The Perfection Standard

I used to believe in perfection.

The problem is that we believe so much in perfection that we become perfectionists and we fail to notice that its doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as perfection. Unconsciously, setting this fake standard has left me in a state of paralysis at different seasons in my life.

The fear of not meeting this fraudulent standard has paralyzed me from pursuing goals thus delaying the realization of many dreams.

There are many books that I haven’t finished out of fear of them not being perfectly written. There are many book ideas and projects that I’ve never developed out of fear that its structure wouldn’t be perfect. Heck, there are still many times that I stop myself from writing many blog posts out of fear of the feedback that I will receive.

There is a gap.

Meeting our own perfection standard is what’s in between fear and action.

This perfection standard has been an infection that’s spread to many areas of my life. I speak of this because I wonder how many of you have felt this way in the past or may feel this way now.

We have just entered a new year. A new beginning is before us. It is a chance for us to breakdown this standard of perfection, and walk over it, in pursuit of the things that we want to attain this year.

It’s time that you forget about being perfect or perfectly executing goals, because this isn’t a real belief or expectation. There needs to be a mind shift.

This new year you must accept that many failures are coming. In fact, you may face more failures than victories. But, I have good news. Our greatest lessons are found in our failures.

The beauty of failure and falling down, is that the choice to get back up and continue the walk, is entirely up to you. Every time I failed to eat a healthy meal I had two options, either beat myself up for it, or make sure that my next meal was a healthy one.

In many of my falls, I discovered that it didn’t matter how many times I fell off as long as I got up and got back on track.

As you set your goals and you plan out how you will achieve them, keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect plan or perfect execution. Realistically, take into account that your plans will not always go as you foresee them. There will be twists and turns. There will be failed tests and exams. Many times you will turn down healthy meals. Many times you will wake up late when you indeed planned to get up early. Many times you will pass by Starbucks even though you promised yourself you would stay away from coffee for a month. There will be times where you will tell yourself that the picture you posted would’ve been better or the video that you uploaded onto YouTube could’ve had better content. You could’ve looked better for that important interview or there was so much more valuable information that you could’ve shared at your interview.

 

Whatever it is, you get the point.

You will never be perfect. You will never have perfect plans. There will never be perfect execution. There will always be something that you would’ve done better or plans that could’ve unraveled better.

But, note!

Everything happens for a reason. The fact that you aren’t perfect will lead you to make the best mistakes of your life. It’s in our mistakes that we improve. Key word, improve!

To improve means that there is a better you, that you have yet to see.

The journey to building yourself is one of discovery and fulfillment. To accept that you need to improve means that you still have many more experiences to live out, and many fears to conquer. All which will drive you to become that person you dream of becoming.

The beauty is in the journey towards improvement.

To understand that there will always be room for improvement should be liberating.

Break free from the standard of perfection. Always give your best. Always be kind. Always be joyful. Always take the time to see the good in others. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Know that you aren’t perfect, but each day make the decisions that will get you a step closer to that person that you want to become.

Keep pressing forward. Forget about being perfect. It’s time to be bold. Be free!

Thank you for reading and God bless.


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Birth Story: Birthing Nina

Giving birth to Nina was an unforgettable experience.

It was a completely different experience from giving birth to Nathan. I’m not sure if my birth stories were so memorable because they were completely natural labors (no epidural, zero drugs), but what I do know is that these experiences have brought me closer to my sisters, my mom and my husband.

Giving birth to Nathan was a beautiful and thrilling because my first birthing experience. With Nathan I was in was in labor for 37 hours and the contractions felt unbearable. It’s rather normal to assume that on my first birthing experience I would have been fearful at the thought of pushing, but it was quite the opposite for me. I never once feared the ring of fire, as they call it. In fact, it was extremely surprising to me that I felt strong and fearless. I never questioned whether I could go through with it.

However, giving birth to Nina was an opposite experience.

