Tag Archives: inspiration

When The Seasons Change

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There are seasons in life just like there are seasons in nature. Some are bright and touch you with the warmth of all the hope they contain. Others feel as if the cold and harshness of it all knows no limits. Then there are those seasons that are caught in the middle… the ones that feel as if you aren’t where you want to be, and yet you aren’t where you used to be.

How can one tell when the seasons are changing in our lives? How do you know when the season is changing within a relationship, a friendship, or a job?

Sometimes we can confuse a bad day, a bad week, or a dry spell for a change in season. We think “Everything is going wrong, so it must be a SIGN that it’s time to go!” or “All we do is fight all the time. It’s obvious that this means we’re not good together anymore.” In a society where there seems to be a common belief that happiness is a sure sign of a great life, I have found that there are two types of hard times in life: The kind that offers us an opportunity for a BREAK THROUGH, and the kind that’s preparing us to BREAK OUT. Regardless of which we might be in, both offer us an opportunity for personal growth.. and the more we grow the more the people, places, and things around us have no other choice than to shift to make room for all the newness growing within us.

If you feel that the winds of change may be blowing, here are four teltail signs that you may be going into a new season:

  1. You’ve tried everything to reignite it, but after many attempts, the passion just isn’t there anymore. By “Passion” I mean the fulfillment you once got out of it, her, or him. It was like an invisible cord that kept you connected to it regardless of how little money you made doing it, or if your Dad thinks he’s a moron, if your Mom says that you could do better, or if no one understands what all the excitement is about. Maybe it happened slowly or maybe it was a rapid progression, but your passion just isn’t there anymore. Maybe you don’t understand why you no long feel fulfilled by it. Maybe you’ve attempted over and over again to reignite the flame because YOU REALLY WANT TO BE PASSIONATE ABOUT IT… but… nope… you’re definitely not anymore. Here’s what I do when I feel my passion waning: I pause from all the trying that I’m doing… trying to love what I’m doing or trying to act like everything is just peachy keen. I let myself just be. Then I pray and seek out my motives behind any discontentment. Is it because I’m just pissed that I didn’t get a promotion? Am I harboring unforgivness or holding onto anything that is causing me to self destruct? Do I just have a bad attitude? Lastly I become purposeful  in either making things right within myself if I’m the problem or I become purposeful in making the changes necessary to find where my new season may be taking me.
  2. You feel like a fish out of water. “What happened?! I used to be so good at this!” is something you may have thought to yourself. Whatever it is that used to come so naturally to you has now got you feeling like you’re floundering. Sometimes we digress in nature due to becoming too comfortable in our abilities that we no longer challenge ourselves. Maybe it’s because you’re distracted for some reason. Maybe it’s because the grace that once empowered you to be able to do what you did so well has lifted. If that’s the case, then it may be that a new season is coming.
  3. If  the idea of change doesn’t seem to be as scary anymore. When we’re in the right season of life, the idea of change can be scary. We have a peace about our position and don’t want to disturb that peace. Yet when a new season is upon us, all of a sudden we crave change. We want to take risks and we start seeking out opportunity. We become open to walking away from what’s familiar.  Observe those cravings when they come. They may be trying to tell you something.
  4. Time. As in “Give yourself some.” Just like the literal seasons, they aren’t going to go right from one season straight into another. There’s going to be a transition into it. If one day you love something and then the next day you hate it, that doesn’t mean you are going into a new season. It means you’re human and some days you’re more into something than other days. Give yourself some time to draw a clear distinction between a new season and moodiness. If you have a long stretch of time in which you feel the same way consistently , then that may be the time to evaluate things.

I know that new seasons can be hard…. Especially if you can see it coming and you aren’t quite convinced that you’re ready for it yet.  Just try to keep in mind that the ending of a season has no discomfort that cannot be healed by the beginning of a new one.

Yours truly,
Andrea

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Ode To Bloggers

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To write from the heart… from your life… in such transparency and honesty… without any award or reward (in most cases)… without having any motivation to do so other than believing that your words carry weight in this world… to possibly have no other experience or expertise except that which living has afforded you, and yet perfect strangers still drink in your words as if they were being served from a golden chalice. This is life of a blogger… and this is why I feel that bloggers deserve more respect and notice than most journalists the world over. They use the letter to coerce the world. We use the letter to shed light upon it… and ourselves.

