WORK IS NOT WORK WHEN YOU ARE HAVING FUN DOING IT

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 NINE TO FIVE OR SOMETHING
                        LIKE THAT


Finding work/ life balance and fulfillment for
                              women




                      Charmaine Augustin
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                            TABLE OF CONTENTS


                                 NINE TO FIVE
                        OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT
                  Finding work/ life balance and fulfillment for women



      Foreword


      Dedication


      Introduction
                                          Chapters




   I. Work is Not Work When You Are having Fun Doing it!
   II. Follow Your Heart
  III. Setting Priorities
  IV. Life Lessons
   V. Changing Times
  VI. How Women Deal With it!!
  VII. Turn the Lights on When You Get Afraid
 VIII. Hurricane Force-- Identifying Your Strengths
  IX. Boy, oh Boys!!
  X. Family Time
  XI. Living Your Love—Beating Boredom
    Conclusion
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                                   DEDICATION



          Life only demands of you the strength you possess--- Dag Hammarskjold




To my husband Bruno and my children Samuel-Taylor and Jacob Alexander, who are the
songs in my purpose-driven life!
To my Mom and Dad who have raised eight children with the greatest sacrifice, by living
the example of true givers.
To all my siblings who have dreamt and laughed with me since I was a little girl.
To all my friends, whose support and encouragement are indelible in my heart!
To my mentors who may never fully know the impact of their influence in my life.
Thank you.


Charmaine
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                               INTRODUCTION



        You are awakened by the sound of your alarm clock and slowly you try to place
your feet on the ground when you suddenly look up and come face to face with a
stranger. You gasp and take a second glance. That‟s when you notice the familiar face of
years gone by. You slowly approach the stranger as you wipe the sleep from your eyes.
You touch your lips in amazement and she touches hers too. You look into the eyes of
the stranger and she looks back at you. You are in awe of how much she has changed.
You wake up for a second time and realize it was only a dream.
        Can you relate to the woman who has lost her self, who is remised by her past,
and can no longer identify herself or never knew who she was? Have we become so
busy from nine to five or something like that that we have run over our dreams and are
living our lives in mediocrity? Have you begun to feel stressed from working or resentful
of others? Have you lost or never grasped a true zest for life? Are you feeling a little less
than fulfilled in many ways? Are you happy, really? Then you have picked up the right
book.
        This book is intended to give a bird‟s eye view into our sometimes busy lives,
while focusing on covering related topics that we as women (and men) face. There is
something that every woman can relate to and beyond. My intention is to be real,
candid and reflective as I share some personal stories and insights. My hope is that you
will begin to rediscover and unveil „self‟. My desire is that we as women will be
determined to live the best life we can and to understand that happiness and fulfillment
comes from within and we must guard against the ills that can steal our selves away.
        Avoid getting caught up in the hustle or humdrum of the world around you. Stay
informed and astute, but guard against losing your passion, your soul, your self. Build,
nurture, grow, work hard, stand, fall, get back up, be you! It is all about creating balance
in every area of your life. Whether you are in the work force or work from home the
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challenge to have stability, peace and fulfillment is foremost. We can have it all, but first
YOU must determine what your „all‟ is. You must find energy, passion and contentment
in your lives as you seek to create balance.
       I recommend that you use this book wisely, share with your friends and strike up
meaningful and deep conversations with your loves ones. Consider this the beginning of
your lifelong project. Make it a journey to become happy and fulfilled. When you get
there, keep going or you will soon become stale again. Use the note sections and
exercise as a beginning and start to explore the magnitude of your being. You are
special, loved, powerful and resilient. Take that with you and know that we all have
areas in our lives that we can afford to change and become better with time. Curl up,
relax and enjoy! Some of your answers could very well be in the palm of your hands!
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                                      Chapter 1




      WORK IS NOT WORK WHEN YOU ARE HAVING
                                    FUN DOING IT!!


         Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time---Arnold Glasow


             Many times we choose careers that we believe will give us acceptance
      into today‟s society and satisfy our desire to feel more powerful, enable us to
      dress for success or just plain gives us more money to enjoy more things in life.
      Too often we find that absolutely none of those things truly satisfy us. Fulfillment
      comes from doing what you truly love to do and having fun doing it. In any
      interview process it is determined by way of a resume and the responses of the
      potential candidate if the position is a right fit for that certain individual, however
      only that person will know in the long run what will meet his or her desire to be
      content and feel valuable on the job.
      If you are sitting behind a mahogany desk, complete with leather swivel chair,
      gold tone phone, message taking pad and platinum pen holder, yet feel
      discouraged, frustrated, confused or overwhelmed with no time to laugh, then
      chances are you are sitting in the wrong chair.


      Know When to Walk Away


             Having fun is a state of mind. That is what I have always believed. If you
      no longer can get connected within that sphere, then it is fine time to take
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   inventory. You must be intent on seeking new direction. Maybe it is just that you
   have reached your full potential on the job. In other words you might have
   outgrown the position. Or there may not be enough room at the top within that
   particular company. In any event, you need to redirect your focus on what your
   priorities are and where you would like to be. Start to envision yourself five or
   ten years from now. What is your big picture? Where do you see yourself in
   terms of being fulfilled? What courses do you have to chart in order to get
   there? What do you want! Begin to see the people you want to have in your life,
   look at their faces, examine their strengths and determine a role for them in
   your life. You can make it happen. Remember that the people and circumstances
   in our lives are there for a particular reason. It is all about establishing your
   worth as a human being and finding that balance.


   Make Work, Work For You


          Kate tells me her story of     how she made her love for people work
   wonders for her career. “I have never felt like I worked a day in my life in order
   to make a living”, says Kate. She landed a high profile job as a Marketing
   Executive soon after graduating from college. Several years later Kate met and
   married her husband in a lavish ceremony on the island of Hawaii and soon after
   started a family. Five years and three children later she no longer found the time
   or passion to entertain family and friends on weekends or to spend quality time
   with her husband and children, ages two to seven. She became a prominent
   member of the local Chamber of Commerce, which was the perfect catalyst for
   the business she was. During that time she met some very impressive people in
   her community. Her travels and contacts abroad also became extensive and she
   soon found herself at a crossroad in making changes in her career path. After
   realizing how tired and worn out she had become, she started to contemplate
   several proposals that would enable her to have more time to do what she truly
   wanted.
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      Refrain From Fear


                Kate spent several months in discussions with her husband and both
      agreed that Kate should continue to have fun doing what she loved. The day had
      finally arrived for her meeting with her boss and like all of us fear began to creep
      in. The tone was relaxed as they had a tremendous working relationship and
      mutual respect for each other. Kate proposed cutting her hours and therefore
      her paycheck, which was received favorably by her boss. After a few weeks, that
      did not seem to be the answer to her problem, as that meant jamming her daily
      schedule with tasks, meetings and working in her office. She realized that she
      was giving in to fear by not wanting to come to a decisive conclusion. She
      brought in one half of the family‟s budget including a better medical plan for her
      family and thought that it was too risky to give it all up. Suddenly she listened to
      her inner voice and the yearning in her heart to be happy for her and for her
      family.
                The more you know what you want and the more consistent in
      communicating it, the more chances you have of attaining it. One pitfall we often
      get into is that others may not agree with our needs. What does it matter! We
      only have to live with our consciences and we are responsible for our own
      happiness. Women are schooled to be loyal to their jobs and superiors and to
      be giving in all circumstances. We have to break the tradition that equates
      fairness with the constant giving of ourselves.


      Take the Chance


                One week before her departure from her job, Kate attended a Chamber
      Luncheon. For the first time she looked around, smiled at her acquaintances with
      an assurance and thought how rewarding it would be to start her own marketing
      company from her home office. After all, the room was packed with all the
      resources and clients she needed to get started. She went home, very excited
      and relieved and discussed her idea with her family. They almost immediately
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   bought in. Her husband who is a web page designer did his part and the rest was
   left to her.
           It is important to build the right image at work and to network at all
   possible costs. Usually, the people we meet in our life‟s journey are the people
   who are placed in our path for a reason. Think deeper into how each encounter
   fits into our lives. There is no such thing as a „chance‟ meeting or „luck‟. It simply
   is following after what you were meant to do. You must emphasize your
   orientation towards what your work is and communicate that effectively. Reach
   out and grasp your destiny with all you‟ve got. If you lay back and miss the
   opportunity it may never come back again.


   Enjoy Life, Enjoy Work


           Now Kate and her family are enjoying a peace of mind, overwhelming
   financial success and are having lots of fun. She can afford the time and money to
   entertain her clients and prospects as well as family and friends. Her
   relationships at her former employer are strong and occasionally they meet for
   lunch. She can afford exotic vacation spots and fun family retreats. She has put
   herself above work, which has propelled her into a place she had not been in a
   long time. She realizes the equation of work = fun and it‟s so hard to separate
   the two if one is to find contentment in one‟s work. The independence that
   comes from being her own boss and the choice to grow and learn at her own
   speed is freeing.
           Having fun is doing what you love to do. You can certainly like your job
   or like staying at home but the real question is “Are you satisfied?” If the answer
   is no, then you need to continue reading this book. I am sure you will find out
   why by the time you are done reading. Do not be fooled into thinking that
   because Mary, your next door neighbor looks like she has it all together, then it
   must mean that you do not. All too often we judge other people‟s lives without
   knowing what their desires and failures are. We seek to compare ourselves with
   others which only make us less and feel unworthy. This is a big temptation that
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      women face and ultimately it contributes to our unhappiness and lack of balance
      in our lives. You must be positive that you love the life you have or that you are
      ready to give it your best shot.
              The quest to create balance and happiness in our lives may, to some of
      you seem eternal and unending. I am here to tell you that you can seek balance,
      pursue it, find it and live it for the rest of your lives. The following chapters will
      give you some insight into who you are and that you too can feel very deserving
      of your decisions, choices, success and happiness.
             We sometimes are afraid to accept the good things that come our way.
      Realize that whatever you have it was given to you, so be free to receive it. You
      may have worked very hard and got it, you may have been in the right place at
      the right time and got it, you may have sought after it for many years but you still
      got it. However you look at it, if you have it then you‟ve got it!


      Building Your Life


             Doubts and resentments are the things that keep our good from
      happening to us. We wage war against our goals when we live outside of
      ourselves. There is tremendous power in harnessing your vision and claiming
      your birthright. Building our lives takes effort, faith and wisdom in order to build
      it successfully. No matter how many years we have or have left and most of us
      do not have a clear idea of what that is, we ought to begin to make decisions
      that will positively affect the outcome. If you are raising children begin to teach
      them these basic fundamentals as well and enable them to make wise, health and
      financial choices and decisions.


      The Wise Ant


             “Mom, come quick, you have to see this! Hurry! Mom! Quick!” Those
      were the excited gushes from my children as they ran from the garage to the
      kitchen to get me. Their eyes lit up as they ran over to show me the trail of ants
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   marching in thousands, going in opposite directions. Shortly thereafter, we had
   downpours of rain.
           The parable of the ant is told in the Bible of how the ant gathers in the
   summer and stores up for the winter. We seldom look at an ant and think “Oh,
   how wise is he that crawls!” I can bet we hardly ever give them a second look
   much less to ponder their wisdom. Don‟t be fooled. The wisest creatures are
   usually the lowliest. Be humble, be wise. Give reverence to the time that you
   have to improve the quality of your life and to find your meaning and place on
   this earth. As the proverb says, “make hay while the sun shines”. Be cautious of
   the enemy of the state of your happiness. Her name is procrastination.
           You must have a plan for your life or else one will be made and given to
   you. Coming from a long ancestry of slaves, I can tell you that being forced to do
   something or to live a certain way, when you have no control over anything is
   the highway to. You can decide and make choices without apologies, so be
   thankful. Good intentions are wonderful, but will cost you your very life if you
   do not act upon them. Great dreams have been born of intention, but great
   legends have been made out of hard work and determination.


   Make Money


           Be innovative and creative. Go after the career you want and set financial
   goals accordingly. Be ethical and trustworthy and work hard. Whether you are
   your own boss or work for someone else, be disciplined and industrious. Always
   put your best foot forward. Use your talent, your ideas, and your expertise in
   order to add value to your job. The best will rise to the top and soon become
   invaluable. Be that person. In the meantime, you must enjoy your work and have
   balance in your life.
           If you are raising children, make every effort to teach them the value of
   hard work at school and discipline in their lives. The gifts we as parents can give
   our children will come back ten fold. Get a piggy bank and a bank savings
   account at an early age. Begin by letting them save up for larger purchases that
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      they may desire. Do not get them in the habit of getting everything that they see
      on the store shelves. Parents should say „no‟ and mean it, while taking the time
      to explain to children the reason behind it. Kids must begin to work for
      allowance or be creative in finding ways to be entrepreneurs.


      Save Money


             Women should have learned from an early age how to save money. As
      caretakers by nature we want to take care of ourselves as well as others and
      always must find a way to do so. It has always been my belief that even after
      getting married and having a family budget that I needed to have my own
      personal savings for incidentals and the likes. We have even been in financial
      situations where the use of my „little‟ savings account had come in quite handy.
             Women always think that somehow there is a rainy day and many have
      proven that to be true. Besides all that, I always wanted to feel free to treat
      myself, my family or friends with trinkets from „me‟. I enjoyed the occasional,
      sometimes frequent trips to the mall or out to dinner with just the „girls‟. If you
      have a sense of freedom financially you add morsels to your dish of happiness.
      After all, who doesn‟t like to be pampered once in a while!


      Give Money


             Be generous. Give at church, give to charities, and help the poor and
      needy. I believe that the more you have the more you should give. Even if you
      have little, you must find a way to give. I am not necessarily talking about money
      per se, as some may be on a very tight budget or may be in red financially. You
      can still find something to give. Make the time to volunteer, serve on
      organizations, visit the sick, encourage the broken-hearted, have your neighbor
      or friend over to dinner, share a smile, give a hug or feed the homeless. Giving
      equates to happiness and the feeling of serving and giving to others sustains a
      constant well of joy.
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          Of course, giving, monetarily or not is an investment in our selves. The
   returns are insurmountable. If you give little or none, then you will little or no
   returns. If you give generously, your cup will overflow.




