Living Fabulously Fierce SPOTLIGHT:  The Fabulously Empowered…

Kai Y. Lopes-Stovell

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Senior Hair Stylist/Educator/Image Consultant

What does Living Fabulously Fierce Mean to You? To me, living fabulously fierce is all about learning to live each day to my fullest.  As stated in the LFF mission and description, it is the same for me-I live each day trying to inspire women and young girls around me.  Each day, I am determined to help women own their beauty.  While in my day to day this is usually in the form of their hair, for me it is much deeper than their hair and that is why, no matter the age, we talk about diet, spiritual health and of course that is connected to the best hair you can have. I want my clients and the young women in my life to walk away from me changed from the inside out.  It is my mission to elevate women and girls confidence permanently!

If you had to describe your brand in three words, what would those three words be?

This is such a hard question.  I would choose so many words to answer this, but

the top 3 are ministry, authentic and empowered. I have been given the power and abilities to encourage women and I can’t do that without including GOD, who has saved me.  Small discussions about having faith, and accepting the beauty that was GOD-given are just snippets of our talks.  My approach is what allows women to feel empowered to attack and conquer the next task, or negative mindset with courage and confidence.

I am authentic about who I am and where I’ve been and what I’m still working on.  This makes the women I speak to feel as if they can face their challenges and not be ashamed of what their past and present are made of.  The future is a few minutes from that moment and can be different.  I’m vulnerable so that they can see we all have a testimony and sharing it can facilitate change in others!

How are you intentional about your personal brand? Each day, I have to pray, meditate, love me intentionally and faithfully.  The intent is always there to do that, but the consistency is difficult and has to be done or I move further away from my goals. Loving me, allows me to love my clients and young women in my life more intently as well.  I also do small things like compliment women every day, smile and say hello to women passing just to set an example.  I intentionally try to look the part of a stylist, dressed well, just enough make-up, great accessories, and of course my hair is always done or that would be an incredibly mixed message.

How do you live it? 

I pray, workout, meditate and live intentional to my purpose.  I try to not let the small things change the course of my day.  I try not to let ANYone or ANYthing steal my joy and change my course for the day ahead.

If there is anything you could do to either reinforce or enhance your brand, what would that be?

Wow, absolutely!!!! That is like an essay question. Haha.  I would love to own my own salon which would be all about building my brand and reaching the masses of women I dream of reaching! That is coming!!!

Greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment is still yet to come!  I’m happy to share that I am pregnant and GOD-willing, my pregnancy is a healthy one and goes to full term, and a baby is born, he/she will be my greatest accomplishment thus far.  Next on that list is definitely opening my own salon and growing from there.

Biggest Challenge that you’ve overcome?

My biggest challenge thus far has been learning to truly love myself physically, no matter my size.  Loving me and all GOD has placed in me that HE didn’t put in anyone  else.  Believing how uniquely I was created and not comparing myself to anybody else!

Interesting Fact/Interests/Hobby/Something you think the LFF World to Know: My

favorite pastimes are singing, working out, cooking and spending time with my husband!  Singing is something that frees my soul and causes people to listen when I open my mouth.  It’s a blessing from GOD.  Working out is an absolute in life, to feel good and live the best life I can.  Cooking is also therapeutic, and I love challenging myself with new healthy recipes.  And last, but never least, I love spending time with the best friend GOD created for me! He is the best ending to my day!

How do you recommend other women stay true to themselves and live their authentic personal brand? Never stop learning who you are and embracing it.  Love yourself more each day and smile at challenges.  Pray, and be grateful for all you have and believe more is on the way. Don’t allow naysayers to deter you and be compassionate to those who are lost and trying to figure out so many things you already have!

What advice do you have for young girls, our up and coming fabulously fierce, around being their best selves or anything you’d like to share with them in particular?

When I speak to young women and girls, I see myself.  That automatically gives me a level of compassion that reaches the true depths of my heart.  I want them to know that the greatest power is loving yourself as you are! No one can take that from you, so you have to learn to take the best steps in choosing friends, food and fun!  Make those times help uplift them and change them positively.  If they have more moments like that then, the possibilities of living fabulous fierce are so  much greater!

One of my favorite love thyself quotes is “To love yourself as you are is a miracle, and to seek yourself is to have found yourself. For now. And now is all we have, and love is who we are.” -Anne Lamott

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Living Fabulously Fierce SPOTLIGHT:The Fabulously ‘On Purpose’…

KAREN HINDS

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 Leadership Mentor for Milennials

So we’re still preparing for our March Spotlight Campaign, accepting submissions and nominations but we just couldn’t wait to start sharing some of the wisdom and insight already coming in to Living Fabulously Fierce from you incredible women-10 women already confirmed for next month!  So we’re giving you just a bit of what all of March will have in store.  Enjoy our Spotlight on Karen Hinds this week!!!!!

