.

With consideration given to where I am going, what I want and what I intend on doing; I must apply gratitude. What I have learned about gratitude and how it has and is changing things is that when we recognize the lessons and value the experiences we’ve had and are able to see the good in it all and be grateful that we were chosen for those assignments which made us stronger, better and wiser-it manipulates life by altering our mindset. This new set of lenses changes our lives as we are then able to elevate to a higher state of conscious awareness, acquiring the ability to then utilize everything we have learned and apply it to the next steps of life.

My life went from “You don’t know My Story” to “Let me tell you my story” to “This is my Story” to “I didn’t choose this story; this story chose me.” It’s only fair now that I’ve told my story, that you know that I am grateful for my story. That’s precisely what it is all about. So, I am grateful for the lessons, experiences, journeys, friends, family –and most of all, the good and bad of it all. I am grateful for those who told me no and those who said I couldn’t. I am grateful for those who supported me and were equally happy to see me prevail. That gratefulness and gratitude for those things is what enables me to eradicate mendacities spoken about me. That gratitude is what authorizes me to write the next chapter.

Woman Drinking Water Beside Mountain

Switching Gears: With that, this is what I think living your best life is: It is knowing where you stand today. Deciding where you want to go from here and what it will take. Deciding what you want, no matter if it is to live more of a healthy lifestyle, pursue a more lucrative career, go back to a more simpler life, embark on a new journey or pursuit and all around doing what makes you happy despite what anyone else thinks of it. It is taking your given set of circumstance and making the absolute best of it as you continue in life and expound into new territories IE: New Chapters. You must make sure it’s the best that you can do though. Have you done the best you can with what you are working with?

On a much broader note: Living your best life works best when you concern yourself with yourself. Be selfless when it comes to helping others but selfish when it comes to taking care of yourself. Focus on what you want, stay in your lane and take care of your business. You may not be exactly where you know and feel that you need and want to be. It doesn’t mean that you’ve done something wrong. You don’t have to settle in who you are today, but you can accept who you are now and still be determined to have more in your life and live more abundantly.

Sometimes we get tossed around in the wreckage of life (divorce, break-ups, lay-offs, illness etc.) where we get lost or set back. Other times, we get caught up in the wonders of the world while living the fab life (leisurely travel, marriage, children, promotions, new homes, business ventures etc.) Whatever life we were living, it’s quite possible to forget where we are at times. The need for awareness that life is still happening when those joys or heartbreaks become things of the past is a reality that we face one day when we are trying to determine where to next. To avoid feelings of displacement, a Full assessment and inventory of our life is required. If you remember that life is on-GROW-ing, you can make changes along the way that will be conducive to the lifestyle that you want.

Everything you have done and have been through (good and bad) in your life has prepared you for this moment.

Yesterday is a chapter of the past but even if it is still a part of your story, you can turn the page into something new and improved because now it’s time for the story to go on. What would be your title?

Article originally posted on SheSavvy.com and was recently selected First Place for the “Best Life” writing contest.

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The Who What When Where and Why that you may want to concern yourself with

Woman Wearing Grey Jumpsuit Standing Beside Brown Metal Gate

When, Where & What:

In the spirit of being our own constant reminder that we are valuable, purposeful and destined for greatness, we must have what I refer to as a safe space. A safe place can be of physical form (a park, a body of water, your closet, a hobby) or mental form (meditation through yoga or being still) and it is a place that you retire to in any moment where you feel torn apart, broken, stagnant, confused, hurt, defeated, berated and belittled in your life. It’s a place where you go to find peace, relax, relate and release through talking out loud, thinking things through, practicing breathing techniques, being alone to recharge or rejuvenate, calm down and re-center yourself to emerge like the phoenix.

Woman Wearing Gray Short-sleeved Shirt at Daytime

Why:

The reason we must cultivate an atmosphere in our lives for such a space/place to exist is because if we rely on someone to do this for us, they may not be available for us one day. Not because they don’t want to be, but perhaps because they can’t be for one reason or another. (They are sick themselves, going through and processing their own set of issues, on a trip, extended vacation, at work, not able to talk, in their own safe place where they cannot invite the troubled of the world in while they are taking time to themselves. etc.)

While you are there, you must keep in mind the importance of your health and well-being, being the single most important thing for your survival.

