Yes, I'm the Birthday Girl

It’s My Birthday and I Know that the Best is Yet to Come!

As I look back over my life I am grateful for all that God has given to me. I am thankful for all of the moments that have culminated to form and create the life I have today. It is a life of joy and happiness - yes there has been sunshine and rain, heartaches and pain - but I am the best version of myself as a result of it all, and I wouldn't change a thing.

I am celebrating my birthday this month! Whooo Hooo!!! I am so excited because as I grow older I am appreciating the true meaning of my birthday.

You see, for years, this day just felt like a slippery slope down an emotional landslide. It made me sad, I would get down on myself, but I'd put on a big fake grin and pretend otherwise. Nothing seemed to go right, my birthday is smack in the middle of summer so I was always too hot, and quite moody.

Then there were the gifts I'd want but never got, and feelings of worthlessness that consumed me because despite whatever accomplishments I'd garnered, I would always feel as if I should be doing more at whatever stage of life I was at. I spent most days making mental lists of my flaws - my own personal mean girl.

Somehow by chance, feeling utterly unlovable, one day I realized that I was actually my biggest critic. After a bit of practice - learning how to channel that energy into making my gifts more powerful than my faults - I learned how to retool my thinking. I learned to silence that big loud voice inside my head that had been constantly telling me I wasn't good enough. I knew it wasn't real, so I stopped believing it.

10 Things that Matter Most

Growing older you really begin to realize and appreciate what's most important. There are many lessons you learn while traveling the journey of your life. For example, when you burn your hand on a stove, you know not to do that again.

Still, the hardest lessons are often those you have to learn over and over again. The easy ones are often far and few between. Those that you remember - at the slightest glance of someone you love or at the mere mention of someone, eh ... that you don't love quite so much - it's those lessons that really matter.

“Something wonderful begins to happen with the simple realization that life, like an automobile, is driven from the inside out, not the other way around." - Richard Carlson, Ph.D.

1. Don't sweat the small stuff. It is important to your mental and physical health to maintain peace in your life. What you magnify you intensify - at the end of the day the fact that someone slammed the door in your face likely didn't change the trajectory of your life very much. In other words, stop making a big deal out of every little thing.

Chances are, the problem you think is larger than life may require the simplest thing like maybe taking a road less traveled or looking beyond an issue to the other side of it. Losing your sense of peace over a problem just intensifies the problem making it difficult to see the solution.

In his book, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff," Dr. Richard Carlson, says, "Something wonderful begins to happen with the simple realization that life, like an automobile, is driven from the inside out, not the other way around."

As you focus more on becoming more peaceful with where you are, rather than focusing on where you would rather be, you begin to find peace right now, in the present."

2. The most meaningful relationships are not necessarily the longest ones. It is true that people come into your life for a time or a season - but always for a reason. I have

had friends come and go, we have either grown together or apart, but I have learned something from every one of them.

My relationships have taught me how to love, how to give, share and appreciated others. However, I have also learned the importance of guarding my heart and being more keenly aware of the hairs that stand on the back of my neck in the presence of some people.

Not every relationship starts or begins in a way that means forever, but appreciate it for the time being. Even those that are toxic - we often learn the most about ourselves from these. What we definitely don't like, don't want, or desire to grow from can often be learned from people who don't appreciate you as a person or zap your energy by just being in their presence. Ask yourself, what is it about that person that makes you feel that way.

"For your special day share a refreshing cocktail. Go ahead and shake up enough Girlaxin so you can pour on demand. I mixed up this cocktail and instantly after a few sips knew this concoction would sure to be a keeper for any special occasion." - Cynthia Stewart, Owner/CEO Girlaxin and FWC Lifetime Member

It has been said that what we what attract in others we hold on some level within ourselves good and bad. In either instance we tend to hold onto to relationships that matter the most.

Take my friend Cynthia, she is a member of what I call the FWC, Forever Wives Club. These are the wives of my husband's closest crew of buddies. Our husbands have been best buds for years - so when we all get together we have a ton of fun and laughs.

Cynthia is super creative and she knows how to entertain a crowd, but she can also just chill out do some real girlaxin with the girls. Hmmm... I wonder if I love her most for her cocktail talents?

3. If you don't like something, change it. If you want something, go get it. Stop waiting for others to give you the things you want or desiring change but waiting on someone else to create the conditions to make change happen in your life. When you open your eyes and take your first breath of the day, the universe is saying, 'ok, you get another try - go do something with it.' Stop waiting for the world to change and be the change you want to see.

4. Closed mouths don't get fed. If you want something ask for it. If the answer is no, does that really mean "not yet?" Have you prepared yourself to have that which you ask for? How can you turn a "no" into a "yes?"

In a not so distant past life, I learned that you have to speak up for yourself when you want something. Someone once told me that you can't expect people to read your mind. Just because you work hard on your job doesn't mean you'll automatically going to get that promotion. Speak up and let people know you're the best one for the job. Effective verbal communication and relationship building goes a long way.

5. Be Persistent, Don't Give Up. There was a time in my life when all I wanted to do was sing. I put every ounce of energy and all my resources into building a path for a career in entertainment. After suffering the loss of my first husband and oldest son, I figured that life had given me a second wind. With the pain, loss and years of grieving getting behind me, I thirsted for the stage.

