Tag Archives: personal

Celebrating Mama

Someone said, crying is a way your eyes speak when your mouth can’t explain how broken your heart is.

We recently celebrated Mama’s birthday. While the company and the food were great, I saw Mama in a different light. It pained me to see her that way. Although she had a smile on her face, her eyes reflected pain and discomfort.

Mama is aging and more feeble with time. She’s more of a shut in these days and she can barely move. Many thoughts go through my head, along with memories of my difficult childhood past. But that was then and this is now. Mama is Mama – and she’s my Mama. I’ll take her anyway I can get her – flaws and all. Hell, I even have flaws! But what troubles me is not what she and I have gone through together; what troubles me is the present. She is fearful of saying what ails her. She doesn’t like the idea of going to a hospital, nor the thought of possibly living in a nursing home one day. She’d rather suffer alone than communicate about her ailments in a doctor’s ear. I don’t know what to do. She’s never been an easy patient and she is stubborn.

I. Feel. Hopeless.

I’m praying that the Lord shows us what to do and for Mama to be at peace. I just want her to know that she’s loved and that we want only the best for her. I need her to feel safe and secure and to know beyond a shadow of doubt; she does not have to fear.  Fear has torment. It will consume the mind and crush any hope one might dare to have. Fear troubles the heart and makes one weary.

I believe God is bigger than our fears. I believe He wants us to cast all of our troubles to Him and not grow weary. We are not immune to the sufferings of this life, but because of the Lord there is always hope. All He ask is that we put our trust in Him and lay our burdens down at His feet. He says to trust Him and lean not to our own understanding. Not always an easy feat, I admit.

Words may escape me at times. I may grow impatient and miscommunicate my true intentions; my grit and courage may fall short. But while I have breath in my being I will never give up on the goodness of God! We are a work in progress. I know He will make a way. Look how far He has brought us – He’s not finished with any of us yet!

I. Feel. Hopeful.

I choose to allow forgiveness to remain in my heart. While Mama is still here, I will let her know that she is valued and loved. While it’s true our roles may have been reversed, she is still my Mama. And you know what?

I. Still. Need. My. Mama.

So Mama, I celebrate you. Hand in hand, we will find a way to make everything all right.

I. Love. You.

 

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Hurricane Harvey – 8/26/17

Once again, childhood memories of sharing my birthday with yet another devastating hurricane resurfaced.

The rains came and the floodwaters rose, while we were out of town on vacation for my birthday week. Daughter and Mom remained at the house with a generator. We received continued updates, videos, texts and photos regarding the storm’s status, which left us unnerved and on edge. Thank God, for the report from home that offered few moments of levity:

“OK Mom, we lost power.”

“Grandma is stuck in the Power-Lift chair.”

“One fridge is out.”

“Pool in back and in front yard.”

“Water is about a foot within the house.”

“We are good so far.”

“Grandma is like, ‘You said we were gonna have ice cream at midnight …'”

“No internet.”

“Water level is down.”

“Some water seepage, possible foundation issues due to flooding.”

“Was able to go for a quick gas run.”

“The Mayor of Houston has imposed a curfew … Grandma and I were gonna go out!”

“Electricity! Yay!”

Soon we’ll be headed back for home, taking the routes with the less flooding for travel. My heart and mind are filled with conflicting emotions. I am thankful to the Lord for watching over my loved ones, knowing that many lives were tragically impacted by this hurricane due to the flood waters. I also realize as hard as it is, losing stuff pales in comparison to losing loved ones. May we count our blessings – still having those safe and sound that mean the most, well, everything else just seems petty.

My prayer: May our roots be grounded in faith strong enough not to be overwhelmed, even during the storms of life.

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From the end of the earth will I cry to you, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2)

 

 

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Bump in the Night

In our tiny efficiency, as I lay in pitch darkness, my eyes remained opened, growing accustomed to the dark. The yellow moon peeked through the window shade. Eerie shadows traveled across the walls and bounced off a tattered chair whenever headlights from cars passed by.

