Keepin' It Real

Too Exhausted For Goals!

January. Ugh. People are like, “Oh I love the beginning of a new year! I’m setting my intentions. I’m writing my goals. I’m picking a new theme or word of the year”. And I’m like, “Nope, just let me crawl back into bed.”  

In Michigan where I live it’s one of the grayest, dreariest months of the year. Holidays and fun are over. Now it’s just the tasks of every day in front of me. Don’t get me wrong. I love my life. I’m very blessed and I’m so full of gratitude. To be honest, though, by January I’m usually pretty tired.

I make a trip to Kentucky every Thanksgiving (eight hours on the busiest travel day of the year—and this year I was battling 40-60 mph winds!).  And then for Christmas I drive eleven hours to Missouri. I take these trips willingly and with joy because I am visiting my closest family members (the rest are even further away) and I love being with them. But I am the only driver so it is a bit exhausting for me.

The months of November and December are full of activities, of course. By the time January comes around, every bone in my body hurts. Did I mention that I’ve lived a few decades? (Ha!) But again, I’m so very grateful I’m able to do these things.

Back to wanting to crawl into bed. Honestly, it’s the best thing for me. After my son is on the bus and my daughter is dropped off, because I work from home I’m able to take a few days in the beginning of January to replenish. For me that means going back to bed or taking several hours to sit and read so my body and mind relax, or just puttering around the house with my plants or cleaning a bit. I try to keep my calendar as empty as possible, giving myself time to rejuvenate.

I spend time in prayer, seeking. My most earnest desire is that others see Jesus in me. So I seek direction on what that looks like. I want to be used of God. Effectively. But I know my ideas are not usually His so I need to hear His voice. I order to do that, I need to be still, and quiet.

Lately, in blogs across the internet-o-sphere, there is much talk about self-care. Taking care of myself has been a work-in-process through the years, and I’ve only begun to give myself permission to sleep when needed and read when I can without feeling guilty. Isn’t that wild? I’ve been a serious go-getter for most of my sixty-seven years, and “deserve” to take breaks now and then. But that old mindset of “I need to be doing something” wants to re-surface constantly. I am a warrior woman, and I’ve done battle with that lie, but it dies hard.

In January I am exhausted enough to put that lie, and myself, to rest. And that is I what I do.

Does this resonate with any of you? Are you like me and kind of detest the “let’s set goals” emphasis in January? Are you also too exhausted for the mental and emotional work that it actually takes? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know I’m not alone in this, or if you have any suggestions for me. This year, if I feel the need to set goals, I think I’ll do it in October! 🙂 

Here’s to a fruitful and satisfying 2020!

Big love and sparkle hugs,

Passionista Mimi

 

Living With Gusto

Strength: You’ve Got It

“You never know how strong you are until being strong

is the only choice you have.”

Bob Marley

Most of us have been through things that have shown us—beyond our imaginings—what we are capable of. As we think back on those horrible days we are in awe of our perseverance and accomplishment, wondering how we ever survived. But we are strong, and we rise to meet need as the warriors we are.

I have a close friend who has walked through some of the most difficult things life has to offer. A particularly bad season was when she was making the drive to Detroit several times a week to take her infant son to Children’s Hospital. This went on for several months. She barely saw her husband and other infant son and was physically and emotionally worn out—the kind of worn out that trying to sleep in the hospital and fighting for your baby’s life will bring. The kind of exhaustion that causes you to nod off at the red light. When I exclaimed that I didn’t know how she’d done it, her response was, “What option did I have?”

And she was correct. Sometimes we just don’t have a choice and have to keep putting one foot in front of another.  And somehow the strength comes when needed.

One of the most grueling seasons in my life was during the time my mom lived with us while battling cancer. That was difficult enough, but my husband also had two back surgeries which put him out-of-commission on pain meds (so I was basically single-parenting), I was managing my mom’s in-home caregivers, both she and my husband were making frequent trips to the hospital, my two special needs 4 year olds were not sleeping, or if they were my daughter’s feeding pump would jam—sometimes two and three times a night, and I was rising at 4:30 each morning to get everyone ready so I could go teach my second graders—on very little sleep. Oh, and did I mention I was older—fifty-two, but who was counting? Let me tell you, I’m not sure how I ever survived those months!

mimis tea bag

 

So how do we find the strength to make it through these times? Looking back it seems impossible, but somehow I found the strength to do everything that was needed. I know that I prayed a lot! My prayer was often only, “Oh God! Oh God!”.  (Good thing He can read between the lines.) And I talked with my close friend, who gave me amazing support.

