How to Boldly Stop Fear and Live a Joyful Life

I always get that nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach when I start something new. I moved to a different city when I was 16 years old. I felt it then. It was there my first day at a new school. When my mom and dad dropped me off at college I felt it then. When I graduated college I most definitely felt it. When I moved to a city I had never been to before to work with high school students that same nagging feeling was there. When I left that city and moved to Orlando with only $20 to my name there it was again. When I started a new job, I decided to go to graduate school, started dating, when my husband proposed, when we had our first child and when we had our second child, that nagging feeling made itself known every single time.

I can’t fully describe how it feels but I’m certain you know what I’m talking about. For me, that nagging feeling was fear. It wasn’t anxious thoughts or just me being nervous. It was full-blown fear every single time. Fear has always been my biggest enemy. Some people are born fearless. My husband is fearless like that. Wherever he goes and whatever he does he does it with no fear it seems. He’s one that doesn’t take “no” for an answer. I on the other hand almost always have to battle that nagging feeling. For some people, fear is not an issue. But for me, I battle it pretty much consistently. Fear is one of those things that will leave you paralyzed if you are not prepared to deal with it healthily. Speaking of being paralyzed; I used to be terrified of the dark when I was a little girl. Outside my room, there was this floor furnace that used to make these strange creaking noises. It scared me so bad I remember not being able to move out of, well, fear. I remember my mom showing me a documentary on how they produced Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. She said, “See, Jenia, it’s just makeup.” I was NOT convinced. It didn’t help that we lived in front of a massive graveyard. Every night I was again paralyzed with fear because in my head Micheal and all the dead people in the graveyard were standing in the door of my room just watching me. It is for this very reason that I don’t watch horror films to this day. But I was a little girl then. I didn’t understand that it was all in my head and that I really wasn’t in any real danger. But that’s what fear does. It makes you THINK you are in danger. It prevents you from taking a step forward. It paralyzes.

It took me years to learn how to overcome fear. I can honestly say that it was my faith that has helped me win this battle against fear. Yes, my faith in Jesus Christ. I’ll talk more about my faith in another blog.  The first thing I had to learn was that it is okay to be afraid. It’s a natural emotion. We all experience being afraid. I do think some people are just wired differently that they don’t allow the fear to control them. But for me, fear had a hold on me something serious. Let me make myself clear. Fear was an internal battle for me. You would never know that I struggled with fear upon meeting me. I’m the kinda person who although I’m quiet by nature; I exude confidence. I know how to smile through the fear and put on a happy face. I learned to do that. Once I learned that it is okay to be afraid I had to realize that there was no real threat and that I was the only thing standing between me and a goal I wanted to accomplish. The second thing I learned was to do it afraid. 

So what were you so afraid of Jenia? I’m glad you ask. These are the things that go through my mind. What if I fail? What if people don’t like me? What if I embarrass myself? What if it doesn’t work? What if I’m not good enough or fast enough, or smart, or pretty? I can hear some of your thoughts now. “Seems like you have a self-esteem problem.” But that’s another thing fear does. It makes you question who you are, and what you’re capable of. It makes you think you are inadequate and incapable. In reality, you are more than capable. You’re enough just the way you are. Yes you may fail. And fear will keep you from trying again. In other words, fear is all in your head.

So at 16, when I moved to Birmingham, AL at the end of my sophomore year in high school, I walked into Homewood High school afraid. I was afraid I wouldn’t make friends, but I introduced myself to people. I was afraid I wasn’t good enough, but I auditioned for show-choir and made it. I was afraid I wasn’t smart enough, but I graduated with honors. After high school, my mom and dad took me to Nashville, Tennessee and moved me into my dorm room at Wilson Hall afraid. I was afraid of being on my own. I was afraid of making the wrong decisions. I was afraid I couldn’t handle college life. But I did. I did it all afraid. I went to a graduate school for youth ministry for six months and was trained to be able to reach out to high school students on their campus. I was afraid but I was able to reach students and become a source of encouragement for them as they were dealing with some of the same things I had already gone through. I could go on and on.

Me when fear tries to control my thoughts… my “I don’t want to hear it face.” 

