Monday, August 29, 2011

Beauty Is a Journey, Not a Destination


Today, take a moment to reflect on your ideas about beauty. Remember that transformation begins on the inside. If there is anything you wish to change about your appearance - whether it's your wardrobe, your weight, your skin or hairstyle - remember that you must first realize that you are beautiful just the way you are.

Today, make peace with the past, the things you've been through that have brought you to where you are.  Your face, your body, your posture are all reflections of the life you've lived.  Your resilience is a reflection of your beauty.  Reconsider the things you've associated with beauty in the past.  Renew your self-image. 

Today, stop comparing yourself to others and rejoice in yourself.  Life is heartbreaking to each and every one of us.  Since we never know what the next person is going through, we must remember to always be kind.  First with ourselves, then with our fellow man.  Beauty teaches us to see with our hearts.
"As you become more intimate with your authentic self - as you recover your true, incandescent identity - there will come a gradual but undeniable physical transformation.  It is absolutely impossible to commit to your spiritual growth, awaken to your own radiant Light and not have it reveal itself on the outside."
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Love Notes - Friday 8/26/11 + Winner Announced!

And in the spirit of spreading a little happy, we are pleased to announce the winner of our Upscale Giveaway:

Chosen by random number generator is Mugure!!!!! 

Mugure, please send your mailing info to so we can ship your Upscale prize pack of goodies.

Thanks to all who participated in our giveaway and shared their ideas about success!
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm a Lover Not a Fighter (or What I've Learned About Anger and Confrontation)


 "No one else 'makes us angry.' We make ourselves angry when we surrender control of our attitude. What someone else may have done is irrelevant. We choose, not they. They merely put our attitude to a test."

- Jim Rohn

One day I'm going to reach a point where I can have anger directed at me and not respond with anger.  I'll be able to keep my cool with zen-like control and understanding.  I'll be able to look past the angry words and raised voices to see the pain and confusion that exists underneath it all.  It's not that I won't feel anger, but I'll be able to handle it in a purposeful way instead of lashing out and/or bottling up my feelings.  I'm not there yet, though. 
I don't like who I become when I allow negative feelings to take over me.  When I feel attacked, I act like a victim.  My ego completely takes over.  I lose sight of what really matters.  Being right becomes more important than being aware.    Basically, I allow factors outside of my control to dictate how I feel and how I behave.  And this goes against everything that I've learned about spiritual and emotional health. 
So, should I just condemn anger?  Or never stand up for myself?  That doesn't feel right either.  We must acknowledge all of our feelings. 
Consider the following excerpt from Health and Happiness Boosters:
"At every given moment, we have a jetstream of feelings operating below our conscious awareness.  By bringing those feelings into consciousness, we begin to acquaint ourselves more fully with our deeper selves, and increase our capacity for joy by experiencing the full range of our feelings.  For if we cut ourselves off from any feeling, we cut ourselves off from the capacity to feel all others as well.  To truly know our joy, we must also know our anger, our sadness."
So, how do I acknowledge anger without allowing it to take over?  I'm still figuring it out.  My intention is to always speak with purpose - whether the discussion is contentious or not.  Does getting loud and angry make someone appear stronger, tougher?  Maybe to those who are only observing the surface.  But sustainable strength lies in quiet concentration and focused intention.  Art of War, anyone?  The more I see someone ranting and raving, the more foolish they appear to me. 
Here are a couple of the tactics I'm working on to control my anger:
Detachment - When confronted or tested, step outside of yourself and the situation to view what's really going on.  Our egos tell us that if we are being yelled at or disrespected, then we must retaliate or lose credibility.  We must realize that staying calm and intelligent in heated situations is a virtue that is self-preserving and powerful.
Self-Talk - Typically when we're reacting in anger, our self-talk goes something like this:  "WTF?  Who does he/she think they are, talking to me like that?  Are they crazy?  It's not my fault!  You're lying!  You're not listening to me!  You hurt me!  You're full of s**t!"   All of these defensive thoughts fuel our anger.  The following thoughts would help to calm us down:  "I can't control what someone else does or says.  I'm strong enough to deflect negativity. I can communicate my feelings without acting out. I can better maintain my power by staying even tempered and thoughtful.  And finally, WWJD?!?!"   (That final thought there stops me from doing A LOT of self-destructive things! Just sayin!)
I read somewhere that "...the more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you."   What do you think?    How do you handle/diffuse anger?  Do you think it's necessary to be loud and aggressive to exert your power?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