    Personal Truth Exercise # One




 Where am I           Where do I            What are the          Are    they    a
   now?                   want to be in          things I enjoy        part of my
                          5 years?               daily?                everyday life?
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                                         Chapter 2


                            FOLLOW YOUR HEART

             The best investment is in the tools of one’s own trade---Benjamin Franklin




             Many years ago, I concluded that living from my center is more important
      than even working for a living and living for the moment. Understanding exactly
      what that meant took many years and days of searching, sometimes in the wrong
      places to find happiness. In my late teens and very early twenties, I made
      decisions that bred some painful memories, hurt feelings, and unhealthy
      relationships, which left me unhappy. Though I laughed a lot and thought I was
      having the time of my life, in hindsight, I was causing more pain and scars upon
      myself. I knew then that I was living in the moment for all it was worth and that
      the essence of time was invaluable then. I followed my heart or so I thought. Of
      more importance, we sometimes do what we want to do in terms of our feelings
      in the moment instead of digging deep, and finding out what our purpose in life is
      and living from the center of our being in all its glory.
             At the age of thirty-six, I believe I have evolved into a more wholesome
      individual. I dare not say I have arrived at all the answers, but one thing I know
      for sure now is that I have found peace from my center, from my heart, from the
      well into which all things flow. I am determined to protect that core, to filter out
      what may taint my well and to continue to discover my path and purpose. When
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   I wake up in the mornings, I no longer stare into space, instead I am thankful to
   hear the sound of my children‟s voice, to look into the face of my sleeping
   husband, to be grateful for my extended family and siblings, my parents, but most
   of all, for that which is unseen, yet felt in omniscience. I am thankful to be full, to
   become full of life, to be full of more love with each passing moment, to be full of
   compassion, to become fulfilled with realizing my dreams, to be filled with
   gratitude. Certainly, I am in good health, as I know it, I live in a beautiful new
   house in a great neighborhood. Every time I walk down the staircase, I feel like a
   new bride, in love for the first time.
       On the contrary, I could have allowed many factors to rob me of this
   wholeness, had I given in to fear. You see, being from the countryside in Jamaica,
   I never learned to swim. Even now at home, I would never venture to the deep
   end of my swimming pool. I have had many, many years to allow fear to settle in.
   In fact, I gave her residence and even an email address in my mind when it comes
   to swimming. Now I am learning to swim and embrace the water. Some of you
   may be like that in the sense that one or many traumatic experiences have
   stopped us from letting go and moving on. We must have mastery over fear.
   Take a moment and write down the things that make you terrified. Your list may
   end up looking a little like this:


          Success
          Failure
          Falling in love
          Loving
          Putting on or losing weight
          Not being accepted
          Happiness and what to do with it


       Go ahead and venture out into the deep end of life, take chances, do not
   just wade in the shallow end of the water. Know what your peace is and seek it,
   pursue it as it will not find you, you must find it! You are not alone. If this makes
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       you feel better, remember that the scripture says that no temptation has seized
       us except that which is common to man. I repeat! You are not alone! I would
       bet that if I were to conduct a survey 99.9% of you would have at least one of
       those fears in common. That is why I truly believe that we need each other.
       Here are some suggestions on how to connect or reconnect with your center.



   The Gibson’s Story


      When their finances took a downward turn, the Gibson‟s decided that the move
   from Boston to Atlanta was a chance they were willing to take. All they had was a
   shared dream and desire to rebuild their lives. After serving in the ministry for many
   years, and was accustomed to having flexibility they became uncertain of the impact
   their move might have. As a young couple, they were also desperately trying to have
   another child after the doctors assured them that it was impossible to conceive
   again. They eventually took a step and packed up their family and meager belongings.
             One thing was for sure they had each other‟s interests and shared a
   common goal. Wesley was a dynamite chef, working at some of the top restaurants
   and his passion for turning any food into a masterpiece was the delight of his wife
   Kim, as she enjoyed savoring his decadent work. He constantly got kudos for his
   meals. Kim was talented at organizing and a very bright social butterfly. When they
   struck up the idea of being business partners, they tried their hands at making
   gourmet meals at home and brining to their neighbors. Soon word caught on and
   Kim was mastering her sales and marketing techniques. By this time, they had their
   miraculous second child, bought a new home and their parents began to invest in
   the business, and Wes is getting ready to graduate from the prestigious culinary
   school, Le Cordon Bleu. Today, Scrumptious Meals and More have taken flight. It
   has become a growing, profitable company, serving meals and planning events in and
   around Atlanta, Georgia. They both can afford the luxury and privilege of being
   home to raise a family and enjoy financial freedom complete with some of the things
   they longed for.
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   Truthfully, had they not followed their heart and dreams they would not be
where they are now! It is safe to say that in order to follow your path you must
identify what your purpose is driving you to do. Success is evident in those who
listen to their heart. In other words, follow your gut, release the fear from your
core, and reap the rewards.


   You Must Release


          In this age, we all have access to someone else, whether by telephone,
   internet or email, or in-person. That „someone‟ must be someone you have
   decided to trust. That is a big decision, which first takes letting go and allowing
   someone into your space. Many of us find this kind of release in local or even
   international support groups. You must first identify the area or root of your
   fear, sometimes by looking deeply at the result of your life. Have you been
   depressed and overeating? Have you lost the desire to communicate with
   others and stay in bed all day? Have you been afraid to go after your purpose
   after you have found it? The first and biggest step is to identify and release your
   heart to others. There are many resources in our local libraries and
   communities, on the internet, in our churches or other groups and even in
   some of our friendships. Take the time to find that person or group.
   Communicate your fears and desires and be consistent.


   You Must Relax


          Relaxation is a wonderful technique therapist use! I have not been to one
   personally, but I do know that it sure is therapeutic. It releases negative energy
   and gives a sense of momentary sustained peace. That sentence alone already
   makes me feel relaxed! First, you must make the time to relax. Notice I did not
   say „find the time‟. Time is never lost if we discipline ourselves to make good
   use of it. Schedule the time to relax in your daily life. Sometimes even ten
   minutes is sufficient to pull through the day. Personally, I have found that mid-
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       mornings and Sunday evenings rejuvenate me. It is important to breathe in life
       and expel anxiety, stress, anger, frustration, envy, and turmoil.
              At the young age of three, our older son Samuel was learning how to
       relax and breathe when he is upset, anxious or angry. Usually my husband would
       get down to eye level, hold his shoulders gently and just say the word, „relax‟. By
       the second breath, Sam is already smiling and feeling better. It is important to
       learn to let go quickly, and so release destructive energy before it festers and
       cause worse damage in our hearts and lives. When we relax, it is important to
       be certain your mind is not burdened with worry or anxieties. This can be
       challenging if your center is full. Be sure to release that energy in order to
       facilitate relaxation. This may be hard to do at first, but remember that relaxing
       is a learned behavior, a mind-set and a commitment. You have to tell yourself
       that you must relax and honor the time you have set aside to do this.
              Some healing can permanently come through this art if practiced over
       time. Many revelations will come about during this time. Make the times longer
       and longer if possible. Soon you will realize that once you begin to filter out
       many ills, you will see that many concerns are unimportant and this will free up
       your mind to add goodness. Find what is important to you.
              You need to take the time to get a massage, to walk on the beach, to sit
       under a tree, to listen to the wind beneath the trees, to lay on your back in a
       quiet corner in the park, to practice breathing slowly, to read a novel, to smile
       at your children or loved one, to smile some more just because, to walk the
       dog, to avoid driving in the city, to drive with your windows down and be still.
       However you relax, just relax often. You have to be still to listen to your heart.


       You Must Renew


              I am sure that some great revelations and insights will come from times
       of relaxation. More important it is imperative to renew your mind. You have
       gone through your day at work, picked up the children, made dinner, cleaned up
       for the night, put the kids to bed, made time to relax, now what? Before you
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   crash into bed, rekindle the energy (not physically) to refill your center by
   renewing. You must add kind thoughts and deeds, and think about how you will
   have an impact on other people‟s lives the next morning. Stay away from
   thinking about „working‟ at work, home or elsewhere. Instead, consider upon
   what is lovely, pure, honorable, wholesome, and necessary to move yours and
   the lives of others. If we fail to renew daily, we wake up the next day feeling
   burned out and with no direction or drive. Coffee is a drink, not a solution.
   Think about it! We transform by renewing our minds.


   You Must Be Revived


          Beginning to live again and follow your heart is what revival is all about. It
   simply implies to put life „back into.‟ This process is not magical, nor is it short-
   termed. Some people have more deep- rooted issues and complicated lives and
   need the help of professionals, however, most of us can begin to practice
   releasing, relaxing, renewing and reviving our lives. Following your heart is more
   than about dreams and aspirations, it is about understanding your core, getting
   it clean, healthy and refueled, and attacking life with a passion and purpose.
   Only you know what you were meant for! It is in you. You are created for it!
   You must find it. Many of us will agree that as women, we have the world on
   our shoulders, literally. We are looked upon to nurture, to grow, to change and
   to be. To be strong, passionate, resilient, to be the center for everyone and
   everything. Without your center, the peripheral crumbles sooner, or later. Our
   core is what holds us together so be careful to treat it with care.
          Begin to live your dreams.


   Has It Clicked Yet?


          If you are going about your business pursuing dreams and it still has not
   clicked then be prepared to have the door locked for a long time. It will be very
   clear to you if you are going in the right direction of where your dreams lie.
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       Take a long hard look at your life. You could be one of those women who are
       satisfied and are living their dream or you could be in a haze about what
       direction you want to go. Notice a lock and key combination. They have
       opposing groves but each indentation serves to fit the other exactly. If you have
       the wrong key it just will not fit, however if it is the right key, once you turn it
       clicks and only then can you have access to where you needed to be. The same
       is true of our lives. Examine carefully your combination and see if you are
       making the ups and downs in your life serve to give you access into where you
       want to be. Make sure you complete the following exercise before you move
       on.




        Personal Truth Exercise # 2




             1. What is the one greatest fear that holds you back?
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________


             2. List your top three personal goals.


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
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_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
         3. What are your professional goals?


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
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                                         Chapter 3




                              SETTING PRIORITIES

      When our efforts are, or are not favored in life, let us be able to say when we come the
                       great goal, “I have done what I could”---Louis Pasteur




             Many of us sincerely struggle with determining what is most important to
      us in our lives. Having little control over the next day, we must decide to live
      each day as it is our last. No, I do not mean all of a sudden tomorrow you get
      out of bed and cram every dream into one day, book all the vacations you can
      and sing all your favorite songs at the top of your lungs. That may not be such a
      bad idea, if you can begin that way and put in order of importance what you
      would like to accomplish. Here‟s what I mean, STOP resisting what you know
      you want to do. Procrastination is the death of dreams and ultimately success.
      Being paralyzed or haunted by fear is quite possible when we procrastinate or
      refuse to prioritize. Ultimately making decisions is an organized process with the
      timeliness of important issues. While I will talk more about taking leaps of faith
      later, let me begin here.


      You Must Begin With Prayer or Meditation
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      Before I took time off from my secular job, I would make the utmost of my
   seventy-five minute drive to work. Having to get our five year old son, Samuel to
   school, drop off my two year old son, Jacob at my mother‟s and get on the
   freeway on a timely manner, barring any traffic mishaps, I desperately needed to
   pray. Prayer for me meant discipline on a daily basis. I needed it to survive, to
   smile, to give, to drive, to just breathe deeply. I needed it to play, to prepare
   dinner (time allowing a sit down event!), to follow up on the days events with my
   family and the energy to have intimacy with my husband.
      I would not always make the time to just sit, but relied on the two and one
   half hours per day that I could not do anything but sit, yes, sit at the steering
   wheel with the radio off and the windows up and be still. In fact the revival of my
   dream to write a book came to me in one of those very moments. When I was
   in the throws of deciding whether to take a cut in pay and hours or take time off
   to focus on my family and my writing, I needed to pray. It is important to be
   assertive and habitual in order to create the synergy and energy that comes from
   prayer. I will share with you how I get time, mostly beginning my day with prayer
   and meditation that are practical and rewarding.


         Make the most of your alarm clock. Set it as a time to pray, versus a time
          to wake up.
         Turn off the TV when you get on your treadmill. It is better to listen to
          motivational speakers or classical music.
         Use your morning commute before tuning in to the news or your
          favorite radio station.
         Make the most of morning family times as a time to bond through prayer.
         Pray or sit in mediation with your spouse or loved ones.
         Bath times are sacred, just add candles and a dash of prayer or just sing in
          the shower!
         Silence is golden, even just a few moments. Take the time to breathe.
         The „Al Bundy‟ tip- use the time in the bathroom. No one will disturb!
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             Take your walks and make them your walk with God.
             Can‟t find how or what to pray. Take a look around and dig deeper.


          We all have differing beliefs on what our higher power is. One thing most of
      us agree on is that there IS a Higher Power, so why not get in touch with it. We
      can find ways of speaking to that which is Greater than ourselves but it takes
      more than that to truly communicate and get the heart it takes to realize our
      dreams, calling, potential or whatever you may call it.
          Prayer walks for me have been very life changing. I recall a time in my life
      when I was overwhelmed, unhappy, dazed and confused. I met my husband at
      church and within nine months we were married. We had a less than fun
      honeymoon as we became intimate for the first time and did not have a chance
      to know each other very well emotionally or otherwise before the wedding. We
      knew undoubtedly that we were in love but nothing really prepared us for
      marriage. Although we enjoyed being together we hardly knew how to
      communicate about bigger issues that we faced or would face. Only five months
      later we were expecting our first son and that meant motherhood and all the
      changing hormones on top of my confusion and disillusionment about what
      marriage was all about. I sent and received mixed messages constantly, not
      knowing what my husband expected or what was expected of me. My biggest
      mistake was just that- other people‟s expectations. Nothing told me at the time
      that I needed to have my own goals and expectations as a new wife and mother
      and measure to those standards which I had set. I needed to discover who I was
      and what I wanted from my marriage. A few weeks after the birth of our son I
      began to feel more confused and unfulfilled. I loved having a new baby, I
      constantly gushed over him and loved being his mom, but still I was lost in the
      translation.
              Suddenly I looked in the mirror and realized I had been eating my sadness
      while putting on a happy face because that was what others wanted to see me as
      or so I thought. I did not even realize that I was out of control, ballooning up to
      238 pounds. I began my search for the deeper meaning into what I was here for
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   and what I needed to make me happy. I took daily walks for up to two hours at
   the beach, and as my speed increased so I began to shed those pounds. In five
   months I lost almost ninety pound as an added bonus, but most importantly my
   purpose and dreams in life began to unfold. I had to go way back, as far back as I
   could remember, digging into what I was like as a child and begin to understand
   that no matter what I was determined to be happy. That decision came about
   five years ago and I live by that everyday. In fact I share that one very valuable
   piece if insight with my friends to always be determined to find your happiness.
   Because I matter to me now and because I have sought peace, I can exude that
   into my everyday life.
           Seeking after what is important to you is the difference between joy and
   pain. Putting yourself last can sometimes mean that you are never in the picture.
   Your life could be so full of other people and their needs, activities, must do
   events, daily chores and tasks that you forget to, or rather do not have the time
   to take care of you. Being a giver means being able to give of your self, but your
   loved ones and co workers would rather have a live person than a dead body.
   The conclusion of this matter of prayer is that we need an energy source. I have
   found that it is not automatic it takes work to get there.


   Surrender and Let Go


       Control only what you can control. It is important to follow the path you
   have outlined for your day and your life however our greatest disappointments
   come when we have not surrendered. Simply put it means to relinquish the
   power to that which lives within, your heart, your gut, your will and be sold out
   to making it work for you. It means to not be anxious, depressed, moody, and
   out of control or crisis- driven. The opposite of that is finding PEACE, which
   comes through letting go or surrender. Now you are on your way to the
   practical!


