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10 Things I “Accomplished” In 2012

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At this time of the year, I start making promises I know I won’t keep for the coming year. All the things I failed to accomplish during the current year, I pile up into a nice little list and hope that this time, I’ll actually follow through on all my resolutions.
I’m not saying I wont do it…in fact, I’m looking forward to doing it. I cant help myself. There’s something about writing down my hopes for the next 12 coming months that gets me just a little bit excited. That’s partly because I know I have the power to manifest everything on that list. I can immediately start putting several things in place to get on track to achieving those goals.

Like most fellow resolution makers, however, follow-thru is where I fall flat. Either life gets in the way or I lose interest entirely, which I think says more about my lack of real desire than it does my inability to finish.

If you want something bad enough, you’ll do anything to get it. I hate the feeling of disappointment I feel at the end of the year when I look back at that list and can only cross off one or two things. So this year, I think I’m going to do something different.

Rather than focus on what I wish to accomplish the next year in 2013, I think I’ll reflect on the things I have accomplished for current year. I think it will be a far better motivator than the previous method. We’ll have to see. In light of this new strategy, here are 10 things I have accomplished in 2012.

1. Transitioned from an Entrepreneur to a business owner.

It took some time for me to understand that there’s a difference between working for yourself and having a business. Working for yourself can sometimes be worst than working for an employer.

I know a couple who started a Dental practice and can’t understand for the life of them why they’re not sipping Piña Coladas in Mexico for most of the year. They weren’t willing to take a lifestyle hit early on in order for bigger gains in the future. As a result, their clients own their time and they’ve been cutting their way to profit.

If I didn’t fail big from my first business venture, this basic concept would have eluded me to this day. It’s a game changer and the benefits are already showing.

2. Increased the amount of quality time I spend with my kids.

I’ve had the privalege of working from home. My kids don’t go to daycare so you’d think there’d be plenty of time for rolling around in the grass. Not so.

I spend half my day strategizing, another good portion actually putting in work and then I want to veg. As I write this, my 3 year old is pushing his little sister out of a toy car he can no longer fit in and I’m feeling a little guilty about not engaging with them.

Then I start to think maybe I’m depriving them of fun they could be having at a day care . Perhaps the play ground isn’t enough.

I’d definitely have more time if I shipped them off for a couple of hours everyday, but they have so much fun at home as well.

My biggest failure has been with letting the television do the baby sitting. No tv means the need for increased activity and engagement. Since I’m not comfortable with day care and I don’t want Mickey Mouse doing all of the teaching, I had to step up the QT. They’re happier lot for it and I don’t feel as guilty.

Ive been able to teach my son some phonics and now he can sound out and actually read (not memorize) basic words at only 3 years old. He’s also learning to add as well. He in turn teaches his little sister. Surely, I should earn a mommy badge for that!

3. Started my healthy lifestyle journey.

Most importantly, I learned to love working out. It sort of just clicked for me.

Having been skinny for over half my life, I started putting on weight faster than I was shedding. I’ve been a carboholic and didn’t even realize it.

I hate diets however, and refuse to do it. My obsession with bread, rice and sweets always got the best of me though. Working out without eating right is like throwing good money after bad. Foolish. The key was changing my lifestyle.

Tim Ferris’s 4 Hour body is sort of genius and I can’t ever eat the way I did before. Even when I fall off the wagon, I simply get back on. My journey to health is not a race…more like a marathon. I’ll get there on my time.

4. Learned to meditate.

I never got the point of meditation, but so many of my ‘virtual’ mentors indulged in the practice that I couldn’t ignore it.

It seemed almost impossible to clear my mind for more than 15 seconds. Try doing this with two sleep deprived, hungry, clingy kids. Even when its quiet, so much stuff goes on in there, I found it nearly impossible to shut off my mind.

Practice does make perfect. In two weeks, I was able to shut off crying, phones ringing, and random crazy thoughts…and I stopped falling asleep too. I started with 10 minutes and now working towards 20. Meditation makes me feel good.

5. Wrote a book.

A real book, with data and facts. It is called relationshipDNA , Why You Love the Way You Do and I slapped it on Kindle. So now I can call myself, an Author!

Riding on this accomplishment, I’ve started 3 of 5 novels I’ve wanted to write since…like-forever! It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever imposed on myself, but I’m so glad I did it.

6. I stopped writing story lines.

Question mark right? This one is really about the realization that people thought less about me than I previously imagined. I learned that perceived slights are mostly my perception.

This was important because I constantly got my feelings hurt, which many times caused more issues and problems for me than necessary.

The point is, I no longer harbor resentments or stay angry with people. This has has done several things for me.

1. I’m no longer driven by what people think of me.
2. My self worth doesn’t take as many hits as it used to…
3. I stay in line with what matters to me.

One of the biggest paradigm shifts I’ve had in my life. Thanks Tony!

