Clarity is a rare and precious thing in this life. With the vast amount of things, events and people vying for our time, energy and attention its truly amazing when we are able to achieve true clarity and honesty in our lives. Over the course of the last few months I’ve been blessed with a great sense of clarity and finally now the courage to share it. I’ve been coaching very well – especially the last few years – not because I am so awesome ( although I humbly acknowledge the blessing of my uplifting energy and infectious smile). Anyway I’ve been coaching well because I NEEDED to see others overcome in order to overcome my own challenges, challenges that I didn’t fully realize were affecting me negatively at the time. This state was very different from the initial force that drove me to pursue coaching full time – my passion for seeing people be even better than they dreamed and to create an army of empowered individuals wasn’t enough to keep me out of my own head- especially when I refused to see a problem taking over. I didn’t see the cloud of depression moving in and out of my life, turning the most amazing experiences to minor moments and attempting to stifle the fullness of my joy at home and within myself.
It’s been an arduous journey, quietly dealing with my own minor depression the last 3 years brought on by my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Harris’, ascension. Her transition was made even more difficult by not realizing (or acknowledging) that it was in fact a type of depression that I was going through. The lack of motivation to do anything beyond the necessary to meet already made commitments, emotional sensitivity & defensiveness, excessive self-criticism and difficulty sleeping – I simply attributed to my busy schedule. I sincerely knew better deep down, but thought if I just ignored it (and put on an EXTRA HAPPY face) things would get better. Not that I didn’t enjoy the things and people I experienced, but when I got alone, or around really close friends, I immediately criticized myself for things I thought I’d done wrong or found some other fault with myself. Not a very fully positive way to live, but because of how miserable I was I knew how to coach others through…but for some reason just couldn’t get the solutions to apply to myself. We know that things in life don’t just GET better, improvement requires sincere, effectively applied effort in a (consciously or unconsciously) decided direction. Several months ago I finally broke through and began to adhere to my own advice. I began to communicate honestly again about my life, first with God, then myself, my husband and now with others.
I’m sharing this now, after all this time, because I know if I – Little Miss Optimistic – can be afflicted by this even in a minor way, then others, who maybe don’t think they can talk about it, have been too. My refusal to see how deeply I had been affected by my great-granny’s passing and how my life had changed allowed room for an even greater illusion to take place, pretending all was well while I quietly begin to lose my sense of self. I hadn’t fully realized the source of my depression – the fact that I was unable to actualize all the great things that had been presented in my life, because I wasn’t able to “talk” to my great-granny about it. I can even now hear her say “Tell me something good about (insert whatever awesome event or location I told her I was experiencing) “. Throughout my life, until great-granny approved or acknowledged a thing, it wasn’t really as great, important – or even real in some cases. She was my greatest inspiration. For some reason I felt that when she passed on that I had lost my reason for succeeding and for needing to achieve greater things. I knew in my heart that wasn’t true, but for some reason I allowed that thought process to inhibit my level of effort, and even my permission to dream bigger in regards to some aspects of my life. Allowing this diminished mindset just opened the floodgates for negative musings and created head trash that has taken me years to clear out.
Fortunately, I have been inundated with overwhelmingly amazing opportunities, people and experiences that have kept me from “falling” too far into a seriously depressed state but the bit that I endured did affect me greatly. Especially in the confidence area, but bit by bit with the help and support of my family, over the last year, I’ve regained my sense of self-worth and purpose. This renewing has brought me to a place of peace, restoration and need for transparency as I move through this new season. I share this realization not just to shed light on the quiet danger of depression but to encourage you all to honor your truth. Pay attention to your habits, pay attention to your friends, colleagues, family… don’t allow your loved ones to slip away into this difficult state of being for lack of awareness. I sincerely apologize to anyone in my life whom I haven’t been there enough for previously and thank those who have been in touch and in prayer for me.
This is the first of many posts to come….not looking for consolation – but thanks in advanced for the continued prayers and show of support. I intend to blog more about the inspirations, the food, the changes and the challenges I (and some others) move through. I’m just realizing (once again) that the things we experience are not only for us, but to improve how we live and serve one another. Acknowledgment and clarity are key to overcoming any issue… looking forward to overcoming even more.
