Healing Starts Here

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Healing from Domestic Abuse and Domestic Violence takes time. The time allotted to heal cannot be determined by any clock or calendar. You will have good days and bad days, so be prepared to expect the unexpected. Individuals that have experience abuse suffer from post-traumatic stress. Different things can trigger different reactions. In my effort to thrive through Domestic Abuse, I neglected to grieve and process the last decade of my life. It was easier to press forward until I was faced with an issue that I could not bulldozer past.

People neglect to realize that being a partner to an abuser means neglecting your own personal needs and desires for an extended period of time. I was married for over a decade to an abuser and the effects are long standing. Therefore healing should be expected to take time. My healing truly started almost a year after separation from my abuser. I took the time to research the signs of abuse and how it affects all involved. Including the effects of my relationship with my children and extended family.  I had to understand how abuse was there from the beginning and how it’s easy to confuse it for love. In the end, I realized that I didn’t really know who I was, but I knew what I wanted to become.

Understanding the importance of taking the time to heal is essential when making better choices moving forward. Everything from getting into a new relationship to selecting a job requires your ability to make wise decisions for yourself and your children. The pressure from making day-to-day decisions can be overwhelming when working with limited resources or dealing with the court systems.

In the end, I had to deal with my baggage. It was not pretty or fun to really look at the last decade of my life. The evidence of abuse was clear, but I had to be open to revisiting the pain. I had to discuss how abuse left ugly scars with my family and friend in order to heal. Healing can happen, but you have to do the work.

Decisions, Decisions!

 

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We make decisions every day. Our choices can affect the future and we take that power that we have to make decisions for granted. Deciding to move forward or wait patiently have equal value. It’s not deciding at all that can cause chaos in our lives. The fear of making the wrong decision often paralyzes us from making any decision at all. There is a weird sense of comfort in resting in the arms indecisiveness.

This past year I was faced with several life alternating decisions. I made several choices that were painstaking, like divorce, starting a new job, and sharing my story with the whole world. It has been difficult at times to pray about it all. I wanted God to show me how to get through it all with a crystal clear lenses. I wanted the easy way out. It was the opposite, making decisions was painful and I hated it every step of the way. Life is filled with options and God gave us free will. It seemed so daunting to figure things out. Mentally I was done, but in the end my faith was being strengthen. God made a way out of no way and showed me how far I have grown. It’s like the trust exercise. I decided to fall backward and trust that God would catch me. He did!

It was the opposite, making decisions were painful and I hated it every step of the way. Life is filled with options and God gave us free will. It seemed so daunting to figure things out. Mentally I was done, but in the end, my faith was being strengthened. God made a way out of no way and showed me how far I have grown. It’s like the trust exercise. I decided to fall backward and trust that God would catch me. He did!

Life is filled with options and God gave us free will. It seemed so daunting to figure things out. Mentally I was done, but in the end, my faith was being strengthened. God made a way out of no way and showed me how far I have grown. It’s like the trust exercise. I decided to fall backward and trust that God would catch me.

He did!

Join Me On June 5th at the Face Fear & Fly Workshop

 

I Choose To Thrive For My Children

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What I thought was real was a lie. I thought this was love and it was a lie. The experience left me ashamed, embarrassed and isolated, but I am still here. I refuse to be a victim and surviving means that I just barely made it out. That’s not true for me, that’s not my story.

When I got out, I was determined that I was going to live my life to the fullest. I was determined that my children would have the best in life. I was determined that my life would matter and I would help someone come through on the other side.

Life after Domestic Abuse can leave lost in a maze. It can change your perspective on life. You have to make the choice whether or not what you experienced will give people the right to label you and put you in a box. I refuse to wear that label as a badge of honor or build a nest in a box.

See none of those labels worked for me. Here are just a few reasons, why “I Thrive Through Domestic Abuse”

When I Was Done, I Was Done.

People don’t understand how I just never looked back. My abuser and I were married for over a decade and we have four children. He made it easy. During the marriage, I begged him to get help and he refused. So I went to counseling for Domestic Violence at a local non-profit and I did the work. I refer to this as “Getting My Muscle”.  I gain my strength in counseling and I accepted the fact that I had choices. I knew that I deserved better and decided that I was done. I decided that I deserved to be happy and my children deserved better.