There was a moment in each of these instances where I could have allowed fear to control me and keep me where I was. But I had my two-step process. I remembered that it’s okay to be afraid and I did “it” afraid. The more I continued my two-step process the less fear had a hold of me. I still get that nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach. But now, instead of questioning myself and going through all the “What if’s ” I move forward with no thought given to the fear . I’m writing this blog with that nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach but I’m doing it. I have those same questions starting this blog that I had as a teenager. But I’m moving. Fear no longer has a hold of my thought life. I’ve learned to take control of my thoughts and give fear no place in my life.

So where ever you are in life. Whatever you’re afraid of, remember that’s it’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to acknowledge that you’re afraid. You don’t get brownie points for pretending. Once you have acknowledged your fear, do whatever it is you are setting out to do with that nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach. Eventually, it will go away. Eventually, fear will loosen its grip. Eventually, you’ll be walking into all that you have set out to accomplish.

”…And you ask ”what if I fall?” Oh but my darling what if you fly?” -Erin Hanson


Finding Your Voice

You’re quiet.”

“You’re so soft-spoken.”

“Are you a shy person?”

“You should speak up.”

“Jenia, do you have anything to say?”I have heard these things my WHOLE life!! I’m not much of a talker. Never have been. Am I quiet? Absolutely. But let me explain. I’m usually quiet because I’m observing. I’m taking in everything around me and processing what I’m seeing, feeling and hearing. I can’t help it. It’s just who I am. Some people can quickly adapt to a particular environment. Not me. I have to know what I’m getting into before I fully engage. For the longest time, I was so insecure about my quiet nature. This blog is about how I found my voice and how you can find yours. Finding your voice does not mean you find a whole bunch of stuff to talk about and talk about people’s ears off. Finding your voice to me means being confident in who you are, unapologetic of your values, and staying true to your convictions.

No one ever listens to someone who does not believe what they are saying. I taught Elementary school before taking time off to stay at home with my boys and I can tell you first hand, that from a very young age people (even little people ) hear what you’re not saying. What do you mean? I’m glad you ask. Before I became a full-time teacher I was a substitute teacher. Everyone has had a “sub” before. They have the hardest job in education I believe. I say that because substitutes have to read a script they have no passion about, one they didn’t write, one they may or may not have any knowledge about, and on top of that expect students to listen to them. Not to mention standing up in front of a class at the scrutiny of children anywhere from 5 to 18 years old. Depending on what grade it is, that experience can be very nerve-racking. Unless they are serious about they’re job like I was, subs usually end of babysitting. Trust me I have had those days as well. Let’s be honest. There is no learning going on when there is a sub in the classroom. Kids don’t listen to subs because they don’t communicate the voice of the teacher the way the teacher does. A teacher who teaches a particular subject has studied that subject and figured out how to teach it in a way that is engaging and meaningful. That is what it is like to find your voice. The only difference is that your life is your subject and you are the student learning as you go.

When you find your voice you become a teacher in a sense who can teach those you come in contact with by sharing your experiences, your beliefs, and the things that shape your worldview. As you navigate through life, you continually learn more and more about who you are and who you are not. For me, I’ve become comfortable being the quiet one in the room. I’ve tried being the “talker” and it’s just too much work. It’s exhausting. It’s not me. And while I do not consider myself to be soft-spoken or shy, I’m okay with being reserved. So what if it takes a while for me to warm up. I’ve tried to be that person who doesn’t meet a stranger-meaning they can talk to anyone at any time- and it always ends up being awkward. What I’m getting at is trying to be someone else is like being a substitute teacher who never gets the attention of the class because he or she is reading a script they didn’t write. No one in the world can be Jenia Marie better than me. There are no substitutes. Finding your voice is being confident with every part of who you are. If you’re not the talkative type like me be confident in that. If you’re a talker, don’t shy away and try not to talk so much. Keep talking. You talkers might have to make more of a conscious effort to listen, however. But whatever you do, be authentically you. People appreciate those who are confident in who they are.

