Monday, October 5, 2015


What are your goals? We throw that word around a lot, take a look at the phrase #goals and you'll find a variety of images and words that have been attached to it, yet not all of them are actually things that would qualify as true goals that people want to achieve. Goals give us vision, passion, and a desire to change, obtain, create, or work hard for something. Goals give meaning to our lives, and can push you and I to do more than we may have first thought possible. If you don't already, set aside a time to look at the major areas of life: business, home, social, physical, mental, and spiritual, and create a plan. As you plan, make sure that your goals are in line with your mission statement (if you don't have one yet, here's a guide to help you create one). Some people say to work with a 10 year, 5 year, and then a 1 year plan. What I like to do, personally, is to write out 8-10 goals for the year, and also write out a broader view of where I want to be in 5 years. This not only gives me some direction, but then allows me to ensure that the goals I'm setting for this year are in line with where I want to be in 5 years. Choose a system that works well for you. Someone once said that if goals aren't written down, they are only pipe dreams. Let's leave the pipe dreams behind and make things reality in our lives! Ready to get to work? Here's three key steps to help you in the process of setting and achieving your goals.

1. Verbalize: Tell yourself aloud what you're going to do. Write out your goals on an index card, and read your goals (written in present tense..'I am, I have') out loud to yourself every morning, every night. Tell others what you are in the process of working for so they can help you to reach your goal.

2. Visualize: See yourself doing or accomplishing your goal. The more feelings and emotion you can attach to the goal, the better!

3. Vitalize: Actually do what you set out to do! Goals don't work unless you do! Get out there and start on the process to accomplishment.

Don't ever be complacent with where you are. You can always keep growing! Think about where you want to be and the many things you can accomplish in a year, and then write it down. Here's to a successful year ahead! You can do it!

Monday, September 28, 2015

5 Signs of A Solid Relationship

Relationships are foundational to all of life. We're always in relationship with people, and it is oh so important to be good at getting along with others. More often than not, we form relationships with people, and never give second thought to why some stand strong and others fall apart. Whether you're single, dating, married, or looking to build some solid friendships, here's 5 telltale signs that your relationship is headed in the right direction.

1. Mutual Enjoyment: Spending time together just for the enjoyment of being together. Sometimes it's not about the activity, but rather, the company that makes things a whole lot of fun.

2. Respect: When you value someone on the front end of a relationship, you earn respect on the back end of the relationship. It always starts with how we treat one another. Do you see the other person as someone of great worth and value? If not, start treating them that way and you'll discover a world of difference. It's good to do a little perspective shift every now and then!

3. Shared Experiences: Going through a significant experience with another person creates a mutual bond. Think back to the times when a good friend stuck with you when you needed that most. It is often the crazy moments, major life happenings, or the events that become 'well-loved stories' to tell later that bond you to another!

4. Trust: Trust is the foundation of any relationship. Get this one right from the get-go, and you are set up for success. There always is an element of trust in any relationship, and if you cannot trust someone, find out why, and how you can take steps to begin to rebuild that trust again.

5. Reciprocity: Solid relationships must be beneficial to both parties. Each person has to put the other first, and both have to benefit. Here's the deal, relationships are not a one-way street; each one needs to give a little and take a little. If one person is constantly giving, and the other never reciprocates, that relationship is headed for burnout and disaster. Instead of always thinking of your needs, anticipate the needs of the other person, and do something for them! When we begin to think of others first, it will radically change how we view relationships.

How do your relationships measure up? How can you continue to grow in these areas? 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Better Together

(image credit: Peter Lee)

We live in a self-focused society. We're all about the things that will cater to our needs, wants, and wishes. With iPhones and selfies, it is no wonder that we can become so focused on our own lives that we forget the power of community. I love my iPhone and admit to participating in the selfie trend; however, I cannot help but be reminded of the incredible power of relationships. We were not designed to be alone, man is not an island. We need one another. There's something that you bring to the world that I do not. My purpose on earth is different than yours, and instead of comparing one to another, we should celebrate the differences! I am always interested when some one is praised as "self-made" because no one truly accomplishes anything great without help from someone else. Everyone needs other people to help them in the process of achieving their dreams. Whether that help is something big or small, everyone experiences the input and influence of others. The late Jim Rohn said something powerful in regard to this concept.

He says, "We become a powerful force when each of us understands how powerful all of us are and when all of us understand how valuable each of us is."