First of all, the gender was unknown to all of us so that in itself made the birth experience that much more exhilarating.

And secondly, I thought it would be a piece of cake this second time so I felt invincibly ready…………………………………..Boy, was I wrong!

I arrived at the maternity center with my mom, Nathan and my husband at about 4 a.m. The midwife proceeded with a vaginal check and to our surprise I was 5cm dilated. We were so pleased that I was halfway dilated because to me that meant that I would dilate rapidly to 10 cm, which meant a quicker labor of course. Soon after my midwife checked me, she asked me to choose the room that I wanted to give birth in. I chose the blue room and we hurriedly unloaded our things and settled in.

The hours passed, and it was about 10 a.m. when my two sisters arrived. You don’t understand. My sisters have been my personal doulas (lol) for both of my births and their presence have made both experiences extra special. I don’t know how I would’ve done it without their emotional and physical support. My sisters were my greatest comfort in the moments when I felt like giving up. Not to belittle or depreciate my husband’s presence, but as women at that moment we shared something in common, the gift of birthing.

This second time around, active labor, seemed tolerable, however, mentally I felt weak. It was so different from Nathan’s birth experience. This time I allowed fear to consume my thoughts. Many times, I doubted whether I could go through with pushing my baby out. I was fearful at the thought of the baby tearing me. The fear was so intense at one some points that I would fight the pain instead of ease into it.

There was a point, where I became so worried at the thought of the baby coming out of me, that I contemplated having someone take me to the hospital for a C-section, but those thoughts were quickly deleted from my thoughts through the encouragement that my sisters provided me. Their words would always bring me back to reality. Having my son there helped tons as well. Listening to him pray for me provided me with the boost of solace that I needed. I knew I had to be strong for him and the baby that was on the way to making his or her appearance to our world.

I had to get this baby out no matter what!

It was about 8:00 p.m. when my midwife walked in and told me that it was time to push. I didn’t want to lay down to push because it felt uncomfortable. So, I decided to try to push while sitting on my husband’s lap.

Oh, was I happy, but secretly terrified inside.

The contractions came and as soon as I felt the urge to push, which feels like the urge to take the biggest dump of life, all I wanted to do was get into my pushing zone. I closed my eyes tight and screamed out of pain as I pushed as hard as I could each time.

With each contraction I would close my eyes tighter and tighter. I remember my sister holding on to me and I clearly recall her telling me “Mari, her head is out!” As soon as I heard those words I felt this new wave of courage to push harder. All I could think of was coming face to face with my baby.

I wanted to know if I was going to be holding my princess or prince.

What a special moment it was on that last push!!!

I felt the baby’s head come out and then the rest of the body, literally slipped out. I was in bit of a shock and immersed in a trance of joy. I grabbed my baby, we were all crying and all I heard was…

“It’s a girl!!!” My husband kept repeating it.

We were all so elated and in tears. I looked at her face and knew her name was Nina.

My mom opened the door, and I think I’ll always remember the image of tears running down her face, and an expression of glee I had never seen in her before. We told her that the baby is a girl. She was ecstatic! She ran out to tell my dad who was waiting outside.

As they cleaned up my baby girl, while I was still carrying her, they had my son come into the room to cut the umbilical cord. He was confused, but he understood that I had pushed the baby out into our world. So, it seemed like a natural experience for all of us. Not sure if he really paid attention to all the bloody mess that was underneath me, but I he seemed happy to finally see the baby we all talked so much about.

Once, they cut the umbilical cord and transferred me to the bed so that I could breastfeed the baby. I was happy that the birthing experience was coming to its end, all that needed to be done at that point was to push out the placenta and get stitched up if needed. My midwife asked me to push one last time as soon as I felt a contraction coming, to remove the placenta, but none came. That’s when she attempted to pull at it and when she did it didn’t budge. She concluded that the placenta was stuck.

I freaked out!