Blogging is simply an online journal that is shaped into something more presentable that any journal I have completed in my lifetime. When I look through all of the journals I have kept over the years, they are filled with all the ugliest and most beautiful thoughts, moments, and feelings I’ve had. They are also barely legible! You would have thought I had a doctor write all of my pages for me! I don’t judge myself for it though. As I read line by line I begin to feel the buildup of emotions I felt while writing every word… every page. My writing wasn’t being led by the need for proper grammar, spelling, or any kind of etiquette. I would write something and then I’d scratch it out and write the HONEST version of it. I had many scratched out sentences in my journals… even as early as last year… because even then I was struggling to trust that even words on a page would not betray me. Yet a year later here I am… blogging online… for an unimaginable amount of strangers who may be holding my words with razor gloves.

I pour myself into other people’s online journals. The wealth of wisdom, insight, and inspiration is enough to last you a lifetime. Most are not experts. Most haven’t written a single book. They miss an “And” or “The” here and there. They are living their words. Every word is a verb no matter what it is and that is wonderous to me. They are living their life just as I am. They are the journalists for the People. By the People.

Support bloggers with the same fervor you would while supporting local farmers or local businesses. Investing in them… in us… is investing in You.

 

7 No-Nonsense Tips For The Inexperienced Online Dater

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1. If you have little to no experience dating (at all), start with the singles that are already around you. If you don’t know how to talk face-to-face with the opposite sex that you already are somewhat familiar with, then trying to chat-it-up with a total stranger is not going to feel natural to you. Have you ever been around someone who is obviously feeling/acting awkward? I have… I’ve also been that person in the past. The awkwardness usually ends up totally distracting you from the pieces of their personality that you may have actually liked! So let yourself get acquainted with the real life people you already have around you, before you get behind a laptop or download the latest dating app. You’ll feel more comfortable with yourself and that will enable more of your personality to shine through… and there’s nothing more attractive than someone that seems comfortable and confident in the way they interact with others!

2. Don’t let cliches or popular opinions push you into online dating when you know you’re not ready. My favorite one is “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else!” No. Not really. Actually, not at all! It sends the message that sex is a suitable sub for love… and it’s not. It’s an easy distraction and a quick way to a broken heart. If you know you aren’t ready to date, then don’t. Jumping ahead of yourself can have an effect on you in 2 ways: It can make you super guarded (think the Night’s Watch and the Wall in Game of Thrones) or it’ll leave you super vulnerable. Both are two extremes that you don’t want when dating. You’ll either end up shooting down some great people had you been in the right headspace, or you could end up being taken advantage of by someone… and at the speed of online dating, both can happen at warp speed.

3. Speaking of warp speed… That is the rate at which most people move in online dating! If they want to meet you, they may ask you to “hang out” within the first 5 minutes of messaging you. If they are on there just for hookups, their first sentence to you may be “Hi I really liked your profile! You seem like a great person! I’m horny, wanna come over?”
Yup.
True story.
So pick the pace you feel comfortable at and stick to it until you find someone who you feel right about. Don’t let the fast pace pressure you into quick decisions… or just plain bad ones.

4. You are under no obligation to anyone. You don’t have to respond to every message you get! In fact in may cases it’s ridiculous to try! When I created my first online dating profile, I had over 100 messages from guys within the first 30 minutes of it being live. The craziest part is that I responded to each and ever message… even the ones that just read “Hay Babii”… just because I didn’t want to be rude! I was so precious back then. Some people will be snarky to you if you don’t respond to their advances, or if you don’t respond quick enough, or if you don’t want to meet up fast enough, or if you don’t say “I love you” before even knowing each other’s last names. You don’t owe these strangers anything. Don’t let them make you feel like you do. Quick tip: Just delete any “Hi” messages. Aren’t you worth AT LEAST a sentence?!
Yes. You. Are.

