By Carla Helené Ezell
One of the worst things we can do is get to the end of our lives and look back with regret. The should haves, could haves, would haves that plague us even now are indicators that we are not living the best lives we possibly could. Sleepless nights and troubled m, restless days tell us something is inherently wrong. Life is short but so often we take the hope of tomorrow for granted even though it was never promised to us.Thus we find ourselves giving death bed confessions and trying to spend our last moments making up for past mistakes.
Below are five ways to help eliminate (or at least severely reduce) death bed confessions and carrying regrets to the grave. Instead of worrying how things work out in the end, I challenge you to enjoy your life for all it has to offer before it is too late. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
1. Live in the now. Every day, every moment, be conscious of who you are, what you are doing, where you are, who you are with, what direction you are heading in.
2. Take control. Do not just let life coast by and happen to you haphazardly. Decide who you want to be, what you want to do, and how you want to do it. You use your power of choice. Think of the consequences of your decisions BEFORE acting on them. Question yourself, “will this decision better my life or worsen it?” Only do the things that will better your life. Weigh your options FIRST. Think BEFORE acting.
3. If it doesn’t evolve you, it shouldn’t involve you - this applies to relationships, working environments and every aspect of life, really. For example, stop living for office gossip. It is negative and I it brings division among your co-workers and others involved. Quit wasting time doing negative things. Only positivity will bring good things to your life. The universe is waiting for you. What you put out into it is what will return to you.
4. Challenge yourself. Arm yourself with knowledge and then use it to become a better version of yourself. Iron sharpens iron. Read. Expand your mind. Listen to podcasts. Work on your self development, not with the goal of getting something good but with the goal of becoming someone good. Increase your knowledge base so you have better things to offer the world.
5. Get busy. Use time wisely. Stop procrastinating. Be about it, don’t just make lofty goals. Plot a course to accomplish the things you want to accomplish. Get busy falling in love with your process and your life and the results will take care of themselves.
By Carla Helené Ezell
Time is short. We are busier now than we have ever been before. And in the hustle and bustle of life, it is easy to get pulled off course, distracted or overwhelmed with to do lists. But this does not have to be the final result of our lives. In the middle of chaos, we can find balance. Below are five principles to help bring everything into check when life is moving faster than you can keep track of it.
1. Create routines. Spend 5 min prepping the night before by creating a to do list for the next day. This helps you organize your tasks more efficiently and will give you peace of mind. You will sleep better at night when you do not have so many unchecked things hanging over your head. In the morning, as soon as you wake up, pray. Praying before your feet hit the floor will put you in a better mood and promote a ‘can do’ mindset. This exercise will set the tone for the entire day and give you a head start on everything you have to do. When your mind and heart are in the right space you are released to work smarter and more efficiently.
2. Get organized. Break down tasks so they aren’t looming large and overwhelming you. Tackle your now smaller tasks one at a time and give yourself a time frame for each item on your list. When you do get something done, reward yourself. Positive affirmation boosts confidence. Your reward does not have to be anything really big. Even an M&M here or there or five minutes of unplugging while playing Solitaire are a excellent treats for a job well done.
3. Ask for help. If you have a lot on your plate, and it’s overwhelming you, delegate the things you can assign to someone else so you are more free to do the things that only you can do or things that you enjoy most. This does not mean it is okay to dump all the unpleasant tasks you have to do onto someone else. But learning how to spread the work out so it is not more than you can healthily manage alone is a healthy skill to master.
4. Eliminate distractions. It is so easy to get side tracked especially when we are busy. You start one thing and see something else that needs attention, then you jump to that thing and forget about the original thing you were doing. Stop it. Focus. Having a to do list is one of the best ways to eliminate distractions because it is tangible and makes it easier to stay on task. Turn off your ringer so friends don’t distract you with random texts and calls when you are trying to get things done. Stay focused.
5. Accept failure. Don’t hold yourself to such a high standard that you cannot achieve success. No one is perfect. Accept that you are human. The beauty of being human is that you know your strengths and shine in them and also accept your growth points so you can work to strengthen those areas. Acknowledging you are human means that you are free to be human. Once you accept this about yourself, you can forgive yourself and subsequently, give yourself permission to try again tomorrow. Now that you have allowed yourself some space to be human, get back up and keep moving forward.
By Carla Helené Ezell
In the hustle and bustle of life, it's easy to forget how amazing you are. So here are some ways to pamper yourself because you really do deserve to be treated like a diva. And who is better suited to love you than yourself?