My Dreams and Goals Were Important.

I always dreamed of helping women and children. The children part came easy to me because I am an educator. It was reaching out to women that made life complex. How do you explain to them that you appear strong, but Domestic Abuse was a part of my daily routine?  I didn’t want to tell a lie, so I told the truth about my marriage. Some women went silent, others defended my abuser stating that marriage is sacred, and some discreetly told me their personal stories of abuse. That quiet group that pulled me aside and shared their Domestic Violence story, gave me to strength to continue to tell the truth. Statics report the 1 in 4 women experience  Domestic Violence. That means to you know someone living in the silence of abuse at the hands of their partner.  I speak and write for them. I will be their voices,

Most Importantly, I Thrive for My Children.

They need me to be strong, successful, loving, kind, God-filled, healthy, wealthy and focused. Failure is not an option when I look into their eyes. My daughters needed to see me have victory and my son needed to know that I would never give up. Every choice that I make they are the center. The get the best version of me no matter what. No matter what dish life has served you, no one should remain victimized. Life is too beautiful to merely survive. Thrive and live a life that will bless you, your children and someone else. They deserve the best mother that I can be. Happy Mother’s Day to all the women that do their best and know that God will always bless your best. My gift to you is a Free EBook, you can download it here. If you find that you are not thriving it will help you to figure things out.

 

Face Fear and Fly!

Learning to Fly

A bird must be terrified to take the first flight. I can only imagine the thoughts of falling to your death. Fear is paralyzing and can cause you to stop dead in your tracks or never try at all. A fear of falling will cause you to never hike a mountain. A fear of flying will stop you from traveling around the world. The fear of rejection will stop you from taking a chance at success. A person that fears to be lonely will stay in a bad relation far too long. Fear will cause you to go the opposite direction of your big dream. Apply these 3 tips to identify the fear that is stopping you from loving the life that you live.

Identify the Core of Your Fear

The center of your fear is more than what think. For example, you are not fearful of flying, but you are really fearful of dying in a plane crash. Another example, you are not fearful of getting out of a bad relationship, but fearful of being alone. The core of your fear will show up in multiple areas of your life and prevent you from making concrete choices, moving forward or following your dreams. Don’t be fooled that you have many fears, a core fear will birth other fears. That thing is the core of all your fears.

Determine the Birthplace of your Core Fear

Once you identify the core of your fear, you have to determine when that fear was birthed (Yes, your fear has a birthday). My core fear was the thought of not being able to take care of myself and my children financially. It surfaced in my abusive marriage, where financial abuse was one of the primary forms used to control me.  As a result, my money mindset caused anxiety and extreme stress. I still struggle in this area, but I have developed strategies to manage this fear.

Face Your Core Fear

Once you identify your core fear and determine the birthplace of that fear, you must face that fear. You can’t move forward until you face your fears. Fears are there to stop you from moving forward and the core fear can expand like a web. This web will paralyze you like a spider does to its prey. The core fear is one thing, but other webs of fear prevent you from moving at all. It presents itself in the forms of procrastination, stress, anger, depression, weight gain, weight loss, isolation, and much more. When you get stuck in a web of fear, there is only one way out…Face it!

You may need counseling (which is not a bad thing) or to talk to a close friend about your core fear. Talking about is the 1st step to facing it. Once you get it out in the open, list action steps to move past the fear. In my case, I told my close friend about my fear and it allowed me to see how the fear spilled over into multiple areas of my life. I faced my fear by taking an expensive class that was needed for my professional development. It was expensive to me and in the past I would have struggled to learn a skill due to a lack of finances. It resulted in me struggling to launch my business ventures. I would always get to a certain point and have to stop. You need money to operate most businesses. So I gave up and always felt like a failure. This had to stop or I would never live out my dream. Never.

Find A Way To Manage Your Fear

You can manage your fear. That’s right, you can manage fear. We will always have some measure of fear…ALWAYS. However, you must find your own way to manage it. I had to do the same thing myself. I shared some of my techniques in my new EBook titled “Face Fear And Fly! If you want to learn more about how you can manage your fear, download it here…it’s free.

