Birthday Countdown – Reflections (Part 2)

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There was a time in my life when a huge portion of my self-validation was influenced by people-validation. I sought the approval of others to feel good about what I had accomplished and who I was. I allowed others to determine my worth while I unconsciously undermined my accomplishments and value.

One day, I sat down and made a list. In that list I documented all the projects and responsibilities that I had undertaken throughout my career. The results shocked me! Over the 6 years of my career, I had undertaken over 30 projects, most of which I led and a couple of which were my brainchild. That list also emphasized that I always demonstrated a willingness to undertake and execute roles and projects that were outside the realm of my responsibilities. Through that attitude, I gained a lot of experiences in areas that persons would deem me too young to have in the professional world. The problem is, many, including myself, still undervalued or underestimated me.

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Birthday Countdown – Reflections (Part 1)

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Today is the first day of April. April 1st marks the countdown to my 26th birthday. I’ve decided to slate this period (from now to the big day) as a season of reflection. Today, on reminiscing about some of the horrible seasons that I overcame, I feel incredibly grateful.

Recently, I had a conversation, with a friend about some of the seasons I’ve gone through. The conversation made me realize something important. My past difficult seasons prepared me for future, more difficult, seasons. For example, dealing with a horrible breakup while attending university full-time and working part-time taught me how to handle my business despite emotional trauma. This experience prepared me for a season in my professional life where I was required to handle a difficult professional scenario while dealing with health, family and emotional difficulties. Despite the difficulties and emotional toils, I fought hard and soared! I now feel incredibly grateful for the hardships of my difficult seasons. The future benefits outweigh the past hardships.

I also feel a sense of assurance. God prepared me for something that I didn’t even know that I needed to be prepared for and through it all, He held my hand. I will echo, once again, I am grateful.


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May the Peace of God go with you!

XOXO
Chañel

 

A Way to Conquering Anger

Anger

Early in life I recognized two facts:

  1. I did not have a talent for cussing (quarreling and cursing). Since I never entered a match that I was bound to lose, I avoided the back and forth trading of barbs and curses.
  2. When angry, I lacked the time or patience to beat around the bush. When triggered, I got to the point physically, or I deemed my opponent unworthy of my time and energy and walked away to deal with more important things.

Whilst I tended to choose to walk away more often than not, at 17 years old I found myself in an altercation with a neighbour. Provoked, one too many times, I grabbed the man and attacked with the only thing in my hand, a steel fork. In the midst of my white-hot rage, something stopped me. I halted to find that I had cornered the man and had the fork pressed to his jugular. My red-hazed intent was to make him an example. In that moment, one thing crossed my mind: “If I continued on my current path, I was bound to end up in prison.” No one should have that much power over me or my life. I paused, looked the man up and down, said simply, “You’re not worth it.” and walked away. Shaken and stunned, he uttered not a word.

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A Goal-den Journey

It felt like just yesterday when I decided I was ready to pursue my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. Today in my mind but my journey began in May of 2017.

Having defined my goal, I begin reviewing what would be needed to accomplish it. I realized immediately that whilst I would have liked to have gone straight for the PMP exam, I didn’t have enough work experience hours managing projects. I could take the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) instead because it had pre-requisites that I already fulfilled. With that realization, I made a commitment to myself: I would break my plan into two sub-parts with the intent to complete part 1 in July 2017 and part 2 within a year of completing part 2.

My plan started on track but sometimes everything doesn’t work out perfectly. By the time I begin preparations to pay for the CAPM exams, I found an unforeseen issue! The exam body did not facilitate the online exam in Jamaica! Imagine my shock! Based on my initial reading and planning, I had not come across this bit of information! Even the exam facilitator that I had intended to use had not known this. I immediately set out to verify and determine alternative options.

Before long, I learnt that the exam body intended to facilitate the online exam in Jamaica by August 2017. Though I had intended to complete part 1 by July 2017, I decided to wait and took the exam in August 2017. Much to my delight, I completed the exam successful and shifted my focus to part 2.

Part 2 was much trickier! I needed to gain about 1000 project management work experience hours as well as study. At the time, I had just been onboarded to a new project that was beginning to ramp up.

