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I Almost Ate a Live Fly!

I was recording some training videos at a place of business and I wasn’t sure if I should take a break to get something to eat, or if I should keep on going until I was finished recording. On one hand I needed a refresher – it was almost 3:30 p.m. and I had not eaten anything for the day. But if I pushed past my hunger, I would finish sooner and get home sooner. I decided to get something to eat and walked to a nearby café.

For some reason, that day was filled with indecision. At the café, I couldn’t decide if I wanted the black bean burger or a salad. I decided on the salad. The pecan salad was made to order – spring mix greens topped with pecans, dried cranberries, apple slices and grated cheddar cheese. It looked so good!

As I started to eat the salad I immediately felt that the salad wasn’t clean. I inspected the greens and I couldn’t find anything specifically wrong. I ate cautiously, while reasoning that it was the crumbled pecan pieces that gave the appearance that the salad wasn’t clean. I sat on the outside patio on this unusually warm February afternoon. Instead of enjoying the scenery, I couldn’t take my eyes off the salad. I kept rummaging through it with the fork, inspecting every bite.

I was about three bites in when I noticed something black. At first I though that it was a cranberry. But it couldn’t be. It was black not maroon. I looked closer and saw the black thing making its way upward through the spring mix. Soon a big black fly emerged! I felt like I was going to vomit. Quickly I covered the bowl and stared at it in disbelief. There was a live fly in my salad!

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I sat for a moment so my queasiness could subside, then gathered up everything to take back to the café. The lady at the counter, who had prepared the salad, seemed more amused than apologetic. “I’m sorry about that ma’am,” she said emotionless as though the offence was forgetting to put napkins in my bag. “Look, there’s a fly in there,” she said to her coworker, “come see it. It’s right in there alive!” Then she added, “I didn’t even see any flies in here today.” Still a bit nauseous, I couldn’t stop staring at the lady. She soon stopped her chatter and proceed to make me another salad, to which I responded: “I’d just like a refund please.”

I headed back to the office hungry and grossed out – plus I had just lost about 20 minutes of time.

My intuition was right. The spring mix clearly wasn’t rinsed. Live flies don’t stick around for baths. Had I not been paying attention, I probably would have eaten that fly.

Intuition is the subconscious processing of information that informs our decision-making or actions. All of our thoughts impress upon our subconscious, which then directs most of our actions. So sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the reason for our actions, when they are guided by our subconscious.

This is somewhat like instinct. Instinct is our primal response system to “fight, flight or freeze” when we’re in danger or feel threatened. When our instincts kick in, we often get a distinct feeling in our core know as a “gut feeling” that guides our response.

Evidence supports more and more why we should rely on our intuition and instincts. In my “Live Empowered” membership, I train on how to understand these two and make them work in our favor.

“We need to respect the fact that it is possible to know without knowing why we know and accept that – sometimes – we’re better off that way,” author Malcolm Gladwell said in is best-seller “Blink.”

This fly-in-my-salad incident is mild compared what my intuition has saved me from. How has your intuition spared you from some danger? Did you ever overthink your intuition and choose a logical option instead, only to find that your intuition was right?

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Keep Your Skeptics in the Stands, Then Jump In

I wasn’t ready!

My seven-year-old daughter tested into level three of the youth swimming program at the local aquatic center. She can swim, but needs to learn technique. On the first day of her swimming lessons, we met on the same deck of the four-foot pool where she tested. She got into the water and practiced some moves. Then an employee came to me and said they are moving to another pool and parents should proceed to the stands.

As I looked at the employee confused, two other mothers came to me assuring me that everything would be alright. “Don’t worry. We were scared the first time too. It’s deep, but she can do it.” I was even more confused. What were they talking about? They continued, “17-feet sounds like a lot, but it’s okay.”

“You mean 7-feet of water!” I exclaimed. “No, 17-feet,” the mom, who I later learned is DeeDee, said. I was in disbelief as I headed to the stands with these women. I usually don’t allow my daughter to swim in more than 5-feet.

By the time we got to the stands my baby had just jumped into the water and was swimming from one end of the pool to the other. I sat with my eyes bulging, heart palpitating and stomach churning. I just wasn’t ready for that! I thought that she would have gotten a prior pep talk. I wished that I was close enough to whisper some affirmations before she jumped in.