Some women turn to yoga, meditating, or exercise to calm and restore. Some attend support groups, community functions, or read. Sometimes just talking to a friend will help us see perspective and cause us to realize how strong we are and how far we have come.

Talking out loud can help us process our next steps, or just receive the support from another that gives us strength. Never discount how powerful helping to bear someone’s burden can be!

It’s important for women to gather, share, and support each other. Women are social creatures and amazing things happen when they gather and hang out together.

Don’t be afraid to tell your “warrior” stories to others. You may well inspire someone and help them gain strength in their journey. Yes, we may wish we’d done some things differently or better, but in the long run we did the best we could at the time. And most likely we were amazing! And look how strong we have become!

Hang in there Warrior Woman. And share your story.

Much love, Mimi

This post was originally an article written for Women2Women Magazine, of which I’m the editor. You may view our digital magazine online to read other great articles.

 

Words To Help

Deepak Chopra: Movement to Prevent Suicide

Thrive Global has published a good read concerning suicide. Deepak Chopra, a spiritual leader and alternative medicine expert has launched a global movement to encourage and empower those who are struggling with their mental health to reach out. And to help them realize that they are not alone in their struggle.

“Chopra wants to do his part to help those who are also struggling with stress, burnout, anxiety, and other mental health issues. “Suicide is the second most common cause of death, among those aged 10-34.

Suicide is the biggest taboo of America,” he says. ‘This is the biggest tragedy of humankind. If we don’t address it, it is a testimony to our collective insanity. Let’s change the world — we can do it!’”

Of particular interest to me was his Four A’s….ways WE can be more mindful of those around us who might be struggling. He suggests some signs we can look out for. 

“When co-workers, friends, or people in your family are struggling, you can easily become aware of that. They lack sleep, they appear anxious, depressed, and sometimes they even give hints of hurting themselves,” he says. “We can actually tackle this epidemic by remembering four A’s, which are, in my view, the pillars of relationship:

attention with deep listening, 

affection with deep caring, 

appreciation with deep acknowledgement of the uniqueness of each other, and 

acceptance where you’re not trying to change anybody.”

 

Deepak rightfully calls these the pillars of relationship! We could all learn to practice these four actions more, and help our world, especially the one around us, become more caring.

Make sure to read the complete article Deepak Chopra Speaks Out For Suicide Prevention by Lindsey Benoit O’Connell.

Hi there! It's Me, Mimi

This Exciting Thing Happened!

Last month I was interviewed by HerIdeaBlog.com. They feature creative women each week and I was very excited to participate in this. I have put my interview below, but be sure to go to the website to read about more amazing women!

How would you describe yourself?

In describing myself, I’ll borrow from one of my cards that says, “Live Loud”. I believe that we should live our life with intention and grab it with both hands, living with gusto. I call myself “The Queen of Sparkle and Shine” because I’m passionate about sharing truth, encouragement, shining my light, and giving big sparkle hugs. I’m often seen wearing a tiara (I’m Queen after all).

I’m a retired elementary school teacher and I’ve already enjoyed a lot of living in my years. Currently I am the only parent of two teens, I teach reading to kindergartners who were ill-prepared to enter school, I’m writing my first book, I’m a blogger and Instagram “encourager” shining my light and truth to uplift others, I’m a bi-monthly contributor to the Women2Women Michigan magazine, and the owner/designer of Empowordment Cards by Mimi.

I’m also an inspirational speaker. My business is called Passionista At Large, which is the “umbrella” for all my other interests. “Passionista” describes my zest for living and my intense desire to share with  individuals how they can rise above negative beliefs to be empowered for making positive choices in their lives. The “at large” part is a way of poking fun at myself, as I am 5’10” tall. When I was teaching I’d refer to myself as large and in charge. But it also means that I’m on the prowl to Inform, Inspire, and Ignite. Everything I learned on my journey to self-empowerment I long to share with others.

Tell us a little bit about your Etsy shop.

