No Gym Membership, No Problem

We have all heard the phrase, Summer bodies are made in the winter. I love to cozy up beside the fireplace with my boo and a movie. Now that I live in the south, I find myself eating more comfort foods, but as a result I’ve packed on extra pounds.

I am typically a fair weather exerciser. There is something about the sunshine that gives me an added boost of energy and makes me want to go for a light jog in the park. When it’s cold outside, you will only catch me running to and from my car to quickly get warm again. However, I cannot afford to wait until the Spring to get active. Neither can you. More and more young adults are experiencing heart related diseases.

Come January 1st, gyms across the nation will be bombarded with new memberships. Sadly, statistics show that only 80% of those new year resolution sign-ups will fail by the second week of February. I love my gym, but I don’t always like going depending on the day. I have decided to compile a list of exercises that can be done from the comfort of your own home. That way, there are no excuses!

1. Commerical Break Ab Blasters

I don’t watch much television, but when I do, I end up binge watching my favorite shows. 90 Day Fiance, anyone? Instead of sitting there the whole time, take advantage of commercial breaks and sneak in two minute abdominal work outs.

Image result for crunches gif

2.  Thick Thighs Don’t Save Lives

The thicker my thighs became, the more my knees hurt. Aint nobody got time fa dat. Also, I need my dimples to stay on my face, not on my behind. What’s up with all this cellulite out of nowhere? So, this exercise is great for glutes, thighs and lower abs (flex and keep your belly button sucked in). Related image

3. Eight Count Body Builders

That’s what we called this exercise in the Marine Corps. I hated it then, but love it now because it literally targets your muscles for a full body workout. Get some!

Image result for burpee gif

4. JumpStart Your Fitness Goals

Good old-fashion school yard cardio. All you need is a minimum of thirty minutes, three times per week for heart health. You can find an inexpensive jump rope from Target, Walmart or your local sporting goods store.

Image result for jump rope gif

5. Light Weights:  Arms

As if sweeping the floor, lugging around laundry baskets and detangling your hair isn’t enough :-/. If you don’t have light weights, grab two canned foods from your pantry. Works just the same.

Image result for light weights arm workout gif

There you have it! Let’s take better care of our temples and lead healthier lifestyles. I wish you an abundance of blessings this Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.

All my love,

Ciara

From Nothing to a Masterpiece

I’m an artistic person although I’m overly critical of things that I create. I have always had a love for the arts. I’ve been writing stories since Kindergarten, dabbled with singing (I am NOT a singer haha) and played three instruments. I grew up surrounded by my mom and aunt drawing, painting, writing poetry, designing clothes-anything creative, they did it. So, it was no strange thing that I’ve been wanting to express myself through painting for the last several years. The problem is, I had never painted before and I’m no good at drawing. Still, it’s like I could see the finished portrait in my mind.Whatever it may be, I knew it would be beautiful.

One day, I was browsing paintings for my daughter’s room and came across a little Black ballerina. Something told me to do a sketch of it. Okay, maybe it was me being frugal when I saw the prices of all the paintings I liked. [Sidebar: I’m the DIY queen when something is outside of my budget. End Sidebar] I started drawing the picture thinking that it would not be great, but I would try it anyway. I was shocked when the drawing came out perfectly.  I thought to myself, “I may be sitting on an undiscovered talent and that’s why I kept feeling the urge to paint. It no longer wanted to be hidden.” How often do we bury our gifts, meanwhile planting seeds for others to cultivate theirs? I decided that it’s time I start tending to my own crops, so I can eventually reap a bountiful harvest.

