i don’t have the answers.

I [think I] started a movement.

Well… here we are.

Ever since I’ve “escaped” the norm – I’ve been trying so hard to avoid it.

It = Corporate life.

People who’ve left their comfortable jobs have gravitated towards me for guidance – even if they haven’t directly asked me for it.

I take it it’s because I’ve experienced a pinch of what it’s like – I’ve tasted and felt what it’s like to take the leap; and for some people, having a blueprint to follow helps.

However, this is my own route. I’ve created the path for me. It’s time for you to create your own rules. What works (or didn’t) work for me, may or may not work for you.

Navigate with your gut, your feelings and pay attention to what feels good.

In any given situation, don’t allow fear or failure to deter your focus. Use them as a guideline to restructure your outlook.

choose to win.

What do I want to say?

This is the first question I always ask myself before I even begin writing.  I read some blogs from my favorite people, listen to some music, take notes, highlight quotes from my favorite books – all in hope to get some inspiration to just start.

I get these urges when I know I have a lot I want to write, yet nothing ever comes out as clear as I’d like it to be – or at least coherent for those of you reading this.

The hardest part is always starting.  Always.

So, what do I want to say?

Life is a big beautiful mess. Everyone is going through it, and there’s no way to go around it or avoid it.

Going through emails, I came across one from Rog on choosing not to fail or choosing to win.  They both mean the same thing, but it’s how you’re perceiving and initiating your choices that make the outlook brighter, and more manageable.

Everyone fails at something in life.  It’s a guaranteed part of being human.  However, mentally preparing yourself for failure won’t get you anywhere.  Feelings of being stuck, or depressed, or unsure-of-what-to-do-next-so-you-don’t-do-anything aren’t pathways that lead to success. Changing your mentality of being capable of actually winning at whatever it is you want to achieve vs. thinking it’s absolutely impossible leads to action.

Asking for help doesn’t hurt the process either. I’ve learned over the course of the years that some of my best ideas, efforts and successes come from being in the trenches – and using my resources to help get me out.

Understanding the depths of each situation and how it makes me feel allows me to move upwards and be proactive in my decisions – in a positive fashion.  Failure is inevitable.  Reaching for the top is a choice; and it’s risky, scary and everything in between – and without a doubt, worth it.

 

This post is brought to you by:
Shiraz (I keep it classy)
Sade – Fear
Dustin’s Music 

thought process.

I’ve been here before. The feelings of frustration, endless list of tasks that need to be done, uncertainty of what’s ahead, the bad habit of self-doubting. There’s a fine line between deciding when to escape and when to dig in. I’ve learned that before I make a decision, I have to find the answer to why I’m feeling this way in the first place.

Diving into Pam Slim’s latest book, I came across a quote that instantly gave me some clarity.

“If you can’t change your circumstances, you need to change the way you think about the circumstance.”

Analyzing too much and not actually doing anything to rectify my feelings or the situation I place myself in situations that always leads me to feel stuck. More often than not, it’s rooted in the way I perceive situations or think of what may or may not happen.

Outlining what I’ve done, what I want to accomplish and what I haven’t tried yet – that just might work – aids in my decision to dig a bit further instead of giving up or escaping what’s difficult.

one step at a time.

Spreading myself too thin can be disastrous.  More often than not, I do feel like I am superwoman – daily consumption of coffee (no sugar no cream) & avocados help – but I have learned over and over again, that I cannot do it all.

This has been magnified ever since I took ownership in leading and managing a women’s health facility, that has had its share of change over the past few years.

Within my first month of the new position, I encountered what I thought was every worst-case scenario that can happen.  Reminder: I had only been with the company two full-months prior and was still on a massive learning curve of understanding each aspect of the business.

On top of what a general manager is supposed to do on a daily basis, I was traveling – almost every other weekend – because it’s wedding season. Which come to find out is year long. #blessed :) This prevented me from being fully immersed in my job initially, and I often felt guilty for not being there for my staff, because I know they needed and wanted guidance.

Things fell apart because there wasn’t a leader.  I was reacting vs. leading and trying to play catch up at the same time.

Not to say things have slowed down in the least bit, but I have a better grip on this role.  Over the course of three months, I’ve managed to say ‘no’ to a lot more things to allow myself time for things that actually matter: managing and rebuilding my staff.

This stage that I’m in now reminds me of my very first year as a sales coordinator of the HEAT. I’m 90% sure no one knew entirely what the department would look like.  However, we knew where we wanted to be, we had a plan to get there, we had the pieces to make it happen – and a dedicated leader to tie everything together. We created better habits through constant communication of ideas & best practices, we held team-building events to know each other better, and practiced the hard stuff.  The kind of stuff you hate doing, but know you have to do it (re: make X amount of calls a day, role playing, calling that client that you know owes you money but can never get a hold of, cleaning out your inbox).

It’s through my experience of going through the hard times that has helped me handle these worst-case scenarios a lot better than I would have a few years ago. I’ve created enough good habits to outweigh the bad ones, to keep me motivated and driven to make sh*t happen.

