Action Expresses Priorities …blogging break

Last week I took an unplanned bogging break; not because I was jaded or tired of blogging, but because life happened. Every now and then while going through our daily routine, our highs and lows, ins and outs of living, something out of the ordinary comes along and forces us to rethink and re-evaluate our priorities.

I’ve noticed that as I continued to add more and more to my “to do” list, some of the things that are most important to me were getting less of my attention…for example, the amount of time I spent in my daily devotion (a major priority) decreased as the time I engaged in reading, commenting and blogging increased. Also the time I spent studying and researching in order to stay on the cutting edge of my profession also diminished as the fatigue from doing so much and spreading myself so thinly was amplified.

action-expresses-priorities

It’s sometimes difficult to find the right balance because the thing(s) we spend the most time doing or thinking about becomes our priority. Recently, an “out of the ordinary” occurrence came along in the form of a business opportunity. An opportunity that with laser focus, exponential hard work and even greater sacrifice, will be able to take our business to a whole new level (something that will definitely be high on our priority list).

While my husband and I were making plans, formulating and preparing our mindset to take on this potentially life changing endeavor, yet another event occurred, this time in the form of a car accident. It served as a conspicuous reminder that my priorities had shifted and it was time to properly reorder them. Although the shock and soreness of the accident is to wearing off, the subtleties of what’s most important to me in life remain very present. Having a successful business is important, but my top priority is to seek God first…(I believe everything else will fall into place). But for the Grace of God, that accident could have ended or altered our lives in such a drastic way where nothing else mattered.

blogging break

Blogging remains such a wonderful outlet for me. I love sharing, reading, commenting and connecting with so many of you. I enjoy learning about (or from) your experiences. But as much as I enjoy blogging, at this juncture in my life, it cannot be a priority. I’m not ready to give up on it though, but my posting schedule will be significantly abbreviated. I’ll be working on my life’s vision and will check in from time to time. I will continue to read your blogs and engage as much as I can. I’ll also be hanging out on Facebook and Twitter. Please feel free to follow and keep in touch with me there. It’s time for my actions to express my priorities.

  • Are you spending most of your time on what is truly most important to you?
  • Have your priorities shifted
  • Do your actions express your priorities?

 

Throwback Thursday: They grow so fast

Happy Thursday! This month has been a whirl wind so far. Rarely do I make plans and a whole new set of plans crop up everyday. This had been one of those months. Instead of stressing about it, I’ve decided to just go with the flow and (try to) maintain an attitude of gratitude. In all of the unexpected details that have surfaced, I remember the many blessings that God has given me.

After a long and exhausting day, way past my bedtime, I grabbed my laptop and while looking for a document, came across the following video. It made me smile and tear up at the same time. This little misses, age 3 in the video will be 7 next week. Oh how I the time has flown. I don’t even remember what I was looking for. All of a sudden, it wasn’t so important…and I was reminded how quickly our children grow up.

For Throwback Thursday, I’m throwing back a few short years to share my baby girl’s favorite Barney song.

  • When was the last time you smiled and cried at the same time?
  • Have you had subtle reminders of the importance of family?
  • Do you miss the early years of your children (if you have) or do you prefer the adult child stage?

 

Ragnar Keys. Teamwork makes the dream work

As you all know (because I’ve been talking about it forever), I along with 11 other team mates, (all members of the group Black Girls Run!) completed the Ragnar Relay in Key West last weekend. There is so much to share, but I don’t want to do multiple post, so I’ll try to summarize it here.

The basics:

We were a 12 member team who took turns running 198 miles, relay style from Miami to Key West. Each runner ran a set amount of miles, then tagged the next runner and so on. We ran 3 different legs each. We were divided in two vans based on the legs we’d be running. We also had an additional non running driver for each van. Runners 1-6 were in van 1, runners 7-12 were in van 2. I was runner 11.

Ragnar team H&S

This was our very first Ragnar experience so we were pretty green. The race started in waves and we had the earliest start time possible…  the 5 am start. After a safety briefing, we cheered as runner 1 took off, then our van drove ahead to meet them at the exchange area where van 2 would take over.

