Stand Tall

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“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”
― Albert Einstein
photo cred: Steve Madden

In my early life I felt I had it all. I was the prettiest, the skinniest, the smartest, surrounded by favor and grace. I lived it, breathed it & firmly believed it. It seemed like I was naturally excellent at a lot of things and it appeared that everything I touched turned to gold. I modeled, I acted, I sang, I excelled academically and aside from not feeling like the most popular well liked girl at school, everywhere outside of that I was unreachable. I always lived on another level, even if that world lived only in my head. I really believed I would never fail at anything I tried at. I was confident and self assured. But then life happened. Bit by bit, bruise by bruise, and wreckage after wreckage chipped away at my belief in my value. Suddenly I didn’t feel so pretty. It’s funny how life has a way of beating us down into believing a lot of things about us that just aren’t true. I’ve had a crazy life and I look forward to writing more transparently as we continue on this journey. But for today I want to talk about value, identity, and success.

I work in a cut throat industry. It’s not just an industry but truly a well oiled machine– an environment where conformist succeed. But that’s just one part of it. It’s also a jungle. It’s a jungle with ladders, hidden doorways, and where certain rules gain access to the next level, while other patters of behavior can lead you to utter ruin. This beast I am referring to is corporate america. I live in this environment 40 hours per week and sometimes I thrive at the thrill of triumph while other days I feel utterly chewed up and spit out only to be found on the bottom of someone else’s shoes.

Let me tell you, I have never fit in. Never. Not in my entire life. I have always been a bird of a different feather, a horse of a different color, and a woman dancing to the beat of a different drummer. I don’t know how I succeed so well because honestly most of the time I find myself spilling out of the box I’m supposed to fit so neatly into. I’ve grown up being beaten into shape and form in this industry and honestly it’s made me a strong and resilient person. It hasn’t been easy let me tell you.

Somewhere a while ago, I decided I wanted to be well known. I wanted to be an unmistakable voice in this world. I didn’t want to be behind the scenes and I didn’t want to be waiting on an elevator waiting for my stop forever. I have always had a personality for the spotlight, but in a lot of ways I have wanted these things for the wrong reason. I wanted to be loved and accepted. You see, I often found my value in how well liked I have been, how successful I have been at my job, the recognition that I receive and the affirmation of my superiors. But a lot of times in my messy process, I have often found myself shrinking under pressure and devaluing myself based on my mistakes. How many of you have been there?

We all want to be successful. We all want to be heard. Who wants to live and not be appreciated or valued? None of us would agree with that, we are all here to find our purpose and find love, meaning & JOY in our lives.

But this idea kind of came to my head today as I got back to my hotel (I’m on my first business trip)

Today at work I did something kind of gutsy. I spoke up and spoke out and challenged the ideas of some very powerful people. It was a little rogue, but it was impactful and my team shared with me how proud of me they were for speaking up and backing up one of my team members. I realized in that moment I could have caused people to have a different view on me– as I was taking a powerful risk in challenging someone in authority (respectfully) I believed and owned what I said in that meeting and I’m proud of my audacity. I don’t know what came over me honestly, but I cared that my team member was understood and I realized in that moment I had a chance to be a voice to those who might not have been bold enough to speak up for themselves.

After the meeting and hearing my team members encourage me, I realized that so many times I have held back or judged myself for falling outside of the lines of what is acceptable in the corporate jungle. I’ve often felt like I will always be just the little guy, even though I have dreams that are larger than the very life I live. I’ve often felt like when is my moment? When will someone take notice of my talent and set me on a course to soar? I often struggle going between staying in the lines and carving my own path–but can I tell you? Robert Frost was onto something when he said he took the road less traveled and it made all the difference.

I’m slowly learning to walk on my own–to stand tall on my own two feet.

Sometimes I look at other people who succeed like crazy and I wonder why was I left behind. But I think I am coming to realize that it’s those who carve out their own paths, stay truest to their true self, and fulfill the call on their life–BEING the person that God created and DESIGNED them to be– that succeed.

We lose out, we short ourselves when we sacrifice our authenticity. We were created to be a one of kind original work of living art. What happens when we suffocate that self? Parts of our heart and soul die of spiritual atrophy because we can no longer freely be who we were always meant to be.

