Photo: Google Images
Working in Social Services with the homeless and formerly homeless population, is very taxing. In all actuality, no one really wants to live on the streets. A very small percentage do, and most of these individuals battle serious mental health disorders. Would you be surprised, if I told you, most of us are only two paychecks away from homelessness? You shouldn’t be! Do you have an emergency fund saved up? If you lost your job now, or became ill that you couldn’t work for a while, how would you survive? Would unemployment be enough to sustain you and your family until you can work again? Typically, wherever feasible, each one of us should have at least three months of expenses put away in the event of an emergency
Social Services and Mental Health often go hand in hand. The five most common mental health disorders relate to mood, eating, personality, substance abuse, and ADHD. Most of my clients have dual/co morbid disorders, and at any time, at least one is active. The facts are at least one in every three people suffer from a mental health disorder of some sort. If you are lucky enough, there is a good chance the only thing you have to worry about, is stress and anxiety.
With many people dealing with so much at any given time, I wanted to give some basic tried and true suggestions that can be used every day to help anyone struggling with interpersonal conflict and other issues at work. For decades I worked in offices, doing the 9 to 5. No workplace is without its drawbacks. Coping strategies are a must. Today, and for the past several months, I’m lucky enough that I don’t have an office! I love that I make my schedule, start and finish when I want to. Once per week, for two or three hours I go to the office and see my other colleagues. I consider myself a free spirit and this matches my personality quite nicely!
I warmly welcome your opinion and comments below, if you found them helpful!
First and foremost, we cannot function at optimal levels if we are not mentally and physically ready for eventuality. Sure, you will do just fine for a while, even years, but sooner or later, it will catch up with you. No trial or difficulty ever happens at a convenient time. No one needs a reminder that diet and exercise is an integral part of everything we do, and how we show up for it. Pick up any self-help book, magazine, article etc. and they will preach the same things, and this strategy is mentioned every single time
Second, try as often as you can to start the day off right. Do you find yourself frazzled and already stressed out before your day has even begun? Is there something you could do differently the night before to help ease your nerves? Make lunch, put things in the right places, etc. Proper planning, will help considerably. Consider at least five or ten minute of meditation before the day even gets going. You WILL notice a difference. A positive attitude will not get easily derailed if your bus is late, there is traffic ahead etc
Third, a lot of stress in the workplace is caused by poor communication; which in turn affects how you understand your work duties, causes miscommunications, lead to hurt feelings, errors of judgement etc. So, what can you do to improve the way you communicate with others? Ask yourself, are you and your coworkers on the same page? When they step out of line, how do you handle this? Sitting and stewing helps no one. Speak up in meetings, do not think because you perceived a situation to be obvious that everyone else does too. More than half of what we say and don’t say is communicated via body language. What is yours saying to the rest of the staff? Are you open and friendly, or isolated from everyone else, whether it’s intentional? Of course, be sure to put and keep boundaries in place
Finally, stay away from interpersonal conflict (if you can). Let’s face it, conflict at work is inescapable. Avoiding gossip, over sharing personal information, arguments about politics and religion, and off-color jokes. If you must work with someone who is often involved in these behaviors, try to limit your interaction with them. If conflict does find its way to your desk, and believe me it will, consider the following strategies; practice good listening skills, be assertive, not overbearing in your communication, do your best to seek a solution, and work hard to seek a solution. These strategies are not exhaustive.
Until the next post,
Photo: Google Images
The Disease To Please
Do you say yes to people and things, when you really wanted to say no? Do you have an irrepressible need to be loved and accepted by everyone? When you are in a conversation, are you bothered and worried about how you are being perceived? Do you agree with actions, opinions, and activities, just to be able to fit in? Do you say “I’m sorry” even when it’s not necessary? Do you go to great lengths to keep the peace and avoid conflicts? Women, in your relationships, do you often find yourself getting the same results from different men? Finally, have you abandoned your truth, and no longer recognize the person in the mirror? My friend, in all likelihood you are a people pleaser!
People pleasers go above and beyond to make everyone happy. You are not alone, there are millions like you, wearing the same ill fitted shoes. You are often anxious, depressed, and overly burdened by the stressful expectations, you have placed on yourself. The problem is very common. Of course, it starts out harmlessly enough in childhood. We are rewarded and complimented when we behave in the manner that is expected of us. Unfortunately, for many, this unquenchable thirst for approval continues into adulthood. Friends, putting others before our own happiness, comes at great costs to our well-being.
