Category Archives: INspire

Discovering Dad…Again

Last week I had the opportunity to go on a journey of discovering my dad again. My uncle Daniel came in town from Philly for 2 days. He was my dad’s younger brother.

While my uncle was in town, we got to visit my dad’s grave on what would have have been his 72nd birthday. I heard the first hand account about the day my father died because my uncle Daniel was the one who got the call about the fatal motorcycle accident he had been in. 

It was ironic that last week during my uncle’s visit, the shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte had saturated the news.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear how much of an activist my dad was. My uncle spoke of how he would have been so active in the movement and would have fought for social and racial justice.  He said, in case you ever wondered where you get your passion from about social issues…it’s part of your DNA.  I never knew.

A mind blowing surprise is that my uncle brought me a momentous from my dad that he had kept for 43 years waiting for the right time…alone time with me to give it to me.  So this autograph book was given to my dad when left Haiti in 1969 for Chicago and many friends wrote in it and then Family wrote in it in 1972 one year after my Mom died when he was leaving Chicago for Holland to do his medical residency. When his belongings were returned after he died in 1973, this was with them.

What started off as a promise a few years ago to take me to a football game when Chicago and Philly played at Soldier Field, turned into the most in depth, impactful and moving conversation I’ve ever had about my dad from his younger brother, my uncle Daniel. 

I’ve never had anything that physically belonged to my mom or dad besides a photo album, which sadly was thrown away in a state to state move years.  I’ll forever cherish our time together and the priceless gift he saved for me all these years.  It’s amazing do discover so many new things about my dad that essentially gives me a greater understanding of who I am. 
Dad, I miss you more than ever. Rest eternally.

The legacy of Dana Schuler

On Monday, I had the honor of attending the Celebration of Life of a simply impeccable woman, Dana Schuler.


I never had the privilege of meeting this phenomnal woman, something I deeply regretted while spending the day celebrating her life.  She was the mother of my sweet friend, Grace.  Dana lost her battle with cancer. 


It’s weird to say this about the occasion, but I shared with Grace on Monday, that it was the BEST.FUNERAL.EVER.   So let me explain…

From the moment I pulled up to the church and stepped inside the sanctuary, I felt like this Celebration was for royalty.  I would soon discover, she was indeed a Queen. 


This Celebration of Life was a true reflection of the life Dana lived. The worship songs that were selected seemed to be the essence of who she was as a worshipper. Her husband gave the eulogy that timelined her life from the moment they met over 40 years ago.  

As I listened to the various precious moments shared by my friend Grace and her 2 siblings, I was moved to tears. The common denominator word they all shared was PRAYER.  Dana was a prayer warrior who interceded for her children with fervor and it is something they got to visually experience. Her son, Jonathan shared in his youth, he once saw his mom laid prostrate at 3a praying, and when he asked her what could be so urgent at that hour to be praying for, she replied that she was praying for him and his sisters.  I sat in awe as I listened to the stories of the various ministries she served and started.  From women’s prison, to taking youth to Brazil for mission trips, to going to Thailand to learn about the core of sex trafficking, she gave her all. Her children went on many trips to Brazil and saw the power of God manifest in their mom through healings. What a gift to have had those experiences with your mother….priceless.

The service unofficially ended with a time of ministry led by her spiritual son and team. They prayed and gave encouraging words to the many people that came forward, me included. What an amazing tribute to the life she led dedicated to ministry. 

As I walked into the beautiful Queen City Club for the reception, it was indeed an atmosphere set for a Queen.

The rooms throughout the club were filled with beautiful photos of her life in action and signature pieces she made with love and personal detail and flare,  like a floral replica bride dress for her daughter Grace’s wedding and a charm bouquet made for her daughter Genevieve’s wedding.


The word that was frequently repeated during the time of sharing was GENEROUS.  My goodness what Dana gave day in and day out to others was simply inspiring.  A woman shared a story of how she was the mother of 5 but how sadly 1 of her children died in the month of November. Being so close to Christmas, Dana knew it would be emotionally difficult for this mother to shop for Christmas for her other 4 children while mourning the 1 she just lost. So Dana became Santa Clause and showered the family with Christmas gifts for the children. You can imagine what that did for this mother.


Aside from the prayer warrior and generous woman, Dana was known for her LAUGH! It apparently filled the room. We heard hilarious stories from so many including, Grace’s husband, Jonathan, who shared that one time after picking her up to transfer her from the chair to her bed, looked at him and said, “you’re cute!”  

We raised our champagne glasses and toasted to this amazing woman who left a life changing impact on everyone she encountered and befriended.  