PLPT GEMS: Meet Janelle

PLPT GEMS Presents
Janelle Carter ~ The Cork Chronicler
Entrepreneur. Attorney. Sommelier.

Your passion is wine, and you created an outlet for it in The Cork Chronicles--a blog designed to help others "enhance (their) drinking experience and appreciation of wine." When and why did you decide to start this blog?

I started The Cork Chronicles while I was still a practicing attorney. The first couple years of legal practice were difficult for me because I was constantly working and stressed out. I didn’t have much time for friends, family, other interests, or even myself. So, one of my very good friends and I made a pact that we would pick up a hobby in order to have a release from the strain of constant work and stress we experienced in our professional lives. Wine became one of my chosen hobbies: I went to wine tastings, read books and magazines about wine, explored lots of new and different wine varietals, and became quite knowledgeable about wine. My fascination with the world of wine grew more intense, and what started as a hobby turned into a passion.

At the wine tastings I attended, I was often the youngest and only person of color in the room. I realized that there is a whole segment of young people and those of color who purchase wine but are not being educated about wine or reached by the wine industry and its marketers. In an effort to fill that void, I launched The Cork Chronicles. By sharing what I have learned about wine with my peers, I hope to enhance their experiences with and appreciation for wine.

What opportunities have been presented to you as a result of sharing your wisdom about wine?

The greatest opportunity I have had is to engage with people around my passion for wine, professionally. As The Cork Chronicles’ community grows—people continue to read the blog, connect with me on social media platforms, come to my events, and seek out my advice on wine-related issues—my professional opportunities continue to grow. What started as a blog chronicling my personal wine tasting experiences grew into producing wine entertainment events which led to wine consulting opportunities. In April, I left my (now former) law firm to devote my full attention to building an enterprise around my passion for wine.

I began hosting wine entertainment events in April when I launched The Cork Chronicles’ monthly happy hour. Now on summer hiatus, the happy hours will return to DC this Fall. In the meantime, I have had the opportunity to do several private wine tasting events. Last Sunday, I hosted a wine tasting at the inaugural StreetFood Artistry festival in Chicago. You can also find me at Whole Foods in Naperville, IL on Friday afternoons where I pour wine and answer wine questions. Stay tuned for some exciting collaborations with people in art, music, and cooking/food that I will be announcing soon.

You've left the "security" of a full time job, and are now flexing your entrepreneurial muscle by building a wine entertainment and consulting company. How did you prepare yourself to make this leap?

Prayer—lots of it—and getting the support of my family and friends were essential to making the leap. Without faith and a strong support system, I could not have made the leap nor would I be able to maintain perspective and sanity through the challenges of entrepreneurship. In addition to faith and support, thorough planning is the key to preparation. Creating a sound business and personal financial plan eased the transition for me. You cannot prepare for or foresee everything: my business plan is constantly changing and many unexpected expenditures have required me to adjust my personal financial plan. However, I am in a better position to work through challenges with the roadmaps I created at the outset.

What does a typical day in the life of the Cork Chronicler look like? What is your favorite part of the day?