I felt a lot of blood leaking out of me and I remember asking her, “is that blood that keeps pouring out?” I was fearful because I don’t recall having so much blood rush out of me at my first labor. It was then that she told me she would have to call an ambulance and take me to Jackson North Hospital because if she pulled out my placenta and I lost more blood I would need a blood transfusion.

The ambulance came, and my husband accompanied me while my sister followed us to the hospital. Both Nathan and Nina stayed with my mom.

I remember arriving at the hospital not knowing what would happen next. It was comforting to see my midwife as she arrived shortly after we did. Just knowing that she was there made me feel safe and confident that everything would be fine.

I recall losing a lot of blood and blacking out. I found out my iron level was extremely low. Critical even.

As soon as the doctor came in and removed my placenta I was extremely relieved to know everything was finally over. In the end, my placenta was out, I only got 1 stitch and I was ready to get some rest.
The next day I woke up anxiously waiting to get back to the maternity center to see my daughter and son.


Once I was reunited with my daughter as well as my son, all was better. Within a few hours after that, I was able to go home with my tribe.

Although I experienced many moments of fear and doubt throughout the entire birth experience, I knew deep in my heart that God had a plan, so I knew that all would be fine in the end.

Now, it’s January 2, 2018, 7:10 p.m. and I’m feeling blessed and grateful to be a mommy to two cute cubs.

Thank you for reading and God bless!


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Love yourself they say, but how?

I remember a time when everyone would tell me that I needed to love myself, but I never understood what loving myself required.

On my journey to loving myself I discovered that I had to love more than just my physical appearance. I knew that it went beyond liking who I was on the inside because on my journey to loving myself I had to come face to face with a truth that shook me… I couldn’t truly love myself because I didn’t really like who I was on the inside.

I had to confront the good, the bad and the ugly. I had to accept my flaws. I had to look at all the inner parts of my soul and my being. This journey led me to seek for God and his help because I did not want to possess the confidence that we see in our world. The kind of confidence that is purchased at a clothing store or at a plastic surgery center.

In the beginning of my journey I was desperately hungry for real and raw confidence. The type of confidence that forced me to dissect the darkest parts of my soul. Knowing this, I made a conscientious decision to become aware of my actions, of the words that came out of my mouth and my reactions. I found myself frequently asking praying and asking God to renew my mind and my heart.

I found myself forced to revisit my past in order to understand when certain insecurities were born in my soul. I had to uncover when feelings of shame were born so that I could uproot them from my soul, and replant words of life and truth into the core of my being.

I understood that our insecurities and self-esteem issues grow roots deep within in us and they grow as trees do. They give fruit to the need for attention and acceptance in our later years simply because we can’t accept and love ourselves. So we become hungry and this hunger leads us to search to be fed love and acceptance from outer sources.

Loving yourself goes beyond looking in the mirror and repeating words of affirmation. Words of affirmation help, but only provide a temporary boost rather than a permanent solution.

Loving oneself requires being transformed by God.

Our transformation process happens as we read the word of God and begin to plant new seeds of truth and life into our soul. A daily prayer life provides you with a permanent boost of confidence because you are reminded of who you were always meant to be.

You are unique. There is only one of you. Any lies that were ever spoken to you as a child or when you were growing up were only meant to remove any room for GOD-FIDENCE, but God’s word says that you were fearfully, and beautifully made.

Psalm 139:14

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

God created us in his image and his image is divinely perfect.

He created you to display His splendor. He created you to display a specific, beautiful aspect of Himself and the instant we adopt God as our daddy, everything changes. Only then can our true identity become visible to us. A spiritual blindfold must be removed.

Know that you are the daughter or the son of the most high.

Everything that has happened to you or that has negatively affected your self-esteem, or that may have damaged the image that you have of yourself, can be fully transformed by the most high, Abba Father.

The beginning to loving yourself if facing your past, accepting your present flaws and discovering your God-given destiny.

