Monday, September 27, 2010

Shed The Skin You're In

Every now and then there comes a time where we need to leave old things behind. Comfort makes it so that we don’t want to let go, but sometimes letting go is necessary in order for us to grow. 

Think about that pair of jeans that you love.   It may be too big, it may be too small, it may be worn and tattered...either way it’s beyond time to get a new pair.  We hold on to it because it’s what we know and it fits us, or at least used to fit us just the way we like it. Jeans that are too tight sometimes even stretch with us as we grow because we wear them so much.  We think that new jeans just wouldn’t be the same.  Then one day, you’re out in public and the button pops off, or the zipper breaks, or the crotch or inseam rips.  We wait until some major upheaval occurs before we finally give in and say, it’s time for a new pair.

This is much like our lives.  Many times we stay in a situation because it’s comfortable, it’s what we know, and it seems safe.  But the truth is, if we stay in that same will we ever grow?  It makes me think about snakes.  According to, “Snakes shed their skin to allow for growth, as well as to remove parasites along with their old skin.”   Think about that for a moment.
If we are trying to symbolically stay in our old skin, it binds us so that we cannot grow.  Our old skin has also accumulated parasites and other harmful things which we need to rid our system of.  Those parasites could represent things like bad habits or behaviors that we need to turn away from.

Once a snake goes through the shedding process, its old worn scales are replaced with new healthy skin.  This can occur anywhere from every few weeks to once a year.  When you think of the skin that you need to shed, it can range from simple to complex.  It may mean donating all of the old clothes that you no longer wear and replacing them with new clothes. Or it may mean walking away from a very comfortable yet stagnant or difficult situation.

In order to successfully shed the skin you’re in, it’s important to be honest with yourself.  We often make excuses and try to convince ourselves that we are just fine where we are, but if we look at the situation truthfully and honestly we will find that we may in fact be hanging on to layers upon layers of old skin.  We also tend to wait for something to happen (Like the jeans ripping that I mentioned earlier) to give us that push or that reason.  We don’t need an excuse to grow. The fact that it’s just due time should be reason enough.   

Once the old skin has been shed...leave it behind.  When snakes leave their skin behind, it is still intact, but you don’t see them turning back to try to squeeze back into their old set of scales, do you?  They move on and continue going through life with the new healthy skin.

When was the last time you shed the skin you were in?  This week, I encourage you to take a good hard look at yourself and determine if there are some layers that need to be shed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Take Your Medicine

Monica Marie Jones with Eric Jerome Dickey
Last week I made a spur of the moment decision to attend a literary conference in Kansas City, Missouri. I immediately paid for the conference and my hotel room in advance to make sure that I didn’t change my mind. After researching the price of flights I’d decided that I’d rent a car and drive the thirteen plus hours all on my own. On the day of the trip, I realized that based on how busy my week leading up to the trip was and how demanding my week after the trip would be, that I’d gotten myself into a pretty ambitious undertaking.

I must admit that as the trip neared, worry and anxiety began to set in as I faced the reality of finances, time and the fact that I was tired and trying to beat a cold. As much as I am a cheerleader for faith, I began to waver and I wasn’t quite sure how I would pull this trip off if I could make it happen at all. All the while I prayed and in response I simply heard, “Trust Me.”

A concerned friend began to go back and forth with me about how it wasn’t safe for me to drive that long distance alone. So after arguing that I was a trooper because I had driven that distance and longer on my own several times, I decided to at least check to see if there were any good deals on last minute flights. As I looked over all of the outrageous prices, it occurred to me to check on the status of my frequent flyer miles to see if I was eligible for a reward flight.

A reward flight to Kansas City would cost me 25, 000 frequent flyer miles. I had 25, 009. On the day that I was schedule to hit the road, I was able to book a FREE, non-stop, round trip flight that was only two hours in duration as opposed to the thirteen plus hours that I would have had to drive one way. It was clear to me that this leap of faith was one that I was meant to take.

This particular conference was filled with some of my favorite authors. These were famous authors that I’d grown up reading, authors that have made the New York Times and Essence Bestsellers list on multiple occasions. I whisked in and greeted them all personally as if they had been family that I hadn’t seen in a while and they embraced me equally so. Well into the long Saturday full of workshops, panels and intense conversations, I realized that I was so engaged, that not a single worry had crossed my mind.

I was so into what I was doing that the things that usually occupy my thoughts such as finances, relationships, responsibilities, and concern for family had not even attempted to enter my mind. It was at that very moment that I came to understand a simple truth that can help and heal us all of the toxic feelings of worry, fear and anxiety.

Being immersed in what you love makes you forget about the things that aren’t right in your life. It erases your worries and allows you, if only for a be free. It’s like the serum to personal freedom. It is a feeling like no that we should be intentional about making happen in our lives on a regular basis.

The remedy is simple.

