Encouragement, Happiness, Life Lessons

Moment of Clarity – My Love Journey

by Ariane Cunningham

Love is roses from time to time. Surprises and gifts. Disagreements and annoyances. Love is also patient and kind. Love is freedom to completely be yourself and sharing your authentic self with someone else. 

One of the biggest lessons that love has taught me thus far in my young journey in life is the sheer importance of patience, empathy, compassion, forgiveness, and deciding whether that one issue (and there is always that one issue in relationships) will make you or break you. Will love outweigh the imperfections of someone who did not ask your permission to be perfect? Do we not all have imperfections? If you cannot live without that person or their love, imperfections are the small things. 

I have learned the lesson of the importance of self-love, by loving God and myself first. There is no other path to loving someone fully than by loving yourself first. If you do not love yourself, are still upset about what someone said to you six months ago, carrying baggage that God has delivered and forgiven you from one year ago, but out of guilt you carry that baggage anyway; you are not ready for loving anyone but yourself…first. 

Love has also taught me how important it is to live in the moment in life. Cherishing the small things, looking and experiencing things like they were happening for the first time. Those are my moments of clarity on love thus far. To be continued….

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Happiness, Inspirational, Life Lessons, Motivation, Motivational

No Comparisons – Don’t Hinder Your Happiness

by Ariane Cunningham

 I feel the number one hindrance to happiness is comparing yourself to others. It is an endless rabbit hole that will make you feel you don’t measure up to what your friends have, what your neighbors have, what other family members may possess.

EVERYONE has their own story. Everyone has a unique calling, a divine purpose, an innate gift that was given just for you. Rest in that. Live life to be YOUR best self, not the best in comparison to someone else. It can make all the difference.

You were uniquely made not to be your neighbor, your best friend, your family member, you were uniquely made to be the best YOU.

YOU are enough. Live to be Your best self. Live your own story. You will surprise yourself with the happiness that comes from No Comparisons.  

Encouragement, Happiness, Inspirational

Sleeping Beauty

When I was in grade school I loved to read and write poetry. It was so freeing and whimsical, and even if what I wrote didn’t often rhyme, it’s something that I truly loved.  I have a poem dancing in my head in this moment, so I wanted to share it with all of you. It’s called Sleeping Beauty. Remember, I am a novice at poetry, so please keep that in mind and enjoy. 😌

Sleeping Beauty

As the Sleeping Beauty drifts off to sleep, she prays the Lord her dear soul to keep. She dreams of love, she dreams of laughter, she dreams of her happily ever after. In her dream her prince appears, and he tells her heart to no longer to fear. He is true, he is noble, he is worthy, so with him her heart does not have to hurry. The prince adores his Sleeping Beauty, to protect her Heart is his true duty. He protects her, he adores her, he is captivated, as for such a beauty he has long awaited. When she wakes the prince vows to make his Sleeping Beauty his one true happily ever after, as her Beauty and presence alone has his heart in deep capture. This dream, like all dreams, comes to an end as Sleeping Beauty awakes, wondering if her prince will come to her rescue, she prays, for her sake. The Beauty tells herself dreams do come true, and if she prays for that honorable prince, is it something God will truly do. She longs to tell others to never give up on their dreams, as difficult and hard as it may sometimes seem. There is a prince that is honest,  noble, and true, as God reassures her by telling her “When he finds you, he is just for YOU.”

 

 

Happiness

Resting in Our Faith

“Now Faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1  (American Standard Version)

Our faith is often tested when we don’t see the things for which we most hope manifest in our lives. The potential relationship, for which we know is just right for us, may seem to be going nowhere fast. Our career may not be going exactly the way we thought it would and projected it would five years ago. We may have not yet reconciled or healed from a hurtful wound in a relationship with a close friend or loved one. Financially, we may feel we could do better and should be in a better place. 

My friends, I humbly tell you, this is where our faith, and our actions through faith, step in. As stated early on, the Holy Bible tells us that “Faith is the ASSURANCE of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.” We may not see the relationship we want coming to fruition, we may not see the reconciliation with a loved one happening anytime soon, we may not see our finances improving in this moment. This does not mean that we should lose faith, this does not mean we should not act through faith to make these things so, this means we should INCREASE OUR FAITH.

What our creator has planned for our lives, including increase, an abundance of joy and happiness, an abundance of blessings to meet our needs, is already divinely meant for us and is for us. In that critical fact alone, we must continue to not only have faith, but to increase our faith. I remind myself of this daily.

I wrote a blog post recently about Usain Bolt, the amazing Jamaican sprinter from humble beginnings who has won eight Olympic goal medals, is an 11 time World Champion, and is presently considered to be the fastest man in the world. I don’t know Usain Bolt personally, but I am sure he does not approach races saying “I can’t do this, I will never win, it’s not worth trying.” That is not the mindset of the winner he is and has become. Winners have FAITH in themselves, even if they can’t see the outcome of the race. We must have FAITH that even if we don’t see the outcome of the race, the hurdles, and the obstacles in our lives, it can be done if we have FAITH, act in FAITH, and believe it to be so. 