Most of you know that I’m an intense advocate of including positive and affirming mental conditioning alongside physical training. What many of you may not know is the depth of the struggle that I have had to climb out of, on more than one occasion, to do the work needed to be positive, be healthy, put in the work to achieve goals I’ve set or heck to even maintain focus on the vision I’ve set for myself.
So the question is: What is one to do when the “fire” just isn’t there, or you can’t seem to muster the last ounce of motivation? The answer is simple to say, “move in faith.” – but employing it is an entirely different journey. In my own meditation (which is one of the tools I use to re-center) I tried to create a broader statement regarding the power of faith, the benefits, etc. to be able to reference to boost my spirits if they got low again. Sadly, I wasn’t able to put the right worlds together so I sought out a resource Since I regularly find truly inspiring guidance from the affirmative messages of Life Coach and Spiritual Leader Ms. Iyanla Vanzant, I immediately turned to her book ‘Acts of Faith’. For those of you who follow Imani Wellness or myself on FaceBook, I photograph and share readings from it quite often. So allow me to share a passage that encouraged me today regarding working in and having Faith…
” Faith must inspire action. It alone cannot be verbal. Mental faith is insufficient. Faith is not believing, trying or hoping. It is the knowing by which you do. Faith develops endurance to face the trials without being attempted to stop. Faith produces doers. Those who understand fewness of words, greatness of deeds are a measure of true faith. Faith is obedience to the urgings of the spirit, the porthole through which all things have their being. Faith controls the tongue, soothes the head and stifles the lust to complain. Faith produces patience. Your life is the only true measure of your faith. Your words and actions determine the fullness of your cup. If there is anyone or anything of unworthiness in your life you must ask yourself, ” To what am I giving my faith?”
I put my faith in only those things that produce good for me.”
Pretty powerful and encouraging right! We’ll talk more about specific applications at a later time, for now… Have faith and
Sooooooo….. yea……it’s been a while since I’ve created a post for my blog here and I do apologize for my absence. Though many of you have continued to follow my thoughts and advice on the Imani Wellness FB page ( and I thank you for that many of you have expressed that they haven’t been as great as getting your regular dose of LiveWell inspiration here.
I thank those of you who encouraged (demanded) that I get back to sharing all that I’m learning, experiencing, growing in and invite you to do the same with me – here in comments and via other media. So to begin again I simply say “Welcome Back” to you all… and myself !
I will be posting as the mood strikes and revisiting some topics that I neglected to share in the past. If any of you have any topics that you’d like to share for insight or discussion feel free to email me. Looking forward to our collective inspiration!!
Let’s Get It!
Thanks to all our Imani LiveWell Family who came out to The Vitamin Shoppe at Pentagon Row on June 22nd to help us share the love and possibility of optimal health!! This 2nd installment of The Vitamin Shoppe’s effort to continue to inspire and educate the communities that host their retail stores about Vitamin Shoppes products, services and partner services was a rousing success!
Fantastic whole food smoothies and raw food tastings and lectures. Juicing education and tasting from the Vitamin Shoppes own super healthy staff (always a great thing to see staff using their own products!) And of course body composition analysis and health education from yours truly & our Imani Wellness team. It was so wonderful to connect more with our Arlington community and introduce the SandBell and TRX to not just attendees but to our wellness collaborators at LA Fitness (ya’ll need to get these tools in your facility quick). Folks were definitely working for those free sessions and Sports Authority gift cards that we gave away with the Sandbell Slam Challenge and Jump Rope battles!! Too much fun!
We hear tale that the Vitamin Shoppe’s next Share the Health Expo will be in August… make plans to be there and get in on the fun!!
For the last 4 years, around mid-Spring the Washington, DC Urban Arts scene has been blessed with the creative genius, overwhelming warrior spirit and all around amazingness of International Pioneers and Achievers in Dance, Graffiti, MC’ing and Dj’ing when they come here to celebrate at the International Soul Society Festival.
Presented by Urban Artistry and a host of wonderful sponsors the festival, now in its 5th glorious year, promises to shatter the awesomeness of previous years with the expansion of it’s unique Cypher battles and International Level Qualifying events.
As a dancer and one of the coordinating directors, it’s always a challenge to manage the energy and creativity levels needed to sustain a 7 day intensive like ISSF. When & how to prepare, when to rest, when to just get down and let creativity flow – all of these factors are immensely important when preparing to host, run and interact at an international event. While creativity will always be an individual journey, the physical needs are something that can be planned and prepared for.