7. Made it through another year without having to work for the man.

Shutting down our only source of income before getting our new business off the ground was probably a mistake we wouldn’t make again, but flying without a net had its advantages. It has been sh*t my pants scary sometimes, but we’be gone through another 360 something days without lending an employer my time for pennies.

8. Got rid of the last few crabs in my bucket.

And then I got rid of the bucket altogether. I didn’t realize just how small my world actually was. Ignorance is a bitch, if you desire more out of life than what you were given. The minute you try to reach for something better, something more, you’re reminded at every waking moment that you don’t have the right to want for more.

‘Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Just stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.’

Well, that’s just not gonna work for me. Anyone who clashes with this crazy, big dreamer is directed to the exit. Come back and visit when you get some hootspa.

9. Made Family a Priority

Ever since my brother passed earlier this year, I realize just how fleeting life really is. I didn’t get to say good bye to him, but I think I was okay with that because I spoke to him two days before his life was snuffed out of him.

It wasn’t a great conversation, but he wasn’t in the greatest state of mind. I’m just glad I have some of his messages. They all go something like this.

‘Hey sis. Everything good? Tell mom to call me. Love you.’

I have those only because we communicated often. I listen to one every week. Lesson learned. As a result, I try to communicate with my mom at least every other day and I’m also trying to be a better older sister to the only brother I have left.

10. Figured out what I “really” want for my life.

I used to say I wanted to drive a certain type of car, and wear this brand of clothing, all the superficial crap we want to make our lives seem significant in some way.

Now I say things like, I’d like to travel, by my mom the house she’s always wanted and run a crazy marathon.

I don’t want things…I want a rich life. It’s taken about 30 years to get to this point, and I can honestly say the journey was well worth it.

Everything I do now has to have some kind of point and meaning to it or it won’t get done. This year has been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs and I’m so glad the new year, 2013 will be starting off in a kick ass way.

My theme for 2013: Carpe Diem.
What yours? And what have you accomplished for 2012?

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Why I Love To Love Christmas

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I was raised as a Seventh day Adventist and one of the first things I learned in church was that all things that seemed remotely fun was totally off limits to me, especially Christmas. I learned it was just another pagan Holiday that claims to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ when it really celebrates the sun god, which is just about as blasphemous as blasphemes go. None of that ever mattered to me though. All I ever saw was how spectacularly awesome my neighbors tacky inflatable decorations were. Christmas trees lit up living rooms and all those presents were just sitting underneath beautifully wrapped and waiting to be ripped open on Christmas morning.

I was never allowed to believe in Santa Clause, which I actually don’t regret. One less fictional character I wasn’t tricked into pinning all of my hopes on. Still, I wanted to believe in Santa, not because of what he did for a living, but rather, what he represented. A big, fat, happy guy who left his house once a year to drop off gifts and eat all the cookies he could stuff in between his rosey cheeks. That must be the life. An entrepreneur of sorts, spending his time clearly doing what he loves; but I digress.

For me, all I could see was deprivation in my parents’ chosen faith. Hypocrisy was alive and well and I was a little okay with it. It was the weak points that allowed for a little fun and sanity to slip in. The same organization that preached against the observance of the sacreligious pagan Holiday would allow the exchange of gifts within the church. They just didn’t say Merry Christmas. Talk about confusing, but I get it. It seems kind of cruel when I think about it, depriving a child of Christmas, whether you like its origins or not, but then I’m not a guardian of tradition. I’ve always had a habit of challenging what “is” and has “always been”. I drove the Sabbath school teacher nuts with my annoying, “we’ll that’s rediculous!” questions, that somehow always remained unanswered.

It doesn’t matter now. I have been free from its rigid rules and ideals now for years and with that freedom comes the ability to enjoy things like Christmas. Not because I celebrate what many consider to be mankind’s savior day of birth, but because it’s the one time mankind seems to slow down. That permits us think about others and at least for the most part, promotes civility and happiness to the fellow man…and wo-man. It is the one time of year most people “want” to be nice to each other.

I live in Miami, so there’s hardly a change in the weather, but I love my hot cocoa and enjoy snow through my favorite Christmas movies.

I love the idea that production at work runs at its lowest with workers doing their holiday shopping online during company time, and attending Holiday office parties become part of the job.

And I absolutely love the music…all of it, classic, blues, jazz standards, r&b, it doesn’t matter. I can listen to all of it, all day long. Something about the words and sentiments just sets my mood permanently to “comfy and cozy.” It is absolutely the hap-happiest season of all, and I find always too short.

Forgive me if I sound a little cliche, but spending time with family and those I’ve learned to tolerate is by far the best part of it all. My family is like watching one huge comedy sitcom, never a dull moment so I definitely look forward to it.

