Enjoying Life | Conquering your bucket list

3.01.2015

My workout sessions with the personal trainer are coming to an end.  Not only am I fitter, I also learned a lot about myself as a result of the experience.  What's most exciting, about the ordeal, is that I got to experience a small part of my life's bucket list.

Now I have the taste for more.  To experience the "luxuries" I thought were only possible if I reached a certain financial status.  But since my time with the trainer was so rewarding,  I now desire to carry out other items on the wish list.

If I could design my life, luxury experiences like facials, massages, personal training, amazing dinners, weekend getaways,  etc, would be common place.  But I've held the belief that I'm not financially capable of enjoying these experiences on the regular so I've put them on the back burner hoping that one day I'd be in a position to make them a reality.  But a wise man (my dad) once said to me, "your life is like your home, you choose where everything goes. If you don't like where the couch is positioned, then move it.  If you don't like something about your life, then change it."

By saying yes, I got to experience working with a wonderful trainer who challenges me in ways that  benefited me tremendously.  Now, I'm ready to conquer the next thing on my bucket list.  In my mental fantasies, I live a life where I enjoy weekly massages.  Not just for the sake of getting massages, but also for the benefits.  Areas of stress would be released.  That hour of relaxation would take away months of tension build up.  Full body massage is an excellent way to increase circulation and clear out the lymphatic system.  It stimulates a full body detox.  A study was done on participants who received massages 1-2 times a week vs. those who didn't.  Not only did the stress hormone (cortisol) decrease,  those who received weekly massages also enjoyed a boost to their immune system.

There's a professional beauty school, on the other side of town, that offers a great price on the purchase of a series of massages.  They use high quality botanical products and take great measures to create a truly relaxing experience.  This week, I'm gonna treat myself to a four session package as a reward for reaching a milestone in February.  And in doing so, I will be chipping away at a limiting belief that I have to reach a certain status in order to enjoy weekly massages.  Then, maybe in April, I book a series of facial treatments as well.

The goal is to remain in a constant state of creation and not to put things on a someday list that can actually happen right now.  It's all about choice.

Life happens once.  Sometimes we make choices that create a life that looks very different from the life we say we want.  This year, it's about being intentional and taking small steps to paint that exact picture I have in my mind.

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Style Inspo | Oxblood.

2.28.2015

It's been quite a while since I've been inspired to acquire any new clothing pieces.  But lately, I catch myself glimpsing a little longer whenever I come across style pieces in the deepest shades of red.  I love how oxblood can be worn as any part of the outfit (or as the entire look).



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The Thirst Is Real | The true reasons why you should drink your water.

2.26.2015

We're back with another important discussion about staying hydrated.  We've gone in detail, in the past regarding how many benefits are possible if you regularly drink lots of water.  We've studied the regimens of the greats who proclaim that they consume up to a gallon or more a day.


Let's discuss this water drinking thing on a new level.  As your resident "Eternal Youth" specialist,  I feel it is my obligation to do so.  There have been times when I've severely neglected my water intake.  If this goes on too long, I start to experience negative side effects such as flaking scalp, splitting nails and rough dry skin.  But, truthfully, by the time I notice the external results, it's too late.  Why?  Because other, more serious consequences of inadequate water intake are happening on the inside.

Water is a nutrient to our bodies.  Our cells need it to survive.  The most important thing our bodies need for survival is oxygen.  The second most important is water.  Interestingly enough, water contains oxygen.  In fact, water is a secondary supplier of oxygen to our cells.  Water doesn't only hydrate, it oxygenates.  I should also mention that most of us aren't breathing "properly."  Ideally, the body prefers deep breaths to properly oxygenate. But many of us don't unconsciously breathe that way.  I've read that we only utilize only 30% of our breathing capacity.  That means we are taking in less oxygen than we are capable of.  The whole topic of optimal oxygen is something I may discuss in a future post.