Life After Domestic Violence

 

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My selfie and Syleena singing on stage.

 

I recently went to a concert to see one of my favorite R&B singers, Syleena Johnson. Her music really helped me to get through the trauma of Domestic Violence. I remember stressing about going to court multiple times in a month (sometimes a within a week) and struggling to take care of my children. It seemed like the storm of Domestic Violence would never end. I just wanted to breathe and laugh again. Each day presented a new challenge and there was no relief from the drama. At the end of a long day, I would light a candle and listen to some good music. It got me through the rough days.

I finally broke down and ask a good friend this question “When will I feel normal again?” She shared how she survived her most traumatic experience and then she gave me a simple answer “You will just know”. I thought that there had to more to it than that.

After my last court, I spontaneously purchased a ticket to see Syleena. I got dressed up and went alone. I needed to have fun! I needed to listen to good music, to dance, to meet new people and to have fun! I ate a great meal and drank an expensive glass of wine (I was terrified to spend money, so this was all a big deal).

I didn’t want to be a victim or survivor that night, I just wanted to have fun and be normal. It was worth the time and money. Syleena was great! Music is my happy! Believe me, there is life after Domestic Violence and other forms of trauma. My friend was absolutely right, when it’s time to be normal again…You just know.

 

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Syleena Johnson was amazing!

 

The Web Of Fear

Trapped In A Web Of Fear

 

Some measure of fear is good to have and provides a barrier to safety. However, there are other forms of fear can be paralyzing and can cause you to stop dead in your tracks. fear of falling will cause you to never hike a mountain. A fear of flying will stop you from traveling the world. The fear of rejection will stop you from following your dreams. A person that fears to be lonely will stay in a bad relationship. Fear will cause you to go the opposite direction of your dreams. Here are 3 tips to identify the fear that is stopping you from loving the life that you live.

Identify the Core of Your Fear

The center of your fear is more than what think. For example, you are not fearful of flying, but you are really fearful of dying in a plane crash. Another example, you are not fearful of getting out of a bad relationship, but fearful of being alone. The core of your fear will show up in multiple areas of your life and prevent you from making concrete choices, moving forward or following your dreams. Try this activity – List your greatest fears on a piece of paper and go back and list why. You will discover that most things on your list lead to one primary thing. Don’t be fooled that you have many fears, a core fear will birth other fears. That thing is the core of all your fears.

Determine the Birthplace of Your Core Fear

Once you identify the core of your fear, you have to determine where that fear was birthed. All fear has a birth place. My core fear was the thought of not being able to take care of myself and my children financially. It was birthed in an abusive marriage, where financial abuse was a primary form used to control. When I was married, we were financially destitute. I had to struggle to feed, clothe, and provide housing for my children. Once my marriage ended, I stressed about money all the time. The stress and fear caused me to be immobile when it came to moving forward with any goal that needed money. Your fear may have been birthed in childhood, a relationship or a negative life experience. All fear has a birthplace and it’s important to know where the fear started from.

Face Your Core Fear

Once you identify your fear and determine the birthplace of your fear, you must face that fear. You can’t move forward until you face the core fear. Fears are there to stop you from achieving your goals and the core fear can expand like a web. This web will paralyze you like a spider web. The core fear is one thing, but other webs of fear prevent you from moving at all.

How do you move forward and avoid getting trapped in the web? Face it! Admit it! You may need counseling or to talk to a close friend about your core fear. Talking about the core fear is the 1st step to facing it. Once you get it out in the open, list action steps to move past the fear. In my case, I told a close friend about my fear and it allowed me to see how the fear spilled over into multiple areas of my life. I faced my fear by taking an expensive class that was needed for my professional development. It was expensive to me and in the past I would have struggled to learn a new skill that would help me financially in the future if I believed that it would leave be unable to take care, my kids. Once I faced the fear, I freely moved forward to invest in my business. The act of investing in my business would generate more income for my family, but fear told me the opposite.

Don’t let fear prevent you from fulfilling your dreams and goals. By facing your fear you could change your life for the better. It’s important to understand what’s stopping you and why. Whether you decide to run past your fears or take baby steps, you have to start somewhere. If you live in fear, you won’t get the chance to live a life that you love at all.