As for me, I will keep learning to stand tall. I will keep going against the grain, yet not kick against the goads. I will learn to love myself and love others despite how excruciating or difficult that may be. I will find what makes my heart and soul come alive and live it out. And as I do so authentically, at the proper time, I will be that voice that is heard.

I have so much more to say on this, but for now, I will leave you with this….

When you be your truest self, you are filled with such purpose and you are valuable–because who you are is what everyone in this world needs, they just haven’t all met you yet. This world would be completely different without you in it. Find who you are, love yourself, and BE that YOU.

You are LOVED and ADORED

XOXO

Alicia

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Stand Still

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I’m having a Carrie Bradshaw moment, and not in that Rated R kind of way. As I sat doing my daily pre-bedtime rituals, I sat there thinking a million thoughts in my head. I had this kind of agitation that only comes at certain times. You know, the kind where you know when you rest your head on your pillow at night, you know that you won’t be able to fall asleep. Immediately I knew I was supposed to write. It’s been so long that I fear my fingers have been collecting dust. My hands have been used for carrying heavy things, running from one place to the next with my role and many thoughts have come and gone without a single click to the keyboard. So much has happened since I’ve last written. You wouldn’t believe it, even if I told you.

One thing I can tell you for certain is that my work has consumed my life, and not the kind of work that I’m LIFE passionate about. What am I passionate about anymore? Sometimes it seems in life as soon as I think I’ve found direction, as I begin to see myself moving in one singular direction, something comes along and thwarts the plan and I’m left sitting in the dust trying to collect the particles that fly all around me. Does this even make sense? It’s like my life is in a perpetual standstill. Where am I going to go from here? Why am I here? Will I ever make it to where I know I am meant to go? So many people live their entire lives and never realize or act upon their calling. Here I am, a called writer, and I’ve been working to no end. Working and working and working, but not crafting my trade.

What do you do when you find yourself in that predicament?

What do you do when you don’t really know what to do? With yourself? With your life?

Honestly I have felt so lost. I am succeeding so well in my career. I was ranked #1 in my entire company for my role for the month of November, but I can tell you that on many, many occasions, I thought about ending it all. What do I have to live for? I’ve played the game of life for so long, and yes I have done many incredible things. When I look back over my life I can string a bunch of memories together that make for incredible stories. On the outside, it seems as if I have it all. I could tell story after story of miraculous moments and grandly favored experiences, where others would be in awe. I’m sure some people look at Adored Above and at my Facebook and think that life is just peachy for me. Can I let you in on a little secret? I’m one of the most talented and capable individuals I have ever met (although there are many more talented and many more capable) YET, I have no idea what to do next. And honestly, that makes my talent and abilities seem so much less than they are. How can I make a lasting impact on the World, when I can barely get through mine each day? It’s not as if I’m not able. I am. It’s just that my mind is waging a war, and the enemy is myself. One thing I can tell you, and it’s not that I have it figured out, is that your thoughts truly have a huge power over your destiny. On the day that I wanted to give up completely, I couldn’t think of anything to ease my pain and confusion. I couldn’t see my way out of the hopeless mental fog. Yet when I least expected it, I found out that I had achieved my goal without even realizing I had done it. In a moment, all of those long hours, sleepless nights, grueling shifts, miles and miles spent driving, and days I barely ate AMOUNTED to something, and something significant. Yet, even with all the success, there is something to be said about a quieted and content mind. A mind and soul at peace and at rest within oneself. I don’t claim to have all the answers. Honestly, if I had all the answers, I wouldn’t be writing out my frustrations for all to read. I would certainly be in a better position than I am today. But the fact of the matter is….

Regardless of how I feel, I have value. I may not feel valuable. Honestly, more times than not (and I am not proud to admit this) I have a hard time seeing my worth. Head knowledge is very different from heart knowledge. I can know the facts about my successes and my life, but if I don’t believe it in my heart it is just words on a page, a thought passing by like a shooting star fading out into the distance.

Every person reading this can relate to this feeling. If you can’t, I want your Wheaties for breakfast. Bottom line is that life is a crazy journey. Sometimes you can feel like you are on top of the world and the sun rises to greet you. Other days, you are as good as the gunk on the bottom of some random persons shoe. 

