When are you at your best?

I love the beginning of the New Year. Despite my short lived post Christmas blues, the new year typically brings about a renewed sense of purpose and passion. For me, it’s a time to reflect on the goals and plans made last year and evaluate whether or not they were accomplished. More important than the progress made is the process involved.

For example, one of my goals last year was to take our business to the next level. Although we experienced record growth (progress), the process involved left me extremely fatigue and weary. As the demand for my time increased, I began sacrificing more and more of my personal “me” time. Soon I was depleted. The result was a stress-induced health scare which set me back a few months.

give best.be best

With the stress of running a business, caring for children and meeting everyday demands, it was sometimes easy to give so much more than I received. But this experience is a constant reminder that in order to GIVE my best, I have to BE my best.

I am my best when:

  • I spend time in prayer and devotion
  • I run with my running group weekly/exercise
  • I eat relatively clean
  • I get biweekly alone time (to get a massage/pedi-mani/ shopping/ bookstore etc.)

When I am CONSISTENTLY my best, I able to be a better employer, wife, mother, sister and friend. No doubt it takes commitment and hard work to achieve goals, but as you make plans and set goals this year, please remember that it’s important to always invest in yourself first. Invest the time needed to make sure that you are functioning at your best. It’s just not worth the sacrifice to your spiritual, physical, emotional or mental well being.

  1. Have you ever put yourself last in order to achieve your goals?
  2. How do you invest in yourself? When are you at your best?

Lazy and Loving it. Oh, and Happy New Year!

What was supposed to be a few weeks blogging break turned into almost a year off…10 months,10 days to be exact. I can’t believe this is the last day of 2014… better late than never…

Although this year turned out to be a whirlwind of activities and demands, I’m grateful for the journey and the lessons that I’ve learned along the way, and there have been many. But I’m especially grateful for the few days during the last week that I was able to slow down, relax and enjoy precious moments with my family and myself. (Ok so that last part didn’t sound right but I enjoy my own company, alone time.)

The entire year has been filled with tight schedules, rigorous routines and a stringent structure. So having a few lazy days were extremely gratifying; and boy did I take full advantage of being lazy. I lounged around, spent moments baking cookies, lounged with the kids and hubby while watching Christmas movies and lounged while watching them at the park. Did I mention just lounging?

sleepy-tiger resize

I had a chance to read a few blogs and even write this post. I’m reminded how much I miss occupying this space in blog land. I definitely plan on visiting much more frequently in 2015.

I’m also using this opportunity to wish everyone a Blessed and Prosperous New Year. With the office closed for the weekend, I plan on enjoying a few more lounging, lazy days as I ring in the new year.

May God bless you exceedingly, abundantly above all you may ask or think…__——–_——Ephesians 3:20

Happy-New-Year-Images-Free-1

  • Did you have any lazy days over the holidays? How did you spend it?

 

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?