Celebrating Women: International Women’s Day

 

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I’ve been a long-time advocate for women and girls because I believe in the beauty, strength and value they possess. In many places throughout the world, women and girls are still marginalized, abused, treated unjustly and under-valued. Their unique gifts never opened.

To the women of the world… May you know that you are LOVED.

You are seen. You deserve to be heard. You are worthy of all life has to offer you. You are capable of greatness. You don’t ever need to compete with others, because you are enough. Your gifts and talents can never be taken from you, they are yours and yours alone. You do not have to settle for less. You have a voice. You have a place. Right here, right now. You were born with a purpose. Your destiny is calling you. You don’t need to be hard to make an impression because the gentleness of your heart is your strength. Your mind is an asset. Your heart and thoughts filled with love and possibility will guide you. Your dreams were given to you for your fulfilment and to spill out into the world. Dream big dreams. Even if you don’t believe them yet, keep dreaming them until you do. Keep your faith. Believe that God loves you and you are worthy of love. You do not need to fear. Take hold of courage and expect to find goodness in uncommon places. Look for love and you will find it because it’s already looking for you. Breathe in life, because it is short and you don’t want to miss any opportunity to see, really see, what can be. Teach your daughters the same. And whatever you do, don’t settle. You are worthy.

“I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Sparkle a Little Brighter

 

Sparkle Brighter

There’s an old expression about human existence that says “in the end, no one gets out alive.” While that’s true, we all have whatever amount of time that we do have here, to live. In other words, to “be alive” while we are still living. To choose to be present. To make a decision to bring life to our moments (thoughts, attitudes, circumstances, expectations and relationships) or at least, allow life to infuse them. Life, in part, means energy, possibility and hope.

It is no secret that life ebbs and flows. Some seasons of our journey are simply more of a challenge. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have control over our attitude or mindset in the midst of those seasons. There may be times when you feel darkness creeping in, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn up the wattage. Sometimes, we just need to plant a flag in it and say, “No more!”

When you feel darkness or discouragement closing in, take time to breathe in memories of goodness and joy, and the little things that have encouraged or lifted your spirit in the past. Let yourself reminisce about the things that once made your heart smile. Look for beauty in creation. Take inventory of the innumerable blessings (whether they’re things, people, discoveries or insights) that you have to be grateful for.

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark. -George Iles

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible. -Christopher Reeve

Love is the light that brightens every heart’s darkness. -Bryant McGill

When the world says, “Give up,” hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” -Author Unknown

All of us have memory vaults filled with positive and beautiful gifts, some more than others, but no one is exempt. Sometimes we just need to lift the vault handle and be reminded. Hope believes. Love frees.

So here’s a friendly reminder: when the light dims, sparkle a little brighter.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Feelings Are Often Liars

 

Feelings Are Often Liars

How we feel is not necessarily indicative of what is. How we feel is often subject to those we have chosen to surround ourselves with, the voices we choose to hear, and the choices we’ve made for ourselves based on circumstances. Choice is about freedom. But our choices are not always what serve us best. Sometimes, through our freedom of choice, we end up crippled and imprisoned by that same freedom. Not by way of the freedom itself, but because we mishandle our own freedom. We sometimes make the wrong choice, and in turn, hurt ourselves or others in the process.

As I said in my last post, Feelings: Friend or Foe?, feelings can sometimes be fickle and sometimes be liars. A person can be told that they are worthless or ugly or that their dreams are stupid and will never come true. If they begin to believe those lies,  they’ll start to feel that they are worthless or ugly or that their dreams are stupid and they will never come true–essentially, coming into a false agreement.

There are people whose own parents, bosses or culture told them that they were worthless and would never amount to anything, and so, they didn’t. Women who have countless times been turned against by a lover, family member or so-called friend who labeled them “ugly” or “less than”, and they took that sting and allowed themselves to start believing and perpetuating that same lie to themselves. How often have we seen the pulling back of someone who once believed in their dreams, but because someone’s words tore the roots of their dream right out of their heart, they curled up and wilted right in front of our eyes?