          Create your space with pen and paper in a consistent place.
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                Scribe your things you want to do today, this week, this month, this year,
                 this lifetime.
                Talk about your dreams only with other dreamers, avoid doubters.
                If there is no one to share them with, then pray some more.
                Find a safe place to store your thoughts, your heart could be one, but be
                 sure to keep only happiness there.
                Remain positive especially in adverse situations. They usually are the
                 stepping stones and building blocks we need to move on and to build.


          When letting go, take the chance and be creative. Feel the freedom to
      physically mark off your paper what you do not need to have or do. You can
      even create a chart of all the things that consume your time in a week and begin
      by eliminating them. Borrow the concept from some of the reality shows and
      narrow down your priority, you may need to „fire‟ some things permanently. Be
      creative with your dreams, take it to the limit. Without fail, be open to being re-
      directed as you grow. Your dreams may change but your purpose should remain
      in tact.


      Stay In Touch With Positive Energy


                 Positive energy comes from deep surrender. However, some external
      forces can intercede and cause us to give up or give in to negative thoughts. We
      have some control over the relationships we choose and the people we choose
      to surround ourselves with. This includes, but is not limited to family members,
      co-workers, friends, choice of television or radio shows and personalities and so
      on. Be your own decision maker without differing to using others as a smoke
      screen and a way of feeling good about failures or broken goals. Avoid getting
      into a rut especially if you have a track record of procrastinating.
                 Staying focused takes positive energy. It is difficult to remain       in a
      constant state of utopia and lucky for us we were not created that way. How
      boring and lackluster our lives would be if we focused on everything external and
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   never have any interpersonal projects to work on? Honing in on sustaining a
   positive energy force also means eating healthy, regular exercise, getting six to
   eight hours of sleep, annual health check-ups and/ or screenings, maintaining
   healthy friendships, spending quality time with loved ones, taking vacations or
   weekend getaways, and living from your center.
          Laughter by far is priceless and is one of the greatest energy boosters. If
   you learn to laugh out loud, uninhibited and unabashed and do so often you will
   find the healing powers of letting go. One of the greatest energy forces is the
   ability to laugh and smile at adverse situations. I do not condone taking matters
   that are of importance to others and making light of it, but you have the power
   to release your own energy source by choosing how you will deal with the
   circumstances which affect you. Choose your friends and circle of influence
   wisely. This very important decision will be a major factor in helping to
   determine your future, your success, your outlook and even your fulfillment in
   life. Be careful to avoid time wasters and dream snatchers. You have to surround
   yourself with people you know will play an important role in building and shading
   in the areas of your lives that will complete your bigger picture.


   Everything Is Permissible, but Not Everything Is Beneficial


          It is necessary to determine what your goals and priorities are and write
   them down. You must understand however that not everything is beneficial to
   what you have determined your big picture to be. First, be cognizant of the fact
   that you must not try to mirror someone else‟s life as each person has their own
   values and personality. What works for one will not work for the other. Yes, the
   outcomes may be the same but no two people attack a problem the very same
   way, neither do we go after our dreams the exact way. Do not envy your
   neighbor as you never get the chance to live inside their mind and may not have
   a clue how they arrive at the outcome. I am not saying that the art of success
   can not be imitated but be prepared to apply your own self to each cause. Be
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      sure to add your own individual touch your own values and your own desire.
      For it is only one‟s desire that breeds true success and ultimately true happiness.


      End with Your Beginning In Mind


             You must end with your beginning in mind. I am talking about YOUR
      beginning, where you started with your first breath of life. It is important to
      recognize where you come from in order to know where you are going even on
      a daily basis. Keep in mind that you are a child of God, created in His image and
      that the events that occur in our lives are so that you can be brought to fruition.
      You have a purpose. Claiming that and living as if you know it is vital. Setting the
      stage for what you will worry about or not is a large part of making choices in
      setting priorities. I‟ll tell you the story of Nancy (not her real name to protect
      her privacy), a woman I met many years ago.
             Nancy is the daughter of an immigrant family who moved to the United
      States many years ago. Her estranged relationship with her mother and father,
      who never married, had taken a toll on her perception of family, trust and love.
      As a young teenager, she found herself homeless, lonely and scarred by years of
      mental, physical and sexual abuse. She remembered that as a child she would
      frequently go to church with her grandmother and younger brother. Her only
      refuge was a tattered bible she found left on the choir bench without a name,
      except for the words „I am a child of a King‟. She would hum and sing many
      Psalms and hymns and she kept a journal of her thoughts and pain. Nancy
      cherished those words everyday, as hard as it was at times to believe. She never
      thought that a „special girl‟ would be homeless, disillusioned, lonely and uncared
      for. In her eyes she had a faint spark, somewhat as if dying to burst into flames.
      She began to be remised about her plight when at the age of seventeen she was
      invited to a motivational spiritual group talk. After many months she began to
      chip at the mountain which was her almost non-existent relationship with her
      mother and began to heal. She never let go of the words in that Bible which had
      special meaning to her. She joined the Church choir and before long her voice
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   rang beyond anyone‟s wildest imaginations. She started to study music, write
   songs and perform at many concerts and events. Today she is a song writer,
   recording artist and an upcoming talent in the entertainment industry.
          You see, Nancy, remembered and used her life‟s struggles to share with
   the world and other women who are struggling with some of the things she did.
   Her battle continues to fight off depression through therapy, but she has kept
   her eye on her priorities and purpose and that is to live from her center, to set
   goals, to master her nightmares and realize her dream. She remains determined
   to pray, surrender, stay in touch with positive energy, to do what is beneficial
   and to remember her beginning.
          Setting priorities is not about checking off a list of „things to do‟, it is
   determining where you, as an individual will begin. What will you deem to be of
   first importance in your life? You must have a clear and present focus on that
   target and plan your life based on what you see to be the outcome. Of course,
   daily planning is essential. After all, that is how we chip at our smaller and bigger
   goals in life. It is the consistent, daily convictions that keeps us strong as women
   and help us to be more grounded.
          Do not forget your daily priorities, because in so doing you may very well
   miss the target. Remember, balance and wholeness is what you are trying to
   achieve.




                           Personal Truth Exercise # 3




   The diagram below gives a very simple flow of how you can proceed with getting
   stronger and closer to your ultimate goal. Keep in mind that goals do not always
   have to be tangible. Seek to go deeper at all times and soon you will realize that
   it is the spiritual and emotional aspects of our self that need the most care and
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      attention. Set goals that will both balance your inner self and your outer
      surroundings or your life.
             Draw a chart, similar to this one and fill in the circles as it applies to you
      or as you would want it to apply to you. Have fun! Go back every three or four
      months and see if there are any changes. Note what they are and how your life
      and perspective may have changed.




                                              What are
                                                your
                                              priorities
                                                daily,
                                              annually?




                                              The Big
                                              Picture!
                                              What you
                                              desire to
                                             accomplish
                  Stop to                                                   What is
                analyze and                                               your source
                 measure                                                  of strength!
                your results
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                                     Chapter 4


                                LIFE LESSONS

           The greatest mistake is to imagine that we never err---Thomas Carlyle




          We are all inspired and affected by life lessons. Whether we observe
   others or have personal experiences, the lessons taught by life can overshadow
   the risks we are willing to take. Likewise we have to be careful of the kind of
   impact we make on others, including our children. What we deem to be
   unimportant to us may be the very example that someone else may see as
   notable. Many women may have a need to work outside the home. We must be
   careful to skillfully teach and impact our children with our lives. When they see
   us harried during rush hour or too busy to talk about their day at school we are
   imparting to them that life is frustrating and crazy. Work at being calm and slow
   down enough to listen. In order to teach balance and recreate the cycle we must
   indeed be balanced.
          Balance is more than making a schedule of events and activities and
   carving out time to accomplish tasks. It is working from the center and being at a
   place of peace and contentment in our lives. If you were hoping for a typical „self-
   help‟ book then you may be a little disappointed by now. I am sure you have a
   general idea of how to plan and make a schedule. You may even know exactly
   what you want and how to get there. If not, there are several resources to help
   you to do that. What we may need help with is balancing our center, our lives,
   our spirit. If you are one of the mothers or fathers who work from nine to five
   you may even resent the notion.
          Like you, I know the perils that come from trying to balance a schedule
   from the time you get off work to the time you go to bed and the time you get
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      up in the morning to the time you leave work. You may have clients to visit, or
      customers that you are in contact with, meetings with supervisors, deals to
      make, papers to sign, telephone calls to take and make, emails to answer,
      projects to implement, and so much more. This all could take place in the course
      of your eight to fourteen hour day at work. What time do you give to your
      family or better yet, what energy do you have to give to them? Now you see the
      importance of balancing from within.


      Develop a State Of The Art Filtration System


      It is not necessary or even healthy to take everything in. The other day my sink
      disposal system failed and I had backed up food and water in it for a few days.
      The advantage of having a dual sink is that I could chose to not utilize that sink,
      bit use the sink filtration gadget on the other side and even my colander. I even
      tried to clear the drain by hand but it did not work as well. Sometimes we find
      ourselves being the disposal system in our families and even with our friends.
      We decide to take everything in and when our power source is off or our
      „system‟ is broken by sickness, lack of mental and physical energy, heartbreak or
      discontentment, we get backed up and begin to „stink up the joint‟.
             By not taking care of ourselves, we are displaying the ultimate in
      selfishness and those around us cannot stand the stench. We must begin to
      develop a state of the art filtration system. You could decide to get fancy or use
      the older but tried and true filtration cloth. Either way you must have a system
      to eradicate unnecessary „garbage‟ from entering your system.




      Schedule in Order of Importance


             Creating a schedule is recommended as one way of filtering out
      unnecessary tasks or at least prioritizing them. You may even find that you are
      deleting quite a few things as you go along or at least „killing two birds with one
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   stone‟. In other words some of our tasks or appointments can be done
   simultaneously. When you set out to prepare your weekly or daily schedule or
   things to do list, see how well you can consolidate the tasks and minimize the
   effort and eventually cut down on the amount of time you spend getting things
   accomplished.
          Be aware that you have other people in your life as well. Determine who
   can help with what and communicate your requests effectively and in a timely
   manner. Women can easily have a feeling of being overwhelmed because we
   sometimes find it hard to communicate our needs especially if we feel the sole
   responsibility of making things happen. In the same way we can deceive ourselves
   into believing that we are doing just fine, when all the while we are literally falling
   apart. You should know that people are waiting to be used so ask for the help
   you need without feeling like a burden. Your possibilities are endless.


   Find a Mentor


          Let me introduce an interesting concept called „mentoring‟. Reaching out
   to someone who you admire in terms of accomplishments, modus operandi, or
   attitude is highly recommended. All too often we think of mentors only at work.
   Find someone you want for a mentor and reach out to him or her. Be willing to
   let them know that they have the important role as being an inspiration in your
   life. Communicate your dreams and be sure to make special time to get
   together. Sometimes friends can be mentors. In fact some of us have friends who
   play that very significant role in our lives. A mentor can also be a buffer for your
   problems and hurts when you need someone to talk to. As mothers, lovers and
   friends we have the need to share personal issues and gain insight into how to
   deal with them. If you are in the work force it is a must to have a mentor in
   order to survive corporate America. As they say, it is almost always about the
   name in the room when it comes to promotions and recognition. Make sure that
   the individual shares common strengths and their area of expertise lie in the area
   that you need help in the most.
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             Even our children look to us as mentors. If they cannot find it in you their
      young impressionable minds might lean towards unhealthy relationships. As they
      begin to mature they need to be encouraged to develop mentoring relationships.
      Teachers sometimes make the best mentors and as mothers we are first and
      foremost our children‟s biggest teachers.
             Mentors can and will change as we make changes in the different stages of
      our lives. Even if you relocate to another country, be careful to build upon the
      things you have learned along the way and make every effort to keep in contact.
      I was introduced to the concept of mentoring as a senior sales representative at
      one of my employers. One of the single most influential persons who
      encouraged me to take on the challenge of becoming an Assistant Vice President
      in Branch Banking at Fleet Boston Financial and helped me find something bigger
      within me is now the President of Community Banking, reporting directly to the
      CEO of Bank of America. When I started out as a management trainee, Mr.
      Torrance Childs, one of my mentors, sat me down at lunch and said one of the
      most profound and unforgettable words to me that has rung true in every
      decision I have made thereafter. “It is better to take the chance and make
      mistakes, than never to venture at all. After all you can always apologize”, he
      said. Those words have rung so true to me and I share them as I go. I still take
      the time to stay in touch and even seek advice in making big career moves.
      Dream big, find your passion, balance your life, succeed and be happy. Take a
      chance, but be true to yourself.



      People Live What They Learn




             Are you prepared to teach the things you have learned? All of us have the
      legacy of life. How you decide to use the lessons that you have been taught are
      up to you. If you are seeking to be deeper and to recall your life lessons then
      begin by asking yourself what have you learned. Take all or as many experiences
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      you have had and write them down as they come to you. After you have listed
      them, you may need several sheets of paper or a notebook, ask the same
      question, “What have I learned?” You will realize that you have many lessons
      that you can teach and many things to say.
             Mothers especially have the daunting challenge of teaching and training.
      For a child responsibility is not something they automatically learn. As part of
      preparing a young child for coping and having balance we have to be able to
      teach responsibility. The simplest tasks can be put into motion by being
      consistent and focused on the behavior.
             Be a good teacher.