Identify It

Identify the thing or things that you truly love and are passionate about.

Create It

Create regular experiences or opportunities for yourself where you are immersed in that thing that you love.

Capture It

Savor the experience while you are in it, and capture it so that you can revisit it if you need to. This can be done through taking notes, journaling, taking pictures or reflecting on the experience afterward.


This week I challenge you to set aside some time to immerse yourself in that hobby, that project, that class....Take that trip...Spend time with that person...Whatever it is for you, make it happen, if only for a moment, and watch how you will be almost instantly alleviated of the day to day woes that often plague your heart and your mind.

Worry, fear and anxiety are the illness. The antidote is immersing yourself in what you love. Get health. Get happy. Get whole.

Monday, September 13, 2010

You Are The Boss Of You

Monica Marie Jones

We have a tendency to torture ourselves.  We over book ourselves.  We take on more than we can handle.  We help other people more than we help ourselves.  Do any of these behaviors sound familiar? 

What I have eventually come to realize is that in the past I made my life a lot harder than it had to be.  Sometimes we take our lives and ourselves way too seriously.  As an entrepreneur, I am my own boss.  But as people, we are all the bosses of our own lives.  Therefore, we have the power to make our lives work for us. 

How can you readjust your day to day routine to reduce unnecessary stress?  Here are a couple of simple suggestions...

Pay Yourself First

When I say this, I don't just mean money. Time and energy are just as valuable as money.   Do something for yourself first, before you begin to think about what needs to be done for the children, what needs to be done around the house, or what you need to do for work.  Each day, I exercise first, which sets a nice tone for the rest of my day and helps me to have more energy, less stress, and peace of mind in knowing that I took care of myself first.

It doesn't have to take two hours.  It may just be that you spend the first five minutes of your day in prayer, enjoying your favorite breakfast, or reading a chapter of a juicy novel.  When we neglect ourselves and put all of our energy into others, resentment begins to creep in and take over our joy.  When you put yourself first, if only for a moment, you will feel much better about the things that you do for everyone else.

Make Time For Fun

Some people play too much, but most people don't play enough.  Play is an integral part of the human experience.  So make some time for fun, or those things that you've always wanted to do.  Reintroduce spontaneity into your life.

Go to a carnival, arcade or movie with your mate. Read a book for enjoyment instead of business or school.  Make a spur of the moment decision, throw caution to the wind and just do it!  This week I made a last minute decision to attend an out of town literary event next weekend where some of the biggest authors in the business will be in attendance.  I figure that since I want to be the best, then I'd better surround myself with the best.  So I've decided to embark upon this adventure before I begin to create a thousand reasons why I shouldn't go. Now that I've registered for the conference and booked my room, I feel so excited!  I'm excited not only about the experience, which I know will be awesome, but I am excited about taking such a huge leap of faith and doing something that I know that I will enjoy.

This week I challenge you to come up with a simple and manageable plan to make your life work for you.  You are the boss of you, so take charge and adjust accordingly.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Experience Life!

Live. Laugh. Love!
I think while I sleep. My mind continues to work long after I am deep within slumber's grasp. This is why I sleep with two journals and my laptop in the bed next to me and a pen on the night stand. This quote woke me up out of my sleep on Sunday morning...

"Live to experience, not to avoid...but do so in such a way that the mirror is your friend and not your foe."

We spend a lot of time in life suspended in a state of avoidance. We live to avoid what is often inevitable instead of savoring moments, engaging in experiences, appreciating the arts, enjoying relationships and celebrating life.

In trying to avoid things, most of which are beyond our control, we expend the majority of our energy, which is a precious resource that is only borrowed and at some point must be given back.

We don't let people get close to us, especially the ones that we might really care about or potentially fall in love with, to avoid being hurt.

We don't take on or tackle the careers or the professional goals that we have in order to avoid failure.

We don't ask for what or who we want to avoid being rejected.

Essentially we torture ourselves by constantly operating in avoidance mode as opposed to being present and in the moment...Instead of fully experiencing life right now. Now when I say Experience Life, I don't mean going straight buck wild. We have to be able to live with our choices and decisions. A guest pastor that spoke at church said, "We go to bed with one of two things, results or regrets." Which one sounds like the better bed mate?
In experiencing life we have to be able to look ourselves in the mirror, hence the second part of my quote above.
This past weekend I made the conscious decision (and a pact with a friend) to begin to experience life to the fullest. There is so much out here to love, but we often don't even realize it because of our tendency to focus on the negative. The very thing that we are trying so hard to avoid may be the very thing that is the key to our breakthrough. I often tell the participants that come to the trainings that I facilitate to, "Trust the process." We get so wrapped up in the outcomes that we miss the best parts of life...the process...the experience. As we approach this new season I challenge you let go of your need to control everything in order to avoid what you don't want to happen. I challenge you to focus on the experience of life.