Inspiration

Enough is Enough

At what point do we take a step back, re-assess, re-evaluate, and say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?” It is that moment when we realize that in any given situation or relationship we are no longer happy. Yes, HAPPY! Happiness should be our guide, otherwise, what is the point? When we fail to focus on our own happiness, can we really say we are living our life? Or, are we living someone else’s?

“THE PURPOSE OF OUR LIVES IS TO BE HAPPY”

Dalai Lama

Too often we sacrifice our own happiness to please others. For some, it is a fear of being alone; or it is the constant need to be and to feel accepted. Many of us feel pressured to do things or to submit when we know it is at the expense of our own joy. The result is a miserable existence. That is not to say we cannot or should not make sacrifices for those we love. But when those sacrifices lead to our unhappiness, it is time to say ENOUGH!

The older I get, the more I value the concept. Life is short and unpredictable. The recent tragedy involving the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is just one example of how uncertain life is. It is this uncertainty that should remind us to live each day to the fullest. Sometimes the root of our unhappiness is not necessarily other people, but ourselves. I am often guilty of being so focused on goals and outcomes, I forget to just LIVE IN THE MOMENT. I am a constant work in progress. Each day I gain a deeper understanding of the phrase “Carpe Diem.” Seize the day! Three very powerful words. Happiness is a state of mind; it has everything to do with our own mindset, our own reaction to different people, situations and circumstances. We can control our own happiness. Happiness is a state of mind we all crave; it is also something we can all attain.

My wish for you is that you will find it; that you will let go of those around you who make your life miserable; that you will remove yourself from situations that only cause you to put forth negative energy; that you will seek those who bring you comfort, peace, and happiness!

Until next time,

Christine

 

 

 

 

 

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Quit Making Excuses; Just Do!

There are people in my life who truly inspire me! Too many to list, quite frankly. But this morning, a dear friend posted a collage on Instagram in honor of “Transformation Tuesday” and it brought me back to a conversation we had about two years ago. I invited her to join me for a run around the neighborhood and during our walk/run, she told me she ordinarily ran only if someone was chasing her. I laugh when I think about that statement today. Natalee’s transformation is so much more than the two images depicted below. About a year ago, she decided to take control of her life by focusing on her body through fitness and proper nutrition. For her, it was not just a physical challenge, but a mental and emotional challenge as well. Natalee Drummond is the epitome of hard work, dedication, and focus. She decided she wanted to make fitness a big part of her life, and she did!

Natalee DrummondYou may look at these two images and think, she looked fine before! In fact, her statement with this post, was “I love both women. The one on the right busted her tail to lower her body fat and gain muscle.” It is all a matter of perspective: one’s goals, one’s desires, one’s dreams. In one of her recent posts, Natalee wrote: “I began my fitness journey a little over a year ago and I’ve missed less than 10 days in the past year. I can’t believe how strong I’ve become spiritually, mentally and physically in one year. If you’re on the fence, start now! One year from now you’ll be happy you did.”

That is coming from a mother of two young boys, a very successful attorney, and small business owner. She has dedicated her life to finding that balance; and doing something that not just makes her happy, but ultimately makes her a better mother, and a better woman. There is no better satisfaction than the sense of personal fulfillment  and accomplishment. It builds self-confidence. We can do ANYTHING we set our minds to. But often, we make excuses.

Often we make excuses for the reasons we fail to accomplish our goals, whatever they are. Your goal may not be to become a fitness model. It may be a goal of losing 5, 10, or 15 pounds. It may be a new years resolution of becoming more physically active. It may be a goal of going to the gym at least three days a week. Or, It could have absolutely nothing to do with fitness.

Quit making excuses; just do! We need to stop telling ourselves we cannot because of X,Y, and Z. We need to start telling ourselves WE CAN! Each day we procrastinate by overwhelming ourselves with negative thoughts, is another day of missed opportunity.

Carpe Diem!

