My6inchchallenge's Blog

Tackling difficulties and overcoming the challenges life serves up – by Dona Halliday

Archive for challenge

The Caterpillar and I

My first impulse was to step on it. I don’t like bugs. But as I watched it, the caterpillar’s body, slow, a little clumsy, yet beautiful, I was fascinated. It was out of its element, crawling, seemly getting nowhere — reminding me of life sometimes.

Sometimes it seems no matter how hard we try or how fast we move we’ll never get to our destination. The challenge? Remain steady and keep at it even when progress seems slow.

In your caterpillar phase remember that change is closer than you may think. Avoid the burden of comparing yourself to others who are designed differently than you.

Not everyone will recognize your beauty. Don’t be deterred by those who only see a bug.

Remind yourself that you are being transformed daily and soon you’ll leave the tedious task of crawling and take to the air doing what you were ultimately designed to do.

Then it was Springtime. Passed from death to life.

Dona Halliday experiencing Spring

"It is Springtime!"

Recently I had a flashback from the most unlikely place, with a few notes from a song long forgotten, “Let’s get it on,” I was back in my 25th year. So much had changed during that year – my neatly packaged life, with its black and white distinctions of right and wrong, started unraveling.

The place I had felt most secure suddenly turned into a war zone. Two of the people who had nurtured me, the pastor – my spiritual father, and my former Sunday school teacher – one of my spiritual moms, were at war. I don’t know why it started, but blows intended to wound were hurled from the pulpit Sunday after Sunday, and soon the place I had loved going to, became a place I dreaded.

The first mistake I made during that time was to stop attending church. Mistakes two and three followed when I stopped reading my bible and then gave up on prayer.

Mistake number four showed up shortly after, a tall, handsome Trinidadian four years my senior, wearing the most beautiful smile. We started dating. He gave me my first secular CD, a mix of songs by Marvin Gaye. The first song on the CD, “Let’s get it on.” With him I tried my first alcoholic beverage, beer – yuck! alcohol was not for me. My first club experience was also with him – that was not for me either, and when back then I decided I would never get married and therefore there was no need to “save myself for my husband,” he was still around.

Note to self –  If I have children do not teach them to save themselves for their spouses. Make sure they build their values on a more lasting foundation.

We continued dating then I ended the relationship when he started talking marriage. Have you ever heard Christians, with much delight, talk about the fun they had before they came to Christ? I have. But I was not having fun. The poor choices I made were not fun to me. I was in rebellion and I knew it. I stubbornly resisted God as I challenged the notion of him as a loving Father.

Those were dark, winter days, I felt spiritually dead, and though consciously I chose not to pray, sometimes in my sleep I would happen upon my spirit crying, “God, don’t let me live life without you!”

I don’t know anything that is as beautiful and powerful in its ability to transform, like love that is consistent, sacrificial and forgiving.

Have you ever been loved into submission?

I can’t explain it, but as my rebellion and disobedience met God’s love, I started changing. Love, God’s love, makes me want to be better. The thing I would not change about that time was the journey of questioning, seeking and experiencing God for myself. The relationship I have now is not based on what I’ve been told but it’s based on discovering God’s heart and character.

It’s Springtime! To me, this is what knowing God is about. For even after we have committed our lives to God we may still have challenges that can seem dark and death-like. But don’t give up on the journey, question if you must, but continue to seek God.

God is not threatened by our places. The journey is that place of learning, discovery and growth, and with each lesson comes the opportunity to be awakened to a new understanding of God’s love, and life – vibrant, exciting, colorful, abundant life.

6 signs that your relationship might be killing you

Challenge the relationships that challenge you

He's got to go!!

“I just flew up from St. Kicks with my girl to see the Bodies,” he said. I sat there staring at him wondering if he suffered from delusions. Why would anyone find it necessary to initiate a conversation and then tell lies. This guy I had gone out with had stopped two strangers and after asking them where they were from had told them we had just flown up from St. Kicks…

I remember the only thing I said to him was, “if you are going to pretend to be where I’m from, the least you can do is to learn how to pronounce it. I’m from St. KITTS.” After that I knew I would never go out with him again. He had to go.