My daughter swam with all her might. When she reached the other side, she looked up to the stands where I smiled and gave her thumbs up. But I was still very scared. I wondered if she knew she was in 17-feet of water. I wondered if she would have the urge for her feet to touch solid ground. I wondered how skilled the lifeguard on duty was at rescuing children. I wondered about the expertise of the young instructors to recognize if she had lost confidence and needed to leave the pool.

When she motioned to me that her goggles had fallen to the bottom and that she was going to get it, I almost lost it. I stood immediately, wildly motioning “NO!” with my mouth, head and hands. An instructor soon got it for her.

After they had done some swimming, they came on the deck to practice diving. I could see her little face. She was so excited. I kept clapping, giving thumbs up and blowing kisses. She was really having a great time. And I had to go along with it for her benefit. But I was an emotional wreck for the entire 50 minutes.

I couldn’t wait until it was all over – for my own nerves and so that she could share her experience with me. The first thing I wanted to ask was, “Weren’t you afraid?” But I resisted. Instead I asked, “How was it?” The water was cold at first, it was tiring, it was fun – that’s how she described it. Afraid, scared, frightened – the words that expressed my emotions, did not enter her mind. When we made it to the car I cautiously asked, “did you realize the pool is 17-feet deep?” At first she didn’t, she said, but when they went on the deck to dive, she noticed. “That’s the deepest water I’ve ever swam in mommy!” she said excitedly, assured of her skills. She was never fearful.

As I thought over everything on the drive home, I realized that my position in the stands was the best thing for my daughter’s progress. I am my children’s biggest supporter. I love them with all my heart. Yet, I almost became my daughter’s main skeptic. I was cautious, fearful, doubtful and worried. Had I been closer to her, it’s likely that I would have unintentionally transferred these same feelings to her.

Thank God they sent us parents to the stands!

Here it was that I invested my time and money in swimming lessons, yet, had it not been for the distance from her, I could have sabotaged my daughter’s entire learning with my uncontained emotions.

So imagine your skeptics. The ones who have no vested interest in your development or growth.  Imagine if you allow those people close proximity to you, how their own cynicism, fears and negative energy can influence your progress. Imagine if you allow any and everyone access to your life, how their perceptions, based on their personal baggage, can slow your growth. Imagine that even the people who you love and mean well, may have unchecked emotions that stunt your growth.

I ask you to examine your life. Identify your skeptics. And place them in the stands. Let them watch you swim from afar, but never close enough to negatively affect you. Surround yourself with instructors, coaches and lifeguards – people who are already experts in your field – and let them guide you.

After you have properly prepared yourself for something, placed your skeptics in the stands, and surrounded yourself with the best – don’t look back, don’t hesitate, don’t doubt yourself – JUMP IN!

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

“Show me you love me and you don’t have to say a word.” -Charlie Wilson

Love is an action. Today and every day, commit to taking action to show your loved ones that you love them. How do you show love? Here’s a video with some actionable tips for showing love! Join me for a year of Intentional Acts of Love.

 

 

Show Love! Live Love! Be Love!

For more inspirational videos subscribe to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVjd4ic45rrVu2XqBa-jo5A

 

Do it Now! Do it Afraid!

Last year my mother went on an amusement park ride with me for the first time in my life. And I’m a grown woman with children of my own. Growing up mom didn’t do any rides – no spinning saucers, no bumper cars, not even the slow moving merry-go-rounds. She would stand at the side of the rides smiling at me, encouraging me and waiting for me to get off – but she herself never got on any. Plus she’s afraid of heights.

It didn’t come easy for her to get on that Ferris wheel at the North Carolina State Fair. She reluctantly agreed after countless pleas from my daughters. She was all smiles when we got into the long line. But as the line shortened and we got into the final que for the Ferris wheel, I noticed that mom kept glancing behind us nervously. It became obvious that she was having second thoughts so I asked, and she confirmed that she didn’t want to go on the ride again. “How can I get out of this line now,” she asked, looking at the dozens of people behind of us that she would have to squeeze by to get out of the metal barriers. In my mind I was like “really mom.” We had waited so long, gotten so far and throughout the wait I kept showing her how very slowly the Ferris wheel spun. So I was disappointed that she had given up.

