Monday, February 28, 2011

Who You Are vs. Who You "Ought" to Be

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When's the last time you stopped to think about how much you've grown? How far you've come? How much you've changed? It's great to have goals, hopes and dreams, but sometimes we get so caught up in how we want to be that we begin to beat ourselves up for how we are. This leads to negative self-talk and low self-esteem. There was probably a time when you were scared to do what you are doing right now. You should celebrate yourself for that.

Perfection is not only unattainable; it leaves no room for improvement. Nevermind how anyone else thinks you "ought" to be. Remember that you are already whole and worthy of all good things. With every experience, you simply grow and become more aware of it.

Today, think about ways that people criticize you (or ways that you criticize yourself).  Take this opportunity to reaffirm all that you are right now at this moment in time. I'll go first:

My grandmother tells me that I ought to go to church more often, and I often feel guilty and misunderstood after our discussions.

With all due respect to my grandma, I only go to church occasionally and I've never felt more in tuned with God than I do now. Instead of feeling guilty about not going to church, I feel blessed to have a spiritual plan that works for me.

My impatient ego tells me that I ought to be writing for a living by now and that I'm getting old.

Everyday I must remind myself to stop and smell the roses and appreciate the journey. I've been working at the same company since I graduated from college, and I never imagined that I'd be handling the complex client relationships that I handle today. I'm fortunate to have a career that challenges me intellectually and supports my family. I am more than happy to ride this out as I explore my passion for writing and where it takes me.

Sometimes I feel inadequate because of my laid-back nature and wish that I was more aggressive.

There's something to be said for having the cognizance to pick and choose your battles. Aggressive behavior is not always a display of strength. The ability to bend and not break is severly underrated. I must remember to have confidence in my peaceful nature.

Please share yours in the comments. We are always inspired by your thoughts and stories!
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Friday, February 25, 2011

Love Notes - Friday 2/25/11


Choose wisely what you give meaning to. Concentrate your energy on those things that serve you, and dismiss those things that do not.

Have a beautiful weekend, Lovies!
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

AT YOUR BEST ~ Kim

Kim and Son, January 2009

Tell us why you felt at your best in this moment:

I feel at my best whenever I’m sharing new experiences with my little guy. The innocence of a child’s excitement is contagious; they can make you feel like you’ve created magic even when you’ve done the most simple of tasks—like plan a trip. In this photo, we were on vacation at Walt Disney World with extended family. The weather was exquisite and the parks were exciting; but my favorite part of the trip was watching my son’s reactions to everything and knowing that I helped to create this memorable experience for him.


How do you define beauty:

Beauty is genuineness. There’s a light that just shines from someone who is being their authentic self. They may not be the most “traditionally” beautiful person in the room, but there is something about them that just makes people stare in appreciation.


How do you define happiness:

I can find a little bit of happy in the trees, at the bottom of a cup of green tea, in my son’s smile or in a yoga pose; in short—happiness can be found everywhere, if we let it in. Happiness is peace. Peace is knowing that you’re being guided and cared for by a force greater than you. Peace, joy and happiness: they’re our birthright.


Your turn! Send your pics in to PeaceLovePrettyThings@gmail.com and tell us why you felt happy and beautiful and at your best in that moment. Feel free to share your favorite quotes about happiness and beauty and we'll include them with your feature. Please put AT YOUR BEST in the subject line.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

PLPT GEMS: Meet Bessie Winn-Afeku

PLPT GEMS presents
Bessie A. Winn-Afeku  aka "The Fabulous Do-Gooder"

Social Entrepreneur. Motivational Speaker. Passionate Giver.

1.  Tell us about your background and how you came to realize your passion for giving?

Honestly, I actually didn't start becoming passionate about giving until I was in college. I was taking as a requirement for one of my classes we had to complete 30 hour of community service that semester. In the process of trying to find an organization to donate my time to, I had over 50 organizations to choose from. I started to do research on the organizations and realized that there was such a great need in our society for us to give back. After college, I won the title of Miss Black Georgia USA and spent my reign traveling across the state speaking to teens about domestic violence That is when my passion for giving back began.