In 2013, I purchased a voucher for wine and canvas as a birthday gift for my sister, but never made it before the voucher expired. Three years later, myself and a group of friends surprised her with a Paint Night to close out her birthday celebration. A friend and I arrived long before everyone else. I was a bit drained, because we had just finished a women’s retreat an hour earlier, that I helped to coordinate (this is key for the revelation I received while painting). I had no idea that I would gain so much from the retreat. In fact, I feel that I probably received the most out of all the attendees, but I also feel that I was willing to go there and do the work. I did some big girl soul searching and root digging. I left with my heart pure and vision clear. I felt free and weightless. It was a purge I never saw coming, but was right on time. To top it all off, one of the workshop facilitators, Melissa Mitchell gifted me with a painting that she used for her session. When I saw the painting, I saw myself. More importantly, the take away from her circle, was that everything we need to be successful as women–the lives we want to build, the businesses we want to start, etc.–everything we need is in our hands. That experience created a space of gratitude and receptiveness. My heart was W I D E open.
 
IMG_5255-1While waiting for our party, I noticed an easel across from me that had my initials on the bottom right hand corner. The painted letters were identical to my handwriting. I took this as a sign that our festivities were much, much more than a ladies night out. It was personal for me. I began to think about all of the work that God is doing in and through me. I envisioned all of the special things that were placed deep inside me that have yet to be revealed. I got really emotional about my purpose in life. I am not here by accident. I pondered my true calling. I reflected on the diamond that I’ve become under pressure and accepted the multifaceted layer of my being. I have so many dreams that may seem like polar opposites, but they will all blend together to work towards one common goal: I’m passionate about making a difference in the world. The message became loud and clear to me: As complex as I may seem, I am a work of art.

The Paint Night crowd was a bit more rowdy than I would have liked, but I did not let their IMG_5265-1noise distract me as I focused intently on my portrait. Everyone in the class were supposed to do the same painting under the direction of an instructor. Although, we had the same task, each finished product was unique to the painter. That’s a lot like how we were formed by the hands of God. We were all made in His image and likeness, yet we have our own customized color spectrum that makes us who we are. We may have similarities of phenotypes, but genetically we are one in a million.

While I am far from being able to call myself a painter nor is that profession anywhere on my radar, I learned a few lessons from this experience:

  • Just try it: I would have never known my abilities if I did not try. Sometimes, things happen in our lives to stir up our gifts. Stop talking yourself out of doing something. Stop worrying and over-planning it. Take the first step. Got a business venture you’ve been sitting on? Write out your business plan. Design business cards. Get out and network. Do SOMETHING.
  • Cultivate your gifts: Like a farmer, you must spend time taking care of and growing that special thing that you were blessed with. Practice makes perfect, so have at it. Find your passion and then master your craft. Identify that wow factor that sets you apart from competitors.
  • Stay focused: Limit your distractions and never give up. Netflix and chill after the grind.
  • Be flexible to change: I noticed that I had to frequently change the size of my brush to achieve certain results. A lot of times I had to wash my brush and start over with a new color palette. It’s okay to start over. Fresh starts can be revolutionary to your journey! The instructor told me there is no such thing as messing up. That gave me the green light to relax, break the mold and paint outside the lines when necessary.
IMG_5256-1
Not bad for the first time, eh?

Painting was therapeutic for me. I literally felt the presence of God and was reminded of His love for me. I had to frequently reel myself back into the conversation my group was having because I was so caught up in my picture.

This is the year to follow your dreams. It seems that everyone in my circle have reached their breaking point career-wise. Tired of the limitations placed on us while working in corporate America. We no longer want to be bound by fear or doubt. The funny thing is, everyone in my circle are creative in some way. We are all in alignment to take a leap of faith and get outside of the box.

I am ready to take my blank canvas and turn it into a masterpiece. I’ve been saying that this is my year of harvest. Guess what? According to the season, it’s officially Harvest Time! This is the most labor-intense activity of the season, but it also calls for celebration. What seeds have you planted this year? What seeds do you plan to sow? It is time for you to reap the benefits of sharing your gifts with the world! No better time than the present. Let’s get it!

Melissa Mitchell’s art can be purchased via this link: http://abeillecreations.storenvy.com/?page=1

Like a Fish in a Glass Bowl

Last weekend, my six year old daughter received a gold fish from a friend’s birthday party. The theme was a carnival and his mom fell short of nothing. She included all of the details you would see at your local county fair and it was simply amazing.