Your true journey to attaining raw god-fidence begins now!

Thank you for reading. Be blessed.

Sex & Human Trafficking: Global Issue

Every two minutes women and children are being sexually exploited, abused and used as a means for making a profit.

It’s time that we decide to face this issue because it’s a huge injustice that needs our attention. We need to protect the lives of our children and stand up to speak for those who do not have a voice. It’s time to stand up for those women and children that are forced to remain quiet and imprisoned.

It’s time to support movements such as @stoppingtrafficfilm

Here in Miami at Sunset Place AMC there is a film premiering on Friday September 29, 2017 that educates on the ins and outs of human trafficking.

Watch trailer now! Stopping Traffic: The Film

The numbers are extremely high, and with such high numbers it can be hard to believe that we can influence change, BUT change can take place if we can choose to change the way we think. We need to make a decision to look within ourselves and accept our flaws. People want to help abolish sex and human trafficking, but they do not want to stop watching porn or supporting the sex industry via attending strip clubs etc. There is a demand in this industry and this demand is what needs to be eradicated.

Sex trafficking is about control. Men and women traffickers want to control others. Traffickers are also controlled and driven by disturbing desires. Whether Some are influenced by their love of money or their need to possess control over another human being it isn’t right.

There is nothing attractive or desirable about exploiting women and children. The type of people who do this are mentally ill and lack empathy for humanity.

There is nothing sexy nor sensual about children. Children are beautiful human beings who deserve to live out their childhoods exploring, playing, discovering life and the world around them. They should not have to live lives suppressing their emotions, battling the pain that comes with being abused, nor should they face an internal war with their identity. Children should not be put in a position of living in survival mode. This matter needs our attention.

Are you ready to be part of the solution or will you just sit back and watch as this issue spirals out of control and reaches those closest to you? You could be the next victim, the teenagers around us can be the next victims, anyone can be next? Are you ready to help with this issue?

If you live in Miami come out and support the fight against human trafficking by watching the film Stopping Traffic: The Film

Lets get educated and educate others on this global issue!

Thank you for reading and God bless you!

Shame on you

In the past, I have tried to use my anger to instill fear in my son to make him obey me. I confess that I have also used shaming as a tactic to manipulate and control my son’s behavior. I have done this not consciously, but unconsciously because it’s the parenting style that I have witnessed throughout my life. Yes, I’m guilty, and I do accept that using anger and shame as discipline drivers are not positive, nor do they communicate love.

I want to share this with you because as I live out this whole parenting journey, I find that the more I work on myself and my flaws, the more effective I become as a parent.

Manipulation:

When I have felt the need to manipulate my son to behave the way I want him to behave, I have noticed that my own desire to manipulate does not come from a healthy place.

When we feel the need to manipulate our children, we may lean on forceful ways to have them comply and many times that includes resorting to harsh corporal punishment.

We manipulate because a situation may feel our of control and our natural reaction will be to fight our way back up to holding on to the reigns. Not only is this dangerous, but it’s a sign of fear. Our own fear can take us to pull out the “shame on you card,” and the “anger tactic.”

Our job is not to control our children. They are not robots.

Our anger gets in the way of empathizing with our children because for some parents being empathetic will require to become vulnerable. Parents with anger issues, or undetected anger issues, have a hard time allowing themselves to become vulnerable because to be vulnerable is to enter one’s own feelings.

To have self-control over one’s emotions is true courage.

When we instill fear in our children to get them to respond to what we are commanding them to do, we are acting from an unhealthy place. Rather then letting anger lead our words and actions, we should discipline from a place of self-control.

When I was a little girl, I remember that I did something that wasn’t pleasing to my dad. It was so petty that I don’t even remember what I did wrong, BUT what I do remember was his reaction. He whipped me with a belt and left a mark on the side of my left thigh. After he hit me I remember going to a corner of the room and crawling into a ball. I cried. I felt alone and I felt so much hate towards him. I remember going to school the next day and talking about how much I hated my dad. I resented him for it and till this day I still remember how he made me feel.