On the other hand, there are people we know who have faced the same exact accusations, and yet, in the face of hate, hardship and hurt, chose to reject those words and those feelings. As if symbolically taking the poison arrow out of their own heart and saying in faith, this is not who I am. What a better way to take a stand and show the world, than to rise and to shine? It’s beauty from the ashes. It is shining a light of truth on a lie. It’s calling foul on the lie and on our own negative feelings. Even when it’s painful or uncertain, we stand. We keep moving forward. And importantly, we don’t wait to rise until we feel strong and able, but in our smallness, our weakness. Because we know, when everything feels hopeless and broken, feelings are often liars.

Best not to mix the past with the present. The present paints the past with gold. The past paints the present with lead. –Henry Rollins

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. –Lesley P. Hartley

Bring the past only if you are going to build from it. –Doménico Cieri Estrada

The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings. –Ralph Blum

Look not at the days gone by with a forlorn heart. They were simply the dots we can now connect with our present, to help us draw the outline of a beautiful tomorrow. –Dodinsky

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt. –William Shakespeare

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar. –Raymond Lindquist

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. –Anaïs Nin

I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship. –Louisa May Alcott

There is much in the world to make us afraid. There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid. –Frederick W. Cropp

Never let the voice of others drown out your dreams. Never let how you feel dictate who you are or where you want to go. Never let your past define you. Never let the circumstances of what has been, keep you from what can be. Our courage to climb a mountain, real or perceived, always begins, as the saying goes, with a single step.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Feelings: Friend or Foe?

One of the definitions of “feeling” is an emotional state or reaction, and in its plural form: a susceptibility to impression. The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers the following: feelings, emotion, affection, sentiment, passion mean a subjective response to a person, thing, or situation; and, “feeling” denotes any partly mental, partly physical response marked by pleasure, pain, attraction, or repulsion. This post is based on that little (yet powerful) word referring to our response to our “feelings”. The word is subjective.

Subjective — relating to the way a person experiences things in his or her own mind; based on feelings or opinions rather than facts.

How often have we heard others make comments like these, or we’ve thought or spoken them ourselves:

I hate how this feels. I love how this feels. I don’t know how I feel.

I feel unworthy. I feel helpless. I feel hopeless. I feel lost.

He makes me feel so unlovable. He makes me feel like a loser.

She made me feel stupid. She made me feel like I was a bother.

I felt like they never had time for me. I felt like I had no future.

It feels like no one cares. It feels like no one sees me. It feels like no one would ever listen to me.

I feel like I could take on the world. I feel so empowered. I feel like a million bucks.

I feel so old. I feel so young. I feel so ugly. I feel so pretty.

It makes me feel so vulnerable. It makes me feel so uncomfortable.

It makes me feel like a winner. It makes me feel like I’m nothing.

I feel like I have my whole life before me.

I feel like I can never overcome my past.

I feel like everyone else knows where they’re going, but not me.

Did you feel the rollercoaster of emotions, of feelings? We’re up, we’re down, we’re spinning around. I had a friend that used the expression, “like a box in the wind,” to describe uncertainty. And that’s just it. When we aren’t grounded within ourselves, we are likely to listen, consider, think and then eventually, believe what “they” tell us. And who are “they” anyways? Anyone outside ourselves, including the culture, the media, teachers or coaches, friends or strangers, parents or family members. Everyone busy telling everyone else how they “ought” to be or think or respond.

How unhealthy is that? It’s like giving away little pieces of the most valuable part of ourselves, our ability to think and make decisions for ourselves based on reality, not subjective or fleeting feelings based on circumstances or imaginations. People will have opinions, to which they are entitled, but we can’t allow other people to define us. Just because they try to doesn’t make it so. By the same token, our past does not define our future. Both of these have the potential to lock us into positions and places not based on reality, derailing what we were truly meant to accomplish, feel, and believe.