5. Name your terms on your profile and have the most accurate (but flattering) photos up. Deception and misconceptions can happen in the dating world in general, but in my opinion online dating leaves so much more room for this to be common… Catfish has pretty much proven that to be true! In one of my profiles I plainly state that I am not interested in dating men who do drugs and that if they are looking for a booty call that I am not their girl. Those for me are hard boundaries. I kept everything else on my profile lite and fun, but I named my terms. Some people think I’m closing the door on more options, but I see it as keeping the door open for THE RIGHT OPTIONS. Name your terms so you can minimize wasting time. I mean, efficiency is supposed to be one of the bonuses to online dating, right?! Another really important thing to address is photos. One of the major complaints with online profiles is in reference to the accuracy (or lack thereof) of photos. In this selfie driven world, we all know the power of good angles and filters… Instagram is full of them! The best thing you can do for yourself and others is to have at least one photo that is the closest to what you were to look like if they were sitting in front of you. You want to go out with people who see YOU and still want to see you in person, and who aren’t turned off by the fact that you know what you want and aren’t afraid to say it.

6. Don’t go into it only being open to finding love. Be open to making genuine connections! Most people you come in contact with online aren’t going to result in a love connection, but don’t let that detour you from still getting to know people. If two people really enjoy staying in contact with each other even after it’s obvious there’s not romantic connection, then I say try and keep an open mind. All genuine and healthy connection adds more to your life!

7. Have fun! Don’t let the fast pace, reading tons of profiles, or deleting numerous “Hey” messages overshadow all the greatness about online dating… or dating in general. You get to meet new people, learn more about what you like and don’t like, get to have some new experiences, and discover new places! Have fun with that!

Smile, laugh, and be yourself. Love is given more room to thrive when you let yourself interact with the world this way.

Yours Truly, Andrea

The Woman. The Source.

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As woman, we go through multiple various changes and shifts within our lifetime. The momentum of these changes only seem to pick up speed as we get older. We can end up wearing many different hats. One woman can be a mother, a wife, a daughter, a grandmother, a grand-daughter, a friend,  a girlfriend, an employee, head of the PTA, President of the HOA, sunday school teacher, bill payer, prayer partner, grocery shopper, boo boo kisser, task master, cook, lover, book club host, and seamstress [Insert hair pulling here]. Most often we don’t have the luxury of wearing these hats one at a time, but instead we end up stacking one on top of the other until our minds start to feel like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Our hearts are in the right place, but we are after all only 1 person. It is a constant balancing act. Yet enmeshed in all of these different identities lies The Woman. You remember her, right? She’s that part of you that was there long before life placed all these other demands on you. She was there long before those beautiful little energy drainers… and that one big 6 foot-bearded energy drainer too!  Have you forgotten what she looks like?

I am a mother to no one, and I am no longer a wife to anyone either. I don’t have to be to understand the constant divide that we as woman feel on a daily basis. We give, and give, and give some more until there’s just a little left of us. We silently do a little happy dance, feeling like we’ve won a small victory by having a sliver of us left over at the end of the day. That is, until something is needed of us… which happens more often than not… and we look at that sliver, shrug, and think “Well it was nice while it lasted” as we give it away to whomever needs it. This is the cycle we get caught up in day in and day out. Living from sliver to sliver.

Now, I want you to lean in real close because I want to let you in on a little secret. Listen closely and pay attention because I don’t want you to miss this…. Living from sliver to sliver is not sustainable. Let me say that one more time, just to make sure ya’ll heard me… LIVING FROM SLIVER TO SLIVER IS NOT SUSTAINABLE. It’s similar to trying to sustain on barely any food! You may be able to live like that for a while, but your body needs nourishment. Without nourishment it will die. Your person… The Woman… needs nourishment. She cannot survive on sliver to sliver. She will die without the nourishment that only you can giver her. If you don’t know where I’m coming from, you will eventually. Every women will at some point be face to face with The Woman that she either loved or neglected. Maybe that moment will come when your kids become grown, and are out of the house, and no longer need you to parent them as you once did. Maybe that moment will come when you are faced with divorce, and you no longer know who you are if you aren’t a wife. Maybe that moment will sneak up on you when you least except it… when you love your life… that is, until you don’t. You look around at a life that looks seemingly rich, and yet you feel so empty inside. You begin to think “There’s got to be more than this”.