My first leg:

After waiting for runners 1-10 to finish, by the time my turn came to run my first leg, it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon. My first leg was labeled “Hard 5.9 miles”. I blogged about kicking butt at Ragnar… Well, I’d have you know that the only butt kicked was mine. That distance is usually a piece of cake for me, but not at Ragnar. It was about 90 degrees, but it felt like 110. My run started on a gravel road…very difficult for me to run fast. I felt every rock and stone under my feet. I’m used to running in the Florida heat, but this was different. There was absolutely no shade. The sun was giving me such a beat down, I was begging for mercy. ( A week later and I’m still sporting my Ragnar tan lines :) . I quickly depleted my hand-held hydration. It was brutal and I was mentally unprepared for it.The team met me at 3.5 miles to give me water…I scarfed down half the bottle and poured the rest on my head. It felt like I’d been running for 20 miles.

Ragnar exchange 1 Collage

When a team member is out running, the rest of the team offers van support along the way by giving hydration, a cool towel, energy supplements etc. So there’s basically no rest for the runners on or off the pavement.

Ragnar highlightsCollage

Every one pretty much had a death match with the heat.  Some of my team mates ran in the Everglades, in the dust, near the swamps, with the snakes and gators, during the wee hours of the night…

My second leg was an easy 2.9 miles. It was a welcomed one. It was supposed to be during the dark early morning hours, but because the team fell behind with such a difficult first leg, it pushed my run to the break of dawn. Hallelujah. The sun was just coming up and it was a tad bit cooler. I was able to keep with my expected pace and ran this leg with no issues… Soon it was van 1′s turn again.

A highlight:

While van 1 ran, van 2 had an opportunity to “rest”. We headed to a high school gymnasium (a rest area designated by the race directors). We were able to pay $3.00 to shower in a filthy, nasty bathroom with weak water pressure and barely any warm water. It was the best $3.00 I spent in a long time :) .

Finally, it was time for us to finish our final 6 legs (about 19 miles)…which would have been perfect except (because of the unexpected delays) we had to rush to beat the 8:00pm finish line cut off. Now it wasn’t about making a certain time, it was about avoiding disqualification. By this time, we’d covered a total of about 180 miles. Extremely tired and delirious, we had to give it all we had to finish on time.

All Heart.

This was one example were the spirit of our team shone through. One of our runner was injured. She had already completed over 16 miles in excruciating pain and her final leg was less than 2 miles. The way the team stepped up was amazing. One teammate ran her leg, while another runner gave up her own easy leg and took a harder leg so that the driver…can you believe it? Our driver stepped up and ran a leg.

My final and fastest leg:

I still had another 3.5 miles to go, over a bridge with no van support. After 36 hours of extreme fatigue and little food, I ran my third and fastest leg. It took everything we had, but we did it. We left it all on the pavement and reunited with the entire team to cross the finish line together.

Teamwork really made this dream work. 

Ragnar offical finish pic edited

This was my experience in a nut shell. It was an amazing experience with an incredible group of women and an awesome team captain. Initially I vowed never to do it again, but after getting a good night’s rest, I’m thinking about ways to better prepare for the next one.

  • Have you ever or would you ever run a Ragnar Relay?
  • Would you pay $3.00 to shower?
  • What was your most difficult endurance experience?

Four Categories of Valentine Folks

So since tomorrow is Valentines Day, Just thought I’d have a little fun. I’ve noticed that there are at least four categories of people on Valentines Day. There may be more, but these are the ones I’ve noticed. I’ve added some fun facts, but the pictures basically summarizes the categories…

1. The Men Folks

  • 73% of people who buy flowers for Valentine’s Day are men, while only 27 percent are women.
  • Men buys the majority of the millions of boxes of candy and bouquets of flowers given on Valentine’s Day.
  • On average, men spends $130 each on candy, cards, jewelry, flowers and dates.Women spend only about half that amount.

valentines-day-wallet

  • More than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold each year for Valentines Day.
  • Enough candy hearts to stretch from Rome, Italy to Valentine, Arizona 20 times and back again will be produced this year.
  • “According to the Greeting Card Association, 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular greeting card–giving occasion, after Christmas.”

2. The Single Folks. Are you single? Awesome! There are so many pros…

single on Valentines

  • There are 119 single men (never married, widowed or divorced) in their 20′s for every 100 single women of the same age…Imagine that. (Of course the numbers change as the age increases and when you break it down by race.)
  • Over two million marriages occur in the United States every year…that’s more than 6,000 a day!

3. The “Oh no he didn’t!” Folks These folks EXPECTS to be wined and dined and no excuses are acceptable…

excuse on valentine

Finally,

4. The “Who Cares!” Folks Personally, I think I fall into this category. I could care less. I love being married to my hubs, but whether or not he acknowledges Valentines Day doesn’t matter to me. We celebrate so many things in February, that one less won’t hurt..

valentines dont care

  • What category do you fall into?
  • Do you have something special planned?
  • How do you respond if he or she doesn’t remember it’s Valentines?

