life curation

The Art and Science of Being Focused and Flexible

Once upon a time, I had another blog that I wrote on frequently. Now, I’m looking over those essays and cringing (nothing humbles you like looking over your old writing!) But, I think it’s worthwhile to rewrite those posts, because the points – while not fabulously expressed in the original posts – are still salient. Here’s a HEAVILY edited essay that I wrote nearly 12 (!) years ago. Enjoy!

This particular post will speak directly to two personality characteristics that are crucial to finding your own version of success: flexibility and focus. I decided to group these two together since they are a good example of polarity and interdependence: these are relative opposites but you can’t talk about one without at least touching upon the other. Flexibility implies a willingness to look at all of the options available, while focus generally refers to devoting one’s attention to a singular goal. It seems like the two cannot peacefully co-exist, but they CAN-and they SHOULD! In fact, one without the other can very well leave you unfulfilled and always falling short of your goals.

Why do some of us need to improve in the areas of flexibility and focus? Well, when it comes to flexibility, some of us have been given an overly simplified life formula-behave yourself, go to college, get a degree, get a career, get married to a man, buy a house, make a few kids, give freely to the church/mosque/synagogue/temple, and live happily ever after. The problems with the formula are its rigidity, and the lack of emphasis on QUALITY experiences and EMPOWERED choices. It also doesn’t allow for circumstances beyond a woman’s control or her personal choice. Not everyone is interested in attending college or working in a traditional career. Some women have zero interest in getting married at all, and those that desire marriage aren’t encouraged to accurately gauge the quality of their partners. Not all of us are interested in white picket fences and having babies, and, believe it or not, religion =/= spirituality, and some women have no interested in being part of a religious organization in order to connect to the Divine. Those that ascribe to the life formula commonly taught to women are often hyper-focused on accomplishing each thing on the “to do” list, to the detriment of a life that allows for magic and joy to unfold unexpectedly and organically.

In opposition to being hyper-focused, many women who reject the prescribed life formula mentioned above end up living life as a tangent of randomness, going here and there without a goal in mind and getting a whole lot of nothing accomplished in the meantime. This is often the case because life on the “fringes” is discouraged by society, meaning that those who reject any part of the aforementioned formula don’t get support for creating meaningful lives outside of the template they’ve been given. There are many women who are living purely in flexibility and not putting an adequate amount of time and energy into focusing their energy into a handful of things that will give them lasting satisfaction. Many will pour their energy directly into career or material possessions (nothing inherently wrong with this), without any forethought regarding what meaningful things they should be cultivating simultaneously.

It can seem like living in either extreme is the only option, but being focused and flexible at the same time should be a goal for all of us. Focus gives us direction and stability, while flexibility gives us depth, color and moments of ease in our journeys.

Here’s the best way to merge the concepts of flexibility and focus: find out what you want for yourself (get your focus together) then think of the many ways you can get there (exercise flexibility.) I’ll present an exercise that may be of use (I’ve done this for myself more times than I can count, and it’s not from a singular book I’ve read but, rather, a hodgepodge of ideas that I’ve picked up here and there.) First, name the things that you want for yourself. For this example, I’m going to use some really common desires: getting a degree, getting into your dream career, traveling, and getting married. Name whatever it is you want, no matter how crazy it sounds. It’s good to be very specific when naming what you want: getting a degree from Harvard, becoming a world renowned artist, traveling to Thailand, etc.,. This list can be as long or short as you like, but it helps to keep it brief (less than 5 things) – it helps you have more time to dedicate on the things that matter most.

After you name what you want, brainstorm various ways to get what you want. This seems a little daunting, especially if you’ve been taught to see things only in one way. People are always amazed when I tell them how I got into my prior career before I was awarded my college degree and without the advantage of an internship or nepotism. Unfortunately, many of us limit ourselves by having such a narrow view on how to get what we want. That’s the downside of associating regularly with damaged minds, pessimists, and perpetual escapists, who spend too much time keeping up with trivial things and not enough time doing things to increase their personal value and the quality of their lives.