Keep the faith, my dear friends. Encourage those around you to have faith that things can and will get better. Encourage yourselves to continue to have faith and, lastly, be hopeful in knowing that our creator rewards faithfulness to those who diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Let’s rest in the hope of our Faith today.

 

Encouragement, Happiness, Inspirational, Life Lessons, Motivation, Motivational

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

Who can forget the epic success of  the great sprinter Usain Bolt, the Jamaican native who has won eight Olympic goal medals, who is an 11 time World Champion, and rightfully considered the fastest man in the world.  The “Lightening Bolt”, as Usain is often referenced, is the only man or woman to win the Olympic 100 three times. He is also considered the greatest sprinter of all time.

I am fascinated by not only Usain “Lightening Bolt”, but all sprinters.  I am inspired by their determination, their will to win, their speed, and their focus.  Hence, the title of this post “On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!”

Usain Bolt is quoted as saying shortly after his epic wins “Somebody said I could become immortal.” This coming from a young man with such humble beginnings, born in Treelawny, Jamaica, where his parents owned a small supermarket. Usain rose from those humble beginnings to become the greatest and fastest sprinter of all time.  He believed in his dreams of greatness, he pursued those dreams and attained them, in my opinion, over and above what he could ever imagine.  There will probably never be another Usain Bolt in our lifetime.

One of my mantra’s in life is if you believe it, you can achieve it.  Dream big, work hard, pace yourself, and your dreams can come true.  We may not have the ability to win eight gold Olympic metals like the Lightening Bolt, but we can achieve greatness in our own right.

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go is said to sprinters just as they prepare to take off on their race.  I love this saying, as I feel we can all apply this to our own lives by following a few key steps.

  1. On Your Mark – Get in your lane. Set your sights on greatness by positioning yourself for success. Stay in the position of greatness.  Focus on what you hope to achieve.
  2. Get Set – Start your position. Identify your goals and get set to make them happen. Muster up all of the courage within you to prepare to run the race of your life to achieve your goals.
  3. Go! – Take off after your dreams.  Run the race. Go after your dreams.  Give it your all. Try your best, as your best is enough. Go! Go! Go!

Let’s get on Our Mark, Get Set, and Go! You can do it because you are awesome and capable in your own right, with your own unique set of gifts, abilities, and sheer willpower. 

Let’s Go! Watch out World.

 

Encouragement, Happiness, Inspirational, Life Lessons, Motivation, Motivational

Resilience

IMG_0419.JPGMy beautiful, late Grandmother Marie was one of the most resilient women I have ever known. She raised nine children alone after the tragic passing of my grandfather. Up until the day she died, she put the needs of others before her own. She had her own struggles, but always wanted to make sure all of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were ok. She was humble, kind, graceful, compassionate, and loving. She also possessed the strongest work ethic of anyone I have ever known to make sure she provided for all of children while they were growing up.

My fondest memories of my childhood  are spending summers at my grandmother’s home in a small town in North Carolina. She lived on a beautiful piece of land surrounded by trees, the wonderful smell of nature, and plenty of acres for me to run and play from dawn until dusk. While I would visit with her she would make fresh and delicious breads and cake from scratch on a wood burning stove, take me to town, as southerners say, for shopping trips, and even read with me every night during my summer visits until I fell asleep. As I got older we would spend our summer evenings reading our respective books or magazines together side-by-side, until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer. Grandmother Marie loved a good baseball game and Wheel of Fortune. There wasn’t an evening that passed during my summer visits that we didn’t tune in to watch Pat Sajak and Vanna White spin the wheel and reveal the letters on the show. Today, Wheel of Fortune is my dear mother’s favorite show.

My grandmother developed diabeties later in life, but you would never have known. She didn’t complain. She kept going, kept nurturing, and kept encouraging those around her even as her illness worsened. On her sickest days, she would call all of her children to make sure they were ok. She was a fighter. She was strong beyond words. She was resilient.

One morning in 2007, a day that would turn out to be one of one the saddest days of my life, Grandmother Marie called my mother to make sure I was ok. She died hours later that day. She died in peace knowing that she had instilled in all of her loved ones a spirit of grace, thanksgiving, and resilience. Her legacy of strength lives within all of us.

I strive everyday to be as resilient, graceful, giving, loving, empathetic, and humble as Grandmother Marie. Her memory and spirit is always with me, as I know she is with God in heaven in all of heavan’s glory. She is my guardian angel. I will see her again one day in heaven.

I am sure each of you have had or have amazing people in your life who have encouraged you by their sheer resilience. I urge you to say Thank You to your role model of resilience, even if it is in the form of a prayer for those who are no longer with us on this earth.  

Thank You, my Beautiful Grandmother Marie, my angel in heaven, for your resilience. It has made all the difference in my life.