What does Living Fabulously Fierce Mean to You? Living fabulously fierce means living with purpose…with purpose and having fun.

If you had to describe your brand in three words, what would those three words be? Why?   

  1. Risk taker-If I have an idea, I just go after it!
  2. Excellence-I make sure to do everything with excellence for myself, for my clients and family.
  3. Fun-well, you have to enjoy life!!!

How are you intentional about your personal brand? I set regular dates with “thinking time”.  This is time during which I simply sit down on a regular basis and evaluate myself on how I’m doing, what I’m doing, and being accountable to myself around asking  “am I living according to my personal and professional goals . Honestly, I am constantly evaluating  myself overall, and  specifically, my brand.

How do you live it?  I’ve started my business, started conferences internationally, written a book all in the face of inexperience.  In terms of fun, I am veeeeery fun.  At home, we’re constantly laughing and pranking each other.  In terms of excellence, I take my work very seriously.  I truly believe, how you do anything is how you do everything. This doesn’t mean I get it right all the time, but believe me, I try.

If there is anything you could do to either reinforce or enhance your brand, what would that be?   Focus on visibility.  I think everyone who experiences my brand really enjoys it, but I’ve got to extend the exposure of it.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?  I can only pick one?  Ok…I would absolutely say my family.  See, once you have that, you can duplicate the beauty and benefit of it into anything else.  I’ve been married 20 years and my son is 16.  I am really proud of all of that.

Biggest Challenge that you’ve overcome?  So, I’m a risk taker and I’ll do whatever I believe needs to be done. That being said, the truth of the matter is there is always this little nagging voice that gets me, just like everyone else, that tries to get me to second guess myself and all that I’m doing.  So, this actually isn’t the biggest challenge that I’ve overcome but it is the biggest challenge that I’m constantly overcoming.  I intentionally try to limit the power of that voice and make sure I don’t set limitations for myself.  It’s an ‘in progress’ overcoming.

Interesting Fact/Interests/Hobby/Something you think the LFF World to Know.  I love food, so the most interesting food I’ve eaten were grasshoppers….It was a crunchy dish.

Tell me about Brand Karen Hinds as Living Fabulously ‘On Purpose’.  When you hit 44 you realize you just move and live for you and what you want.  I just live on purpose and don’t waste any time.

How do you recommend other women stay true to themselves and live their authentic personal brand?   Women first have to get to know themselves because we throw around the word brand and people really don’t know who they are.  It’s like setting someone in the kitchen, telling them to make something, and they don’t even know what ingredients they have in the kitchen to use.  So know yourself, define you, and then live authentically because you already know who and what you are.  Then you’re no longer trying to be something or someone that you think someone else wants you to be, but instead you’re choosing to live on purpose.

What advice do you have for young girls, our up and coming fabulously fierce, around being their best selves or anything you’d like to share with them in particular?  Open your mind, guard yourselves, your emotional selves, ask questions and always ask for help… always.

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #43: Processing-Accepting “Ugly” to Revel in “Beauty”

This week I came across an Instagram post of one of the fitness accounts I follow that really struck me “

“You have to sweat like a pig and work like a horse to look like a fox.”

I wish I could remember what account it was so I could give cred, but I totally forget. There were a few reasons why this stuck with me including my own challenging efforts with personal fitness goals, goals I have around my career, entrepreneurial endeavors, and just life in general. I really like what this quote is getting at because it actually gives you a slap in the face while simultaneously encouraging you.  This is  what I really take away from it:

Listen, if you want to be fabulous and fierce, you have to accept that the being is actually becoming, becoming is a journey, and not every stage of any journey positions you to look or feel your best all the time…but if you stick with it, the process that is, you’re going to be amazed by the outcome!!!!”

So, this is what I’ve got for you today-a recommitment opportunity. We all have different things that we’ve previously committed to that we started off really well with and then, because it got “ugly” and we weren’t seeing results as quickly as we wanted or we didn’t achieve a goal by the time we determined we would, we just abandoned the process.  For me this has included the process of becoming a runner, going natural (with my hair for those of you that just got lost a bit), losing weight, learning how to golf.  Yup, I’ve got things that I need to go back to.  After three attempts, I did finally go completely natural four years ago.  I’ve had some success with weight loss but have newer goals in that area.  I have tried multiple times to get better at running and this past month, for the first time, even though I really have been ready to quit because it truly is not always cute, I haven’t.  I’m totally committing to the process.  In fact, today, I hit run #31!!!  I’ve NEVER been that consistent with that process….and I’m actually getting better.

So, here’s what I’ve got for you today-a recommitment opportunity….an opportunity for each of us to revisit a process we’ve walked away from in the past or select a new one. Basically pick a goal: Going back to school, losing 10 pounds, doing a workout program…the whole way through, something. Now:

1-Determine the process of reaching your goal: For me, I’m going to stick with my commitment to running.  I’ve determined that for me, I need to be consistent in getting at least four 5ks in per week-basically 3.1 miles.  I’ve actually been doing more than that but that’s the process I’ve identified. What is your determination-your process?

