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Journey From Survivor To OvercomerThe L.O.V.E. Model
By Latrice Love
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Dr. Latrice Love
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLove Redefined
Are you the type of individual who is always wondering how much more you can take? How many times someone will remind you how much you have been through? How strong you are? How you survived so much? Have you just wanted to overcome your past and live in and for the present? While this concept may be difficult to swallow, this book is written to offer some assistance at finding inner peace and a refreshed newer version of YOU. Dr. Love takes an easy-to-follow, simplistic approach to redefining L.O.V.E. as we know it ... and how L.O.V.E. can be a guide for what you do, with whom you do it, and more importantly, who you are.
For quite a while, I found myself motivating others by my sharing my past—helping them to make sense of their misfortunes by sharing my motivation and dedication to make it through and accomplish my goals. Perhaps you are not quite ready to disclose such sensitive information regardless of the potential strength you can give to another. Simultaneously, you continue to live in a dark comfort zone as opposed to seeing the potential benefit of overcoming your past or dismal present.
This book appeared too clear after my eighty-third counseling session with a close friend. While I may have initially missed my calling and gave up the opportunity to charge for such sessions, people tend to turn to me with their most intimate issues, stories, concerns, desires, etc. Over time, I have embraced this role and actually begun a trend of assisting others to make sense of their mini- or mega-dramas to begin the journey from survivor to overcomer.
As a part of this process, I have managed to turn negative situations into positive situations primarily by using my life as a reference. In fact, I am at a point where I have helped so many people with their journey, this self-help guide has become the basic beginning for everyone I encounter.
The first question people ask once they learn a little about my life is: How did you accomplish so much? Or, what do you think makes you different or able to make things happen in the way that you have? My replies were, "I just make it happen ... thoughts are things ... pressing toward the mark/perseverance ... never giving up ... setting goals and sticking to them ... etc."
Over the years, now that I can reflect on my past, I can clearly see that my life has been filled with several opportunities to learn, observe, visualize, and evolve, hence the creation of the L.O.V.E model.
If you have lived long enough to hurt ... even if only for a moment, you may have asked yourself or others, what is love? Depending upon how hurt you were at the time, you may have determined that love was a joke or non-existent. Perhaps you applied wit and modern definitions and felt as though love was simply a four-letter word that may have skipped your zip code. Whether you were experiencing love in a relationship or through the pure joy of experiencing something, the concept of love can be exciting, overwhelming, enticing, venerable, and often times just plain scary and or miserable. Regardless of the definition you have adopted for love as you know it through your experience, let's consider for a moment that love is a strong cognitive process that evokes strong emotions, both positive and negative.
Now that we have a foundation, most people can agree that the absence of love makes relationships—both personal and professional—and life as we know it a little dull at a minimum. In a nutshell, if you do not love your significant other, you might find yourself unhappy. If you do not love your job or career, you might find yourself miserable at work. If you do not love yourself, you might be merely existing as opposed to living. For a moment, let's reshape the meaning of love into what I like to call the L.O.V.E. Model.
L.O.V.E. is Learning. Observing. Visualizing. Evolving. This concept originated from the tenacious desire to hold on to my maiden name and the clever use of a thesaurus. This concept began as a cute play on words but is now my motto for life!
Survivor: An individual who has faced adversity mentally, physically, emotionally, sexually, professionally, etc. ... but, most importantly, made it through the situation.
Overcomer: An individual who is considered a survivor ... who possesses the ability to find strength in their adversities and not be affected by the event in any way other than positively. An individual who can freely discuss the event that took place with little or no emotion and assist others in finding strength needed to overcome through motivation and dedication.
Oh, by the way, my thoughts are random, as you will see in the insertion of my "sidebars"—notes inserted in random places to notate my thoughts at that moment.
Names have been changed to protect privacy and written permission has been received for specific examples used.
I'm sure you have heard that we as individuals must learn from our mistakes. For the rebellious person, this really hits home hard. For the good girls and boys, perhaps this statement is just a line that is tossed around freely. Well, here is my take. Can you remember a time where someone told you specifically not to do something, and you did it anyway? As a result, you wished you had listened. Most would agree that this is common. What about an instance where someone provided advice on something specific and you ignored it, later finding out that perhaps you should have listened. While both of these examples may be simple and familiar, it is how we process the results that make the difference.
Digging deep into the personal journey of Dr. Love, I can recall a time that life was not going so great and I began having thoughts of regret for decisions I had made. Specifically, I had an opportunity to move in with a new foster family, complete high school, and maintain an academic scholarship that was already offered to pursue my dreams of going to college and working toward becoming a doctor. This choice meant that life as I knew it would be completely altered. Additionally, the other foster children that I would have left behind had no guarantees, and life without me in it seemed to be even more dismal. My foster mother and aunt, who decided to take me in at a very late age, had begun to decline in health. Essentially, I had to decide between leaving an environment filled with danger, unknowns, and negativity for the possibility of starting fresh.