There is no one type of people pleaser, they come in all forms. You refuse to end relationships, even remaining friends with an ex, you have no ties to, out of pure guilt. You are that one colleague who always says yes, because you crave the acceptance of everyone in the office. You are single woman who always seems to be baby-sitting her friends’ children. The person who loans money, knowing that you might be short, when rent comes due. Shall I go on? In almost all instances, you find yourself bogged down by guilt, depression, and in the coming years, resentment.
If you are a woman reading this, you are hard-wired, and raised to take care of others. Seeking for approval and love by our deeds. Soon enough, we are known as the “yes woman”, literally killing ourselves, to be everything for everyone. Women are continually putting the needs of others, well above their own. The reality? We want what no one could give: unconditional love and acceptance. What we fail to realize, is this rarely possible, if at all.
So, how do you take your power back, and free yourself from the “disease to please”?
Consider these five steps:
Stop sabotaging yourself just to meet the expectations of other. We teach people how to treat us, and what we allow is what will continue. You are not responsible for healing every problem that comes your way!
Make today the day, you begin to live an authentic life.
Until the next post,
I hope this blog post finds you and your family well. As I was planning my work schedule for the upcoming week, I was reminded that in a few short weeks, half of the year would have flown by! What goals did you set for 2018? How are they coming along? Wherever you are in the process, keep pushing, always being mindful, that not everyone will understand your journey. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s not for them to figure out.
I’m still on an unbelievable high from my recent trip to Africa. I think about the kids daily. I will keep my followers updated of my plans to help them, as it materializes later this year. The entire experience taught me more about myself than I thought possible. As I look back on the life path that took me to the Motherland, and inevitably where I now find myself, I cannot help but think of the road I’ve traveled thus far. I reminisced how, a few short years ago, I rallied publicly, and raged silently, as I was forced to accept circumstances that were not my own doing. Never underestimate the significance of blooming where you are planted!
Today, I am shell of that once vulnerable, naïve girl, who knew the treatment she willingly accepted, wasn’t copacetic , but lacked the strength and fortitude to stand up for herself, and say no more. I often cringe and recoil inside, when I remember the depth and breadth, of the suffering I went through. I didn’t love myself. How could I? I had to go through a process, an awakening, a cleansing of some sort, to come out on the other side.
How did I go from one extreme to another? I remembered who I was, and the game changed. I learned to love me. I came to realize that a relationship, job, or circumstance, would not create the inner peace, and contentment I craved. I discovered this game-changing morsel of truth: the only person, who is unequivocally responsible for my happiness, was me. I relied heavily on the fact, that I am enough, and always will be. I now know that a loving, respectful, kind, and compassionate relationship with myself, was the beginning of the greatest romance, I will ever have; the one I had with myself.
Last year, I blogged here about my collaboration with multiple authors. Well, that was released a few months ago, and it hit bestseller in multiple categories!! One of the goals I set for myself in 2018, was to write at least three books. Currently, an EBook, is in the pipeline; it summarizes the steps I took to bring about the change I desperately sought from within. Today, I will share with you, a few of the practices that worked for me.
First, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over the past few years, was to become intimately familiar with my inner voice. The one that provides a running commentary and affects more than we will ever know. The way we talk to ourselves, can either be positive and supportive, or harmful and defeating. I cannot stress enough, how important it is, that you and I are mindful of the ways in which we talk to ourselves. We all engage in self talk, this is normal; it helps us to figure out the world around us. My point is, have you stopped to consider how you do it? What are some of the things you tell yourself every day? Do you understand the relationship between this type of self talk, how it reflects on your daily actions, and your interactions with everyone around you? Everything starts here!
I also started introducing daily affirmations. I found it best to do this in the morning, right out of bed, or at least before the day gets started. I challenge you to look in the mirror and use phrases such as “I love you”. “I wholeheartedly accept myself the way I am” “I believe in, have trust, and confidence in myself” “I’m talented, and can use these talents for the good of those around me” “I commit to learning new things” etc. Whatever applies to your unique situation. Try to make this a daily habit. Soon, you will start to notice that not only do you believe these things, but you also get rid of negative, self-defeating thoughts, that you’ve been carrying around, and focus more on your goals.
Next, create habits of self-love and care; take yourself on a weekly date, get a massage, acupuncture, tune into how you feel on a daily basis, eat well, dress in ways that make you feel good, exercise, keep a journal, take up a hobby or revisit past passions, perform random acts of kindness, take photos of things you love, take a break from social media. Taking time for yourself without feeling guilt, or having to explain, why you are not available. Self care is not an indulgence, it’s a necessity.