Wow…I wish there was a typical day in the life of the Cork Chronicler. Right now, I am back and forth between Chicago and DC in addition to travel to several other cities, so it has been difficult establishing a regular schedule. Nevertheless, my day typically begins or ends with quiet time for prayer and reflection which may include a walk or journaling or reading a devotional. In between, my days are quickly exhausted with drafting event proposals or pitches; conference calls or meetings with vendors, sponsors, collaborators, and venues; writing blog posts; engaging with people on social media platforms; and, strategic planning. Additionally, I devote a couple hours per day to studying for my upcoming sommelier certification exam. Last, I moonlight as a diversity consultant and employment attorney, so I often have assignments to complete for those clients. My favorite part of the day is the time I spend “researching” wine whether drinking a bottle of wine over dinner; attending wine tastings, festivals and conferences; or hosting a wine tasting party with a group of friends.

Who is your support system and how do they contribute to your ability to build your dream company?

My parents have been my rock throughout my life and in this process, specifically. They provide encouragement, a sounding board, assistance, and a place to stay when I am in the Chicago area. I also am incredibly grateful for the countless number of friends and family members for their late night pep talks, words of encouragement, giving me a place to stay, showing up to my events, commenting on my blog, connecting me with other people in the wine industry, and helping me do wine “research.”

Do you ever experience moments of fear, regret or self-doubt? How do you overcome this negative thinking?

I have faith that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing and have never looked back. Although I do not experience any feelings of regret, I am not immune to moments of fear and self-doubt. I embrace fear. It is a natural emotion to feel when you do something that you have never done before. The key is not to eliminate fear, but to act in the face of fear. Acting in spite of fear requires confidence. Thus, moments of self-doubt can be paralyzing for a new entrepreneur. I rely on my faith and my support system to overcome those moments. If you don’t believe in yourself and your vision, no one else will.

What advice would you offer to others who are searching for their purpose, or are afraid to take the first step towards their own dreams?

On purpose, pray for vision and guidance and just let it come to you. In some cases, you will have to create mental space for it to come to you. I had to get away from the stress and bustle of my former life to make space for new ideas and perspective. My vision didn’t begin to formulate until I took a couple weeks of vacation time at my former firm. It wasn’t until the second week of vacation that the stress dissipated to such a point that I had the clarity to know what I was supposed to do next. After I left the firm, it was amazing how much my perspective changed—my vision became clearer, my thinking became more creative, and my perspective became much broader. Clearing out the clutter that my former job position created in my mental space was like cleaning off a filthy window, all of a sudden I could see crystal clear.

If you know your purpose but are afraid to jump out there and realize your purpose—whether or not it is to be an entrepreneur—have faith and seek counseling. I had the faith and support to walk in my purpose. Yet, I got cold feet at the last minute. Just a few sessions with a counselor gave me the mental tools I needed to push through the fear and do it anyway.

How can our readers connect with you?

Please check out The Cork Chronicles at Stay posted on upcoming events and the latest updates by joining the email list with the link in the right column of the blog or “like” The Cork Chronicles on Facebook, You can connect with me on Twitter,, or via email,

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Monday, August 22, 2011

It’s Okay to Avoid Sharing Your Vision

There is something to be said for the value of silence.

Sometimes we dream great big dreams that involve seemingly difficult tasks, but we know we can accomplish them. Yet, other people can’t comprehend them, or see how what we want to do could possibly work. That’s okay—each individual person’s vision is their own; it may not be meant for others to “get” yours.

Don’t be discouraged.

People rush to label things; to categorize them; to make “sense” of them. Dreams don’t always make sense based on what we already know. Sometimes they are meant to shatter the boundaries of what we think is true, real and concrete.

Hold tight to your vision.

“They” mean well. They just want to share in our joy, or to help us to avoid hurt. But it isn’t their journey and they can’t “protect” us from the lessons.

Reassure them, and move on.

Sometimes, in order to nurture our vision, we have to keep it to ourselves. Make it our own little secret while we work out the kinks. It’s not that you don’t want them to know. It’s just that you want them to see the proof. And they will.

You don’t owe them an explanation.