When I think of the legacy I want to leave, Dana Schuler’s life is the epitome.  She lived a life of selfless service, abundant generosity and outrageous love.  She made a difference. Her life calls me higher, it inspires me to do more, to be more.  I am challenged to fully pursue and live out my purpose. I’m pretty convinced she was an angel walking on this earth in the form of a human.  Her children will forever be blessed and favored because they lived amongst an angel. I count it all joy to be able to experience the extension of who Dana was through her daughter, my friend, Grace.


Rest well, Dana, good and faithful servant. 

Happy Half-A-New Year!


So here we are, July 1, the start of the 2nd half of the year. It’s always the time I choose to look over the goals I set for the year and reassess which ones should still be there. Life happens, shift happens and you are to the change that comes. It’s ok to get off the path you are on and get on a new one and set new goals.  Don’t get stuck in doing something because it’s how you’ve always done it. 


I’m excited about this 2nd half of 2016. I’ve made adjustment to the original goals. I took some off this list and added others on. It’s so essential to stop and evaluate where you are in life every few months. A year goes by so quickly and if you are not careful, you can lose track of the goals you have set.  My #oneword for 2016 is INTENTIONAL!   I have been more aware this year of how much I needed to be intentional in every area of my life and it makes a major difference. 
So what are you reassessing for the 2nd half of 2016?

What shifts are you accepting and moving with?

What are you being intentional about?

Dear Mom, I’m thankful

Every year on this day, I remember it as the day my life would forever change. I often wonder exactly what that day was like for you emotionally. You had only given birth to me 12 days prior and now you would never have the opportunity to actually mother your baby girl. 

The saying “it gets better with time” is not necessarily true. It’s been 45 years and growing up motherless has not gotten any easier over the years. Every season in life has brought its unique challenges.  I have just learned to manage the void.

Today, in the midst of an emotional day of an emotional filled Mother’s Day week…I choose to be thankful. 

I’m thankful  for the foundation you set for me.

I’m thankful for the family I was born into.

I’m thankful you had a passionate marriage with dad.

I’m thankful I had 2 years with dad before he was reunited with you.

I’m thankful I was raised by my immediate family.

I’m thankful that when I don’t know what to do next, I feel your guidance.

I’m thankful that I know the woman I have become is much of who you were.

I’m thankful that though this has been the deepest void in my life, I have been able to support other girls who have become motherless.

I’m thankful for a God who wraps me in His arms when I feel overwhelmed by  the emptiness of not having you.

I’m thankful for the 12 days I had with you, though I don’t remember them, it was a gift.

I Am…

  

 

I believe in daily speaking words of affirmations and declarations to who you are or are becoming! Anything that follows “I AM” has the power in our lives. So as for me…

I AM GOD’S FAVORITE

I AM A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST

I AM CREATIVELY 

I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR 

I AM PASSIONATE 

I AM AN ADVOCATE FOR THE VOICELESS 

I AM AN ACTIVIST 

I AM HEALTHY AND FIT

I AM A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE 

I AM AN INVESTOR

I AM A WOMAN OF INFLUENCE

I AM AN ATMOSPHERE CHANGER

I AM A FORCE OF GOOD

I AM FULL OF GRACE

I AM CHANGE AGENT 

I AM A DREAMER

I AM A FULFILLER OF DREAMS

I AM A LEADER

I AM A SERVANT

I AM A LOVER

I AM A LOYAL FRIEND 

I AM A FAITHFUL WIFE

I AM A COMPASSIONATE MOTHER

I AM LIVING THE LIFE OF MY DREAMS
What are you declaring and affirming in your life?

2016…the year of INTENTIONAL

    

Since 2009, I have taken part of a movement called #oneword365.  The purpose is to ditch the multiple resolutions and focus on ONE WORD for the entire year and really live out that word.

This year, I have chosen the word INTENTIONAL.  I’ve also chosen to focus on just ONE goal in these 6 areas of my life:

  • Personal – yes to dates 2-3x a month 
  • Business – 25k revenue increase 
  • Financial – 50% debt paid off
  • Spiritual – in depth study of  2 books of the Bible
  • Health – down 40 lbs
  • Charity – launch non profit

I have found that there is usually one goal that seems to be more prominent throughout my year of the 3-5 that I set in the different areas of my life, so I decided to reduce it to the ONE in each area.

So I am deciding to be intentional in taking the steps to turn these goals into reality. In the past, I have sometimes set goals but yet have not been intentional about the steps necessary for goals to be manifested. 

 
2015 was a year of incredible lessons for me and was able to REPOSITION (2015 word) myself in areas of my life. 

I do have a deep sense that’s been stirring in me that this year is going the year I see all 6 of my 2016 goals achieved. 

So what are you being intentional about this year? What’s your #oneword?

  

Christmas Comfort

On this day, December 23rd, 1973, my life as I would know it and the life of my family would forever change. They received the devastating news that my father, Rony Phaeton, a son, brother, uncle, friend and as of 2 years prior, a widower, was killed in a motorcycle accident.