That was years ago, but I’ve come to realize that there are far too many people who would go to great lengths to convince people they don’t know of a life they don’t possess.

As we listen to the buzz of how to show love this Valentine’s day, be careful not to make the expression of love about others who don’t matter. Even more importantly, for those of us who are single — don’t enter into or stay in relationships just because you don’t want to be alone. Evaluate your relationships. An evaluation can help reveal what ‘s working, what can be made better, and those things you need to let go.

Here are 6 signs that your relationships might be killing the best of who you are:

1. You lose your self-confidence and question your worth when you are together. Someone once told me that when she went out with the person she was in a relationship with her self-esteem would hit the floor. “He would always look at other women and talk about what he loves about their body and how they look,” she said. “I hate how I feel when we are together, but I love him and I know he loves me.” Really… how about some RESPECT? He’s got to go!

2. You introduce him as your boyfriend, and it’s eating you up on the inside, because even though he’s all up in your “yum yum’s” he still introduces you as “just a friend”. Do I really need to say anything about this? Your “yum yum’s are precious, discipline yourself and stop sharing them all willy-nilly. He’s got to go!!

3. The person tries to control you by playing on your insecurities. I believe we should post on our mirrors the definition of love, try the 1 cor. 13: 4-8 version. It will not only help us in learning to love better, but it will make it challenging for us to continue deceiving ourselves about the manipulation that others use, and call it love.

4. You feel pressured to do things that go against your values. Know where you stand and know why you take the stance that you do. It can take many years of growth to become strong in your convictions. Step up to the challenge, set appropriate boundaries, work on not placing yourself in compromising situations, and don’t choose to do something just because it’s easy or popular; not when those decisions can change the course your life.

5. You have an enforcer. This person makes it their responsibility to try to change you. If you do something they don’t like, even in error, they change their behavior because they mean to teach you a lesson. This is just another form of control, call things what they are, only then can you work on changing them.

6. You need to be “kept in your place.” Whether it’s your love life, your work life or where ever it might be, realize this is not really about you. When someone finds it necessary to try to withhold knowledge; close doors to opportunities for fear you may enter; feel threatened by your growth and try to shut you up, shut you out and put you down; it’s usually about their insecurities. Refuse to be kept in the space others have defined for you, keep going, keep growing, keep trusting, and watch God!

Love the ones you’re with

The challenge to love those closest to us is valuable training in learning how to love well.

A challenge to love

In another lifetime, years before I moved to the US, the gentleman I was engaged to gave me a cd with love songs that are intended to be used at weddings. Even though I later decided that he was not the person I wanted to share my life with, I still remember and love those songs.  I caught myself singing one of them a few days ago after working on a slide show for an article that was published in Best Self Magazine, Atlanta.

The article was about finding love, and Amber Salisbury, one of the experts who contributed to the article gave this valuable piece of advice, “Don’t wait until you are in love to start loving.” There were 40 tips total, but this is the one I held on to.

I remember as a child thinking that marriage must be one of the greatest things in the world, after all God made it. But the words to the song I had caught myself singing seem like words from a fairy tale when viewed in the reality of many relationships.

“Wherever there is laughter ringing
Someone smiling, someone dreaming
We can live together there
Love will be our home.
Where there are words of kindness spoken
Where a vow is never broken
We can live together there
Love will be our home …”

Seems simple enough. As a matter of fact, these would probably be the words we would use to state the kind of relationship we desire. But for many, after the wedding ceremony, followed by years of too many harsh and unkind words, disregard, disrespect, broken vows and the inability to remember the last smile; one may discover that loving the people closest can be downright challenging.

I believe that’s why the advice to start by loving the ones we are with, (right now) is so valuable. The relationships that we are in: child, parent, brother, sister, colleague, friend, are the training grounds for how we do relationships in the future. This is where we learn how to handle conflict, how to forgive, how to show respect, how to honor and love others and how to value ourselves. Insecurity, distrust, fear, jealously, low self-esteem or unfaithfulness will not magically disappear when the “right one” comes along.

Is there something that you would like to see changed? No, I’m not talking about in the other person, I’m talking about in you. You know that behavior that resurfaces more often than you’d like?  Those words you always wish you had not said, or that thing you keep saying you’ll do differently next time? or whatever your thing is that needs to be changed.