While transporting Bailey the goldfish home, the ride was a bit bumpy. My daughter tried her best to keep the fish bowl stable, so it wouldn’t shake around too much. But ya know…speed bumps and turns :-/. It did not help that we were driving in a severe thunderstorm, so I was understandably more concerned about our safety than the goldfish. After an hour drive with very little visibility, we finally made it home. The fish bowl had less water than we started out with, but we kept the gold fish alive as we had planned to. My daughter whispered to her, “Just keep swimming, Bailey.”

The next day, we purchased Bailey a larger home, some decor and food. During the transfer, she went crazy. Like a full fledged panic attack. Bailey did not know what was going on. I’m sure she thought she was dying. Ever heard of the phrase, “like a fish out of water” before? There’s a reason that’s a catchphrase. Anyway, Bailey had no idea that her uncomfortable situation was temporary and she was actually being prepared for something greater. She had no idea that she was going from the little glass bowl to a large aquarium. I wish she knew and I even tried telling her to calm down-“It’s okay Bailey, I got you…you have to trust me!” I know, I know she couldn’t hear me, but it made me feel better talking her through it. I already felt bad that she wasn’t in her natural habitat in the first place. Don’t  judge me. Once I placed Bailey into her new home, she settled down and swam the entire perimeter of that tank. It’s almost like I could see the relaxation as she explored the aquarium.


Bailey reminds me a lot like myself and I know that I’m not the only one. What are you afraid of? What are you panicking about? Why don’t you trust the process? You know darn well that it is temporary but also necessary for elevation. Why don’t you trust that God has you in the palm of His hand? Why do you lose faith just because the ride gets a little bumpy? Sure, you lost a little bit on the way….but you are still breathing. As long as you have breath in your body, you have purpose. So, today I encourage you to spend the rest of your life discovering and fulfilling your purpose. Trust that there is more than your “fish bowl.” There is more than what you can see, you just have to believe that. Even when you feel like a fish out of water, know that you are being elevated to something greater. No one ever reaches their full potential or accomplishes their dreams by staying in their comfort zone. It will be hard, you will want to quit. However, like Dory told Nemo and Tahlia told Bailey, “Just. Keep. Swimming.”

***Update***After publishing this blog post, I received an email from my friend. Turns out, she was inspired by Bailey as well, and it was too good not to share:

On Saturday, a friend of mine took her daughter to our friend’s son’s carnival themed birthday party.  Her daughter left the party with a new pet goldfish.  Yesterday she took her daughter to the pet store to purchase a home for “Bailey”.  This morning she shared a photo of Bailey’s new home and after smiling at her daughter’s excitement I thought, “That’s a big tank for a little gold fish!”
Immediately God took my attention back to our prayer …and enlarge my territory…   I was reminded that “a goldfish will only grow as large as its environment.”  Do you see where I’m going with this?  

This is probably more than you care to know about a goldfish but:
How big your goldfish will grow is determined by the animal’s genetics, not by the size of his environment. If your goldfish doesn’t have enough space to grow to his full size, he will likely die before you notice that the environment is not large enough. Even if your fish does survive in an environment that is too small, other problems are likely. These can include stunted growth, deformities and problems with scales and skin…The cleanliness of your pet’s environment, the kinds of food, and your feeding protocols are all factors…The size of your tank should be based on the size the fish will be when he is completely grown. The length of your tank should be at least seven times that of the adult fish’s size. This means that if you have a “tank suitable” goldfish, your tank should be about 70 inches long. The height of the tank should be double the height of your fish. If your goldfish doesn’t have enough room to move around, he can develop stress-related illnesses…A fishbowl is no longer considered an acceptable environment for goldfish. Bowls cannot provide enough space for a goldfish to grow to his adult size and cannot be set up to provide appropriate filtering and aeration. Most goldfish never reach their adult size in a bowl environment, even if the bowl is large enough. Bowls cannot provide the necessary setup for a fish to get required amounts of oxygen. 