I gave her options for getting out of the line, but reluctantly she chose to stay and got on the ride. She was nervous at first, stepping carefully into the bucket, holding on tightly to the sides, finally sitting cautiously. Then the Ferris wheel began to move. She was scared. Then she started to smile…then giggle. Then my mom literally started laughing out loud! It was contagious. We all started to laugh out loud! There we were – three generations of womenfolk – laughing and giggling and being silly on a Ferris wheel. My face hurt from smiling so much. As a rotation brought our bucket to the top, giving us a night view of entire fairgrounds, mom confessed that it was not as bad as she thought and she actually liked it!

I was so happy we were getting to experience this with my mom. A selfish part of me wished she had conquered this fear earlier. When I was able to think beyond myself, I realized that it was probably harder for mom at this stage of her life to overcome a fear she carried for so long. I realized that you’re never too old to do something you’ve always been afraid of doing. I realized that it’s never too late for anything!

It’s June. 2016 is halfway gone. The world has lost so many icons. I myself have lost four family members in as much months.  Some of you are waiting for the right time to get on your Ferris wheel. You are waiting for the fear to subside, for your money to be right, for someone to admit that they were wrong. Some of us are waiting to do that thing that we’ve always wanted to do but have been too afraid. Why are you waiting? Courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to move forward in the midst of fear. What is it that you’ve always wanted to do? It’s never too late. I encourage you to do it now! Do it afraid!

Dear Teachers: I Appreciate You

On April 21, while speaking to a cousin on my morning commute I mentioned frustration with one of my daughter’s teachers. The teacher just appears aloof and disinterested. She isn’t a bad teacher, per se. My daughter is learning well. But there is an emotional element simply missing from everything that she does. And I noticed it from the moment we met. But being new to the school and city, I betrayed my instincts that told me to to switch teachers and had my daughter remain in the class.

Our conversation took a turn when we both began praising a man, who had spent a year as our teacher but impacted our entire lives – Isborne Fredericks.

Isborne Fredericks is no ordinary teacher. He is a leader with the ability to touch students’ souls, see in them value that they never knew existed and get them to recognize that value – all while imparting stellar education. He has taught hundreds of students and I consider myself fortunate to have been one of his students when I was in sixth grade at the Joseph Gomez Elementary School on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

He was my homeroom and history teacher, and a true visionary. Long before Virgin Islands history was a requirement of the VI Department of Education, Mr. Fredericks created his own VI History curriculum. Our 11 and 12-year-old selves had to learn the executive leadership of the three branches of the VI Government. I still remember searching and calling people to complete my list of commissioners. Yes, we had to find the names ourselves, then still memorize them all. We often protested that we had too much work, but Mr. Fredericks always made us feel that we had the capacity to learn and produce even beyond his expectations.

He also imparted morals and values. Students were to treat each other with same respect as we treated him. He showed no favorites – the respect, grace and mercy that was extended to the best of us, were also extended to the worst of us.

Mr. Fredericks began preparing us sixth graders to be competitive in a global world. Azerbaijan, for example, is an Asian country that we learned about when many had not even ventured outside of the U.S. We also had to know how to spell it. Points were deducted for misspelled words, T’s left uncrossed, or I’s left un-dotted. Taking pride in our work, all the time, is something else that he stressed. He expected, rather demanded, our best always.

And then there was African history. We had to learn the countries on the continent and be able to identify a certain number of them on the map. We even began learning an African language!

In the true essence of developing the whole child, Mr. Fredericks taught the African Bamboula dance as an extra-curricular activity. I can hear him all now beating his drum and singing, “Whe Joycie gone, Joycie gone down the river. Whe Joycie gone, Joycie gone down the river….”

My all-time favorite teacher, I always thought that Mr. Fredericks was special to me. Until I reached high school and realized that many of us in my graduating class claimed him as their favorite also. What was shocking was a time, as an adult, when I was out with a cousin who is about 10 years my senior and we saw Mr. Fredericks. My cousin remarked that Mr. Fredericks was HIS favorite teacher. Unbelievable, I thought to myself, this man has been impacting generations of students!