Confucius said “The more you know yourself, the more you forgive yourself” My dear readers, followers, and visitors, only you and I are intimately familiar with our unique challenges. Are you holding onto burdens you should have left behind a long time ago? Well, when you don’t forgive yourself, you are doing just that. Being kind and forgiving to yourself simply means releasing anything, including energy that no longer serves any purpose in your life. Make peace with which you are, and the challenges you face daily.
Finally, begin each day with an attitude of gratitude. A few years ago, I decided to carry out a small experiment. I got an empty jar, each day for an entire year; I would find something to be grateful for, and write it down on a piece of colored paper. Often it was the smallest of incidences (the door being opened for me, a smile from a stranger etc). There is something to be said for waking up on New Year’s Day, emptying the jar and being reminded of just how wonderful the year had been to me! Maybe, for you, everyday is a bit too much to start with, or you don’t need/want to make a list. The idea is to get in the habit of expressing gratitude for the good things in your life.
Friends, it’s imperative for you to know, that the most important relationship you and I will ever have, is the one we have with ourselves. The success of any other relationship, is heavily predicated on this. No one will ever love you more than you love yourself. Consider this game changer; when we don’t love and accept ourselves fully, we create more work for our partners, families and friends, accept poor treatment from others, compare and compete, and cannot get through a day without needing validation.
Isn’t it time you begin to develop and nourish your greatest romance of all time? Infuse your life with action, passion, your own love. If you do not love yourself, you will have a hard time loving others. Embrace your flaws. Don’t just be content with accepting yourself, but be absolutely crazy about it!
Make today, the day you begin your own unique journey of self exploration, acceptance, kindness and compassion, with you! “We all deserve the same type of love, we keep giving everyone else”
Until the next post, take care of yourselves, and your families.
A week ago yesterday, I was in Turkey, waiting for the last leg of my flight back to the US. As I sat in the lounge wafting for the flight to begin boarding, I took time to look at the hundreds of photos I had taken over the past two weeks. You see, I was returning from a multi dimensional trip to the Motherland. My time in Ghana is indescribable. I had no expectations going in, but by the time I left, a new, bolder, and very ambitious vision had taken shape. One that is set to change the course of my life!
One post cannot deliver a suitable narrative for all the things I did, the experiences I reveled in, people I met and formed instant, long-lasting bonds with, and the emotions which overtook me every day. I spent the first week volunteering at a village orphanage, and would wrap up my two-week stay exploring the sights and sounds of Ghana! What an incredible life-changing and affirming experience.
The overcrowded village orphanage houses more than 140 children and young adults, ranging in ages from 0 to 26 years. Frequent medical care is needed. At least 2-3 children share a single bunk bed. Children sleep outside on the veranda. School is also held outside and under a mango tree. Many orphans have experienced bullying, when they tried to attend regular schools. Basic toilet/bathroom facilities are nonexistent. Malaria is prevalent, and some of the children have HIV. The orphanage is in dire straits in many ways, but thriving in some areas. A new facility is being built, but progress has been slow. More on that later.
First I wanted to tell you a bit about some of the children I met, and have now become my adopted 6. As soon as we pulled up to the volunteer house, six-year-old *Shelly * (names have been changed) and three other girls ran out to meet us. She and I bonded instantly! Shelly has called the orphanage home for the past two years. You see, her mother has sickle-cell anemia, and is often hospitalized for weeks, as she battles the life threatening disease. The father had long since abandoned her mother. Unable to care for Shelly any longer, she was handed over to the orphanage. Apparently, African men often abandon their families without a second thought.
*Jenny* is smart, beautiful, talkative, and very intelligent. She enjoyed the crossword puzzles I bought, and often asked for help finding difficult words. On my birthday, a celebration was held for me; they sang, some danced, and performed, while I sat at a table looking on. They asked for blessings on my life, health, and everything else. Good thing I had it recorded. Jenny, wrote me a beautiful letter, and by some miracle, gave me a pair of earrings. I don’t know how she did so, but that night as I read the sweet, beautifully penned words, the tears were free-flowing. I don’t know much more about her story (I did ask). Her parents are still alive, however, they don’t visit as often as they use to.
*Erika*, is from a family of 6 siblings, however, she was the only one who ended up at the Orphanage. Apparently, the house they were living in fell down on her mother, killing her. The father left, and she ended up there. The older siblings visit when they could. Erika always has a smile on her face. She is one of 5 girls who were chosen to help out at the volunteer house. Erika works tirelessly, and not once did I hear a complaint. One day, she will become a respected Dentist.
