Creating Thanksgiving

Tis’ the season to be grateful. Thanksgiving commemorates the sacrifices made long ago. It’s another day where we celebrate the cost paid for freedom. We commemorate the lessons and the journey of change and adaptation. Thanksgiving brings family, friends, and frenemies together in order to agree that bigger problems exist than those we see in our daily American lives.

It is a time we nurture thankful thoughts.  It is more than breaking bread and stuffing ourselves with delectables. I hope it’ll become a time that we can take to celebrate others and celebrate ourselves for efforts made both big and small. In our household, we are forming a family tradition of eating a huge dinner on that Wednesday before Thanksgiving and conclude the evening with attending a Thanksgiving service at our home church.

I start out with preparation. It is a process that begins a month or two in advance. I take a few days to think about the meals we want to have the following month. I use a scrap piece of paper to brainstorm. During the prep stage, I look through the freezer and pantry to do an inventory of everything we have. I check to make sure I have freezer bags and other freezer safe containers. During this phase, I begin cleaning out the refrigerator, dumping old food, and wiping things down. I want to make sure that I have nothing to do but cook and store on the days I am cooking.

My children are small and impressionable, so we are relaxed and joyous as we attempt to create memories. Stress can steal the focus and imprint the wrong depiction. The relaxed dinner the day before is not just for them, but for me too. Weeks before Thanksgiving, I start becoming more conscious of all that I hold dear. I begin counting my blessings and take that into the new year. We do all of this to teach them how to celebrate the blessings that are so easily taken for granted.

How do you adjust from distractions and cultivate a heart of Thanksgiving?

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Building A Brand With Social Media

Building a business and being the brand takes a commitment. As an image builder, I know how important it is to invest in yourself and your employees. This is that time for me.

Recently I attended Facebook Community Boost during the DMV’s Entrepreneurship Week. The brand behind the business needs to be carefully built and this week we looked at how Facebook and Instagram can help. They fed us a nice lunch, provided snacks, tea and coffee. Finally they topped it all off with a wonderful networking event for women sponsored by She Means Business.

We were given several sessions to choose from. My favorite session was Instagram Story School because it was so interactive.
I asked a staff person if these wonderful features will help me take great Instagram pictures. He said, “no, you do that.” That simple answer opened my eyes and revealed a lie. I was wrong to believe that the tools I have are not good enough. I was wrong to believe that having more would make me better. He looked at my pictures and thought they were very nice. I’m realizing, “all you need is a very good eye.”

Later that night, She Means Business sponsored a networking event for female entrepreneurs. They partnered with Civic Dinner to provide a unique networking experience. We were placed at a table with five to nine other women that we did not know. Businesswomen getting to know one another’s dreams and challenges. We were sharing and building friendships. A room full of lady entrepreneurs cultivating relationships. We are women encouraging women.

One lady encouraged us by giving fiery advice, Angel Rich. She was an honored guest at the networking event that night. What blessed me the most was how she was enjoying the moment, along with all of us, women entrepreneurs. She has been called the next Steve Job, but I think she is more than that. I prefer to call her “One Of A Kind.” I was honored to stand next to her with hopes that she was as encouraged as we were.

Do you have a Facebook or Instagram question that you want answered? Please leave it in the comments.

Help, I’m Broken

Choices

Some years ago, I walked into a department store looking for that fountain of youth that would help to solve all of my beauty needs. My baby was only a few months old and the oldest was almost 3. You can imagine how the long nights and early days left me feeling sleep deprived and emotionally exhausted. After my second child, physical challenges almost overwhelmed me. My hopes were to recapture the beauty of my younger days and gain the strength I needed to fight.

When I found that throughout the entire store, there was not one concealer that matched my sensitive skin, I broke down in tears. I felt that I lost something important and the raccoon eyes I now sported was a badge of my new reality.  This “Gone With The Wind” moment may have startled the lady helping me. After that, I think she hid every time she saw me coming.

On that day, when no answers were found for a personal need, a shift did take place.  It was my wake up moment and I was  learning an important lesson about myself.  The cliches and slogans only gave me false hopes.  I honestly thought that if I changed my outlook and my outcomes, then a prosperity shift would take place in my life. I really thought you could fake it until you make it, but I now realize that faking confidence is a loosing battle. In the face of fear, you can choose to be courageous but you can not fake confidence and win.