Beyond oxygenation, water cleanses.  Without it, our cells can not transport nutrients and eliminate waste.  Things become stagnant and we, essentially, start to wallow in our own waste.  Oh, and guess what else happens when you become dehydrate?  Your cortisol levels increase.  Cortisol is a hormone your body releases during stress.  I consider stress hormones highly destructive as they essentially work to break down the body.

You remember how I talked about maintaining bone density via resistance exercise as a method to combat aging.  Well, if you're walking around dehydrated, weight training won't save you from the gradual eating away of the bones that happens when you shun your water intake.  Cortisol interferes with the bone building process which eventually decreases your bone density.  Strong, healthy bones are a sign of youth.  As a matter of fact, experts can tell how old a person was at time of death simply by examining the condition and density of the bones.  You want to extend your youth?  Pay attention to what's happening to your bones.

The glowing, soft skin are a tell tale sign of the level of health we experience inside.  If you aren't consistent with your water intake,  I urge you to think about the bigger picture.  Think of how much your body NEEDS it to stay alive and function properly.   When you choose to go without water, think of the price you pay when body to become hydrated.  It's not worth it.


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Motivation Monday | Build Your Belief

2.23.2015

Whenever I think about the stuff on my goal list, one thing I have to remind myself is gauge my level of belief. There are things that I say I want, but deep down inside, I'm not clear on how and when it will happen.  Heck I can't even say for certain IF it will happen.


By not working on my belief, I delay progress.  My actions waiver between absolute certainty and giving up.  That's highly ineffective.  So I'm making a shift in mindset to elevate my entire belief system.  Belief is an absolutely necessary component.  It's like the fuel that drives your directly towards your goals.  You can assess your level of belief in something by taking a look at your actions.

When your belief is high, your actions will correlate highly with the result you desire.  The actions you take will appear as if you are preparing for the goal to manifest in your life.  One example that comes to mind is Noah.  When God asked him to build the ark.  Noah believed. As a result, his actions were geared towards preparing for the rains to come.  Belief drive your actions, actions create your result.  Our goal should be to eliminate doubt at all costs.  

Here are some tips on what you can do to build your level of belief.

1] Surround yourself with others doing what you want to do.  Last year, I finally came to the realization that I really didn't belief I was capable of reaching a big goal on my list.  The minute I realized this was the case, I immediately sprang into action to address it.  What did I do?  I went on the hunt to find others who accomplished what I desired.  I watched dozens of hours of video and read a hundred accounts of others traveled the path that I wanted.  I was obsessed.  It didn't take long for my mind to feel comfortable with seeing myself in their position.  Soon my actions shifted to reflect my new belief.  By the end of the year.  My intention was manifested.  

2]  See it.  Create it.  One thing that hinders belief is my difficulty with visualizing.  There's more than one way to visualize something.  The most common is sitting with your eyes closed while creating a picture of the future your want.  Another option is to describe your future outcome in great detail.  I've spend the last several days binge watching episodes of Flipping out Hulu.  The show highlights the business journey of Jeff Lewis a professional house flipper and designer.  The guy has the innate ability to walk into a house (no matter the condition) and visualize a completely different picture than the current reality.  What's impressive is how clearly he can see, and describe, the desired result.  Jeff knows this is an advantage and, at one point mentions, a large percentage of the population doesn't have the ability to visualize which is why he's able to find great deals and turn them into a huge profit.  

3] Certainty Language.  Belief shows up in actions and in language.  Be aware of the type of language you use when you discuss your future outcome.  Stay away from unclear language like "I'd like to,"  "someday..."  etc.  When you talk about your desires, use clear language that demonstrates your complete belief that it will happen.  

4]  Think of past successes.  One technique I've been using a lot lately is thinking about all the goals I've held in the past which are now a reality.  Doing this helped me to remember all the other times I've been in a similar situation of wanting what I now enjoy.  This instantly reduces the amount of anxiety I have regarding my current desires. It reminds me that I am in the midst of "the process" and I adjust my actions to accelerate the process versus feeling bad about the progress made so far.  