“Everything that you want is on the other side of fear” – George Addair

Sitting in Silence

 

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Abuse of any kind is ugly and painful. Most victims want to be cleansed from the residue of abuse but often find the stains are difficult to remove. I sat in silence while I was married to my abuser for several years. The silence somehow protected my children and myself from the harshness of admitting and leaving from Domestic Abuse. When we sat in silence, everyone around us was happy to see the façade of a happy family. It wasn’t until we told the truth that we discovered how much people could really handle. The day that my husband attacked was the most silent day of all. I didn’t call the police or call help. I was in shock and he called all the shot that day.  I didn’t know who to tell, my kids sat in silence, and we just clung together. When I did tell a few people, they were shocked and many minimized the instant as a “Lover’s Quarrel”. It was much more than that and we sat in fear for months.

My blessing was the fact that I got counseling for several months following the attack. The counselor helped me to understand my abuse and how it affected my children. Later a different, counselor helped me to understand the importance of sharing my story. Here are 3 reasons to share your story of abuse.

There is Healing and Strength When You Tell the Story:

When you sit in silence, it wears you down physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When I sat in silence, I was at my weakest point. My abuser knew that he was in control and he could easily attack me. My weary body and mind could not fight. I was unable to fight back. Talking to a counselor gave me the strength and courage to fight.

My definition of fighting back is the following:

1) Protecting Your Kids and Yourself

2) Asking for help

3) Leaving Your Abuser

4) Create Your Exit/Safety Plan

5) Finding Resources

6) Get a Strong Support System

Telling Your Story Provides Educates Other People:

Most people only identify with the physical abuse of Domestic Violence. However, physical abuse is always partnered with mental, emotional, verbal, sexual, spiritual, and financial abuse. In addition, Abuser’s also abuse children in one or more of the listed forms. By telling your story, you educate people about the signs of abuse. If people don’t know the signs, they can’t help effectively (there are people that try help and make things worse). By sharing your story with one person, you could help an entire family.

Telling Your Story Can Give Comfort:

Victims are ashamed, embarrassed, isolated and feel guilty. They usually suffer alone and find it hard to fit into mainstream society. It helps to know that someone truly understands and you don’t have to explain or defend yourself. Knowing that you are not alone makes all the difference in the world. You may never know who you reach, but just know that your story can help someone else get out alive.

Victims die every day because people don’t want to talk about Domestic Violence. I will talk a personal stand and tell my story no matter what. I have decided to be free and not to be trapped by fear, shame, embarrassment, isolation or guilt. I will not sit in silence.

 

To Online Date or Not…

 

 

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Is Online Dating the Way to Date After Divorce?

 

That is the question! Now that I am newly single. I have so many questions about dating?

Here are a few:

  • How do you date after divorce?
  • What is online dating really about?
  • How do single moms date?

The truth is that I am little anxious about dating after divorce, not in a good way either. I wouldn’t mind having a friend, but I am not feeling a second marriage. Despite what my family, friends, co-workers, kids and well everybody has to say about it. I like my freedom and I don’t want to be ashamed about that. I felt like I was “12 Years a Slave” in my marriage. Some may not find that funny, but I can’t help how I feel about it. So with that being said…now what? The last date that I had was in my 20’s and my perspective on dating was unique then.

I did not date for marriage or sex, just something to do on a Friday or Saturday night. Literally, I dated for recreational purposes only. I just didn’t want to be bored. In a sense of speaking, I think my perspective is the same. I am not looking to replace my husband or to gain a step-father for my kids. Although, I wouldn’t mind going to dinner and movie with a nice man…no strings attached. Does that work in 2016? I have no idea!

Secondly, I missed a whole decade of dating and the internet took over. I feel like a foreigner in a strange land. Grant it I have a blog, but I hate texting with a passion…yet the thought of online dating. Oddly enough, most women in their twenties, thirties and forties (and older women too…I am sure) are online dating gurus. So that makes me the ugly duckling when the topic arises. Dating online is no longer taboo, but very acceptable. However, I have concerns like what if you date someone that your sister dated? What if someone catfishes you? What to do if the date is an epic failure? What if someone that I know like my boss sees my profile on-line? I have no idea!