 

 

Birthday vlog

Surprise!!! Today I’m Defining Happiness with my fist vlog! Whaaat? Yep. It’s my birthday and I’m trying something new. It’s been on my “to accomplish” list since Joi hosted her first blog challenge, so now I can cross it off.

Not only is it NOT my regular posting day, it was NOT an easy task. The most difficult part for was finding the proper lighting and keeping my eyes from appearing closed -_- . I had to do quite a few takes…I think my voice may actually be an octave lower from talking so much :) .

Once I got the lighting and position down though, it was kinda fun. Check it out. It’s a short 1:22 long clip.

I  encourage you to Define Happiness by visualizing the future you want. Regardless of your current circumstance, envision your dream and write them down.I believe that through Faith and with God’s Grace, He will fulfill your dreams even from seemingly impossible life scenes.

  • Do I look or sound different from what you imagined?
  • Are you where you envisioned you’d be in life?
  • What do you like most/least about vlogging?

DON’T FORGET I’ll be at running Ragnar Keys this weekend. Please send your prayers and positive vibes for our team. This quote sums up what we’re in for.

Ragnar summed up

Last thing. Please forgive me. I’m behind showing comment love on some of my fav blogs…but I read when every tiny chance I get :)

Hello February!

I can’t believe that January has already come and gone. It’s as if I blinked and February showed up… So I have no choice but to embrace my 2nd busiest month of the year. Although February is the shortest month of the year, for me and my family it is jam-packed with events and activities culminating with my hubby’s birthday on March 2… Hello February!

Yesterday we celebrated my son’s 4th birthday with a very small and simple Spider-man themed party. I thought about a super bowl theme because it was Super Bowl Sunday, but he WAS NOT having it.

josiah superman

Anyway, on Wednesday, I will be turning 40… then there’s Ragnar...which will be my biggest race so far. By the way, If your on FaceBook, please “like” our HeartandSole Ragnar team page where you can follow our progress throughout the 2-day, 200-mile adventure…and while you’re there, also follow Defining Hope please :)

And who can forget Valentines day (full with school parties and all). The family will also be going on a brief weekend trip for V-day. The following weekend, I’ll be running the Gasparilla Classic 15K, then there’s my daughter’s birthday…which also happens to be my 2nd year blogging anniversary, followed by my husband’s birthday the next day. Whew!!

You see, I had big dreams for celebrating my Big 4-0 and Blogaversary on the blog, but it’s not gonna happen…at least not the way I originally planned.

Instead, I’ve decided to celebrate my big 4-0 by kicking off my birthday with a 40 Days of Wellness theme that will incorporate both my business and my blog.

40daywellness

Over the next 40 days (during my regular Mon/Thurs posting schedule), you can expect specific wellness posts focused on Defining Health, Defining Happiness and Defining Hope (which is kinda the theme of my blog anyway :) ) except there will be a few giveaways and a couple of surprises…and by surprises, I mean…I haven’t thought of it yet.

I hope you’ll join me for my short, sweet and spicy February Celebration.

Stay Tuned…

  • What is your busiest month of the year?
  • Do you have family members whose birthdays are very close to yours?

 

Inspired by my thumb sucking 3 year old

I had a different post planned for today, but I’m so impressed with my almost 4 year old that I decided to go ahead and celebrate him today.

My son is a thumb sucker. Not only did he suck his thumb in-utero, he was sucking his thumb the minute I pushed him out… Literally. All soggy, wrinkly, scaly and squished… the boy found comfort in his thumb.

Josiahs mighty thumb

I quickly noticed that he had an affinity for his left thumb but I didn’t mind that much since he was able to self sooth…very helpful  for a newborn.

His thumb sucking habit also made him more prone getting infections…(like the time the babysitter took him to a store, put him in a cart and he picked up cart germs, sucked his thumb and literally got a bacterial infection in his throat…. I digress).

We’ve tried to discourage him from sucking his thumb and praised him when he momentarily removed his thumb. We never pressured him. He’s young and I know he’d eventually stop, but we wanted to gently nudge him.

His response to our nudges have been … “I’ll stop tomorrow”….. ” I’ll stop when I’m 4″ …… ” I’ll stop when I get married”. Eventually it became “I don’t wanna stop. My finger tastes yummy.”

Anyway, someone told be about a product she used on her children to help them break the habit. It’s a really bitter tasting clear nail polish. After researching the product and reading lots of reviews, my husband and I decided to try it.

