Category Archives: Inspired

Call me a romantic, but I’m easily inspired-more often than I blog about, but when I get the chance to, here they are


Recently, I posted twice about “random acts of kindness” that I had the honor of initiating.  The slew of responses encouraged me to reflect and write about what it takes to be a vessel for compassionate action.  Because here’s what I believe: we all want to have the capacity to act in compassion and to do so is not some elusive talented available only to an elite few.  But here’s what I also believe: we don’t live lives in which we are readily available for these opportunities.  And so, while it isn’t rocket science, there is an art to being available – there is a formula – underlying states-of-being that must pre-exist to make you available for action in compassion. Freedom to Care freedom to care To have the freedom to care requires that you are unencumbered by your own cares.  I had a very distinct experience one weekend in which I was so entrenched in my own burdens that I was completely unavailable to the world around me.  I was like a zombie, going through the motions of the day, getting from place to place, but not taking anything in.  I was jolted to the extremity of this when a group of youth from my church was passionately attempting to garner my attention by franticly waving to me from across the platform.  They were unsuccessful, as I was in my daze, and I only awoke to them by the time it was too late.  In that moment, I became painfully aware of the cost of being a slave to your emotions.  If you find yourself in this state, you have two options, of which you can practice one or both, whatever helps you triumph. 1) Hire a life coach. I can’t stress enough the importance of a life coach to my life.  By hiring someone who is a professional at solving life problems and working through the maze that is our brains sometimes, you gain clarity and power in how to approach difficulties and you keep these skills forever!  You never lose the power that you gain over your life. 2) Surrender it to God Even in our most powerful moments, we are never in complete control.  And so there is always room for surrender.  And truly surrendering requires surrendering the inquiring, worrying, and hand-wringing over it as well. Once you’ve done the above work enough, you will find yourself virtually worry-free and able to walk down the street 110% present and available for who or what needs your attention. Freedom to Express freedom to express Is it more common that we are saying what’s on our minds or is it rather the case that we are biting our tongues or minding our own business?  We bite our tongues because we don’t want to say something that will tick-off someone and we mind our own business because we don’t want to make ourselves too vulnerable to the opinions and possibly even rejection of others.  But what if we expressed ourselves without angering others and without fear or rejection?  And what if, as a result of that, we created genuine conversation, exchange of views, and possibly even laughter and learning?  To accomplish expressing ourselves without angering, however, requires never making people wrong.  It’s a radical idea, but to approach someone’s actions with simply a question or conversation rather than judgement will incite thinking rather than anger.  And to express ourselves without fear of rejection requires that you set aside your ego and privately acknowledge the possibility of a “no” but go in anyway for the possibility of a “yes.” I do a lot of talking.  I almost never shut up.  I just love connecting with people and expressing myself.  When I see someone on the train doing something worth commenting on, I say something.  When I am in the elevator with folks, I make conversation.  When I think someone needs help, I offer it.  And even if someone is talking loud on their phones or playing their music loud on the train, I ask them if it’s possible for them to turn it down or even ask them why they’re using a speaker for their music on a quiet train.  I am the worst at minding my own business.  Because if I did, I’d feel stifled.  And I don’t want to live my life stifled.  And I’m glad I don’t.  Because I’ve met people, had great exchanges, and been inspired and done inspiring just by honoring the expression of me. Time Affluence time affluence This is a great term used by Ariana Huffington in her book Thrive.  I love it because it’s got a great ring to it and also because it’s so true.  When we are rushed and harried, we are overwhelmed and stressed.  And when we are overwhelmed and stressed, we are selfish and curt.  On a normal day, I have the time to be aware of what’s going on around me and will stop to pick something up that someone dropped and will slow down to walk with the old lady down the steps.  But if I’m in a rush, I can’t be bothered and nearly knock over the old lady and everyone just becomes an obstacle on my way to my all-important appointment in my selfish life.  And it’s a terrible feeling.  So if you find yourself in this state more times than not, start to build more time into your commute.  Throw in an extra 10 minutes just so you can walk instead of run and if you’re really feeling ballsy, throw in an extra 20 minutes so you can say you have time affluence.  And with that extra buffer, you will be a more pleasant and loving person, actually and finally fully available to do all of the above: care, express yourself, and be a contribution to the world! Reason To If you don’t feel compelled to change or contribute to the world around you, then you are leading a lukewarm, apathetic way of life.  By taking the time to clarify your purpose, you will find the purpose in being a part of the world around you.  If you don’t have a relationship with God, then that is another pathway to learning your purpose.  For me, my purpose is a conglomeration of creative expression, loving God, and loving people.  And so for me, every interaction is purposeful and a potential possibility for loving people, and in doing so, expressing God’s love to them.  I encourage you, again, to take the time to do this work: get in prayer about your purpose.  Do Franklin Covey’s Mission Statement Developer tool to develop a mission/ purpose statement for yourself.  And head to your local church and/ or read the Purpose-Driven Life, the number one NYTimes best-selling book of all time by Rick Warren that clarifies your life purpose for you. Knowledge of How to Help In a very practical way, it’s important to know how to help as well.  If all we offer people are empty encouraging words and hugs, that is a great start, but is not an end in itself.  For me, personally, volunteering with the homeless has equipped me with tips, resources, and more understanding so that I feel more confident helping a homeless person in my own time.  If you have a heart to help in a certain area, you will only add value to your help by learning more, partnering with like-minded people and causes, etc.  So don’t let a lack of knowledge stop you from being a contribution.  Keep learning, keep growing, and change that so that you’ll be ready for the next opportunity. Well, that’s all I’ve got to say about all that.  In closing, I’ll leave you with the idea that it’s always possible to do something and so the choice lies with you.  To be able to say yes is a powerful thing that we’re all capable of.  I’m grateful to be living in an available state because I came from very different place and I can appreciate the stark difference.  Believe me, it’s worth the effort to get to this place.   Amen! Dalai-Lama-on-Kindness