5] Gratitude.  Nothing builds belief more than being thankful for what you have.  Quickly, your mind moves from a place of lack (disbelief) to abundance.   Abundance is such a wonderful mindset to have. If you don't firmly believe in your goal, there's underlying resistance.  All that does is slow things down and divert you from the path you set for yourself.  Gratitude makes the entire process of building your belief easy because it helps removes resistance and, without resistance, anything is possible.  


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Let's talk about frequent washing and hair growth.

2.22.2015

A couple of days ago, I was watching reruns of Flipping Out online.  In one episode, Jeff Lewis, the star of the show is having his hair washed and cut by Chaz Dean, the creator of WEN hair products.  Jeff tells Chaz, "my hair has been growing like crazy lately."  Chaz asks "have you been cleansing every day?"  "Yeah." Jeff replies.  "That's why" Chaz answers in a matter of fact tone.

That exchange stayed with me for a little bit.  Then I receive this comment on the post discussing cold showers

"I believe this can work well for hair growth. When was texlaxed I always rinsed with cold water and my hair seemed to grow quickly and my length retention was on point. As a natural, I most quit doing this often only to recently start again. When I had my 2nd summer natural I rinsed my hair with cold water in the shower everyday and my growth was impressive."

Since the topic of frequent washing and growth came up twice within a couple of days, I thought it would make sense to talk about the merits of frequent washing and how it pertains to hair growth.

When I studied the regimens of women with successful hair journeys, I noticed the following patterns. 

Group 1:  Cowashed every day and experienced amazing growth and retention.
Group 2:  Washed in regular intervals and left their hair alone (protective styled) until next wash day.

I'm sure there were other groups but those are the ones that stuck out to me.  Almost everyone who washed/conditioned daily would mention how much growth and retention they enjoyed as a result of their efforts.  But how exactly does daily washing influence hair growth?

1|  Hair is constantly expososed to moisture in the form of water.  Hair that is highly moisturized is likely to break less.

2|  Daily washing creates daily scalp stimulation as you cleanse. Your shower head acts as a second method of scalp stimulation thereby promoting blood flow.  Cold rinses can further accelerate this process.

3|  Daily cleansing promotes a clean scalp which can help promote healthier growth.  A scalp with clogged pores can hamper healthy growth from occuring.

4| Daily co-wash/cleansing also promotes a low manipulation lifestyle.  Most co washers didn't go through any intricate styling process post wash knowing they'd be washing their hair again in the immediate future.

5| Daily co-washing means daily conditioning. Which means the hair follicle is better protected to withstand damage caused by manipulation.

The benefits can even be experienced if one washed several times a week (not just daily).  Back in the day, when I had less texture, I could co-wash and air dry with the best of them.  And yes, my hair did enjoy regular exposure to water and moisturizing conditioners.  But now air drying is my arch nemesis and the thought of roller setting multiple times a week makes me cringe.  It seems like a huge waste of time and I'm not sure about all the manipulation.  But, who knows, my hair might be better equipped to handle it since I now have Olaplex on my side.

Washing hair just might stimulate growth. Especially when done during the warmer months when hair growth rates are already accelerated.  But it could also be the retention that allows us to finally experience the growth that once seemed invisible.    One word of warning is to never forgo deep conditioning if you become a regular co-washer.  Highly moisturized hair may feel healthy but we still need to balance with protein to fortify the strand.  It's all about balance.

I'm ready to try again with more frequent washings.  Maybe not daily. More like 2-3 times a week and see what happens.  For now I have to roller set because nothing else seems to agree with my hair after a wash. 

Those of you who co-wash regularly with great results. Share your tips on what you do with your hair afterwards and whether you've experienced increased growth/retention because of it. 