To avoid the judgment (good or bad), labeling and being “protected” from what might not work, it’s okay to just be silent, and to avoid sharing your vision; at least, for now. 
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Love Notes - Friday 8/19/11

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Do Not Want Full Control of My Life

In this PLPT Guest Post, Pastor/Professor Lawrence Ware helps us to understand that we can better act in love when we surrender to the will of a higher power.

Often I find it necessary to pause and remember that I do not want to be fully in control of my life.

I find that I act in selfish, inconsiderate ways when I am fully in control. Often, it is important that I pause and remember that, as a Christian, I do not seek for my will to be done on this earth.

A way that I help myself to remember this fact is by reciting the Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.
Now, I am not advocating everyone remember this prayer—it can be boiled down to a simple, Biblical phrase: Thy Will Be Done.

I am convinced that we are all agents of a higher power, and we can choose to spread love and life—or disharmony and spiritual death. If we are in tune with that higher power, we will take care to achieve the love and harmony that we all deeply desire within.

A simple suggestion—say this prayer whenever the need arises: “Thy will be done.” I find that in my life the need is often. When I am angry: Thy will be done. When I am frustrated: Thy will be done. When I see the ills of the world: Thy will be done.

God is wiser than we can ever hope to be. Let his will be done—not our own.

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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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An Upscale Giveaway

Nowadays, many of us find it easier to check out our favorite magazines online.   I used to have several magazine subscriptions, but I found that they piled up faster than I could read them.  I still love a fresh, glossy magazine though, don't you??  Well, Upscale Magazine has notified us that they are expanding their publication to include both digital and print publications.  How perfect!

Upscale has been a pillar in the African-American community for 22 years.  They address the needs of stylish, informed and progressive African-Americans and their mission is to encourage their readers to be empowered and inspired to live loudly, learn smartly and embrace life with a passion.

Did you know that Upscale Magazine was started by Bernard Bronner, the CEO of Bronner Brothers, Inc., one of the largest private African-American hair and skin care producers in the United States????  Who knew?  The Bronners are no strangers to hard work and success and Upscale Magazine is a reflection of that.    They are committed to profiling success in our communities and empowering us in every issue.  This letter written by Mr. Bronner captures his perspective on where the magazine has been and where it is going.

We'd like to support Upscale Magazine's expansion by notifying you of a promotion they are having right now.  Here are the deets:

Offer #1:  Get 9 issues (one year) of digital and print for the special low rate of 19.95 and receive a FREE Upscale t-shirt. *while supplies last

Offer #2: Get both 9 issues (one year) of digital and print for the special low rate of 19.95 and receive two (2) FREE Tropical Roots products. *while supplies last

In addition to these great offers, PLPT readers will enjoy an additional 10% discount by entering the following code: UPSC17

If you're feeling lucky, leave a comment below and enter to win an Upscale Prize Pack full of goodies. In your comment, simply tell us what success means to you.  The giveaway will close at 11:59 PM one week from today on Tuesday, 8/23.

Good luck!  ;-) 
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Monday, August 15, 2011

It's Not As Bad As You Think

A friend sent this to me last week, and I thought it would be good for a little Monday morning perspective.  While these are extreme examples, they serve as good reminders. The emotional, mental and physical trials we face are certainly real for us, and we must endure them to learn and to become stronger; and often it is difficult to see good in our lives while we're in the midst of our troubles. These little notes serve as reminders that it could always be worse. We have to be thankful for the good that prevails in our lives, even when there are areas that we would like to see improved.

Wishing you a peaceful, productive week filled with gratitude for what is, as opposed to despair over what could be.
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Love Notes - Friday 8/12/11

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Happy Black Girl Day - The Final Analysis

Do you ever feel like your kindness is not appreciated?  Or that the love try to put out into the world is not returned to you?  If so, this post is for you.  Remember, the ability to give and expect nothing in return is an important part of being happy.  Joy comes from within when you know who you are and are not threatened or saddened by how anyone reacts to it.  As the quote says below, it's not about them anyway.