We should NEVER force a child to behave a certain way. Instead, we should always kindly correct the behavior, and not the child.

Forceful discipline = power struggle & resentment

Children who feel attacked go into defense mode (this is how any human being responds to an attack, it’s normal) <<<<<<<<<<<<< Why can’t people understand this! It’s upsetting.

Shame:

Shame is a very powerful emotion.

There are many ways that parents have made us feel ashamed and often times this shame brews deep, self-conscious emotions in our hearts.

When we tell a child that they should be ashamed of themselves we are communicating to them that there is something wrong with them.

When we use shaming as a way to make children refrain from a certain behavior, what we’re really doing is humiliating them. To humiliate and shame a child is to be emotionally abusive.

To humiliate a child is to insert a chip in their mind that tells them they aren’t good enough. Once installed, this information has a long-term impact into adulthood.

Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, especially children. Children are the most vulnerable and should be protected, loved and supported especially throughout their growth process.

Let’s be conscious and be intentional about the things that we say and do.

It’s time for a shift in parenting. It’s time to discipline with empathy, compassion and respect. Above all, with tons of love.

Love always wins.

Thank you for reading! Many blessings.

Married Yet Alone

There was a time when I used to think that being married eliminated feelings of loneliness.

There was a time when I used to think that marriage would solve my need for companionship.

Oh, was I wrong.

Being married and being in a Christian marriage has made me confront the fact that my husband will not always provide me with the emotional support that I seek.

The biggest revelation that I have received this year is understanding that my husband is not fully responsible for not being able to fulfill my needs, when he himself has deep emotional wounds to heal, and he doesn’t even realize it.

We all have baggage. We all have past issues that we have not yet confronted and healed.

And until my husband faces those issues, truth is, that he will not be able to fulfill my emotional needs. That’s where mercy comes in. I must be Christlike and be merciful and pray for him. This is easier said than done of course. Praying for him can become redundant and exhausting. My reality is that although I pray and have hope that God will transform him into the man that He has called him to be for me.

There is a PROCESS and the PROCESS isn’t pleasant, but it’s necessary for both of us.

Through my marriage God has shown me that at one point or another we all seek to be saved.

We seek for family to save us from the issues that we face. We seek for a man’s love and admiration to save us from feeling insecure and worthless. We seek for husbands to comfort us and fulfill our every need. We seek for friends to give us a sense of belonging. We seek for cigarettes to save us from our anxieties. We hustle and go after money to save us from feeling unsuccessful because we rate success by how many things we accumulate.

You get the point. We all seek to be saved from a situations, unpleasant feelings, and circumstances.

In my case, I feel lonely, but I seek for comfort in God’s word because God says that He will never leave me nor forsake me. I receive confirmation through God’s word that he created me for a purpose. He created me with a plan and a mission for me execute in this life. Knowing these truths encourages me and removes all feelings of loneliness because if God is with me I’m not entirely alone.

We are all human. We will fail each other. We will disappoint each other.

BUT God is always good. God is omnipresent. He is enough to fulfill the deepest voids that we will ever face.

We all need a savior whether we are married, single, young, old, strong, weak, etc.

So if we all need a savior, then we can’t save each other.

We need God. We need Jesus to save us from ourselves.

So, if this is you, whether you’re married, in a committed relationship or single and feel immense feelings of loneliness… This is normal. You’re normal. And if your Christian and you are surrounded by religious people who tell you that if you truly have Jesus in your life then you shouldn’t feel lonely, know that, those words are lies. I’m open about my feelings because I’m tired of Christians portraying Christianity as a bullet proof vest.

We will all face moments of loneliness especially in our walk with Christ.