THE 12 WEEK YEAR: accomplish 1 year goals in 12 weeks

If you’re looking for a game-changing book, this is IT!  This book’s strategy single-handedly made me more productive in 3 months than the previous 6 months.  I was able to put things on that list that had been dragging or seemed like pipe-dreams and knock them out!  It was, and continues to be, amazing!  I learned about it from a date, actually.  (Bonus lesson: dating is productive 😉  On a second date with a suitor 😉 , he mentioned the book and was so clearly taken by it that I took to it and read it and started my personal “12-week year” in mid-January.  Sure enough, by mid-April – just about now – all of those goals have sustained massive progress.  I wanted to wait until my first “12-week-year” was over, however, before making any reports, announcements, or blogs about it.  But here we stand, in the clear for making it public, and I’m so excited to share this tool that you can get started on right away!
The 12 Week Year Book
THE INSPIRATION: You should definitely go borrow or buy the book, but I’ll give you the gist of it so that you’ll even understand what a “12-week year” is.  SO! Are you ready?!  This is exciting stuff!  Sit up straight and put your listening caps on!  Ok, so the problem the “12-week year” is solving (because all great ideas are solving a problem first) is that most people lose steam on their “new year’s resolutions.”  Most people pen a list of lofty new year’s resolutions in January and then fall off within a few months or even weeks and then revisit that goal at the end of the year, “right before the deadline!” So, Brian Moran, the author of “the 12-week year,” took that starting energy and ending energy, if you will, and just cut out all of the messy middle in between.  The authors of this book (Brian Moran and Michael Lennington) discovered that humans generally can remain highly motivated for 3 months on a particular goal.  After that, they want to see results, celebrate, recalibrate, and set another goal.  And so they transferred this information into a system for goal-accomplishing that complements our natural tendencies – genius! (in my humble opinion 😉 ) THE APPLICATION: So, how does this translate?  Ok, are you ready?!  Again, this is exciting stuff and now that you’re on board, you’re about to really get blown away by the application.  So, you start to think in quarters, not unlike a Fortune 500 company – you are now your own successful business and your gameplan begins with designing your first quarter. You lay out about 3 goals for the quarter.  This is not set in stone, but they recommend setting up a small number of goals across any areas of your life.  So i.e.: you could have 3 goals that cover: losing 10 pounds, getting debt free, and having an awesome marriage.  Next, lay out these goals very specifically so that you KNOW when they’re accomplished, list milestones and their prospective dates, and list weekly, daily, or semi-regular actions that have to be taken towards that goal.  Now, you are SET!  You are looking at the next 12-weeks as ridiculously productive and powerful weeks on the way to your goal and you are super excited because you’re about to “get it done!” THE EXECUTION: Now, every day when you wake up, you’re knocking out the relevant actions toward your goals.  Every week, at the end of the week, or beginning of the week (you set your routine), you will look at the list of actions that you intended and then grade yourself on how much of that list you accomplished.  If you had 10 actions toward your goal (using previous example) that included working out 5 times, spending in the form of cash only, having a date night with your spouse, you would grade yourself based on the percentage of the intended actions.  So, if you accomplished 8 out of the 10 goals, you would give yourself an 80% for that week. THE EFFECT: In doing this, you will start to really use your time wisely and more intentionally.  You will feel urgency and motivation throughout the process.  The weekly reviews also begin to tick off the weeks so you see that you have one less week every week to accomplish your goals and  act almost as a barometer for whether or not you’re on track.  You will also find it easier to say “no” to anything that does not contribute to your goals.  You will have a very distinct filter for what should take up your time and what should not.  And THAT is good.  Having uber-focused goals lets you say no to things, at least, for now, until you decide they’ll be a focus, perhaps next quarter, that’s all!  It’s ridiculously freeing. MY EXPERIENCE: I had 3ish goals: To create an app, to lose 10 pounds/ to do a handstand, and to get out of debt.  Did I accomplish all of them?  Nope.  BUT, I made SO much progress that I now have new habits and a different lifestyle because of last quarter’s focus and I call that a success!  I found myself using new strategies as some fell short and I saw that I had only x number of weeks left to accomplish my goals.  Once I had my strategy, I saw myself really hunkering down and doing it consistently because I wanted to celebrate by the end of March.  And when I saw that I was not actually going to accomplish the goal, I saw that because I had learned and done all the intense work I had done, it would eventually happen. And so, at this point, I have accomplished major milestones in my business goal; I have lost 8 pounds and am very happy with my figure; I can do a handstand for a few seconds and a forearmstand for longer; and I have crossed off a couple of thousand in debt and am living in control of my money.  I would not have had a daily, weekly, and quarterly mindset without this strategy and that made all the difference for me.  I wasn’t working in an endless space.  I had 3/31/16 on my calendar and that galvanized me to create the progress that I did.  And I lived life too!  I did everything else that I wanted to do: socialized, enjoyed life, and had “me time,” but I also saw clearly where I had to say “no” to things because they were going to take away from my goals. WHAT NEXT? After you accomplish and celebrate your first quarter, you start all over again!  Make new goals that are either the next step for some of your first quarter goals, or make new goals altogether!  It’s a chance to shake things up again and get excited all over again.  I am in the process of setting my next quarter up now and I’m loving it.  It really does make sense to me and human behavior does reflect this for me and I believe companies use quarterly reviews for this very reason – so why not us?!  So, if you’re a go-getter and/or are looking for a structure to guarantee your goals, go get this book and read it.  I finished it in 1 or 2 days because I wanted to get started asap.  Now, go and get em!