                Personal Truth # 4




In the grid below, list ten people who have made a major impact in your life. In a
nutshell, say what lesson(s) you have learned and whether it was a positive or negative
experience. What was the outcome from the encounter?
      You may need to do this exercise in your journal. Use the table as a guide.
Examine how you are making an impact on others in your life. Are you prone to repeat
similar experiences you had, be it good or bad?
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Name            of Life                  Experience P/N          Outcome/Result
Individual          Lesson/Impact
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                                 Chapter 5


                         CHANGING TIMES




   Every morning Sweeney would get out of bed before the cock crowed and get
dressed. Her attire was uniform-like with a faded Polo shirt her Auntie Myrtle
brought from England a few years ago and a pair of semi-worn khaki shorts that
could have very well been a hand-me-down or the luck of the draw from the church
rummage. Her short hair was sometimes pressed with a hot comb and sometimes
curled with rolled up newspaper. She would rub coconut oil on her arms and legs to
either act as sunscreen, moisturizer or some expensive beauty product. Proudly, she
rocked her slender, yet shapely hips down the hill and over again through the bushes
where she began her morning ritual. Those two hours slightly before daylight were
sacred to her, it was her time. She could not read very well but she‟d open her bible
to her favorite Psalm. Not sure if she recited or read it, but she knew it inside out.
She soon joined in with soulful singing as she confidently strutted down the hillside
to gather sticks, bark and tree trunk wood for making up her „wood stove‟. She
would gather enough to cook the day‟s meals, which began with a simmering pot of
cornmeal porridge made with fresh goat or cow‟s milk and brown cane sugar and
grated corn. The nutmeg and coconut were freshly grated which sent a waft of
welcome to the already hot and dry morning. A steaming bowl of porridge could
hold her until lunchtime. In the meantime she would walk to Miss Dell‟s house to
work. She was the „helper‟ when Miss Dell had to go and run the family
neighborhood shop. She sold everything from salt meat to deodorant to delicious
honey-drenched homemade sugar buns from a neighbor.
    Sweeney‟s work day was from nine in the morning to two in the evening. She
would hand wash clothes for Miss Dell‟s family and would sometimes bring her own
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   if she ran out of soap at her house. If the public water was shut off she had to
   transport several pans and buckets of water from the stand pipe, balancing them on
   the top of her head with the help of a rolled up piece of cloth that was shaped into a
   circle. She had great strength in a body that was barely one hundred and twenty five
   pounds. She would cook lunch and dinner for the family, this time on a propane gas
   stove inside. Sometimes Miss Dell would allow her to take food home for her family.
   Cleaning was a part of her job. She enjoyed working for Miss Dell. You could tell, as
   she never complained one bit. They were like friends. She would on occasion talk to
   her about some of her hardships and even crack a few „old time‟ jokes. The way she
   mastered every direction of the dried coconut brush as she rubbed back and forth
   and in each direction that she had previously polished with the lard-like floor wax
   was almost like an art form. There was never a wood floor in the neighborhood with
   such sparkling shine.
        Everyday she would put out a line full of clothes and bed linen. Scrubbing
   relentlessly on the washboard, using blue Cannon soap to get the dirt out, she would
   ease up to wipe her brow. She had to do the washing outside by the pipe. Just as
   well, because she needed the big rock by the side of the flowers garden to double as
   her resting stool and for sun-bleaching the white shirts and blouses the children
   wore for their school uniform.
       After her big lunch of fried pork, dumplings, roast corn and lemonade she would
   start dinner until Miss Dell came home. She made enough lunch to take home with
   her in a covered butter pan. She would spend the next thirty minutes talking and
   laughing with her employer and catching up on the day‟s news and latest gossip. Only
   then would she make the twenty minute journey home by foot. She timed her day to
   get home just in time before her younger sister made it home from school. Skipping
   and playing hop scotch along the way her sister would be happy to see her. Not just
   because she was sure she would get a „good‟ dinner, but because she wanted to read
   to Sweeney and teach her what she learnt that day at school. At sixteen, Sweeny had
   lived a lot of life.
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Cultural Differences


    The story you just read is not fiction. I was privileged to have a first hand look
and a true lesson of what some women in my lifetime still go through. It is not
uncommon for me to go back home to Jamaica or visit other places where this
lifestyle is still very prevalent. Is this a bad thing? Are we supposed to feel sadness
and express outrage at this? Our focus needs to be on how we can be different and
still accept other cultural differences. We get so caught up in western civilization and
women‟s rights and liberations that we take lightly some of the struggles in differing
cultures.
    The most important thing is that we decide to be happy in our situations. Our
circumstances only should dictate a small portion of our level of joy and
contentment. The larger portion should lie in our choice and decision to be content
in all situations. We should consider it pure joy when we face hardships. They are
but another lesson in our book of life.
    I have seen how we have been spoiled in America and still have been less than
grateful for the opportunities we have to make choices in literacy, rights, education
and lifestyles. If you have not visited a third world country, I encourage you to do so.
If you have been to one then I encourage you to revisit. This time, not for the
enjoyment of the resorts, or to relish the servitude of the people, or even to sight
see. Be committed that you will take the time to live among the people even for a
few hours, to ask questions, to watch their expressions, to learn and to grow. The
women I have met in such places have been the biggest teachers in life that I have
met. I am sobered yet grateful for the road less traveled. I am convinced that
making choices for one‟s own self and holding on to your dreams is one of the single
most rewarding things a woman can do.
    Beg to differ from „the‟ culture and venture to cultivate your own by your own
beliefs. As women we can make great impact in our communities and the world.
Some of the greatest women, who have become the greatest influences in our
world, come from humble beginnings. We must realize that we live in a rich world
full of women and men who add to the wealth of nations with their lives. If we can
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   learn to balance the opportunities provided in the „western civilization‟ and
   understand what is more important to finding true happiness and fulfillment then you
   will begin to soar with the wind that is your freedom.

   Behavior Modification


      From time to time we need to modify our behavior based upon how we grow
   and change. When our circumstances change we ought to change our thinking and
   behavior to some degree to be in line and therefore enable us to have balance. If you
   have a sudden change in your financial status then you may need to rework your
   budget and cut out a few things. You may not afford to shop as much, nor as a pass
   time, neither might you be able to eat out everyday. You may need to carpool,
   which could change your schedule and so on. If you fight against modifying your
   behavior, you may find that it becomes strenuous to balance your life and could
   possibly fail at it. Be flexible. You need to be resilient and organized enough that you
   can rearrange your schedule without losing your mind. You need to view your
   behavior as a byproduct of your choices or circumstances. Modifying your behavior
   does not mean that you change who you are. The way you behave or handle
   differences and challenges will determine who you truly are. Behavior is a building
   block of character and character is a building block of behavior. While behavior is
   temporary, character lasts a lifetime. We have to be careful how we behave. If you
   are consistent in a certain behavior chances are it will become or already has
   become the nature of your character.


   Identify Who You Are


      I am going to take a look at some of the categories, we as women can fall into, in
   terms of the type of personalities and characteristics we possess. Please do not get
   upset if your uniqueness is not described in the next paragraphs. Have fun with this,
   but be open to find your true self between the lines. Your exercise after this is to
   write down some of the traits that you can identify with. There are several studies
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and results that have been professionally produced in case you need to go deeper
still. If there was a casting call for you as a woman to play a role which one of the
following would you be inclined to try out for.


The Earth Mother


   Her center exudes the dire love for her home and family. She seeks out and
finds all the things which pertain to building up her family and balancing her home
life. Her favorite television shows are those which go to length about food, whether
how to make exquisite meals, low-carbohydrate delicacies, or how to select the best
recipes for a dinner party. She is „mother‟ to all, even strangers. She is into health,
nutrition, scheduling and baking. She loves to work from and at home. She relishes
time spent nurturing her family and having fun. She packs the family SUV like
clockwork with soccer and other sports paraphernalia. She loves to „hover‟ over
everyone. She is a giver and caretaker of everyone. She never misses a friend or
family special occasion and is always the one to bring homemade pie. She visits with
and welcomes her neighbors and hardly is into her own looks. Her exercise routine
is just that, routine. She does it to have enough energy to give, but not because she
loves it. She is usually humble and a great teacher. She thinks her place in the
universe is to hold it together. She maintains strong values because others look to
her. She is tireless and timeless. She must have balance.


Bad Mamma Jamma


   Be aware, be very aware. She is overly confident about her looks, health and
body. She is comfortable with her sexuality and choices. She is a „shop till you drop‟
poster girl. She loves to accent her best features by choosing feminine clothes and
moderate makeup and could even run a marathon in high heels. She delights in the
companionship of males. She could be married, but may need to hire „good‟ help. She
never stays home and may not care to entertain at her house. She is the life of any
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   party. She could possess other noble qualities but prefers to disguise her softer side
   since she lives for others to uphold her image. She needs balance.


   Amazon Woman


      She has a very independent spirit and might have grown up during harder times.
   She gained life experiences at an early age or may not have been sheltered. She
   usually is very educated and intelligent. She loves to compete, especially in
   challenging careers. She is the only or one of the few women at the conference table
   and is a big decision maker. She is the tycoon. She enjoys her career and pays for her
   own meals and drinks, even for others. She likes being home to take a load off but is
   ready to get back out there and compete and win. An achiever and performer by
   nature she does not settle in relationships or other things and may be single for a
   long while. Married Amazons have a hard time with a less than performance driven
   spouse and may even dictate when she is ready or willing to have children. She
   should crave balance.


   The Madonna


      The Madonna could portray an upright „holier than thou‟ image and could very
   well be deceiving her self and others. She sees herself as perfect and only gets
   involved with church and religious activities and conversations. She dislikes watching
   television for fear of being „worldly‟ and believes that the music and culture of today
   is certainly not like the Bible days. She could become overzealous and distant from
   others and overly involved in only spiritual things and could neglect the other areas
   of her life and become blinded to the needs of her family. She creates a world for
   herself to make her feel safe and unblemished. The Madonna will find her spouse at a
   spiritual gathering. If unmarried she will soon learn to modify her behavior and looks
   if she wants to be married or fit in to society. With the right heart and motive she
   could very well be a blessing to others. She too needs balance.
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Media Influence


    I believe that very few of us will identify with just one type of woman. I hope it
was as fun for you to read as it was for me to write. I felt like I started to describe
myself in all of them to a degree. The point is we are not a type of woman but an
evolving human being. We all have qualities that are described here which makes us
all unique. We have several combinations of personalities, traits and strengths that
are not even talked about in this brief outline. I could never narrow myself down or
typecast anyone in one of these roles exclusively. The difference between life and art
is that the media builds an image and hires a professional actor to study the script
and the character who then plays the part. We have to know and teach our children
what the difference is. The influence of the media is very powerful and as a profitable
industry is making millions at the expense of our confused women and teens.
    It is important to identify who you are from your center versus waiting to be
categorized by your critics. Take the liberty to disregard the subheadings for the
descriptions above. Here is a challenge. Go ahead and get a blank sheet of paper.
This is you at birth. Now take a few moments to write down some of your traits.
You can even call a friend and ask them to be honest. Ask yourself these questions.


1) How do I behave at home?
2) How do I behave at work or play?


Be completely honest with yourself. This is the only way to get the most out of this
exercise. Remember you are not going to be sharing this with anyone else so dig
deep. Do not think about how you should or would like to be. Just write down the
facts, ma‟am.
Now you have a better picture of yourself. Go ahead and work on balancing her.
You need balance to fully enjoy life.


    Change with the times but do not let the times change you.
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                Personal Truth # 5




In the space below describe your personal journey of coming into „self‟. If you have just
begun, that‟s great! It means you have so much wisdom to gain. Make a timetable to also
study out the history of women‟s rights in and outside of the United States of America.


My Personal Journey
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                                      Chapter 6




                     HOW WOMEN DEAL WITH IT!


 Life is like a grindstone: Whether it grinds you down or polishes you up depends on what you
                                 are made of -- Anonymous


       In this chapter you will hear from real women like yourself who have faced many
challenges in their lives. They will talk about how they have or are on the journey to find
balance and peace in their lives. Women share so much in common and it is my hope
that you will find at least one of these women who I interviewed to relate to and to
learn from. Here are their words. Names are fictitious.


Envy


       “I never got over Susan‟s dating my ex” says Pam. “it took a very long time after
their wedding to realize how envious and jealous I was of them. Many years had gone by
since our friendship had changed and I was not moving on. I got busy at making a
successful career but I was always depressed and eaten up with anger. After talking to a
friend of mine and expressing disdain for the new couple, I went home and cried. I
prayed and asked God to help me let go. This time I was sure I was ready. After getting
married and raising a family, I see how, had I not let go I would be unfulfilled even in my
own marriage. I am glad I found the path to peace in getting rid of my overpowering
jealousy and envy”


Living in The Past
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       “For many years I could not understand why I always felt defeated. Nothing I did
was ever satisfying or good enough for me. I was always a go-getter and very ambitious.
I always wanted the accolades and the approval from others. No matter how good I
was, I felt more and more useless. After deciding to seek professional help, and working
through many tough months of facing my past, I saw how as a child I always felt less than
perfect. I recall getting B+ on scores but that was never quite an A for my father.
Perfection was the name of the game in our house and nothing less. I tried hard to win
the approval of my dad, but often was rejected. I used to cry a lot out of feelings of
disappointment. On top of that were frequent beatings if I neglected to do a chore
perfectly.
       Now I am content with me. I know that I am imperfect and perfection is out
there somewhere. I allow myself to make mistakes and take it in stride. I am no longer a
stickler for a perfectly neat car or house and I am okay with apologizing if I ever make a
mistake. I am free to be myself and find true joy in who I am and who I am becoming”
says Monica.


Time Management


       Carla says that she seldom has time for herself or any one else. “I am always
rushing through my day, picking up laundry, cooking dinner or beeping through the
drive-through window at a fast food chain. My husband is never happy when he gets
home because I am so disorganized. Sometimes getting a shower during the day is a big
challenge. I always feel like I have so much to do. I know how important these things are
but I find myself needing help. Even though I stay at home with my thirteen month old, I
need to find a babysitter at least three days per week, in order to catch up on chores
and go to the mall. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed that I pop sleeping pills just to get
some sleep. My doctor says I need to slow down, but I can‟t. Many days I go through the
day still wearing my sweats that I went to bed in. My life is in shambles with bills, chores,
you name it! My sister told me that I need to plan and schedule my days and make sure I
have at least one half hour to myself. I am working on that now but I have a long
journey ahead of me”
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Relationships


       “My sisters and I have always been at each other‟s throats”, Martha says. “After
the death our grandmother who raised us, things got even worse. As a young girl I can
remember the verbal abuse from my older sisters. When I got a little older I found out
that I was fathered by another man who was not married to my mother. I have always
felt mistreated and my elderly grandmother could do little to resolve any conflicts.
When our grandmother‟s will was disclosed, my sisters really hated me. At nineteen, I
was to inherit a large sum of money. My older sister, always been the greedy one
worked out some deal to have the money in her name. To this day I am not even sure
how it all happened. All I know is this was the final rift among all five of us. It has been
forty two years since we last spoke until recently when I tracked her down living in a
nursing home. I went to visit and make my peace. She is now living in my home with a
visiting nurse to help take care of her. Today we are best friends and share our
grandchildren with each other. We spend a lot of time in tears and laughter over the
memories of the past years. I can truly say I found closure after such a long time and we
both are at peace. For the first time in my life I can say I am truly happy”


Anxiety


       When asked how she feels about being in her forties and single, here is what
Samantha had to say. “When I was approaching thirty, I started to feel very anxious
about getting married. I spent countless days hopping from place to place and dating one
guy after the other, thinking I certainly would find Mr. Right before my thirtieth birthday.
Now a decade later, I am still single. Over the past few years I have learned to be
content in being a single woman. I can truly say that I am resolved in my heart to be
happy. Now, instead of worrying about my future without some one to love, I have
learned how to love myself. I have battled my eating disorder which came as a result of
my insecurities. I surround myself with great friends and I am having the time of my life. I
work hard and I enjoy myself”
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Conflicts


       The way most women handle conflicts is to avoid dealing with the conflicting
situation since it takes vulnerability that some women can see as a sign of weakness.
Instead they run. Here is the story of Margaret, an Assistant Manager. “When I first
took the position as a Sales Representative of a well known department store, I was
excited at the opportunity to be able to move up after a short time. One of my very
best friends also got a job working as a sales person. After I was promoted to managing
one of the departments, she began to conveniently be too busy to have lunch or to go
out on the weekends like we used to. Soon after I found out she was jealous so I in tern
avoided her as well. I did not want to deal with the issue that was now causing a wedge
between us. How could I approach her knowing how she was feeling about the subject?
We continued to work in the same store until she asked for a transfer. I now
understand the pain I have caused her and how much she was eaten up by me not
having the guts to confront her in a loving way. Needless to say, that relationship has
since been estranged. I think about the times we had as friends growing up in the same
neighborhood and how I let the situation rob me of continuing to share in each others
dreams. I often wish I did what I should have done. Of course it‟s never too late!”