1. Go shopping. A little retail therapy is a quick way to lift your spirits. Buying new things, whether it be clothes, makeup or just a new perfume can give you a swing in your step.
2. Go to the movies. Who says you need a date? Treat yourself to some alone time and entertainment. You deserve it.
3. Sleep in a few minutes or go to bed a little bit early. That extra rest really can be refreshing. You owe it to yourself.
4. Eat out somewhere new. It doesn't have to be that new expensive Ethiopian restaurant in town unless you want it to be but treating your taste buds to something new not only makes you feel special but it opens your mind to new ideas and concepts too. Win/Win!
5. Listen to some new music. Music that is different from your normal listening patterns opens your mind to new possibilities and can be relaxing or energizing (depending on the style you choose).
6. Go dancing. Grab the girls or a date and treat yourselves to a night at a dance studio. They often offer introductory classes that don't cost too much (or are possibly free) plus you'll be giving yourself a fun workout while meeting new people too. Check out Groupon.com if you're looking for a studio. There's usually something listed there with di$count$!!
7. Get a haircut. You don't have to make a drastic change like I did last month, but a little pampering is good for the soul and healthy for your tresses too! So get a trim, lose the dead ends and bring your hair back to life in one fell swoop!
8. Go for a walk. While you're enjoying the view, take your camera or use your phone camera to capture the sights. It doesn't have to be anything spectacular either. Even clicking a pic of the neighbor's flowerbed can bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab photo album. Plus, it's fall! Celebrate with some changing leaves shots.
9. Take a drive. Get in your car and drive for a few hours. You don't have to have a specific destination in mind, just go where ever the road takes you. Roll down the windows, open the roof, turn up the music and cruise.
10. Have a wine party. Invite the girls over and pop the cork on a new blend you've wanted to try. Savor the flavors and company. And if you want to be fancy, pick up some expensive cheese and jams to really raise those pinkies.
11. Take a bubble bath. Make it a long, hot one too. Relax those tired muscles and enjoy some smooth jazz and candles while you're at it.
12. Eat something sweet (or salty) and refuse to feel guilty about breaking the diet. Everyone deserves to indulge now and then.
13. Read a book, magazine or blog. Escape from life a few minutes each day by enjoying the fantasy of a good story with great characters.
14. Take a trip. Save a little each week so you can splurge on a quickie getaway. Stay overnight and experience life at a different pace for a change.
15. Unplug from the Internet for a couple of days or a weekend. Turn off your cell, tablet, laptop, etc. Don't answer your email or texts/calls during this time. The world can afford to lose you for a day or two but you can't afford to never take a break. Your mind will thank you for it.
16. Get a massage or facial. Find a local spa offering discounts through Groupon (this is so my fav way to find new places). Then indulge in some self-love with a rub down, deep cleansing treatment or even just a manicure and pedicure.
17. Call an old friend or family member you've lost touch with. Rekindle your friendship. Walk down memory lane together. Remind yourself why they were in your life long ago. Oftentimes revisiting a memory will clarify future goals and dreams.
18. Sing in the shower loudly. Don't worry if the neighbors hear you either. It's your time. Stop thinking about how you're going to run that meeting next Friday or where you're going on date night. Just pick a song and let her rip.
19. Plan a picnic. What other activity is better to celebrate the changing weather?
20. Take a yoga class. Stretching and strengthening your muscles while clearing your mind is a wonderful way to feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
21. Cook your favorite meal. Then savor every bite. You don't even have to share it with anyone... unless you want to.
22. Visit an art gallery or museum. Spend an afternoon just sitting (or standing) in silence, and let the colors and patterns speak to you.
Summertime means the weather is hot and the food is refreshing. This simple salad is easy to make, presents beautifully for gatherings and won’t take up too much time from your entertaining.
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
1/4 cup Basalmic Vinegar
2 salmon fillets (6 oz)
10-15 strawberries (hulled and sliced)
lettuce of choice (I prefer baby spinach but any lettuce will do)
1/2 red onion (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup crumbles feta cheese (or cheese of choice)
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425f. Place salmon fillets on aluminum foil squares big enough to make pockets out of around fish. Lightly drizzle tsp of olive oil over fillets so they don’t stick to the foil. Salt and pepper salmon. Fold foil into pockets and place in oven 8-12 minutes (or until cooked through). Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Prepare salad as follows: layer lettuce, strawberries, onion, and feta in salad bowl. When Salmon is done, break it into large chunks then toss with other salad ingredients. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over salad.