Day one: I polished both thumbs before bedtime. As soon as he got sleepy, he started sucking. I asked him if it was bitter. He said he only tasted the bitterness when he takes his thumb out of his mouth.

Day two: I polished all 10 fingers. He was eating a snack, he grunted really loud. When I asked what’s wrong, he said his snack was bitter. I felt really bad :( . At bedtime, once again, he endured the bitterness to continue sucking his thumb.

Day 3: Conversation..

son: It’s time to get the thing on my finger, Mommy.

me: No Dear, I’m not going to put it on anymore.

son: Why not?

me: The bitter taste of the polish is supposed to stop you from putting your finger in your mouth, but instead you suck the polish off. I don’t want you to keep getting that chemical into your system.  

 (He looked at me with a silent curiosity.)

son: Mommy, are chemicals poison? (he knows that poison should not go in your mouth)

me: it depends on the type of chemical.

son: I know I promised that I’d stop sucking my thumb before, but this time I’m for real.

me: OK baby (I gave no thought to him actually stopping. My OK was saturated with subconscious doubt and subtle sarcasm that I suspected a 3 yo wouldn’t detect.)

Wouldn’t you know. We are going on day 4 and my son has not sucked his thumb. Four days! Can you believe it?! For the first time in almost 4 years, his thumb looks like it’s healing. I’m almost in tears as I write this because I’m so proud that my almost 4 year old boy has the strength and courage to stop cold turkey.

The product we purchased to help him didn’t work, but the thought of putting something potentially harmful into his body did.

The skeptical adult part of me wonders how long this will last, but I’m inspired by my son to embrace his childlike faith with confidence.

On Superbowl Sunday, my Super boy JR will be 4 years old. Please help me congratulate him!

H4BD Josiah

  • Did you or your children suck your finger? For how long?
  • How did you stop?

 

Stinky morning breath…WHY?

When I first started blogging, I posted 3 times a week. My favorite posts for a while were my “Winning Words Wednesday”, kind of a spin off from Wordless Wednesday except most of the Wordless Wednesdays post I read was all but wordless. I decided to chose a positive, word or phrase to help bring hope and encouragement to my readers…thus the birth of Winning Words Wednesday. There were some Wednesdays when my winning words were all about my kids and how they were winning in my eyes, but the majority were general posts.

I actually miss doing the series and wanted to resurrect it, but I no longer post on Wednesdays and I prefer my Monday/Thursday schedule.  I can’t think of a catchy title to change it to a Thursday post ;).  I also had an idea for “Ask WHY Wednesdays” based on questions, mainly about health that I’ve been asked or wondered about. But again,  Wednesday is my issue…So having said that, I decided to just drop the “Wednesday” and post anyway…alternating between Winning Words and Asking Why based on how I feel :)

So today, I’m jumping right into my first “WHY” because my baby boy asked…

morning-breath

After a night of sleeping, snoring and sucking his thumb, my 3 yo hugged me and said he was ready for breakfast. When he spoke, I got a waft of an unusually “salty” breath. Instinctively, I flinched and immediately respond “Oh baby boy, lets go brush your teeth.”  He knew what the deal was because he said “Mommy does something smell stinky?” I said yes. Then he asked ….

The Question: “Why does my breath smell stinky when I wake up?”

The Answer: Because there is a lot of bacteria in your mouth. The flow of spit (saliva) helps to wash away some of the bacteria. But at night, however, when you sleep, there is less saliva flowing. This creates a dry environment that leads to the growth and spread of oral bacteria. Oral bacteria is smelly, thus the stinky morning breath.

Of course, the obvious solution is proper oral hygiene. You know… brushing teeth and tongue and flossing twice a day. Mouth wash, gum or mints can also get saliva flowing to help freshen breath.

I won’t ask if you have morning breath :) But I’d like to know how do you tell someone that their breath smells stinky?

 

Why you no Zumba?

So I decided to really diversify my workout routine for this year instead of mainly running. For the last few weeks I’ve added BodyPump twice a week with a few strength training sessions in between. (BodyPump review forthcoming.) Another exercise that I wanted to add was Zumba. Nellie from Brooklyn Active Mama is the Zumba Queen in my book. I’ve watched a snippet of her in action (scroll to the end :) ) and was blown away. So I decided to give it a try… again… 

y u no zumba

I say again because my first ever encounter with Zumba occurred a year and a half ago at our local YMCA. I looked at the schedule and saw “Zumba Gold”. I was immediately intrigued. I was thinking this class is going to be the “creme de la creme”…because it’s wasn’t JUST Zumba, it was Zumba Gold…. like Solid Gold…not bronze…not silver…But GOLD!