Every project manager will tell you of that one project that totally made them:

  1. Question and redefine all they thought they know and understand about people and projects.
  2. Doubt themselves and their abilities.
  3. Sincerely wish they could walk away.

This was the project for me. I now fondly refer to it as my “hell project” because it was that one project that truly shook me to the core and taught me to never take anything at face value when it comes to projects “trust but verify and verify and verify again.”. Some positives came from it though. It was the project that I put so much effort into that I earned the 1000+ working hours by January 2018.

With that aspect completed, I breathed a sigh of relief and begun preparations to study for my PMP exam with the optimistic goal to complete everything by May 2018. Again, my plans were thwarted because of the amount of effort the project required. I worked truly long hours and by the time my day ended, I was too exhausted and wound too tight to even consider taking up my textbook. By April 2018, I readjusted my plan and shifted my most-likely completion goal to June 2018, factoring in the project’s completion date of a month earlier.

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I Don’t Even Like Wine!

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I guess you can say that the cat is out of the bag with my post title, huh? I remember the first time I had wine…my initial thought was “who in heaven’s name would drink this horrible-tasting stuff?” Well, hello, it’s clear that I did for years… Fabulous toast to my idiocy…?

After my first experience, everytime I found myself in a social setting, I opted to fit in, be polite and have what everyone else was having. Before I realised it, it was considered my drink of choice and I found myself buying wine to relax after a long day at work. Despite this, my tastebuds protested everytime I decided to take a sip but I kept at it! While some were better than others, acquired taste is a myth (well except for coffee)! It was simply a long journey of taste after taste! Acquired taste, my ass! 😂

Well, one day I woke up! As I held a glass in my hand, I asked myself, “why the hell do you keep having this stuff when it’s obvious you don’t enjoy it…?” I had no answer.

I realized something though. I had developed this attitude towards quite a few things in my life. I did them for the sake of acceptance or just to fit in… Like the times I:

  1. Kept silent about something because everyone seemed to be on a different wavelength and I didn’t want to be the dissenting voice.
  2. No longer recognized myself but clung to the version of the person everyone expected me to be while I slowly felt like screaming inside.
  3. Refrained from saying no although I felt like I was constantly being taken advantage of.
  4. I refrained from voicing how I felt about the action of others because it offended others or resulted in argument that I couldn’t foster the energy to fight about.

All these are done at a cost to myself! These costs added up! Everytime I bit my tongue, I embraced another aspect of timidity and lost a piece of myself! Everytime I said yes when I wanted to say no, I lost the opportunity to do something I really wanted to do. Only to do something I had little desire. And everytime, I chose to cling to a older version of myself, my evolved self screamed a bit louder.

There has to be a tipping point though. I had to seriously ask myself: “How much of myself was I willing to forsake and sacrifice in order to fit in?” Mine took a while to come but when it did, I realized that there was no law that required my continuous agreement with everyone but myself. If I didn’t like something, I had the power to either accept it or walk away. I also realized that I didn’t have to be loud to be heard because my actions spoke volumes. The hardest part about coming to that conclusion was taking the first step. And even after the first step, it is still not easy when everytime you are faced with a situation where you are forced to make a decision about putting forward something the majority would agree with or putting a foot forward and being willing to say what I think and feel. It’s hard to consciously chose you!

Step by step. Day by day. I have decided to choose me. Be true to myself. Will you join me on my journey of truth?

XOXO,

Chañel.

Self-Honesty

I am an hypocrite. In fact, if many of us should stop and think about it, we are very hypocritical when it comes to being honest with ourselves. By extension, we become hypocrites with God and others because frankly, in order to be honest with God or others, you must first be honest with yourself.

I look back on some of the years I once deemed as the best of my prayer life. These were the years I spent talking to God about others and their problems. I never spoke to Him about myself beyond the face value stuff. Back then, I believed my prayer life rocked as I spent time loading on the godly platitudes, raising prayer requests and reciting all the lovely turn of phrases I had heard during service at church. I was a living-walking modern-day hypocritical Pharisee.

