All posts in Inspiration

Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

Maya Angelou

Today we have lost a literary icon, an American treasure, a poet, author and inspiration, Maya Angelou. In her honor, let’s remember her as only we can, in her own words…

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

 Photo credit: Burns Library, Boston College

Fresh Start

fresh page by Kalyan Chakravarthy

 

I’m not sure why, but it always takes me a few days to really get settled into the new year and ready to start forging ahead. What an incredible year 2013 was–I married the love of my life, turned 30, got a promotion, met some incredible people–and in many ways, it laid the foundation and set in motion the year that now lies ahead of me, of us.

It seems that 2014 has brought a swirling wind of ideas to me which is all together thrilling, and a bit scary.  And while I must admit some of these ideas have been brewing for a while, the start of the year also seems to have brought a certain confidence, or determination, to start bringing some of these ideas into reality.  So much of my time last year was consumed, happily, by the planning of our wedding and when not wedding planning, balancing a heavy work load. This year I have more time to develop my creative pursuits and I do hope they will be fruitful.

no plan

So while I can’t promise I won’t take a few opportunities to look back on 2013 (especially when we get our wedding photos in!), I am eager to jump into 2014 with gusto and make things happen! Are you ready to jump with me?! Let’s go!

 

photo by Kalyan Chakravarthy and quote from Pinterest.

Power Hour

morning workout

5 a.m.: the power hour. I’ve spent a good long while totally convinced that there was no way I could ever be a morning workout person. “It’s too early and I need lots of sleep to be productive during the day,” or “I don’t have the energy to get my best possible workout that early…I do better in the evenings,” and even “I won’t have enough time to get ready and to work on time if I work out in the morning.” I’d also convinced myself that I couldn’t physically handle back to back intense workouts, “My body needs ‘rest days’ between intense days…” Believe me, I was NOT, no way, no how ever going to be a morning workout person. It was settled.

But then, after months of paying for Camp Gladiator and only making it to camp twice a week, at best, or none at all at worst, and subsequently seeing no results, my friend Sarah and I decided our system just wasn’t working. Something had to change if we wanted to reach our weight loss and fitness goals.

And so we made a plan to do what I never thought was possible for me–we were going to Tuesday’s 5:30 a.m. camp. I had my doubts that we would actually make it. But then a funny thing happened. We made it to camp. And not only did we make it to camp, we felt great having gone and were more energetic throughout the morning, more productive at work and actually excited to work out. Somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m, something changed: my perspective.

Now, not only can I do it, I want to do it! I even caught myself saying to Sarah this morning, “Man we should’ve started Monday so we could make it all five days this week!” WHAT?! Crazy right? In just a one hour on a random Tuesday morning, my workout became something I no longer dread all day long before coming up with a reason I can’t make it, or felt guilty about having to miss because of a meeting or event in the evening. My workout is part of my morning routine. It’s just one more step I take before hopping in the shower and getting ready for work.

Plus, it’s positively affecting the rest of my day as well. I eat better the rest of the day because I don’t want to blow everything I got up early to do. Before, I would eat junk all day long with the thought that I would just work it off at camp that night. Again, it’s just a little shift in thinking that has big impact! I get far more done in the morning when I get to work, and when I get home in the evening, I can jump right into whatever I need to get done. It’s not 7 pm before I can start on something because I had to go workout in the evening. The evenings are mine and I’ve been making the most of them!

Now, all of this said, we are only three days into our new routine, but I truly believe there is no turning back. Sarah and I have already confirmed we will be out there again tomorrow morning (again, Friday workouts? A few days ago those just wouldn’t ever have happened.) I must confess I am very sore today and I’m more tired than I have been thus far BUT this was to be expected and it’s just the hump I have to get over while my body adjusts to the new schedule. And now I have the determination to push myself past this hump!

So, what have you dubbed “impossible” in your own life? Maybe it’s time you give it another try. Challenge the voice that tells you you can’t. Because maybe you can. And even if you can’t, you can’t just yet. Start working at it, believe that you can, and I bet pretty soon you’ll have achieved “the impossible.”  See you in the morning?!

