Rise Up, Or Nah?

Rise

I rose early for no reason other than my body was ready to do so. I went into my kitchen, turned on the Keurig as I do most mornings to prepare my daily cup of tea. I’m off today because it’s a holiday set aside to celebrate the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Stepping away from that, which I will come back to in a minute, let me jump over to a video that caught my eye early this morning. Jada Pinkett-Smith posted a video to her social media accounts where she’s making a statement about the lack of color being represented and accepted at this year’s academy other than Chris Rock being asked to host. She’s disappointed, but forgiving of the fact that we have had to beg and plead to be invited to the table though we carry great power in this nation. I made a statement yesterday on my social media accounts that we need learn to love, honor, respect and support each other and not be as concerned about others giving us the pat on the back we feel like we need to have acknowledgement that we’re doing a great job. Her video stood out for me, not just because of the content of it, but because I had a situation recently that bothered me a little.

I was part of a conversation where someone said to me that (without divulging the actual conversation) they wanted me to pretty much do a dog and pony show, perform a few tricks, say my name a thousand times so that someone would know who I was and reward me for the hard work I do. While he was talking, I thought about the tons of awards that I already have, yet the few I see others with and still I need to put on a show like I’m in the middle of the three ring circus and if I do well, I may be asked to come back again. It didn’t matter that in a year’s time, I had received four high honors where some had yet to receive any, yet I have to do something extra special and the premise was, “so that they can know your name; know who you are.” My first thought was, they still need to know my name and know who I am? Why am I being pointed out to do this extra two-step to be recognized further? Why are you not telling them who I am and what I am capable of doing? People know and remember the names and talents of those they want to remember and that dog and pony show won’t matter. I realized at that moment that I’m not a hoop jumper and my days of putting on a dog and pony show to be seen and heard are in my past because I did the most, I stood out, I played the game and starting over by doing those things I’ve spent a lifetime doing just to get another small pat on the back isn’t what or who I am. I have the expectation that if I am to be rewarded for a task/job well done, that it will come my way because of the contributions I put forth that shouldn’t include that show full of stars and lights, fancy talk, Sunday attire and a smile that would plastered on only for that occasion. I should have the ability to be recognized along-side those who are awarded for doing very little when it’s clear I do a lot more. I was insulted and I relayed that sentiment because I know the power I wield is worth more than song and dance I was being asked to do in order to be seen and heard. Ask anyone, they see me and I have no doubt they hear me and what I produce is right in your face, but in a world where that’s not enough for ME, I choose not to tell someone a story they should already know because the end product you received, came from me or was there a mysterious person who you gave credit to for the great job I did.  I’m not the only one who encounters that tactic daily, but I am the one who will not be placed in center stage to perform a show when you already know and have seen just how good I am, so if you’re going to reward me, thank you and if not, I’m still good because I know how to pat my own self on the back and encourage myself. I don’t do what I do for a golden statue from you because if what I provide has a positive impact on one person, then I’ve done what I’ve set out to do. My audience is not those who want me to stand before them and plead for my talent and work to be accepted, but it’s the people I help who need a better understanding so that they can have a productive life. With that in mind, I stand with Jada when she says we no longer have to beg and plead for respect or attention when we can provide that for ourselves. For me, I’m happy, healthy and someone’s life is better because of the product I provide and that right there is my acknowledgement of the good job I do and that works for me.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted more for us and he fought so that, hopefully, w wouldn’t have to fight as hard. He took punches, kicks, screams, death threats, his life being monitored twenty-four seven, the lives of his wife and children at risk everyday, yet he didn’t play nice on the playground to make those who thought they mattered more feel good about themselves. Instead he took the road that paved a way for me and others like me to see that we can have, live and do better for ourselves and we should never give up striving for that, if not for ourselves, than for those who are coming up with and after us. Everyone deserves a world of equality and justice and no person is born entitled without putting in the work. The point is to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve the same goal without any one person being put in a place to perform extra for something someone got because they know somebody or because they are stereotyped as being the person who should get the upper hand simply because their skin tone is a few shades lighter. When is that hurdle ever left behind in the rear view window, never to be seen again? There are those who don’t really want to see us succeed, but telling us they do is more of the politically correct thing to say. We have the power to make a change, but it won’t occur if we continue following the status quo. I agree with Jada Pinkett-Smith that we need to do some things different and not scratch and claw for recognition, but it’s time we did more to recognize ourselves in a way that gives us inner peace. Those we thought we wanted that pat on the back from aren’t as important to our livelihood as be may believe; we just have to make the moves to make sure we are in position to control our own livelihood. It’s time to stand up, rise and and do what we need to do to say it’s okay if i’m not invited to the table because I have this really nice table over on the other side of the room that it fit around right nicely. I look good at that table, I feel magnificent at that table and at that table there is joy and love for me that though you may have wanted me to believe I wanted and needed from you, I really didn’t. I was going along with what I had been taught, but now it’s time for me to be the teacher because I’ve sat under teachings that provide me with the sustenance I needed and some I didn’t, yet i’m going to take it, nonetheless and use it to show those coming behind me that they can make a difference without begging and pleading to be let in through a door that never had my name on it to begin with. Yeah, it’s beyond time to take stock in self-worth and walk into your destiny and stop leaving that destiny to someone to provide.