You are created to great things in this world, but you are not called to do it alone! We all benefit from the help, encouragement, and support from others around us. Life is always more fun when lived with other people, and when you succeed, there's someone to celebrate with! Take a good look at your recent successes. Who played a part, big or small, in that victory? Have you ever thanked them for it? It's amazing to see the kind of things that we can accomplish when we all work together, not simply competing, but rather, completing one another. There's a reason that people say, "teamwork makes the dream work". Life is far sweeter when we appreciate the beauty and the differences in other people. It is good to step out of our own life bubble for a bit, and to invest in someone else. What kinds of things could we accomplish if we decided to work together? Challenge yourself to invest into the relationships in your life, and I can promise that you will find that we are all truly better together.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Coffee Talk: Creating A Successful Morning Routine

When it comes to the morning, most people find themselves in one of two different camps. Either they love waking up early or they don't. I happen to be one who enjoys the morning hours, and I have created a routine that helps me to start my day off in a positive direction. While you certainly have to find what works best for you, here's a few suggestions from things that I do to begin my day.

1. Respond: Set an alarm.
While it's easy to slip back into snooze mode, decide to get up when your alarm goes off. If this is a challenge for you, set two alarms with the first one as your initial wakeup call, and then the second one after a few minutes of planned snooze time. If you don't plan, it's easy to oversleep and then to be rushed.

2. Refocus: Resist the urge to check your phone first thing.
I know it's easy to simply scroll as soon as you wake up, but challenge yourself to begin the day screen-free. What has worked for me is to set aside some quiet time in the morning to read, reflect, and journal. While I understand that each person is different, and has different priorities, starting my mornings with some quiet time and devotions is always the set up for a good day. Regardless of what you do, give your eyes a rest from the screen and take in the morning light's less stressful, trust me.

3. Re-calibrate: Start your day reading your goals out loud to yourself.
This may sound strange, but studies show that those who read their goals aloud to themselves have a higher goal achievement and success rate. I have about 8-10 yearly goals that I read aloud every morning, and I can honestly say that this practice actually works. Speak your success into existence!

4. Recharge: Begin the day with some exercise.
And...all of the night owl gym goers just collectively sighed. I get it, it's hard to wake up and immediately go for a run or workout. Do it anyway. Working out in the morning revs up the body's metabolism, boosts energy levels, and is one less thing you have to do after work. Stretch, run, do some yoga, or amp things up with a HIIT workout. You can even use the 7 Minute Workout App for a super quick sweat session! Not enough time you say? Perhaps you may need to get up a little earlier...See step 1.

5. Refuel: Eat a good breakfast!
Never underestimate the power of a good breakfast. After the body has been rebuilding and restoring itself in the night, it needs fuel to be ready to go again. Too many people skip breakfast and wonder why they can't seem to lose weight, or experience low energy levels throughout the day. There's a reason it's called breakfast. During the night we're sleeping, or fasting, so in the morning, it's time to break the fast and provide the body with nutrition for the new day ahead. If you're not a big breakfast person, there's all kinds of smoothie recipes, nutritious toast combinations, or fruit and yogurt ideas that you can ease your body into. Here's a link to some of my favorite recipe ideas!

One final thing: Choose to have a great day, everyday! A big part of starting the day off right is the decision to make it a productive, successful day no matter what happens. A resilient attitude is independent of circumstances and a common denominator of champions. Decide that today is a fantastic day and it will be!

 What is part of your morning routine? 

Monday, September 7, 2015

3 Major Questions For Those in the Pursuit of a Successful Life

We're all striving for a better life, and while there's many things we can do to improve or adjust our current circumstances to grow and achieve, answering these three questions will have an incredibly powerful effect on one's personal direction and growth. It has often been said that what we think determines what we believe; what we believe influences what we choose; what we choose defines what we are; and what we are attracts what we have. If that's the case, we must be aware of how our thoughts are affecting the direction of our lives. What kinds of things will influence our thoughts? Attitude is a major determining factor in how our lives turn out; however, we must also consider the kinds of influences we accept from other people. Everyone needs others to come along and help them in achieving their dreams. How we feel about ourselves is a matter of choice, yet how we feel is often influenced by the associations we have. With that in mind, ask yourself these three incredibly important questions to determine if your associations and relationships are providing the kind of influence that is beneficial to your best life:

1. Who am I around?
Take a personal inventory of the relationships that are closest to you. What kind of attitudes, conversations, and decisions do they partake in on a daily basis? Weigh the effect that they're having on you and your life. 

2. What effect are they having?
It is essential to be deliberate about the kind of input that we receive and accept as reality in our lives. While it may be some minor habit or negative thoughts and opinions, those small behaviors, over the passing of time will become deeply rooted habit patterns in your own life. Is that the kind of influence you want in your life? If it is positive, continue to invest time in that relationship, but if not, it may be time to make some changes. 

3. Is that acceptable?
Personal growth is not always the easiest to work on, but remember that the worst days experienced by those who give attention to their relationship input, and utilize self-discipline are better than the best of days of those who don't give any thought to it. Recognize when it is time to part ways with someone who is not having a positive effect on your life. It is not worth investing into a relationship or association that is inhibiting your growth.