2.  You are the founder of the She Is Me Program™. Tell us all about the program.

The She is ME Program is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization that aims to empower young women through workshops, seminars, the arts; exposing them to various careers, goal setting, and positive role models while developing college readiness. Young women leave our educational workshops and events educated, inspired, and empowered to reach their personal, educational, and career best.

3.  How does one even go about starting a non-profit organization?? How did you get started?

I started out by volunteering for several organizations whose mission were in line with my passion. Then I began to put together small workshops for teens myself. As time wen on I started reaching out to people who worked at organizations that I'd worked with in the past to give give me some guidance with my organization. Doing this help me tremendously. So I would recommend volunteering with an organization that you love first and also doing plenty of research.

4.  Many people have the desire to volunteer, but think they don't have the time or resources to do so. Do you have any advice or suggestions for how each of us can find our own way to give back?

There are so many different ways that we can give back. When you have found that organization that is close to your hear or, has found you rather.. you can begin by just using your talent to give. You can begin my being a mentor, and even buying fairtrade items. There is always a way that we can implement giving into our lifestyle. Although, giving money is always a major plus for organizations..so is your time. Many times it is not how much of something that you give as long as it came from your heart. Little things make a huge difference, you'd be surprised. If you think you are to small to make a difference, or what you have to offer is too little..try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.

5.  How would you describe a day in the life of Bessie Winn-Afeku?

Non.Stop. :) My work day is filled with research, reading, and connecting. When I am not conducting webinars or workshops for TSIMP, I am working on workshop material and working securing grants for our organization.

6.  PLPT is all about nurturing the synergy of inner and outer "pretty". As a former beauty queen, do you feel that the pageants you participated in emphasized the importance of this balance?

Honestly, The pageants that I have participated in did not, however I do hope to see the nurturing of inner beauty in the future.

7. How do you stay motivated and overcome doubt, fear and negative thinking?

I try to keep my mind on the "main thing"in my life and the is my purpose and my mission to give. On my worse days I try to visualize myself being where I want to be in my best day..and that is somewhere making a difference. I try to be so purpose driven that any thing that is not in line with my purpose, just falls be the way side.

8.  What advice would you offer to others who are searching for their purpose or are afraid to take the first step towards their dreams?
Step out on nothing and land on something.

9.  Name someone who has inspired you and why.
Malaak Compton-Rock, she is the ultimate humanitarian and the founder director of the Angelrock Project. Her enthusiasm, drive, and her passion to inspire the world to take part in social responsibility and service moves me, and is a constant reminder that I AM where I am supposed to be.

10.  How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me on Twitter @fabdogooder and my blog http://www.thefabulousdogooder.com/ and you can learn more about my organization at http://www.thesheismeprogram.org/.
 
A former beauty queen turned social entrepreneur, Bessie A. Winn-Afeku is on a purpose driven mission to educate, inspire, and empower. With an extensive background in beauty and pageantry, Bessie was also contestant in the 2003 Miss Georgia USA pageant and a finalist in the Today's Black Women Magazine Beauty Competition. This former Miss Black Georgia USA has truly breathed life into the clich├ęd beauty pageant phrase, "Make the World a Better Place."A native of Ghana West Africa, Winn-Afeku moved to Georgia at the age of seven years old. Bessie Winn-Afeku is a poised and coveted speaker and Founder and Director of The She is Me Program™ which is a non-profit organization that aims to empower young women and ensure high school graduation through workshops, the arts, and exposing them to various careers,and positive role models while developing college readiness. Winn-Afeku is the Creator and Editor of The Fabulous Do Gooder, site that chronicles fabulous giving and fabulous living. Bessie has been featured in ESSENCE magazine, EBONY magazine, was recognized as Atlanta's 2010 Power 30 Under 30 in the area of Non-Profit work and community service, and is listed in the 2010 edition of Who's Who in Black Atlanta. Bessie A. Winn-Afeku is a graduate of Georgia State University, where she earned her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Sociology.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

5 Ways to Outwardly Showcase Your Inner Pretty

Your inner pretty is about the beauty of your personality, your strength, your character, and all your other inner traits. But there are ways to showcase that inner pretty on the outside so that other people can see it and feel it: 



Smile.
Few things are as contagious as a genuine, welcoming smile. Smiling is an outward representation of your inner joy. Why not share that joy with others?