The Planting of the Lord: Are you Getting Enough Son?

No, I did not misspell Son 😉 As offspring of the Lord, we can never stop growing and I’m [hopefully] about to blow you away with this analogy [between us and plants] that our pastor Jim Laffoon blew me away with several Sundays ago.  I took and will relay my notes verbatim, so some of this will read as if Jim is speaking directly to you. YOUR ROOT “Cursed is the one who trusts in man.  Blessed is the one whose confidence is in Him.”  Jeremiah 17:5,7 In order to grow from seedlings to oak trees, our root must be not just in the people of God but in God Himself.  Many of you have a withering because you are looking to the people to give you what God should be giving you. Then there are things that people can do that God can’t…you need both. What I got from this is that many Christians become very dependent on the church for their spiritual walk, but that begins with your relationship with God and the church remains vital to provide community and apparently, the things that even God needs His people to provide for one another! ARE YOU GETTING SONLIGHT? Just like plants need sunlight we need sonlight – the darker your workplace is the more light you need.  Malachi 4:2 SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) applies to spirituality.  Sometimes, you have to just sit in the light.  You can train your soul to experience His presence everywhere. I absolutely adore this analogy.  I imagine that in prayer, we are essentially basking in the Sunlight (sidenote: my auto-correct won’t leave that word alone lol).  Literally with faces upturned and hands open, receiving this essential nourishment to our spirit.  I feel like I can actually feel His Sonlight and I love to bask in it! ARE YOU DRINKING? Jesus is the Living Water. Drinking from the Living Water.  I don’t have any notes for this, but the Living Water ties in very well with the plant analogy and I appreciate this perfect parallel.  To me, this emphasizes the need to bask in the Sonlight and spend time wth Jesus. The SATURATION Rain, river, reservoir – Living Water needs to be drunken once a week. ARE YOU FEEDING? Sustenance: Speaking the Word, listening to the Word – we are in God’s body.  We can feed on God through each other.  “The cool thing about Christian friends, you share gifts with one another.”  -Jim Laffoon Plants need food and we need food and Jesus said, “take my body and partake of it”  The Word of God is also referred to as food.  Give us this day our daily bread, with bread being the Word of God.  And so this emphasizes the importance, to me, of staying in God’s Word. And so, in conclusion, we can think of ourselves as plants.  And as plants of the Lord, we must be rooted in God and His People, we must be receiving Sonlight, we must be drinking Living Water weekly, and we must be feeding on the Word.  Amazing!  God’s messages are everywhere, if we will just have eyes to see His stories, lessons, and miracles!  Thank you Jim, for your incredible gift of speaking God’s Word, through your messages and prophecies.  You are one incredible contribution to our community, this world, and the Kingdom. Let’s go, my fellow seedlings, let’s gooo and Grooow!


