Life has its measure of ups and downs. I've found that when I choose to approach life's challenges with a sunny side up perspective, it's often a game-changer.

While many, if not all, of you have probably seen this video, I thought I would share it. It may help to put some (more) pep in your step today.

Often, we speak of having a "black sheep" in the family, or relatives or friends whose character, personality, outbursts, drunkenness, lewd behavior, etc. disgust or make us uncomfortable. (Think back to family gatherings--funerals, weddings, reunions, holidays, etc. as points of reference.) I'm referring to those who don't see themselves as having any issues and, accordingly, are doing nothing to improve themselves. This, despite the fact that very few willingly choose to be in their presence for extended periods of time. Typically, we have limited contact with them because we are distant in heart, geography, or both.

As I continue to work on my many imperfections, it makes me ask if I'm ready for my close-up? In other words, who am I without my life's makeup--for example, when I let down my hair, or when I'm alone? If those with whom I am distant got a good look at me and my life up close and personal, how cracked would my mirror be? Would I be the outcast? A question always worthy of examination for those of us on the path of continued improvement. "The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching." John Wooden

For purposes of traffic control, yellow lights caution us to slow down because a red light is imminent. How many of us race through yellow lights in an attempt to avoid/beat the red light, only to get caught by the next red light or behind a car traveling slower than the speed limit? I've been there a time or two.

We are presented with yellow lights in our daily lives, as well. Things that caution us to slow down or take a step back. We can get in a hurry if there's something we want or want to do, only to wish--once we have it--that we had taken the time to heed the cautionary yellow lights we saw along the way. Yellow lights like intuition, listening, observing, things learned through due diligence, etc. But we want what we want when we want it. And if we choose to race through the yellow light(s) and run through the red light(s) too, we may find there are consequences--for example, with business decisions, finances, friendships, romantic relationships, in attempts to achieve goals or live a dream, employment situations, etc.

I don't know about you, but I've raced through/ignored enough yellow lights in my life that I now respect and honor their protection. Clarity and blessings can result from respecting life's yellow lights. So, I've learned to slow down, put on the brakes in the presence of yellow lights, as it's better to proceed with caution than race to a bad result.
We sometimes allow others to tell us who we are--to name/define us--usually based on something negative. Growing up, we had the saying, "[s]ticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." We, or our loved ones, repeated it when people were called out of their given names. Today, we hear countless stories of bullying; people using pejorative terms to describe others; folks telling others they're nothing or good for nothing; people being teased because they're different, etc. Everyone has moments of weakness, vulnerability, self-doubt, etc., and if those negative words are spoken repeatedly and/or at times of vulnerability, it may have a damaging effect.

For as long as I can remember, one of my favorite quotes has been, "[i]t does not matter so much what the thing is called as what the thing is".* So, for example, why not tear off the label of "victim" and be a victor; tear off the label of "good for nothing" and use your gift(s); tear off the label of "no one" and show you are a child of God who's loved,  blessed, precious, talented, and fearfully and wonderfully made; tear off the label of "ugly, disabled, or limited" and show your beauty while using your perceived limitation(s) to be a blessing to others; tear off the label of "outcast and different" and show your exceptionalism; tear off the label of "incapable" and step out of the shadows to exhibit your skills; tear off the label of "having little or nothing" and walk in your blessings. When people mislabel us it's often based on a snapshot in time and/or their own insecurities (we all have them). Absent unusual circumstances, why should any one thing, situation, or circumstance define the entirety of our lives? You know who you are and of what you're capable. If not, find others who can encourage you in this regard.

We must surround ourselves with people who know and call us by our proper name(s), who affirm, support, encourage, and uplift us. (For those of us fortunate to have such people in our lives, why not mentor others who don't?) We can't allow naysayers to tell us who we are or should be. Those folks struggle just like we do. We can't allow anyone to tell us what we're not capable of doing. Been there (see this). We can't allow anyone to tell us we're limited. Instead of absorbing things meant to harm us, we must allow them to motivate us to be everything we're purposed to be. Let's live up to who God says we are and can be rather than down to the naysayers.

What's in a name? Nothing or everything. It depends on whether the name represents who we know we are and what we're capable of based on what God says about us.

*Carter G. Woodson