That said, we’ve created a quick a guide of how to plan your training regimen for the next few weeks in preparation for “The party of the year”.
This guide is just meant to be a skeleton to work from, changes necessitated by your body’s needs should be incorporated. Do not make the mistake of ignoring the rest days because you believe you’re the biggest and baddest. Every body needs rest, if you negate this fact, your body will let you know it. Over training can often have a worse effect on the body than inadequate training, so be sure to treat your body well. Engaging in active rest activities like swimming, yoga or massage can be extremely re-energizing and recovery enhancing.
I know, I know … the Prep Plan doesn’t mention anything about Nutrition… that’s coming next This fact does create a great soap box opportunity for our Nutrition speech. “Not every meal plan is for every body.” Sure eating only veggies sounds great…unless you have an unknown allergy to mass amounts of them. Same with proteins, supplements and grains. Don’t make the mistake of believing that conditions and ailments like asthma, bloating, or IBS are “normal” or just have to be tolerated. Change what your are putting INto your body and you will see better results and functionality come OUT. We’ll talk more about that in our next entry
In the meantime grab your running shoes, jump rope or stability ball and get to work! Come May 6th we’ve got a lot of dancing and celebrating to do… make sure you’re ready to get it in and enjoy every moment!.
Of all the tremendously amazing developments that have come about for Imani Wellness in this awesome new year ( and we apologize for not posting all of them yet :), partnering with The Vitamin Shoppe to be an advocate for Total Wellness Living has been one of the most exciting! After their awesome presence at Imani Wellness’ very first LiveWell Expo this past Jan, I was absolutely over the moon when they asked us to participate in their National Wellness event at our Potomac Yard Vitamin Shoppe location. This promises to be an incredible event!!
Enjoy free samples, education and activities! The first 50 customers receive a Gift Bag (while supplies last).
Gift bag will include:
– 3rd party product samples
– Amazing Wellness Magazine
– Muscle & Performance Magazine
– Renew You booklet
– Weight Management Support booklet
Product Samples From:
2. Nordic Naturals
Now, you all know what a boundless bundle of positivity and fun we are so come on out and add your energy to the fun at the Potomac Yard store between 11a and 2p this Sat, March 2nd. Tons of fun, games, and wellness education by Yours Truly and many other wonderful wellness providers available to you here in NoVa. And we may even have a foot race or push-up contest – so dress athletically!
Looking forward to seeing you all there!!
With all the holiday celebrating, new articles, affirmations, resolutions and other expectations for the New Year take a minute to stop and enjoy being IN this New Year. 2013 is here, the future is now!
The beautiful thing about this realization is that you can have it everyday! You shouldn’t wait to feel renewed and restored only at the turn of another year. Choose to allow each day to be a new start, make the best choices you can every day – resolve to live your best life everyday!
Just a simple reminder from me to you ( and to myself
We all get wrapped up in the holidays, present tinsel-covered company included. The trouble starts when we allow the glow of twinkling lights, the buzz of egg nog and the lure of nostalgia to color our expectations. You know what I’m talking about: the perfect family, gathering around a immaculately set table, filled with locally sourced fixins, prepared by the calm, cool woman of the house, who’s spent all day preparing the meal for her completely appreciative brood. Through some holiday miracle, she’s managed to escape the “not mandatory but you’ll look like a jerk for skipping it” work holiday party, dedicate her week to rivaling Martha Stewart in decor sophistication, convince her children to put their phones away and still make every last-minute guest feel welcome and fill every awkward pause in conversation.
While this image may seem familiar, do you actually know anyone like this (who isn’t one Elf on the Shelf away from a nervous breakdown)? No, of course not. This woman is a work of fiction — a dangerous ghost of Christmas Never. This holiday apparition can be seen lurking around the ER this time of year, it’s busiest thanks to what many health workers I know call the Holiday Heart Attack. Not an actual heart attack, this psycho-somatic manifestation of the angst, pressure and other heightened expectations is side effect of our pursuit of The Perfect Holiday.