I’ve heard many variations of the assurance uttered: “All in God’s timing.  God’s timing is perfect.  When God annoints it, it will make up for lost time.  God’s favor is a multiplier.”  Various phrases designed to offer the same assurance: that it’s ok if you’re still waiting on something.  Have peace and know that He will work it all out. I never quite understood, however, how exactly that was going to play out in real life – until just recently.  And here’s how it works.  You don’t worry about the timing.  You stay faithful and diligent.  You keep working on your craft and you keep walking with God.  These two principles practiced concurrently ensure that you are happy and at peace no matter where and no matter what.  Years may pass in between dreams that may seem like “lost time” in the natural way of thinking.  However, in the supernatural, God moves mountains for you, essentially “making up” for the lost time – lettin’ you “skip da line!”  At least that’s exactly how it happened for me, clear as day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Several years, ago, I got the comedy itch.  I knew I was funny and I knew I loved standup comedy – so why not do it?!  I took a standup class, performed at a few open mics, performed as part of a paid show, earned  street cred in the comedy circle, and altogether had a great run as a standup comic under my belt! This time also taught me, however, that making it in this world was brutal: hours spent on the open mic circuit night after night, exploiting friends and mailing lists to bring enough guests to “earn” your time on stage, and of course, the tens of hours of constant generating, writing, & perfecting jokes 24/7.  I knew that I was done.  I had scratched the itch and was not about to begin a comedy career.  Sure, I could do it…I just didn’t want to put in all that time.  And so I happily returned to acting and spin instructing, now legitimately adding “comedienne” to my resume! Fast forward 3 years and I’m at church one Sunday hearing that our church is sponsoring a Christian Comedy Show!  I immediately meet the producer and chat with her, leaving her with our shared comedy background because I did it for two months several years ago!  I emailed her the link to said performance, bought tickets to the show, and set out to support the cause!  The day of the show, she calls me and asks that I perform.  I was completely caught off guard – I don’t know if I’ve ever been more surprised, actually – and stammered that I was in absolutely no position to perform.  She proceeded to insist, saying that it was “ordained by God” and lo and behold, I performed that night and HERE is what God did for me!
  • I had an incredible performance, surprising my church (pastors included), when I appeared on stage.
  • A producer of another comedy show scouted me at that show.
  • The headliner’s manager sought me out after the show as well.
  • I was invited to join the the Christmas show lineup for Artistic New Directions, winning over the whole room.
  • I performed and hosted with the same Christian Comedy Show two months later (both times at Comic Strip Live).
  • I performed in the 6th annual Gospel Comedy Show at Long Island University’s Kumble Theatre the day after Christmas, with my sister, niece, & brother-in-law in the audience.
Here is the miracle:  I received 10 minutes of stage time at 3 paid shows at reputable venues without ever having to pound the comedy circuit!  The average comedian starting out gets 5 minutes at an open mic where he has to wait for his turn to perform and then only performs for a lackluster audience comprised of other comedians waiting for their turn.  This average comedian eventually, by working this circuit long enough, gains enough traction, reputation, and networking to begin performing at bringer shows: paid shows with real audiences that you are required to bring a certain number of people to.  Think of those people who “bark” at you on the street: “free comedy!” “do you want to laugh tonight?” – those are bringers.  Then, more traction and time later, this comedian can finally just perform.  Again, more traction and time later, this comedian can finally get paid to perform.  In this industry, like any other, dues must be paid and you should enjoy your craft enough to tough it out for what can be years or decades of working the circuit. Well, if you can tell, I skipped over all the dues-paying as God connected me with the perfect people at the perfect time so that I could simply work on my craft and then showcase my craft – how efficient of God, huh?!  I think I dig God’s style! When it dawned on me, I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude and encouraged beyond measure.  In that moment, I understood that God saved me time!  I am the same comedian that I would have been had I put in all those years, except that I didn’tInstead, I spent that time working on my acting, my modeling, my hosting, my nonprofit, my spin instructing, and all of the other things I was busy doing.  And most importantly, I spent that time growing in God, walking with God, and becoming more steadfast, more righteous, and more of the woman of God that I am now. And the ultimate take-away here, the biggest encouragement – is that this is how God works.  Trust the process – just like any other process – and see it work for you.  I pray to never again be plagued by anxiety, comparison, and worry.
I pray to rest in peace and assurance that my job is to simply work hard and walk hard [with the Lord] and my path can never be wrong.
My path will be intact, my steps will be ordered, and I will always be OK! I want this to encourage you to do the same.  God’s promise in the Bible is that He has good and prosperous plans for you! (Jeremiah 29:11).  Living like this means that you live without worry or anxiety, just like all of God’s other creatures, knowing that worry will not add a single hour to your life. (Matthew 6:25-34).  Living like this means that your priority is putting God first, knowing that this most critical step paves the way for all other things to take care of themselves…ie: all other things will be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).  You will get your dream(s)…and instead of battling for them, they will be gifted to you!  You will get the dream career, the dream man, the dream apartment, the dream french bulldog, the dream body.  You should insert your own dreams here 😉 Here’s the funny way in which it works sometimes: by walking with God, you have insurance that things will work out, that He will work things out for our good  (Romans 8:28).  God will either realize this through granting us our very wish as we envision it or by adjusting our vision so that our wish is closer to where we already are.  The beauty of this?  Contentment, either way.  It’s the only way to live in true contentment and thus, the only way to live for me. Follow God’s lead and believe that there is no better way!


This New Year’s, I heard about the “morning routine” on three different levels, a one-two-three punch, if you will, that helped me to re-engineer it in a way that today, 14 days, two weeks, into the new year of 2016, I’m feeling like if I did this for 351 more days, I’d be pretty damn unstoppable! Firstly, I read “the School of Greatness” which I blogged about in my last post – please feel free to read.  In it, Howes emphasizes the importance of setting up a routine, no matter what it is, and advises that it include certain key components.  I chose from his list of recommended components and came up with the following commitment to my morning routine: journaling/free-writing/ setting up day, prayer/ visualization, yoga/forearm work.  Let me further break these down: journaling/ free-writing/ setting up day:  This is simply opening up a journal, old school or new school (I personally use the DayOne free e-journal) and writing what’s on your mind for a few minutes.  I find it cathartic to write my thoughts and emotions out and find that it gets my head cleared out and my shoulders unweighted.  After I do that for anywhere for 5-20 minutes, I write out my day’s main to-do’s and plug them in on my calendar. yoga/forearm work: Many people build their workout right into their morning, but since I teach classes, I enjoy pairing another workout with my classes later on in the day.  However, I do have a goal to be able to do a forearm stand and I heard that I should do a few minutes of practice every day, so I decided to guarantee it gets done by building it in to the morning.  I have a nice amount of space when I fold my murphy bed that becomes my insta-yoga-studio!.  I lay my mat out and do a few vinyasas, poses, stretches, etc and when I feel warm enough, I’ll start kicking up into inversions.  I was scared at first that I would fall over, smash into the walls, etc, but I’m more comfortable now and doing it in my apartment it actually the best way to guarantee it gets done. visualization/prayer: By the time I’m done trying inversions, I’m usually warm and a bit sweaty, so it’s the perfect time to go into a child’s pose and then a little meditation.  I relax in a sitting position, close my eyes, and start some visualization.  If visualization is a practice shared between Olympic athletes and business greats alike, I’m sold.  In the School of Greatness, they talk about imagining the feel, the sound, the taste and smell, even, of your achieved goal.  It’s mandated HD daydreaming!  After this very enjoyable exercise, I get into prayer, praying over others, giving thanks, seeking answers, and simply having time with God.  It’s the perfect end to the perfect start to a new day. Around the same time that I was reading the School of Greatness, I came across Michael Hyatt’s podcast on “How to Become a Morning Person.” He was talking about what it takes to really get up early and take charge your day with the first step being “throw away the ‘I’m not a morning person’ story.”  He’s got some great tips so listen to it here: but what stuck out for me was the importance of protecting your evening in order to ensure your morning.  So, for example, if I want to be up at 7am with 7 hours of sleep under my belt, then I should be asleep by midnight and so I start getting ready for bed at 11pm.  11pm is the mark for shutting everything down and saying, “no more, I will pick it up tomorrow. ” Sounds practical, but up until this point, I was traveling down a slippery slope of allowing that “bed time” to creep later and later for no good reasons: watching silly videos, doing work, watching silly videos, etc.  Michael Hyatt breathed a very realistic reminder into my brain and I’ve been sticking with it. Finally, I went to church service on the first Sunday of the New Year and their message was about “Giving God the first part of your:______”  The blanks were filled in with “my day, my week, my relationships, & my energy”  The way these translate are:
  • my day: quiet time in the mornings
  • my week: church attendance on Sundays
  • my relationships: sharing God in your relationships
  • my energy: serving God
Again, this theme of starting the day properly with a morning routine that protects everything that’s important to you to “self-care” and “put your mask on first” was just another great reminder. Btw, I did not do this perfectly for the past 14 days.  I certainly had mornings where I mussed up or had to leave so early I didn’t get it in, and all that showed me was the cost.  Those days, in particular, were not as peaceful, not as fruitful as the days in which the morning routine was paid time and attention.  On the days when I implemented my routine, literal miracles were allowed to occur in my day – those days were not only peaceful and effective, they were miraculous.  And the correlation is uncanny.  I am so sure that when I leave the house having written, prayed, moved, & doing what I deemed important for me, all things go better. And so, I hope that if you’re in need of a morning routine, that you’ll pull something out of my experience.   The first step is designing (or re-designing) your routine, the next step is protecting it to ensure it takes place, and the third step is doing it consistently.  Go ahead and bon voyage!