Food


       When Joan began to tell her story, tears welled up in my eyes as it did hers.
“Being molested as a child, I have always felt guilt and reprieve at myself. I wanted so
badly to be accepted by friends and others around me. Whenever I did not feel that
approval I felt ashamed even at my best efforts. I grew up excelling academically but
socially I never really fit in. Maybe because I have always used food as my comfort,
without realizing I was getting bigger and bigger every year. At the age of twenty-seven, I
managed battle my bulge and trim down from a size twenty-four to a size six. I was on
the journey to find myself so I sought counseling and began to take care of myself. I have
pretty much maintained my weight at a healthy one hundred and forty pounds and am a
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successful businesswoman with a family of my own. I must tell you that the road is not
an easy one and the journey for me is lasting, but each day I pray and ask God to help
me win one more day. I am raising a family now, teaching my children the value of
themselves and helping to make them feel secure. We practice eating healthy at home
although we occasionally go for the treats especially when we go out. To me life is
good!”


Fear


         “Any kind of fear, you name it”, Janice remarked. “I find myself sometimes afraid
to leave the house thinking something bad will happen to me. I am afraid of asking for a
promotion, afraid of being myself and afraid of taking steps to recovery. That was me in
the past before I got help. I realize now how for forty years I have allowed my life and
what could have been great successes slowly pass me by, while I sat there crippled in
fear. All I have to say is that if someone finds themselves paralyzed in such a way, please
get some help! My life at this time is so much better. I am happy and I have found ways
of doing things to help keep me challenged. I run a business from home, but I have to
get out almost daily to see clients. I finally have taken the steps to freedom and have
found true fulfillment in the things I know I was always meant to do”


Secrets


         In talking with so many women, I was bombarded with tons of secrets, some
never even told.
“I cheated on my husband right after our honeymoon. I had to confess later but regret
the pain I caused” Betty said
“I hid one of the darkest secrets ever in my life for many years. When I finally came out of the
closet as a homosexual woman, I felt freedom and acceptance even though I was scared of
what might happen with my relationships with the people in my life” said Deb
Mia said that she was sure what she did was wrong. “I had an affair with my best friend‟s
fiancée”
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“I kept the secret of my daughter’s biological father from my entire family including my
daughter. For years I was haunted until I finally told them. I feel freer now” says Jane.
“For many years I secretly suffered from bulimia. I was too ashamed and scared to tell
until I hit rock bottom. When a co worker discovered my secret in the ladies room I
started to confide in her and sought help. It has been three years and I am doing well”
Lynn says.
         These are just a few of the secrets some women shared. The revelations would
be endless if more women were to be confronted about their secrets. Living a lie or
hiding in secret is a main ingredient for unhappy and unfulfilled lives. These women
found freedom and the ability to confront and accept their mistakes without fear. They
came into the light about not being captivated by their past. Our past, our shortcomings
and our sins should not determine our self worth. We are bigger than our faults and as
powerful as our strengths. We all must seek to find that strength which lies within us,
ready to explode. You must decide today to fire the flesh or fire up the flesh and find
true „self‟.
         Think about the things that are holding you back. Be resolute to find your
happiness. You sometimes need to stoop low in order to reach the ultimate highs in
your life. Own your destiny and experience the thrill that comes from dealing with your
issues. A syndicated talk show or professional help may not be the answer for all of us.
Find someone, a loved one, a support group, a mentor or advisor and begin to learn
how to deal with shortcomings or even triumphs. Whatever you do, deal with it!




          Personal Truth # 6




Take a look at the diagram below and identify your personal truth by „Your Time Line‟.
How do you deal with balancing from within?
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           LINE                                            YOUR
   Determine how you                                 List your strengths
    will manage your                                  and weaknesses.
    work/life by using                                   Include the
    the time you have                                  challenges you
   to create balance in                             have with balancing
         your life                                        work/life




                                  TIME
                             Measure the time
                             you have at your
                            disposal daily and
                            how you manage it
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                                      Chapter 7



    TURN THE LIGHTS ON WHEN YOU GET AFRAID


      If you dream you can then begin it, you certainly can do that-- Charmaine Augustin




The screams are piercing
The darkness frightening
The sound of her heartbeat is deafening
Helpless she groans and cannot awaken
Wait until morning or if mommy comes to turn the lights on.


       Have you ever walked into a room which was pitch black and was glad you knew
exactly where the switch was? For all of us we can rejoice that some genius decided to
place the light switch at the entrance and at arms reach! If you are or have ever been
afraid of the darkness you are not alone. We get a little afraid or down right paralyzed
when we encounter the darkness. It signifies the unknown and the unknowing. It
epitomizes the fear of that which is hidden or undisclosed. Even though the furniture is
still in the same place and there are no signs of interference, fear can still overcome us.
On the contrary when we enter then turn the lights on, immediately it takes away the
darkness and with it any hint of being afraid.
       Just so with our lives! We have stuffed many skeletons in our closet and
continue to enter the darkness of uncertainty in our lives. Ever wonder what might
happen if you shed the light on your life? The thought of that alone can send us
convulsing in fear. As women we have found ourselves battling demons in our lives as
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well as being ninjas, helping the fight in the lives of others. We can get tired and terrified
when it seems like these mummies just can‟t seem to die. We take great caution in
pretending that we are not afraid or we occasionally get in the closet and hide there,
thinking we might as well join the party. All too often, we live our lives to show others
that we are strong, invincible and of course a woman. We are apt to make several
mistakes if we intend to take the easy way out.



Afraid To Dream


We may think that if we dream we just might wake up and the reality is far too
haunting. We stop dead in our tracks and refuse to slow down in fear that we might
have to start dreaming. Women can really get busy, filling our time with what the media
might call entertainment. We can run with the best of them. We are afraid to blow the
ceilings off our lives. We are scared to death of the unknown. We are afraid to face the
realities when the lights are turned on, so we are content to make the darkness our
friend. We think no one will find us and would rather no one will. We have to venture
into the light and face the battles head on!



Afraid To Try- We Might Succeed


       The fear of success seems unreal for us to fathom, but indeed that uncertainty of
       even success grips us ever so tightly. Sometimes we are too comfortable in the
       bosom of failure based on our past mistakes and failures. We think we are
       destined to fail in everything! Have you stopped to think that you may need to
       encounter many failures in order to find the one true success that will make you
       complete. Being successful is a whole entity. It is unfair to say we are successful
       at work, yet fail as a parent. It is all too important how we value and score our
       level of success. How thrilled are you when you have all the accolades of a
       successful business partner and yet lead a secret life as a shoplifter. How
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        important do you feel when the world showers the likes of you with
        compliments, yet you are a crafty friend. Does that define happiness for you? Do
        not be fooled, my dear sister, with what someone else dictates should be your
        joy. Define your own success, monitor it and work towards it relentlessly. You
        have to fill your life with the things that will benefit you most as a whole person.
        Adding meaning is searching to find what is meaningful to you and balancing from
        your core so that you are able to enjoy from the deepest place, a life that you
        have created.



Afraid Of Rejection


        I have interviewed many prospects for different positions in the workforce, and I
can tell you that identifying the „right‟ candidate for a job can be tedious. I have used
many documented techniques for interviewing including behavioral interviewing, which
states in a nutshell that the best determining factor for future behavior is past behavior.
Anyone that I have hired can tell you that I hardly ever even use the resume as a guide
or ask about their past work related history. I look at the individual in front of me and
how they handle unscripted situations, their confidence and expertise in the area that I
am hiring for. The world tells us that we need to judge a person by their past. I am not
saying that the past does not come into play but rather that we emphasize the past in
many situations that we don‟t really need to. Because of this stigma, we take great pains
in concealing our past unless it is the made for TV version of our surreal life. For
women especially, who still have a distance to travel in corporate America this can
become an ulcer-causing issue. Soon we forget what is true and real and for the sake of
being accepted we pretend in the public eye. Many of us even hide as much as possible
at home or with our loved ones. There are lifelong „friends‟ and spouses who have kept
secrets from each other because they are afraid of being rejected. People blatantly lie
and cheat and go to the hilt in hiding their „real‟ identity. Movies are made everyday
about this kind of lifestyle.
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Afraid To Be You


       If we neglect to find who we are and what our purpose is and truly embrace the
life we are given then we become discontent and begrudging. Both women and men can
be notorious for this. Any parent can tell you that one of the vices they try to destroy in
a child is that of lying. A child can easily start lying without being taught how to. We are
clever as humans and are born with a sinful nature along with a good nature. Identifying
and slaying the evil dragons are what we as parents spent most or all of our lives doing
with our children. We think we are exempt from those kinds of behaviors or ills
because we are all grown up. It is sure that we can readily point to a lie or deceit in our
children and in others around us because we carry the same gene as human beings. We
grow up without crucifying the demon of deceit and so learn how to conceal it, dress it
up, talk the talk, and hide out. Each of us has a past simply because we have a life. Some
may be chock-full of great memories, some may be a holding cell for adversity and
others may have a palatable mix of good and evil. Whatever it is for you, you are a
prime candidate for the need of acceptance. Ladies, let me candidly expose us!



The Cover- Up Girl


       You are a busy bee and so into what the world tells us how to be. You have not
taken the time to be any deeper than a pressed powder compact. Your world revolves
around the trends in the media. You carefully change with the latest commercial, movie
star and your neighbor. You are keen on having lunch with Mrs. Jones, after all she has a
thing going on and you must keep up with her. She is the neighborhood celebrity and a
must have at your next party. You run wild with shopping for the latest, whether it is a
new addition to your wardrobe, the latest gadget for your man, or the designer duds,
because of course the kids are a reflection of you. The world needs to know that you
are important and trendy. You do not miss a beat and dance to your own drum, many
drums! Forget Dr. Phil, you have mastered your own talk show by hustling everyone
around, making sure there is no time for any one to discover you. In fact you could be
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the subject of a reality show if you were the camera, crew and actor. The picture of
perfection especially at home, should some unsuspecting guest happen upon you they
must see you as they always too. You do not care at all about your image since you are
content in perfecting an image. How dare you blow your cover, girl!



Minimum Factor


       Let‟s face it, literally. This woman sure knows how to hold back. She gives just
enough of herself to get by. She is afraid of being discovered as well. She wants the
world to think that she knows who she is. She is incremental and wise in a weird sort of
way. She is very learned and crafty and projects herself on the radar ever so often. At
home she is a darling, but secretly she has skeletons in her posh closet. They are not
necessarily scary, but she is afraid to let them our as it would taint her image. She gives
a little everywhere and is never whole. She craves balance and would like to expose her
true self. Her greatest fear is fear. She reminds you of the ever present question when
you see a major head of state or dignitary---“I wonder how they go to the bathroom?”
No one really is daring enough to approach her on any shortcomings. She is almost
perfect except when she is alone. The maximum for her is the minimum facts.



The ‘For Real’ Woman


You may think she has no decorum by the way she expresses herself. She is so open
about issues and others that she can easily fool you into thinking she is a „real‟ sister.
She has street smarts and is very educated and schooled on human nature. In fact, her
ideal career would be a psychologist. She is a chameleon that adapts accordingly. She
blends in anywhere. She can tell you anything you want to know about anything but is
cautious to tell you about the „real‟ person she is. She trusts very few people but at the
same time does not give a hoot if they are not trustworthy with her secrets. She is true
to herself and that is all that she matters about. She hides in the closet a lot, to eat, to
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sleep, to reconnect with her being, but she comes out better able to deal with her
environment. She really is real but only to herself. She still is afraid of hurting others so
she takes good care of her skeletons. By now they are her friends and have become like
the comic movie „Scary Movie 1, 2 and 3‟        She makes light of her demons and have
mastered the fear of them. She functions just fine, living with them and sees no need to
share them with others. She is haunted by them occasionally through other mediums
but they don‟t stifle her.



Maybe She Is Born That Way


Come out, come out wherever you are! Stop blaming your parents, your country, your
past, your gene pool, your dog, or your neighbor. You trace everything, good, bad, or
indifferent to your birth. You constantly blame others, even the weather! You are
convinced you were born that way and feel doomed and dejected. You not only live in a
closet, you live in your own world, complete with demons of many kinds. It is the white
man, the black man, the prince, the pauper, the cat, the fiddle, you name it. You are the
most challenging of them all. You find it hard to change and have accepted your lot in
life as a failure. You let yourself go in everyway. You do not even bother to dream,
much less fight when the demons come. You basically have given up and have given
yourself over to being unhappy. If the Democrats were in power you would be different.
It is the Republicans who have taken away everything. You find every reason to blame
shift and never take responsibility. If you were blessed with a family you have or will
soon loose them in many ways because you too have become a burden, a nag, an
unhappy human being. There is still hope for you. You must reach out for help, maybe
professional, and slay your dragons. You need to feel special and it takes a special kind
of friend or companion to help you to change. All the best to you!