Before my first marriage I was on my way to starting a music career, but I gave it up to start my family. Going back to something I'd paused more than a decade before, was probably the hardest thing I ever did that I loved and hated at the same time. Despite all that, to this day I'll do it for free if the right opportunity comes my way.

Music and entertainment will always be a part of me. While I made some strides, I heard "no" far more often than I heard "yes." It was disheartening, but then my phone started to ring, gigs were getting booked, music was being written and recorded. A start was beginning to shine.

What changed? I did! Well, my mind changed anyway. I started believing in myself when others chose not to. Stepping out from behind the tears, I decided to tell myself "yes!" I ran running heart first towards my dreams.

6. Have a Dedicated Team and a Strong Support System

I got very serious about my entertainment career, studying acting and taking vocal lessons. I was cast in community theater and local plays. It was a thrilling and exhausting ride as slowly I began to feel the pull and tug of something greater than I ever thought I could be. I started writing songs and working with music producer to develop my own music, which opened more doors for me to perform. Soon after, I started a faith-based television show.

My few moments of fame were just that, a few. The closer I got to the spotlight, the further I got away from my family and eventually my health. There were long hours that often ran through the night to the wee hours of the morning. Not to mention the fact that I was still holding down a full time job that was demanding on its own.

My health began to suffer with fatigue Something had to give. Despite it all, I never felt more alive or purposeful than when I stood before crowds with a mic in my hand.

Although music and entertainment are pretty much behind me now, I am grateful that I didn't give up. I followed my dreams. In my book, I succeeded and that's more than enough for me. I learned from all this, it is important to have a dedicated team and a strong support system. You need people in your corner - its not good to tackle anything alone.

7. Feel the moments of your life. To be fully alive its important to feel it all, the joy and the sorrow, the hope and the fear - this is what life demands of us. When things look the scariest, show up anyway. When the challenges push you, push back harder. You have to stand strong against the tests, let your heart break when it needs to, and throw yourself into the moments of your life. Moments come and go in the blink of eye. Do joy on purpose, not because of life's struggles - but in spite of them.

8. Ever heard "time is of the essence?" Time is your most valuable asset, don't waste it. Once a moment is gone, you can't get it back so make the most of your time and be respectful of others time. I think this one is self explanatory - no need to waste time elaborating...

9. Your health is your wealth. Building your mental, physical, emotional, and financial well-being is like building your muscles while bench pressing - bit by bit, you add weight - and over time you'll find that you have become stronger and you can carry more.

In order to be physically fit you have to maintain a healthy diet, consuming fresh foods and vegetables to improve your body. Affirm your mental health by having an attitude of gratitude. Journal about your feelings. Read an assortment of books that entertain, teach or inspire you to increase your knowledge. Strengthen and build your emotional health by leaning into hurt and pain in order to grow from it, and fully embrace happiness at every opportunity by spreading love and joy to others.

Financial well-being can be obtained by practicing discipline - just because you have the money doesn't mean you have to spend it. You can grow your wealth by investing through online stock investment platforms like Acorns or Robinhood - they make investing easy with simple articles that teach you along the way. Check out GROUNDFLOOR a real estate lending marketplace, to begin investing in real estate. Do you have side-hustle? Consider starting your own home-based business. There are many ways to grow your financial health and create multiple streams of income. It just takes some effort on your part, consider researching financial advisors to help guide your financial wellness.

10. It's not about you, your life that is. In the precious time we are giving to occupy space on this lovely planet Earth, our living is about how we impact the lives of each other. Consider some of the world's most well-known people alive today - Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Tyler Perry, Warren Buffet... to name a few - what do they each have in common other than their wit, wisdom and wealth? They all realize that the joy of their living is in their giving. They each actively, and with sincere desire, seek to make this world a better place by impacting the lives of others through their philanthropy, sharing of education and creating avenues for self-improvement of people around the world.

A Better You, It's All in the Details

I’m not who I used to be, working on becoming a better version of myself is a daily process. It’s all in the details. Learning is a lifetime activity, we are all students in one gigantic classroom. Raise your hand, let your voice be heard, be a part of the class discussion.

Hey, I don't have to solve world hunger, stack a ton of trophies or awards on a shelf, become a billionaire philanthropist, jump out of a plane, swim the deepest shores, or conquer my every fear to say I made my mark in this world.

Working through the details to help get me closer is what I intend to do - as I move myself in the direction of accomplishing great things in the time and space God has given to me.

It's a daily process that involves prayer, meditation, exercise, maintaining a healthy diet and a healthy mindset. It is understanding my limitations, standing firm when the storms of life blow, taking time for rest and relaxation. It is keeping priorities in order.

I have not finished pushing myself. I have not finished proving myself. Every day I get another chance to grow more fully into the beautiful person I was meant to be. Grateful for another year of life, I know I ain't seen nothing thus far, the best is yet to come!

Valerie Winrow is an author and a women’s lifestyle writer/blogger with focused content on health, wellness, and finance. Her “Yes, I'm That Girl!” blog and "Yes, That Girl!" podcast, share inspirational stories and anecdotes to encourage others to live a life of purpose.

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