2-Make a commitment however you need to. My commitment making has taken the form of me having the Nike Running app Coach as my “partner” in this process.  And let me tell you, it’s no joke…it really pushes and encourages in a very effective way.  Commitments take different forms.  Sometimes, all it takes is stating what you’re going to do or become.  When I finally decided I would never go back to relaxing my hair…it really was just a simple decision…and let me tell you, as I was figuring things out, not every day was a good hair day.  Other times, all I needed to do was write down my goal in my journal or on a sticky note that I posted somewhere that I would see every day.  As it relates to weight loss/management, I had to commit to only picking up seven different items from the grocery store and doing meal preps on Sundays.  This week, one of my friends actually posted her commitment to her selected process on Facebook.    Whatever it is, you just need to decide how you’re going to actually make the commitment. How will you make your commitment?

3-Accept that there are going to be some “ugly” days. Here, all I mean is that you are not always going to be cute in whatever the process you’re selecting is because the process itself, if it truly is one that is going to lead to transformation, development and growth, is just not going to be cute.  Accept that and know it’s totally ok.  During one of my runs this week, I was totally struggling.  It was just a tough day and I was hoping and praying no one say how I was pretty much dragging my steps during the last mile of the run.  NOT cute.  But, I know there would be days like that before I even started the process and I just accepted it….so I didn’t let that stop me.  I let it propel me toward what I’m headed toward…success in this area. What do you already know may be “ugly” about this process for you? Just put it out there so you know that you already knew it ahead of time and can’t use it as an excuse to quit.

4-Keep the “fox” in mind-the success, the “beauty” of the process. This is all about keeping the vision up front and close…really making it…well, real.  What do I mean by that?  Well, I am n where near being a “runner”, or the runner I want to be, I should say.  But, I’m much closer to it now than I was on day one of the process, and you better believe that every time I head out the door, with every step that hits the pavement, every breath I take to push just a little bit more, I’m envisioning myself at the finish line of some race-sometimes, another 5k, other times, yup, the Boston Marathon.  I know what my “fox” looks like.  What I look like as the “fox”.  In order to be able to get here, I had to think about what all of this was, again, before the activity part of process even began.   What’s your “fox”-The end game?   What do you look like at the end of the process?

5-Get ready, set, go!!!! All that’s left is to mentally prepare, set yourself up for the process, and go forth and conquer.  I had to get new sneakers and a few more workout pieces.  I had to also get the running app.  Then, I just had to get out there and go.  And guess what, that first day, it rained like crazy!!!!!  But I had determined the process, I made a commitment, I had envisioned success…so there was only one thing left to do…so, I did it…I went…and I’m still going!

So, how about you? Do tell.  What process are you going to commit to and begin accepting the “ugly” that may be involved, determining to move forward and keep going until you reach your goal….at least until you reach your goal?

Soundtrack of the week: Because you can’t rely on your momma for this one…and it’s just a really good song, Paramore’s Aint It Fun!

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #19-Keeping Your Faith without Fear

CAUTION: Spiritual content ahead.  Brace for blessing and impact!

Happy Easter!!!  I hope your Resurrection Sunday has gotten off to fabulous start!  Easter happens to be my favorite holiday for many reasons but the most important being it is a reminder, for me, of the importance of faith.

I identify faith as it is defined in Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Someone recently asked me how do I stay so hopeful and happy about everything when I don’t have everything I would like in my life.  I quickly added, “yet…..I don’t have it all, yet,” and explained that I really do believe that what I am seeking and aspire for is in line with what God has for me and as a result, it’s just a matter of time before it comes to pass.  That being said, I do have a confidence in what I hope for, an assurance in what I do not see.  This is what it means to have faith without fear.  Essentially, I have a vision, am definitely a praying woman who seeks wisdom in everything, and I don’t let circumstances or changing life seasons determine my level of faith in the vision that I have.  Simply put, there is so much good that I what to do in this world- sooooooooooooooooo much-and my vision incorporates so much that in order for me not to focus on current limitations, I have to pray and seek the wisdom needed to take the right steps toward this vision.  Most importantly though, I’ve got to maintain a confidence in the things that I hope for that is not stirred by wind (challenges), rain (moments of frustration), or any distracting “noise” (those to my left and my right who may not be able to see what I see and therefore not be able to support, and actually detract, unintentionally or otherwise).

That being said, my hope for you today is that you will

1-Take the time to consider your vision.

If you’ve been with me since the vision board exercise early on, (LFF#2) go back to that.  Remember how I stressed just laying things out not worrying about what might not “make sense”?