Here are a couple examples of flexible thinking – both of these I personally have used:

  • If getting a degree is your goal, then take advantage of all sorts of learning opportunities. Going to college for 4 years, as soon as you exit high school, is not the formula for everyone. If it suits you, take credit courses here and there, looking into credit-for-experience programs (my book, Degree Hacking, gives you an actionable, inexpensive and easy-to-execute plan to accomplish this). Some schools even offer tests to demonstrate proficiency in certain areas; if you’re a student, you can take those tests at a fraction of the cost of a college course (my book discusses this, too). Also, remember all of the resources you have that can give you an educational edge up: local libraries usually offer free courses in a variety of subject areas; you can take free classes online in any area you can imagine; on the internet, you can preview course syllabi for any class you’re taking, and preread material that will be cover in the course (again, check out my book for more information about this).
  • If you want to travel, the first step is really easy: get a passport! It’s good for 10 years and you don’t have to be outside of the country to use it. Start setting aside a small amount per month to fund your dream trip (even $10 a month will get you there eventually.) This gives your focus (travel) some energetic momentum without having to commit a large amount of money up front. Consider buying a token that symbolizes your travel goals (like a travel journal). Join interest groups that will feed your desire to travel (meetup.com and local colleges can help with this, as well as the myriad Reddit, Facebook and Discord groups out there) or feel free to create a group of your own that indulges your travel desire. Check out travel websites regularly to find deals on flights, hotels, and rental cars – keeping up with the costs can help you to figure out how much you need to save. This research also crystallizes what things you actually want and need for your trip. Also, remember that, depending on how much travel you desire, there are many organizations that will pay for your airfare and lodging in different locales if you are willing to either teach English or help with humanitarian efforts.

Having a particular focus doesn’t mean that you can only achieve your desire in a singular way. I dreamed of attending an Ivy-league university, but I had no interest in pursuing a full degree. I ended up taking a grant funded program in a topic that really benefited me. I could have never anticipated that would be how I’d get my Ivy-league experience, but because I’m flexible, my desire was met with ease. It’s important to remember that it’s not the lack of options that causes problems, it’s when you lose sight of all the ways to get to your goals that discouragement sets in. People get discouraged when they see no way out: if you creative, though, you won’t feel discouraged for long.

I recommend, no matter what you do, that you get in contact with someone that can help you. You won’t always have every resources you need to get what you want. You have to make connections with people who will assist you on your path. You should not automatically feel entitled to their assistance. It is usually easier to ask for assistance from those who required to assist (school counselors or customer service representatives, for example.) However, the most powerful individuals are normally people who don’t owe you anything – convincing them to assist may be more challenging. If you can get one of these heavy hitters on your side, it will make your path infinitely easier. It should go without saying that showing your appreciation to everyone who helps you is a must. Being appreciative will 1) give you great karma and 2) make it easier for someone else who, later on, may ask for assistance from these same individuals. Showing appreciation can be a thank you note or a gift (be careful with gift-giving: you don’t want anything that can be misconstrued as bribery.)

That’s it for today, friends! I hope you’re having a fantastic day. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

*This post contains affiliate links.

books · reading list · writing

Writers Wednesdays – February Writing Accomplishments

Happy Writers Wednesday! This post is the February update (obviously).

I wasn’t able to read all of the books on my reading list because I had some unexpected obligations pop up throughout the month that took up a LOT more time than I anticipated. No worries, though: I’ll be able to read these books in March instead. I will focus on finishing my women author books first (since it’s Women’s History Month).

As far as my writing goes, I made some progress. One of my “finished” works would be far more impactful if I included some peer reviewed research and journal articles, so I started compiling a list of sources to reference.

So, that’s it for the update! I’ll have more details to share next week. I’ll talk to you all soon!

business · goals · health · international · life curation · luxury · reading list · travel · writing

December Goal Updates

Hey friends! This is my last goal update for the year, and I wanted to take some time to look over the things that I mentioned as my “goals” in 2021. Of course, you can look up my old goal posts for more info (like this one here, here, here, and this one here, too). But in this post, I’m going to re-share my original list, and let you know how all of this turned out for 2021.

Here’s my 2021 goal list:

  • Publish 5 books
  • Lose 15 lbs
  • Manifest 3 international trips
  • Earn 6 figures in my businesses
  • Read 100+ books
  • Luxury purchases – Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Sophia Webster, Ralph & Russo
  • Cure my fibromyalgia

So let’s take it point by point, shall we?