Look a stranger in the eye and greet them.
Often we’re so busy checking off our personal “to-do” lists that we burrow through the day with our heads buried and our shoulders braced against potential opposing forces. Just once during your day: look up, catch someone’s eye and say hello. 

Send a hand-written note or card to someone you care about.
In this digital age--where almost everyone you know and/or care about is accessible with a quick click of your mouse or press of a button on your smart phone--handwritten notes have fallen largely by the wayside. It is for this very reason that an artfully penned letter or card to someone you care about will go such a long way. It lets them know that you don’t mind taking a few extra moments out of your day to express how much you miss them and/or love them. 

Volunteer for a cause from which you will not benefit directly.
Instead of volunteering at your child’s school, work with an after-school program for at-risk youth; or run for a cause that has not adversely affected anyone that you know.  By being of service in a capacity that neither you nor anyone you care about benefits from directly, you can better feel the effects of the service itself. 

Commit a random act of kindness.
Last week, my co-worker brought in a candle in the shape of a pink and white cupcake for me because she knows I love pink. She was in Target, thought of me when she saw it, and bought it--just like that. That adorable little trinket makes me smile every time I look over at it—not because of WHAT it is, but because of the thought behind it. What random act of kindness can you commit that will brighten someone else’s day? 

What are some other ways you show off your inner pretty? Chime in!
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Love Notes - Friday 2/18/2011

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

AT YOUR BEST ~ GG

We want to feature you AT YOUR BEST! Send in your photos capturing a moment in your life when you were AT YOUR BEST, meaning you felt beautiful inside and out and life was good. 

When things aren't so great, these are the moments we can recall to boost our spirits. By sharing these moments with each other, we can all be reminded that love is what really makes us feel beautiful.



GG and Vonnie at friend's summer wedding

Tell us why you felt at your best in this moment:
I always feel untouchable when I'm with my friends. I've been blessed with amazing women in my life who support me and love me unconditionally. We've been told that when we get around each other, there seems to be a "force field" of positive energy that surrounds us. (ha! sounds kind of crazy, but I'll take it) Me and this lovely lady have been BFFs since the 4th grade. Friendship like ours is rare. When I see myself through her eyes, I feel beautiful.

How do you define beauty:
Beauty is self-love, humility, confidence and grace. Beauty comes from a mindful awareness of your worth.

How do you define happiness:
Happiness is having nothing to prove, relinquishing the need to control everything and realizing that joy comes from within.

Your turn! Send your pics in to PeaceLovePrettyThings@gmail.com and tell us why you felt happy and beautiful and at your best in that moment.  Feel free to share your favorite quotes about happiness and beauty and we'll include them with your feature.  Please put AT YOUR BEST in the subject line.

I don't believe makeup and the right hairstyle alone can make a woman beautiful.  The most radiant woman in the room is the one full of life and experience.   - Sharon Stone
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spiritual Growth: You Are What You Eat

In this month's PLPT Guest Post, Professor/Pastor Lawrence Ware helps us to become aware of what we take into our spirits, and how it affects us.

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 A prerequisite of growth is the digestion of food—or, to speak ebonically, “If you wanna grow, you gotta eat.” Put another way: you are what you eat.

This is not exactly a novel idea. From the beginning of time, all living beings have been aware of the necessity of eating food. Yet, for some strange reason, many consider their spiritual selves of less importance than their physical bodies.

Let me explain.

We digest many ideas and messages that are detrimental to our spiritual growth. We think they have no impact but, slowly, these images impact us in very negative ways.  Consider the following: what makes a woman beautiful to a man? The image that is conjured in the mind of many women is that of a slender, toned woman with flowing hair. Ask a man, and the answer varies. Some like tall, others like short; yet, studies show that all are not as attracted to the woman that the media tells us is beautiful. However, anorexia and bulimia are at all time highs. Bing eating and subsequent fasting has gotten out of control and the plastic surgery industry is as popular as ever.

