It's difficult not to be discouraged when we're striving for something and it doesn't work out. Maybe it's a job, goal, contract, business, promotion, some type of competition, etc. When I find myself in such situations, I usually do the following: 1) allow myself 15 minutes (if that) to feel sorry for myself, 2) get some distance from the situation (as much as necessary/possible), 3) assess (with feedback, if possible) what I could have done better, 4) make any necessary improvements, and 5) move on. It may not be easy, but I've learned not to focus on losing what is someone else's blessing. There's nothing in that for me, other than frustration, resentment, envy, jealousy, or some other type of pain. Instead, I work on bettering myself because there will be a payoff. My blessing is on the way. It may not come in the way or time I expect it to come, but I keep the faith that in due time things will turn in my favor. Because when it's my time it's my time, and what's for me is for me!
 
 
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According to the dictionary, "masquerade" means "an action or appearance that is mere disguise or show", or "to assume the appearance of something one is not". Masquerading is nothing new. Older folks say it's been happening "since the beginning of time." You know, folks putting on airs; fronting, if you will.

Why do some folks masquerade, so much so that their lives often appear to be a masquerade ball? Who knows, maybe they're trying to keep up with the Joneses. And just who are the Joneses, and don't they know the Joneses have problems, too?! Some may masquerade because they envy their peers. Some may masquerade because they want their peers to envy them. But some may masquerade to hide pain--for example, the pain of brokenness, shame--broken lives, broken hearts, broken finances, loneliness (even those in a relationship), abusive relationships, depression, etc. For those of us who aren't masqueraders--at least not now--it's often easy to judge the "facades". But would we do so if we could see the pain and tears behind the masks?

One of the inherent dangers of masquerading is that we get so good at wearing our mask(s) that no one--not even those we want to know us--can see what we want them to see, including that we may need help. Masks can create distance and prevent us from truly connecting with others. So, before we ask others to see us, it's important that we see ourselves. Some of us are wearing so many masks that we don't even know ourselves. And sometimes we get our masks confused--wearing the wrong mask for the wrong occasion.

How exhausting, masking ourselves from ourselves and everyone else. But we can only hide out for so long. Because life has a way of making us drop our masks--at least temporarily. I don't know why this image came to mind, but have you ever seen someone snatch off their wig because it was too hot under there? Sometimes, life brings the kind of heat that causes us to snatch off our masks, or they inadvertently slip. In those instances, it's important that we've taken care to ensure that what's underneath the mask--our true identity--is a work in progress, no less worthy of being seen. And don't worry so much about what others may think . . . they have their issues, too.

 
 
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Spring is here. And with its arrival has come a new season of allergies, requiring a range of treatments from antihistamines to epinephrine.

I have found that I suffer from other allergies. For example, I'm allergic to drama, envy, negativity, discouragement, dishonesty, a lack of compassion, a lack of accountability, and other things. These traits--in myself or others--cause me discomfort and/or irritation, much like allergies with physical consequences. If I allow the discomfort or irritation  to remain untreated, the consequences may range from joystipation to stealing my joy. And anything that threatens my joy requires attention. So I use faith, hope, peace, courage, love, patience, honesty, compassion, encouragement, and gratitude, among other things, to address the discomfort. And when I'm successful, I find relief.

 
 
Have you ever envied someone? I distinctly recall two times I've envied people. One was when my best friend in grade school had to wear glasses. I liked that wearing glasses made her stand out, so I pretended to have trouble seeing. The end result? I was prescribed glasses I didn't need, and now have terrible eyesight. The second time was when a friend received an employment opportunity I thought I deserved. The end result? I ended up getting the best job I've ever had. Lessons? The first experience taught me that trying to be like someone else can result in self-inflicted harm with lifetime consequences. The second experience taught me that a missed opportunity can be a blessing in disguise.

When we envy others, do we stop to consider whether we can drink the cup? Drinking the cup means living what they've lived through, or are living through, to have what they have. Are we willing to pay the cost? Rarely. We want their glory without living their story. Most of us have lived long enough to learn not to judge a book by its cover. But when we envy, isn't that what we do? We look at someone else's situation and because it looks appealing we assume it is. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Many folks whose lives look good are suffering, or have suffered, tremendous pain. And/or, they've made many sacrifices or compromises along the way. But because they don't show the sacrifice or pain associated with their lives, we covet what they appear to have. And then, what if we get it? Because we have to live with the consequences should we realize that what we envied appeared better than the reality of it.

In envying others, we're so busy looking at what someone else has that we can't fully see what we have. Let's turn envy into inspiration. Let others' success, victories, joys, and opportunities inspire us first to appreciate what we already have, and then to work hard to improve our lives based on our own hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations. And then when it's time to drink from a cup, we won't need to try to sip from someone else's. We'll see that there's tremendous fulfillment in drinking from our own cup.