That bokeneness did something for me. It actually gave me freedom to look inside to see the real me.  I received freedom from believing all of those erroneous thoughts and I began a journey of self acceptance.  My eyes were opened to how unhappy I was with myself and the small amount of grace that I gave myself in tough situations. My confidence didn’t just begin to waiver with the new baby, but I struggled with low self esteem before the challenges arose. I didn’t see it because I covered it up with foundation and mascara. Some people cover it with drugs, alcohol or pornography. Either way, the pain I experienced on that day helped me to realize just how broken I was.

It is amazing how God can use ugly situations to bring such freedom. Before I could begin experiencing healing, I had to first recognize I had a problem. My relationships now experience the benefits from the pain felt on that day.  I hope you got some insight on why I say, “embrace the challenge.”

Have you ever experienced a painful situation? Please feel free to share how a painful situation opened your eyes and started you on the road to really living in freedom.

#MomLife

I must be honest, I am still fighting to establish healthy boundaries for my family. All over the network, we hear of the delimas moms are having. Working moms that may feel guilty and stay at home moms that feel judged, but nothing changes the fact that a mom is a mom. It is not about labels, but it is about how we navigate.

Whether you are a Momprenuer, Stay at Home Mom, or a Working Mom, you will need a team. A team that include baby sitters, people who can walk beside the family and people to encourage the mom. Having money to invest in getting the right people in the right position to do the things you don’t do well would help, but not always possible. It takes a village for any mom and with a business it takes a huge village. Nicole Parker, an actress and business owner found the help. Her helper took care of her to make sure that she was eating. Parker then stressed how she took care of the person who helps her by paying her what she asked for. Rewarding because that same person care for her kids and is still with her today.

Allow your family to help. One business lady shared that the kids, her mother, and her in-laws work for the business. In our home, the girls have chores and receive commission with completed tasks. I am learning how to communicate my needs because one person can not be and do all things perfectly.

Resist fear because it paralyzes. You must have the courage to establish healthy boundaries and healthy goals for your family. I use to be afraid of making mistakes and worse of people getting angry with me. Learn to trust yourself again. You’ve made it this far, you must be ok.  Don’t give up on yourself. In your personal life and in business,  resist fear. Parker said that with her, she fought fear with this thought of “She already had the no, so go get the yes.”

In managing stress, you must take the initiative to set healthy boundaries.
Realize what you can and can not do. For example, if you need to get up early, don’t overextend yourself by making obligations that will get you home too late or in bed too late.

Sleep is so important in fighting stress.
Turn off the phone and other media 1 hour before going to bed. The blue light keeps you awake.

Don’t forget to take time to take care of yourself. Ivan Hernandez said something powerful and profound to me. He makes 2 hours for self care every day. That is self care without guilt or apology. That may or may not include going to the gym, but no matter what, he makes sure to get it in. Do you make time for yourself?  Please share with the group how you arrange your schedule to fit self care.

My Real Boss

I once had a job that I dreaded because it was so boring. I prayed to be delivered from that job. I got my answer and it was not what I expected. I read in the Bible that I was to do my work like I was working for the Lord. I knew God was speaking to my heart.

It was a nice place to work and I was glad to have a job. The problem was that I felt a mental restraint. My boss had me filing what they called white stuff. It was a massive pile of papers with very little information written on them and these one liners all had to be filed. Later, they decided that it was unnecessary and threw most of it in the trash. The other employees had the job of filing the serious documents and I was able to join them after the white stuff was eradicated. They really had a bond and whenever the boss was away they would sit around and swap stories. I remember how they laughed and divulged secrets. I rarely joined them because I realized that being accepted by them was not more important than being faithful to my real boss. When our supervisor would return, the group would disperse and look fully committed to the work. I continued filing at the same pace and tried to block out the feeling of nervousness I felt by her presence. I still thought of her as a tough boss.

I was only a freshman in college when I started that job. By my sophomore year, it was apparent that I was different. My faith had grown and my innocence seemed to be preserved. My supervisor seemed to dislike my obscurities and decided to make things more awkward when she gave me lewd lingerie for my birthday. A few chuckles by my colleagues only confused the matter further. I could only conclude that my stand on sexual purity was the talk of the office.

Not much longer, she approached me like she didn’t believe I worked hard enough. I did not try to defend myself, but I honored God by choosing to show nothing but respect. She did not see that I was commitment when she was away. I made sure that I had a consistent pace whether she was around or absent. Integrity is so important and I wasn’t consistent just to make her happy but to make God happy. One morning she decided she was going to push me harder and harder. She pushed until my fingers were bleeding. She looked proud of the accomplishments, but a few days later I was fired.