There is something I often say to women I come in contact with that are struggling to keep all their hats balanced, and it’s “We as women have to stay interested in ourselves. We give so much away. We have to be purposeful in replenishing the well that we draw from”. It’s true. I know it’s true because along my journey to personal bliss, it was something that I had to actively teach myself. I had to teach myself to purposefully nurture and love The Woman… because it’s from her that all those other identities spring from. It’s our femininity that makes us qualified to be able to be all those other things! When I say “Femininity” I’m not talking about the 60s stay-at-home mom types, that were all “Yes dear. No dear”. I’m speaking to our hearts. The way we love. The way we can heal someone’s brokenness with our touch. Those things that just come naturally to us. God bless the men in our lives, but being able to split our nature up into different categories and yet have all of them working for us almost simultaneously, is truly a gift that I feel has been given especially to women. It’s our talent and our gift to the world around us.

In all the giving, be careful not to smother out the source of all that magic… The Woman. She needs you too.

Growing Into Your Own Voice

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Up until the last few years, I had spent most of my life being fearful of my own thoughts and opinions about life. I lived in fear of challenging the things that I had been taught and how I had been raised. I lived in fear of questioning the demands that others placed on me. I lived in fear of asking myself what motivated me. Bottom line, I didn’t know who I was apart from the people, places, and things that surrounded me.

It never occurred to me that I didn’t know who I was until after an ex-boyfriend and I broke up… Or more accurately put, WHEN OUR BREAKUP ALMOST BROKE ME . I had spent years of my life picturing my future with him, immersed in who I was with him, focused on who I was to him. Our relationship… him… they became my identity… and I didn’t even know it until it all crumbled. Our relationship. Our love. They were what my essence was made of. When it fell apart, so did I.

It took me a long time to shake myself out of that “Breakup funk”. You know what funk I’m talking about! That feeling where nothing tastes, sounds, feels, or looks the same anymore. Life feels overcast with grief. A never ending all encompassing grief! Well it sure did feel like it would never end when I was in the midst of it! It did end though. Eventually. THANKFULLY. However, let me tell you that before it ended, it actually just changed form. It went from grief over the loss of love, to it morphing into grief over the loss of my identity. As uncomfortable as it was to go through, this is actually where the magic started. It finally sank in that I hadn’t yet formed my own thoughts on important life issues. I did however do A LOT of listening! I listened to my friends, I listened to my church, I listened to my family, I listened to the men in my life… all of which are wonderfully beautiful things in and of themselves! Yet here I was, always taking in the messages that other people were telling me, without ever taking the time to find out if they were truly ideals that were right for ME. That’s when I took a deep breath and asked myself the one question I had been ignoring my whole life “What does Andrea have to say about all this?”.

Before I continue, I want to preface my next statements with a little disclaimer: I am by no means saying that taking advice, or listening to other people’s opinions is in any way negative. I am not anti-church/anti-family, etc.. Quite the contrary! I believe that there is wisdom in diversifying your point of view and perspective, and having a foundation to build your identity on. There is just too much wisdom in the world to ever be able to say that you “Know it all”! However I do believe that if you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to discover who you are, what you feel, or what you think, that all of the different voices in the world can cause more harm than good. If we are too little informed, we can become ignorant. If we are over-informed we can because easily distractable, not allowing ourselves to be tethered to anything. Our goal should be to find a balance between the two. Feeling confident in what you know and believe, with the understanding that you don’t know it all.  Okay, moving on.

“How did you even begin the process of finding your own voice?” you ask? What I will share with you are summaries of the things I learned through my personal journey. Here are 5 things I’ve discovered that have helped me find my voice:

1. Lonliness can often be misguided discontentment. How many times have some of us felt lonely, decided to go out and surround ourselves with other people, just to end up feeling alone WITH other people? Bars are full of lonely people. You can feel lonely anywhere and with anyone… and feeling that way WITH other people just draws more attention to how lonely you really feel. Distraction doesn’t address why we’re lonely. By refusing to give into the urge to distract myself, I was forced me to confront the reason why I felt so lonely… and the source of the loneliness typically had to with feeling a lack of purpose in life, feeling disconnected from God, feeling inadequate at work, etc.. None of which was going to be solved on a dance floor, while strangers spilled their drinks on me.