Mama and I shared a narrow bed then. Because my stepdad, Warren had “accidents” in bed at nights, he slept on the opposite one from us. Like the sound of a freight train, his incessant snoring rattled my eardrums. Asleep in her underwear, Mama’s gentle snoring came in spurts. Those sounds became my lullaby in the evenings, lulling me to sleep.

But not tonight.

I was never afraid during the night, but with a sense of foreboding I couldn’t shake off, I got up and propped a chair under the doorknob. Time passed. Thump! The chair toppled over and my heart hammered against my chest. Then I heard the knob turn and the door creaked. The hair on my scalp pricked me.

In the dark, I turned ever so slowly, peering through half-closed lids.

The silhouette of Warren’s weird friend crawled, cat-like, on all fours. He inched his way closer. And closer. Warren snorted and rolled over. El Creepo froze. Then he continued his way toward Mama. His hand reached her leg and started feeling upward . . .

With sheer determination, I hopped up, screaming at the top of my lungs. Like a wild animal caught in blinding light, El Creepo jumped and made a bee line toward the door. He crashed into a chair, tripped over the box fan, and then collided with the dresser before hightailing out. Crying and shaken out of my wits, I turned the light switch and called out to my parents in zombie-land, to no avail. It took a long time before I shut my eyes.

The next morning, I gave a full report. With stupefied faces and mouths agape, they attempted to process my words.

“What?” Mama shrieked. “I didn’t hear anything!”

“Mama, he touched you!”

“How did he . . . ?” Warren stammered.

Mama gave him a dirty look. “The door doesn’t have a lock, you dope, remember?”

“Well, you just wait ‘till I see that jerk again,” Warren hinted, getting up to check the knob.

One may think that this frightening episode caused a rude awakening in my party-animal parents. It changed nothing. Sometimes, I think Mama didn’t know what to do with me. Some days she wanted me close. Other days she didn’t.

Excerpt from Chapter 5 in “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace
© M.A. Pérez 2017, All Rights Reserved

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In the Stillness …

How many times have you encountered a situation head on, full force and with vengeance? It either caught you by surprised or you anticipated and dreaded the inevitable. Either way, bound and determined, knowing you had no choice but to tackle that thing, you plodded through.

But then the busyness of life got in the way. You’re tired, wearied up to your eyeballs – just one more thing will send you over the top! Ever been there? Yeah, me too. More than I care to admit. What gets you to the next day? The next project? The next idea?

Is it gumption? Aspirations? A positive outlook? Prayer? Encouragement from friends and family?

And  have you ever felt like you have nothing left to give to anyone else, let alone tackle one more thing? It boils down to you’re running on empty. You need a re-fill, a power surge, fuel, zing? When you’ve given yourself to others and you feel spent, it’s time to step back and be refreshed. Take a sabbatical.

There are times when I need time for me. I may need to soak in a warm tub, get a Swedish massage, sit by the ocean, or relax in one of those infrared-saunas. Yeah, buddy.

You know, as a Christian, being still and quiet before the Lord isn’t always easy for me. My thoughts run in circles with daily tasks that need to be done. But I find that when I go before Him and stay awhile, I come out feeling refreshed, refueled, and re-fired.

What are some of your ways to re-group and face another day or challenge?

 

 

 

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Pathway to Tears

I consider myself a tough cookie. After all, aren’t I a survivor? I’ve survived a few hard knocks along life’s path: A broken home by age three, followed by poverty, hunger, homelessness, alcoholism, neglect, loss of a sibling at age nine, two near-drowning incidents, in a car wreck, juvenile detention home, taunting, brawls, racism, alternative schooling, marriage to a ruthless man twice my age, bearing four children by the time I was twenty-two—three  by cesarean—physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, betrayal, hopelessness, despair, rejection, abandonment, being shot at (he missed), divorce, single-parenting …

BUT God!

Howbeit, there is a softer side to me as well. This thing called “tears”. A family member has even called me sentimental. I have been known to cry after losing a beloved pet, even an insect (hey, they make pets too, at least they did for me when I was a child). I recently cried when my husband surprised me with flowers after having a taxing day. I cried – or blubbered rather – after shooting my first deer. I may cry during weddings, engrossed in a book, listening to a song, or when watching a movie. I especially cry when I hear a newborn’s first cry, whether in real life or on TV, I can’t help it, the tears flow. I sometimes cry while laughing at something funny, in opening up presents, when saying goodbye, while praying, or worshiping and singing in church. Seeing majestic mountains, colorful rainbows, the stillness of the ocean, a fluffy kitten, or a hummingbird nestling near by can make me cry. I even cried when I heard my grandchild call me “Mimi” for the first time. And yes, at times I cry when I’m hurt, scared, tired, or angry.