Discovering what you value will shape your life in a major way. According to Webster’s Dictionary, your values are your standard of behavior. Values are the things that shape what you believe, it steers your course of direction in life, and it comes out in everything you do and say. I value faith, family, personal growth, and relationships to name a few. These things are evident in everything I do. It comes out in everything I say and how I behave. Because I value family, you’ll probably hear me talk a lot about my kids and my husband the things we do and conversations we may have. You’ll see my post about family. I read a lot of books about family because I value family. I make no apologies for choosing family over some other things that are of no value to me. What comes out of you without you even trying? How do you spend your time? What do you give your money to? And what almost always has your attention? What things are you unwilling to compromise on? When you find those things, then you know what is of value to you. Make no apologies for it. These are the things that you hold close to your heart.

And last but not least is taking who you are and what you believe and remaining true to your convictions. There is a scripture in the bible that says, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” ( James 1:8) It means that you can’t say one thing and then act differently. People do not appreciate that at all. I’m reminded of my college days where I was just new to living on my own. I could do whatever I wanted, be whoever I wanted to be and had no one to tell me how to behave. I quickly learned that the one thing I couldn’t do is say one thing and then live a different life. It’s not genuine. It’s not authentic. And people easily pick up on the double lifestyle. And to live life with no convictions is dangerous. Without convictions, you have nothing to stand on. It’s like building your life on sand. When storms come your life will have nothing to keep it grounded and you’ll easily be washed away with every changing tide. My convictions are now firmly rooted in my faith. I make no apologies for it. And I don’t shy away from it. It has become apart of every decision I make, and how I govern my life.

Let me hear your voice in the comments! I would love to read your thoughts!


When it’s All Said and done…

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou 

The wise words of world-renowned author and poet Maya Angelou resonate within my soul today more than they ever have. Few things cause you to think about life the way death does. I’ll never understand it’s finality. One moment you can be talking with a loved one. The next moment they can be out of your lives forever. Some people are afraid of it. Some people could care less when it happens. And some people prepare for it and live their lives with eternity in mind. I pray that I am the latter. I think it was in the movie “Gladiator” with actor Russell Crowe who said, “What you do today echos in eternity.” The purpose of this blog is to spark something within you to make you think about every aspect of your life and how you influence the people around you.

Do you ignore the person sitting by themselves every day at your job or school? Do you seek to get to know someone who doesn’t seem to have friends? Do you treat ALL people with respect? Do you show concern for those who are hurting or are in need? These are the things that matter. These are the things that people will remember. When my life is over, and one day it will be over, I pray that people say things like, “Jenia made me feel like I could accomplish anything.” I hope they say, “Jenia was a woman of faith and she carried me when my burden was too heavy.” Or, “Jenia was genuinely concerned about my well being.”   

When it’s all said and done, nothing else matters. No one will care about what you posted on Instagram or Facebook. No one will care what neighborhood you lived in or what kind of car you drove. No one will mention the clothes you wore or the shoes you chose to put on. What they will remember though, is how they were treated. They’ll remember the smile they needed when they were having a hard day. They’ll remember that you took the time to listen to their story. They will remember your sincerity, your generosity, your kindness, your faithfulness and your heart for people.

Let it not be said of me that I was uncaring or unkind or stingy or fake. God, I pray, that the legacy I leave will transcend time and will be heard throughout eternity and in generations that follow after me. Let it be said of me that I showed the love of Christ in every situation. And if I failed, that I did my best to make it right. No, I can’t please everyone but as long as God is pleased with my life I pray that I’ll hear those words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21 ASV )    

As you read this blog, consider the questions asked and examine your heart and your life today. Tomorrow is not promised. Make every effort to be good to people regardless of how they treat you. Be the bigger person in every situation. Do the right thing at all times and not just when people are looking. Live a life of integrity and high character. These words will fall on deaf ears for some, but for others who are taking in what I’m saying, there is no better day than today.  

The pictures I’ve shown are of people leaving their mark on others lives. I can guarantee these people will never forget the kindness being shown to them. I can guarantee their stories will be heard over and over again. I think this is what leaving a legacy looks likes.