What I’m telling you is that the biggest mistake that we can make is to seek for comfort and to fulfill feelings loneliness by turning to others, by turning to work, food, etc as our primary source of temporary fulfillment.

Turn to God. If you don’t know where to start, start by downloading a Bible App called YouVersion.com. This is a practical way of reading God’s word and it’s how I started learning about God and the role He plays in my life.

In this app you can read on many different topics such as depression, loneliness, prayer, purpose, and many other topics that can help you understand what God’s word says about the moments that you face.

Know that you’re not alone.

And even if you feel alone, it is possible to feel fulfilled. It is possible to experience joy even when you are married and the person that you’re married to cannot fulfill your emotional needs. It’s okay. Walk through this process hopeful and knowing that God is in control. Fight in prayer and intercede for your circumstances because this too shall pass.

Thank you for reading. God bless you!

How do men view the women of today?

Lately I have approached young men to make conversation and ask them about their love lives. I have been curious to find out how they view commitment and their perception of women in our world today.

Sadly, I have noticed a similar pattern.

The guys that I have randomly approached have different backgrounds and different lifestyles, but they all had similar things to say with regards to women. Like….

  • You can’t tell the difference between a good girl and a h**
  • Nowadays most women and young girls dress up to show off their goods yet demand respect when men look, so why do they dress half-naked & call our attention
  • Women live pure contradictions like not wanting men to only use them for sex yet their image sends all the wrong signals
  • They way women dress and the way they act is like they’re practically asking to smashed & laid
  • There is no such thing as women who wants real love. What they really want is a dude with money and a nice ride
  • Girls want to milk you for all you got and then move on to the next one
  • Women only want men who look good to make them look good
  • All that women want to do is party and chill with their friends, go clubbing
  • Women like to live the fast life

 

After speaking to many different guys and hearing similar statements, I was really saddened by the feedback that I received about how WE are being viewed.

WE women are at fault for how men see us.

I had to admit to myself that I too, at one point, have referred to men as being a bank. It’s true that we may be a bit too materialistic especially now, when appearance, fashion and beauty are at the top of our priorities.

I admit that some of us may dress, practically in the nude, to turn heads not caring whether or not we are calling the attention of married men or teenagers struggling with porn addiction.

I admit that some of us do speak with foul language and we do or have engaged in pornographic sex talk even in front of our little ones.

I remember that, through my early twenties, I was really promiscuous, I dressed super revealing  just because I wanted attention and admiration. I was naive in thinking that love at first sight would manifest itself in my life, based on my looks. All that time I appeared confident on the surface, but on the inside I was an insecure mess. I based my beauty on what I would wear, how I did my makeup and how I styled my hair. I remember that during that period of time in my life, I spoke of sex in front of guys as if it were a sport. To the outside world my words were indicators that I was this careless party that did not care much for commitment. Yet, all I yearned for on the inside was to be loved and to find that one special person.

I was sending all the wrong signals and I realized that this is exactly what is happening with our women today.

This may be the case for many of the young women and young girls that these males are encountering.

It’s time that we flip the script and choose to change and be transformed on the inside.

We need to heal from our past pain. We need to heal from the negative words that have been spoken over our lives, that have left us with deep insecurities.

We need to turn to our number one healer, Jesus Christ.

In him we can find our true identity and the core essence of who we are called to be.

We are called to be respectful, honorable and gentle women. We have been called to respect our bodies and be wise with the words that we speak. We must respect ourselves for men to respect us.

We set the standards for how we want to be treated, but we cannot continue demanding respect when we come out of the house dressed like we work at a strip club.

Our little girls are watching us. Our little boys are watching in us mothers how women should be and we set the standard for what they need to look for.

Let’s build a new generation of women that are worthy of honor and praise. A generation of women that feel beautiful not because of what they see in the mirror, but rather because of the transformation that is taking place in their heart, through the word of God.

Change starts with you, how you decide to speak, dress and welcome others.

Thank you for reading.

God bless you!