  • What were you able to depict for yourself as a result of taking the limits off of your own thinking?
  • Have things changed?
  • If you’ve minimized your vision, why?

If you haven’t laid out your vision, ok I’m going to be a little tough here…chop chop! If you’ve expanded your vision, fabulous!

2-Seek the wisdom to determine what next steps are needed to get closer to realizing your vision.

Be open to the fact that wisdom may actually require that you sit still for a bit.  This is the place in which I currently am, and am actually baffled.  See, we live in a society in which we’re taught that to “get, get, get we’ve got to do, do, do” and often times this only results in a whirlwind/hamster wheel effect.  You know, going around in circles and not making any progress whatsoever.  Sometimes, to make progress, we really may need to just sit still or keep moving, but just a bit slower than we’d like, all for the purpose of making sure any moves are actually in the right direction.

3-Maintain your faith without fear.

I’m a big believer that life is all about seasons.  There’s an old adage that if you’re going through something right now, know that you’re just a breath away from coming out of it…and if you haven’t gone through something, brace yourself because you’re going to need your strength as you’ll more than likely be going through something of your own very shortly.  C’est la vie.  That being said, maintaining your faith without fear and with strength requires that you maintain a “seasons perspective” while also maintaining a level of faith that is not shifted by the ups and downs of the life.

Happy Easter folks!  Get your vision on! Maintain your faith!  Let go of fear!

Sound track of the week: Mary Mary’s I Just Can’t Give Up Now

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #18-Surrounding Yourself with Good Company

Of all the things that may change in life, a few key things remain the same, including the fact that some days are easy and some are hard, but with good company, it can all be pretty fabulous!

When it comes to good company, I am truly blessed beyond measure!  I’ve got some pretty remarkable people in my life that I truly count as blessings, gifts really, because I never once asked for them and here they all are, playing a role in Farah Inc.  That being said, there are a few key things that are common of those I keep company with that I think are pretty important for all of us.  These include,

1-We’re friends, not because we’re perfect, but indeed in spite of our imperfections.

Not a single one of us is perfect in any way, shape or form.  We’re just right, the way that we are, in whatever season that we’re in, always growing and developing.  But perfect, nope, not one of us.  True friends are those who can look at you and appreciate all that you are and all that you’re becoming with a love for you despite the fact that they know you’ll never be perfect, whatever that may mean anyway.

2-We have real expectations of each other. 

My friend Ivy and I were chatting once about some of the “interesting” people that we come across in this life.

Ivy and I with Zo! from Foreign Exchange

Ivy and I with Zo! from Foreign Exchange

And when I say interesting, I mean….you know…hmmm, how do I say this…well, the folks who if someone gave you the option of either hanging out with for five minutes or running a marathon on a blistering hot day, well you’d go and get your sneakers and start running.  And know that all of us are that “interesting” person for at least one person in this world at one point or another.  It’s all good.  Anyway, I digress…Ivy and I were chatting about one of her “interestings” and she said, “I knew we really couldn’t be friends because she just had absolutely no expectations of me.”  What this was really all about was the fact that this individual did not hold Ivy accountable to be the best Ivy she could be.  She and I on the other hand, however, we have “best-self” expectations of each other and really won’t let the other slip too far from meeting that expectation.

3-We know when to heavy-handed and when to be heavy-hearted, maintaining a balance of both.  

Sometimes, I really have a hard time with this one because don’t we all just want a hug or someone to tell us, “everything’s going to be ok” or “oh, you’ll be alright, you’ll be fine”?  As much of a tough cookie as I can be, sometimes, I really want 90% heavy-hearted and 10% heavy-handed and all I get is the exact opposite…because that’s actually just what I need and fortunately my friends often know better than me.  I will definitely say no one in the Farah Bernier Circle will ever baby her.  What I am grateful for though is that I am never at a loss of the needed “I need you to get your act together” or the needed “I’m so sorry, I’ll bring over some dessert and we’ll cry this one out or just watch a good movie.”

4-Through it all is love

Speaking of good movies, I recently saw Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself again

and at one point Mary J. Blige’s character sings

“I don’t need no one to put me down, I’m on the ground can’t get no lower. And I don’t need no one to hang around an make me frown…”

I think this points to the fact that the best thing for all of us from the company we keep is love. This makes me think of Job, let me tell you, if I’m ever where he was, I’m pretty certain I don’t need anyone in my crew like the friends he had.  They didn’t show him love.  It was really all about pity and the perspective that he must’ve done something wrong to warrant him going through what he was experiencing.  Job needed love and he didn’t get as much as he needed.  Again, grateful that even if they needed to give me a swift kick in the pants, no matter what, it would be in love.

This week, I’m actually going to write, yes actually write a few cards to those in my company just to let them know they’re appreciated and that when it comes right down to it, although I am soooo not a mushy person, yup, I love them.