Words are absolutely powerful–whether spoken, written, read, or heard in our minds. I have found that having a visual reminder of truth helps us to focus on that truth. And that is how my EmPOWordment Cards began. I wanted cards that would uplift and build self-esteem by providing affirmations and positive words to live by.

Two years ago when I started designing cards, I knew nothing about Etsy and Instagram or all the quotes that are so prevalent now, so was completely pulling from my own creativity and experiences.

Memes had just become popular, and I’d been designing them for my blog posts. My sister commented that I should make them into cards to sell. I wasn’t really sure about that idea, but because I wanted something to take to speaking engagements, and give out to others, I began to design cards to empower and build self-esteem—with words—thus the name EmpoWORDment.

I was a novice designer, using PicMonkey to create backgrounds and designs to showcase the all-important words. Many of my cards reflect my own journey. For example, “Don’t Let Anyone Ever Dull Your Sparkle” is very meaningful to me because for most of my life I allowed others to control and dim me. “I Was Born To Shine” is something I realized only a few years ago, and now I purposely tell everyone that we all have a unique light to shine in this world. I had just designed “Queen of Courage” when my sister was diagnosed with cancer. I dedicated that card to her. Every card has a personal meaning (and story) for me.

I truly love designing, and soon branched out into mugs, journals, note cards, a cute card deck that can be made into a garland, and this year I created a Sparkle & Shine calendar. It has monthly affirmations that are to be repeated every day of the month. Doing so will change your thoughts and help to create positive energy in your life.

My designs are colorful and sometimes quirky. They capture attention. They provide others with encouragement, self-esteem boosters, empowering words, and positivity. They often create emotion, because words ARE powerful!

What does empowerment mean to you?

Empowerment to me means living fully as your authentic self, free from self-limiting beliefs that control your behavior and hold you back. Empowerment can be a huge deal like the women’s march, or small, personal steps toward freedom.

My own empowerment began when I realized I’d believed lies about myself all my life. I believed that I was too emotional, not very smart, not worthy of love, was broken and unlovely, to name a few.  One day, in an act of courage and boldness, I finally told the lies in my head to “shut up!” and began purposely replacing them with what I call truths. If you care to read about that, go to https://particularpassions.me/2016/04/05/the-lies-that-bind-us/. The truths I began saying to myself are universal: I am enough, I am creative, I am amazing, I am powerful and strong, I deserve good things in life, and I am loveable. Our brains are quite amazing, and even if we don’t believe these words at first, when repeated often, our brain will begin to store them as part of our belief system. And that’s what happened to me! It sounds very simple, but it took me several years to get there.

All of my life I’ve been in love with words. A person can create visual images, emotions, and life and death, with words. The lies I’d been allowing to blow through my brain had been creating death to who I was created to be. When I began believing and acting upon the new truths, I became a powerful force to be reckoned with! I can now shine my light with purpose. And I know that I am “Amazing With A Side of Sprinkles”!

What is a quote that has inspired you lately and why?

Asking me, someone whose business is designed around quotes, to pick out a favorite quote is pretty tough. But I will tell you the one that has guided me for these last six years.
“Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon!” by Buzz Aldrin, one of the first astronauts on the moon.

This speaks to me about not being limited. About doing those things I might think are impossible or out of my reach. And it says that there are amazing opportunities that I don’t see yet, just waiting for me.

 

If you could spend a day with any creative woman, who would you choose and why?

If I could spend a day with any creative woman in history we’d need a conference!! There are so many, many women that I
respect for their abilities, their hearts, and their authenticity. Sue Monk Kidd, a favorite author, wrote a book that transformed my life. Maya Angelou inspires me with her guts, strength, passion, and incredible ability with words. Meryl Streep continues to amaze me with her acting ability, her humor, her ability to embrace aging, and her love and compassion. Carole King began my journey of poetry set to music and she continues strong. See? There are so many. And what a conference THAT would be!!

What are some of your other creative interests?

I enjoy many other creative activities besides designing and writing. I love gardening and creating beautiful flowerbeds from which I can make “yard gatherings” bouquets. I write poetry. I sing. I paint on rocks. I sew. I have created a lovely home. I create memories for my children, through camping especially, and travel.

 

What do you enjoy most about being a creative woman?