I look back now and laugh because I realize that in those instances I treated God as an acquaintance. I also spent a lot of time running from myself. But how could I be honest that I did not love all my neighbors? That there were some persons I truly disliked despite trying hard to find the good in them? How about areas of the Bible that I struggled to obey? How about church rules that I disagreed with and felt really strongly about? How could I acknowledge my struggles to myself much less voice them to God or anyone else? How could I bare my soul to God when I didn’t have the courage to bare it to myself? It was far easier to pretend that everything was hokey-dokey than be the sole representation of imperfection or voice of dissent. It was far easier to pretend to be the perfect Christian. Everybody else seemed to have it together, why shouldn’t I?

Those years helped no one. I know they certainly didn’t help me or my relationship with God. One of the reasons I love King David is because of his brutal honesty to God about his nature, even in moments when he is not quick on the uptake. It takes a lot to be able to acknowledge that you have messed up or that you were wrong or that you are not perfect and need help. Moments like those require you to be brutally honest with yourself and humble enough to make the acknowledgement.

Frankly, that’s the way I want to live my life. I choose to be an active participant in my life over the casual observer. I choose to be introspective and insightful. I choose to be more than the regular indoctrinated Christian. I choose to be honest with myself, God and others. I choose to live a life of honesty.

I would like you to join me in making a commitment to ourselves:

We will take the time to discover our true feelings and be honest about them to ourselves so that we can be honest with God and others.

XOXO,
Chañel.

Complaining…

As my vacation came to an end, I spent long moments reflecting. These moments were quite different from the first half of my vacation. Those were days I spent on a cruise mingling, making new friends, enjoying the entertainment and exploring new locations. These were all activities designed to feed my outgoing side. The only times I took for deep introspection were pre-dawn when I religiously got up to catch the sunrise. These were some of the most beautiful sunrises I had ever seem. As I stood on the ship’s deck and gazed at the sun rising from the horizon, I couldn’t help but feel in awe of God for His majestic works.

My latter vacation days were totally different. I spent hours on introspection as I thought about who I am and my year. I guess you guys can call this my year in reflection post. For the first time in many years, I can honestly say that I cried a lot this year! I cried during movies, I cried when I felt hurt or overwhelmed and I laughed until I cried. The difference though was that I ensured that for each of those moments I cried, I found even more powerful and soul-cleansing moments to laugh and smile about. So even though I cried a lot, I also laughed, smiled and played a lot.

I have a confession to make. This year, especially towards the end, there were many times I felt tired and ready to give up. I had some serious lows.

  1. Early in the year, my sister and I met in an accident with a Leyland truck on her way to drop me to work.
  2. My youngest nephew ended up in the hospital twice this year.
  3. While learning to drive, I hit someone’s car.
  4. I lost a close friend.
  5. I had my first failure to effectively close out a project. 
  6. While dealing with the ending craziness of that project, I received news that my grandmother was in the hospital and could have died. 
  7. While dealing with the craziness of the project, I got ill. My anemia started acting up to the point where I shivered constantly even in warm weather and fought waves of nausea and dizziness. As if that wasn’t enough, I also had to deal with issue that had affected me emotionally. In truth, #6 and #7 left me an emotional wreck.

In those moments, I can truly understand if God felt a little exasperated with me but through it all, He patiently taught me to focus on the silver lining that existed in each dark cloud.

  1. Both my sister and I escaped the accident without a physical scratch. We were alive! The car got fixed!
  2. My nephew is home, happy and well. None of his illnesses affected him long term.
  3. We got the man’s car fixed although he was a bastard about the issue.
  4. Maybe that friend was not supposed to be a part of my life beyond that point. My life now has less drama.
  5. The project gave me a lot of experience that I can use to effectively build my career. I also got a chance for a do-over.
  6. My grandmother is now home and recuperating.
  7. That period gave me the chance to see what I am made of. Despite being ill and feeling intimidated at times, I was not built to break.

You are not built to break either. Don’t waste time and energy complaining! Even in the darkest of storms, you can find the light. After all, with storms come the lightening. Loves, you are stronger than you think because it is in your weakness that you will find God’s strength.

XOXO,
Chañel.