I’m working on my stuff too. I have one great desire, that is, to love well. I have to fight the relational dysfunction that I saw growing up, where love was more a feeling, and it seemingly was not understood that the act of love is a choice. In maturing I’ve had to relearn some things.  For, the lasting magic that we long for in relationships come by hard work. Working on, working through, working pass.

I refuse to live in pretense. I refuse to hide behind anything false. The mistakes I’ve made I’ve had to work through and work pass. However, my journey for emotional health and growth is one that I’m committed to and one that will last a lifetime.

As you pursue your emotional wellness journey, this is Dona Halliday challenging you to love the ones you are with, so that you’ll learn how  to genuinely love the one you want to share life with.

Add health to your breakfast. The absolutely best way to eat an eggo waffle

Add health to your breakfast

A healthy breakfast is good for you

I remember as a child we had to have breakfast, but, it had to be a “HOT breakfast.” So, if we were having corn flakes we would add hot milk to make it a “hot breakfast.”

The habit of prioritizing breakfast has continued into adulthood, and having a leisurely breakfast is one of my favorite things. 

I believe some of the keys to adding health to our breakfast and making it something we must do, are: Prioritizing our health, proper planning of our time, learning to mix things we love with things we may not love as much, and having fun with it.

For the past three mornings I’ve had some time to “play with my food” and I’ve discovered the absolutely best way to have my Eggo waffles.

This morning’s breakfast menu included:
1. Porridge: Quaker old fashion oats, soy milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and honey
2. Multi-grain Eggo Waffles
3. Brown eggs stuffed with soy cheese
4. Chopped bell pepper, red seedless grapes, spinach, celery, tomato, kiwi, and the kicker, cilantro

Dona Halliday believes she has the best way to eat eggo waffles

Breakfast - my favorite meal

Now, what you eat is important but how you eat it can make a huge difference. So I love taking my waffle, folding it in half then stuffing it with my eggs, fruits and veggies and sprinkling chopped cilantro on top. Absolutely no syrup!

Yes, yes, I know you have your favorite ways to eat waffles as well, but there’s nothing like delighting your taste buds, yet also making sure your body gets the healthy stuff it needs.

For 2011, challenge yourself to a healthier lifestyle and start with breakfast.

Soul Searching — reaching for knowledge in music, life and love

If we fail to search, to embrace, we can miss so much.

Searching … Music, Life, Love

“… Nev – er treats me sweet and gentle the way he should, I got it bad and that ain’t good … now when the weekend’s over and Monday rolls around I end up like I start out  just crying my heart out, he don’t love me like I love him…”

I was lost in the sweet crooning of Louis Armstrong’s husky confession of having love bad but it was not good. This is no indirect confession of unrequited love on my part but it’s more a response to a criticism a friend threw at me — He said I have no SOUL. When I asked him to explain he said that I knew nothing of the music of our people and he started tossing out the names of singers and their songs which indeed I knew nothing about.

Since I realized there was truth in what he said, it made no sense to get upset. Raised on the island of St. Kitts, surrounded mainly by what we called “christian” music; and calypso, which Christians really were not supposed to sing, I can’t say Sam Cooke, James Brown or even Aretha Franklin was on my horizon. I remember after my mom returned from Puerto Rico with records by Jim Reeves and Tom Jones my “christian” genre expanded to include songs like “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone, Am I that easy to forget, I can’t stop loving you, Delilah,” and my all time Tom Jones favorite “Without Love.” Definitely not the soul my friend was talking about.

I’ve discovered it best that if I don’t know something not to pretend, but to seek opportunities to learn. As a result I was delighted when I saw this little jewel at the library, a play-a-way of the “Harlem Renaissance Remembered,” maybe not the soul he was referring to but in my mind as good a place to start as any.