300 calories per serving.
by Carla Helené Ezell
Philadelphia. July 23rd, 2018. 4:40 pm.
They gathered in front of City Hall, dressed in red robes and white bonnets. There were almost 100 women... just standing there... silent... non-responsive to passerbys and evening commuters. And although no sound was heard from any of them, their united voice was as clear as a bell. Resist Fascism and stop the current presidental administration’s move away from “Humanity First” toward “America First”.
Vice President Mike Pence was in the building across the street, attending a fundraiser for the Republican Party and mid-term elections while discussing tax cuts over wine. A sea of blue surrounded the square, poised to suppress any unexpected outbursts. Yet, there was an heir of humor in their voices as the police force chilled under the pregnant skies, just a few steps away from the gathering. Whether they agreed with the protesters or not, duty called and they served in calm kindness.
The visual poetry was breathtaking. Silence speaking volumes about what will not be tolerated. Several organizations united as one behind the movement: Refuse Fascism and Philly NOW to name a couple. I had a front row seat to all the action and speeches (my first attendance of a protest of such magnitude) as the volunteer photographer for the organizers.
In a nation where Freedom of Speech is the first amendment, we are encouraged to make our voices heard. What we often forget is that while we have the right to speak our minds, the consequences of our vocalizations and actions are also ours to own. Nevertheless, silence is compliance.
The point is this: whatever you believe in, stand for it and accept the resulting consequences because at the end of the day, it will not be our words that are remembered but our neutrality when called upon to take a side. This is not Switzerland. This is America, the land of the free and home of the brave. So be brave. Stand.
By Carla Helené Ezell
Do we even say “lit” anymore? I don’t know, but what I do know is I had a great time!
On Saturday, July 21st, I got to hang with my friend, Lisa and her daughter, Alina (pictured above) for the day and it was just the exciting, yet relaxing day I needed. We arrived at the festival around 3 pm and were escorted to the Silver ticket line. The line was crazy, but we had a good time connecting with all the cool, curly chicks waiting with us to get in. I even got to meet Stoni, who was rocking an amazing head wrap (we are wrap queens, aren’t we?)
The place was packed, y’all! Every vendor had a line of excited patrons and curl friends snapping pics, smiling and having fun. The music was bumping and the food trucks lining the south wall had the park smelling like Auntie’s cook out all afternoon.
There was so much to see. People were laying on blankets, soaking up the cool vibes or dancing as the main attraction on stage energized the atmosphere.
All in all, my first Curlfest experience was amazing. I got to meet a couple of celebrity stylists, Curly models/bloggers, made some new friends and reconnected with other inspiring women I simply adore!
Thank you, CurlyGirl Collective, for creating such an amazing event where natural hair, melanin and black girl magic reigned supreme. I am confident that Curlfest will be an annual celebration for me! ❤️
By Carla Helené Ezell
Sometimes life gets difficult. Things don't go according to plan. Mistakes happen. People don't act right. Parking tickets appear on your windshield. Relationships fail. The list goes on. Whatever challenges you find yourself facing today, here are five things to remember:
1. Just Breathe. "Breathe. It's only a bad day, not a bad life." Johnny Depp
How right my friend (in my head), Johnny is! A girl friend of mine once told me, everything will work out in the end; if it hasn't worked out yet, it isn't the end. This is not the end. You are still here so you still have a chance to try again.
2. You are only a failure if you fail to try again. Success is not about winning without ever losing. It's about wining despite your pass losses. Failing to try is the only true failure so do NOT quit trying. Nothing worth doing or having comes easy. You will have to put in some work if you want to win big so keep going.
3. Take stock of where it all went wrong. If it was something out of your control, realize that there was nothing you could have done to stop it from happening. But if something you did brought undesired consequences, you have the power to never do it again. This is your power of choice. Which leads to the next thing to remember:
4. Choose to do differently. Albert Einstein said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."
If you want different results, you have to take different actions. Think of ways to modify your way of thinking and behavior so you do not find yourself in a pattern of repeating the same failure over and over again. Learn from your mistakes and failures. Use them for fuel to grow and become better.