So how do we stay out of the ER and off one another’s last nerve? One approach is to get back to the bare-boned, tinsel-free basics. Forget the gifts, the lavish parties and all the trappings and simply celebrate family and the birth of Christ. And many who know me know I’ve taken this approach a few times, especially after a large investment or purchase (my first home and my second home) or during a significant transition. My inner Holly Jolly was silenced by a much louder Save It Sister who kept reminding me that it’s not responsible to spend money I needed to save. If people in your life can’t accept that, too bad! They can celebrate with the side of the family fully wrapped up in the craziness.
If a Christmas blackout sounds too extreme, then follow my Five to Thrive, not just Survive the Holidays tips.
1. Celebrate the past. Take a moment to revisit holidays you’ve experienced and revel in the moments that you cherished. Share those memories with new people in your life and ask them to share their good ones, too. Write down the things that made those moments great.
2. Plan on it. You’re less likely to be overwhelmed by “everything you have to do” if you are the one deciding exactly what you want to do. Create a list of Holiday Awesomeness. Put only those things you can feasibly and without significantly raising your heart rate make happen (host or re-create) or request to have happen.
3. Spread the joy — and Christmas list. Your friends and family don’t magically become mind readers in December. Talk to them about the kind of holiday celebration you want. If this is the year for the big blow-out, they need advance notice too. If it’s a quiet romantic Christmas with your Hunny, they need to know so as to not take it personally. Don’t ever expect to get what you want if you won’t be bold enough to ask for it! You never know who may want to help or who needs to hear someone else ask for what they want in order to be empowered to ask for what they want in their own life! Along with that be sure to allow people to help you, in a capacity that is comfortable for you, if they offer to do so
4. Back to life, back to reality. Remember you’re living in the real world where tough things happen. You may not be in the merriest of moods this year, your spouse may be going through a tough time at work, you may have lost a loved one. . For example, my family lost our matriarch Thanksgiving 2011. Last year was a challenge — and this year has been tough at times. But, we were all clear that while we were struggling, the most important thing we could do for one another and for my grandmother was to be together. I cancelled some clients to travel to Richmond early for Thanksgiving and stay longer after Christmas to be present for my family and to receive their love as well. Always start with a positive frame, but remember that not everyone may be ‘up’ this year.
5. Cut yourself some slack –– starting with the calendar.
Check your calendar and list of those you wish (or need) to celebrate with. Choose the best time for everyone to come together. Some events will have to be missed, some may be amplified either way make your plans work for you. Remember the Amazing Holiday experience you designed for yourself in Step 2. If your grand plan or solitary snugglefest have to wait until next month or next year, put it on your dream board and remind people as it nears, so they can adjust as well.
Attitude and gratitude matter this time of year more than ever. Be the experience you hope to recall without regret when you look back in 2013. Smile, laugh, dance, cry — just do so with authenticity. Regardless of what you plan, what you hope, what you forget to pack, what happens or what you buy, remember to be joyful, grateful and loving in your celebration. And leave the Ghost of Christmas Never off the invite list.
* expertly edited by Amanda Long – she’s super awesome
As we draw closer to everyone’s favorite (or most nerve wracking ) time of year “The Holiday’s” I’ve have been inundated with questions and coaching requests for ways to be healthier, less stressed and stay sane during the family togetherness moments we’ll share over the next 2 months. Of course always wanting to be the most efficient I can be I decided a blog series on ‘Thriving through the Holidays’ was in order.
For Part 1 we’ll tackle one concern I’ve received yesterday… Planning .
Type A personalities, control freaks, and high stress individuals listen up! This rule however is not just for the control freaks – everyone needs to follow this. Your key to thriving this holiday season is going to be communicating effectively. Not just sharing what it is the YOU desire and envision for the “perfect” family gathering, but to ASK your family and friends what they would like and need this year as well. Allowing people to assume each other’s desires and needs only leads to arguing, bickering and lots of harmful words and hurt feelings and lots and lots of stress. It does not matter if your desires are at odds with your friends and family, the important thing is for everyone involved to be aware of what is important to the other and to start a dialogue that at least allows everyone’s needs to be heard. Now don’t make the mistake of taking this advice as license to bulldoze your loved ones with your desires, unless serious health and family concerns deem it necessary, and if that is the case more often that not you request will be agreed to reluctantly and supported by a few key players as well. Case in point, I have taken over my family’s Thanksgiving Celebration. It is the first anniversary of my Great Grandmother’s passing and the celebration of a new family home, a bittersweet but joyous time. This past year however our family has also battled breast cancer, stroke, heart trouble, diabetes, nerve related back and hip trouble, high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and arthritis. Needless to say the typical African-American Soul Food Thanksgiving is not a good idea. The meal plan is being overhauled and lightened -but will still be delicious and exercise will be included in the family fun time this year to serve as an educational time and expression of love and desire for everyone to be their absolute best this coming year.