2. Listen to that “Something” within you. I’ve said it to myself so many times… “I don’t know, but something tells me not to go there.” Maybe you’ve said once or twice “I don’t know what it is, but something tells me not to trust that person.” Regardless of what it is that it’s pertaining to, it always comes back to that “Something”. People have a lot of different names for it… Intuition, a gut feeling, a hunch, vibes, the Holy Spirit… whichever resonates with you. I believe that no matter what religion, spiritual belief, race, gender, or sexual orientation, there are basic human experiences that we all have in common. That “Something” is one of them. That nudge you feel comes from a place that you don’t understand with your head… that’s because it doesn’t originating from head knowledge. It coming from a source deeper than thought or your 5 senses, but it is still a part of you. Honoring it means you honor yourself. The more you honor yourself, the more self-respect you build, and the more you respect yourself the more you trust that what you have to say matters.

3. Say “No” for a bigger “Yes”. This one was THE HARDEST thing for me to get down! There was a point in my life where I hardly ever said “No” because I wanted to be the person that everyone knew they could rely on. I thrived on hearing “Andrea can do it!” I thought it spoke to other’s trust in my gifts and talents! Here’s the thing though. What I came to realize  is that many times people volunteered me or asked me to do things based not on my my abilities, but on my availability. There was a job to do and I constantly made myself available to do it. I was a shoe-in. Though they were thankful for my willingness, what it came down to is that they knew I wouldn’t say “No.” Once I learned this I began taking inventory of everything I was doing and realized that very few things were something I was actually passionate about… or even, dare I say, good at. So I began stepping down from things and saying “No.” This wasn’t easy for me and it ruffled some feathers, but it was time for me to say “No” so that I would have the  time and energy for the “Yes” that I truly desired.

4.  Don’t be afraid to reinforce your boundaries. In my post titled Trust Your Boundaries I talk about how important it is to know what your personal boundaries are, and to not let others talk you out of them based on if they make them feel comfortable or not. Reinforce your boundaries by living a life that supports them, cultivating relationships with people who respect them, and notifying someone when they have crossed them. Boundaries don’t restrict you. They actually set you free to live life on purpose… instead of out of obligation, fear, or ignorance.

5. Figure it out! Don’t know what you think or feel about certain topics? Read. Meditate. Discuss. Investigate. Pray. Figure. It. Out. Be an active participant in your self-discovery. Do something! Actively seek out your voice. Don’t think that you’ll be watching Netflix one day and magically while eating Cheetos you are going to have this epiphany about what it is you really think about life! You have to want it… and everyone knows that the more we work for something the more valuable it is. If you want to find your voice you have to look for it, cultivate it, trust it, and reinforce it.

What makes you afraid of your own voice? What ideas, stigmas, or habits get in the way of you knowing WHO YOU ARE?

Yours Truly, Andrea

The “Be Happy” Syndrome

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The last few days I haven’t been very happy. Just. Not. Happy. I haven’t been chipper. I’m not whistling happy tunes or dancing around like I normally do, and I haven’t been the life of the party like I usually am. I haven’t been the me that most people prefer. Even with saying all of that, I can honestly say that I’ve felt no need to “Be happy” whatsoever. I don’t feel bad about not being happy and I’m not even trying to do the whole “Fake it til I make it” thing. I’m just letting myself be NOT HAPPY. I personally don’t see anything wrong with that! I really don’t. I have actually felt the most at peace by just letting myself be what feels right for me right now. I’ve been in my headspace…I’m feeling some things out… I’m asking myself questions and allowing myself the chance to answer back. I’m present and I’m taking inventory of the good, the bad, and the ugly… in me. Even now I am still not happy… but I am HAPPIER than yesterday or the days before that. Today I’m a step further. Today I’ve come along on what I was in the process of the days before.

See, that is what I’ve found to be the beauty of not putting up emotional smoke and mirrors. You aren’t resisting, suppressing, or avoiding anything. You aren’t distracting yourself. You aren’t hiding FROM YOU. You are able to allocate the energy you would have used for suppressing, on something that’s truly productive and helpful. You use the same energy either way… the difference is in the progress and results.

Sometimes people can have a way of wanting to make you feel uncomfortable with the version of yourself that is making them feel anything less than stellar. They just want you to “Be Happy” no matter what’s going on, when in reality it’s not because it’ll be good for you…it’s because it’ll be better for them. The exception is if you’re just being a jerk to people… then stop! Ain’t nobody got time for that! However if its that you aren’t filling people’s expectations by not being perky or jovial, and you know that there is a purpose for you within being somber, then by all means BE. Don’t be pressured out of your purpose by someone else’s need to feel good around you.