A great read to kick off the New Year!  I first heard Lewis Howes on Michael Hyatt‘s podcast and was turned on by  his very enlightened and empowered perspective in their conversation.  After reading his book, I can see a lot of Landmark influence and how his time alongside many speakers and coaches have played a part.  There are some great takeaways and reminders here, so these are a few of my favorite cliff notes from each of his Chapters! CREATE A VISION We all know the power of vision but I enjoyed the addition of having a “Personal Principles Declaration” (PPD).  You are declaring to yourself that this list of five principles is what you stand for and live by.  I think this is great – it’s just like a mission statement for a company that they use as a guidepost for their actions.  Create your PPD of 5 Statements that you want to be true about you for yourself and your world and draw from them, especially when in a pickle! TURN ADVERSITY INTO ADVANTAGE In times of adversity, embrace the challenge and move TOWARD the adversity, making it part of your success story.  Prepare yourself for these moments – they will happen!  First you have your vision, then you run into obstacles. We all know that perseverance o’er adversity is all-important – but this book goes so far as to suggest a “Hidden Advantage to Adversity.”  And so, you should embrace adversity.  The hardships you face in life can be seen as opportunities.  Marcus Aurelius says “the impediment to action advances action.  What stands in the way becomes the way.”  Ryan Holiday, the author of a book “The Obstacle is the Way” writes that there is “one thing that all great men and women have in common.  Like oxygen to a fire, obstacles became fuel for that which was their ambition.  Nothing could stop them, they were impossible to discourage or contain.  Every impediment served to make the inferno within them burn with greater ferocity.”  The real greats don’t worry about the adversity – it’s inevitable, it’s not the end.  This dose of reality is simply used as as challenge: to learn a new “language,” to channel their energy into their true path, to adjust their vision from fantasy into plan. EXERCISE: HOW TO EMBRACE THE ADVERSITY Adversity naturally feels like failure, but in reality, failure is simply feedback.  And feedback gives you the opportunity to look at what’s not working and figure out how to make it work.  Everyone fails.  Highly successful people fail at even greater scales.  Understand this and fall in love with failure.  Thomas Edison endured 10,000 failures before he made the lightbulb.  And so, the next time you encounter external or internal adversity, do the following:
  1. Be Aware of the Adversity
  2. Write it Down or Share It
  3. Acknowledge Yourself
  4. Express Your Gratitude
  5. Reconnect To Your Vision and Take Action
CULTIVATE A CHAMPION’S MINDSET Champions have an unwavering belief and visualization practice.  The purpose of visualization is to see the results you want to create before they actually happen.  Lewis talks about how he practiced it in his professional football career by walking the field and visualizing in the locker room.  He then carried it into writing this book and visualized himself at book signings, etc. VISUALIZATION EXERCISE: Create a clear space w/ zero distraction.  Allow yourself to be relaxed and calm, breathing (2 counts in, 1 count hold, 3 counts out).  Visualize whatever you want to see as complete.  If your vision is to have a relationship with your soul mate, visualize yourself holding that person, both of you smiling, and being whole and complete in that moment.  Dive completely into it: the smells, tastes, sounds, and feels.  The key is to see it as complete and feel the energy of the achievement.  Do this every morning and before tackling a big opportunity. DEVELOP HUSTLE MASTER YOUR BODY PRACTICE POSITIVE HABITS We all know that positive habits practiced over long periods are where it’s at.  There is a reward for positive habits and a price for bad habits.  Figure out the habits that serve you. I loved the 28-Day Morning Routine Challenge he listed in the exercises of this Chapter.  I agree with the power of the morning routine and I accepted this challenge.  The idea is simply that before checking email or phone or doing any work, that you do something that is for you to set the tone for your day:
  • Spend time free-writing/ journaling
  • Make a to-do list for the day, creating top priorities
  • Workout, stretch, do yoga
  • Pray, practice visualization
These are mine, but your routine is made up of your habits that will propel you forward in achieving your dreams. BUILD A WINNING TEAM No one gets there alone.  We all know that having a team of positive mentors, peers, and relationships is everything.  We can draw from our mentors and peers, we can leverage our teams, and we can network from our relationships.  What I learned from what he said about team is that as a leader of a team, you are actually there to serve your team.  Ask yourself, “How can I be of service to every member of my team and set them up to win as best as possible?”  This doesn’t translate to coddling, but means that if anyone needs to talk about anything, you’re there to listen, and that they are set up with what they need to be successful in their position and their role. I can relate to Lewis saying that he used to try to do everything on his own when people would “let him down” and he thought he’d go through life solo proving others wrong.  This ended up emotionally  draining, stressful, and lonely.  It wasn’t until he began allowing others to support his dreams and him that his life started to come to him with ease.  If you’re struggling in this area, you might need to adjust your mindset or find a whole new team altogether.  Surround yourself with greatness: you will never outperform your inner circle.  If you want to achieve outer success, improve your inner circle. A valuable exercise to me from this Chapter was the Three Lists to Freedom, gleaned from Chris Ducker, the author of Virtual Freedom, a book that teaches people how to work with virtual staff. The exercise goes like this: Create 3 columns headlined:
  • Things you don’t like doing (things you procrastinate on: replying to social media messages, emailing, bookkeeping)
  • Things you can’t do (a lack of experience or skill deems that this be passed off to someone else)
  • Things you shouldn’t do (things that are a waste of time and take you away from what you should be doing) Fill in all the things that fit in these categories relating to your business or your lifestyle.  Prepare these lists every 90 days.  This becomes a roadmap to working with your team.  Think of all the things in your personal life that you can add to this as well.
I bought this book for my brother and am glad I finished it up before it was too long overdue at the library haha!  If you enjoyed these snippets, I encourage you to grab a copy because there is a lot that I didn’t include – these are just the parts that spoke to me at this time in my life.  I’m excited for the Personal Principles Declaration, Morning Routine, & Winning Team!