I feel like I’m posing a problem that I have a hard time finding a solution to. Maybe that’s part of the point? I know I’ve spent many years struggling with this, but it’s not something I want to struggle with forever. I don’t know how to get out of this rut I am in, but I know that it’s better to do something than nothing. So what do I do?

I honestly don’t know. I take life day by day at this point. Sometimes standing still is helpful and just right. Other times, standing still is just not the best route. I may not be able to climb the highest mountain in a day, but I can certainly take the first step.

I might not understand all the reasons for why things are the way they are in my life, but what I can do is take a small step to learning more, growing, and towards one of my dreams, goals or visions.

Hopefully this is helping someone, because I honestly feel like I’m rambling. Maybe today is that small step. It’s been a long time since I have written and I am rusty. But the fact that I am putting action to my future dream of writing in a tangible way today…. maybe that is the point. That small, but impactful step.

And on that note, I am going to bed.

See you soon, xo

~Alicia

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Freedom & Selfishness

It’s funny how our worlds become so big to us. We look through the lenses which see through the filters we each possess. Our lives can become so overwhelmingly huge, almost unbearable. Then in an instance we experience a paradigm shift, something that unsettles us penetrating our core. Our foundation is tested by the trials and tribulations, yet every now and again we look to our left or our right and see someone trudging through muck we can not fathom. Their ankles submerged below a swamp of sorrow and unimaginable pain. In an instant, your life is put back in it’s proper perspective. You see your life through fresh and thankful eyes. You see the mundane as a blessing in disguise. You see the burdens of life as light satchels that you are privileged to bear. You see discord as petty disagreements which lack eternal significance. You see your mound of debt as a pile of beans. You see your own health difficulties as minor discomforts. You see your life through eyes of gratefulness. Why does it take such earth rattling instances to grip us back into the center of reality? Why are we always rushing from one place to the next, desperate for change? Why are we always clamoring and complaining about the mildest instances of minor annoyances? Why are we so quick to give our unwarranted opinion? Why are we so quick to defend our liberties with self righteous entitlement, when those around us are silently dying from injustices, sorrow & pain? It’s ironic how you toil your life away only to realize at the end you didn’t live it as you should have. That in the end, everything wasn’t really worth the worry, the complaining, the stress? That you really didn’t have it that bad, and that you could have always done more?

 

Today I stand at a new gate. I hear about an eight year old dying from stage four terminal cancer who is laying in his hospital bed right now fearing his own life. A life he has yet to live, who knows very little about the world around him. He’s kidnapped from peaceful and unaware childhood, and thrust into the throes of fighting for his life. His father has overcome obstacle after obstacle, barely catching his breath between each wave and breaker as it claws for him to succumb to it’s power. He looks at his balances and knows the heaping piles of medical bills that are to come, yet fearlessly places every last worth of his life into the hands of the doctors and medical professionals for a glimpse of hope that will save his beloved son. There is a mother whose heart is broken and lies awake at night with thoughts that demand her attention. Half of herself is far enough where he is out of reach, but so close she can touch his face as he cries in confusion.

Then I reflect back on my life. Some of my primary concerns are what I will do with my life, what time I will take my lunch, do people understand me, do they like me? How do I feel? What’s most important to me? What will I do when I get off work? How will I pay my bills? What are my next steps? I stress and struggle over solutions that are unsolvable in my life right now, but when I put them beside this family I am suddenly ashamed at my selfishness. I know I’m not a selfish person, and I certainly don’t intend to be, but it just goes to show how selfish we can truly be.

 

God, 

I pray that you’d make my life meaningful.

Let me be someone who lifts burdens off of others, with wisdom and discernment.

Let me be a light that floods others with hope, that what they see coming out of me is just a glimpse of your amazing goodness. 

God I ask that you’d be with this family and child. Lord you are the GOD over all. You can speak and mountains move. We ask in JESUS NAME that this mountain be removed. God I thank you for my wonderful and beautiful life, which you have blessed me with and of which I do not deserve on my own merit alone. Thank you for your favor & grace which surround me as a hedge of protection and bless everyone I come into contact with. I love you, Lord. You are great and worthy of all my praise–with every breath I take.

Amen.

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