Lastly, how do you date when you have kids? I have four! Once again, I am clearly the road block here too. Women date and re-marry with kids all the time. Some experience second or third chances at love. I have so many rules when do I start dating. My kids come first and you don’t need to meet them right away or at all. Will a man respect that? I hope so, but who knows!

Personally, I think that men have it easier, but I have been told that that’s not true. So this blog post established a few facts about me that you will find humor in. The first fact is that I don’t what I am doing. Lastly, it should be interesting and fun to figure it out. Hopefully, I will get to share my dating adventures as I experience them…but for now the thought of the possible adventures are enough. I am curious to know, what was your dating life like after divorce, online or dating with kids?

 

 

I Understand Why Women Stay

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I now understand first hand why women stay in abusive relationships. My Domestic Violence Story is typical and unique at the same time. Like most people in our society I had a very narrow view about Domestic Violence until it happened to me. My understanding was limited to the effects of physical abuse only, but completely oblivious to the signs of mental, emotional, verbal, spiritual, sexual, and financial abuse. In fact, I didn’t realize that I was in an abusive relationship until my spouse brutally attacked me in front of our four children. I always tell people “He knocked the sense into me” and people stare in shock at the words leaving my mouth.

The day my husband attacked was the day I had to ask myself “If I was an abused woman?” I called the Domestic Violence Hotline and the operator ask the questions that changed my life. She ask about money, conversations with my spouse, sex, and the lack affection between us. The operator asked about religious practices and I quickly understood that I was in trouble all along based on conversation. I knew that I was very unhappy in my marriage and I constantly prayed to God for guidance, but I didn’t think I was abused until the attack. There were so many times that I wanted out, but when I shared my concerns with others they minimized my concerns. Today, I understand they didn’t know about mental, emotional, verbal, spiritual, sexual, and financial abuse either. They didn’t know that most abusers try really hard to impress others with their charm and make the victim look bad.

I spent months in Domestic Violence Counseling while my husband refused to go. His behavior became more aggressive. I became more depressed and isolated. After we separated, he stalked the house. This is when the reality set in about why women stay with their abusers, because it so difficult to leave. Here are some things that I discovered about leaving an abusive relationship:

Mental, Emotional, Verbal, Spiritual, Sexual, and Financial Abuse are all precursors to Physical Abuse. Each one plays a role in Domestic Abuse, the physical violence is never alone in the act of Domestic Abuse. It is always paired with other forms of abuse.

The three biggest mistakes that victims make are protecting their abusers, not calling the police and staying in the same residence. I constantly protected my abuser’s character, because I was ashamed of his actions. The few people that I confided in, always diminished my concerns. I never called the police after he attacked, that was my worst mistake. I was in shock and I feared that he would go to jail. My children were there and I froze up.  Now I know that it was a big mistake not to call the police. Lastly, my counselor told me to leave the home and I didn’t. I had nowhere to go with four young children. The thought of a shelter was frightening. One friend offered us to stay with her, but I felt like a burden. I had no job, no car, no cellphone, and no money.

Domestic Violence scares people. Family, friends and churches can’t process it. It’s ugly and when it rears its ugly head, everyone has to look at themselves. Nobody wants admit that something just wasn’t right or things didn’t add up. Mostly people just make excuses about turning a deaf ear.

My abuser had legal rights. My spouse was stalking me, has would just park outside our home and listen at the doors. I called the police and they said he had the right to come inside, because we were married. They told me to get a protective order. I got one that night. In retaliation, my spouse filed several false charges against me and filed for custody of our children in retaliation. Legally he could do that and much more.

Abusers will use any method to prevent the victim from leaving or to get what they want, including the children. My spouse defamed my character to anyone that would listen. I was in court two and three times a week for months. He took the transportation and finances. When that failed he use the children to make me stay.

I also discovered that the non-profit organizations are not all inclusive. Most in my county did not offer legal aid for victims, shelter, or job resources. I could get counseling and legal advice, but I had to go from agency to agency for help. I had borrowed my sister in-law’s car, but I had to pay for parking and gas to get to and from the courthouse. Getting the help was a constant mission that caused the use of resources, time and energy that I struggled to get daily. Including, child care while I went back and forth to court.