Photo of Woman Holding Her Lips While Sitting

Also keep in mind that this place does not replace the need to talk to another individual who may be able to aid and offer guidance to us through our troubles, along with perspectives, advice and wisdom. It’s merely a place that we can rely on, in the absence of that individual that will sustain us. In my Christian Faith, they will say… it’s where you “have a little talk with Jesus.” This conversation transpires internally. Reach deeply within, where that seed of faith is and nourish it. This is where your confidence, safety and security rest. Bring it back to the forefront in this time and trust yourself with your life. Knowing that you can and will overcome these thoughts and situations which have tried to steal your joy and seal your fate.

Shifting Gears completely on the WHO:

Who:

We cannot allow the people who are around us to constantly tear us down, beat up down, bring us down, push us down and keep us down. Sometimes we must rise above, by cutting those people off who are wired with “fuggery” (in my Redd Foxx voice) as they have no good intentions. This is all stuff that we know but just need to speak it, hear it or be reminded of it from time to time.

You are headed in a direction where those people cannot go, so again I say THEY WILL NOT UNDERSTSAND AND YOU HAVE TO STOP EXPLAINING IT OR TRYING TO PROVE YOURSELF.

Woman Wearing Orange Pullover Hoodie Sitting on Chair's Arm

Sometimes growth is forced upon you and it requires you to move out of a place where people are keeping you down. They are not in your shoes. No one is saying that you are to walk around with delusions of grandeur, but it is ok to feel that you are moving in a direction that someone else is not equipped to go, based on the things they are doing to you. It’s ok to say that you are better than your circumstance. It is ok to say that you are not about a life where you constantly seek approval through proving yourself to the people around who don’t believe you anyway. And it’s perfectly ok to know that you are better than people who constantly live in a state of jealousy, envy, spite and malice. You are not that person and you don’t understand them just as they don’t understand you. This is what makes you “different” perhaps if not better. Its ok to have the revelation that for what you are trying to do and where you are headed does not allow for people like that.

Woman With Black-and-white Sweater With Pants Sitting on Black Leather Sofa Beside Red Painted Wall

Stop looking back:

Sometimes people reach out just to be nosey. And because we have this natural desire to stay connected or to remain “loyal” to our roots, (old friends) we reach back with a response. However, their intention is just to make sure you are not doing better than them. It’s to get an “update” on your life so that they will have something to talk about. It’s not a sincere concern to see how good you are doing and it’s not to motivate, encourage or to inspire. Toxic people reach out when they know you are doing better but they want to say something to you that will have you doubting yourself. It has nothing to do with you. They are dealing with where they are in life and because they are not happy about that, they want to bring you down. And sometimes their contacting you, is to give you an update on themselves because they need to feel sufficient. Again, nothing to do with you. It’s their insecurities.

It happens. It happened to me recently. Someone asked me a personal question. I answered it – even after answering, they took that opportune time to slide in an unsolicited assumption on what they thought the truth was and completely ignored the answer I gave because they were determined to take that jab. This tells me that they have been sitting around worrying about what I am doing and had already come to their own conclusion which was more satisfying to their state of misery. When they heard a truth different from what they presumed, because they are conditioned the way they are which is anchored in an ugly spirit; they insisted on with their assumption. This was something that they just had to get out, in order to feel better about themselves.

People will question what you do because it seems so impossible for them or it’s not possible for them from where they are standing.  This is a sign that you are entertaining the wrong group of people and when you are doing that, you cannot be living your best life.

Woman Wearing Black Sleeveless Top With Green Hardtail Bicycle at the Back

Sometimes people force on you the feeling that you should show and prove something to them and that shouldn’t be your burden. It’s not your lot in life to make miserable people happy. If someone asks you something and your answer is yes, but they say no it’s not … just say OK. If they say you are anything other than what you know you are, just say ok, walk away and cut them off. They have shown you who they are, and it is now your responsibility to take charge of what you allow and accept in your life. If they say anything at all that speaks against who you are- you absolutely must know that this is the point where you cross the bridge without them.

Why even entertain this kind of mind trash OR this trash can individual? Wish them well and keep it moving. Be selfish in your right to move through life without carrying with you those people who do not mean well.

Generally speaking, “People will second guess the truth and wouldn’t think twice about a lie” so you can not stop to address every, single thing that a person has said, heard or thought about you. Leave it alone.

Can A Writer Have A Relationship?

Can A Writer Have A relationship?