Rise up, or Nah? I say rise up and not just walk, but run into the life you were meant to have and not one that has been planned out for you. Where you see a brick wall, bring along a sledgehammer and knock that sucker down. When you see a river that you don’t believe you can swim across, learn to swim better than any Olympic swimmer and get your behind to the other side. When the valley is deep and rugged, come with an ATV that can get you across that rough terrain. When you no longer see a path, be the first to build one so that one day your name can be on that street as the one who paved the way. Where you see that others are weak and you’re the strongest, jump in and bring to the table what’s needed for success for all involved. Where you have the means and the know how, develop a DIY (do it yourself) mentality and move on to the next impossible task, proving the impossible is possible. You don’t need a pat on the back when you know the power of what you bring to the table. Design a tool that looks like a hand and every time you feel that you aren’t getting recognized for your achievements, use that tool to pat your own self on the back and keep it moving and then when you have the opportunity, you take the time to pat someone on the back not because you made them put on an embarrassing, unnecessary show, but because you truly believe they provided what needed to be celebrated.

Rise up, or Nah? Yeah, I say rise up and help to change a generation that seems to be lost within themselves, not knowing how to get out. Our children want not because they are being told and shown that they are nothing. They are down because the generation before them was down and still found a way to survive so they have no problem with just surviving to make it from birth to death. Some don’t even care if death comes for them early because they couldn’t see beyond the day they were living in. They saw no future filled with happiness, family, love and respect. They saw ridicule, disenchantment, bitterness, disappointment and most of all, no way out because no one cared enough to help them. We have the power to help a generation rise, who want to rise and believe that not everyone you encounter want your help and that’s okay too, but for those who do, find a way to make a difference in their lives.

The time to rise up is in every second of every day. What will you choose? Rise Up, Or Nah?

http://www.cherylbarton.net

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I Want More

Down,_But_Not_Out_Cover_for_NookMy name is Karina and for now I’ll leave my last name a mystery just in case someone who knows me is reading this. I’m a young mother of two of the best kids in the world. How did I end of being blessed enough to be a mother to two such wonderful kids. I haven’t lived a life deserving of such an honor. I’ve done some terrible things and I have justified doing them by convincing myself that I didn’t know any better, but deep down I did. Sometimes I watch my kids sleep and I wonder if they deserve a different mother, someone better than me who can give them much more that I can. They are the only reason I wake up each day still in this trap, struggling to find my way out.

My plight started back in high school when I fell for the hottest boy in school. That led to a teenage pregnancy, his dreams of a career in professional sports flushed down the drain and my lack of self-esteem and self-respect. How could things have gone so wrong? I could blame it on my upbringing because my mother didn’t work hard enough to keep us from staying in the hood where all I ever learned to do was survive by taking advantage of others. I could blame it on the friends I had who never wanted anything for themselves so I followed the crowd instead of becoming a leader. Perhaps I could blame it on the system that keeps us down by giving us the bare minimum to survive, but not enough to get out of the downward spiral that is living in the hood. Who or what is the blame? Perhaps it’s me? Perhaps it’s the father of my children who I couldn’t seem to break away from even when I knew he was doing things that would either land him in jail or the grave. Perhaps I’m just someone who doesn’t deserve anything more than what I have.