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Shampoo & Vinegar | The perfect combination for healthier hair

2.20.2015

My head is brewing with ideas on how to keep my cuticle layer happy while reducing shedding.  This morning, I came across a wonderful article that inspired me to try something different this weekend.  The article, titled The Shampoo pH can affect the Hair: Myth or Reality talks about how an alkaline pH increases a negative charge of the hair's surface which increases the amount of friction between the strands.  The result of all the increased friction is long term damage to the cuticle and breakage.

They go on to say that shampoos with a lower pH can cause less negative charge on the surface of the hair.  Then I got to thinking.  I've done ACV rinses in the past and enjoyed great results.  What would be the pros and cons of adding a little vinegar to my shampoo?

PRO:  Scalp Health
Shampoos are meant to cleanse the hair and scalp.  Since a lot of people are only applying shampoo to the scalp, why not apply a shampoo with a pH level that would also keep it healthy?

PRO: Deeper Cleansing
Another wonderful benefit of apple cider vinegar is that it can help clarify the hair/scalp, removing product build up and hard water residue.  The effects of this are mild so it still makes sense to do a deep clarifying every once in a while.

PRO: Smoother Cuticles
It may seem a little counterproductive but smoother cuticles during the wash could be a good thing.  First, it could reduce the risk of breakage when the hair is most fragile (wet).  Secondly, this could help reduce the amount of tangles during the shampoo.  Third, smoother cuticles can make it easier to apply deep conditioner after the wash. There can be quite a bit of manipulation as I part my hair in small sections, so it makes sense to positively charged strands during all of that friction.

I guess the only con is that closed cuticles during while applying conditioner could hamper the amount of conditioner that gets absorbed by the strand.  But, all of that can be easily rectified by sitting under the dryer or steaming.  Honestly, I only care about open cuticles when I need it. And I only need open cuticles when conditioner is sitting on it.  After that, I want everything closed again.

Which leads me to the next point, using vinegar in the final rinse to close everything back up again after the final rinse. I also understand the slight risk of dry hair from overusing ACV.  That's why I'm experimenting with coconut cider vinegar which, to me, is milder than apple cider vinegar.

Can't wait to try it this weekend.

Does anyone have experience doing an mixing acv with their shampoo?

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Cold Showers| The Hair + Skin beauty secret you have to experience.

2.19.2015

In case you're wondering, I'm currently on a rampage against shedding & tangles.  All of my mind powers have been allocated towards figuring out what I can do to minimize this situation.  Then I received am email early this week that triggered a reminder of one mistake I've been making which could have contributed to my troubles.

I hate cold weather with an intense passion.  I'm one of those people who enjoy the feeling of warmth on my skin.  I'm a summer baby so I think it's part of my makeup. Because of this, I kinda look forward to my warm showers which serve as one of the few moments that I get to experience heat.  The problem with all of this is the horrible consequence I experience as a result of those few minutes of enjoyment.

I've experimented with cold showers in the past and I know first hand the multitude of benefits that come with it.  When cold showers were the norm, I enjoyed smooth, hydrated skin. My skin seems to naturally retain moisture with the help of the cold water.  Not only that, my face & breasts benefited.  Let me explain..... When the cold water hits your skin, everything constricts.  Pores tighten, and blood flows in a new direction.  One of the wonderful side effects to my face was how tight everything felt.  And I don't mean dry skin tight.  I mean toned and lifted tight.  Everything seemed to firm up, including breasts.  At first I thought I was a little crazy for noticing so I searched online and learned that dipping breasts in ice water is an age old home remedy to create firmer breasts. See, I'm not crazy.

But let's talk about the real reason why we're here.  The crazy tangles and shedding which are ruining my life.  Back when I took cold showers on the regular, I developed enough courage to do cold water rinses on wash day.  If memory serves me right, doing so made an impact on my wash day shedding.  I notice that even if I detangle prior to washing.  As soon as I jump into a warm shower to rinse the conditioner, the shedding kicks up again and I pay for it during the roller set.  Since I became a wimp, I've suffered the consequences.  Not only is the shedding more than I'm comfortable with, I've also had the pleasure of having to deal with lifted cuticles thanks to the hot water. Lifted cuticles are one of  the raw ingredients needed to create tangled hair.  From now on, I want to eliminate tangled hair from the menu.