*Deborah*, is one of four siblings at the orphanage. After her father died, her mother was suspected of having a role in the death (this is unfounded). His family shunned her, and she was no longer able to take care of them. She was left to make the heart breaking decision, to turn them over to the Orphanage. *Deborah’s* dream is to one day become a banker.
Deborah’s sister *Hannah* is more quiet and reserved. She reminds me a lot of myself at her age. Still trying to figure out the world around her. I could tell she misses her family being together. I think if I had more than a week there, we would have developed a stronger bond. I could tell something was very much troubling her, and tried to get her to open up, but she held back. The sadness in her eyes broke my heart in so many pieces. She wasn’t interested in much of the activities;however, she did want to skip. So on my last day, I gifted her a pink skipping rope.
*Suzy* was one of the older girls who fixed us delicious meals, and took charge in Auntie B’s absence. She spoke with a smile, and just brought so much joy to the experience of us being there. She is in senior high school, and does a great job of keeping things running smoothly. On our last night, I wrote her and the other girl’s letters of encouragement and support. I could tell they were surprised by the gesture. They all happily returned the favor.
I decided to spend a lot of time with as many kids at the orphanage as I could; their dreams are so much bigger than I had at that time in my life! If you met them on the outside, you would never guess their plight. The stories will break your heart, BUT, the smiles, playfulness, and all around good nature, is beyond anything I have ever seen, from a people who have absolutely nothing. I bought puzzles, games, play doh, stickers etc. You CANNOT imagine how joyful they were to take part in these activities. Once they completed an activity, they were rewarded with stickers. Such a small reward, but to them, it meant so much more. I made sure that on my last day, I would have nothing left over.
As mentioned above, my birthday was spent at the orphanage, and a celebration was held for me. There was music dancing, singing and well wishing. I sat a table, and looked on as the children and adults wished me well. It’s not often I will have the opportunity to spend my birthday in this most special way! I was asked to say a few words, and could only manage just that much, as the tears were free-flowing. As I looked over the faces of so many young ones, I tried very hard to memorize them all. It was incredibly important for me to immortalize this moment. According to tradition, the birthday person supplies the drinks and snacks, and a friend gets the cake. The guide I had been talking to for more than a year, before my trip, did just that. The pure delight at being treated to something so simple and abundant in the West, brought me to tears. We gave out seconds and thirds. My heart was heavy, and bursting with so much love for people, I had only known for a few days.
It was very difficult to say goodbye, especially to *Shelly*. As we piled into the SUV to leave for the last time, she and I started crying. We hugged for a long time, but it wasn’t enough, could never be enough. I hoped she knew how much I had come to love her, and just how much I plan on helping her for as long, as I walk this earth. I left a donation to the orphanage, and two of the girls for simple things they needed. I knew then, what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. I will always have more than I will ever need. I made a choice to help change the generations that will come from these loving and gentle souls.
My British bestie, Maggie, joined me for the second part of the trip. It was a perfect way to wrap up my first visit to the motherland. We journeyed to Cape Coast; the main attraction is the slave castle, which once housed thousands of slaves, before they were shipped off to the Americas and Caribbean, bound for a life, they were certainly afraid of. We saw the room and conditions the rebellious slaves were kept in. After being publicly flogged, they were left to die in a windowless room. No food or water was given. A soldier would occasionally check in, to see if they had passed on. Once this was the case, the bodies were dumped in the ocean. For effect, the guide closed the door for less than a minute, while we were inside. Chilling.
We toured the male dungeons, where coincidentally, church services were held just above. Female slaves and children were housed together. We saw the observation rooms, where soldiers stood guard and kept on eye out for any planned rebellions. To overcome the language barrier, spies were planted among real slaves. Their sole purpose was to bring back word to the Governors. The Door of No Return symbolized the end of one nightmare, and the beginning of another. Once the slaves passed through, they were loaded onto ships, bound for their new homes. I now understand fully, the meaning of the phrase “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, for they knew that death was better than bondage”
It was also in Cape Coast, where I was blessed with a beautiful African Naming and Welcome Home Ceremony. The proceedings were watched over, and performed by the third Queen of the one of the tribes, and a village Father. The love, warmth, welcome, and total acceptance directed at me, was indescribable. I honestly felt that I was HOME. The Queen invited me to visit her home, the next time I’m in Ghana. For now, she welcomed me back, and expressed gratitude for the visit. It was a proud moment.