I published my 5 books, and actually published more than that. Yay me!

I gained weight, instead of losing it. I figured out that I am likely heavier because of my prescription medication, and that’s fine. I’ve transitioned off of those meds, and now I’m getting my body back into balance. It’s a process, and I’m giving myself time to figure all of this out without judging my body for being a bit heavier. In most cases, you gotta make peace before you can make progress, so that’s what I’m doing.

No international travel! But, I did manifest a local trip for free, which was nice. I also have several international trips lined up for 2022 (as in, flights purchased and deposits paid). I’m confident that I’ll have my wings again in no time.

My businesses didn’t earn 6 figures however, I did reach an all-time income high for my businesses, which was very exciting. It only goes up from here!

I read somewhere between 85-90 books. I had to slow down during these last couple of months of the year, which was the time I scheduled to catch up due to some slower periods during the first part of the year. However, I’m still SUPER proud of how many books I’ve read. I’m sure I’ll read more than 100 books next year with no issue!

I bought some luxury items, but I decided I’d rather support Black American luxury designers in the future. I’m saving some coins for my next big luxury purchase, which I’m pretty sure I’ll have before the end of the season (if all goes well).

My fibro isn’t cured, but I’m learning a LOT about how to heal my body, and I’m seeing that eliminating the symptoms is possible. I’m also seen some positive effects after removing my medications (not nearly as exhausted or achy as I thought I’d be). For all of this, I’m thankful, and I’m going to press on and share information as I get it in this upcoming year.

Well, that’s my super-fast summary of my 2021 goals. I don’t anticipate posting a 2022 goal list because it doesn’t quite resonate with the direction where I want to take this blog, but if I’m inspired to do something different, then you’ll see a goal list in 2022. But, if you want to know more about my upcoming 2022 plans, check out Tuesday’s post (two days ago), or click here.

That’s all, folks! Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

writing

Writers Wednesday – Planning for 2022

Welcome to the last Writers Wednesday of 2021! Can you believe we’re already wrapping up this year’s activity? I hope that all of my fellow writers completed one of their works or, at minimum, made some progress with one of their works. If this year wasn’t the best for your writing practice, I hope you find more inspiration in 2022.

In 2021, I accomplished a lot of my writing goals (all of them, except for NaNoWriMo). It was exciting to see so much of my work completed and in print. I also am really proud of how much energy I put into my writing, instead of letting my passion languish unused and unexplored. Sometimes, it’s not about the finished product but, instead, it’s about the dedication to our practice.

So of course, now that I’m at the end of the year, I’m starting to plan for next year. I have some pretty simple writing goals. Daily writing, publishing at least 5 more books, and getting more attention to my writing business (both the blog and my publishing company) are a few of my objectives for 2022. But, to help with the planning portion of my writing goals, I decided to go a step further.

I’m hereby designating each Tuesday as my writing day. This week, I’m setting up my office so that I can sit down and start writing, without having to even think about it. I have my spare laptop in place, my favorite books on the small bookshelf next to my desk, and a few things that I found helpful when I wrote daily at my desk in DC (basically, a makeshift inspiration corner with things I find beautiful, interesting, and, well, inspiring). I’m still putting the finishing touches on it, so you’ll see that beautiful space in next week’s Writer’s Wednesday, after I take some pics that I like.

On each Tuesday, I’m dedicating at least two hours of time (probably more, so long as I don’t experience any major schedule changes) to immerse myself in my writing practice. Sure, I’m writing daily nowadays, but I currently write everywhere: my dining room, living room, bedroom, entertainment room – it doesn’t matter to me. By dedicating this space and this time to writing, I aspire to bring a sanctified aspect to the practice which, I hope, brings in the muses like never before. It’s no guarantee that the inspiration will come flowing in, but it certainly can’t hurt.

So, that’s my plan: weekly writing in my dedicated space, daily writing anywhere, lots of publishing, and growing business. I’m so excited to see what this year brings me!