5. Do not rush the process. Realize where you are today in your progress and then continue to move forward every single day. This not always easy, but it is always necessary. We live in a microwave society where patience is low on the spectrum of character lists and fast results are measured as success. But here's the deal; progress, no matter how small, is still progress. Every thing you do that moves you closer to your goal is a step in the right direction. So do not rush through the steps to get to the end of the journey. Savor each moment. Let it wash over you and develop you as it will. You'll be a more centered and well rounded person if you let challenges develop your character.
Just because unexpected challenges come your way, you should not give up or quit working toward your end game. A mistake is just proof that you're willing to try and if you're still trying, you're still breathing. We can not control what others do, only ourselves. Life happens. And if it stops happening to you, around you, it means you are probably dead. Be grateful for the alternative!
So, cut yourself some slack. Whether it be in your natural hair journey, your employment situation, finances, relationship, small (or big, for that matter) business endeavors, or what have you... You are a work in progress. In those moments of stress, when it feels like everything is going wrong, or maybe just a small thing has given you reason to scream, scream. Then take a deep breath, get back in the game and move forward. You can't win if you stop playing.
Like what you read today? Check out the entire Living With Purpose series. Sign up for the RSS so you never miss a post and please consider sharing this post with someone who may need encouragement. Thank you for rocking with me. Carla Helené ?❤️
by Carla Helené Ezell
Toxic people - we all know them and are forced to deal with them at certain times in our lives. Identifying unhealthy people, their destructive systems and subsequently learning how to cope with these damaging behaviors can be difficult, especially if they are of the manipulative sort. Manipulative people are often excellent chameleons, disguising negative words as constructive critiques; hurtful, derogatory judgements they consider to be nothing more than harmless opinions. They are masters of turning the tables, causing healthy people to question their experiences and doubt their confidence or self-worth.
Below are 10 ways to identify toxic and/or abusive people.
Below are 4 ways to cope with abusive or toxic people.
Coping with them:
By Carla Helené Ezell
A friend of mine contacted me about an amazing opportunity I’ve longed for going on four years. His excitement got me excited. I mean, this was a really great chance for me to step out of the background and into a spotlight I’ve worked toward my entire life. And there it was, on my doorstep, ready to realized for real! I dreamed of that day. I prayed for it. I worked hard for it for longer than I could remember. It was in my blood. In my sights. My lifeline… And then, I got busy with other things that took my eyes off that particular prize. Over time, I let that dream become diminished in my sights and focused on things that were more immediate.
Life happens. We get busy and our goals change. There’s no shame in that at all. I mean, if you aren’t evolving, you’re dying so I don’t feel anything negative toward the development of my life path. Not one bit. But that doesn’t change the fact that this goal which had been put on the back burner for a few years, was still something I wanted to do.
So I packed my little bag up (figuratively, of course) and set off on the journey to my destination. I was stoked. I was as prepared as I could be given the short notice. I thought I was ready for the challenge… until I actually stepped up to the plate to swing the bat… and fell flat on my face.
I failed. Miserably.
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t the worst effort I’ve ever made. We are our own worst critics most of the time. But I knew in my heart that I had not earned the opportunity I was trying to win. My lack of consistent preparation throughout my season of waiting caused me to stumble when it was “go” time. And the last minute preparations I threw at the task simply did not garner the outcome I had hoped for.
Even before I received the official notice that the opportunity I was reaching for had slipped through my grasp, I knew instinctively that this was not going to be the win I hoped it would be.
Randy Pausch says, “Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted…”
Yup. I have yet another experience under my belt. But instead of getting upset about it or beating my head against a wall or even feeling like the failure I was in that moment, I decided that failure would not define me. Instead, I decided that it was time to make some changes. I knew I had not prepared like I should have for that opportunity, not in the long run. I tried my best with what I had at the moment but there was a clear deficit because I had not remained prepared all along. I let some things slip through my grasp because other things had taken center stage in my life.
It is all a matter of your outlook. You see, failure is not failure until you quit trying to succeed. Just because I failed at this one task, does not mean I am a failure all of the time. I own my mistakes. I take responsibility for not staying prepared over the years and allowing other things to pull me away from my original goal. And I forgive myself for letting my friend down. I mean, he put his name on the line for me and I came up short. I’ve apologized to him for it. It is what it is. I can’t change the past. But I can damn sure have a hand in shaping my future!
To finish the quote by Randy Pausch, “Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”
Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn. But never, should you actually fail. ❤️
It’s the dog days of summer!
Ok, I’ve been dying to say that because our family adopted a new puppy this past weekend. Angel and I drove to Pittsburgh and back for our new little bundle of joy. We haven’t named him yet because we just don’t know what to call him and the family is having a hard time agreeing on what he should be called. I’ll post more pics of him once we figure it out.