The images we see impact us.

It is important that we critically reflect upon the ideas and images that come to us. We do not need the latest, greatest gadget. We do not need (truly need) a new pair of shoes. Fashion is great, but we need not identify ourselves too closely with the clothes on our backs. Advertisement and the consumer culture have impacted us so greatly that we now identify ourselves with the kind of computer that we use. Ask a person if they are a PC or a Mac and you will get an impassioned response. What have we become? What has the media turned us into?

It is time to wake up. No more sleep walking through life. No more passive consumerism. No more debt and overspending. No more trying to live up to ideals that are unhealthy. Life is not the acquisition of stuff or the size of dress you wear. We need to eschew the negative and start focusing on the positive.

It is time to start judging for ourselves what makes us happy and whole. I suspect you will find that what you need you already have, and who you want to become is already within. 

Lawrence Ware is lecturing professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University and Pastor of Christian Education at Prospect Church. He writes for Tikkun and Religion Dispatchers all while living in Oklahoma City with his wife and sons.
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Express Love: On Valentine's Day and Every Day


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Today, and every year on February 14th, we celebrate Valentine’s Day. In a lot of ways, Valentine’s Day has become rife with expectations of chocolate, balloons, cards, flowers, expensive dinners and exaggerated displays of affection. While this is totally fine if it’s what you’re actually into; trying to force it adds pressure that shouldn’t be present when it comes to giving. It seems that many of the gestures associated with this holiday have become a bit robotic and contrived, as opposed to being honest expressions of genuine feeling. I would encourage you to balk at tradition, and find ways to express your love for your Valentine in a way that is authentic and meaningful just for you. I also urge you to remember to appreciate the love in your life on a daily basis—be present when spending time with your special person and relish every moment you are allowed to have with them. Be fiercely loving, overly generous and wildly affectionate on every single day of the year.
Affirmations:

There is an abundance of love all around me at all times and I revel in it.

I give and receive love openly, honestly and willingly.

I allow love to be present in my life on a daily basis.

I express love in a way that is authentic for me, while being mindful of the needs of the receiver.
Even if you’re not in a romantic relationship, express gratitude for the love you receive from family and friends. It is just as meaningful. Happy Valentine’s Day!
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Love Notes - Friday 2/11/11

Have a great weekend! xoxo
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Happy Black Woman Happy Hour Recap




At the end of January, Kim and I had the extreme pleasure of attending the first Happy Black Woman Happy Hour in Washington DC.  If you're not familiar with the Happy Black Woman blog, you are definitely missing out and need to check it out immediately.  The happy black woman behind the blog, Rosetta Thurman, recently rolled out a 31 Day Reset program that her readers are raving about.  Many of us who participated in this program and live in the DC metro area attended the happy hour.

It's absolutely true what they say about the importance of surrounding yourself with positive people.    The energy is infectious.  Over drinks and appetizers, everyone shared bits and pieces of their backgrounds, projects, dreams and challenges.  The common theme was that every woman there was on a journey to live their best lives and find passion and purpose in their contributions to the world.

Let's do it again soon!  Spring, anyone?  Next time, we better make sure they have wings!  (LOL @ Rosetta :) 
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

From Employee to Self-Employed



People in movies and on TV often leave their jobs, abruptly and without planning, in pursuit of their "dream"--or the ideal career or entrepreneurial endeavor that will finally allow them to feel fulfilled by their work. But..

...Do people do this in real life? And by "people", I don't mean twenty-somethings with no real grasp yet on the concept of being a grown up. (I'm closely familiar with this breed of carefree human because I used to be one--to the MAX!) When I write "people" in this instance, I mean "my people"--mature adults with children and car notes and mortgages (in other words, financial responsibilities) who like to have roofs over their heads and meals on their tables, thereby necessitating the need for real income.

Yes, I know all about the people who start their side hustle and carefully plan while they watch it grow to the point where they can make the leap from employee to self-employed (In fact, I'd like to count myself among them).

But what happens when you're not ready to take the leap, yet you don't feel at all comfortable in your current position anymore?