Christine

 

 

Block Out the Noise

It is unlikely the name KEI NISHIKORI rings a bell unless you are an avid tennis fan. But I bet most of you would recognize ROGER FEDERER even if you have never watched a tennis game in your life. The latter has established himself as one of the all time, greatest tennis players. Like most, I had no idea who Kei Nishikori was when I went to the Sony Tennis Open this week. In fact, that was my first live tennis match, ever. I knew I was going to see Federer play, but who he was playing was a mystery. As Nishikori emerged from the back onto the court, the crowd was quiet. Of course, Federer got the complete opposite reaction; thousands of people erupted when he embraced us with his presence and many chanted his name. Nishikori was not fazed.  He emerged the victor, and it was Nishikori who advanced to the semi-final round that night after a spectacular and unforgettable performance.

We are often inspired by underdogs; those who are expected to fail before they’ve even started and manage to win! That match was one of those awe-inspiring moments that left me feeling truly impressed. The fact that Federer was the crowd favorite was obvious. After the first set, it appeared the win over Nishikori would be easy – Federer won that set 6-3. Nishikori knew better. Somehow, he was able to block out the noise of a stadium filled with Federer supporters. Nishikori kept his focus, and game after game he became more confident and more powerful. By the middle of the second set, it was clear this guy was a force to reckon with. If you did not know his name before, you knew it that night.

A singles tennis match is unlike other team sports such as basketball or football. As a player, you are on your own out there; you and your thoughts! Neither Federer nor Nishikori had the luxury that night of team members patting them on the back [or butt] to reassure them they could win. Each man had to figure out ways to defeat the other, both mentally and physically. It is the mental aspect that struck me most as I sat in the stadium watching an upset few anticipated. Nishikori was obviously aware he was facing an uphill battle that night. But he stayed resilient and strong and he proved to the world he was a worthy opponent.

We can learn a lot from Kei Nishikori – we can learn to block out the noise around us, stay focused, be confident, and achieve the unexpected. It starts by believing in ourselves!

Until Next Time,

Christine

 

Haagen-Dazs Rocky Road, Joel Osteen’s Break Out and My Balcony…

…were the three things I turned to this evening after what felt like an eternity of a day, an eternity of a week, and it is only Wednesday! I came home today feeling beaten, wishing I could rewind the past couple days, and start over! It is amazing what a huge bowl of ice cream, four chapters of inspiration, and some fresh air can do! As I write this evening’s blog, my face is no longer wet from the tears of frustration and hormones that flowed earlier, I feel renewed!

Very often, God sends me angels! Yesterday, a dear friend stopped by to give me a book she had purchased for me. She had told me about this particular book, and how inspirational it had been for her over the past few months. To my surprise, she had ordered it. It was the book I reached for when I came home this evening, and it was exactly what I needed.

Break OutAs I read the opening chapter, one particular paragraph struck me:

“Sometimes you need faith and victory spoken over your life. Words have created power. When you receive them into your spirit, they can ignite seeds of increase on the inside…You were not created to just get by with an average, unrewarding, or unfulfilling life. God created you to leave your mark on this generation. You have gifts and talents that you have not tapped into. There are new levels of your destiny still in front of you. But break out starts in your thinking.” [emphasis added].

There I was feeling beaten and broken; and Joel Osteen was telling me, I needed to change my thinking. The mind is powerful, and our thoughts control us; they control our actions. I needed to hear those words today. I had a choice: I could either allow negative people and circumstances to affect my mood and make me miserable, or I could decide that I will not allow either to get the best of me. Sometimes the latter is easier said than done. But as I sat on the balcony with my bowl of rocky road, I did some reflecting on my life.

Negativity breeds negativity. My experiences have taught me that anytime I am positive about a particular situation, good things happen! The alternative is equally true. Sometimes, we are put through difficult situations and circumstances to test our faith; to determine whether we are strong or weak. Life is full of ups and downs, but that is life. Today was a downer, but I declare tomorrow is a brand new day; a day to start over!