As we wrapped up our conversation my cousin asked the whereabouts of Mr. Fredericks. I told her where he was and to look him up on Facebook. I encouraged her to share with him directly his impact on her life. Life is too short not to, I explained.

A few hours later I found out that Prince died. And so during this 2016 Teacher Appreciation week, I hope to honor Mr. Fredericks and all the teachers who have made a difference. Gomez Elementary School really set an unshakable foundation in my education and my life. Ms. Wilkes, Ms. Dominique, Ms. DeWindt, Mr. John, Ms. Christian, Ms. Freeman, Ms. Donastorg – if they shaped at least one life, they shaped mine.

But everyone at Gomez contributed.  How could I say that Cheryl Potter, Joan Dawson, Sylvia Woods (God bless her soul) were not my teachers? They never graded my papers or signed my report cards, but they taught me just as well. And l can’t forget the special subject teachers like Mr. Robinson, Mr. Dallas, Mr. Shaw, Ms. Rhymer, Ms. Carson…. Or substitute teachers like Ms. Brooks (sleep in peace) and the two Ms. Benjamins. The support staff also kept us on the right track. I can hear Ms. Sadie saying, “manners will take you round the world and back!”

Throughout my years in the public education system I’ve had extraordinary teachers. Ms. Morton’s seventh grade English class at Bertha C. Boschulte Junior High made me love writing. Mr. Monti’s math class in high school taught me patience. Then it was Jack Beauvais whose class helped me to find what I now recognize as my purpose. I wasn’t even supposed to be in that journalism class he taught at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School. I was in 10th grade and the class, I was told, was for 11th graders. But because I was in advanced English courses, I was admitted with ease. After producing a news broadcast for a project in Mr. Beauvais’ class, I knew I wanted to be a journalist.

I always tell people that in the Virgin Islands we have learned to make do without much. But we still achieve. We achieve in spite of – largely because of our dedicated teachers.

To everyone who has taught me, I say thank you. To all of my family and friends who have made teaching their profession, I say thank you. To all of the teachers that have taught my daughters, I say thank you. And to all of the aspiring teachers who have hopes of molding future generations, I say: “go for it. The world needs more Isborne Frederickses. The world needs you.”

 

To Listen, You Must be Silent

Sometimes people think that because they talk a lot, they are being a great communicator. Wrong! Talking is only 50% of communication. So if you talk 100% of the time, you have failed Communication 101.
We must all learn to listen. Listen to others, but also listen to our inner voices. We can’t do either if we are talking. Listening entails other senses than our hearing. We should also listen with our eyes, listen with our hands and most of all, listen with our hearts.
Be silent. In your silence, listen.

I’d like to hear from you. What or who do you need to spend more time listening to today?

Prayer for the Unemployed

Today my prayer is for the unemployed. It’s such a struggle for many of us who work to make ends meet. Creator please meet all of our needs, especially those who may have no job or income at this time. Please keep the unemployed in high spirits and right minds. During this period, help the unemployed to discover their talents and purpose; positioning them to create new employment for themselves or being prepared for when an opportunity arises. Help them to know that the world needs their gifts and talents, so that they may continue to serve You even during this time. Hear my prayer oh Lord. Selah.

Doing a Little Can Mean So Much

Times are hard. Many of us barely have enough money to get by. Many of us don’t have enough time to do all that we need to do. Sometimes we think we can’t make a difference because we have so little to give. We must realize that every little bit counts. $5 a week to our favorite charity, or our children’s college fund will make a difference. Volunteering for one hour, whenever we can, will make a difference. Listening to someone who is in need, will make a difference.

Today, let’s be motivated to doing whatever little that we can. A little motivation is all we need!

 

Solve Conflicts

We’re all different. It’s our differences that make us human. Differences also create conflicts. It’s normal to disagree with each other. It’s HOW we handle our disagreements that show our character. Screaming, cursing, hitting, – don’t solve anything, they actually make things worse. When emotions are running high, it is sometimes hard for us to think of ways to logically solve our disagreements. But it’s during those times that we must not lose control. Focus on solving the problem at hand, through compromise, if possible. If all else fails, we can agree to disagree.  

Today, let’s be motivated to logically find solutions to our conflicts. Sometimes a little motivation is all we need!