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

I recently got turned on to Essentialism, a book by Greg McKeown, by way of a podcast  interview conducted by one of my favorites, Michael Hyatt.  Upon first listen while working out, I found it disruptively clarifying and enlightening.  I remember nodding while walking around the gym floor in agreement with so much that was being offered.  Weeks later, I was in Barnes and Noble, reading the book.  And just a few weeks ago, I listened to the podcast all over again in order to apply one of its most important principles.   I will build up to this biggest principle after first sharing a few other valuable takeaways that I’ve gained from Greg’s teaching.  Here it goes – enjoy and prepare to say “Ah ha!” MAKE YOUR LIFE A CLOSET OF YOUR MOST LOVED PIECES The first lesson is important to get clear on.  Do what is most Essential to you.  Do what you would LOVE to do.  Imagine your life as a closet.  You have a finite amount of space.  So when you have pieces of clothing that you want to add in, unless you want a crammed, unusable closet, you have to take items out.  Likewise, in your life, make sure to trade things out before you take things on.  Now comes the next important step: Editing your wardrobe.  How do you decide what items you are going to keep vs toss?  Do you keep things because you “might wear them again one day,” because “you might fit them again one day,” or God forbid, because you “just already own them?!”  Well, here’s a concept: only keep the things that you LOVE.  Ask yourself, “Do I absolutely LOVE this piece?” or even better, “Would I buy this piece all over again?” In the same way, set up strong filters for what takes up your life.  Do the things that you LOVE to do, not merely the things that already exist.  Ownership of a piece of clothing or of things in your life can be very tricky.  If something has real estate in your life by virtue of simply being owned, then it doesn’t deserve your time.  Only if you LOVE it and would DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN should you consider continuing to do it.  And THAT is one of the biggest distinctions from Essentialism! GIVING YOURSELF THE SPACE TO MAKE A SOUND DECISION Our next challenge is giving ourselves space in which to apply this distinction before making decisions.  Oftentimes, we make decisions hastily or under pressure.  And oftentimes, we are quick to say “Yes” because we want to help, because it’s uncomfortable to say “No” and because we want to be accepted.  But there is a trade-off and the trade-off is being in this position of having a crammed closet full of non-essentials.  So, how do we give ourselves space to get to clarity before saying “Yes” or “No” to something?   Simply say this instead:  “Let me get back to you,” “Let me think about it,” and then take the time that you need to  confidently decide, based on what YOU want to do. If you really want to be radical, practice saying “No” and then only change your mind if you find yourself wistful over it!  Here’s what it comes down to: If YOU prioritize your life, OTHERS will prioritize it FOR you! OPPORTUNITIES EVENTUALLY BECOME STUMBLING BLOCKS: This sounds so wild, but if opportunities remain unchanged in your life, they are actually stumbling blocks preventing you from advancing.  Opportunities should be continually evolving, growing, and expanding.  If you are saying “Yes” to the same opportunities today that you were saying “Yes” to several years ago, those are now stumbling blocks.  You will have to say “No” for a little while in order to create space for different opportunities to develop.  Understandably, this is scary and is probably the reason why most people stay in the same place: because it’s more comfortable to stay busy than to be still during inactivity.  But again, there’s a tradeoff: Saying “Yes” to the same opportunities and not advancing. SCHEDULE A QUARTERLY OFFSITE TO “GET ESSENTIAL” Now that you know some important practices, here is the Headliner Practice that you’ll want to really hone in on and that ties everything together.  Use the power of 3: Every 3 months, take 3 hours, and figure out the next 3 most important goals for your life.  This is how you get clear on that million-dollar question: What’s Essential? and then use the rest of these tools to protect that! Any bonafide business is taking time to get off-site to ensure clarity on their vision and their business.  We, as individuals, can benefit from this same practice.  So, start setting aside a quarterly offsite during which you do the following: Look back on the last 90 days of your life.  Be a journalist and investigate your life.  Read over your journal entries looking for the news.  Look for the trends.  Look for the essentials.  Look for the nonessentials.  And then, be the editor and decide what needs to be edited and write your new plan.  Ask yourself “What are my new goals?” and plan the next 90 days of your life. Every 90 Days, dedicate an OffSite Day to: Thinking, Reading your Journal, and Evaluating in order to  “Get Essential!” BONUS: MAKE TIME TO READ, THINK, & DREAM: This is often seen as a luxury or worse, even as a waste of time.  Well, rebrand it as a priority and use this as your affirmation: Bill Gates, one of the richest, most successful men in the world, sets aside time to think and read FOR 2 WEEKS out of every year!  He actually schedules one week twice a year during which he goes away with tons of articles and books and does nothing but read and think.  He has been doing this for decades so that means that even at the height of Microsoft’s life, he was taking time off to do this.  Now, if that isn’t proof that reading and thinking is time spent wisely, I don’t know what is! BONUS: MAKE TIME FOR: Sleep (7 hours) – It will promote productivity Play – It will promote Brain Elasticity Think – It will promote Essentialism BONUS: BOUNDARIES, BUFFERS, RULES & HABITS Sometimes, creating little rules helps preserve or even create your Essentials.  For example, Greg offered the following examples that he’s implemented in his life:
  • One or even two days designated as date night for himself and his wife where nothing else can compete
  • A day dedicated as a “Give back” day during which he will entertain requests to “grab coffee” and such
I really love this habit and have consciously begun setting up rules for myself within my schedule, in regards to what jobs I take, etc and I find that simply clarifying these things for yourself frees you from the deliberation involved every time if you were to make decisions on a case-by-case basis.  It’s so powerful and nobody has to know what “rules” you’re applying – they’re just for you, based on what’s Essential for You! Check out the full podcast that inspired this whole post and my slew of new habits and I wish you a Life transformed from the UnDisciplined Pursuit of More to the Disciplined Pursuit of Less!