After exploring for the past 3 weeks I’m completely in love with these beautiful, brilliant minds with their skilled, colored words. For when they write, speak or sing I not only hear but see their emotions, feel their pains, experience their challenges,  support their determination and feel inspired by their gifts. I became that man on the rickety stool playing that sad raggy tune like a musical fool, in Langston Hughes poem “Weary Blues.” I told Louie how beautiful I thought he was as he moaned “Black & Blue” wailing that his only sin was in the color of his skin. I took to the floor and found myself giving the rhythm every little thing I had as recommended by Ella Fitzgerald in “It don’t mean a thing,” Who were these people so skilled in their craft with the ability to give life to words and paint them with the right emotional hues? I had almost missed knowing them.

I understand we are shaped by our environment, upbringing and culture, but if we allow these things to become reasons to build barriers, walls that divide, we can miss so much. I’ve always wondered why the need for sameness, why the need to look like others or offer acceptance only when others look like us? Why do we exchange our uniqueness to become invisible – to just blend in? Why does our idea of beauty lack color?

After some soul-searching, I realize there is so much to know, to embrace, to love, so much life to live, so many things to experience. This is Dona Halliday challenging you as I challenge myself to discover what is special about the people who cross your path, celebrate them, then further beautify your world by being  your unique self.

Weight, waist and food challenges

I had gotten up at 4:45a.m hastily pulled on my workout clothes and sneakers not so much as a declaration of my intent to exercise, but more so as a warning to both body and mind that spontaneous “exercise-like” activities MAY take place. My primary task was that of cleaning, but cleaning can provide great work-out opportunities.

I was on the far end of the room and had bent to pickup something, on my way up I had turned my head slightly and in so doing saw the mirror across from me. I gasped and stared at a figure very much like myself on the other side of the room — still slightly bent over — but the figure was different in that its middle section was spilling over the top of its pant. I froze, eyes only moving, darting left to right, up and down, then to my middle section, then left to right, up and down then back to my middle section, totally shocked by my muffin top.

I straightened, examining my side profile — something was terribly wrong, for it seemed that my middle section had grown vigorously bearing much resemblance to my protruding back section, and my back section was protruding much less than I remembered.

I stood, baffled. Then I quieted my thoughts and continued my cleaning. Mentally I started back-tracking my activities over the past few months determine to find what had gone wrong. I felt betrayed, for only two months ago I had made a decision to get my body “holiday-ready”. That meant I had those two months to tone and build more muscle so that during the holidays my body would be its own 24-hour-fat-burning machine to provide balance for any over-indulgences.

That had not worked, my body said OVER-INDULGENCE in bold, large letters. The last two weeks’ over-indulgences of blueberries muffins, delicious large ones; cold and creamy, melt-in-your-mouth almond and coconut ice cream; moist and must-have-been-made-in-heaven strawberry pound cake; and those perfect pies with the flaky crust — sweet potato, pumpkin, pecan … and certainly not enough “exercise-like” activities, had produced some undesirable results.

I’m not obsessed with my weight, at 140 lbs and a height that varies depending on my choice of elevation, the experts say my weight is normal. But abdominal fat can adversely affect our health, as a matter of fact I learned that it’s important to watch our waist number.

I believe in striving to be healthy. Sometimes my quest for healthy living is easy and at other times it’s a challenge. It’s been a challenge for the past few weeks.

As I write this post, even though I am not hungry, I had nuts and a cookie and I’m thinking about the coconut ice cream that is in the fridge. I’m also thinking about those delicious homemade waffles my brother brought over this morning. I’m thinking it would be really nice to have them with scrambled eggs and crisp, crunchy turkey bacon. I’m wondering what happened to the last piece of sweet potato pie, I don’t remember eating it. I’m wishing that I had not eaten all the turkey neck bones last evening, those had been sooo good. I’m thinking about food — delicious, pleasurable, satisfy-me-now comfort food — but I’m not hungry.

Discipline reminds me that physical food should feed physical hunger, so I have to say no to eating for the rest of the evening and re-enforced the need to get back to a consistently healthy lifestyle.

Yet the holidays are far from over, and tasty goodies will taunt and tempt us with whispers of “Come, have some. That’s all? Come, have some more. You know it’s ok, it’s the holidays.”

Though I will still allow myself a little over-indulgence once in a while, I understand that moderation is key, as I become ward of my waistline, watcher of my weight and exercise willpower in my choices.

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