Now – after you’ve clearly and humanely communicated amongst your celebrants your next task is to coordinate and plan your time. My best trick for this has been to write out a list of everyone and their desires or concerns and see how everything can be incorporated or modified to satisfy everyone. With that done and your list in hand here’s where you get a BIG dose of real life – everyone doesn’t have to do everything together! Yes, the ideal of family time is for everyone to come together and celebrate. However, if folks are hell bent on doing ‘their own thing’ – LET THEM! Don’t have a coronary about a teenage member wanting to text or Facebook all day or about your mother-in-law wanting Pig Ears & Hog Mog. The best way to mitigate these potential trouble spots is to make your boundaries known and if needed show them how their choice will affect the group as a whole but then let them make their own decisions. Give people the space to do what they want if their desires cannot be incorporated into the plan but be sure to let everyone know that while there are responsibilities, that there are also options to the Holiday Plan.
Now that you have a plan in mind, we have to figure out how & when to implement the plan…. next blog…. Time Management.
Feel free to share how you plan to Thrive through the Holidays!!
From the Desk of LaTasha Barnes:
In our pursuit of our dreams or higher achievements we often times burden ourselves unnecessarily with the pressure and angst of being the greatest. While being the best is a worthwhile goal, sometimes it is not a feasible possibility for certain endeavors, given the affect of life circumstances (i.e. time constraints, fund depletion, illness, etc).
We all recognize that under ideal circumstances we can all be ‘The Greatest of All Time at (insert goal)’. But this is real life, and in real life you don’t always get your ideal situation every time. Sometimes in the process of achieving your goal you will be tested 1) to see how badly you want it, and 2) to see how well you can stay engaged in the rest of your life while working towards or having achieved the goal.
When the factors of life seem to weigh on you and you begin to stress about doing the best, rather than simply being your best given the situation, that is when you need to 1) thank God for the opportunity and the lesson you are learning and 2) accept that you may have to just settle for an ‘ok’ performance rather than a perfect one.
I know I work hard to do be my best at every opportunity and my closest friends and fam probably see me as a perfectionist 😉 but with everything we are working on and towards in Imani Wellness and Urban Artistry sometimes perfection is not a true possibility – even if I like to think so (always acknowledge reality, but stay insanely optimistic). Sometimes you have to step back from the work at hand and accept what is. Sometimes you have to choose to just complete the task rather than shine at it. In the grande scheme of things, sometimes the simple completion of 1 task of 10 is more valuable than a prize winning completion. Sometimes performing ‘Ok’ is good enough.
I say this to you not to give license to naysayers or to negative mindsets and behaviors, but to encourage you to give yourself a break from time to time. We all work hard to build and maintain our lives, dreams and families, sometimes your ‘perfect’ picture comes after a not so perfect struggle/event. Sometimes we have to be Ok with not being perfect, in order to be ok we have to commit to a few ideas.
1) I am choosing to acknowledge that Ok is Ok on a regular basis. Just because I am capable of being the best, doesn’t mean I HAVE to be the best at every turn. 2) I am choosing not to sweat the small stuff and to let stress roll off my back like a polished marble statue in the rain. Stress only makes me look like the work I do is weighing on me and tearing me down; I am building my dreams full-time or working my current situations to be able to build my dreams full-time therefore EVERYTHING I do is exciting, gratifying and energizing to do. 3) I choose to differentiate between my best, my good, and my ‘Ok’ performance. I know that each situation along my journey will require a different application of knowledge and effort, and given my circumstances I am accepting of the effort that will continue to move me toward my goal.
Simply put: Progress, no matter how small is still a win
Always begin a thing with the intent to win!
Just some thoughts from my journal after a discussion with my wonderfully loving and accomplished husband regarding his level of stress and a current situation we are navigating.
Be Ok, with Ok