So, as for you, are you keeping good company? Do the folks in your circle add,
encourage, enlarge your territory, love and have expectations of you? Do they have the same expectation of you and how are you measuring up to that expectation?  Are you sowing into their lives as they are yours?  Answer these questions, just for you.  Finally, this week, in whatever way you choose, reach out to at least three people in your circle with a simple “Hey, you’re pretty fabulous and I’m grateful for you.”

Soundtrack of the week: Mary J. Blige’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #17-Never Wilting Under Mischaracterization

“If you know who you are, then what somebody calls you is just so irrelevant…  If I wilted every time somebody in my life mischaracterized me or called me a bad name, I never would have accomplished all that I have to date.  You know who you are, so whatever anybody else says is just interesting fodder.” ~Michelle Obama, 2008 Essence Interview

 Michelle-Obama4-e1346784851462

I could just stop right there, huh?  How fabulous is she?!?!

Jumping right in, I’m pretty sure all of us have heard some things about ourselves from others that took us by surprise.  I know I definitely have.  Fortunately, 99% of the folks in my life are those who I can truly have a heart to heart with when things like this come up and what it usually boils down to is almost always misunderstanding.  This really takes a good level of self-assuredness and confidence.  It’s often so much easier to just sit in hurt over what others say about us, especially when it comes to the situations in which it’s the 1% who are actually just talking to talk….it happens.  It takes strength not to wilt and stay focused on what you know about who you are.

So, by now you’ve probably guessed it.  The most critical aspect to not wilting under mischaracterization knowing thyself.  This week we’re going to focus on a few self-reflective questions around this.  Get the journals out folks.

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1-What two most valuable truths do you truly know about you, that no one can every persuade you otherwise on?

2-What about yourself are you most sensitive about?

3-How do you usually most productively get over hurt?

4-Who is your ace-someone (s) you can go to and totally pour out without any fear of judgment or any other potential consequence.

Because I’m all about modeling the behavior I expect of others…here goes…

1-First, every day I am focused on being the very best me that I can be and living a life that is honorable based on my Christian values.  Second, I have a heart that extends to others in their pain and genuinely celebrate with them in their joy! (Ummmm, did I mention Dre got an Emmy!!!!! That Dionna is on a cruise with her mom this week!!!! And I’m not ashamed to say that there have been moments that I’ve actually clapped for the Jeopardy winner!!!)

2-Ugh so let me explain this one (already sounds like defense doesn’t it) so, I am totally ok with being single…for now as I do look forward to being in a relationship but trust, I am thoroughly enjoying this season.  HOWEVER, over the past few weeks, too many people have been asking me the question “so why are you single.”  The woman who threads my eyebrows even asked me, “Why you don’t have husband….you don’t like men?”  Really? And….oh if you knew the stories that are getting back to me about why I’m single…from folks who don’t even know me…it’s nuts!!! Kinda funny at times. So yes, as that itty bitty rant shows, today, in this season, that’s what I’m most sensitive about, not because it is my season, but because of others’ assessment of it.

3-The way I most productively get over hurt is to have a conversation with the source of the hurt to make sure that I’m actually seeing whatever the situation is through the same lens as them and understand their intention.  When that doesn’t or can’t happen for whatever reason, my other option…real simple….pray, and move on.

4-No naming names here but I actually have two usual suspects that I go to when I really just need to let it all out.

Whew!  Breathe!

Why is it important to answer these questions, well, when I identify and spell out my most valuable self-truths, starting with just two to get the ball rolling, well, then nothing that comes my way to contradict those truths will get me to move away from these because I know that I know that I know these truths about myself.  The are part of who I am.  If I know my own sensitivities and can get to the root of them to understand what’s behind them, no one can use them against me.  It’s like one of our Partners recently shared, “I know I’m fat, you know I’m fat, can we just move on or do you need to put in another joke to make you feel just as good about you as I do about me regardless of how I look?”  That’s an “in your face” statement if I ever heard one.

For as long as we’re living, we’re going to experience pain and hurt from others.  It’s just reality, but as Rick Warren says, “God never wastes a hurt, but uses it for a purpose in your life and the lives of others.”  That being said, as long as you know how you get through hurt, you’re better prepared to employ that strategy once things come up.  Finally, we all need someone with whom we can be totally transparent, who will know when to hold our hand and cry with us or tell us to get over ourselves, stand up straight, get in line, and keep moving.  To my aces, you know who you are, Thanks!!!  Love ya!!!

Since all of this requires the fighter in all of us to come out, the soundtracks of the week are

“Fighter” by Christina Aguilera and Gym Class Heroes

 

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #14-Living Life to the Fullest

“Death is a tragic thing, only if you haven’t lived.” ~Tyler Perry’s Family That Preys

Ok ladies…

Here we are, month two of 2013 and interestingly enough, it is time to take a little step back and think to the very beginning of the year.  As a reminder, here at LFF we focused on challenging new year’s resolutions with the commitment to being WIPs-Works in Process (check out the 12.30.12 post for a refresher).  Some of you have reached out sharing some of your progress, which is fabulous!  Some have shared some hiccups to the progress, which is natural by the way, and unfortunately, have pulled out of the process.