I wish for you, my friends, a wonderful rest of the week – and if you need it, a big bowl of yummy goodness!

Rocky Road

Until next time,

Christine

True Beauty: What’s Inside

In her recent Essence Seventh Annual Black Women in Hollywood speech, Lupita Nyong’o shared a letter she received from one of her fans. The essence of the letter was this statement: “I think you are really lucky to be this black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight.”

LupitaIf you listened to that speech, it probably caused you to reflect on one of the most profound issues of our time: how is beauty defined? I have spoken with many about the recent rise to fame of Lupita Nyong’o since her riveting performance in the movie Twelve Years a Slave. Her performance as Patsey in the movie is nothing short of remarkable, especially in light of the fact that this was her first major role since graduating from Yale School of Drama. But I have also heard people make similar comments like the one made by her fan above, and some have expressed shock that she is this popular in Hollywood, considering….yes, considering the fact that she is so black. Forget about the fact she is extremely talented, graceful, stylish and articulate. She is beautiful, and has an amazing sense of style that has captivated the world.

Lupita, in her speech, shared the story of how she got teased and taunted about her “night shaded skin” and she would pray to God that she would wake up and be “light-skinned.” It was her mother who told her “you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you.” Lupita realized that beauty was not a thing she could “acquire or consume,” it was something that she “just had to be.” She understood what her mother meant by those words: and that is that you cannot rely on how you look to sustain you. Lupita believes that “what actually sustains us, what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion: for yourself and for those around you.” As she ended her speech, she encourages us to be beautiful on the inside, because “there is no shade in that beauty.”

The idea that someone too dark is less beautiful is pervasive in our society and our culture. It is the reason the bleaching cream industry is booming, and so many people, mostly women, go to varying extremes to lighten their skin. Even among the black race, is the prevalent idea that light-skinned and long hair, is better. How do we overcome this phenomena? Or can we? There are many explanations as to why this ideology persists. In fact, many will argue that what is portrayed in Hollywood, on television, and in magazines as “beautiful” is the source of the problem. We are fed images of what “beauty” looks like, and what “beauty” should be.

But what I liked most about Lupita’s speech, is that she changes the focus. We tend to focus more on the exterior, the physical attributes of a person and of ourselves, when we consider beauty. When really, the true focus should be on the inner being; the inner attributes of a person that make him or her beautiful. It starts there! We spend so much time trying to perfect our outward image, that we often forget to work on our character, our compassion, our love for others and most importantly, ourselves.

Until next time,

Christine

On to the next one!

But Did you Die 2If I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve seen this meme of Mr. Chow [you know, the guy from the movie The Hangover, whose real name is Ken Jeong, and who in reality is also a licensed medical doctor] I would have a few hundred in my pocket.

It is often used, quite humorously in fact, to state the obvious: that in any given situation, no matter how difficult or extreme, you survived; you did not die! Obstacles are a part of life! Unfortunately, some face more roadblocks than others. We often hear the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But, this is not usually what a person wants to hear when that person feels like his/her entire world is crashing down. However, reflection after the fact, usually enables us to realize the power behind those words.

Each stage of our lives brings with it a new set of challenges. For my little brother in high school, this is the most difficult stage of his life. For my little sister getting ready to go to college, she has never been this overwhelmed. For a friend I ran into recently who graduated college and is trying to decide her next steps, she has never been more confused. For another friend in his first year of law school, wondering if he will ever make it to the second year, this is the most difficult thing he has ever had to do in his life. The interesting thing about all these people is that they believe they are going through the hardest, most challenging part of their lives. Not necessarily so.

We can all think back to a time in our lives when we felt we had been given all we could handle; and we wondered if we would ever overcome that obstacle or surpass that challenge. If you are reading this post, I say give yourself a huge round of applause because it means you have overcome! You are still surviving; you did not die! Most of us are more resilient than we think. We have more fighting power than we could ever imagine. We stumble and fall one day, but we rise to our feet the next. The next time life throws you a curve ball, and I guarantee you it will, ask yourself, “but did you die?” Then pick up the ball, and throw it right back!