I decided to stay and over the next year, I lost my scholarship due to reasons out of my control. My foster mother was hospitalized and I was removed from the home, the foster children I protected were sent to other homes, and I ended up with a GED. This reality quickly presented an opportunity to live in regret and wallow in anger, but I chose to consider the positive and continue looking forward to new possibilities.
The father in the new foster home was arrested and imprisoned two years later, and the mother became addicted to substances. I had more time with the foster children who needed a constant in their lives, I learned the true value of caring for someone else's needs while ensuring that I completed my tasks, and I developed a plan to take me from GED recipient from the hood to Dr. Love.
Far too often, individuals develop regret or resentment for things they felt should have been done differently rather than investing that time in learning and moving forward to more productive accomplishments. One of my centers of influence said repeatedly, "One does not have to experience things first-hand to know the effects." The competitor in me wanted to diminish this statement with a series of examples, but the winner in me finally gets it. One of the examples he uses quite often is the old cliché, "You don't have to touch fire to know that it's hot." While I can easily see and understand that example, it was a little tougher for me to apply this concept to real-life situations. For example, do you truly know how to budget until you have spent money, lost money, saved money, and invested money? Does one truly know how to love until placed in a situation where one lives it for oneself? Can one win a marathon if he or she has never gone jogging? Can one be a master chef if he or she has never cooked? While some may argue it depends on how you learn—aurally, visually, kinetically, etc.—the bottom line is that there is truth to his concept.
With some of these examples, time and perfect practice may be key to actual attainment, but the experience itself does not have to begin with being thrown in the fire and winging it until a product is created or end result accomplished.
I am all about being innovative and/or trying things first-hand; however, the time saved by learning a concept through observation is priceless. Time cannot be restored and the value of time must be considered while floating through life with no direction.
I am guilty of becoming complacent with my environment more often than not. As a result, it is easy for me to let my guard down and often my kindness is taken for weakness. I have fallen victim to predators who borrow money with no intention to repay; to partners who claim to love me with no real intention to commit; and my favorite—the best friend for today who cannot function without my assistance and disappears off the map once my captain hat is put to rest. Having a series of events similar to the examples provided can make the strongest person put up an impenetrable guard for fear of being hurt or used.
My problem is simply that I truly strive to see the good in others. In order to maintain my desire to see the good in others, I had to truly observe the person, situation, and myself on a deeper level. It all begins with a thought process. For example, if someone wants to borrow money from me, I must consider the following: Will I be hurt in any way (financially, personally, etc.) if the money is not returned? Will I be angry or will my relationship be jeopardized if the money is not returned? If this person goes on a shopping spree prior to repaying my money, will I be offended or upset? Once you begin to observe the real response to these questions, your answer should be obvious. Far too often, relationships are severed, trust is diminished in people as a whole, and the mental wounds become too calloused to rebuild with others.
I spent years of my life being what is now coined as "Captain Save 'Em." As a result, I would drop my life to run to the side of another and cater to their every need. After constantly being hurt, I became careful of who I invited into my circle for fear that they would use and abuse me. But somehow I was not as smart as I thought, or needy people were getting smarter. Either/or, the hurt feelings, sad situations, and loneliness continued.
The A-ha! moment came suddenly during the end of what could have been considered a bad relationship. All of the signs were present that the relationship had no future from the beginning. At the time, the good looks, stolen moments, and what I felt was a deep connection were too much to walk away from. It was not until I began to take a closer look at myself that I began to develop what was needed for a smooth transition.
I would be lying if I said it was easy or I walked away quickly or with renewed strength once I realized that the end was near. I considered bringing South Central back and implementing the actions ingrained from experience in the hood, which may have entailed a bit too much drama. I also thought about acknowledging that I made yet another bad choice and just saying forget it: the defense mechanism that worked well for years followed by a bout of non-clinical depression, making everyone around me miserable. I held on as long as I could with a genuine smile and a heart filled with comfort. This transition came through a true observation of the facts and how I would handle them. I examined the following questions: Why am I in a relationship that has no future? Why am I settling for less than I deserve? Why can't I just let go? Why does something that feels so good, hurt so bad? When will enough be enough? What do I want for myself in the future? Will I be able to obtain what I want in the future if I do not transition from this situation?
In response, I began with a stubborn belief that things were great at the time, and the percentage that I received allowed me to overlook reality. I began to justify that I was receiving what I deserved because the things that I received were unbelievably great. I did not feel that I needed to let go, and honestly began to imagine life with a relationship that gave me twenty-five percent on a good day—when I gave a minimum of seventy-five percent daily. On the days that things felt bleak, I reminded myself of the good moments and focused on the great times to come. I accepted that as long as I continued to get at least the twenty-five percent that I was used to, it would be plenty. It was not until I began to remove outside forces that I could begin to focus on my future. I realized that as great as things were, I really wanted a full-time relationship that did not come with percentages. I listed my goals and began to visualize my future and came to the conclusion that I love me more.