    Today as I started writing this blog, I was reminded of the all the joys of this Christmas season.  It’s a time where people are extra giving, are extra forgiving and are looking to restore relationships. 

    It’s also a time of sorrow for many who have lost loved ones, who are facing illness, who are lonely and simply need comfort this Christmas.

      
    This season, I’ve had several people connected to me that have lost loved ones or are facing illness.

    – 3 siblings I was in college ministry with 24 years ago have both of their parents in the hospital fighting for their lives the past 2 weeks. Their parents were the college students mom & dad. They loved us and welcomed us into their family.

    – 2 loved ones lost their dogs. 1 hit by a car and 1 from sudden illness. I have a dog and know the joy they bring, so I feel their loss.

    – a family from my church lost their 2.5 month son suddenly in his sleep last week.

    – a sister from my church is facing cancer for the 2nd time.

    – a friend of the family was just admitted to the hospital last week for mental illness.

    – a 2nd cousin whose father had 2 back to back stokes last week, died this morning. So we now share this special day that we lost our fathers.

    In times like these, people look for the right words to say…but there are no words that are the right words…there are only gestures…a hug, a shoulder, an ear, shared tears and prayers.

    Today and the days gone by, I have held on to the following scripture as my source of comfort. If you are in need or know someone in need, I hope you find some comfort in this scripture as well.  

    Katrina…10 years later

      
    Hurricane Katrina will always be one of those events in my lifetime that I can say, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news that it made landfall in the gulfcoast.

       
    These images are forever imprinted in my mind…

      I felt so helpless watching these rooftops…

     
    I watched in tears, horrified as I wondered how many lives would be lost on those rooftops….

      
    The Superdome that I had been to so many times for music festivals, was now the headquarter of thousands of devastated lives.

     
    I had to honor of leading a Red Cross disaster relief team into New Orleans shortly after Katrina.  I was there for 1 month working alongside about 50 volunteers from all over the U.S. and Canada.  We were house in a church where the pastors showed us so much love. I built connections with people on my team that I saw after our month there and even spent a Christmas with one of the friendships I built. Thankful for Facebook that keeps some of us connected 10 years later.

      
    The currency of that time was simple…hugs. With so much hopelessness about their future.. The only thing we could offer besides food and some toiletries, was the warmth of the human touch that said, “we are here and we care.”

     
    I’ve been back to New Orleans a few times 0vwr the past 10 years and the thing that stands out above all else is the resilience of the people. 

    Katrina was a brutal reminder of how life as you know it, can change in an instant.  Though everything may crumble around you, the 2nd chance to start again is a gift.  

      We have all faced a Katrina in our lives, what we do to recover from the storm is what’s important.

    The 2nd Half

    Half of 2015 is gone. Finished. No turning back. What lies ahead is the remainder of this year. As I looked at my goals for the year, it was assessment time. I had to ask myself:

    – What have I accomplished so far?

    – What target goals have I hit? 

    – What goals do I have yet to reach?

    – What will it require to reach those goals? 

    I set 2 goals for each month of the year.  From January – June, I hit 3 out of those 12 goals. 3 of the goals on my list couldn’t be reached due to major medical challenges that led to surgery  I had in May with a 6 week recovery time.  I may have been 6 for 12 and maybe more. I realized the first half of the year that sometimes one challenging circumstance in life can have a domino effect.  

      

    In reviewing my goals, I realized it was time to re-assess and to determine what is most important in this season to accomplish by years end. 


    So I ask myself, what’s next?  How will the 2nd half of 2015 play out?  The answer…the way I determine it to.  Moving boldly into these last 6 month, I’m determined to accomplish what I set to be my priorities:

    – Deepening Family Relationships

    – Launching new start-up

    – Lose 25 pounds 
    So what is your 2nd half looking like? What will you determine to accomplish! Put it out there, so you can be held accountable.  No one can do this thing alone, we need each other.

    March On…A New Season 

    March is the month that ushers in the season of spring.  The past months of winter brought some hard storms…with weather and with life…but today, Spring has arrived and with it comes the time to plant for the harvest. I’ve learned over the years that every season brings about change and change is a much needed neccessity. With a new season, comes new possibilities, new opportunities to start again, essentially for do-overs. As I embark on this season, I look forward to putting behind some of the old that has held me back and welcoming the new creation. I’ve hard some health challenges that I am finally facing and having the necessary procedure for a better me. I am also taking major steps towards walking out what I believe is a life long calling to be an advocate for a special group of youths that are walking out what I had to in my youth. These are both scary but it’s a new season…It’s here, It’s time, I’m ready.

    What is the old that your are leaving behind this winter and what is the new that your embracing this Spring?

    Welcome to Spring! Welcome to the opportunity to march on to endless possibilities that await you in this season.

     

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