Back in Accra, we got involved in so many activities; survived the infamous, and nerve-racking canopy walk at Kakum National Park, toured the magnificent Aburi Botanical Gardens, visited the Mausoleum of the country’s first prime minister, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, learned how to play drums, ate too much delicious, freshly prepared dishes. Shopping is quite the experience, as we left it up to our guide to haggle for us. We had to spend the last night at the DC 10 Restaurant. It’s housed in an old airplane, formerly belonging to Ghana Airlines. We got dressed up in matching outfits. While waiting in the lobby for our guide/driver, we attracted the attention of the male hotel guests, who began taking our photos:). The front desk clerk asked if it was okay, to place the photo on the website. How cool is that?!
I’m back in the US now, and trying to catch up on my projects, business, and platforms. I had the most amazing time in Ghana. There is work for me to do, and a lot of newly adopted kids who to help. Working in Social Services, I know the difference it makes in the lives of my clients. However, the work I’m about to embark on, is so much bigger than anything I have ever done. I’m asking for prayers to guide my steps. My heart is full, my eyes are wet, so help me Lord, lest I forget.
A myriad of life choices led me to a small village in Ghana, where I am convinced; they were waiting to change my life, instead of the other way around. I have been given much, and now I must share with those who have nothing, in ways I’ve never dreamed of. Thank you Mama Africa, and especially to the wonderfully kind people of Ghana…till we meet again.
Until the next post,
Rrecently, I was blessed with the opportunity to speak at my first Virtual Summit. An exciting experience! I based my topic around this quote:”We will not be distracted by comparison, if we are captivate with purpose“. Today, I wish to share some tidy tidbits from my talk. It’s normal to wonder how we measure up to other people; this is part of our basic desire to understand our place in this world. Social media is primarily responsible for every reminder of our various inadequacies. Open any app or page, and you will be immediately greeted with snapshots of work promotions, busy social lives, family outings, new cars, idyllic vacations, remodeled kitchens, etc. It becomes increasingly difficult to ignore our own frustrations and struggles.
Social comparison is wrong for many reasons; it’s mostly based on others so-called “perfection of illusion”. How many of us are privy to the whole truth? We might not feel so inadequate, if we knew how carefully they crafted the public images of perfection. We must also remember life isn’t fair; some are born with more advantages than others. Comparing ourselves with others can turn friends into rivals, which in turn, can cripple our ability to share in the joys of those around us.
My dear friends, find purpose in your life! Is there some type of injustice you can help make right? Find a cause. Do more of what sets your soul on fire. What are you willing to sacrifice for? Use your inner GPS and rely on it more often than you do now. Continually ask yourself questions such as “Am I where I want to be?” “Have I accomplished all I thought I would by now?” “Am I fulfilled in my career or business?”. While you are still searching for your purpose, support the innovators game changers around you. Comparison is the thief of joy. Focus on your blessings, count your blessings, and learn to be happy with enough. If we are captivated with purpose, we will not be distracted by comparison!
Enjoy the video below!
Until the next post,
Oh, the powerful three-letter word J-O-Y. Joy is a word that has so many meanings for so many people. It’s a feeling we all want to enjoy but many times find it difficult to achieve. As a life coach and the CEO & Founder of SV Elite Coaching, I often work with clients that say, “I wish I could experience joy and be happier.” Or the classic, “I know I have what I need, but that feeling of joy is still missing”. Does that mean that joy is something we stumble upon or “find along the way”? Not even close! Joy is defined as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”. Just like happiness is a choice, joy is too. We choose to practice joy every single day of our lives (or not for that matter!). So how do we move from wanting joy to actually practicing joy in our everyday lives? Here are six simple ways.
In case you find joy hard to experience, I hope this article has shown you that it’s easier than you may think. We often make things a lot more complicated than they really are. Practicing joy is a choice available to all of us and one we should all choose. Let joy be a small yet powerful word that defines your life. I guarantee it will change you, your mind, and your future for the better.
Sara Voyard is a certified life coach, master NLP practitioner, and the CEO & Founder of SV Elite Coaching. For over a decade she has helped people transform their thoughts, enjoy fulfilling relationships, deepen their spirituality, and find true purpose in life. Her mission is to create an empowering and motivational space where her clients can let their authentic selves shine so they can enjoy the lives they have always dreamt of. The motto at SV Elite Coaching is,“Be You. Be Real. Be Extraordinary”.
Connect with Sara by visiting the following links:
Until the next post,
Happy New Year!
I can still say that right?!
Do you have 18 minutes to spare today? I absolutely love the message in the video below. Go watch it now.
If you are not obsessed with your life, change it. Bob Goff once said: “We wont be distracted by comparison, if we are captivated with purpose”
Friends, family, well wishers, followers, and the curious, say it with me : Risk being seen in all of your glory!
Until the next post,