Certainly, feelings are an important part of being human. They are a gift. How magical it feels when love is present in our lives. How grateful we feel when we are blessed with unexpected kindness and goodness. Likewise, it is normal and important to be aware and feel concern when danger is looming or feel the heat of a hot stove warning us not to touch it. But to base our self-belief, dreams and futures on mere feelings, which can sometimes be fickle, and sometimes, be liars, is to allow ourselves to be robbed of our best, and the hope of what can be, the hope of who we can be.

If you’re one of the people who’ve been stuck in a place where someone else’s negative and untrue words or behaviors have invited you, it’s time for you to get “unstuck”. Get on up, and start dreaming again. Start believing for something more, something better. It’s not what “they” say. It’s what you say, and it’s what God says about you. Even if it’s hard, have faith that there is more for you waiting up ahead around the curve. You only have to be willing to take the first step, and then the second, and so on.

You were created for a purpose. What is that purpose? It’s your dream, it’s your life–choose to get on up and move forward. Your true life is waiting.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

 

 

 

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Martin Luther King Day: Things That Matter

Today, January 20th, 2014, is a day set aside to commemorate humanitarian and human rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. Many of his words remain immortal, as if suspended in time. In large part, because they cross man-made boundaries, borders, and heart lines. One of my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes is:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

If there is to be any significant and lasting change, then our “weapons of warfare” must be tools that allow for the greatest good (for all of humanity). Tools that make room for forgiveness, reconciliation, and understanding. It’s a type of violence of the heart–a formidable purposed action plan that invites sanity, promotes healing, cherishes true human brother and sisterhood, celebrates human potential for progress and good inclusive of all, and refuses to settle for less than pure truth.

Another Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that underscores the sacredness and the gift of life:

“Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about the things that matter.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

So, what are the “things that matter”? They are the things that bring life, and light, and love. Apart from them, we can go through our entire life believing a lie, basing our attitudes and actions on false evidences, promoting disharmony, and limiting all that was meant for us–never living our true potential. These are the threads that bind humanity together despite our uniqueness. They help us see that we are more the same than different. We celebrate our individual uniqueness with a concurrent understanding that we all share in our humanness, in that, we are each made up of body, soul, and spirit and wired with dreams, goals, and aspirations.

None of us placed ourselves on this planet. We are all pilgrims on a journey, co-travelers. We are individually responsible to discover and then propagate that life, light, and love. It’s profound in its seeming simplification, but there’s nothing ethereal about it. It’s owning the stewardship of our own lives, families, and responsibilities; being responsible for, and propagating things like justice–true justice, mercy, and compassion; and, being aware and intentional about the purpose of our lives–being about our personal destiny–the why to our being here. These are things that matter.

A recognition that hate against our fellow humans is a useless destroyer that invokes darkness. Unforgiveness kills the potential of the one who refuses to forgive. It invites a sickness that cannibalizes the one who holds it close to their heart. Then there’s selfishness. A pathetic desire to indulge ourselves above all regardless of the outcome–to hoard and cling to every good thing and opportunity for ourselves before others. And what about pride? A lie that allows individuals, people groups, and entire cultures to believe they are better, more worthy; and, more valuable or important than another. All of these petty and frivolous thoughts can become attitudes that eventually become behaviors. That’s why it’s so important to guard our hearts and think for ourselves. These “ways” can creep into our thinking and set up shop, creating mindsets that are destructive both for us and those we live alongside in this life. Ultimately, they insidiously weave their way (because we’ve invite them) into our way of “being”.

In remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I want to be about the things that matter. The things that underscore and highlight life, light, and love. The things that will make a positive ripple effect in the world. The things that have power to make a meaningful difference, inclusive of all. Apart from truth, nothing else matters.

Let us be radical about love, about moving toward the light, and radical about seeking out truth. We are all on this journey together, how will we steward our lives and our part in the lives of those we co-journey with?

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Being The Change

“Being the Change” is more than just giving money, time or talents to an issue. We can see that change is needed. We can understand that change needs to happen for things to get better. We can advocate for change by raising flags, issues, and our voices in an attempt to convince others of the necessity and benefit of it. But none of that can ever be enough.