What I enjoy most about being a creative woman is that days are never, ever boring! There is always something new to learn and try. I feel resourceful and I’m very grateful for the abilities that are mine. I try not to take them for granted, but use my gifts for the betterment of others. And I suppose that is one of the things I love most about being creative—I can help others see truth and become empowered. And I pray that as the creative force flows through me it will pour out onto others in a way that positively affects their lives.

 

 

 

Most of the cards shown above are available in my Etsy shop. The link is below.

Connect with me:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/EmPOWordmentCards (Etsy shop)

https://www.facebook.com/EmPOWordmentCardsbyMimi/  (Facebook)

https://www.instagram.com/mimimatthews.empowordmentcard/ (Instagram)

https://particularpassions.me/ (blog)

http://www.passionistaatlarge.org/ (website)

Inspiration, Living With Gusto

Life Ain’t Always Sunshine and Roses

So here’s the deal.

It’s NOT always sparkle and shine in my life.

There are days like this week when I am burdened for a precious friend and feel helpless in the situation. When I am a bit tired of working, parenting alone, being this age with kids, being indoors, wanting something fun, loneliness, just the keeping on keeping on.

And there are some days when the only prayer I can form is, “Oh God, oh God, oh God!”

That is the real truth, folks. I get in those places too.

I thought maybe you should know.

I never want you to feel as if I downplay your pain. Or suggest that your difficult situation can just go away “poof”.

But I post the positive things I do because SOMEONE needs to read them.

And in my inner spirit those things are ME. They are what I do to keep doing.

I smile, I pray, I spend time being thankful, I reach out to others, I help others if at all possible….

All these things help to center me and bring the “yuck” back into perspective.

I do know that when we fill our brains with positive thoughts,

we attract more positive energy to ourselves.

And that is what being thankful is about.

That is what “speaking to the mountain” (see previous post) is about.

We actually DO have a choice in how we spend our focus/energy.

And when I’m in a funk, I choose to spend mine by rejoicing in all the good I see around me.

Being thankful for the many, many good things in my life.

And realizing that these funks don’t last forever.

Two things I know–God is always faithful, and the sun will eventually shine!

Living With Gusto

Does It Seem Impossible?

Fear can keep you

from attaining something you want.

 

Whether you think it’s possible or not

depends on the way you see yourself.

 

Believe that you are capable of anything

and you will be.

 

Some days it feels like just getting through the day is impossible!

But don’t ya know? I make it every time, and then ta daaaa!!

It WAS possible.

 

Whatever hard task lies before you, take it one step at a time, and you will make it.

 

You can DO it!!

 

I believe in you, because I know you have the good stuff in you. You are glorious.

 

Here’s to moving forward.

Love and sparkle hugs, Mimi

 

 

Inspiration

Write Your Own Script, My Dear

So really. Why would you follow in the exact footprints of someone else?

Me saying, “Seriously?”

They do not have YOUR unique qualities, gifts, abilities, and desires, and you don’t have theirs.

Should you fashion your life after what other people say? Should you let what is important to them be what guides you?

Perhaps to some degree, if they are people you love. But when it comes to achieving what you truly desire in life, I believe that you need to be the one to determine what is most important to you.

And please, do not let people’s opinions of you alter your course one bit! Know your own truth.

YOU are the one to determine

the kind of person you want to be.

What you wear, how you talk,

what your goals are,

the things that fulfill your heart,

what kind of job you want,

the kind of a person you want a relationship with,

where you want to live, how you run your home,

what books you read,

how much schooling you obtain……

these should be things of your choosing and should not be dictated by the choices of others.

write-your-own-script

Of course I am not discounting the wise counsel of people. We all need help with decisions and lifestyle issues.

I’m referring to giving up yourself

in order to follow blindly.

Or relinquishing your desires

because someone thinks they are silly.

Or not wearing something you love

because no one else does.

Or not truly honoring your heart and spirit

because others criticize you for it.

You have a brain, emotions, intelligence, reason, values, morals, and common sense.

Use them to figure out, and pursue, what is valuable to you. Mark your own path, and

Write your own script for your life!

As always, I thank you for visiting. I’d love to know what you think!