Yes, the process can feel overwhelming.  Yes, it does sometimes suck. But I know for a fact that if I dwell in all of the aspects that make me feel overwhelmed, I will never accomplish anything, nor will my team.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned so far in this role, it’s patience.  [Hard] work involves both a commitment of faith and time.

food for thought.

I saw her in a dream.

I woke up with my heart beating just as fast as if I had just finished a 100m dash sprint.

I saw her standing at the top of the stairs, in a red long cardigan, something she wore often. I don’t remember what she said, but I remember smiling soon afterwards.

Tears are coming down my face as I write this, trying to type as fast as I can while remembering the details.

I want to close my eyes and continue this dream. The images are already fading, but I remember her. I miss her. Her touch, her smell, the way she held me tight. I miss her so much.

I write to remember. To never ever forget. To never hold back on things I should’ve said. To release. To feel. To share and give.

I woke up with tears coming down my face. With a smile. I’m writing to remember that it’s okay to feel.

This post was originally written on 11/21/13 after a nap in between shifts.  It’s dedicated to my maternal grandmother, Nelly Mercier Rigaud, who passed from Alzheimer’s on 11/21/01. 

I spent this weekend watching food documentaries on Netflix: Forks Over Knives which I’ve watched multiple times already, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and a couple “Chew On This” TED talks.  I’ve already pretty much accepted the fact that processed foods are not-so-slowly killing us, and I also contemplated that this might have been the trigger to my grandmother’s disease.

I remember a few years ago my father telling me stories on how he never knew of cancer causing illnesses as he was studying medicine while in Haiti.  A country where the majority of the food was natural, there wasn’t a specific labeling of “organic” because, well, everything that people consumed came from the ground or animals that weren’t fed junk. It wasn’t until he did his residency in the U.S. that cancer and other diseases like Alzheimer’s were beginning to pop up in his studies and practice.  Putting these two places and situations in context, it doesn’t take a scientist or a genius to figure out that eating clean/non-processed foods will probably help to prevent these autoimmune diseases.

Just some food for thought.

on trends.

This post isn’t about fashion, or about gluten-free recipes or 33 ways buzzfeed reads your mind. It’s not about fitting in to be cool or keep up with everyone else.

This post is about a trend that isn’t technically what’s hot in the streets.

Being a fitness trainer/consultant/life-coach/mentor/shoulder-to-cry-on/friend, I hear a ton of stories about why the person sitting in front of me wants to change their lifestyle.  I help them uncover a deeper meaning to why they’re having these hour+ long conversations with me, and shed some light on what I recommend for them.

As I’m consulting more, there is a commonality among those I meet. While in NYC, the majority of those I coached wanted to stay fit – meaning, being able to keep up with their kids, stay on track with their sport-specific training (see: marathons) and get clarity so they could focus more on their actual work.  Some common goals: stabilize ankles, improve posture, relieve lower back pain, have energy, get ripped. Done (for the most part).

In Baltimore, there’s a deeper lining and factor that comes into play.  It’s the actual medical reasons why people are stepping into the gym – to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, control blood sugar (see: get off meds). No one wants to be pill popping for the rest of his or her life.  Granted, these health issues could come from genetics, but they’re not concerned about stabilizing their core so they can run better.  Their main goal is to get a good report from their doc each time they visit.  Or, in some extreme amazing cases, pay a lower insurance rate if they are within certain criteria: weight, inches off waist, normal cholesterol levels, etc.

I often think of my own family and health related issues that they have/had and how I could be in a similar position with those I speak to.  It’s a tough pill to swallow (pun not intended, really) to hear stories from women my age (29) or even younger with serious health issues like diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol – some with clean/healthy family histories – and know that it’s probably due to poor nutrition and little exercise.  [Side note: yes, there are a hundred of other factors that could also contribute to these health problems , but lets just all agree that eating clean and exercising consistently could prevent a lot of issues later down the road].

The bottom line is that when someone walks into a gym/fitness center/box, they know that they want to get (or stay) fit.  If there’s anything that I could be 100% certain on, it’s that being proactive in having a healthy lifestyle will always be trending.

Foods to Help Lower Cholesterol Naturally

Do you have high cholesterol? Are you having a tough time figuring out what to eat? Not sure where to begin when you walk into the grocery store?

If so, here are some tips for you :)

Genes and gender play a role that can contribute to the development of heart disease or stroke.  However, what we eat (and how often we exercise) plays an important factor as well.

We can control what we eat.

–        Avoid fatty cuts of beef, pork & lamb.  Choose lean meats, or substitute with fish or skinless white-meat poultry. I recommend grass fed or organic meats.

–        Stick to fresh and locally grown produce

–        Shop on the perimeter of your local grocery store

–        Avoid processed foods / food packaged in boxes or cans

Focus on eating food with a low glycemic index, those that are high in fiber and are omega-3 rich.