For instance, someone shared that at the beginning of the year, she made a commitment to taking more time for herself in an effort to gain more balance and because she’s gotten to a place of more financial stability than she’s ever had in the past, she was going to plan monthly, three-day getaways, a quarter at a time. So, she started to plan for Q1 with a January adventure, was distracted and never did it and all of a sudden, it’s not important to start looking into February…HER BIRTHMONTH BY THE WAY!!!!  Yup, totally putting you on blast…you know who you are.  Now I’m being a bit tough but here’s the reality….one month of delay can turn to two, which turns to half a year, another year, and then we’re 25, 35, 45 55 etc talking about the things we thought we were going to do and never did…the goals we wanted to accomplish, and never did….the impact we wanted to have, and never set ourselves up to.  Then ultimately, time lessens its patience with us and we depart, never having lived the life we knew we were purposed to live.

Now, this is going to get a little dark, but stay with me and I promise it’s going to get real good…

A former colleague of mine was the daughter of a very well-to do mortician who shared that she learned very early on that death was just part of life and though loss was always hard to deal with, it was part of the living experience. Unfortunately, a few of those close to me have lost loved ones early in this new year but every single one of them has had a certain peace about their loss like this colleague of mine.  When I think about each of them and their responses when I shared my condolensces, it’s really because they could look back over the life of the individual they’d lost and see that they had truly lived life to the fullest that they were truly ok.

My grandmother passed years ago but her death was as much of an inspiration as her strength, wit, and grace in life.  She definitely knew her time was up and her last words were,

“God has blessed me with a good life, a caring husband who was with me until his last days, three beautiful daughters, six gracious grandchildren, I am satisfied.”

I am satisfied…her last three words inspired a poem I wrote for my mom to help her through the loss as a reflection of what I believe my grandmother would have said to her. I share this to say that when my grandmother passed at 92, she was satisfied and we knew it because she lived her life to the fullest, for her, and so all we could do was celebrate her life…we didn’t fall apart as if her death was tragic, it was an inspiration.

Now, I realize this is a bit heavy and ok a little morbid but the major thing to take away from this is that we have to live our lives to the fullest.  Our departure from this earth is only tragic if we don’t.  So, today, my question to you is what does living life to the fullest mean to you?

Just think about you for a minute. No comparison to anyone else or consideration for what the world would say living life to the fullest is.  What does living life to the fullest mean to you?

Once you’ve identified that, paint the picture through words.  Yes, get to the journal and just pen it out.  List every detail of this full picture for you.

Next, clearly make note of

1. What’s keeping you from that life right now?

2. What’s in your control to limit the impact of these obstacles for you?

3. What will you do this week to begin living that picture for you?

Finally, just do it!!!!  I know I am!!!!

Instead of a soundtrack of the week, let’s go for a video clip.  See, I think Ellen Degeneres went through this process in some form or fashion and determined that part of her living life to the fullest included dancing whenever she felt moved to.  She must’ve pictured what that would look like, and now she gets a full audience to join her in dancing every day she goes to work!  And she didn’t even stop there, she extended her brand to SYTYCD and is now a “dance legend”!  So, if nothing else, go ahead, dance!

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #11-Valuing Yourself

Well, the first week of 2013 really set the year up for a fabulous start for me and I really hope and pray the same is true for your and yours.

In a recent interview with Essence Magazine, The fabulously fierce, Jill Scott shared:

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“I’m excited about something and I don’t know what it is yet.”

That’s where I am right now.  I’m just so excited and I just can’t hide it (you know the song), but I know something is about to burst-it may even just be me, but it’s definitely going to be extraordinary!  Just remember I told you so!
The past couple weeks, the last of 2012 and the first of 2013 presented a number of fruitful conversations that have, of course, got me thinking.  Two points in particular have been on replay in my mind:

1-Most of us really don’t know what it means to value ourselves

2-There really should be some process/outline/guide for valuation of self

So, in true Farah Fashion, of course, I’ve got to build some sort of solution to what I see as gaps from these two things.

Valuing Ourselves

First, in terms of know what it means to value ourselves, let’s, again, start with the technical.  If you do a simple search of the term (so grateful for Google), you get the following definition:

The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance or preciousness of something.  To appreciate, evaluate, estimate, appraise, assess.

Though we don’t view ourselves as things or objects, we can leverage this definition as a way to determine what it really means to value ourselves.  For me, this means that to value myself is to determine the regard that I deserve or feel I’ve earned, the importance of myself as an individual and all the parts that make up who I am.