 

photo credit: Family and MWR Programs

Lent

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Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the start of the Christian Lenten season. While I am not Catholic, I think Lent is an important time in our Christian walk as it is a dedicated time for us to prepare ourselves for Easter (I wrote on this last year) and really dwell of the Lord. Part of this preparation typically involves some sort of fasting, or giving something up for the 40 days leading up to Easter. I’ve decided this year I am going to, once again, give up alcohol for Lent and make a concerted effort to cut out fast food and all the junk food I’ve been eating of late (the second will take more preparation and planning than I’m accustomed to when it comes to food. So it’ll certainly be a challenge).

But I don’t want to just give something up, I want to give something back. My mom is really the one who brought this approach to my attention and I really love it. So I am planning to write a note, or a card, or even an email, to someone every day for the next 40 days to just tell them I love them, or am proud of them, or encouraged by them. I think we have really become so isolated from each other in many ways because of technology but also because we are just constantly pushing to reach the next milestone or goal and we don’t often take the time to celebrate what has been accomplished. I want to offer encouragement and support, in God’s name, this Lenten season.

So my question for you is are you giving anything up this year? Is there a particular reason you’ve chosen this to give up? And would you consider adding to your Lent commitment something to give back? It doesn’t have to be anything huge…but just something to take things beyond just yourself. Afterall, what better way to improve yourself than by helping to build up others around you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

photo by Fadi Habib.

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

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The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

by Christopher Marlow

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

photo by Francisco Antunes

Recommit

recommit

Welcome to February. Yes, we are a whole month into 2013 and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. If I’m being honest, I don’t know what happened but January became a throw away month for me in a lot of ways. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of wonderful things that happened and that I accomplished this month, especially with regard to getting the ball rolling on wedding planning. And I got some good work done with my job, but I could’ve done more I think.

But more than that, I really sort of lost myself and my personal drive in January. I just was trying to get through everything and check things off my list. I didn’t take any time before the start of the year to think about what I want to accomplish in my personal life in 2013, and what steps I want to take to further advance my career. I just kept my head down and plugging along. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but there is SO MUCH I want to accomplish, and I simply not satisfied treading water, not going anywhere, not bettering myself and my mind and my family and my community. And if I never stop to think about where I’m going, I’ll never get there.

So today I’m declaring a restart…no, a regrouping, recommitment…to my personal growth in 2013. This weekend I am setting aside time to sit down and make some purposeful, measurable goals for myself. I’m going to analyze my motivations, my aspirations, my desires and I’m going to make a plan to get where I want to be. I refuse to live casually anymore. Each day we are given is a gift and if we don’t do all we can to make the most of the time given here, we have not done enough.

What about you? Do you have purpose and direction for the year ahead? If so, use this start of the month to look at what you’ve accomplished so far and to revisit your next action items. If you’re more like me and are a little slower out of the gates, it’s not too late to make a plan and start accomplishing your goals. We can do this together! Who says your Year of You can’t start today? Mine does…

 

A Pep Talk

Kid President

I know I needed it, maybe you do too. What will be your Space Jam?

 

More Kid President here! http://kidpres.tumblr.com

Because We All Have A Dream

Martin Luther King Jr.

It does us well to recall the spirit and determination and courage of the man who was Martin Luther King, Jr. And while the world we live in today is different, it is not all that different. There are still the oppressed and the under represented. There is work to be done still. And we can all have a part in the work.

 

photo source: Library of Congress

The Meaning of Christmas

With Christmas just a few days away, the race to get everything done is on. Finish making and buying Christmas gifts, get everything wrapped, make sure the house is decorated and the parties roll on as well. Through all of that it is so very easy to get wrapped up in all of the “stuff” that comes with Christmas and let the true meaning of Christmas fall to the back of your mind.

I’ve been guilty of this, especially the last few weeks as I’ve worked to make gifts for everyone for Christmas. It’s not that my heart isn’t in the right place with sincere wishes to let everyone know how much I love and appreciate them by giving them something special, just for them. That is truly my biggest desire and I love every moment and every thing about shopping for Christmas gifts and creating things for the people I love. But that doesn’t change the fact that Christmas is all about the ultimate gift…a Savior, sent for us. And who better to remind us than sweet little Linus, as he does so very well.

 

So as you ready your homes, and your hearts, for Christmas with the family I urge you to find some way to keep God at the center of your celebration. Because what else are we really celebrating for?