So what did we learn from Bailey today?
1. It’s in YOU.  There is something(s) in you that needs to grow regardless of whether or not you recognize what “IT” is.
2. You need space to live and grow! Praying for God to enlarge your territory is seemingly a matter of spiritual life and death.  It’s a matter of fulfillment and purpose.  You may not die physically, but you are like to experience some complications.
3.  More territory alone is not enough.  You need a clean environment and need to take care of yourself.  We as women often neglect our own needs.  Self-care is key to your growth and survival.  Don’t ever not be able to do whatever it is God will call you to do in this coming territory expansion and answered prayers.
4.  Dream and Pray BIG.  If a gold fish needs a minimum of 15 gallons of water, what more do you think you need?


Father I thank you for every woman who has committed to pray bold prayers with me for 30 days.  I pray that we would dare to pray big, bold, crazy, ridiculous, exceeding and abundantly more than we could ask or think prayers and that you will be true to your word and bless us indeed.  Blow our minds in a magnitude where your favor, grace and glory will be the only explanation.  I thank you that at the end of 30 days we will have all developed a lifestyle and will inspire others to go big.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Have a dream-filled day! ~Cherron D. Keith

Never Give Up

 

In honor of the close out of 2015 and preparation for 2016, I have been reflecting. Things that were not so clear in the moment makes perfect sense in retrospect.

Last month, was my six year old daughter’s fun run at school. I won’t disclose the distance but know that it was not fun for me lol. She started whining about
being thirsty and tired because she took off too fast. So, I had to suck it
up and act like I was okay in order to keep her encouraged. My husband ran
like it was a walk in the park-it’s gotta be the Jamaican in him haha.

This brings me back to school again. I have all of my kids looking up to me to finish. While the final stretch is the hardest, though I assumed it would be
the easiest, it doesn’t make sense to come this far just to quit. I may as
well push through the exhaustion and finish it. I can rest once I cross the
finish line.

“It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to finish the race, as long as you

finish.” ~Danielle’s uncle

I remember one of my late patients motivating me when he found out I was pursuing a degree in Nursing. Although, he passed away, his words will forever live in my  heart. A couple of years ago whenever he came for an appointment, he tried to convince me to be a Doctor or at least Physician Assistant. In his efforts of persuading me that I had what it took to succeed, he dropped the following bomb: “I’m not super smart, or a genius. I just kept at it and every semester I registered for classes until I finished. Before I knew it, I earned my PHD.” He did not receive great grades, but what he did earn was more important-his degree along with a lifetime of lessons. Aha! You mean I don’t have to be perfect?!

There will be times when you cannot remember why you started in the first place and it just does not seem to be worth it anymore. You will feel tired, discouraged and defeated. Moral: JUST KEEP GOING.

 

 
We finished! Not in last place, which was my secret goal 🙂

New Beginnings

I’m not sure what all the fuss is about on social media regarding those wanting to recreate themselves for the new year. Being a spiritual person or believer as some would say, I am all about rebirth.

Sure, most resolutions fall through within the first week of the new year but at least those people are willing to make changes. It takes a courageous person to examine themselves and be brutally honest when looking in the mirror of their own soul. It’s not considered a failure until you quit trying. The day you give up on being a better you is the day you fail. The day you become a quitter is the day you are a loser.

Birthdays and new years are special to me. I don’t want to reach either of the two in the same manner I did the year before. Once you identify things you need to improve in your life, changes should be made immediately. However, some people don’t realize those things until they are reviewing the past year of their life on December 31st. I am not superstitious, but I would rather enter into a brand new year with a clean home and washed laundry. When I changed over my load the morning of New Year’s Eve, it dawned on me that I still haven’t overcome this procrastination thing (part of my resolution for 2013)! I did get better at it, though.

This past year has had many ups and downs, twists and turns. All the way to the 31st, I was receiving shocking news that was meant to knock me off of my feet. But I’m grounded in my faith. This year, I challenge you to go against the grain despite what the majority is doing. Defy the odds!

This year, ease on down the road to a new you!