If you find yourself wanting to just BE, but struggle with the pressure to “Be happy”, here are 3 things I’ve learned that may help you on your journey:

1. Happiness is dependent on what’s HAPPENING, but contentment is an inside job. Happiness is a beautiful thing, but is often contingent on if people, places, or things are making you feel that way. Contentment is an inner peace that is present when nothing in particular is happening at all. It’s possible to have in inner contentment that doesn’t translate to outer exuberance. Only you can know where you really are either way.

2. You know yourself more than anyone else does. Trust that. Don’t let anyone try to tell you that you must be mad, depressed, or upset just because you are aren’t “Happy” to their standards. If you know you aren’t mad, then don’t let someone talk you out of your process just because you don’t want people thinking “Something” of you. People will always have an opinion, but at the end of the day you have to look yourself in the mirror and ask “Was I true to myself today?”. Letting yourself process will only make you a better version of yourself, and that is something that everyone will benefit from!

3. There is such a thing as “Too much of a good thing”. Be introspective, be somber, be contemplative… but don’t get stuck there for too long. There is enough deep stuff to think about to last you a lifetime, so pace yourself! You don’t want to end up thinking yourself into a depression or funk. That’s not helpful. That’s harmful.

I think that if we all let ourselves just BE a little more often, we would feel a lot less mixed up inside about ourselves. We would become our own best friend… and when your best friend wants to talk about their joys, fears, successes and failures, you listen… don’t you? So give yourself that same love and respect. You won’t regret it.

Yours Truly, Andrea


Trust Your Boundaries

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Over the past couple years my boundaries and I have become VERY close! We’ve weathered through the turbulent love/hate relationship phase and are now in the “I could never live without you!” phase. The years prior to this recent love affair were… well… rough to say the least.

I had always felt a tremendous amount of guilt when trying to place boundaries. Especially when it came to my romantic relationships or family. This was due to a mix of  abandonment issues I had that stemmed from my Dad and because of messages from past romantic relationships that I had internalized. I allowed abandonment issues to tell me that if a man is interested, that it’s better to just keep his interest at any cost. I told myself that it was better to do that than to risk being alone and possibly losing the ONLY man that will ever want me. Man, it’s crazy to think that I actually believed that!! How sad, right?! What’s even sadder is that there are so many people out there that live and breath this lie everyday. I bet many of you reading this can attest to that as well.

So many of us have heard messages that say that if we place boundaries that means we aren’t truly capable of loving someone else. What ends up happening is that we come up with the conclusion that we can’t have boundaries AND love… that we have to choose one or the other, while losing one or the other. Well guess what ends up getting pitched? Yep, you guessed it. Our boundaries. Psh…

Do you find yourself giving your personal power away over and over again? Have you made a habit of giving others the power to dictate to you your boundaries based on if they made them feel comfortable or not? How many times have we let someone use the word “Love” as a weapon to weaken our defenses, instead of using it as the healing balm that it should be? In my personal experience it was because of my strong desire for love that I would often put my boundaries on the back burner… the truth was that I loved them too much. I loved them at the expense of loving myself.
        
I’m currently at a place in my life where I’m taking a close look at my priorities and taking inventory of all that I have going on in my life. I’m looking at what needs to stay, what needs to go, and what needs to change. When things come up where I’m tempted to trade what is truly important to me for companionship, love, or attention, I remember how far my relationship with my boundaries has come. I’ve wasted too much time internalizing someone’s need to validate themselves, while invalidating myself. I have come to see that love and boundaries go hand in hand. Setting a boundary doesn’t always mean that it’s because of something someone else is doing. It could be something YOU’RE doing that just doesn’t sit right with you, and you know it can’t play an active role in your life anymore. Boundaries don’t even point to something being “wrong” or “right” but maybe something just isn’t “right for you.” Setting a boundary says “To love you better I must love myself first. If something is going on that is threatening my sense of self-love, then it also threatens the love I give to you as well. I love us both too much to see that happen”.

Boundaries don’t keep you bound or restricted. They actually set you free to love with abandonment, because you are no long bound to something or someone by fear of loss. Our fears are like weeds in our soul… they choke out all the beauty that’s trying to flourish. The beauty of love begins with you…

Yours Truly, Andrea