Until next time,

Christine

When Passion Meets Hard Work

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius

Meke in Japan 2I’m going to bet that not many of us can attest to that statement; but it is likely we know someone who can. I know such a person, in fact, I am married to one. He loves his job so much, he often quotes Confucius, much to the disdain of others who do not share the same love and passion for their job. For most, a job is a necessary means of survival; it is not fun, it is not glamorous, it is a job.

Mike is one of the lucky few; he has his “dream” job! Now, he was not always this lucky. He too has had his fair share of “means to survive” type jobs but his luck changed almost three years ago. He was given an amazing opportunity to work with Vossen Wheels, to work in a field he loves, to work with a wheel company, to work with CARS!

His story is the perfect epitome of the opportunities that can arise when hard work meets passion. To understand the depth of his passion, you will have to know a little history about his background. Mike has been a car enthusiast since he was about seven years old when his dad took him to the New York Auto Show. That was his first auto show experience, and for him it was the opportunity of a lifetime. It was amazing to see all the different cars in person and like most young boys, he fell in love. But he took this love to a whole different level. Mike is a walking car encyclopedia. Literally! His knowledge of automobiles and the history of the different makes, models, styles, and capabilities makes him a powerful force in the industry. But that knowledge did not come about naturally; it came from years of reading and dedication.

Eighteen years ago, his passion drew him to one particular brand, Lexus! Mike is what most would call a Lexus Fanatic. In 2002, he started the Southeastern Lexus Owners Club,[SELOC], and was also a huge part of the development of Club Lexus, the biggest Lexus online car forum. He has organized numerous car meets and shows, both nationally and locally. It is this passion for cars and the hard work he put in over the years for something that was just a “hobby” that made him the perfect candidate for the Marketing position he now holds with Vossen Wheels. What are the chances of that happening?

Meke with Lexus in JapanMike wakes up everyday excited about work, and approaches his job with the same level of passion he had when he started almost three years ago. True, he gets to travel all over the United States and the world, but it is by no means an easy job. It presents lots of unique challenges and does require a lot of planning and hard work. But if you love what you do, it is not considered work at all.

For some of us, it might be too late to pursue our “dream” job. For some, what we thought would be our dream job, turned out to be just the opposite. But in the meantime, let us remember to be grateful and thankful for the job we have. Even if it is just a “means to survival!” Work every day as if you are working your dream, you never know, your dream job may find YOU!

Meke taking pics of cars

Happy Saturday,

Christine

Take Time to Smell the Roses

FairchildAs cliché as it is, it is important for us to remember the need to take time to smell the roses. We often get so caught up in the day-to-day minutia, we forget to  focus on the big picture. We cannot share our best with others, if we are not at our best. Sometimes we spend so much time taking care of those around us, we forget to take care of ourselves.

This past Sunday, I spent part of the day exploring the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens in Coral Gables, Florida. Eighty-three acres of absolute beauty; one of the world’s finest. Three hours were clearly not enough to explore this place, and a returned trip will be forthcoming. My journey through the gardens was filled with deep admiration for the perfectly landscaped grounds, amazing plants from all over the world, beautiful flowers, a rainforest, and calming waterfalls. For three hours I was at peace, lost in my thoughts.

I smiled as I walked through the gardens and saw children actually playing with each other (instead of video games), families picnicking, and couples talking and laughing. It was a refreshing sight. I needed this.

Fairchild Tropical Gardens

Fairchild Pics

Fairchild Tropical Gardens 2

Recently, friends of mine mourned the loss of a dear friend. I didn’t know the guy but from all accounts he was one of the nicest, most genuine person they had ever met. Sadly, this guy decided he had enough, and took his life in his car in the parking lot of his job. Since his death, I learned he had just broken up with his girlfriend a few days before and many speculate that was the reason. Now, you may say to yourself, “I would never do anything that extreme.” Most of us would not. But many of us get to a place where we are so overwhelmed with life we forget the big picture: Ourselves.