There are many like me who wonder whether or not the hand we have been dealt is the only hand available to us. We all, at one time or another, have encountered others who were able to get out and now live in big houses, driving fancy cars and have careers and not just jobs. How did they make it yet I’m still here? I’m young, I have two children, I don’t work and though a high school education was free, I turned my back on that and figured, I’m fine, I’m sexy so some guy with lots of money will want me and once I give myself to him, he give me the world because after all, the only way I know to survive is to use what I have to get what I want. What does someone like me have? Only what I see in the mirror so that means I have to keep it tight and right and make sure it’s the first thing everyone notices about me. Should I care that all they’ll want is my body? I should, but I don’t because that’s just the hood where I came from and that’s all I know.

I’m going to take another look at my children while they are sleeping and I’ll dream of a better life for them even if I can’t have it. A dream, is a dream is a dream and that’s all some of us have to live on. There’s no prince charming who will come and rescue me from this life because they don’t want to come to the village and get themselves a slave girl living life on a wing and a prayer when they can have a queen who brings as much to the table as they do and not just what’s between her legs.

As I once again look at my beautiful children sleeping, I realize I have my motivation to do better and be better right before my eyes. They deserve me just as much as I deserve them and we all deserve so much more. I stand up straight, hold my head up high and decide at this very moment that I may be down, but I don’t want the world to count me out because I want, need and deserve to have it all and I’m going to get it. I’m going to put one foot in front of the other and walk my way into my new destiny and that starts with loving myself enough to know that I can get out because I’m better than my situation. Being down, but not out is who Karina will be.

Come read more of my story in Down, But Not Out: Breaking Chains. I am no longer my situation. I’m Karina Joseph and I’m breaking out of here!!

http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylbarton

http://www.cherylbarton.net

A Change

changePeople oftentimes wait until the new year to decide to make a change in some aspect of their life. I see resolutions about weight loss, going to church more, finding a new job or just about anything to be sure they don’t repeat an old habit from the year before. In my mind that means for an entire year, you settled for something that made you unhappy and waited on bated breath for the new year to come in to make a change. A change can come and be made whenever you are ready for it and not just at the beginning of a new year.

I personally never make resolutions or declarations of things I’m going to change about myself when a new year comes around. I could say I’m going to spend more time in the gym and exercise or even walk more and I won’t do it. I could say I’m going to cut out fried food in the new year, but I don’t see that happening either. I can even say I’m going to make sure I’m in church every Sunday for every service and with technology that allows me to enjoy a wonderful service from someplace else around the country via my computer, I’m gonna say right now, I’m good with the plan I’ve laid out for myself to stay connected. I find that if I resolve to change something from what was the year before, I’m declaring that I allowed myself to live unhappily before and that’s more unacceptable to me than making a promise to myself that I know I won’t keep.

Each year that comes along I try to be the best person I can be. I’m far from perfect and I don’t strive to be perfect because how big of a let down would that be to finally discover I’m not perfect after planning to work hard to get to that. I’m not saying I would never set a goal for myself that may be a hard one to reach, but the goals I set are done so that when I wake up each day, I appreciate the fact that I woke up. I look at each day as a brand new slate to fill in with all sorts of exciting things. I know that there are still 24 hours in a day, but no one can tell me that time isn’t moving at an alarming rate. Is 24 hours still 24 hours or is 24 hours more like 12 hours. I can still remember 2010 as if it were just yesterday. Where is time going and what am I doing with the time given to me?

I kick off every day like it’s the first day of the rest of my life and the only thing I resolve to do is make a change from what I did the day before, not insinuating that the day before was lacking anything. That day is gone, never to be seen again, but this new day? Oh it’s filled with so many possibilities of making everything around me better, more pleasant and livable so that at the end of the day, I’m smiling as I lay down and give my body a rest because I feel good about what I did in the 24 hours that I was given.

If you find that there is a need to make a change, do it whenever you first think about making that change. Don’t wait for a time in the future when there is the possibility that making that change won’t mean as much to you as it did when you first thought about it. A change allows you to redirect from a path you were on to a new one and as long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others around you, go ahead and do you. A change is good and if it makes you happy, those around you can live in the overflow of your happiness and will be glad when a little bit of it drops down on them. Let an everyday change in the right direction be what motivates you to be a better you all the time and now just on the first day of a new year.