People treat you like you have the plague. I came into contact with very few people that were genuinely kind, in fact most were very nasty or insensitive. Some of the non-profit workers were down right mean and legal aid attorneys preyed on the vulnerable  that needed legal help. The judges were twice as bad and could be extremely cold. No empathy or sympathy for victims. My husband had the money and got a great attorney, I had no money and had to borrow money for legal help. People as a whole would pity us for being abused or tell me what they would have done in my situation.

Abuse affects both men and women of all races, religions, income level, and ages. I met so many women that told me their personal stories. It was a unique sisterhood of women that wanted to survive, no thrive. I wanted to thrive! Survival was the bare minimum.

The list really goes on and on about my journey. In the end, I was more beat up from trying to get out of an abusive marriage. My children and I were exhausted. It would have been easier to stay with my abusive spouse. I knew my abuser and I knew that we had a place to stay. Being with him, made everyone comfortable. I understood his moods for the most part, but the physical abuse was new. My heart told me that he would strike again. So I found the strength to fight back by leaving and never looked back. I had little help along the way, just a few committed friends, dedicated non-profit workers and eventually my mother. The truth is people would have helped more if I stayed, but against all the odds I fought like Hell to leave my abuser. The truth is my battle is not over, but I can’t be silent about it.

I now understand why women stay. They stay because leaving is beyond difficult, it can be almost impossible. You never feel safe or not judged by others. If you are being abused (remember the other forms-mental, emotional, sexual, spiritual, and financial) you must find the courage to leave. You will have limited help and resources, but God will make a way out of no way. God will give you the courage needed to leave. You must leave for your children and yourself. It is the best decision that you could make for your future and theirs.

Find Joy, Love and Peace Today…Right Now!

 

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When you look in the mirror what do you see? I used to see a “Hot Mess!” The stress of life and a bad relationship had taken a toll on me mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was drained and looked stressed.  So once I eliminated what was causing my emotional and mental stress (An Abusive Marriage). I had to focus on finding my joy, love and peace. Here are my three key points to help you find your joy and peace:

#1 Start Your Day with Prayer, Scripture, Positive Affirmations and Meditation: Starting your day with prayer is key to allowing God to direct your life’s path. This invites God into your mind, heart, and day to provide truth and guidance. It’s a gentle nudge throughout your day that God is ultimately in control. Even five minutes of meditation can give you the quiet time needed to clear your mind from stressful, negative thoughts. Just listen to your breath and let your thoughts pass by. You can also meditate on a scripture or positive affirmations. This practice can be done through out your day and when you face difficulties. It’s the best way to start your day. Quiet time with God, I promise you that it works.

#2 Accept the Fact That You Can’t Change People: Once you accept this fact, you will spend less time worrying about what you can’t change. Everyone has free will and the right to make their own choices. You have the same right.  So instead of wasting time expecting someone else to change, focus on what you need to do. If you are frustrated with a person that takes advantage of you…you have the choice to say “No”. If you find that someone speaks negatively to you, you can tell them how it makes you feel (in a loving way, if possible) and if they continue to do it…stop talking to them. You have to teach people how to treat you. If you teach them to run all over you, that’s exactly what they will do. You may not be able to change them, but you can change anything about you that you need to. This creates self-love and healthy boundaries. If you love yourself in healthy way, you can love others. You just have to meet some people where they are and walk away from others.

#3 Find Your Happy Place: Do you know what makes you joyful inside and out? What do you love about your life? Do you have a hobby or creative outlet? Do you like art, fashion, or nature? After my marriage ended, I realized that I had completely lost myself. I had no idea what gave me joy in my heart. In time, I discovered that spending time with children was my most joyful place. The beach, art, good music and quiet time alone fueled sheer joy for me. I loved candles and good books. I like inspirational television. I love opportunities to travel, learn, and teach. My happy place is helping others. It took time to figure this out, but points #1 and #2 laid a firm foundation to discover #3.

These are steps that you can take right now to eliminate stress in your life. In the end, you will discover the joy, love and peace that you deserve to have in your life. #MondayMotivation