Foods with low a glycemic index:
– Granny Smith apples
– Bananas (the greener they are, the lower the glycemic index)
– Eggs (preferably cage free)
– Lentils
– Yogurt (plain)
– Nuts & seeds

Foods that are high in fiber:
- Carrots
– Beets
– Broccoli
– Spinach
– Sweet potatoes
– Beans (lima, garbanzo, kidney)
– Brown rice

Foods that are rich in omega-3s:
- Salmon
– Walnuts
– Flax seeds
– Kale
– Strawberries

Sources:

Harvard Health Publications “Glycemic Index and Glycemic load for 100+ foods” http://hvrd.me/1bzdcj6

Dr. Mark Hyman, MD | “7 Tips to Fix Your Cholesterol Without Medication” http://huff.to/1bzdF4Y

a shift in outlook.

A lot has happened since I last published something on here.

The irony of my current situation is that my last post was about being organized, and now I’m struggling to find time to dedicate to writing.

I did notice this void over the past couple weeks, and was also reminded to continue (or start) to write despite whatever else is going on in my world.

This is in part to starting a new job, investing [insert percentage that hasn’t been calculated, but it’s probably high] my time into others and prioritizing projects that not only help in my personal development, but also are beneficial to those around me.

Such is life I guess.  A constant search for balance (I blame my sign); figuring out what’s most important, all while remaining present and relevant.

So, with that said, there’s been a shift in my mentality recently. I’ll be completely candid and say that I was struggling to adjust to life outside of NYC a few months ago. I kept denying the fact that this is where I’m supposed to be, I was looking for ways out and caught myself in a state of depression, anxiety and fear.  I selectively chose to depart from things that weren’t fulfilling me anymore so I could fully grasp and take in what is meant for me at this present time.  The moment I clicked out of this mindset and state of denial, I noticed everything and everyone around me a little bit clearer.

I have a job that’s more in-line with my career path – something that enables me to be creative, test and implement ideas, inspire and challenge others to do the same. I have an immeasurable amount of support from my family and I’ve rekindled a friendship that has fired up my life.

Instead of denying or questioning why I’m in this current situation, I’m finally okay with things just the way they are. Where I am now is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Life in suburbia ain’t so bad.

get organized.

Organization….saved my life.

So did hip-hop. And CrossFit. True stories, I might tell you later.

But back to organizing.

For the past two months or so, I’ve been cooped up on the couch, sofa, bed, floor….with my Mac, journals, notes, books, magazines and dozens of articles spread out across whatever surface was surrounding me.

There is a perfectly situated desk in my house with pens, and space and other fun things that distract you from doing work, yet I never really contemplated taking over this space because well, there was just stuff piled up from years of neglect.  Stuff as in, 3.5” floppy disks from the early 90s, tokens from Chuck E. Cheese and Discovery Zone (I wanna go back), and “The New American Bible” which was published in 1991.

I finally decided that today was time to get rid of all this junk and make space for my work.  I’m most productive when I feel that I’m organized and have a designated spot to focus on what needs to be done, versus doing it where I sleep/eat/nap… you get the gist.

So as I cleared up the space, reminisced on my pre-teen years of entering commands in MS-DOS and partying at DZ, I made room for clarity.

Just within the hour I’ve focused on what needs to get done immediately. I have my vision board (almost) set up on the wall next to the desk [IKEA tends to forget to let you know that you need to purchase screws to mount things] and I have a better idea of how to structure each piece that’s needed for me to succeed.

I’m a visual learner and work best when 1. I’m organized and 2. I can actually see what needs to be done by laying/writing out everything.

I have everything that I need to succeed…an organized desk (and comfy chair) help too.

reflections on the road to authenticity.

I shouldn’t have waited this long to write.

63 days ago, I started a challenge (for myself) to write at least 300 words (and publish) every day up until October 6th.  That didn’t quite happen.  I ended up publishing 38 days out of this experiment. This was a tough assignment I gave myself as it was harder than I thought it would be.  There were days where the last thing I wanted to do was write, I made excuses not to publish and put too much pressure on myself to get something out knowing that it wouldn’t be a piece of significance.  However, I’ve learned quite a few things along the way:

  1. Nobody cares how often I write (and it’s okay)
  2. Those who do care want me to continue writing

So, I write for them – which in turn – is also for me.  14,050 words later, I realize that these posts have been a reflection of my road to authenticity. To knowing my true self, which is simultaneously painful and delightful.

For me, the process of expressing my thoughts on here has been the outcome of these feelings.  Who I am is the perfect combination of these sentiments. No one will know the pains and joys I felt that helped inspire a particular post, but as a result, I’ve been exposed more than ever and somehow my stories have resonated with at least one person.

I’ve written the most on a consistent basis in these past six weeks. The stroke of the keys flow much smoother each time I write.  I pay attention to everything I come across that day which in turn influences my story and journey.  I’ve been exposed to beautiful music that facilitates my thought process and gives me clarity to compose a story in a way that reflects my experience in the simplest way.

I’m satisfied with my progress, but I also know there’s room for improvement, and the only way that’s possible is to keep writing.