Go ahead and change something today! I dare you!!

http://www.cherylbarton.net

Death, I Feel Your Sting

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I don’t know if there was this much death all around me when I was younger. I can’t remember so many people passing away that I actually know. Is it that because I’m getting older, those I know are getting older as well and death has been coming for people in large numbers?  I’ve gone to so many funerals in the past few years that I’ve lost count and I feel like I’m always waiting to hear about the next person gone, but never to be forgotten.

Recently my cousin passed away and he wasn’t too many years older than me. We pretty much grew up together always going to a lot of family functions, road trips and hanging at each other’s houses. He was best friends with my oldest brother who passed away a few years ago. I remember when my brother passed, my cousin mentioned how lonely he had become since my brother was gone. They did a lot together and what they liked to do the most was watch sports together and if they weren’t watching together, they would call each other on the phone and talk about a play they’d just seen in one game or another. They had become so much more than just cousins, they were brothers from different mothers. That’s a very special title that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Years ago I lost another cousin who was the sister to the cousin who recently passed away and I used to call her my sister from another mother because I felt that even though we were not sisters, we were as close as two sisters could be. We shared everything and I remember telling her secrets that I’ve never told another person. We shared our good and our very bad and never judged each other. I remember times we would sit in my apartment back in the 80’s and we’d sit up all night just talking and I mean the sun would literally come up and we would still be talking from the night before. I still have letters from her that she wrote me when she was away at college. My connection to her was strong and when her brother passed away recently the first thing I thought was, “Death I feel your sting.”

By that I mean everyday I feel the hurt and the pain of the loss of a family member or friend, but it really stings when another person around you passes away. I think about my cousin and all the dreams she had that never happened and over the past few days, she’s been on my mind heavily and I feel the hurt as if she just died. My thoughts turned from her to my brother whom I think about every single day and the pain of that never seems to go away. That is a daily sting and on days when it gets extremely overwhelming, I cry through the hurt wishing it would help ease the pain a little. Then there is my nephew who I didn’t talk to everyday, but when I did, I loved hearing him call me Aunt Cheryl. I miss him everyday and I feel that he didn’t get enough time to really get a grasp on how great life could have been for him as an adult. Leaving this life so early, having so much more he should have done is another sting that pierces my heart.

Death I feel your sting when I think of the years I lived with my grandmother and though I always thought we were close, we were really close after that. When my daughter was born, it was she who cut the cord and that was just as special to her as it was to me. I always told her that and it would make her smile. I feel the sting when I realize there is so much about my life that she has missed and I know she’d be proud of me. My thoughts of her take me to remembrances of my grandfather who was my main man. He always made me feel special and there was always a joke in my family about how whenever my grandparents needed to change the locks on their door, I always got my key first before their children. I was the only grandchild who had a key to their house and yes, I felt extra special. I spent a lot of time with them, time that I still remember as if it were yesterday. I remember the sting of losing him and that still lives with me today.

So many have gone on that I remember and lots over the past several years. Does the sting of the loss ever go away? Will I ever truly be able to rejoice knowing they are in a place of peace, with no pain and no worries? People believe or don’t believe in a lot of things and I believe there is a place where our spirits go and when I pass on, I will be reunited in spirit with those who have gone on home. I can’t say that right now it eases the pain of the sting of losing them, but my faith tells me to believe that the love I have for them will keep me connected to them forever, even in eternity.

Death, I feel your sting and it’s all around. The pain gets larger and spreads wider with each loss of a family member or friend. I want you to know I feel it and I’m thankful for it because it’s also a sign that I love and when I do, I love hard because if I didn’t, that sting would probably feel more like a prick.

Rise, Rise Up and Walk

follow-your-dreamsI was recently asked where do I get my energy and why does it seem like I have more hours in the day than the 24 that everyone else has. The question was asked, “when do you sleep?” Then the statement was made, “you must never do anything besides work and write.” Well let me make this very clear; I sleep as much, if not more than most people at night and I mean I get a good night’s sleep. It’s true I work a full-time job which I’ve had for the past 27 years. I won’t say much about that other than to say I’m thankful for it. When I’m not working or writing a new novel, I’m out line dancing, karaoke, going to the movies (which I love doing even in this strange world), I enjoy hanging with friends eating steamed crabs, I enjoy traveling and most of all, I love time with my family, which I do often. I enjoy indulging in a good mystery, espionage or crime novel and every chance I get, I have my eyes glued to the television watching something sci-fi or one super hero or another (Yes I love Arrow, Jessica Jones, Shield, The Flash, etc) and anything else even similar to that. See, my life isn’t just working and sleeping.  I find a lot of time to also enjoy life, but what I don’t do is sit around and wait for things to happen for me. I’m a go-getter and that will never change.