I'm so ashamed of myself for allowing temporary comfort to come in the way of the bigger picture.  So now I'm done being a wimp.  Done.  It's time to build a little mental toughness and do what I have to do.  What motivates me is knowing that I'll experience benefits almost immediately.  Plus, I realize that the feeling of having icy cold water attacking my skin is only temporary.  The body quickly reacts to the experience and works vigorously to warm the skin.  Soon the cold water becomes tolerable and, before you know it, the experience is complete.  Then you're left with smoother skin and healthier looking + feeling hair.  Not to mention the benefits to your face and body.  Hey, if Naomi Campbell and Pharrell Williams use cold water to keep them looking ageless, maybe we can consider it too!  Let's add this to our list of beauty rituals to complete while we shower.

It's worth it.


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Transform everything in just two minutes a day.

2.18.2015

I've been thinking a lot about my experience at the Makeup Show a few months back.  There I met a young lady who took the initiative to help find colors that work well with my skin tone.  She was a tiny little thing at under 5ft tall.  Which gave me the rare experience of look down at the makeup artist.

Like peeking, I found myself examining her lashes to see if they were extensions.  Curiosity got the best of me so I finally had to ask her.  "How do I get lashes like yours, I asked?"  Grandelash, she replied.  "Twice a day....morning and night."  I went back to my original post on the product and was reminded of a similar experience where a coworker also enjoyed wonderful results from applying the lash serum twice a day.  It didn't take much time and effort. Just a bit of consistency. 

It made me wonder, "what other actions can I do twice a day to create quick, amazing results?"  The whole idea of this twice a day thing is that it should take much time 5-10 minutes at the most, but when you do it morning and night (and do it every night) the results compound.  And since spring is just around the corner, these can be the things that get us back on track and ready for the next season. 


Facial Massage
I would love to do a quick facial massage 2X a day to see what the outcomes would be.  The benefits of a daily massage are numerous.  You experience increase blood flow to the face which draws oxygen to that area, helping to give you a natural glow.  Plus the muscles of the face are stimulated, helping you maintain muscle tone.  I also believe there's a benefit to the pressure placed on the facial bone during massage which will help maintain bone density.  I just believe that our faces, if left alone, will fall victim to atrophy (which no one wants).  Lastly, our skin also benefits from facial massage.  Something about the friction caused by our fingers on the skin helps promote cell turnover and exfoliation.  A face that receives massage daily will look amazing.

Scalp Massage
What if, twice a day, we subjected our scalp to a rush of oxygen rich blood?  Not only do we promote growth but I think massage serves a form of exercise for the scalp. Since really scalp exercises are a bit difficult.  Massaging it would be the next best thing. The other best thing would be hop on your trampoline and rebound.  When I do a quick rebound session, I can feel a slight movement in my scalp as my feet bounce on the trampoline.  Once I noticed what was happening, I actually began wearing my hair down whenever I rebound just to make sure my scalp can freely enjoy all the benefits.

Feet Scrub
I will never not talk about the power of daily heel scrubbing.  Never.  One thing I would like to add to take this feet scrubbing thing to the next level is to make sure you drink enough water and take your fermented cod liver oil.  Otherwise, you will still have dry feet with no dead skin.  That's not winning.  Let's take this thing all the way and make sure our skin is hydrated from head to heel.

Moisturize & Seal
Of course we have to talk about how your hair can transform if you took to the time to moisturize and seal daily.  Daily moisturizing and sealing is powerful but what would happen to your hair if it experienced a moisture boost twice a day?  I know that some of you don't really need to moisturize your hair two times a day, but, if you experience dry hair. Once a day may not be enough.   Upping the frequency to twice a day will allow you to play offense, not defense.  You will retain like never before and retaining is the name of the game.