God is still providing us with Daily Manna

Hi guys! This podcast from Michael Hyatt, which I was listening while running on Tuesday, took on new meaning while I was speaking with a friend last night at dinner. In the podcast, Michelle is being interviewed by Michael (which is a role reversal!) about her life’s huge curveballs in the form of cancer and adopting three children! The huge takeaway from this for me, which only took on meaning for me two days later, was that God provides enough manna for the day…and that’s all we need. While Michelle was struggling with her cancer diagnosis, she realized that God got her through it day by day for four years and will continue to do so.  Naturally, she wanted more than just one day’s worth of provision. She wanted to see the light at the end of the tunnel already. She wanted complete healing already. She wanted victory over it already. But just like in the Bible, when the Israelites greedily attempted to collect more than what God intended for them to collect for the day (just a day’s worth of sustenance), the rest of it would rot. They needed to trust that God would sustain them the following day all over again. And He did. I realized yesterday that I am in a rush for certain things in my life. But God is growing and preparing me. My foundation is being solidified so that when I expand, I won’t collapse. My friend asked me, “Do you want to grow too fast and then collapse or not be able to handle the growth?” He gave me the example of the Freedom Towers’ construction and how long the laying of the foundation took compared to the building of the rest of the towers. I realized that a slow steady construction is preferable because the subsequent growth will be lasting and sustainable. And so, I will stop looking for the final result to happen today. I will trust that whatever God provides for me today is what I’m supposed to consume and that bit by bit, day by day, promise by promise, I will get to the Promised Land! Can you be grateful to God for giving you manna to conduct your business today, execute your exercise and diet today, pay for things today, extend grace, patience, and joy today? Can you be at peace with one day’s worth of provision rather than attempting to collect for the future? It’s terrifyingly freeing! Amen! PS: Listen and subscribe to the podcast if you want!