Love and sparkly hugs,

Passionista

Inspiration

Do Not Apologize For Who You Are!

never-apologize

Oh darling, don’t you know that who you are is the most amazing and fabulous gift to the world? Who you are is full of wonder and possibility. You deserve to be loved and fulfilled in what you do. I know it’s tough many days. I know some of you are not in an ideal situation. I know some of you feel as if the ground is swallowing you up and closing in over you.

 

I know because I’ve been there. And it took action and big steps (in little baby steps) to get me out of that hole. But I am here to tell you that YOU can start today to change your situation. There are people who will help you.

 

Do not try to do it alone. I know, precious one, that you feel as if you must be strong and do this life thing (as hard and unpleasant as it is) by yourself because that’s who you are. Well, you only limit yourself when you limit your possibilities.

 

Start talking to people. Start saying what you want and need. I promise, lightning will not strike you. Start asking for help. Start with someone you trust and get them involved in seeking help you and ways to improve and/or get out of your situation.

 

You are NOT alone! You do not have to suffer in silence. There ARE solutions. I know. I found them.

 

The biggest thing is to start realizing how valuable you are. How much the world needs your special, unique gifts and love. Start telling yourself the TRUTH–that you are amazing and have wonderful abilities and gifts for this world.

 

Start seeking ways to BE who you really are. To pour out your beautiful spirit and shine your gorgeous light.

 

Because darling, you are perfect, just as you are! Never apologize.

 

Love and sparkly hugs! Mimi

Living With Gusto

I’m An Overcomer

youre-an-overcomer-black

Having children with special needs is such a challenge! But one thing I’ve learned….it keeps us TOTALLY dependent on God. No way can I be “in control” because in the blink of an eye, our life could be in shambles.

 

There are days my prayer has been, “Oh God, oh God, oh God” because I just didn’t have words. Didn’t have energy to formulate words. It was all I could do to breathe and take care of my children (I am their only parent). Some weeks (months) every.single.day is a challenge. Like pushing a locomotive up a steep mountain.

Motherhood

And then, thank God, we will get a reprieve and I can at last take a deep breath. And I just sit. And sit. And let God fill my mind, body, and breath. And He brings healing to my emotions.

 

Because there is no doubt about how emotionally draining it is to watch your child hurt, or be disappointed because of physical limitations, or become emotionally so out-of-sorts that all day is a battle.

 

Or how physically and emotionally exhausting it is to be making hard, frustrating, impossible decisions for the duration of several days.

 

Sleep-deprived, worry-filled, and constantly searching for solutions can totally wring a person out!

I can rack

But oh, God is able! The video below is amazing and so uplifting. 

 

Mandisa sings her song Overcomer with clips of people who have overcome some extreme physical challenges.

 

I equate the physical with our mental and emotional challenges. It’s not an easy journey (Wait, what? It’s gonna be hard? Hey, I didn’t sign up for that!!!) But a journey that I hope will bring God glory. Because the glory is all His.

 

Anything that I’ve accomplished with my children has been while He was holding my hand, speaking into my spirit (sometimes I didn’t want to hear Him–la la la la la!), and guiding my every move. Because I was useless. Incapacitated.

In spite of that, and because of Him, my children are amazing miracles. But that’s a story for another time. Enjoy the video. You will be hooked!

Thank you so much for stopping by. YOU are the reason I write. 

Be kind and share with someone who could use this.  🙂

Love and sparkly hugs,

Mimi

Living With Gusto

I’ll Love You Forever

One year.

One year since I kissed you goodbye

and watched you leave us.

My heart hurts in missing you.

My arms long to hug you.

My soul needs to talk with you.

I love you with all my heart, sweet sister.

mindy-and-me2

 

Your leaving taught me two very important things:
1) To celebrate myself.

To wear the crazy tiara, or as you did, hot pink leathers, and be a biker babe–or whatever I want to.

To have fun, party now,

and do not worry about what others think.

To enjoy that I am just a bit different

from most people.

Life is very, very short,

and it really doesn’t matter what others think.

It’s MY life, and I’m going to live it to the fullest!

mindy-and-me-christmas-2014


2) To love even more fiercely than I do.

To speak even more truthfully.

To stand firm and not waver in the face of obstacles.

Because, I only have a short time to make an impact on people’s lives.

I’ve gotta get my truth out there!

mindy2

Thank you for being an example and teaching me important things. 

I’ll miss you until the day I see you again, little sis.

You have my heart. Your big sister.