A ‘Mary Can’ Woman
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I think she can, she thinks she can. She can and will do all things. How ideal, but there is
no ideal. The „Mary can‟ woman is resilient. She encounters demons and slays them
along the way. She bounces back after bloody battle almost like nothing happened. She is
or is made to be an open book, pardon me, closet. She cannot and will not hide. She
sees her life as chapters to be read to her grandchildren as bedtime friendly ghost
stories. She accepts any position and dances at any party because her life is out there.
She can be a homemaker, a confidant, a business woman, the president‟s wife, a talk
show host or a preacher. She is aware that her skeletons will force their way out so she
is prepared to deal with the bloody massacre. She bakes apple pies and fold up her
apron after an exquisite gathering. She is mother to many, storyteller to children and
the backbone of any community. Honesty becomes her. She is the happiest of them all
because she is living her life albeit without the haunting fear factor. She has found what
matters most and will not be mastered by anything. She has freedom and takes liberties.
Watch out, y‟all. Here she comes, Miss „Mary Can!‟


         Personal Truth # 7




I thought this visual would help. Take a close look at the frame and identify the woman
that should fit inside. Write down some of her qualities inside the empty space.
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Aha! The mistake we sometimes make is that we try to fit our selves into a mold or a
frame. Try this exercise again and write as much as you can outside the frame, however
you want. Does that feel better?
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                                        Chapter 8




        HURRICANE FORCE-- Identifying Your Strengths


                Success: a process of becoming who you already are---Frank Potts


             In the following pages of this chapter I will shed some light on what it
      means to identify your strengths. Living in Florida for a short while I have
      experienced three major category four and five hurricanes all within a six week
      time frame. Living through the experience is overwhelming until you realize that
      you have no control over where the winds will go, where the eye will hit land or
      how much rain and tornados will arrive. Many days before a hurricane the
      meteorologists and national news stations are geared up with their best
      coverage of the impending storm. Usually, the night before the storm there is a
      lull in activity and an unusual sense of uncertainty. At this point you realize that
      the hurricane will pack as much punch as it wants, will go where it decides and
      will use all its furious winds. Storm newscasters can only predict what it will do
      based on past experience and science, but they can not prevent it from
      occurring. One thing is unmistakable, the power and magnitude of its force and
      its movement is spectacular even upon impact. We all can appreciate the
      gentleness of the wind, the sweeping feeling when it passes and refreshes, but in
      the eye of a storm it can be one of the most powerful, deadliest forces of nature
      known to man. Much like a hurricane, we can determine what we will do with
      our strength. While a storm ebbs and flows and sometimes has unpredictable
      paths to a degree, so are we in our lives. It is however important to gather the
      winds that blow awkwardly and focus on being centered. Determining your
      strength begins with knowing who you are and identifying your purpose.
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   Who Am I And What Am I Here For


           If you do not know what your strengths you can begin by asking your co-
   workers, spouse, children, family and friends. It is important to be honest and
   solicit their honesty with you. Let them know that you on a journey to find your
   true worth in life and that you are searching for deeper meaning. Start by
   keeping a journal of your thoughts and actions. I believe we are going to be who
   we are and vice versa, we are who we are going to be. Be are all given our gifts
   at conception or before, but what we do with it and how we decide to use it is
   up to us. Like the parable of the talents in the Bible, we have a choice to hide it
   or use it so that it will be multiplied.
           Too many times we are busy living other people‟s strengths. If you are
   unhappy in a current job and can not seem to „get it‟, then chances are you are
   not using your strength or true gifts. It does not mean that you do not have the
   strength or talent for the job, you just may not be applying it if you have not
   uncovered it or you may be unhappy in other areas. Use your talent to have the
   greatest impact in your life. Impact does not always equal money, so you must
   decide what is most important to you. Many people die wealthy but have not left
   a legacy, meaning they are not remembered for their talent and how they put it
   to good use. You need not look too hard or wait for some hurricane force
   winds to catapult you to another planet. You may not see stars fall or hear a
   voice in a burning bush. It may be as simple as your love for baking cookies.
   Think about it! How many of us love cookies! For a moment could you imagine
   using your family time with your children or neighbors and friends to bake
   cookies! Each week you try different ones and take them to the local church, flea
   market or school PTA. Soon everyone in the neighborhood begins to talk about
   them. Then your local mom and pop grocery store owner asks you to put some
   on the shelf, You begin to sell out so fast you have to use five of your neighbors
   ovens and make hundreds everyday. All the while you love it! By now you have
   to ask your children and their friends to help transport. Your special label is on
   and the marketing wrapping is fancy. You have saved enough money to expand.
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      You cookies are falling off the shelves. You are a guest on a Food Network
      Special. Now the nation knows about you. You can divulge the recipes all the
      while keeping copyright of the recipes. You now have three hundred people
      working for you. Your mail order is at maximum clientele.
              You can relax, still making cookies from home. You can afford the time
      and money to travel, buy nice things, give to charity and still be a part of the
      College Board. Or you could continue to make cookies from your kitchen and
      share them in the neighborhood. Nevertheless, you would have made an impact
      doing what you love and could make thousands, even millions of dollars or none.
      It all depends on how happy you are with where you are. If success for you
      means doing what you love and making a lot of money doing it, then go for it! If
      it means keeping the neighborhood kids happy and at your table for choice
      morsels of wisdom, while doing what you love then go for it! However the
      cookie crumbles, I believe we are here to discover our talent and share it with
      others. That, to me is a life of impact.


      Utilizing Your Fullest Potential


          Have you decided as yet what your gifts are? Now it is time to put them to
      good use. A job or career may not necessarily be the telling point for you. How
      you decide to use your gifts is the difference between winners and losers. How
      do you view yourself? Are you winning or losing time, money, energy, friends,
      respect, happiness and opportunity. You can start over if you are not on the
      right path. Ask yourself the following questions:
             Do I love or even like what I do?
             Have I cheated to get by?
             Is my pride and self esteem still in tact?
             Do I feel rewarded by the life choices I have made?
             Am I enjoying everyday life?
             Am I making everyone else happy but me?
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   Making these choices can determine the difference between your rebirth and
   your destiny. The enjoyment that comes from having and doing rewarding work
   can enable you to create more balance in your life.


   Target Where You Want To Go


      Creating balance in your work and life should not be separated since we have
   only one life to live. Rather, we must strive to create balance between work and
   life and hopefully the two will merge for most of us. In some cases we all have
   differing views whether as parents to stay home, deciding who stays home or
   working secular jobs. In any event decisions have to be made and at times it
   takes the involvement of one or more persons. It all depends on your priority,
   your financial status and need, levels of sacrifice, timing and desire. Coming to
   the conclusion of taking time off from work was not a difficult one. My center
   and my heart was to find more meaningful balance in my family life that would
   provide me with more time spent at home with our children while pursuing my
   dream of writing a book. During the course of the past seven years after I got
   married and started a family, I clearly understood and longed for a career path
   that I enjoyed and that would provide me the time and flexibility with my family,
   all the while enabling me to contribute to the family budget. Some of the things I
   pondered were:


         Is this fun yet mentally stimulating and challenging?
         Will this allow me to grow into my bigger picture?
         Am I able to make the most of networking opportunities for my larger
          goals?
         Does this position allow me the time I need for my family and friends?
         Am I happy doing what I do?
         Have I positioned myself to gain the utmost respect and admiration?
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          Focusing on what your big picture is a lifelong project and that is why it is
      imperative to first determine what you really want to do and keep that focus.
      Everything and all the choices and decisions we make should be working towards
      our goals. Chose carefully! Focus incessantly. Work hard at what you want, but
      be sure that is truly what you want. Usually what we love to do is what we are
      good at. Make the effort to build upon that and water the seed of happiness and
      success for you.




                                    Personal Truth # 8




      Examine closely the choices you make, whether at home, in relationships, at
      work or in your family. Are they in line with your strengths and ultimately your
      vision for your life? Make a note of your revelations. You may need to categorize
      them.
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                                                               Your
                                                               vision


                                                                Your
                                                              strengths


                                                               Your
                                                              choices
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                                      CHAPTER 9




                                 BOY, OH BOYS!!!!


                    To have and to hold……………… from the wedding vows




      In one of my all time favorite movies, “The Lion King” the lion cub is held up, as in
    a tribute or living sacrifice to the gods, by his dad as the new heir to the animal
    kingdom. Before the movie begins and all through out I envision what that little cub
    will grow up to become. His life is full of adventure along the way including seeing his
    father‟s murder at the hands of his own brother. In the end, after slaying many
    demons and dragons along the way and running away from home, he searches to find
    who he really is and returns to take charge of the Pride lands. All along he had been
    equipped with what it took to be King as the road he had traveled prepared him to
    rule as the new leader. How well do we hold up the men in our lives and allow them
    to take their place in our lives. If you are reading this chapter, stop now and go get
    your partner.
      In the following pages you will need to stop from time to time if you are indeed
   sharing this time with your loved one. Have the conversations, be open and begin to
   attack some of your very own jackals in order to take your rightful places. If you are
   raising sons, pay close attention to the fact that you are raising a knight. Whether he
   ends up wearing shining armor or not you have to take some responsibility. Fathers,
   be sure to anoint your sons in preparation for building a family of their own. We
   have lost too many of our sons to the other side by neglecting to put our own past
   behind us and break the mole that caused pain in our lives. However, this is not
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about raising children, or even about you. It is designed to help those who enter into
a relationship with you to better understand the culture and symphony of lasting
relationships. The title for the chapter is exactly how we can feel at times especially
when we are at a loss for more expressive words!
    This is by no stretch of the imagination the complete guide to having a successful
relationship however being a wife and a hostess for several girls night out over the
years I have gleaned a snippet into the world of men. To me it is broken down to
reflect what makes a relationship with our men successful. We have to work very
hard on balancing our marriages and relationships as it entails taking on some of the
burden of our spouses. If you are in any relationship, you will agree that you cannot
completely be happy if you have not balanced the dynamics in that union. I believe it
is important to take a look at one of the closest and most special relationships in the
world. If your „oneness‟ is to truly stand then we have to make every effort to
support it and so create and sustain bliss and balance. Let‟s pretend for a few
minutes that you are curled up with a cup of coffee and a slice of cheesecake (or
whatever you like) in your girlfriends living room. And guys enter our world!
As women we know what men really want, or so we think. I am right when I say
SEX. Agree? Yes, men need Simplicity, Esteem boosters and X-tracurricular
activities!!



Simplicity


    In many ways men may seem complicated, that‟s because they complicate things
in seeking to simplify their lives. Men prefer the simpler things in life. It seems that
they can not or are wired not to process data to the extent we imagine. I believe a
man coined the phrase „just the facts ma‟am‟. That is exactly how they see the world.
Women tend to want to divulge too much information for the likes of most men.
Even when he pretends to listen to the sixty minute run down of how you were
stuck in traffic after leaving the mall, he probably hears only one thing, or he may be
thinking only one thing. He is dying for you to get to the point, any point, and the
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   end of the story. He may fidget, cut you off, as so many do so very well, or simply
   tune you out while smiling or nodding. When you ask questions pertaining to your
   story he makes up an answer to which you respond “you were not listening, were
   you?” Girls, we know this already, why do we go through it? I know, the fact is he is
   the next best thing to your girlfriend at the moment and she is also ranting off a
   similar story, while trying to hide the bags of clothes she picked up at the mall. Men
   are getting wiser. They are cluing in on the fact that we talk to distract, to attract or
   to get our moment. Men do not understand the core concept of depth and the need
   to us or them to connect with „self‟. That‟s okay in a relationship as long as there is
   understanding and communication. Women must learn to let go and understand that
   men were not taught to go deep or to show their emotions.
           Some women are the same way! When all else fails, and by golly it might,
   just KISS. In other words Keep It Simple Sister! Avoid what may be boring to him.
   Save yourself the trouble and call your girlfriend. After all he may need the extra
   time before bed to catch up on the real story of the day—the newscast.
   For some men they need simple instruction. When you ask him to put the garbage
   out please do not remind him how he forgot the other thirty times. In fact, try to lay
   out just a few things that you would like him to help you with. Simplify by setting the
   date and time. Scheduling is very important for him. He can easily get overwhelmed
   and think that you are being a nag (unless you truly are) if you verbalize more than
   once or twice the chores which you have requested. Take it easy! Remember he can
   only process one thing at a time and for all intents and purposes, he might be
   thinking about the simplest thing he could do, and that would be…………..
          Sex! That sure does not take much thought. No wonder men think of it so
   often. There is actually no rocket science behind it. Men desire sex (sometimes)
   more often than most women and that‟s a fact! They prefer to keep it simple as it
   frees up more time to read the comic section. Get this! Men were boys who have
   replaced video games with „The Best Damn Sports Show‟, cartoons with comic
   strips, bike riding with beer, Friday evening outings with time with the guys, and play
   time with making money. They lead full lives! Men want to come home, unwind for a
   few hours, have dinner, watch the tube, get showered and have sex. It may not
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 necessarily fall into that order, but beware. His schedule looks similar from five to
 nine or something like that. They want us to maintain our sex appeal, not necessarily
 to get overly creative all the time, but so that we can be willing and able to stop
 what we are doing in order to meet his sexual needs. I tell you, if you are to have a
 healthy sexual relationship, you better figure out how to balance. While the desire is
 simply for sex, take a ride once in a while on the creative side so as not to make it
 just a simple experience. In a nutshell, have simple conversation, keep a simple
 schedule and simply enjoy intimacy.

     Esteem Boosters


 Take notes. Many studies have shown that the top five common problems in
 relationships stem from the following:
     1. Communication breakdown
     2. Loss or lack of common goals and interests
     3. Sexual incompatibility
     4. Infidelity
     5. No fun
 These are inter-related in some ways and stem from a lack of passion in one‟s own
 life. It is very difficult to give or add to a relationship if you feel you have nothing to
 give. This goes to show that we, as couples need to work at balancing our lives and
 take on the task of discovering our own worth. In order for us to fulfill the roles we
 have as women we have to be confident in who we are. Do not be fooled by the
 stereotype, but be sobered by the statistics that are reflected year after year in
 studies. Goals, dreams, common ground, personal satisfaction and communication all
 contribute to success in relationships. Marriage, being a committed relationship,
 takes individuals who are committed to each others happiness and therefore stems
 from within. As you can see, if the top five are strengthened then we have less
 unfulfilled unions.
Let us look at the next five.
1.       Financial issues
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  2.    Conflicts about children
  3.        Alcohol and drug abuse
  4.    Women‟s equality issues
  5.    Other relationships for example, In-laws


    These are just so that you can take a closer look at your own relationship. List your
own top five challenges. Take a moment to write them down and discuss now or later
how you plan on improving. This could even take weeks. If you are serious enough
about improving the quality of your marriage then you must make the time to find
balance in this area.
    Men need to have their self esteem boosted constantly. They seek it at work, at the
sports bar, in the model car they drive and certainly at home. If we, as partners fail to
do this very important task, then we are failing our men and our marriages. The recipe
for infidelity is a partner (male or female) who refuses or neglects to take care of the
emotional needs of the other. We encourage with our words and bodies. We show
approval and contentment in our smiles, telling him and others of the great things he‟s
done, giving of ourselves, making the time to physically connect (even without making
out!), encouraging and even over doing a compliment, saying thanks, making special
events happen, to name a few.
    Take some time and write down the top five things you love about your partner.
Don‟t just stop there, say it. Say it frequently. Think about those things even when you
are tempted to get angry or when you feel disappointed or wronged. Notice I said when
you feel those emotions. Your feelings do not negate the fact and his actions could very
well be misrepresented. Unless you are in a physically abusive or emotionally stifling
situation (get help), seek to give the benefit of the doubt and remember that most times
they have not even taken the time to think things through and they most certainly react
quicker to external stimuli. Don‟t rush through this exercise. Until you have committed
the top five to memory take it along wherever you go. Just a phone call to say he is
thought of in a special way out of the blue can inspire your spouse and be a big esteem
booster. He wants you to be and feel proud and accepting of him and this includes his
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choice of work, the things he likes, how he likes them as well as his faults as you see
them.
    Taking the time to work on you and boosting your own image, self esteem and sex
appeal is one big esteem booster for him. What husband does not like to show off a
wife who is beautiful on the inside and who is confident in her own skin? A wife is a
reflection of her husband and the story she tells reflects somewhat who he is. Make him
proud to want to be with you and you only. Stroke his ego ever so gently from time to
time. If you belong in the corporate arena, you may need to wear the pants at work, but
by all means don‟t forget to put the lace on at home. Encouragement sweetens labor,
and both individuals will be encouraged to work more and better themselves and the
relationship in order to have peace, balance, bliss and happiness. Create peace in your
home.