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered: Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives: Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies: Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you: Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight: Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous: Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow: Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough: Give the world the best you've got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway."
~Mother Teresa

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Love Notes - Friday 8/4/11

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

10 More Ways to Get Your Happy Back


For the past few months, I've felt stressed and unable to relax even during my down time.  It's ironic how often we get what we want - whether it's children or a promotion or even a hobby - and suddenly we're overwhelmed with the added responsibilities.  I guess that's why they say to be careful what you wish for. 

If you've been feeling strained like me, I hope the following happiness boosters will help you relax.

1. "Say thank you as much as possible." 
Gratitude is a gateway to joy.  Our lives are so full, and yet we can perceive them as empty if we don't consciously focus on all that we have.  Instead of thinking "More, more more"; try saying and thinking "Thank you, thank you, thank you" every chance you get.

2.  "Imagine yourself more competent." 
Why do we hold on to these restrictive ideas of what we can and cannot do?  Every year in school gets more difficult, every new job brings a new learning curve, and we question ourselves wondering if we'll be able to step up to the next challenge. 

M.J. Ryan, the author of Instant Health and Happiness Boosters, says "I imagine the future as something that I will not be able to cope with, because I envision myself the same as I am now.  I never take further growth into account."  Is this you?   If so, trust your ability to grow in wisdom and experience.

3.  "Appreciate the present moment."  
Thich Nhat Hanh says, "We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on.  But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.  Every breath we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity.  We need only be awake, alive in the present moment.  This one."

4.  "Make use of whatever happens to you." 
Think about the most challenging thing you are dealing with right now.  How can you find some spiritual or emotional meaning as you go through this hardship?  There's a reason waiting to be discovered if only you can quiet your mind enough to listen.

5.  Ask yourself "So What?" 
If you're feeling stressed, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to let yourself off the hook.  So what if your mother-in-law comes over and the house is a mess? So what if the laundry is piling up?  So what if you have to leave something until tomorrow?  Will your whole world come tumbling down?  Nope. 

6.  "Will this make me happy?"   M.J. Ryan says,  "Just for today, before making a decision ask yourself "Will this make me happy?"   Will buying this sweater, calling this person, having this meeting, make me happy?    If the answer is yes, do it.  If not, don't. 

7.  "Take a Satisfaction Break." 
When is the last time you paused to acknowledge your accomplishments?  If you're like me, you accomplish something and for a moment, you congratulate yourself.  Then almost immediately, you begin focusing on the next goal.  We're always trying to make more money, have more things, do more things.  There will always be more to do.   Be sure to stop, appreciate the moment and say "Thank You" (see #1!)

8.  "Give yourself permission to be yourself." 
Stop beating yourself up for the things that you think make you unloveable.  You don't need to be what others expect you to be.  You deserve to be content with yourself, just the way you are.

9.  "Stop Rescuing." 
M.J. Ryan says,  "If someone in my general vicinity is unhappy, I feel immediate panic.  Are they unhappy with me?  Even if the answer is no, I feel compelled to try and fix the situation.  Sound familiar?"

*Raising my hand*

Sometimes it's appropriate to get involved and offer help and other times it's not.  Don't underestimate the power of sending positive thoughts and energy.  This is often more effective than getting directly involved.

10.  "Keep a sense of proportion."
My daughter is 5 years old and already, her life is an emotional roller coaster.  Everything is a huge deal.  If she can't find her favorite shoes (which she never puts away in their proper place), she gets all bent out of shape.  If her brother wants to play by himself,  she cries that he doesn't like her anymore.

Sometimes we can carry this into adulthood.   Learning to overlook small things helps us to be calm and centered for the big things. 

Guess what?  I feel better!!  How about you?  Remember to keep uplifting reminders around you always.   xoxo
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