A Night Of Hope w/ Joel Osteen

JoelOsteen2This is a long overdue post – a write-up from an event that I attended this past summer – a latergram, if you will…haha!  Over the summer, I attended Joel Osteen’s “Night of Hope” at Yankee Stadium.  My church, Every Nation NYC, is a supporter of Joel, and because of this event, I became familiar with his sermons, books, and message…of hope!  I’m a fan – and took copious notes as he spoke to us that night at Yankee Stadium.  Here is what I managed to capture from the night.  Keep in mind that these are in note-taking format – just phrases and bullet-points, but powerful and straight from God’s mouth to Joel’s ears to these notes!
  • Start each day with faith.  Say, “Thank you for another day, Lord!”  The right perspective sets you up for a positive day.
  • Your tape – many psychologists call it an internal dialogue – if it’s negative, you’ll never get to your potential
  • Start each day fresh.  Forgive people from yesterday, forgive the mistakes from yesterday, forgive yourself.
  • God can use anybody and any situation.  Abraham was old, Moses stuttered, Thomas doubted, Mariam gossiped, Zaccheaus was short, Lazarus was dead.  What’s your excuse?!  (this last one got a good laugh from the audience ;))
  • When Joel’s mom was sick and given only weeks to live, she posted up pictures all over her house of herself – getting married, riding horses, being healthy and happy.  At that time, looking in the mirror gave her a vision of death, so she put up the pictures of life.  So see yourself accomplishing your dreams – use the power of vision.
  • Sometimes, God will take you away from the fire but sometimes, God will make you fireproof and take you through the fire.  His hedge of protection is that he’s made you fireproof.  All that will burn off are your limitations.
  • Quit worrying about what isn’t; it wasn’t meant to be.
  • Praise precedes the victory
  • It’s easy to have a good attitude when you’re on the mountaintop
  • Shout before the walls come down
  • Your darkest hour can be your brightest hour
JoelOsteen5Story of his father passing
  • Joel shared about his father passing and how devastating it was for him to lose his father and for the church to lose their pastor.  Joel never wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, but he was thrust into the role and found himself carrying out his father’s dreams of expanding the church until they now occupy the Compaq center in Texas!
  • God’s dream for your life is so much bigger
  • Call out the seeds of greatness
  • Re: the Word-I am what it says I am, I can do what it says I can do
JoelOsteen3 Manure in fertilizer
  • The things that stink in your life, the stinky stuff, works for you.  You can’t get through life without fertilizer.  God wouldn’t have allowed it if it wasn’t meant to be used for your advantage.  The more stink, the more fertilizer.  Quit complaining about the fertilizer.  Remember it is fertilizer, it can propel you into your destiny.  There’s promotion in that stink.  Embrace the stink.  If you’ve had a lot of stink, it means God has a huge destiny for you.  Think of the difficult people as fertilizer for you.
  • Why are some victors and others victims?
  • Don’t just go through it, grow through it
  • Winning is in your DNA
  • Ditch to prison all the way to the palace.  You’re destined to live in the palace.  These aren’t the ends-don’t get comfortable in the pit, get your fire back.  Your story ends in the palace.
  • David used the sword of Goliath to defeat Saul, the same exact swords that were meant to defeat you, you will use towards victory.
  • Rummaging through garbage for hours.  God can make music out of trash.  He can take the very thing meant to defeat you and use it to promote you.  The injustice, trash, mistakes, stink, etc will be used.
I do wish that I could elaborate on more of this, but all I’ve got are these notes and pictures of myself at the event 😉  These are all words of life, however, and great reminders for all of us.  I hope you got somethin’ out of it and I’d certainly recommend attending 2015’s Night of Hope!JoelOsteen6

Do you know your Love Language?

Are you speaking the same love language as your loved one?
Are you speaking the same love language as your loved one?
COULD YOU BE MISCOMMUNICATING YOUR LOVE? Isn’t it hard to communicate effectively with someone who speaks a different language?  The effectiveness of people communicating in two different languages to each other is not much.  Additionally, it’s usual laborious at best and excruciating at worst.  Now imagine if this was characteristic of the communication between you and your loved one!  It’s true – you may be communicating your love to your partner in a way that he/she is not receiving it and vice versa!  Your love language is the form through which you give and receive love.
the 5 love languages - which is yours?
the 5 love languages – which is yours?
LEARN YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE Gary Chapman has created the concept of there being 5 categories of love languages:
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Physical Touch
  • Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Quality Time
You may have a hunch as to what your love language is.  Some clues into your love language are what you find yourself doing most often for people as well as what you find yourself most often complaining for not having gotten.  (i.e.: If you’re always thinking about souvenirs for loved ones at some point in your trip or asking loved ones why they didn’t get you anything from their trip, your love language might be “gifts!”)  Take a guess as to what your primary and secondary love languages and take this 30-question  quiz to learn this valuable information about yourself!  
the 5 Love Languages Book
the 5 Love Languages Book
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES FROM THE BOOK: I would recommend picking up a copy of his book as well because there are just stunning examples after real-life staggering examples of the power of the love languages in action.  For example, Chapman worked with a couple who never fought, who didn’t have financial problems, but who simply “did not feel the love anymore.”  In actuality, the man and woman still loved each other, they just had been expressing it on their own languages rather than each other’s and so, they had essentially gone on for years without feeling loved! The husband’s love language was “Acts of Service,” and so, he was working hard at work, then coming home and fixing dinner and washing the dishes and doing the household chores.  The wife’s love language was “Quality Time,” and so while he was busy working, she was just waiting to be shown some attention and catch some quality time with him.  The effect of this was that the husband didn’t feel like his love was being appreciated and the wife like she wasn’t being loved at all! Once they learned each other’s love languages, the husband was free to do less chores and sit down with his wife and voila!, she felt loved and in turn started to show more affection for him and they filled each other’s love tanks and were happy and humming along again! PLAY THE LOVE-TANK GAME: Gary Chapman may have coined the phrase “the love tank,” but regardless, it’s a fantastic visual of how loved we feel.  The relationships in which both parties feel loved are more durable and fulfilling.  It is when love tanks are running on or close to empty that we are prone to bickering and fighting.  We are already in a state of resentment and bitterness and waiting to be set off.  We don’t have the confidence in our partner’s love to stave of the urge to lash out at one another.  Thus lies the importance of keeping each other’s love tanks full.  Don’t assume that simple saying “I love you,” is enough.  You must discover your loved ones love language in order to ensure that they are receiving what you’re expressing. Playing the game means simply asking one another, “How full is your love tank, on a scale from 1-10?”  Any answer less than 10 should then be followed up with the question, “How can I fill it?”  And everything given in response is information for you to implement and start filling your partner’s love tank with! holding-handsMY CHALLENGE TO YOU: So, I challenge you to take a moment to speculate about your love language and your partner’s love language.  Then go ahead and take the quiz.  This is information about yourself that will open your eyes about yourself and allow you to have more power in your relationships from here on out.  I’d love for you to pick up the book, of course, because in no way have I covered the breadth of it in this blog.  There is a love language book for: children, singles, etc…so there is no excuse to not get one!  But if nothing else, simply after knowing your love language, play the love tank game with your loved one on a weekly or at least regular basis.  It’s housekeeping on your relationship and the more often you do it, the less often you’ll have to do it.  And one day, you and your partner will simply being running around with love tanks on 10 everyday!