My question back to this person was, “what kinds of things do you do in your spare time?” The response I got was, “what spare time?” So in other words, other than working and taking care of your kids and husband, you don’t really do anything else. Did you ever have goals or dreams for yourself that you have not been able to fulfill? Your kids are basically all adults now and you and your husband should be enjoying a sense of empty-nesting and really finding lots of fun things to do. I got a side-eye on that comment.

The conversation at this point got interesting as she starting telling me about plans she had been thinking about for years of projects she wanted to do, businesses she wanted to start and dreams of being an actress in local plays; nothing big like Broadway, but she’s always wanted to try out for one of the local playhouses. We talked about why she hasn’t started on any of those things and I heard nothing, but a lot of excuses of why she hasn’t or why she can’t.

When someone asks me, how do I do so much, be prepared for me to come back with, why don’t you do more? From what I’m told there is this one life to live and I don’t want to get to the end of if still holding on to a dream or a goal that I could have worked toward and possibly fulfilled. I want to at least make an attempt. I never wanted to be a romance author, but once I put that first book out, Bachelor Not For Sale, I realized I could be so much more. I took on starting my own publishing company and now I’m about to expand that into publishing the works of other writers; helping some writers to become authors. I don’t know how far this business will go, but I never would have discovered I could get this far if I had not gotten up and did something about it.

There is a saying that says, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” If you don’t start none, there won’t be none! I say make today the day that you rise, rise up and walk into your destiny. Get your vision board out and start working on that dream. You may or may not see it come to fruition, but I believe you will get sense of satisfaction just by cranking away at it.

I went to the store today and brought my friend a journal and gave it to her with a note telling her to start writing down all of the things she ever wanted to do, but  never did. Start with the small things and accomplish those one by one. Once you see how easy it is to get through those, write down some bigger ones and start tackling those and each time she accomplishes something, make the next goal or dream a little bit bigger. One dream she told me about was she’s always wanted to make these personalized throw pillows. She’s had a sewing machine for years and it’s been gathering dust. Many years ago she made them and people always told her that she should make them and sell them. As a friend, I told her to make sure I was her first customer. I knew what it felt like to work on a dream and have a few supporters who purchased my first book, not caring how good or bad it was, but they did so because they believed in me.

Rise, rise up and walk into your destiny and let nothing stand in your way. There are enough hours in the day for you to spend some time on your own dream and not just those of the people around you. There is this ONE life to live. What will you do with it besides what’s expected.

http://www.cherylbarton.net

Rest in Paradise (R.I.P) Natalie Cole

Natalie-ColeI was saddened to hear of the passing of Songstress Natalie Cole. The moment I read about her passing, my mind went back to my childhood of when I first discovered her music.

My parents had a stereo player in the dining room and I would lay on the floor in front of it with a set of headphones on and spend hours listening to music. Now these headphones weren’t like today’s small ones that fit in your ear, but these were the big ones that covered your entire ear, a lot more comfortable that the buds of today. I loved listening to great artists such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, The Ohio Players, Brother’s Johnson, Marvin Gave and of course the incredible Natalie Cole, just to name a few. Those were some really good ole’ days, the kind that sometimes make you wish you had never grown up. I think this was the around the time that I first discovered boys and you know how it is, you think every boy who smiles at you  likes you and as a girl, you are instantly in love. When that happened, all you wanted to do was listen to music that talked about being in love, even though as a girl, I had no idea what love was all about, but I went with it. This was back at a time when boys would write a note and would ask if you want to be their girlfriend, yes, no or maybe so, and you had to put a check in a box. That was the cuteness to being a girl of days long past, not nowadays when kids are ready to drop their pants, lift of their skirts and give away everything because they feel sex is the way.

Nowadays the music is all about the sex and laced with erotic overtones that have nothing to do with feelings, but just the feeling. Music that Natalie Cole sang about was focused on love and how thinking of love, falling in love and being in love made you feel. I had many favorites when it came to her songs, but if I had to pick one, it would be, “Our Love” where Natalie belted out, “Our love, will stand tall as the trees, our love, will be for the whole world to see, our love, will change people’s wrongs to rights and we’ll ever die, cause we’ll always have each other.” Those lyrics give me goosebumps when I think about the kind of love that would be large and in charge, spread so wide that no one would miss it and could change a generation from hate to love just by being a witness to what real love can be.