Choose to be RESILIENT TODAY, despite all of the odds.

 

Encouragement, Happiness, Inspirational, Life Lessons, Motivation, Motivational

Living Without Fear

IMG_1278We live in a world today where there are a lot of troubling things that happen around us. Just five minutes of listening to any news station, one can become inundated with tragic national and world events, tragedies that effect our local neighborhood or hometown, or talks of war, poverty, and devastation. Personally, I no longer watch the local news in my hometown in the Washington, DC Metro area; I feel overwhelmed by the many acts of senseless violence that is a common theme of our local news programs. I stay socially aware by watching National and World news broadcasts. 

There is one thing I know for sure that gives me hope, and peace of mind. God did not intend for us to live in fear. He tells us in 2 Timothy, 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of fearfulness, but of power and love and discipline.”  This, my friends, is so critical to remember. How many times have we not pursued a dream out of fear of rejection? How many times has fear prevented us from pursuing a new job opportunity, a new business venture, a healthy and loving relationship, or our dream of becoming our best self?  This is no way to live. All of us are blessed with innate gifts of greatness. All of us have tangible and intangible gifts of greatness to contribute to this world. We must not let fear hold us back from making decisions or taking steps that will allow us to become our best self. 

Will the news continue to be filled with tragedy and discourse in our nation and world? The answer is simply, yes. In spite of what is happening around us, we must not let fear dictate our daily lives. We must live boldly, confidently, and FEARLESSLY. Trust your inner spirit that was not made or meant to have a spirit or fear. 

Lastly, I will leave these word with you from Phillipians 4:6-7, “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”

Be FEARLESS today. 

Encouragement, Happiness, Inspirational, Life Lessons, Motivation, Motivational

Know Your Worth

IMG_1278One of the many things I hope to do with my blog posts is to inspire and encourage others, specifically young women. 

Our current culture is one of constant “beautiful” imagery, mostly photo-shopped imagery, of perfection. Images of the “fab life” on Facebook or Instagram, which I have read in a recent article in a well-respected publication that individuals only post 10 percent of their authentic selves on social media, and celebrities who, for better or worse, with their stylists, nutritionists, make-up artists, and professional photographers, share countless images of themselves with the underlying theme of “my life is awesome”” and, of course, they look glam all the time, well…just because. 

It is not my intent in anyway to minimize the success of those who are able to have professional make-up artists, personal chefs, and personal stylists at their beck and call. What is concerning to me is the false sense of self that it portrays to young, impressionable  women, who compare themselves to these countless images, and feel they just don’t measure up. 

If you are a young woman who doesn’t fall in this category, and don’t compare yourself to the images to which I am referencing, please feel free to stop reading.

For the young women who find themselves comparing themselves to these “picture perfect” images, I implore you to know a few truths about you. 

You Are Enough. Just as you are. You are Beautiful. You are Smart. You are Worthy.  You deserve to be Loved. You DO NOT need to sexualize yourself in images to gain Attention or Affection from Anyone. You are Worthy of Respect. Demand Respect because You Deserve It. Stand Firm to Your Beliefs. Do Not Compromise Your Values for Anyone. You Are Worth More than Gold. 

Lastly, no matter what your belief please know that your higher power, your creator, considers you beautifully and wonderfully made. Remind yourself of this everyday. 

You are Enough, just the way you are in this moment.

Know Your Worth. 

Encouragement, Happiness

Hope

On Sunday mornings, my routine is to wake up with gratitude for a new day, as I do each day. On Sunday mornings, I also like to take time to reflect on the prior week. 

This past week has been trying. Personally, this is a transient time in my life where I am in a position to make decisions within the next coming weeks that will be hugely impactful to my life. Those decisions, like most major life decisions, weigh on me. In this past week I have had friends, family members, and loved ones share with me their own personal struggles. Hearing and knowing that my loved ones are struggling in one aspect or another weighs on me. I am sure many of you reading this can relate. Life isn’t easy. As I have said in previous posts, life is filled with love, lessons, and blessings – seen and unseen. 

Despite this transient period of my life, despite my loved ones going through thier own struggles, there is one thing I now and will always cling to…and that is HOPE.

Hope is not simply a platitude. Hope, by definition, is “to cherish a desire with anticipation : to want something to happen or be true.” (Webster’s-Miriam Dictionary)

Hope is an innate sense of knowing that things get better. Hope is knowing that in spite of it all, we can receive happiness, we can receive the job we are seeking, we can receive the companionship that we desire, the forgiveness of a love one, or a closer relationship with a loved one. That is hope.

Lastly, hope is exemplified in the Bible in Romans chapter 5, versus one through five.

In the passage of scripture, the Holy Bible tells us “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the HOPE of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character: and character HOPE. And HOPE does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Friends, let’s let our thought and reflections today rest in knowing that HOPE is something in which we can cling too. It’s not a platitude, or something that is simply said in passing, but it is a true gift.

Choose hope today.