Visualize & Meditate
One thing that makes a difference in whether I move towards my goals is how much I actually think about them.  If I go days/weeks without thinking about what I want, my actions follow and I pretty much do nothing to move forward.  But if I take time to reflect on what I want to create, ideas come to me and I'm motivate to achieve them.  Those moments when I focus on what I want are invaluable.  Which is why I need to create more of them.  One missing piece which I slacked on is visualizing the outcome I want to experience.  Instead I tend to focus of the actions I need to do (which is a good thing) but I also should invest painting the clearest picture possible.  When the picture is clear, the actions become easier. 

The whole idea of this twice a day thing is to invest little time.  The duration is not as important as the consistency.  Consistency, consistency, consistency.  Heck, if I only dedicated 2 minutes, twice a day for each action, that would be enough.   The artist with the amazing lashes did it in just a few seconds a day (twice a day).   I could go on with even more examples but you get the picture.  Decide what outcome you want and figure out what you have to do, in just 2-5 minutes a day to get it. 

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Olive Her Look.

2.14.2015

Aside from black, I'd say olive green (army green) is my favorite color when it comes to clothes.  In my closet are 2 jackets in the olive green family.  One is a solid color, the other has a camouflage print. They're in constant rotation as they pretty much go with anything.  I was pretty satisfied with these the pieces I currently had until I was inspired to begin the hunt for a third.

The length of Kerrueche's coat/shirt is wonderful.  Another selling point is that it's lightweight. Which is perfect to throw over casual outfits, especially as we slowly move into spring.  It appears as if she's found the perfect over sized shirt to double as a lightweight jacket.  I'm completely down for that idea in the event that I never come across a solid color lightweight olive coat. 

Another thing  I adore about this look is how she wore lighter, neutral shades which serve as a back drop so her olive coat and Chanel bag can shine.  The coat is so captivating, it doesn't require much more effort with hair and jewelry to pull everything together.   I need something like this in my life.

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#Fearless Friday | You know what you need to do.

2.13.2015

"What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do"  -Tim Ferriss, The Four Hour Workweek.

For many years that quote was a part of the signature of my work emails, along with my name and job title.  When I discovered it, while reading The Four Hour Workweek, those words immediately struck a cord, making a lasting impression.  Then I saw this illustration from the book "The Tools" of a man keeping himself boxed in a comfort zone while missing out on all the limitless possibilities awaiting.  Someone put it best when they said that fear is an emotion that served us well, when we actually lived a dangerous environment.  Centuries ago, fear was the emotion that allowed us to survive life threatening situations.

Nowadays, we rarely face life and death situations. Instead, we improperly attach fear to relatively harmless scenarios like talking in front of others, or clowns.  The fear feels real to us, because our heart rate races, our heart pounds, and hands get sweaty.  But doesn't the same thing happen when we get excited about something or when we fall in love?

A seminar leader at a, meeting I attended, said it best when he said, "the feeling you're experiencing isn't fear, it's your heart pumping blood through your body.  That's a good thing....means you're alive!"  

What if we are incorrectly labeling and reacting to the sensations in our bodies (and the stories in our minds) as "fear."  What if the heightened emotions are an indication that this is something that we should be doing?  What if you were to lean into the thing you "fear" instead of cowering away?

Chances are, if you took a step forward, you'd find it to be less scary than you first imagined.  Or maybe, you experience even more of the "blood moving through your body" feeling,  Remember, that is a sign of your aliveness!  You are invigorated by the experience. It makes you feel alive!  From this day forward, when you experience heightened emotions from something you "fear," ask yourself "if I did it anyway would it make me a better, stronger person? Would it bring me one step closer to my overall goals?  If yes, then you know what to do.  

Think of all the things that bring you slight bit of anxiety, that makes you flinch.  Take a moment to reflect on what's on the other side if you were able to move beyond it.  These are the actions that you are being led to do.  There's a handsome reward for you on the other side if you are willing to move forward.

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