The foundation of a culture is based around thoughts and beliefs (be it a culture within a society, family, or workplace). Those thoughts and beliefs drive expectations, set boundary lines in place, inform supply and demand, allow adjustments to the definitions of  “normal”, “worthy”, or “beneficial” according to popular belief. But popular belief isn’t necessarily right, just, or life-producing. That’s why thoughts are so powerful. They inform our belief systems. Decisions are made based on what people believe to be true (or good, or right, or profitable) whether they are in fact, or not.

If we really want to “be the change” (the positive difference-making change) we need to stop and think for ourselves. And ask questions, the right questions. Is this really justice, and why? Is this really “good” or “right”? For who, and on what basis? If it’s profitable, at who’s expense, and at what cost?

Once we know the truth, we can see if the reality of the culture is in alignment or not. If not,  it’s ultimately about adopting new mindsets and re-wiring our hearts toward a saner culture. Our thoughts and beliefs then begin to manifest in tangible ways that align with what is truly just, and right, and good, regardless of popular belief. “Being the change” is less about the externals and more about the internals. There really is strength in the power of one. It becomes more personal. It’s transformation from the inside out.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Bridges in Our Lives

I am where I am because of the bridges that I crossed. Sojourner Truth was a bridge. Harriet Tubman was a bridge. Ida B. Wells was a bridge. Madam C. J. Walker was a bridge. Fannie Lou Hamer was a bridge.” –Oprah Winfrey

The same could be said by each of us about the people God has placed along the path throughout our life’s journey. Reflection makes us grateful.

Who were the “bridges” in your life?  What specifically made them a bridge for you? What words would you use to describe them? What words would they use to describe you? What are the lasting imprints they left on you? How will they be remembered in the archives of your story?

Some people stay in our lives forever, but most come and go through different seasons. Often the ones we remember most are the ones who gave us just the right encouragement or advice at just the right time. Maybe they didn’t use many words, but modeled for us what it meant to be brave, bold, creative, discover our voice, or follow our dreams. Or, maybe they were the ones who simply “showed up” when no one else did. Maybe they held our hearts, helped us heal, forgive, understand, or just listened.

Whatever our story, they were there. And, they were there for us. Because of them, we knew that somehow it was going to be okay. When we didn’t quite have enough of our own, they shared with us their courage, faith, love, and hope.

I’m so grateful for the people who were “bridges” in my life. I count them as blessings… like flowers in my internal garden that stand just a little taller and are just a little more fragrant than all the others. And in turn, they made me stand just a little bit taller and a little more fragrant. They lift our heads, our voices, our aspirations, our belief in God, and in ourselves, while quietly helping us not to settle, but believe there is “more to be had”.

It is important to reflect on the people who were bridges at significant and pivitol times in our life because it keeps us grateful. They are valuable and irreplaceable parts of our story. Likewise, it is important to be vigilant so that we don’t miss the opportunity to be a bridge in someone else’s life. Our blessings are meant for us at very specific times along our journey, but they are also meant to be shared and passed along to others on theirs.

Are you a bridge in someone else’s story today?

 
Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Your Calling

What is the thing that will never be “just a job” to you, because for you, it is your calling…

“What is it that makes your heart sing? What is it that inspires you to stay up all night, make personal sacrifices, and work tirelessly just for the privilege of being involved?” -Kimberly Sowell

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What is Emotional Abuse?

“Emotional abuse is about someone manipulating your emotions on a psychological level” according to Gunta Krumins, BA, PMP, author of The Detrimental Effects of Emotional Abuse

Dr. Steven Stosny, Ph.D. says an emotional abuser controls another person by undermining his or her confidence, worthiness, growth, trust, or emotional stability, or by provoking fear or shame to manipulate or exploit; and that “Emotionally abusive behavior is anything that intentionally hurts the feelings of another person.”