I’ve also been fighting Ulcerative Colitis (the reason I went Pescatarian to begin with) this month. It started around July 1st and it’s been a struggle ever since. Then there were my birthday and the July 4th holiday cookouts. The point is, my workout schedule has been thrown completely off. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still getting to gym every few days and my eating habits have pretty much stayed healthy too so I consider this a win all around. But now that things are settling back down, I’m planning to get back to the nitty gritty.
I’ve apparently hit that dreaded plateau. UGH! I’m still weighing in at 190 (down 15 lbs from the day 1 challenge weight of 204.8 and down 38 lbs from where I was in November, 2017). This has been the same for about a week and a half or so. But I’m not discouraged. In fact, I’m still kind of encouraged because while the number on the scale hasn’t really moved, my other numbers are decreasing.
I took my daughter for a bra fitting because she needed an update (growing bodies need constant upkeep in the wardrobe department) and while we were there, they measured me too. I’m officially back in a size 36 bra band (down from a 38 and two months ago I was told I needed a size 40). And my cup size has decreased from a G to a DDD! This is a HUGE triumph! My goal is to be a D or DD sized cup so I am almost there! And hopefully, with continued success I’ll even get back to my coveted 34 band size. This is completely possible too because the sizing specialist said I was really measuring 33 on the bottom of my ribs so a 34 is a very attainable goal. Oh! And I am able to wear regular sports bras and sexy, lace backed bralettes now without looking or feeling like an old woman with saggy breasts draping down to my knees! Hey sexy summer tank tops!! 💁🏽♀️🙋🏽♀️
I am very comfortably wearing a size 12 in bottoms across the board now and the other day, I wore a size 10 jean shorts without my eyes (or tummy) bulging out in horror. Also, my tees are all fitting loosely and have some swing now too. I bought a tee at Lackland AFB when my son graduated from Basic Military Training in May. It was an XL. It’s now hanging on me and even the shoulders are too wide. And my leather biker vest has been cinched all the way in and it too was flapping around my breasts and tummy in the wind last night. The only down side to this is that I sold my size large leather riding jacket and replaced it with a W1X. By the fall, this jacket will be too big to wear anymore and I’ll probably have to spend the money on yet another size Large. I am grateful for this victory but man, the yoyo is really frustrating because quality riding gear ain’t cheap!
My double chin is gone. GONE. And my cheekbones are more prominent now, casting a shadow on the lower half of my face. Thank GOD for that amazing brand of skin care, Urban Skin Rx because the serums are keeping my loosening skin firm and plump. I was really concerned that losing weight would increase the lines on my face and neck but so far, that has not happened. I’ve started using a firming cream on my legs and tummy too. Hopefully it will work and help me to tighten the texture of my body skin. The last thing I want to do is look like a wrinkled old prune when I finally get an acceptable bikini sized body again.
Wednesday, I went shopping in my closet for a dress to wear to a brunch scheduled later this week and I now have several old/new options to choose from again. Dresses I hadn’t worn in almost two years are now back in daily rotation AND I’m not busting out of them OR getting that ‘lovely’ back bulge around my bra anymore. I also have not felt like putting on spanx because they create pressure around my tummy (a serious no no for UC flair up days) and thanks to the exercises I’ve been doing on my abs, I didn’t need them either! I mean, I actually have a shot at getting rid of my mommy belly. That 10.6 pound kid I had 20 years ago will finally be forgiven for ruining my body! lol
All in all, I feel better, even with the digestive issues I’m struggling with. My ankles aren’t swollen anymore and it doesn’t hurt to get up in the middle of the night to take this rascal of a puppy out for a twilight potty break. No more wincing when my feet hit the carpet and I can’t remember the last time my back was out of joint from heavy boobs pulling it in every which direction.
Yup, it’s been pretty amazing. I’m reminding myself every day not to worry about what the scale says because getting healthy is so much more than just dropping pounds. I feel great and energized too. Even the lack of sleep over the last week has not drained me to exhaustion because I have more energy in general.
Onward to week 6!
My name is Carla Helené. I am a cheeky naturalista, serial entrepreneur, speaker, educator and self love advocate who encourages women to embrace their truth, love themselves and make margaritas out of life’s lemons. Is there a recipe for this? I’m not sure I but I know we can figure it out together.
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