X-tracuricular Activities


   Think about it like this. Men can be square. This is not an attack on the ego I so
implored you to stroke! Humor me for a moment. In fact they can be said to gravitate
towards „squareness.‟ Most of their treasures are in jars of squares. I will list a few
items and words and see if you can find the correlation between a man and his square.
       X-box
       Television
       Sandwich
       Newspaper
       Sport Utility Vehicle, like the new Hummer
       Computer (monitor), palm pilots
       Icebox or refrigerator
       Cameras, most electronics or gadgets
       Beds, couches
       Chess games, card games, board games
       Anything that comes in a box, including pizza
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Funny, but true! Men sometimes find it hard to think outside the box, literally! The only
square some may leave behind is a „square-peg-of-a-partner‟. Be very aware. Allow him
to fill his life and time with his all his squares. Give him the time to relax at home, just
being square. Usher him with some of his favorite square things. Make him happy in
„squareland‟ and you will be too.
       Be sure to plan and organize dates and special vents. Do not get too upset if he
forgot your anniversary. You probably should have put it on top of the pizza box or on
the refrigerator instead of dropping verbal clues in between the football game and the
commercials. If you have children or need a house sitter, plan on getting the help
yourself. When you remind him that you have made plans for your anniversary, he may
be thinking of setting up TIVO to record the game, so give advance notice and help him
get his squares in order. If he happens to be asking about the time of return, it does not
mean he is not interested in going out, he is already thinking about his squares when he
gets back. This could mean a positive experience for both, so take it in stride.
       Most men automatically put on the „daddy‟ hat and love the role of a father. They
enjoy family times especially if he can fit some squares in! Men need to feel like they are
not wasting time and need to fill their time up with extra curricular activities. If you are
smart, this could work wonders for sustaining balance in your family.
       Men need to have friends. They are not like our friends, may not even like some
of our friends, and are seldom chosen the same way women distinctly gather their
friends. They are „the guys‟ and are a very sacred group of men. Honor them. For the
most part they are each others extracurricular and you would much rather he spends
time hanging out (or in) with them and having a good moral time than being elsewhere.
Most women need to build up a trust level or else they are always willing to host the
guys every Monday or Friday night. That‟s okay too if you need some time to work on
your „baggage‟. It is necessary to strive for balance in the area of how you both handle
each other‟s friendships.
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When the Air Gets Thick


       As I hinted to previously, couples can both bring a lot of „baggage‟ into a
relationship! If you find yourself in a place where you have not worked through your
past issues and have not sought the help needed to overcome hurts and heal wounds,
then you are setting up your relationship to go through the ringer. Understandably, it
takes time to be at peace, to resolve, to forgive, to move on and to heal however it first
takes a decision to do so. If you are working through some issues in your life or have
become hard hearted due to past relationships, be it sibling, parental, friendships, or
sexual relationships then make a decision today that you will be resolved to be happy.
       Sometimes we have to work from the end to get to the beginning. In other
words, start with your end in mind. Envision where and who you want to be. Not who
you want to be like. You are already who you are, open up your eyes and see her. We
can easily allow our feelings and attitudes to interfere with the workings of a great
relationship. Remember, no two people or situations are alike and the choice to enter
the relationship you now have is yours. Make it work simply by working through
attitudes and tough times.
       Resentments are also a common cause for expressing disgust in our
relationships. Identify the true culprits and keep your loved ones out of the equation.
Women seem to have a tougher time getting over hurts and resentments, but in order
to get to that place of balance you have to be free. Face the issues and seek to resolve
and expose any residual pain so that you can go on to happiness. I do stress pure joy
because women need to radiate the light that comes from within us.
       Communication is critical to clearing the air. If you have ever played house wife
and cleaned your house you have the tendency to spray disinfectant to create a new
smell and kill germs. So it is with communication. It is the disinfectant to a confused and
„stuffy‟ situation. Use it wisely. Too much or too little or improper use can create a
negative effect.
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Working Through Health and Healing Issues


       People seldom enter into a committed relationship if they don‟t have the
intention of being committed. Granted there are exceptions. That is why attorneys and
couples have created pre-nuptial agreements and the movie industry thrives on
infidelity. For some, the term „till death do us part‟ means something entirely different.
The death of a relationship is impending if there is no real commitment and couples feel
justified to part. A very close friend of mine had been struck with cancer. Nat, a wife
and mother of four boys found out about her disease a few months ago. Since the news,
she has gone through radiation, chemotherapy and a host of emotional pain. We initially
met at our sons‟ school and quickly became friends. I was instantly drawn to her spirit
and her constant smile and soon exchanged phone numbers. To make a long story
short, we spent the next few months building a strong friendship. What I admired about
her husband way before I ever met him was the obvious support and encouragement he
had been to her. She radiated a true confidence and reflected the support of a great
spouse. Even through her nausea, loss of hair and occasional dizzy spells and
reconstructed breasts she had a sense of peace and a spirit of contentment. She realizes
that where she is in life is only the next chapter in her storybook of life. She spends her
time taking care of her family and sharing her story with other women to give them
hope. She is in remission and doing well today, because they refused to let health
setbacks become a denominator in the strength of their marriage and a thief of their
happiness. She has found balance in her heart and was able to uphold her family through
crisis, for better or for worse.



Love Is a Wonderful Thing


       Of all the emotions a woman can feel, love best becomes her. If you have ever
fallen in love you can attest to the feeling of utopia and the heavenly realm you enter
with your loved one. One look, one kiss, one stroke, one heart and you are there! Alas,
I am not taking about the feeling of being in love I am referring to love—the verb, the
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state of being unshakable, that which can withstand anything. I am talking about being
patient, kind, being humble, forgiving, trusting, selfless, self controlled, full of hope,
persevering and delightful. I mean before you can truly give of yourself to love someone
else, you must first find the love in you and love yourself. Think of all the attributes of
love mentioned above. Ask yourself how have or have not you been taking care of self.
In an effort to change and to find peace and balance in your life, have you been patient,
kind, forgiving and so on with you and with others. Love ultimately should become our
core and the wellspring of joy. If you find it hard to think of loving yourself take a chance
and give that love to others in thought and deed and see how much of it reflects back
on you. The more we venture to exercise patience, kindness, forgiveness, humility and
delight for others, the more we start to put our happiness into focus.




               Personal Truth # 9




Have fun with the men in your lives. Forgive mistakes and negative past experiences will
lesson in their impact. This is my moment of personal truth. What‟s yours?
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                      Never try to figure out the opposite sex!!
                      You will never truly be satisfied with the
                      outcome. In fact you can never conclude
                      without a doubt or prove your theory. Be
                      accepting of others and strive to change
                      YOU. That is the only person you can
                      control. Women can and should pledge to
                      never let anything get in the way of their
                      personal truth, therefore be resolved that
                      you will choose the way you decide to
                      respond.
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                                Chapter 10


                                  FAMILY TIME

      The art of life is to know how to enjoy a little and to endure much—Arab Proverb




      More and more companies are making things easier for mothers to have the
   time they need in order to spend time building their families. They are offering
   flex time, mothers‟ hours, part time, split shifts, work from home, four day work
   weeks and job sharing as options. If your priority is to have more time at home,
   then be aware that you have the opportunity to make choices by selecting the
   companies you want to work for as well as setting your hours based upon your
   needs. Companies and corporations are profit driven and wealth focused
   therefore they will seek out the right candidates for the job. During the
   interview process they will hopefully set the expectations of the company and
   identify the need for your expertise within the organization. If you get into a
   situation where you have neglected to communicate what your needs truly are
   then you can become blindsided and very soon end up unhappy, upset and
   unfulfilled at work. Be sure to do your research on the companies that you
   would like to work for and find out how they rank in terms of supporting
   work/life balance especially for mothers. If you have the desire to raise your
   family by giving of yourself and your time, the rewards are endless.
       The family is the nucleus of society and the health of our families will
   determine the health of our communities, our cities, our states and so on.
   Learning to balance our time and what to do with the time we have is invaluable.
   Decisions to stay at home should come about after careful dialogue and thought
   processes with your family. Expectations must be set and there needs to be clear
   guidelines. The primary reason, barring health, for wanting to be at home should
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       be based upon your center, meaning what is of utmost importance to you. You
       may need to think on these things.


              Will I be able to work from home for a company?


       This should be decided upon at the beginning. Treat this opportunity the same
way you would if you had to go out to an office. Establish ground rules with your family
and friends. You are working from home, so be mindful that you are not wasting time
just hanging out and catching up on daytime television. I suggest that you set up your
office space or create the space at home that is off bounds to drop by visits. If you are a
parent, you have to work at setting a schedule and allow it to run its course for a while.
You may need to reorganize from time to time but that should not be the norm. The
beauty of this is that you have the control over how you spend your time. Make sure
you stay employed by communicating frequently and effectively and meeting deadlines.
Idleness could very well allow you to miss this much sought after opportunity.


              Can I work part time at home and part time at the office?




       This too must be established ideally at the beginning. There are extenuating
circumstances that may arise and you may need to come up with an alternate plan. If
you are a valued employee and work smart you have a high likelihood of having your
proposal accepted. Speak to your direct supervisor first before office rumors start
spreading or you become too uncomfortable to ask. Some employers are willing to
work out special arrangements depending on the nature of your position. Remember
the acronym, ASK- ask, seek, knock and be amazed at the many doors and opportunities
that will come your way.




              Do I want to work from home as a self employed individual?
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       Finding out what you are good at and desiring to use your talents and strengths
as your livelihood is admirable. It is noble to want to extend yourself and share with
others what you can do well. If you are one of two or even the sole bread winner then
you have to spend some extra time counting the cost. Do a whole lot of research in the
area of interest. Begin to talk to friends, neighbors, coworkers, church groups, support
groups and family members about what you are doing. Be aware that you may need to
filter out some negative input from those around you. For the most part, if others can
identify the same talents in you they are apt to be even more excited and supportive of
you. This takes great focus and ambition and a lot of hard work and discipline.
       Marketing and advertising are of the essence. Seek professional help and use the
available resources that you have. Remember that this expansion of your talent is now
translating itself into your business. Stay on the cutting edge of the changing market and
identify the basis of financial success-supply and demand. You have the supply, now look
for and create the demand.


              Will I have the authority to create a flexible schedule?




       Whether you have a demanding, high powered career or have chosen a less
stressful job, you may want to have the power to be able to have some flexibility to be
able to meet some of your personal or family needs. It is important to think through
some of your life situations or needs that may demand some extra time. If you have
permanent situations, be open with your manager and work out flex time hours if at all
possible. Use your accrued time at work efficiently. Avoid slacking off work just because
you would rather spend the day at the beach. Great communication can make the
difference between keeping your job or not.




              Am I staying home to be a homemaker?
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       Mothers or even fathers who decide to stay home as homemakers have the all
important job as money managers, CEO‟s, gourmet chefs, interior decorators,
chauffeurs, dry cleaners, nurses, talk show hosts, councilors, you name it. This is a
prestigious role which goes without all the accolades and should not be assumed lightly.
In my opinion, being a homemaker is the ultimate gift a parent could give to his/her
family. It is a selfless choice which takes wisdom and hard work to be effective and get
results. Here is where mothers can suffer burnout since they have so many things to
balance on a daily full time basis. This role is round the clock and can be extremely
demanding of even the time you should have for reenergizing yourself.
       If you are not careful to plan personal time you could easily be left out with no
fault of those around you. First and foremost be committed to the fact that your
husband and children love you and want you to be radiant and happy. This means that
they expect you to take care of yourself. If you neglect to do so you could become the
witch from the west even when you have the most gorgeous bouquet of flowers
delivered from „your secret admirer‟, your spouse or when your kids decorate the
funniest cookies for you. Creating and maintaining balance is most critical for the
homemaker. If you are the person who stays home to nurture the family then be sure
to communicate with your partner what your needs are. Make sure you still do the
things you love and make the time to do so. Whether it is shopping with friends, seeing
a movie by yourself, going out to your favorite restaurant with your spouse, or even
taking leisurely walks in the park with the dog or kids, just do it.


              Do I need time off to pursue a hobby or dream?




       There is a difference between staying home to be a homemaker and staying
home to pursue a hobby. The difference is where it falls on your priority list. Inevitably,
if you are not careful to have balance, your family could become resentful and unhappy,
while you spend all your time on your hobby. You need to understand that balancing is
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simply taking the necessary pieces and creating wholeness. If one part is doing okay and
the others are lacking then you have not succeeded in balancing your life. Balance is
giving enough of yourself, time and energy to the different parts that make your life
fulfilled as well as taking the parts of your life that are essential to your development and
creating synergy. It does not mean that you have to be the one to do it all. You may be
financially sound with running a family on one person‟s income that you can afford to
just work on your hobby. Once again if you do not communicate with your spouse or
appropriate parties your family could be in harms way. After all if you can afford to hire
a housekeeper to take care of the chores that would free up some more of your time,
then do so. Whatever you do, try not to let your family come home to a messy,
unorganized house, finding you with last night‟s rollers in your hair, waiting for the pizza
delivery man.


               Will I be able to arrange my 40 hour work week the way that
                suits me?




   All too often we become unsure of what to do with the time which we have so
adamantly demanded to have. This is mainly because we have lost focus on the purpose.
Decide what you want to do and have a clear plan and purpose so that you may be able
to communicate it effectively and win over the people who may be involved or affected
by your choices. You cannot have balance without time. You need time to advance into
what you deem is priority. Ask yourself “How will I spend my time and what will I do?”
By now you would have been precise on „why‟ you need more time. Balance is pivotal
in creating wholeness in our lives and brining joy into our lives. You must decide now
what is important to you and continue looking at the bigger picture as you work your
way towards filling in all the spots.


   Balancing Your Schedule
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      Scheduling is critical to success. Of course you can and will get things done but
      you could very well feel defeated, especially if you spent all day „doing things‟.
      Being busy does not necessarily mean that you are effective or that you had
      expected results. A lot of us, especially mothers are busy all the time, sometimes
      doing seamless or unimportant activities. We feel that since we have time we
      should be busy getting things done. Some of us feel guilty if we are not juggling
      several jobs and tasks at the same time. Use the extra time, and yes there is such
      a thing, to just be still.
           Whether you have a lot or a little to do, I strongly encourage you to write
      down and preferably schedule what you must do, would love to do and need to
      do. These should be in three separate columns. Just a word of caution, make
      sure that you have not left yourself out by scheduling „other‟ things first.
      Remember that you will be headed for a fast burn out if you have no or low fuel
      and can end up being resentful and unhappy by the end of the day. You may feel
      that nothing you have done seemed meaningful or worthwhile to you or any one
      else.
           Even at work we can find ourselves feeling „spent‟ because we have not
      mentally prepared for the day. Many of us have high profile jobs where we are
      able to solicit the help of others or even delegate some or most of our jobs. Are
      you taking advantage of the people who are being paid to help you do your job
      well or are you a „mother hen‟ both at work or home where you feel that if it is
      to be done then „I‟ need to be the one to do it? This is a big tell tale signal of
      insecurity and the blue print for burn out disaster and less than excellent work.
      Be aware if you have been diagnosed with the “mother hen syndrome”. You can
      actually stifle your happiness, stunt your children‟s talents, under estimate your
      spouse, push away your friends and displease your co-workers. It is okay and
      sometimes necessary to „wear the pants‟ but be careful to choose softer slacks
      with heels over hard leather and boots. Most of all you may become a prime
      candidate for ulcer, high blood pressure, heart attack, social outcast, ragged
      housewife or the gripe no one wants to invite over. Creating balance is not just
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       for scheduling tasks, it is for mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual well-
       being of your self and your loved ones.
           You ought to always fight to create and maintain balance in your life, all the
       while enjoying the growth that comes with life‟s challenges, successes and
       setbacks. You must put into perspective the things that life makes life rich. You
       can chose to view them as complications or you can view them as blessings, the
       things that you were meant to have. How you balance or handle them is crucial.
       Take a look at these tips that I have found to be rewarding and have used over
       the years.
              Avoid using weekends for housework


       As a mother who has spent most of her career working outside the home, I have
always been committed to spending my weekends wisely. By that I mean making the
most of special fun family times and entertaining friends and family. Weekends for me
are for dress up, make-up, high heels, great food, church, shopping, parties, facials and
spa, reading, family gatherings and dates. I would default to doing my major
housecleaning every other Thursday night after the children have gone to bed. I am of
the conviction that I don‟t have to be a merry maid each week and that the time I had at
home was for enriching my family memoirs, just being together and having fun. I kept
the house neat by delegating and teaching responsible and by keeping one special linen
closet for shoving stuff into. Unless it was seasonal decorations for the house, if I didn‟t
use it within six months then chances are I did not need it. I stay away from small items
and clutter. Less stuff means less work and big savings.