But I don’t want you to know that. Because I am tough. Not weak. Remember?

Now I’m not much of a horse person, but I know enough to know that a horse is full of grace and strength with every muscle, tendons and ligaments working in unison to support a rider at galloping speed. Yet, that same powerful, majestic horse is controlled by a bit in its mouth and will move in the direction the rider wants to go.

When I read about Moses, he was the meekest man who walked the earth. When I read about Jesus, He was all-powerful, yet kept that power in check. His meekness was not weakness.

So, I say: It’s okay. It’s okay to let your guard down at times and reveal your softer, sensitive self. It doesn’t mean you’re a softy, or a weakling, or a pushover. Power under control means self-control, and that is a virtue. After all, we are human with God-given emotions. Besides, God. Bottles. Our. Tears.

And because God loves us so much, I would venture to say:

Sometimes God cries.

Thank you Lord, for loving me for me.

© M.A. Perez 2017, All Rights Reserved

bottled tears

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Confession of a Daughter

I still get jealous.

I confess.

After all this time, it pains me to admit this, but it’s true. Whenever I hear other’s express their close bond that they have with their mothers, I marvel how grand that must be!

And it stings.

Mama used to say: “You can have ten fathers but only one mother.”

I heard that line growing up and believed it. After my parents divorced, I had three different step-dads. In my young state of mind, I didn’t want to share my mama — she wasn’t married to any of them. I wanted us to be by ourselves. But Mama was too busy for me. I’m sure she did the best she could, but nurturing wasn’t in her DNA. Left on my own a great deal, I was a neglected child.

Loneliness was my middle name.

At age nine, once we moved to Florida, my grandma was more like a mother to me. I knew then what a mother’s love felt like and it just wasn’t the same as Mama’s. Not long after my daddy remarried, during visitations, my stepmother loved and welcomed me with opened arms. I felt special in her eyes. With Mama, sometimes I felt she didn’t even see me because she was so preoccupied. As I became older, bitterness festered and I wasn’t necessarily a role model teenager either. I just couldn’t wait to leave home and do better than Mama, in search of love. I fell flat on my face. But I learned some things.

I learned Mama was a prisoner in her own mind, but she did the best she knew to do. She felt I was always matured for my age, never realizing how much I needed her. I haven’t stopped loving Mama. I loved her then and I certainly love her now. But because I had no choice but to grow up too fast, our roles have always felt reversed.  Most of the time, I’ve felt like I was the mother.

The miles separate, the years have passed, Mama and I have since aged. I can look back and forgive my past; it has made me who I am today. I’ve had to learn to forgive Mama a hundred times over, whose harshness and demeanor become more passive and feeble with time. I must show her kindness and love. No she’s not perfect, but neither am I.

Today, I am someone’s mother and grandmother. I pray that my own loved ones will always feel my love, even when we don’t agree.

No matter what.

It takes work. Patience. Prayer.

And much forgiveness.

As for Mama and I: Our communication skills remain much to be desired. I’ll keep working at it.

Mother’s Day is around the corner. It has always been so complicated for me in choosing the right Mother’s Day card. Once again, I find myself putting the cards back on the shelf in search for the one that describes Mama perfectly.

I think I’ll continue to write one for her myself:14572937_10211331684595701_5234886440039336664_n

To my one and only Mama.

I loved you then.

I love you now.

No matter what.

Love always, still your little girl.

© M.A. Perez 2017, All Rights Reserved

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Dance with Me

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Well, here we are! It’s hard to fathom that we’ve reached our 23rd year. It’s been an amazing ride!

From the beginning, I knew I could rely on him. For the first time, I didn’t have to face my struggles alone. When he vowed in becoming my soul-mate, he stood up to the plate in becoming a loving daddy to my four children. Although the roads have been bumpy, the ride has been exhilarating.