This is where I sit. Correction: I have lived in this uncomfortable place between displeasure and complacency for about two years. The difference is that now I abide in it from a place of peace, and understanding that this is a temporary assignment and the Universe is moving mountains behind the scenes on my behalf. I did not always have this clarity. I used to come home from work angry, stressed, screaming, cursing like a sailor and wondering aloud through sobs how I ended up "here" (really, it's true. Just ask GG; she'll tell you).

So I’m not ready to leap into self-employment, but I am ready to step into another form of full time employment; one where I feel inspired, creative and respected, and where my capabilities are properly recognized (at least most of the time).  I will also be effectively compensated for the inspired, creative, respectable work that I complete.

I am aware that the Universe requires a little co-creation from me in order to get things done, so it is my pledge to myself to do the work. I have to show up for myself on a daily basis, and make moving on a priority.

I do, however, sometimes wish I was on TV or in a movie so I could, you know, just quit and run off in pursuit of my dream….baby steps, right?

Have any of you successfully made the leap from employee to self-employed? If so, I would love to hear your stories. Do share!
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Love Notes - Friday 2/4/11


Check out these great reads about LOVE from around the web this week.

Have a fab weekend!


 
 
 
 
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dating Fail: Why I Keep Attracting the Wrong Men

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In the past 24 hours, two very poignant incidents have occurred. I have been contacted by an ex boyfriend/best friend with whom I haven’t communicated in almost 2 years. Our relationship/friendship ended quite abruptly and unceremoniously and I was just beginning to get comfortable with leaving him in my past. But he just wanted to get in touch, and oh—by the way, is also requesting a favor. I’ve been told that another ex boyfriend, who recently started following me on twitter again--and is quite possibly surveying much of my online life--has decided to start a blog/vlog/website that will include “tell all” exposes of all the women he has dated. (Please pray for me on that one!)

In the past 2 weeks, I have been stood up twice, blatantly lied to once and met someone who seems great but has a whopping 3 children, 2 divorces and 1 healthy dose of the “I’m never getting married agains” under his belt.

In the past 4 months, I’ve been stalked by someone I barely knew; had a man invite another woman onto our date; and developed feelings for someone who seemed to be open to a relationship--only to later learn he was suffering from a deep depression over his split with his last girlfriend.

Scary isn’t it? Yes, it is both scary and just a little comical, I think… Dating fail? Absolutely.

In the past 2 years, I’ve grown tremendously and developed a sense of self-awareness that makes me shudder to think about how blind I was before. I’ve admitted to and worked through my issues with commitment and marriage, learned to communicate clearly and concisely about what I will and will not accept (without being a jerk), and stopped entertaining behaviors that are not in line with what I want to have in a relationship. I’ve recognized that my most prevalent issues in the past included: saying I wanted one thing, but accepting something totally converse; and failing to end unhealthy, cyclic relationships that I’d convinced myself would eventually work out--despite all evidence to the contrary.

So it is with this self-awareness that I accept the challenge to examine myself because I am the common denominator in each of the inane situations above. The problem is I have no idea what I’m doing to attract them!

Remaining unscathed by it all has been relatively easy, because I don’t allow drama to rule my life. As soon as the messiness is exposed, I kindly excuse myself from the situation. But what did I do to attract it in the first place?

I meditate every day, I journal and I pray. I start out each day with the intent to treat everyone around me in the most loving way possible--even when it is REALLY hard to do so. I work out. I take baby steps towards my goals. I read, I write… I do all the things that I know will help me to be a better version of myself. But what am I missing?

To be fair, my dating life does not consist wholly of folly. In the past few months, I have also had meaningful email communication with someone who I adore (though it is long distance and he is singularly focused on his career at present), and have begun getting to know a second very sweet, considerate gentleman who also lives in another state. Examples like these remind me that there are still men who have not thrown respect, common courtesy---and quite frankly common sense—out the proverbial window. Theirs is the type of energy I want to continue to attract. Perhaps I’m being tested to prove that I’ve really learned to evaluate, moderate my behaviors and work for what I want. Or maybe I just have more to learn….

Why do I keep attracting the wrong men? Honestly, I don’t have the answers…but I am open to receiving them.
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