The first thing I noticed when I entered the class a few minutes late was how fit the instructor was “for her age”. I was very impressed. As I made my way to the back of the class and finally situated myself, I was a little surprised that I was able to catch on so quickly. The movements were much slower than I anticipated. About 10 minutes into the class, I noticed the lady next to me as she smiled at me. I remember thinking, ‘what a sweet old lady’. Then I noticed another older lady smiling… then another, and another…..

elderly exercise Zumba

I looked around and I was surrounded by nice little grandma’s. Suddenly I felt extremely awkward and out-of-place… Zumba gold was NOT like Solid Gold at all… it was more like SILVER… as in Silver Sneakers…  It was Zumba for the elderly! I couldn’t stop laughing at myself. I tried to keep my composure as I contemplated my exit strategy. Soon, I just smiled and nodded as I made my way out the door.

Last month was my 2nd time taking Zumba. A patient invited me to attend with her. This time, it was more in tuned with what I saw Nellie do. I was very apprehensive and somewhat intimidated by the moves. It was fast paced energetic and I was lost, confused, a little shy and extremely stiff.

thats Zumba

I was told to just keep moving…which I awkwardly obliged. I really don’t like to “suck” at something so I was determined try to catch on, which was virtually impossible.

It took me a whole month before I decided to go back last week. Although I was still pretty lost and confused the majority of the time, I managed to break a nice sweat. I was surprised that I was sore the next morning for my 15K (9.3miles) race.

It didn’t really feel like work, but it was great work out. The energy was through the roof. Folks for nice and “forgiving”. They were too busy getting their “Zumba” on, many in their cute little Zumba outfits. A part of me feel like I have to keep going just to master the moves.  Right now, I can only squeezing out once/wk, but I’m happy with that. So my workout routine consists of running 3 days/wk, BodyPump twice and Zumba once.

  • Have you done Zumba? Or Zumba GOLD :) ?
  • Do you diversify your workout routine?
  • What’s the one workout you feel you’ve got to tackle?

 

Martin Luther King Jr….10 facts

In celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I’ve decided to compile a list 10 most interesting or “little known” facts about him.

mlk jr

1. Name change. MLK, Jr. was actually born Michael King Jr. His father later changed both their names to Martin Luther King  — in honor of the German Protestant reformer, Martin Luther —

2. Youngest Peace Prize Winner. In 1964, Dr, King was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35.

3. Prodigy. He skipped the 9th and 12th grades in high school and entered Morehouse College at the young age of 15. 

4. He graduated from Morehouse at 19 years old and received his * Bachelor of Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary and his PhD from Boston University at age 25.

5. There are over 700 streets named after Martin Luther King, Jr. around the world. There is at least one MLK Jr. named road in most states in America.

6. He is one of only three people in American history that have national holidays honoring them. The others are George Washington and Christopher Columbus.

7. Aged Heart. Although he was only 39 years old when he died, autopsy results revealed that major stress had taken its toll. The doctor noted that he “had the heart of a 60-year-old”.

8. Grammy award winner. He won a posthumous Grammy award in 1971 for Best Spoken Word Album for “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam”.

9. Although Martin Luther King, Jr holiday was officially signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, the last states to officially observe the holiday were Arizona in 1992, New Hampshire in 1999, and Utah in 2000.

10. When Dr. King was shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, Lorraine Bailey (the wife of the motel owner and who it was named after), had a heart attack and later died after seeing King shot.

Lorraine was also the switchboard operator so when Rev. Samuel Kyle tried to call an ambulance using the motel room phone, no one was at the switchboard, causing a delay in getting an ambulance.

Rev. Kyle stated:

I ran into the room and picked up the phone to call an operator or to call an ambulance. But, the operator had left the switchboard. There was nobody on the switchboard. I was saying, “Answer the phone, answer the phone, answer the phone.” And there was nobody on the switchboard. So the phone was not answered. (I learned later that the operator had gone out into the courtyard to watch Dr. King. When she saw what happened, she had a heart attack. She was the motel owner’s wife, and she died subsequently.) 

There are so many interesting facts available out there. It was a little difficult to narrow them down. The only one that I was not previously aware of was that of the motel worker having a heart attack after witnessing King being shot.

Was there anything you weren’t already aware of?

*Edited for correction (Thanks Allie)