The route may not always be smooth, but the pathway is attainable because of his steadfastness. With every twist and turn, I find strength while learning to lean on his shoulders. In his arms, there is shelter in the midst of the rainstorms and warmth from the frigid winds.

He may not be perfect, but he’s the perfect one for me

Babe, thank you for choosing me. You believed in me before I believed in myself.  I want to thank you, for all the years by my side. Your laughter is music to my ears. When I look at you, I see the love in your eyes still twinkling … for me.

You are my safe place. I am not afraid to be me when I am with you.

Thank you for your sincere compliments, and for making me laugh (yes, I still laugh at his jokes). Thank you for putting a spring in my step, even when I throw my back out on occasion. Thank you for caring deeply whenever I’m sad, discouraged, or unsure.

I still want to curl up with you, with your hairy legs wrapped around my legs. I enjoy your gentle hugs, warm embraces and sweet kisses — even the ones on my head.

I thank God for making us one, knowing that together we will weather the storms.

I pray that God will grant us many more years in making more memories. I appreciate you, admire you, and love you more today than I did yesterday.

May I have this dance for the rest of our lives?

 

 

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The Day the Earth Stood Still

“No, not again! Not now!” I cried out in the bathroom. I’ll call Marisa. She’s always been strong. She has it together.

I reached for the phone and dialed her number. When she answered, I blurted, “The test is positive! I’m pregnant.” She’ll lift my spirits.

“Mary . . .” she began. “How in the world will you care for another baby?”

Then again, maybe not.

“What are you going to do?” Marisa squealed.

I thought, If I knew that, I wouldn’t have called you. Wasn’t I the one supposed to get some reassurances, some guidance, some support here?

“I . . . I don’t know, I thought–”

“Mary, what were you thinking?” she shot back. “You can’t possibly have another baby! You’re only twenty-one; you already have three children, and now number four on its way? Your husband drinks too much, he works only when he wants to, you have a child with special needs, you guys don’t have enough money . . . !”

My mind swirled. I hung by a flimsy strand, all hope slipping. Okay! Tell me something I don’t know. Marisa’s right, whom am I kidding? I. Can’t. Go. On.

Then, she added, “Listen, I’ll help you. If you will get an abortion . . . I will help you pay for one.”

So, that’s it? The quick-fix solution to the problem . . . to end an innocent life?

“I . . . I’ll have to think about this,” I muttered. “Let me sleep on it and get back with you.”

Did that answer come out of me?

I placed the receiver down, heavy with conflicting emotions. My world came to a halt. My heart felt heavy. I cradled my belly, thinking: I can’t have another baby. But can I truly consider this the way out?

The girls slept in their room. Their father was—Lord only knows where. I sat alone in the dark, crossed-legged on the bed. My head ached. My stomach tied in knots. Overcome with waves of hopelessness, memories churned to the one security blanket I had ever known: the home of my grandparents. And I realized I was sinking. Fast.

What happened to my anchor of faith? My hope? Isn’t God big enough to handle the mess in my life? I have to admit, I’ve been too busy for Him. Now that I need Him, does He still care? Then it occurred to me: If I can’t trust God now, then what’s the point of going on?

That instant I prayed like never before, and pored over my Bible. The Book of Psalms always comforted me, and that night before sleep overtook me, my “Ah hah” moment came after reading Psalm 139:13: For You created my innermost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I wasn’t about to take the life of my unborn child, believing that God gave that life in me.

Come morning. A new day. A fresh start. Resolute in my decision, faith sparked. God had always taken care of me before. I determined to trust Him to carry me now. I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief. Give me the grace to endure…

I reached for the phone and dialed Marisa’s number.

“Thanks, but no thanks.”

“Mary, think about what—”

“No!” I shouted. “I’m going to walk on and trust God. You knew my convictions. I thought they were yours too.”

“Mary, I was only trying. . .”

“How?” I interrupted, pacing the floor. “By offering me an abortion? I came to you down and out for encouragement and prayer. I needed to hear ‘hope’ beyond my pain, but you didn’t—you wouldn’t—give me that!”