Do you all have any plans for your writing practice in 2022? Please let me know about it in the comments below!

reading list

Books Read in October 2021

Hi everyone! I’m so excited that I made great strides toward my monthly reading goal, and I’m still on my way to hitting my annual reading goal well before the end of the year. Here are the books that I read in October:

One of the books I read, The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm

Thomas C. Hinkle, How to Eat: A Cure for “Nerves”

Melanie O’Hara Salyers and Susi Galloway, The Traveling Tea Ladies Death in Dixie

Admiral William H. McRaven, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … And Maybe The World

Oprah Winfrey, The Path Made Clear

Jamie Fleming-Dixon, The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm

Cassie Parks, Retired at 32 (not available for sale)

I initially intended to read more than 10 books this month, and I was well on my way at the beginning of the month. However, I actually put in major efforts toward my October writing plan, so I simply didn’t have enough time to read, write, edit, publish, and maintain my offline life. I still count it as a WIN that I got to read 6 books this month, and, while I’ll be throwing most of my energy into NaNoWriMo, I aim to read more than 10 books during the month of November. I’m also considering doing a review on one or two of the books that I read in October, but we’ll see: I don’t want to overextend myself!

Do you have any reading or writing goals for the remainder of the year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

*** This post contains affiliate links.

business · goals · health · life curation · luxury · travel · writing

October Goal Updates

It’s that time again: I’m going to do a quick round-up of my 2021 goals and tell you all how things are going.

Here are the goals I had for the year:

  • Publish 5 books – done!
  • Lose 15 lbs – working on it …
  • Manifest 3 international trips – finalized the details for my next 3 trips!
  • Earn 6 figures in my businesses
  • Read 100+ books
  • Luxury purchases from Black-owned companies
  • Cure my fibromyalgia

As you all probably recall, my publishing goal was reached (and exceeded, as of yesterday’s post). I’m going to still try to get a few more books published before the end of the year, and then I will try to embark upon a nice little campaign to promote my books and hopefully connect with my ideal customers.

As far as weight loss goes, I put that on hold temporarily. I am transitioning off of my fibromyalgia medication (more about that in a future Fibro Friday post, I promise!) because I concluded that those medicines were contributing significantly to my current weight. However, it still takes some time for the body to adjust to this change, and I still have to figure out how to manage my symptoms outside of using medication. So I have my work cut out for me, but this process will likely help me to meet my goal of “curing” my fibromyalgia. My hope is that transitioning off of medicine will result in major weight loss (hopefully exceeding 15 lbs) before the end of the year.

I didn’t yet manifest 3 international trips this year (I remain hopeful!), however, I did manifest a free dinner cruise (all expenses paid) and I also have started making my 2022 travel plans. I already have selected a few trips, and now I’m putting my money aside to pay for them. I’m still open to more trips manifested in this year, but for now, I’m satisfied with what I’ve already received as well as what’s on its way to me.

My business hasn’t yet reached 6 figures, but I can state confidently that, between my regular job, passive income streams, and my tutoring business, I did hit my highest earning year! Everything from this point on is simply setting the momentum for next year. Also, because I can see where I dropped the ball in 2021, I’m better prepared to exceed my performance in 2022! I’ll still keep an eye on how my businesses perform in these next two months, because I’m amping up my marketing and I anticipate that this will improve my bottom line tremendously.

I’m still reading my books, and I expect to hit 100 books read before the end of the year. However, I need to stay focused: it’s easy for me to get sidetracked with work, writing, and life in general. I’m increasing my reading during the next few weeks, just to ensure that I hit my goal (I wrote all about it in this post).

I put my luxury purchasing on hold because I had some major repairs to complete in my house. I may not be able to purchase a lot of luxury goods during the next couple of months, but I’m still relishing my luxury purchase from earlier this year (my Sophia Webster shoes that I won’t be able to wear until the weather heats up again!)

I’m still working on “curing” my fibro, and I’m feeling confident about the fact that I’m getting closer to a solution. I’ve been experimenting with dietary changes and herbal supplements to see how these support my health. It’s a bit of a long-term project, but the more I experiment, the more I learn, and the closer I get to finding the perfect combination of routine, supplements, and personal practices to help eliminate my symptoms.

That’s it for my October goal updates. I’m looking forward to seeing how things shape up over the next couple of months and finishing the year strong!

writing

Writers Wednesdays – How It’s Going . . .

