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.

play it safe for once.

Do I give up the challenge and go for an easy way out? Do I lean towards something that provides security and a safety net? Do I follow the path where there’s a plan already laid out for me, or do I continue on the path of the unknown?

I’m in another unique point in my life where I’m at the fork in the road.  One path looks clear, simple and safe while the other is covered with webs and looks too treacherous to step towards.  I can continue to push myself and walk through this unknown territory, weaving my way through a complex web of uncertainty or take the easy way out, so to speak.

So I ask myself, what do I need right now?  Stability, income, routine, structure. The idea of knowing what’s important and needed immediately can help with my next step towards progress. Going over the edge without a clear idea of what’s needed in the present moment can be destructive to obtaining a goal.  It sometimes feels like I’m falling and am trying to grab on to whatever feels right and looks good at the time, but once I grab on, it’s still not pulling me up to safety.

Of course the more I lean in towards a challenge, the more I grow and learn about myself.  There are a million (didn’t count) quotes and articles on this very topic of living out of your comfort zone and lately, I’ve been hesitant to play it safe.  It’s fun not to conform, to dance on the edge a bit, but maybe at this point in time I just need to go back to what’s familiar.  To regroup, recharge and get back in the flow of things.  Maybe instead of constantly throwing myself over this cliff, it’s time to just hang out right alongside the rim…to be safe (for now).

face your challenges.

“You are the fearless.”

These were the first few words Edith said to the class. Then followed up with “I must’ve scared everyone else off last week.” Some people laughed while I immediately got tense amidst the sweltering 90+ degree room thinking what the hell happened last week?

I really didn’t have an idea what I signed up for. I just knew it was a hot yoga 1.5 hour session.  The style? No clue. The teacher? Didn’t even glance.

Sometimes I don’t like to prep myself up for a workout.  I rarely look to see what a WOD is posted, going in with the intention to adapt to whatever I’ll be in store for.  This class was no different.

The room wasn’t that packed, maybe 15 people at the most; a few guys, majority women.  Maybe the rest of the room knew what was about to happen? I still had no clue.

After lying in shavasana for about five minutes, she turns up her iPod to a mix of energetic, yet ambient music that immediately sets the tone for the rest of the 85-minute class. The sounds of heavy, but steady breathing complimented the intensity of the music, and it was invigorating.

We went through a series of chaturanga into upward and downward dogs, leaping to the front of the mat going into swan dives and repeating this cycle – all to the pace of the powerful music.

She gave us a break once we’ve all got the flow of the movements down, to challenge us into leaping properly, and falling into chaturanga skipping the plank.

These breaks in between each set of cycles challenged us further.  To make that first leap, to hold that pose for 5 more breaths, to ripping off the band-aid so to speak, and performing (and holding) the wheel pose for about 8 deep breaths. Three times.  She pushed all of us to go after each thought of “I don’t think I can do/hold this pose” and helped us improve.  With her help, I did my first handstand and held it for two seconds.  Maybe it was three. [Cues Aubrey Graham: “When’s the last time you did something for the very first time?”]

Today marks exactly one year since I’ve started publishing (most of) what I write.  Reflecting on my first post, I can say that I’ve made some life-changing decisions and have continued to be up for a challenge.  Whether it’s been self-imposed or brought on by a coach, make that leap towards it.  The result, for me at least, has been a feeling of openness, accomplishment and just being bad-ass.  And yes, being fearless too.

infinite possibilites.

I first heard of Ish during my second full week of living in NYC.  I remember this day vividly.  I was still in flux with where I was going to stay for the next few months, I was going on maybe two-full hours of sleep and had recently just started a new job.  By 5’oclock when I came back to what was my temporary home in Chelsea, the first thing I did was chug grab a glass of wine.  It was one of those days.

Scrolling through Facebook, I came across a spoken-word/poetry event being hosted by Greenlight Bookstore – which ranks as one of my favorite bookstores I’ve been to.  The event was starting in an hour so I rushed to get dressed and pretty much ran to the train so I could get there on time.

The front of the store was converted to fit about 30 people seated in folding chairs, while others could stand behind.  I was lucky enough to find a seat in the third row, surrounded by people of all ages and races. I can’t remember the order of poets/authors who spoke, but each one was incredibly remarkable.  They picked out their favorite stories to share and illustrating their thoughts in our minds as they spoke aloud.

Ishmael’s stories resonated with me the most.  Spinning off of an emotional week, let alone day, this is exactly what I needed to here at the time.  Now seven months later, I came across a poem in his book titled “Tramontane” which illustrates the correlation of fear and the depths of our feelings.

“Wonders as to why the highest altitude gives us the most butterflies. Why the kiss one will cherish most lies in the zenith of a ferris wheel.” – Ishmael “Ish” Islam (Tramontane)

To do the scariest and what seem to be impossible projects end up being the ones you cherish the most.  It’s by navigating the depths of self that open the window to infinite possibilities.