              Schedule „me‟ time daily. Let your family know when that time is


       This may sound selfish, and you may need to be a little selfish but you must have
time just for you. Do something special for you each day. It must be sacred to you and
something you enjoy doing. It could be your bath time, reading a book, going to the
gym, or taking a walk. It is healthy to carve out time with your girlfriends doing fun
things you both love to you. Along with being a blast it is therapeutic.
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              Begin with prayer


Enough said. The best medicine I have found to getting centered and focused is to pray.


              Communicate about „what‟s for dinner?‟


       Taking care of primary needs is important. Communication sets expectations for
your loved ones. My husband is never disappointed if there is not a home cooked meal
when he gets home as long as I communicate what‟s for dinner. As a working mother
you may find it challenging to get home and prepare and cook an entire meal fresh and
from scratch. Prepare more than one meal and refrigerate. Leftovers can be quickly
converted to today‟s dinner. You can even dedicate one day per week for take-out or
delivery. Be creative. We have had breakfast dinners and hubby nights when my husband
cooks. Whoever has the responsibility to get dinner on the table be sure to
communicate how and when it will happen. Make the most out of balancing dinner time
in your family by working on getting everyone to sit together. Make mealtimes fun, a
time for your family to fellowship. Stay away from arguing or bringing up uncomfortable
discussion topics. Set aside other times to deal with deeper issues. If you are strapped
for time, feel free to balance the phone in one hand and the takeout menu in the other
and order away.


              Stop what you are doing and spend a few moments acknowledging,
               praising, talking with and smiling at your children.
       Taking special time to level with and embrace your children is all important.
They are more important and should feel more important that all the chores you have
to do. If they are older, periodically check on them. If they are younger they want to
check on you. Let them know how much you care.
              Do daily chores as a family. It teaches responsibility, „know how‟, fosters
               unity and allows you time for more question and answers. Remember
               that we are the greatest most impacting teachers to our children.
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              Schedule weekly (or more) special FUN family times


        It is important to celebrate. I use every opportunity to celebrate. I look for
things to do and celebrate. Usually they are right there in your home or work place.
Look for successes or an accomplishment and make it big. Children especially enjoy
scheduled fun times. They see it as a must and a part of great family traditions. What
better way than to build memories. Don‟t forget that impromptu works wonders as
well.




              View time spent together as family time and build upon it to create more
               memories


Let the whole family be in on the planning unless it is a special surprise. Be engaging and
„fluff‟ up the event with extras. Take pictures, make family movies, dress up and have a
ball! Creating memories are the most lasting legacy we give to each other so let them be
positive. Balancing your family is as important as your life since they are a part of it.


              Work on perfecting your filtration system. Not everything is urgent or
               important.


You must know what is important, necessary, priority or urgent. Make a list of the
things you need to do and categorize accordingly. Perfect the art of filtering out the
unnecessary and prioritizing the rest.


        Quality Time or Just Plain Time


               Often times we neglect the time we have and even overlook special
        events because it has not been carved out as „quality time‟. All you really need is
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      time. Quality is what you make of it. Before I go further, I want you to
      understand that time is critical and whatever you do with it will make or break
      your success in life. Whether it is time at work, at home or at play, you are
      responsible for filling it with memories so better to choose happy memories than
      unhappy ones. You must become creative, a genius at bright ideas. You have
      tremendous resources around you and at your fingertips. Make use of the
      internet, magazines, family television shows, community and local newspapers,
      support or other groups that you are affiliated with, church groups, friends and
      personal experience. Keep a log or folder of ideas as you come across them.
      Write down ideas that pop up from out of the blue or from posters and
      billboards. Write down a few ideas and activities that you would love to do in a
      month, season or year, and make sure to check them off when done. Never
      underestimate the forty minutes that you have in between homework and dinner
      time. Now is a prime time to grab that box of cake mix, a couple of eggs and the
      step stool and have the most fun baking a cake with your kids. My goodness, do
      you think you can have a conversation about current events, the day at work or
      school, read from a short story book, even make a quick craft or load the
      dishwasher all during that time!
             Women have the desire to relate to other women. Let your hair down
      and enjoy the company of other women that you can relate to in some ways and
      who share and support some of your dreams. Maintaining healthy friendships is
      essential to your happiness. It is the friendships which we cultivate that will help
      us through rough times.


                                     Personal Truth # 10
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   Cultivating a family is necessary in our lives. Whether it is a nuclear or other
   composite, how do you fare? Write down your thoughts.


   ___________________________________________________________
   ___________________________________________________________
   ___________________________________________________________
   ___________________________________________________________
   ___________________________________________________________
   ___________________________________________________________
   ___________________________________________________________
   ___________________________________________________________
   ___________________________________________________________
   ___________________________________________________________
   ___________________________________________________________
   ___________________________________________________________


   Think about what your schedule looks like today. How do you envision it to be
   tomorrow after getting to the near end of this book?
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                                     Chapter 11


         LIVING YOUR LOVE—BEATING BOREDOM


  The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish (idle) one tears hers
                                   down--- Proverbs 14:1




       Getting the most out of life is never always easy. I have always believed that even
if things fall in to your lap after you have just wished upon a star, you may need to work
hard at keeping it. What we are given, or entrusted with should never be put to waste
but instead be used so that we can multiply our selves. In order to live, I mean truly live
your love you have to be committed to beating boredom. All too often we fall into the
deep sleep of stagnation and loss of vibrancy. Mentally and physically we slowly shut
down and die. If you can not wake up desires in you then you incrementally move in to
the city of the living dead. Many of us at times find ourselves even in the company of
„dead‟ people who have long given up the will to live and wait to physically die. People
who have no regard for life, their own or others, will resort to violence, suicide,
homicide, destructive lifestyles including drugs (over-the-counter or illegal), prostitution
and may even be diagnosed as mentally unstable. To live, we all must find our purpose,
or we become hollow, weak and burdensome. Beating boredom takes effort.



Warn Against Idleness


       Idleness is the mental and spiritual malnourishment caused by the lack of dreams
and desire for your life. It is the birth mother of selfishness and kin to abused time.
Idleness brings on the intense pain of wasted energy and time and the decay of passion.
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My sisters, I warn you against idleness, take heed. When you find yourself seeking the
company of idlers, then you need to be on the alert for a slow and impending death of
your own and the goals of others. Idleness is an enemy of time and time is something
we cannot get back once it is gone. How many of you are embracing idleness in your
lives? Look at the list of dreams and goals you wrote down or carry in your heart. How
close are you to getting there or how many of them have you attained?
   I have battled a weight issue (not the lack of) since my childhood and I have looked
at it this way. Of course I have a passion for good food, love to cook, and enjoy
entertaining. I have noticed that the biggest givers of themselves almost inevitable can
sometimes neglect themselves and may not stop long, or look hard enough at their own
life. When there is no one around to serve or I get selfish and unmotivated I eat my
favorites. I sometimes joke, after quickly gaining five or ten pounds in three days, that it
is good for me because I always need something to work on. In a sense, it became a
revelation to me that I was being idle, sitting around waiting for the laundry to do itself,
or the furniture to grow feathers and dust away, or by the stroke of my magic pretzel
stick my closet will be organized by color and season.
    I realize that being a servant is the highest honor ever bestowed on great men and
women. One of the surefire ways to beat boredom is to be of servitude to others, to
extend one‟s self in an effort to heal one‟s mind. I am reminded of the words of Fulton
Sheen “The way not to lead a monotonous life is to live for others”. Live for the
happiness of joy of those around you and you become joyful, give to others and you get
more than you can ask or imagine, dream and pray for others and your prayers will be
answered tenfold!. Use your time wisely. Refrain from idleness and folly and avoid the
deathtrap that can be set by even our dearest unsuspecting friends. Take a look at some
of the things you can do to avoid being idle. You will notice they all have to do with
others. Continue to stimulate your mind and utilize your brain cells.
      Volunteer anywhere
      Coach a game
      Serve lunch to a local charity or soup kitchen
      Help a friend with a project
      Paint your elderly neighbors living room
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       Baby sit for a coworker
       Get involved with clean up efforts
       Take someone out to dinner
       Join a support group or the PTA


Sort out your priorities again. It is a process and a journey rather than a destination.
The greatest person, Jesus, came to give. He became a servant and boy, was his life ever
so full of adventure, one after the next!



Warn Against ‘Butt’ Sores


        One of my dearest friends Maggie is a nurse and I am always in awe of her joy
and a calming peace when I am in her presence. I often wondered if she is as jovial when
she visits with her patients. I think of how many bed sores and agonizing blisters she
must see in her lifetime. For her it is more than a job, it is about using her contagious
smile to reassure others that are hurting. Even in the midst of challenges, her voice
remains the same octane and her smile glistens, if only periodically. I‟m sure she would
tell you that if you stay in the same place long enough, whether you are sick or healthy,
you will get bed, or „butt‟ sores.
We sometimes tend to sit and wait for something to happen as if we are owed it. We
need to take charge of our lives to live it the best way possible. You are important, you
add meaning to life. You are gifted. Being gifted only means that you have already been
given a gift. Stop looking outside of your self to find balance. If we remain in the same
place, no matter where you are in life you will become stagnated and rot. Work with all
you have and reshape your life today. Finding satisfaction in your life‟s work is the
greatest joy.
It is time to get off our „butts‟ and soar!
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A Time and a Season


       There is no greater beauty in my eyes than living in New England and watching
the seasons change. After a couple of years I would embrace the same concept of
needing to change something in my life as often as the seasons. They were changes
ranging from my hairstyle, my clothes, my vision and dreams, my picture collection, my
views. I wanted to see things from different angles, to spice things up a bit. I wanted to
look differently and behave differently. I wanted to grow into the woman I was meant to
be. I sought spiritual truths, understanding and deeper love. I sought peace and passion. I
sought to build upon my gifts by giving. I sought to uncover the woman in me. I sought
to be a better wife and mother. I sought to become whole. I have always felt and was
often told that I am before my time simply meaning I was growing too fast. I sought
wisdom in the bosom of older women, in the pages of the Bible, in the eyes of those I
encountered, in the teachings of my father.
       We must and need to desire and embrace change even in times of adversity. It is
the only way to evolve. Think of the devastation of a volcano. As the ash settles and the
lava takes form, the greenest vegetation soon begins to spurt. Even the earth around us
is changing constantly. Decide today to change.



Recreate and Rejuvenate


       If you are living your love then I guess it is safe to say that you have found self,
accepted who you are and making it work for you. You have probably come to full
terms with your strengths and weaknesses and have gone after any help you needed.
You might be tired from all that searching and revelation so it is time to recreate and
rejuvenate. I do mean this part of the cycle must go on. After all, you would not want to
stop there, now would you?
       If you found yourself mentally and spiritually malnourished and in need of
refueling then take a step back and make a conscious decision to walk the rest of your
life being happy. Of course there will be setbacks along the way and pain, loss and
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heartache, but you are stronger than that and you will be if you are spiritually and
mentally nourished.    The more you stabilize the more you can add without being
overwhelmed.
       One key aspect of rejuvenating and locking into your positive energy source is
physical exercise. Pencil in time at least three times per week when you get at least
thirty minutes of exercise. Some may even get in at least twenty minutes every day.
Make sure that time is kept as part of your daily balancing routine. Take brisk walks, jog
or go to the gym. You may even have one at home. Make use of your investment in
your health and well-being by selecting an appropriate health insurance plan in addition
to working out, and fostering healthier habits.
       Having a great relationship with food does not mean overindulging or
consistently making choices that will have an ill effect on your body. Learn how to
prepare healthier meals and make wise selections when you are away from home. If you
have a disorder, or your habits have been less than favorable to your health, both
physically and emotionally then seek additional help. Treat your body with respect.
Avoid ingested toxins to your mind, body and spirit. A healthier individual is happier.
       Balance by creating a newer more revealed „self‟. Reenergize your spirit and
continue to learn, to grow to will and to be. Have tons of fun, travel to the places you‟d
love, learn something new, study more to gain more wisdom and knowledge, use your
mind, your brain power, write a book about your life, master projects, plant an grow a
garden, dare to make a wedding cake, get remarried (to the same guy), be wacky, have
fun with your kids, act like a kid one in a while, lose weight, have a make-over, change
your wardrobe, exercise, continue to dream and pump goodness into your well-spring
of life. Be good to yourself and be spiritual. Stay away from getting stale and bored.
Never stop dreaming and learning and growing. Remember that you have the greatest
power within you.


                    Personal Truth # 11
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Using the grid as a guide set some long term goals for the rest of your life. Remember,
you only have one and it is all yours. Make a promise to life your best life for you and in
so doing will make an impact on those around you. Harness the power that is in you as
you take the precious time that you are given to make the most out of your talents. Do
not hide behind perceptions or become a stereotype. Instead be the unique person you
are created to be and in searching for her may you encounter spheres of happiness
along the way.
        Dream your biggest dream! Live your ultimate life and measure your successes
and happiness to your standards. Set high standards and lofty goals, because that will
usher you into the realm in which you have to seek your personal truths. Go ahead this
is for the rest of your life! I wish you balance in finding peace, happiness success and
fulfillment that you have been good and faithful with the life you were chosen to have.




      Spiritual          Physical          Emotional          Love to Do Time Frame
      Goals              Goals             Goals              Goals              (measurable)
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                                     CONCLUSION
                                   My Personal Truth


   I certainly hope that this book did to you as much as it did to me and more. Not
   only did I have fun but I believe that I have only just begun to open up my source of
   power. In writing this book over the last few months, I not only have found some
   personal healing but also a way of communicating my thoughts with other women
   like myself. I have come to an understanding that regaining my peace and finding
   balance and true contentment is all about putting your life to work and having fun
   doing it. I, like you am more determined to continue my personal growth and
   journey into self, while enjoying all the wonderful things in like. I will receive my
   blessings with gratitude and be thankful for each day as I try to put the precious time
   to great use. I will impact others as I come into contact with the strength of my
   universe and will be compassionate and kind in my doings. I am determined to be
   the best person I can be and find the center of my being from which to live.


   My very best to you!
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