Make yourself a commitment today to spend time doing things you love; spend some time doing things for you. Love yourself first!

Carpe Diem!

Christine

One Mile at a Time

Miami Marathon RunnersApproximately 25,000 people representing over 75 countries filled the streets of Miami last weekend for the annual Miami Marathon/Half Marathon race. Samuel Kipkosgei Malakwen of Kenya took home the prize as the winner of the male marathon, finishing the 26.2 mile race in 2 hours, 19 minutes and 46 seconds. Mariska Kramer Postma of the Netherlands finished the women marathon in 2 hours, 49 minutes and 28 seconds, winning the race two years in a row! Wow!

As I looked out the window last Sunday morning, I saw these thousands of people lined up and filled with excitement; ready to take on the challenge of doing something most people only dream of doing. Some were successful at completing the challenge set and finished the race; but the aftermath for some was grave. Loud sirens from the ambulance echoed in the streets as many were put on stretchers and taken away – some from injuries and others just pure exhaustion.

I am no expert at marathons, since quite frankly I have never done one and I am not sure I would have the guts or the stamina to do one. The longest race I ran was a 10k, and by the 4 mile marker I literally felt like I was going to die. A friend had convinced me to do that race, and when race day came I did not feel as ready as I should have been. Looking back, I am not sure how I finished that race but I did. It was more the mental determination that drove my body to the finish line. That, for me, was a huge accomplishment.

However, several of my friends run half-marathons and marathons. I have so much admiration and respect for them. There is a certain level of training, dedication, and will power that is necessary to pound 26.2 miles of pavement and finish the race. From my conversations with them over the years, the ultimate goal in doing these races is not to win the race, the ultimate goal is to FINISH!

A beloved law school professor at Georgia was often quoted for saying “law school is a marathon, not a series of sprints.” He was right. I will take it a step further and say “life is a marathon, not a series of sprints.” To be successful, we have to take life in strides, we have to pace ourselves, we have to train, we have to be dedicated, and we must have the will power and stamina necessary to overcome the obstacles we will inevitably face. We have to take things one mile at a time; one day at a time.

Most importantly, however, we have to surround ourselves with positive people who will lift our spirits. Cheerleaders, of sorts, who will cheer us on to finish this race!

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Christine

Legends

Bob-Marley-SmileToday, February 6th, Bob Marley fans all over the world celebrate the birth of this iconic and legendary musical hero. I am one of them. In fact, I spent most of the day today listening to his music and “jamming” in my office to many of his tunes I know oh so well. We all have our favorites. For me, “No Woman, No Cry”, “Redemption Song”, “One Love”, “Three Little Birds”, “Get Up, Stand Up” and “War” are on the top of my list. He was a true lyrical genius.

To fully understand the impact Bob Marley has made, however, we have to look beyond his music. True, his music transcended time, countries, races, and politics. I get chills listening to some of his songs. But what made Bob so great? From all accounts, Bob Marley was a charismatic soul! He was loved by many, but he also had his share of enemies. What made Bob Marley so great was his message and he used his music to deliver his message in spite of the consequences. His message was one of peace, equality, justice and love. The attack on his life proved his message was controversial, but it also proved he stood up for what he believed in and that made him a hero; It made him a legend!

A legend is often described as a very important or famous person. Very few of us will achieve the level of fame Bob Marley achieved. In fact, people are often revered only after they depart this earth and are no longer with us. But, we too can be legends. A very good friend of mine is always encouraging us to be a “Peacock Among Hens.” We should strive, in everything we do, to be an inspiration to others. Sometimes that means standing out from the crowd. Sometimes that means speaking up for those who don’t have the voice to speak for themselves. Sometimes that means being quiet in the midst of noise. Whatever, it is, let us try to be legends!  Our impact may not be as great, but it will most certainly be felt!

Your Friend,

Christine