At the moment she fired me, I was very upset.  I was going to confront her, so I got dressed and headed out, but I stopped myself at the bottom of the steps.  My original thoughts were to bust into that office and challenge them…crazy right. But I stopped myself at the bottom of the steps.  I sat on the steps at my dorm and began to melt. I spoke to God saying “I did what you said and I honored you in my work. How could this happen?”

That broken state I was in only lasted a moment because at that very moment something miraculous happened. My dorm director walked up to me and said, “I need help around here, could you work for me?” I had not spoken with anyone about the conversation I just had with my supervisor.   I knew it was my real boss that sent her. Immediately, I accepted her offer. God was faithful and I was glad that I trusted Him while working in a tough position. He turned things around. That new job was gift the best  because it was one of the best jobs that I ever had.

Have your plans ever clashed with an employer’s? How do you work through difficult situation?

Using A Planner

I’m not an organization expert or planner guru. This is not an advertisement. This is for people who are looking for wisdom regarding planning.

Planning is for the wise and the strong. It is also for the weak and faint at heart. In grade school, I had problems focusing. After almost an entire year of fun and games from the back of the class, the teacher finally contacted my mother to tell her of our failure. It was a failure to complete assignments, a failure to determine how much I had grown, and a failure to succeed in making me third grade ready. She could not allow me to ascend to the next level if I was not proficient in the basics. That year I made an amazing discovery and realized that I was easily distracted. It was a wake up call and I understood all that I could loose if I did not focus. Planning is my way of making sure I’m remaining focus.

When I pull out my planner, I think about the appointments I have during the week. I then think about my goals for the week. Do I have any assignments due? Am I responsible for organizing an event or gathering (small or large)? These are things I must think about when sitting to plan. Just a side note, I am a bit “extra” when it comes to planning. I am beginning to break almost every task down into smaller steps. This helps me to evaluate how much I can realistically accomplish in a certain amount of time. For example, if I need to make a phone call, I need to place the number beside the task listed. If I do not have the number, then a phone call is placed on the “to do” list and I leave space for finding the number. It becomes a two part action.

Although time is like money, never forget people first before things. Planning is only a tool.  With that in mind, using my planner helps me to appreciate how my time is being used. I can even celebrate small failures. What others may call wasting, I call investing. For example, if I spend four hours on the phone with my sister for her birthday, then I am making an investment in her and our relationship. I can look at my huge “to do” list and reflect on how she is more important than all of those items combined. Although time is like money, love should always be first.

Living Well

Traveling Well

First, I can only accomplish living well and traveling well with prayer. I can not take credit for the favor that my family received on these trips but I can share the process. In fact, this summer we took a short family vacation. It was a small getaway of four days and four nights to Pittsburgh, PA., “Home of the Steelers”. Nice people by the way. We had so much fun bonding and catching one adventure after the next. This was truly an adventure full of grace.

Secondly, to travel well, we must refer to our foundational principles for positive posture, we definitely will need to have clear goals. Without established goals, you can get lost. Many people get lost in “chasing” the best deal and forgetting all that glitter is NOT gold. This applies to all things in life, not just traveling. Once you have outlined the things that will make your trip comfortable, you begin to realize that the best deal is not just about money. It is about how things align with the experience you are trying to create. This recent trip to Pittsburgh was an idea that originated from my husband’s desire to attend a Steelers game with our six year old daughter. My nine year old, a Redskins fan, and I only planned to tag along to just getaway. I think of this short trip as a bucket list item for my husband. He wanted to be downtown in walking distance to everything. He added that he wanted to expose the girls to nice things, so he wanted to stay in the best hotel in Pittsburgh. As a budget savvy Mommy, I do NOT mind. I just need clear goals so that I can look for the coupon for it. And even if it does not go as planned, at least you have a strategy or game plan to serve as your default.

The third step, you must have a good attitude in order to travel well. Earlier I mentioned that plans may not go as planned, but the right attitude will help you to feel that it is part of the adventure we call life. Every challenge carries with it an opportunity, but most of the time you can not see it until the hard part passes. To smile in the heat of adversity is almost like you are standing and seeking the face of God.

Finally, make sure you have tip money. It is better to give than to receive. Tipping reflects on you. It relates a message that says “you believe in adding to the quality of life for others”. Inadvertently you add to your trip by showing appreciation for others. This also helps you to fight the temptations of filling your trip with empty pleasures, missing the purpose of any trip. I see a trip as taking a date with yourself, and part of being good to yourself is being good to others. It is a time to reconnect with yourself and those you love. Sometimes we can loose touch with what matters in our day to day. Most trips remind us that the world is bigger than just what we see every day. I hope this helps you to reboot.

Peaceful travels