“Look Mary, you’re still so young. I’ve been around longer than you. . .”

“You never had children,” I protested.

“I married a jerk once too. They don’t change.” Marisa went on to give one reason after another how she was looking out for my best interest.

After long seconds of dead silence and nothing else to say, we hung up.

I thought of a lesson in Sunday school about Job who called his friends miserable comforters, even his wife told him to “curse God and die.” They were supposed to be his friends; yet, those comforters increased his trouble by condemning him.

Marisa and I parted ways. Our friendship ended that day.

Days, weeks and months overlapped one another; my past troubles behind me. With my heart overflowing and my eyes drowning in tears, I reached down to kiss my newborn. “Hello, Daniel Michael,” I whispered. “I’m your Mommy.”

**********

Before long, my little curly-lock hair boy is running around with deep brown eyes touching my heart each time he looks up at me.

Next thing I knew I blinked, and the little boy is now a strapping young man and I am gazing up at him.

(An excerpt from Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace)

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Note: Please understand I share this story not to condemn, criticize, judge or belittle anyone who for whatever reason may have made a different decision than I did. Everyone has their own story to tell; this is mine. I may have made a lot of mistakes in my life. This was one example when I was strong enough to make the right decision for me. I believe that strength came as I prayed to my Heavenly Father. While it’s true that I may have my share of regrets in life, not giving birth to my one and only son thirty-five years ago is not one of them.

Happy Birthday, son! I love you with all my heart!

© M.A. Perez 2017, All Rights Reserved

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Does Size Matter?

Hey y’all!

Here’s a continuation of my Toastmasters journey.

My first speech, The Ice Breaker was given  a few weeks ago. The following is Speech #2 of the Toastmasters speech series. Objectives: Supporting material, transitions, strong opening and closing statements withing 4-6 minutes. I’d like to share with you my speech which I titled, “Does Size Matter?” Once again, yes, I was nervous, although my husband in the audience said I hid it well. Yes, I even said a phrase backwards, but hey, you just press on through it.

My fellow Toastmasters:

How many of you have dreams? Visions? Goals? Most of you, right?

Some things don’t sit right with me & here is a Pet Peeve:

I have heard time & time again how one has to dream BIG in

Order to achieve something … or be something …

0r change something …

You’ve heard the saying:

IF YOUR DREAMS DON’T SCARE YOU THEY AREN’T BIG ENOUGH!

This is what I’d like to say about that:

I’ve got plenty of dreams, okay?

Your dream may not be mine and I can guarantee

that mine aren’t yours. But a dream is a dream is a dream.

I just don’t buy the line, hook & sinker that dictates:

Your dream doesn’t count; or isn’t as important if it isn’t

“BIG” enough!

No, sir!  No, ma’am!

Think what you will – but you can’t look down on my dreams

and say that yours is more important than mine.

My dreams mean everything to me! Who are you to downplay them?

Have you walked in my shoes?

When I wrote “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit & Grace,”

I not only mentioned some of the heartaches that I endured

both as a child & a young adult, but I had also mentioned

the good, happy and contented times. And you know what?

Some people actually frowned upon some of those events I wrote about,

because it seemed insignificant to them.

You see, apparently, my life wasn’t glamorous enough, or special enough.

For example:

1st puppy

1st home cooked meal that I made  as a child– chewy pasta/soupy spaghetti sauce

1st taste of French Toast

1st bubble bath

1st Barbie Doll

Going to park/playing on swing set with my real Dad

Living with my grandparents/eating 3-meals a day

Now I ask you: For them to suggest that was it fair?

I’d like to say to them: Hey! I’m tickled pink you had such a much happier life than mine!

Nonetheless, those were my special & cherished moments and they meant everything to this gal!

You understand – I held on to HOPE. Do you know that a little hope goes a long way?

I embraced faith {show photo} like this picture, having a “mustard seed” type of faith,

Just enough faith to believe that anything is possible!!!

Someone said: Little girls with dreams become women with vision.

And you know what? I AM A DREAM COME TRUE.

We ALL have goals – we ALL dream dreams.

Just don’t try to be like anyone else.

Be true to yourself and follow your heart.