Remember this, it is better to spend a little time with the right people, than to spend a lot of time with the wrong people. Surround yourself with winners and positive people of character! You and your future are so worth it!

Monday, August 31, 2015

How To Handle Criticism

At one point or another, we're going to face some criticism. When this happens, we have two choices: to react and take things personally, or to look at it objectively and grow from it. How do you most often respond? Experiencing conflict and criticism is a normal part of life, as we are all different people with various opinions/backgrounds/life experiences; however, the way in which we handle it will determine if it has a positive or negative effect on us. Here's a few ways to handle criticism in a healthy, beneficial way.

1. Understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism. 
(Criticism is destructive, but suggestions are constructive.) See criticism as a positive stepping stone on the pathway to your growth.

2. Don't take yourself too seriously. 
Learn to laugh at yourself, and enjoy a big dose of grace. You are not the first, nor the last, to experience correction and critical words. Smile, dance, shake it're going to make it.

3. Look past the criticism and see the critic. 
What are they dealing with in their own life that they are filtering the criticism through? Is there anything in their criticism that can actually be beneficial to you? If so, grow! If not, drop it.

4. Realize that good people get criticized. 
As someone once said, "You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be someone who doesn't like peaches." Seriously, even the nicest, most wonderful people are going to discover someone who doesn't like what they're doing. Even Jesus faced frequent criticism.

5. Keep up your strength.
Stay strong in your faith and in the physical sense. Feelings of depression and discouragement tend to take root in fatigued bodies and spirits. Build up strength by engaging in spirit-building habits (suggestions here), and stay strong physically by doing some sort of exercise on a frequent basis!

6. Focus on what counts. 
It's easy to get stuck on what someone said or did that bothered you, but instead, shift your focus to the many people that are focused on helping you! In reality, there's many more interested in your success than the few that want to take you down. Invest your time with the ones who build you up!

7. Concentrate on your mission, then address the mistakes. 
What is your end goal? What's the reason why you do what you do? That goal or mission will never be accomplished if all you continue to dwell on are the mistakes. Learn from the experience or the criticism and move forward! There's greater things to come!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Coiffure Class 101: French Side Braid

I've not done many hair tutorials on here, but after receiving some requests, especially over the past year or so, I thought it would be fun to show you (with a little help from my styling maven of a sister) how to create some of the styles I wear on a regular basis. First up, the French-style side braid. This is a simple twist on a classic summer look, and a favorite of many a camp counselor. Having invested many years in summer camps, this fun, oversized braid is a subtle, styling nod to those happy memories. It looks so pretty, and in the high temps, will also keep you feeling nice and cool! A few subtle tweaks take it from camp-style to chic in a matter of seconds. 

{Step 1}
Brush out your hair, and sweep all of it over to one side. For those of you with thin or extra silky hair, a spritz or two of texturizing or styling spray will help with a little extra grip. For added volume and fullness, I like to use Big Sexy Hair Powder Play, and for extra hold and to zap oil, Psssst Dry Shampoo is pretty fantastic. 

{Step 2}
Begin by french braiding*, starting a few inches back from the top, pulling hair across the back of your head to keep the braid on one side and not down the middle of your head. 
*If you need help french braiding, here's a good tutorial

{Step 3}
Finish braiding off the rest of your hair, making sure to keep the braid tight, and secure with a hair tie. 

{Step 4}
Here's where the magic happens! Start loosening up or pulling apart the braid to give a softer, fuller effect. Begin at the top of the braid and work your way down; this gives your braid the 'Disney Princess hair' effect. If you have super thick hair, this step will alleviate a lot of the pressure and weight that comes from braids pulled tight on your scalp. 

{Step 5}
Fluff up the end of the braid, as well as around the top and crown of your head. Tuck in any super loose ends, but remember, this looser-style braid will naturally have a few pieces that may stick out, that's part of the casual I always look this fabulous charm of the hairstyle. For those of us with lots of layers, myself included, you may need to employ the help of a few bobby pins to keep the larger, shorter pieces from falling out, but use your layers to your advantage to keep the style from looking too slicked back from your face. Your braid should look full and effortlessly glam, not sloppy. 

{Step 6}
I always pull out a few pieces around my face for a little extra softness, and because I think it makes the style look better and less 'done', if you know what I mean. After you've tweaked it to your liking, I always finish the look off with a spritz of natural hold hairspray and a bit of shine spray. I like to use Chi Enviro 54 Natural Hold and Mermaid Hair Shine Spray (It has the perfect hint of coconut, tames frizzies, and makes your hair super soft and shiny!). Voila! Enjoy your fabulous, french side braid!

Happy Styling!

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