Y’know, I absolutely love doing Writers Wednesdays posts. I often struggle to come up with content for these posts (especially if I’m doing a writing break) but I love that the commitment to only talk about writing – either the art or the business side of it – on Wednesdays keeps me accountable, even on a little level.

So today, I’ll continue in the spirit of accountability and tell you all what I’m currently working on, and how its going. As you recall from the last Writers Wednesday post, I have a writing plan that covers completing one work, editing a different work, and publishing yet another work. I, like many people, find it easy to get distracted, and when that happens, my writing progress slows down to a crawl. The objective of the writing plan is to infuse some major forward-moving energy into my writing practice.

The status of the writing plan is this: so far, so good. I started off with the editing project, because that’s my least favorite part of writing. I reread one of my completed books that I had shelved a while ago (the idea was that I would eventually come back and edit with “fresh eyes”) and realized I had even less love for editing than I recall. I seriously considered picking up a different book and editing that one instead. However, I’ll stick with the book I initially selected. It’s the first novel I ever wrote, and I would love to make some editing strides with it, so I can (hopefully) publishing That’s why I’m saying “so far, so good”: by pushing through (what I feel is) the most unpleasant part of writing, I know that the rest will be a breeze.

More about the So Cozy: Hygge Journal in a moment . . .

I’ll be finishing the first round of edits this week, then I’m leaping right into finishing a book I’ve been working on for almost two years now. I only have about 2-3 chapters left; fortunately for me, once I start writing, the process goes quickly. The trick is getting into the flow: it’s hard to hit my stride when I’m thinking about the other 4,739 things I have to do. On the bright side of things, the editing process has forced me to be ruthless with my schedule, so I don’t have to hunt down my free time in order to complete the chapters that still need to be written.

The last phase of the writing plan is to publish a book. I have a great book that I have already edited extensive over the past few years, that just needs some minor tweaks, illustrations, and a great cover. Once all of that is done, it should be ready for publishing. Knowing me, I’ll probably add quite a bit of additional text to it (just so I can hit a page count that seems appropriate for the subject matter) but I find a lot of consolation in just knowing that the books is more than 80% ready to be released into the world.

If, for some reason, that book isn’t able to be published, then I’ll make it my goal to publish two more children’s books before the end of the month. Those books are simply enough to be written without a need for extensive editing, and I love that I can get that sense of accomplishment without having to make a major time investment in the creation process. I already have two children’s books in progress, so finishing and publishing them would be a breeze.

That’s my not-so-brief explanation of how things are going. Things are moving along, and I’m pleased. Oh yeah, that reminds me: I’m trying to promote my books more (I think it’s about time that I started acting like a real author and publisher LOL!) So, for each Writer’s Wednesday, I’ll highlight a book that I have created, that I think would be of interest to some of you. The book for this week is the So Cozy: Hygge Journal. It’s the perfect little journal for capturing all of your autumn musings. The journal is super-cute and a really nice size (6 in x 9 in). Also, it’s only $5.99USD! If the cover isn’t a design that you love, never fear: I have multiple cover options. I’ll feature some more of them in the weeks to come.

That’s it for today. I hope you all are having a great Wednesday, and I’ll tlak to you all soon. Take care!

***This post contains affiliate links.

goals · health

Fibro Friday – The PainFreeKitchen Protocol

Hey friends! My apologies for the premature posting of this blog post: last week was far busier than I anticipated. However, this topic was far too important to skip, so here it is, a week later!

As part of my review of different fibromyalgia treatment approaches, I want to make sure that I am exposed to a variety of perspectives. I want to ensure that I go beyond the points of view of medical doctors and naturopaths, and also put a spotlight on the regimens that are promoted by laypeople that actually have fibromyalgia. Besides Dr. Liptan (whose protocol was among one of the first that I reviewed), all of the other doctors and health professionals that I’ve reviewed have not been diagnosed with fibro. I value their opinions and research, but I find myself more motivated to try a recommendation from someone that has experimented on themselves to find a solution, as opposed to someone whose work is limited to theory or results as reported by their clients.

That being said, today’s protocol is not from a medical doctor or naturopath. Rachel of PainFreeKitchen successfully minimized her fibromyalgia symptoms to the point of complete elimination. In fact, her doctor confirmed to her that she was in “remission”, since she no longer showed any of the symptoms of fibro.