Pursue your passion; pursue your dreams and

Don’t ever quit or stop trying.

Now timing is everything and sometimes it takes baby steps.

But don’t allow anyone to downplay or rob you of your

Dreams … Talents … or Strengths!

Ever.fullsizerender

No matter the size.

So I ask you:

Does Size Matter?

Whoever said the small things don’t matter

has never seen a match start a wildfire.

Thank you!

How did I do? There was a tied – me and the best speaker in this group. How awesome is that?

Remember: You’ll never know the outcome if you don’t put yourself out of your comfort zone and just try.
© M.A. Pérez, 2017, All Rights Reserved

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The Battle Within

Some of you know that I recently joined Toastmasters. Last Thursday, I was asked to introduce myself by giving my first speech called The Ice Breaker. The objectives are to begin speaking before an audience, and to discover speaking skills you already have and skills that need some attention. You only have four to six minutes to present it.

I’d like to share with you my Ice Breaker speech which I titled, “The Battle Within.” Was I nervous? You betcha! Did I stumble? Ah, yeah … but you move on and finish. By the way, I won best speech of the night. Go figure. You never know the outcome if you don’t put yourself out of your comfort zone and try.

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Thank you Mr. Toastmaster.

Hi, I’m Mary Ann.  I’m a published author, currently working as an Inside Sales rep for a customer service company in Sugar Land, Texas. I am happily married to my best friend for 22 years, and I have four amazing children and two adorable grandchildren.

I was born in New York and raised in Miami after my parents separated when I was 3, and divorced by the time I was 5.

I lived with my single mother and we were dirt poor. There was no money, no food and no love.  Now, when there’s no money, you don’t have any shoes, and you get a lot of eviction notices. When there’s no food, well, you’re hungry all the time. And when there’s no love, you feel isolate, insecure and invisible. Forced to grow up too fast, wearing shoes too big for my feet, and being my mother’s mother, crippled me emotionally.

At an early age, a battle was raging within me and that was the feeling of being “less than.”

Ashamed of my upbringing, heritage, and status, I felt only the ritzy kids went to summer camps, swimming lessons & Girl Scout gatherings, but not me; I was always on the outside looking in.

In my teens, I grew bitter and thinking that I could do better than my mother, I eventually ran into the arms of a ruthless man, twice my age. He was an alcoholic, a womanizer, a brow-beater, and he ruled with an iron fist. All the while, I struggled with that battle from within called insecurities. I wore a mask to try to cover feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth, which clouded my vision.

He and I did married. By the time I was 22, I had my 4th child. I was only a “baby-machine” to him, and he constantly fed my insecurities and never let me forget I was under his feet.  I felt I couldn’t do better, so I stayed in that relationship. I felt trapped but I made the best of my situation for my children’s sake. Long story short, that marriage lasted 15 years. I guess I grew up.

In retrospect, it wasn’t until I returned to the God of my grandparents that my mind, past and emotions were healed. I know now that what I endured yesterday as a child and as a young adult made me the stronger woman that I am today.

A few years ago, I decided to write my memoirs for my kids so that they can know some of the history, struggles and hardships their mother faced. I wanted them to know that no matter what, our past does not have to dictate our future. And it’s been my present husband who encouraged and supported me all along, telling me, “You know you need to write for other women so that they can be inspired.” He was right.

Although no longer ashamed of my pain, you know I still fight a battle from within? I struggle with low self-esteem. I DO! But I know that I have God on my side now. He not only had given me the grit to come this far, but He also gives me His grace to carry me through every obstacle that I ever faced! I learned that the battles are not mine but are His.

In my book, “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace,” I share the coming-of-age journey about a girl’s refusal to be defined by her environment while seeking inner-healing thru her brokenness. No matter your past, you can still be a person of worth! And it starts with a made-up mind!

I have joined Toastmasters to help my battle from within that I may gain confidence during book signings, attending book clubs & author’s events in helping me by overcoming the fear, the insecurities & the nerves when it’s time to open my mouth. You see, it’s one thing to write a book, it’s quite another to be able to speak to others. I know I have something to say and I am here to learn how to say it well.

Thank you.

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