Man giving the shoes off his feet


I’m Taking on the Blogging World

My First Diary

If you’re like me there are some things you know you need to do but you just don’t feel like it, or life just gets in the way, or maybe kids get in the way.  For example, who folds clothes right out of the laundry?  My clothes travel from the dryer to the clothes basket, to the closet awaiting the day I choose to fold them and put them away.  The closet is also where my books, luggage, keepsakes, shoes, and probably a bunch of other stuff have been for the past 5 years.   Honestly, it just got away from me and I couldn’t seem to find the motivation to clear everything out and organize it.  But it’s a new year right?  I love the new year, and fresh starts.  This year I decided to go after whatever it is that has been sitting around in the closet of my mind and at least attempt to do something I enjoy and that could be helpful to people. 

 I wasn’t  thinking about seriously starting a blog until I found one of the most precious items from my childhood, my very first journal.  I’m a nostalgic kinda person so I remember going to the flee market with my dad one Saturday.  You know you can find all kinds of things at flee markets.  I used to love going and rummaging through things.  Daddy would give us a couple dollars and let us buy whatever we wanted.  I still love rummaging to this day.  It was February 20, 1988 when I bought my first diary.  I was seven years old and in first grade.  It looks like a bunch of pages were torn out. So I’m assuming I started writing and messed up and could not bear the thought of mistakes on the first page.  On February 21, 1988 I wrote my first journal entry.     I started every entry with “Dear Diary….”  I wrote about studying dinosaurs and going on a field trip to a science museum.  I talked about how I felt going to the movies and what a great time I had that day.  My writing back then was very concise.  I was short and to the point.   I love that writing takes me back in time remembering childhood moments.  

First Entry

As far back as I can remember I have always been better at communicating my thoughts on paper rather than verbally.  Most people think I’m a “quiet person”.  I am.  But that’s only because I like to process information before I speak.  If I can’t process fast enough then I tend to just keep my mouth closed.  I’m the kinda person who weighs my words heavily before I say something.  Sometimes to a fault, because I’m very aware of how people feel and usually pick up on feelings fairly quickly.  So all that to say that this is why I decided to start this blog. Finding that diary reminded me of my love for journaling.

This blog is about being a woman, a wife, a mom, and everything in between. It’s about remembering moments.  It’s my truth. I’m blogging about my life, my fears, my failures, and my successes.   I love the idea of having something to pass on to my grandchildren one day.  They will actually be able to read about my life and know what it was like living in the “olden” days.  I also love the power of influence and the power of the written word.  Who knows? Maybe someone reading one of my blogs will be encouraged my something I say or it will give them the freedom to let go of a unhealthy mindset.

SO BEAR WITH ME…. Anything worth having is worth taking the time to do right.  So I’m taking my time with you Blogging World!!

Of Course I struggle! I just don’t quit!

With just a couple more weeks left in this crazy years it’s time for goal setting and dreaming for me. I ask myself what do I want to accomplish, how will I get there, what commitments am I willing to make and follow through on. I then write all those things down. I ask God to bless all that I put my hands to as I honor him FIRST with my life. Sounds like I have it all together….that would be a HUGE NOPE!!! It’s easy to for us to hide behind appearance in all that we do. Im here to tell you I don’t have it all together, truth is I struggle with confidence sometimes, I struggle with insecurities sometimes, and I struggle with fear sometimes. These are all very real obstacles I fight on a daily basis. Someday I let my thoughts get the best of me. Other days I face every fear and challenge head on. I say all that to say that life is full of battles we either fight head on or we allow ourselves to succumb to fear. I plan because it’s a way for me to face my fears head on, deal with those ridiculous voices in my head that say I can’t do something. This isn’t a pitch for Noonday. I just wanted to share the fact that out of all the little business ventures I have tried, Noonday is the ONLY one that has challenged me internally as well as the obvious challenge of launching a small business. I’m not where I want to be and I don’t get into the business of comparisons. It’s a journey. The best thing about it is that I have a BUNCH of women on this journey with me that are cheering me on, some are waayyy ahead, some running 🏃🏾‍♀️ right along side me, some may even be behind me. What is so encouraging is that everyone seems to understand that we’re all in this together. No petty competitors vying to get ahead. This company is just one big sisterhood. A lot of the women don’t look like me and to be honest that is an answer to another prayer for another challenge I’m willing to fight. But even in that I’m encouraged that these women are willing to come along side me to show the world what real bridge building and reconciliation looks like. Just sharing the journey!!