Only For Today

The Happiness Project 2012 Desktop Calendar

Have you read, or heard of, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben? I read it a year or two ago and thought it had some good takeaways, but by no means have I done any sort of large-scale implementation in my life or anything.  But last Christmas I did receive the coordinating 2012 desktop calendar and I have to say, I didn’t expect much–aren’t those things full of fairly useless crap most of the time?- but I’ve really been pleased with how many good little nuggets there have been over the course of the last year.  I say all of that because today’s post is 100% thanks to the little calendar on my desk. It’s such a good reminder that we have to take life one day at a time, and that it is important to make time for the things that feed our soul.  So forgive me for regurgitating information you can get elsewhere, but I thought this would be a great way to start the week with all the holiday madness that has taken hold of the country.  Pope John XXIII wrote a daily decalogue for himself (psst…a decalogue is a basic set of rules carrying binding authority and also another word for the Ten Comandments…so these were his personal commandments to follow daily) and it really is such an interesting way to approach the day. Without further ado, from my calendar:

Pope John XXIII’s Daily Decalogue

Pope John XXIII (pope 1958-1963), know as “The Good Pope” wrote his Daily Decalogue:

  1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
  2. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
  3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
  4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
  5. Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

I think number five is my personal favorite.  What things are you striving to do, to be, to remember today? Do you have personal commandments that help keep your day, week, life on course and in appropriate perspective? I’ve never personally written out a decalogue for myself, but I like the idea of this.  Perhaps I will have to work on one for 2013! Who wants to join me?

Party Preppin’

Thank goodness it’s Friday! AND we’re on the Eve of our annual Champagne Flutes and Pints party, which I am so excited about.  I originally “borrowed” the idea of a champagne flute exchange from a fun group of girls I got to know when I briefly lived in Amarillo and it’s become a staple for us here in Dallas now. It is one of the most fun nights of the year. What is better than everyone getting together, sipping champagne, and just being generally festive and happy? So today I took the day off from my 9-5 so I can prep for the party and get everything in order.

Surprisingly I feel like we got a lot done earlier this year…the decorations are up, most of my DIY projects are finished, so now I have to focus on cleaning, grocery shopping, food prepping and whatnot. I can’t wait to show you all the details from the party next week–I’ve included some great DIY projects that I’m really pleased with and some new foodie things I’m trying out for the first time. So be sure to stop back by next week.

What do you have planned for the weekend? Do you have any tricks that help you get prepared for your parties, to help make the day-of a little less stressful? For me, it’s knowing when to stop. I always seem to overcommit myself to projects but this year, I put the brakes on and am feeling so much better for it!

Happy Friday!

 

Photos courtesy of Digital Collections at the Univ. of Maryland and  Orange County Archives 

Lincoln

Have you seen Lincoln yet? Bear and I went to see it a couple weekends ago when it opened and I can’t recommend it enough. I know it’s already been said a million times elsewhere, but Daniel Day-Lewis does a masterful job of portraying one of the greatest men our country has ever know. And Sally Field certainly stands her own ground as Molly Todd Lincoln.  I have to say that while it is not a face paced thriller, and really moves a little slowly, I think the pacing of it is so genius as it really reflects Lincoln’s disposition, even in the most critical time of his presidency. It makes his anger and determination that much more profound.

One of the things I was most struck by came near the end of the movie when they finally passed the 13th Amendment in the House of Representatives, they put the date up on the screen, January 31, 1865. Something about seeing that date really brought about a big reality check for me. This man fought so hard to do away with slavery, and then to think where our country was at 100 years later…segregation and discrimination were still an integral part of our society.  Another 47 years later and now we have an African-American president. It’s amazing to me how long it can take for true change to take hold.  I still don’t think we are totally there yet. And how important it is for someone with a strong conviction about an issue to stand strong and eventually truly shape our history.  Lincoln stood up against nearly everyone in the country, even the Union states weren’t totally on board with doing away with slavery…but he felt so strongly about this cause he wouldn’t give in. He did whatever he could to get the 13th Amendment passed.  I just am wholly in awe of the resolve and determination he had, and the vision he had to make this country great.  And Day-Lewis brought that so poignantly to life for me.

So go see this movie. It’s a great history lesson for all of us. It’s also a great character lesson. Stand up for what you know to be right, even when it seems as though everyone is against you.

 

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