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Of course, they can. We see many writers who maintain healthy relationships that have become lifelong commitments with an added value of experience as well as excitement because of their creative abilities. At the same time, the trials that the writers face in relationships seem to be much of the same across the board. Not so much regarding their need to stay up late and write during the times that everyone else is asleep or the mental/physical spaces that they need to go to focus on their next masterpiece. Even though, those are things considered to be fundamental, trademark trials of a writer. Not to mention the potential writers block that may last for months into years when they lose their natural ability of creative flow. In my most recent writers work shop, I asked, “What are some of the common questions writers get from their companion or significant other, whether in the beginning of the relationship when they are in the get to know, or if they were in established relationships; where they began to take up a career in writing.”

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With special regard to novel writing and short stories, the number one question next their partner/friend asking, requesting or insinuating that they wanted to be in one of the stories, they were always asked if the story is fact or fiction. It’s not all bad when someone wants to be a part of the story, especially if there is a story there worth writing. You have also just received their consent to be talked about.

However, when writers get the forbidden question that requires truth about if the story includes details of their own life, prior to their relationship and beyond –it gets tricky. This is when the question of, can a writer have a relationship weighed in. Many writers write things that are fantasy or based on real life, or both and a mix of both. They generally take real foundation as a base and then add details to make it meaty. Some take the meat of a fantasy and add in details for length and balance for the story. You may even read the work of a writer that is entirely truth, but they have registered it as fiction. I don’t think we will ever know, and that is what makes a story great or at least gives the work an element of mystique outside the theaters or television.

Woman in Red Two-piece Bikini Lying on Bed Beside of White and Pink Roses

Some things you really do need to leave to the imagination. I also believe a well written fiction that can be believed, shows signs of an exceptional story because you do want your readers to identify. When they can relate, they indulge more in the material.

Back to the question. It was those stories that involve sex or a relationship, someone in love-all surrounding the woman or man having some degree of involvement with another main character, where elements of romance and seduction are explored; that piqued the interest of their companions’ interest to ‘need or want’ to know if it was fact or fiction.

Some women writers also concurred that a question of their character as a real person would be presented it they were mothers or pillars of the community or have been seen or viewed as pristine and near perfect. It would be a primitive way of thinking if we expected everyone to consider us virgins. Especially since we are mothers or married or in a monogamous relationship. You have to write without those inhibitions.

Woman In Black Brassiere Lying Down on Bed With Rats

Why do you think story lines such as the ever so popular TV Show, ‘Being Mary Jane’, has topped the charts? This is not to say you must bare all. I am speaking to those ladies who have a knack for writing and an interest in pouring into a book or piece of literary material, the things that others are afraid of talking about. Let’s face it, when a woman or man write racy sex scenes through a series of sex in the city, one-night stand material, your companion is going to ask a few questions. I believe you must become the character or at least identify with the character, to write the perfect and most realistic fiction. Whether I do that or not, will continue to remain a mystery. As for the relationship, I guess you have to stay tuned for the last chapter; where the final scene will reveal all.

love lust and regrets

The premise of the book “Love Lust and Regrets” which I wrote in 2015, was based off the above article which I also wrote in 2015. The article received feedback from writers as well as individuals who were dating and even married to writers, where they expressed opinions and offered advice of their own. Since it was an article that was widely received, I used it as a preset for the book. Read it here on Amazon

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The Substance is in the Sea

Once you realize that having what you need, is in what wants and needs you, and is where the real love is found, though embedded deeply in the mind body and soul of your other half ….like hidden jewels…precious stones, untrodden roads, hidden pathways, tranquil parks and undiscovered wonders of the world; by which you create bonds through life experiences, whereby the reward is happiness….you realize that you behold the beauty of what love really is.

You then know that you have something preeminent in the palm of your hand. And that revelation, that epiphany , is a sign of growth, in that you are ordained to a horizontal equivalent, by virtue of bountifully maturing enough into a quintessential frame of mind, where you have the mental capacity and obligatory wherewithal to handle the authority of love. You’ve truly arrived to a profound place, because you now know that you do have what you want- because all we want is to love and to be love.

The substance is never found on the surface. Not the good substance. The only substance that sits in such a shallow place is more than likely something toxic.

The real substance is at the bottom of the sea. That’s where the mystery unfolds. The deepest part of your heart is like the deepest part of the ocean, and when someone is brave enough to go there,

it’s worth sharing the treasures buried deeply within. ~Niedria

Nana and The Prince

Nana pat @fadedrose56 #Priceless time with the little Prince Cornelius during Christmas in Columbia, South Carolina. #Onesies and #Family a little fun on the trampoline is all he needs….Reminiscing…