Regarding the action of valuing myself, this means I also have to estimate, appraise or assess myself in order to really appreciate all of who I am. On some level, at this stage, this really boils down to feelings right?  I think Betsy Myers said it best in Take the Lead when she states:

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The way we feel about ourselves…has an impact that adds or detracts, inspires or deflates.

Well, I want to be amongst the fabulously fierce who add and inspire…no doubt about it.  So the next piece is, how do we go about actually carrying out the appraisal or valuation of ourselves?

Self-Valuation

Yesterday, I had the good fortune of spending time with my friend, Sharon Brewster.  We hadn’t really had good bonding time since high school!!!  We were paired as big and little sister my freshmen year and the time has flown by.  So we slated time to catch up at 10:30a.m.  At 2:01p.m. when my phone rang we both realized hours had gone by which we totally didn’t realize because our convo was absolutely incredible.  What came out of it was really part two of what I’ve been thinking about, the process.  So, here’s my recommended guide:

1-Express the truth about how you feel about you. Ask yourself and answer the following questions:

  • What do I really feel good about as it relates to who I am?
  • What makes me really proud of who I am?
  • What are the most significant things about me that I love?
  • What aspects of me don’t I feel so great about?

When I say to express these truths, I really mean to be truthful and hold the mirror up, just for you.  Literally take a sheet of paper, answer these questions, just for you.  Since it’s yours, no need to hold anything back in the form of false humility or keeping the negative out…it’s literally just for you.

2-Identify what factors have contributed to the way you feel about myself.  These are different people, experiences, perfections that have had impacted us through influence.

3-Take the positive factors and commit to leveraging them and continuing these to be in a position to influence you.  For instance, last week I talked about Dionna’s influence on me.  Um yes, she will definitely be leveraged today, forever, and always!

4-List the negative factors on a separate sheet of paper be they people, your own mindsets, and/or past experiences, and commit to letting them go by taking the list and literally just throwing it away.  Through that action, you’re in essence just releasing whatever hold they may be continuing to have over you.

5-Take 10-15 minutes, sit still and just reflect on what came out of this for you.  Even during our short time together yesterday, both Sharon and I at one point or another sayd, “wow, now that I’m sitting here talking about this with you, I actually realize…..”  What light may have been shed for you that you hadn’t realized?  For instance, is there someone that now you’ve taken the time to think about it, isn’t really adding anything to your life and actually detracting?  Well, it may be time to release them from your inner circle.  I’m not saying to totally do away with someone, but limit their influence over you.  Is there a positive factor that you just haven’t given enough time or put  some other invest in as a way of leveraging it’s impact on how you value yourself?

At this point, the real goal is to be able to confidently say,”You know what, I like me.  I’m worth a whole lot.  I truly, truly value me.”  I’ll even say it with you!

Soundtrack of the week: Kirk Franklin’s I Like Me

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #3-Maintaining Your Ability to Accessorize with Your Smile

The past two weeks have definitely pushed me to learn more about how much I can handle.  There’s just been a lot of work with work, a lot going on with friends, and some of my own personal challenges.  I really can’t say that anything is bad, but it’s a lot of good things, great things, and things that aren’t necessarily bad….just unexpected if you will.  That being said, I’ve definitely been stretched, stressed and had to address some fear and anxiety (yes the fabulously fierce are human and experience these feelings too). Truly though, what doesn’t kill you ABSOLUTELY makes you stronger.

Throughout any challenges though, I really do always try to maintain my composure and focus on being positive…for myself and in managing my personal brand.  It’s just so important to always keep in mind that no matter what you’re going through, you’re always offering up an experience of your brand with others.  Whether you’re having a great day or not, all people remember is how they have experienced you, based on how you show up.  Now some of us wear our emotions on our sleeves and have to do a little more work to show up positively when interacting with others.  For me, and I would submit this is the case with most of us, it all really depends on the day.  Some days, I’m better at not letting things get to me so much that everyone can see I’m just not myself.  On other days (though rare) I don’t really leave much to the imagination in terms of what I’m feeling.

One thing that I think I have working in my favor though is that I am really able to be in the moment, no matter what I’m going through or facing.  If I’m on the train for my morning commute into the office and trying to mentally prepare for the day but the person next to me starts up an interesting conversation….I’m totally there!  If I’ve got a million things to get done with a task list already set up with check boxes for me to build that sense of accomplishment as I work through (if you couldn’t “see” my Type A personality coming through before, well, here you go) but there’s an impromptu get together or “Committee Meeting” called to order (Consuela, Faith, and Veronica know the deal), I’m totally there!  If I’ve just gotten some not so great news but a fabulous song comes on….I’m there, especially if it’s an old jam like MJ’s Smooth Criminal.  Basically, what I’m saying is that, no matter what’s going on, I try to be present in all situations, appreciating whomever I’m with and whatever we’re doing, what is actually happening…not what I “should” be doing, or what’s “supposed” to be happening.  This really helps me appreciate everything so much more, and smile a whole lot more in this world in the face of everything that can go a little crazy around us in this world, or have us feeling like we’re in a constant whirlwind.