Too often, time is spent observing other people and situations as opposed to looking in the mirror. To date, I still feel better off having had that experience regardless of the pain and heartache I endured. While I still feel that we were connected on a deeper level than I had ever experienced, true observation followed by visualization painted a clear picture that eventually allowed me to transition into being happier than I ever thought imaginable.
During one of my undergraduate classes, I was asked to use descriptive words or sentences to describe myself from childhood and the revised version of me in ten years. My quick and clever response was smart, determined, motivated, mother, student, and rich. My teacher returned my index card to me with a large red "F" on it and a hard-to-read note that simply said, "Lacks depth and insight." Being uncomfortable with failure, I was outraged, and quickly ensured that my professor was aware. I began to spew out facts about my tragic life and how far I had come and how the nerve of him to fail me was absurd. His reply was, "If you don't know who you are and where you are going, you will never get anywhere." He allowed me to rant on for a few more minutes, and stated, "It's your lucky day. You can revise it and turn it in during midterm for a second review."
I left the class thinking he had some nerve ... he had no idea what I had gone through ... how dare he give me a poor grade ... what a stupid assignment anyway. Over the next few weeks, I avoided looking at the assignment, but thought about it daily. At the last minute, I decided to search for words on the Internet and list a bunch of things. I shared this list with one of my closest friends and explained the rationale behind it. Once he had a grasp on the assignment, he told without hesitation me that it was crap and I was going to fail again. I asked for clarity and began venting my frustrations. After a competitive battle and a night to think about it I listed the following:
Who I was: Naive, bright, fearful, nerdy, low self-esteem, disenfranchised, driven, brave, and hopeful.
Who I am: Hopeful, soldier, mother, willing to take risks, student, clever, sarcastic, quick-tempered, procrastinator, argumentative, partner, loner, and good friend.
Who I plan to be: Bright, driven, brave, hopeful, veteran, mother, spouse, willing to take risks, life-long learner, clever, sarcastic, quick-tempered, procrastinator, argumentative, good partner, fun-loving, good friend, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, doctor, culturally diverse, multi-language speaker, pianist, and rich.
I turned the assignment in and begged my professor to read it right away. At the end of class, he returned the card with another note and a large "C" on it. The note said, "Much better. Keep working on it." At the time, I was beyond angry. I could not believe that this guy gave me a "C." I passed the class with a B and went on to graduate. During graduation, I made sure I tracked down the professor to shake hands and take pictures. In my mind, I wanted him to know that I made it in spite of him. I wanted to say out loud, "Ha-ha, ha-ha, look at me now." Thank goodness I did none of this then. To my surprise the professor remembered the assignment and me well. He asked if I was still upset, which led to dialogue about just how upset I was. He said, "Regardless of how tough life has been or will get, never settle for mediocrity." I did not know what he meant, but pride would not allow me to ask any questions.
Years have passed since that dialogue, and I have attempted to piece together how that statement altered my life. While I felt comfortable with the words I used to describe myself, I needed to acknowledge that there is always more to me than what's on the surface. My initial concept was to allow the professor to see that I have both good and potentially negative traits that make up who I am. Some traits that I acquired in childhood still linger, while some of the traits that I possessed are gone for good in a positive way. I wanted to convey in a few words that I recognized my strengths and weaknesses and had a commitment to change. In addition, I wanted to show that the sky was my limit.
Years went by with me accepting my assessment. Over time, I began to surpass my peers and accomplish goals that often were just talk to others. It wasn't until I was working on my graduate degree that I was asked to speak to a group of undergraduate students about staying organized and managing stress. I began to ponder my undergraduate moment again.
While putting together a brief presentation, I researched time management skills, ways to manage stress, and tips for multitasking. I gave a compelling presentation and opened the floor for questions. A student who instantly reminded me of myself asked if I knew what it was like to have a child, work part-time, and go to school at night. I attempted to hide my sarcasm during my reply and stated, "Yes, actually. I have two children, a full-time job, a full-time school schedule, and I volunteer." She did not seem very pleased with my response, but her peer sharing a table with her wanted me to be more specific about how I managed to do everything. I began to draw out my schedule on the board and show the group how I managed to get everything done without becoming stressed out or neglecting my responsibilities. I answered a few more questions and left the group with the disclaimer that I would not suggest taking on a schedule like mine, but how amazing and easy things could be if you really had a strong grasp on where you were heading in your future.
Excerpted from Journey From Survivor To Overcomer by Latrice Love Copyright © 2012 by Dr. Latrice Love. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Don't Be Fooled By the Suit....................21
Am I Ready?....................37
Does Your Life Add Up?....................57
I Ain't Never Scared....................61
I'd Rather Crash and Burn Than Sit and Rust....................69
Recognize and Acknowledge....................85
Business vs. Personal....................93
It Is What It Is....................97
It's About That Time....................101
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was very easy to follow and enjoyable to read. I plan to implement your ideas in my life as well as my daughters. Keep doing the work that you are doing.
I am going to implement this model in my every day life. Thank you Dr. Love