Because of the silent nature of emotional abuse, it’s not untypical for a woman to feel hopeless, depressed, confused and/or trapped. In extreme cases, emotional abusers can break a person’s confidence and spirit to the point they can even convince their victim that they deserve what they get. It is twisted, damaging, and it’s all about control.

Emotional abuse is any nonphysical behavior or attitude that controls, intimidates, subjugates, demeans, punishes or isolates another person by using degradation, humiliation or fear.

Examples of Emotionally Abusive Behaviors:

  • Humiliating, degrading, mocking, bullying 
  • Discounting, distorting, negating, lying 
  • Accusing, blaming, and threatening
  • Isolating the victim from the people and things they care about
  • Deception and manipulating people’s emotions, decisions, and situations
  • Withholding affection and emotional support
  • Withholding financial and practical resources
  • Dismissive, disapproving, or contemptuous looks, comments or behavior
  • Threatening harm to the victim, their family, friends, pets, or possessions

“Emotional abuse seems more personal than physical abuse, more about you as a person, more about your spirit. It makes love hurt.” -Dr. Steven Stosny, Ph.D.

Additional Reading:

Stop the Emotional Abuse

Emotional Abuse: It Hurts When You Love

Quotes From Women Who Have Suffered Emotional Abuse

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Quotes From Women Who Have Suffered Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse victims (women and men) often feel paralyzed or powerless to change their relationship or situation because their perpetrators are likely control freaks and master manipulators. Because of the silent nature of emotional abuse, it’s not untypical for a woman to feel hopeless, depressed, confused and/or trapped.

Though it can seem unimaginable to people on the outside, some women caught in abusive relationships can even start to believe what their abusers tell them about themselves.

Bullies may tell their victims that they are stupid, unlovable, ugly, or that no one would believe them if they tried to speak up. Often they try to blame the abuse on their victims trying to convince them that the abuse is somehow, their fault. You can imagine the damaging effects to a person’s health, both mind and body, and how living with that constant turmoil, sadly, would begin to erode their spirit.

Here are some quotes from real women who have lived through the very real pain of emotional abuse:

Bruises heal, but you don’t forget words and emotions, how an abuser makes you feel about yourself.

I have always walked on eggshells waiting for his reaction to whatever situation.

I am slowly beginning to realize that I deserve better and I can do better. It’s been a struggle.

I was a happy, confident, outgoing person once.

I would rather he would hit me because at least a bruise would eventually go away.

I am in an emotionally abusive relationship but I don’t know how to leave because he needs me.

I never know what to expect. Sometimes he’s charming, sometimes he’s volatile. He’s a chronic manipulator and deceiver. Everything revolves around “his truth.”

I used to be a happy person who had plans and dreams. The emotional and verbal abuse wore me down. I felt exhausted, numb and dioriented about who I was. I stopped thinking and believing for myself. I lost hope for a better life.

Please do not stay in that kind of relationship. Your children will suffer. 

He is the ultimate narcissist and uses his charisma as a weapon of choice to dissuade anyone from thinking it is him.

He isolated me from my family and the people and things I care about.

He’s constantly putting me down, labeling me, mocking or making fun of me. It’s his way of staying in control. 

He makes me feel ugly, stupid, small. Like I don’t matter, won’t amount to anything, or like I’m not worthy of being loved.

No one deserves to be treated like trash, especially not by the person you love.

Get out now! Abuse only gets worse over time. No one deserves to be treated like dirt. No one.

Do not sit back and take it. Pack your things and leave.

I am in domestic violence counseling and trying to put back the pieces of my shattered life.

Abuse isn’t love.

Sometimes it helps to take a step back and listen, because it can help you assess your own relationship or situation. If reading these quotes sounds only too familiar to what you are experiencing, it’s time to seriously think about what you really want out of life.

You do have a choice. Choose life—your life.

Don’t give another person permission (in essence) to define who you are, or how your life story will read. If you are already in an abusive situation, be wise about your next steps, stay safe and row toward freedom.

You matter, and you deserve to live a life filled with color, joy, peace, and fulfillment.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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