So, today, I’m suggesting we all just make an intentional commitment of embracing everything we face….the good and the unexpected with the same accessory…a smile.  Super cheesy, I know, especially as, believe it or not, I’m sooooooooo NOT the mushy mushy type.  The reality, though, is that this really allows us to be present, in the moment, and soak up the best of everything and everyone around us.  So, go ahead….I dare you, just smile.  You just look so much better when you do!  And….against the feedback of my friend, Melissa, I’m inserting one here via an emoticon, just for you 🙂 !

Soundtrack of the day: Kirk Franklin’s I Smile

From Artistry to Reality Creation!

Where we left off.
I was so inspired by all the calls, emails, tweets, texts, Facebook comments on what you all did for yourselves.  From hanging out with turtles in Trinidad to deciding to stay home and do nothing but make yourself a nice meal, I really loved every example of taking time out for yourself.

As for me, I decided on a few things:
1-I’d catch up on some of my Essence Magazine reading.  I’m definitely backed up in that area.
2-Took some extra time to “soak”…something I’ve been doing for years and that has really been taken to another level with my Church, New Dimension.  I guess you can call it mediation, but basically, I usually do one hour/week just sitting, listening to my favorite, most soothing and reflective gospel music focusing on all that I’m grateful for.  This week, I went into two hours of soaking and it was fabulous!  If this is something you want to get into, I suggest kicking it off with Israel and New Breed’s Hosanna.  It really sets the stage for an amazing time of reflection
3-I painted.  Now before I show you what I did, let me make it clear that I am in no way, shape or form an ar-tiste 🙂  BUT, I have found that there are only three things that I do that really allow me to totally empty my mind:

  • Running,which I’m on a hiatus from since I sprained my ankle 😦
  • Flying, which clearly I can’t do every day, at least not yet 🙂  There’s just something about being in the air, in the clouds, that really helps take my mind off of things.
  • Painting, inspired by a paint nite event I went to just to support my friend Dan Hermann’s new venture.  So, I decided I was going to give myself some time to just paint and relax. Here’s just one of the pieces I did. 

   

The rest are still in process….more to come.

Let me tell you, the combo of all of this set me up for a fabulous week of being fierce in everything I needed to do and fabulous for everyone I needed to be me for 🙂 How did it influence how your week went?  Please share!

Keeping the ball rolling:

Yesterday, I had the chance to meet with Mrs. Dima Hendricks, 2006 Miss Black Massachusetts, to discuss opportunities for us to collaborate in our efforts targeting young girls.  Dima and I have gotten to know each other over the past few years so of course there was a lot of work focus complemented by a lot of “sister talk”. 

 During our conversation, Dima said something that really got me thinking about our current state versus our reality.  As we were talking about things we’re in the season of and what we’re looking forward to in the future, she said, “I just know my current state, isn’t my reality.  My reality is just so much more than even where I am right now.”

Now before I really delve into this, let me just say that I always think it’s so important to really appreciate every season we experience.  The ups, the downs, the good, the great, they unexpected, and the challenging because at the end of the day, it really does come together for our good. Also, neither Dima or I is downtrodden in any way, we’ve just got our sights set on higher heights, and just loving the process of getting there.   Many of us spend too much time just focusing on our current state.  For some of us, we see challenges all around us.  There are challenges with school, with our finances, with employment, with our relationships, with our health, with our weight, with this thing, that thing and the other.  The list could truly go on for days, maybe even years.  It’s so easy to just stand still and focus on all of this.  As heavy as it can sometimes be, it actually is a lot more comfortable than getting up and doing something about it. 

Then there are those of us who are constantly day dreaming of “what is to come”, “what will be”, and oh “how all will be just perfect” once we get there.  I truly believe in keeping a focus on vision.  It’s an absolute necessity for progress….it truly, truly, truly is!  So, we have to get a vision of what we want, being very specific about what it is, how it is, what it will look and feel like for us.  It’s the only way we’ll know that we really do have what we want once we get it.  The danger here though is how easy it can be to rest on our laurels in day dreaming, never making any progress toward achievement of our desired reality. 

 So, what do we do to fill this gap?  How do we build the bridge?

 Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #2: Create, Own, and Work Toward a Vision.  Don’t worry we won’t be taking this all on at once.  Bit by bit.  So to start we have to create some representation of the reality we want to experience?  We actually get to leverage our day dreams here.  Let’s jump right in….get your markers, construction paper, notebook, whiteboard, journal, magazines scissors and glue stick, whatever it takes to get you to create a visual of what you’d like to see for yourself in the next 5-10 years, get it and do it!!!  Don’t forget to share.  I’ll be posting mine for you soon enough!