In Natalie’s song, “I’ve Got Love on My Mind,” she sings, “When you touch me I can’t resist, and you’ve touched me a thousand times, when I think of your tender kiss, ah, then and there I start to unwind, ooh, in your arms”, I’m telling you I’m imagining a man who has shown a woman in so many ways that he loves her unconditionally that it doesn’t matter how many times he touches her, it’s like being touched for the very first time by a man you know is meant to be the one for you.

Natalie Cole, like so many others, had her struggles over the years and despite all of that, she still remains one of my favorite artists because her music introduced me to what it should be like to be in love and not just in lust. My thoughts are with her family and her many fans who are hurting today and for many days to come. I’m thankful today for the music she’ll leave behind for many generations to enjoy and hopefully get back to thinking about love, falling in love and being in love and letting that love shine so bright that it will erase traits of hate.

Thank you Natalie Cole for what you brought to the music industry and through your ups and downs, you still saw love!

Peace? Oh Yeah!

Peace.jpgI brought in the new year in church and thankful that I knew that was where I needed to be. That isn’t the case for everyone and I don’t judge. Everyone should be able to live in the space and have the life they’d like to have because life is short and it shouldn’t be lived according to anyone else’s expectations.

Being happy and being content are two very different outlooks on life. My being happy means that I respect everyone’s space and even their expectations of what they think my life should be, but my happiness is based on what I feel I need to do each day when I rise in order for me to have no regrets when I wake the next day.

Being content is allowing someone else’s expectations to control my actions because it’s more important to me that they are happy with me than I am with myself. That’s no way to live if your plan is to live a happy life.

Last night, Dr. Kenneth Robinson at the Dream Life Worship Center in Randallstown, Maryland, preached, “He Brought Me Out On Purpose.” THAT was a message for me and though I enjoyed the entire sermon, those 6 words were exactly what I needed to hear.

I made it through quite a few moments in 2015 that should have taken a person down, at least mentally and emotionally. I’m not a perfect person and I don’t strive for perfection, but I do try my best to do the right thing making sure that I keep myself at the top of my list when it comes to treating someone right. If you don’t treat yourself properly, you can’t treat anyone else better.

Toward the end of the year, there were several things that invaded what I considered to be my place of internal peace. When people can’t cut you deep physically, they come at you a different way. Some things I saw coming and others took me by surprise and yet, I’m still here and I’m thankful. I don’t think I survived because of anything I did specifically, but because I have a purpose that involves me being even stronger than I am right now. My true purpose isn’t quite clear yet, but I know it involves me staying in the game and not being distracted by things thrown in my way to tear down my spirit and my ability to appreciate all that life has to offer. I came through because my purpose is greater than anything I’ve seen happen in my life so far. My purpose is requiring me to not put everyone else’s happiness ahead of my own, no matter how much it hurts to back off. My purpose requires that I stay strong and remember just as I am trying to be happy and not just content, others have the right to do the same which means live and let live. This path to my purpose is redefining me by consolidating all of the things my parents taught me as a child, what I have learned as an adult and the sacrifices I’ve made as a parent that I will forever be grateful for.

In 2013 I wrote my first novel which was pretty good, but turned out to be better once I re-edited it in 2014. I had never written anything other than a few short notes, but nothing as extensive as a romance novel. After that first novel, I wrote 16 more and I realize my purpose is being formed and will include not only my continuing to write, but also my ability to release what binds me by writing about it and hoping it finds another person who needs a few words to take the away from a world that can wear them down. I look forward to whatever my purpose is because the struggles can’t be for naught. I won’t allow myself to believe that what I’ve been through, though not as bad as others who have a bad day, I’ve still encountered things that would have made a less-strong person collapse and give up from sheer exhaustion, but I believe I survived with my sanity because I have a purpose. My eventual purpose is what brings me peace through every storm so I say oh yeah, I’m running toward that purpose so that I can continue to have peace. So peace? Oh yeah! I have that and purpose keeps my peace alive and in control of my life. I’m happy because the peace that I encounter as I live a purpose-driven life isn’t contentment, it is LIFE!