The gifts, I really don’t care about. No, really, I’m not lying. This is probably because in my history of receiving gifts from all kinds of well meaning souls, I have never walked away thinking…God, this was perfect! Or…this was just what I wanted!! I can tell you that I have been able to do that for someone else and every year, people pray that I pull them out of the secret Santa hat. I’d rather buy one awesome gift I know someone will absolutely love, than pass around $10 crap to a hundred different people, who really don’t need anything. This year in fact, I plan to give to several people I know can’t give back. I personally don’t need anything. I’m living a life of abundance and trying to free myself of taking in people as well as things that don’t serve to make me a better version of myself…so please, keep your fruit cake, the crazy sweaters and dollar store gifts to yourself.
Christmas is all I need.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa!


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A DOSE OF AUDICITY

Dreamer

I often wonder, at what age does being a big dreamer suddenly make you start looking foolish? I’m talking about the kinds of dreams that seem foolish only because we have absolutely no idea how difficult or improbable it might be to actually achieve.

At five years old, those kinds of dreams are applauded, teachers encourage it, parents find it cute. Want to be President of the united states? Why not! Most of them don’t know what they’re doing anyway! Maybe you’ll figure it out! Want to be the first man to walk on Mars? It’ll happen one day, you can be first! Being a prima ballerina, Hollywood actor or a famous singer, all possible; if you can dream it you can do it!

The world is your oyster…

Live out loud…

Carpe Diem!!!

Of course, achieving the perverbial dream, whatever it may be, isn’t always such an easy feat for everyone. Life doesn’t necessarily deal us all a fair hand, does it? For many of us, achieving our dreams, even if not impossible, can be highly improbable, if only because we don’t have the support, foundation or pedigree to make it an immediate possibility. That’s the “reality”. Some of us are dealt winning hands from the start, some of us start out with good enough and there are some of us who are dealt a handful of crap.  Despite this reality, time and time again, we see that drive, dedication and determination can act as the great equalizer. The only thing that is truly standing between you and that dream is a little dose of audicity.

The fact remains that we are allowed a little bit more slack when it comes to aspiring for what I consider, true happiness while we reside in the space of blissful childlike ignorance. I wonder, at what age does it stop being cute to be a dreamer? What invisible threshold do we cross during the course of our lives that suddenly requires us to start being ‘realistic’ about our desires?

I have my theories on this incredibly sad phenomenon. I believe it happens during those middle school years where you’re no longer quite a baby, but still not quite a full blown teenager. That’s the period in which your natural abilities and strengths start developing. If your education is left at the mercy of the public school system, or even at some private institutions, whether you had a chance at making something of yourself depended and still depends on your teacher; not necessarily based on their teaching effectiveness, but on whether or not you liked them. See, we learn best from the teachers we actually like.

Parents, teachers, and guidance counselors alike hold a lot of influence. Some of us grew up seeing more of our teachers than we saw our own parents, which gave them some power over the trajectory of our lives. I had a natural talent for writing. I can remember my 6th grade English teacher promenading me down the hall to the class next door so I could read the scary story I wrote. Then I was asked (forced really) to read it in front of a stadium full of bored kids as one of the scary story contest  winners. Then there was my Advanced Placement 12th grade English teacher who entered me into a writing contest without my knowledge. She thought my writing  was that good.

My mother tells me, I wrote so much as a child, that I wrote on the walls and in books. She bought me a second hand type writer to focus my energies there. I wrote short stories, poetry, wrote awesome research papers and book reports, yet no one, not one teacher who loved my writing ability and not even my mother ever considered suggesting that I become a writer. In all fairness I’m not sure how many teachers would suggest someone become a writer. They may as well suggest I become an artist…or president!! It’s lofty, especially for a black girl living in the ghetto, and success happens for only a lucky few.

I ended up going into fashion instead (yah, that was more realistic). I just wanted to do something creative with my life. I was great at drawing and I didn’t have any dreams of being the next Chanel, but I certainly wanted to something I loved. I worked as an assistant designer right out of school designing maternity wear and then swimwear. I wanted to open a boutique and carry my own designs. That would have made me happy. My mother was supportive.  She’d help me put together a couple of fashion shows and I sold a couple of pieces, like a real fashion designer!

After that, for six years I got paid to dress mannequins in fashionable, expensive clothing as a Visual Merchandiser for department stores.  I got to paint murals and set up displays that literally affected your buying habits.  I had great bosses, mostly, and with the characters I worked with, there was never a dull day (except when there was nothing to do).  It was awesome. By choice, I have never held another “job” since.  I’ll explain why.

When I left my job as a Visual Merchandiser, it was to take over his parent’s family business, an Assisted Living Facility, which I absolutely hated. We both hated it. It was not a business we would have built for ourselves and the daily problems that sprung up kept our stress level on high. We decided to sell it because it was simply too taxing. We couldn’t see ourselves holding on to it despite the financial security it gave us. A few good things came out of that experience, however. You can always learn something even from the worst experiences and we learned three important things that changed our lives forever. One, that we wanted to create a business we love, two, self-employment is worst than employment and three, the road to financial “freedom” will never be achieved if you don’t take the risk to go for it despite the possibility of failure.