So, what is Rachel’s secret? Here’s a video, describing exactly how Rachel cured her fibromyalgia.

I highly recommend that you watch the video in full, especially since Rachel is very direct with her answer, and the video is less than 10 minutes long. But, for your convenience, here is a summary of the PainFreeKitchen Protocol:

  • Try a gluten-free and dairy-free diet (Rachel recommends The Whole 30 diet)
  • Prioritize rest (she offers a few recommendations for improving rest, like purchasing blackout curtains or taking sedatives to assist with obtaining deep sleep)
  • Reduce stress levels dramatically
  • Begin a yoga routine and weightlifting (or, for that matter, any other exercise that feels manageable)

The PainFreeKitchen Protocol does have points that are seen in some of the other protocols. However, she is the only person that I’ve reviewed so far that specifically recommended The Whole 30 diet and weightlifting.I think that her recommendations are reasonable and certainly worth a try. Prior to my diagnosis, I loved doing fitness classes, especially ones that involved the use of kettlebells. Now, I find myself really “pushed” by even gentle yoga routines. It would be nice to eventually return to working out with weights, but I will be patient and gradually strengthen myself until I’m back to full health.

As far as my personal opinion goes, I think that the PainFreeKitchen Protocol could be an excellent starting point for wellness, especially in the cases of people that are newly diagnosed and unsure about where to start with rebuilding the body. However, I can also see where this would be great advice for someone that has been treating fibromyalgia for many years or decades.

That’s all for today! I hope you all have a great and safe weekend, and I’ll talk to you all soon. Take care!

goals · life curation · Uncategorized

August Goal Updates

It’s almost the end of the month, so it’s time to do a quick recap of how my annual goals are progressing. There is at least one goal that I’ve reached, a couple that I’ve revised, and others that are still in progress. As a quick reminder, here are my 2021 goals:

  • Publish 5 books
  • Lose 15 lbs
  • Manifest 3 international trips
  • Earn 6 figures in my businesses
  • Read 100+ books
  • Luxury purchases – Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Sophia Webster, Ralph & Russo
  • Cure my fibromyalgia

And, here is an overview of the changes I’ve made to my goal list:

  • Publish 5 books – DONE!
  • Lose 15 lbs
  • Manifest 3 international trips – Manifest 3 incredible trips before the end of the year
  • Earn 6 figures in my businesses – Earn 5+ figures in my business
  • Read 100 books
  • Luxury purchases – patronizing at least 3 Black-owned luxury brands
  • Cure my fibromyalgia

As you all can see, there are some changes to my list worth noting, as I discussed in my July Goal Update and my book publishing posts. Other than the completed items, everyhting else is progressing as expected.

I’m planning major promotional activity for my businesses starting in mid-September. I ordered some samples so that I can determine which Black-owned luxury brands are ones that I want to invest in. I’m still working on my fibromyalgia cure, as well as my weight loss. My book goals are still coming along well, and I’m feeling confident that I’m closer to my goals than I could have ever dreamed.

That’s it for August! Sometimes, there aren’t major changes: there may only be incremental steps that will eventually come together to create enormous shifts. But those small steps are worth praising, thus this post. I hope you all are doing well and making progress toward your goals for the year!

writing

Writers Wednesdays – A New Booklet Coming . . .

I hope you all are having a really great week. This is going to be a short post, because I’m not working on any longer writing projects this month. I felt this was a good time to take a quick break, since I intend to doing some intense writing sessions starting in the fall.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

However, I did have a mini-project that I wanted to knock out this week. I had this genius “flash” of inspiration while driving a few days ago, and I felt very drawn to putting that idea into writing, then publishing it as a free booklet that I will offer here, as well as on my publishing website, Bronze Butterfly Books. I’ve been keen on creating more freebies for visitors because I know how much I’ve benefited from the materials that other content creators have generously offered on their platforms.

So today and tomorrow, I’ll be writing all of my thoughts that I want to put into the booklet, then I’ll spend some time editing and structuring the booklet over the weekend. The goal is to publish the booklet before the end of the month (just a few days). I’m eager to have it ready by September 1st, and the only way that will happen is if I work on it, starting today.

That said, that’s all for today’s post! Stay tuned to see what the booklet will be about, and I’ll talk to you all soon.