Our parents thought we were crazy, and maybe we are.  The problem is, my husband and I are dreamers.  After floating around listlessly for five years from major to major in college, my husband suddenly decided he wanted to pursue his life long dream and become a lawyer. He was accused of being lazy, suggesting that he was taking this route because he didn’t want to work and was advised to go get a job. It was probably a lack of faith and fear of his abilities to actually do it, but he ignored the negative counsel. He knew it was now or never for him. Three years from making his decision to pursue it, he graduated with a law degree.

We wanted more, and not a situation where we were simply creating jobs for ourselves. Today we have a dream, and people think we’re crazy for it. Good enough, simply isn’t good enough. We’ve decided we want to live extraordinary lives and for us that means living on our time, doing what we want, when we want to do it. I want to write for a living and ultimately, he wants to be an investor and that is exactly what we’re gonna’ do!

We know it’s possible because we’ve already achieved dreams we’ve previously set for ourselves. It was lofty for me to major in Fashion Design, but I spent my entire career making a living in Fashion, some of the best years of my life. My husband went from high school drop out to lawyer and opened his own law firm. He hated the clients, but loved the work.  We built ourselves a comfortable little nest, bought some toys, owned some big things and went to a few little places. So why weren’t we satisfied with that life?  If it was so great, why keep seeking for more…why want more? The only answer I have for that is, because there is more to life, and it makes no sense settling for what you have because you’re afraid to go for everything you want.

We did what we loved, but we weren’t free.  We worried about money and played keeping up with the Joneses…yet the Joneses had a sucky life; married to their jobs and filling their lives with stuff to justify it, and we were a part of that herd.  We looked at our lives and felt that was something was missing. Then, through self-introspection, we finally asked ourselves, ‘what do I really want out of life’, and the answer was, to be able to say we lived a life we chose for ourselves, and we lived it extraordinarily.

The difficulty with such a decision is that living extraordinarily requires doing extraordinary things. That means making decisions that may not put us in the most flattering light for the moment. Coming from where we’re coming from, yeah, it is a dream. Most of our friends and families believe that kind of life is reserved only for the lucky, the born rich and lottery winners. Now, when people say we’re dreamers, they say it like its a bad thing. They tell us, we have to be realistic, that our dreams are too big and too lofty.  They say, we need to get serious, if only because we don’t seem to be doing as well as our peers. And that’s just the problem they don’t seem to understand. We’re not playing by the same rules as our peers, let alone are we playing the same game.

Whether or not you like him, Obama is a two term President today because he wasn’t realistic in the first place. Worst yet, he had the audacity to believe it was even a possibility. I’ve discovered something on this quest for dream fulfillment and happiness. Those who stop dreaming, stop living. The further you move away from those dreams, the more you live in reality and I’m sorry to say folks, reality sucks. I took the red pill and I’m not going back!

The road is hard, and it is bumpy, and scary, but it is absolutely liberating. Do you know what pursuing your dreams looks like? It’s not being able to get your hair or nails done professionally. It’s not being to able eat at nice restaurants or go on that trip to the Dominican Republic with the rest of your friends. There are some days things are so difficult, you contemplate quitting, but as they say, if you haven’t felt like quitting, you aren’t dreaming big enough. The pay off though, is that tomorrow morning, I will wake up at 10:30am, most likely with my 3 and 1 year old breathing in my face. I will eat breakfast, watch two episodes of Mickey Mouse club house, chat it up with the hubby, talk about our goals, accomplish some of them, have reading and math time with the kids, play outside until nap time, and maybe take one myself. Then I’ll wake up, catch up on some projects, work on some of my novels and chat it up for a few hours with the hubby again.  Then we’ll do some more work, eat dinner, get the kids ready for bed and finish up with some kind of awesome television show. (Any Fringe fans in the house?!). Bottom line is, I own my time, therefore I own my life and everything that happens within it. The money is just a result and will follow eventually.

This is my life in the pursuit of my dreams. Sacrifices have to be made, like living wayyyyyyyyy below our means, but if it feels as freeing as it does now, I can only imagine what it will feel like when we actually get there. We’re no different than most people. We just believe we deserve more simply because we want it and will do whatever it takes…save for a few things. (Maybe I’ll post what those things are in the following post.) As far as I know, we’ve only got One Life to Live, and we’ve got to live the Days of Our Lives , following the Guiding Light of our dreams so that All My Children can get the best of what the world has to offer for Generations to come. Living realistically is a living a life fueled by fear. The ‘Normals’ can have it. Audacity is freedom.