Story Time with Rishone – Do a little, Change a lot.

I remember 20 years ago, I was in the best shape of my life. I had been living with my mom on the forgotten borough of hilly Staten Island, New York for 2 years after withdrawing from the pre-med program at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I could run 6 to 8 miles at 4am in the morning in under an hour, do my basketball workout for an hour immediately after, then get ready for work, and walk to the train station about a mile from where I lived on Seaview Avenue. I would do all of that get to my first job at KFC at 8am to prepare for the store opening at 10am. 

Yes I know, I know, that sounds crazy, but what makes it even crazier is that when I got home at about 8PM after my long shift, I would do 1000 push ups and 1000 sit ups in under 1 hour and 15 minutes. Even as I am typing this, it sounds like an embellishment, but the truth is I didn’t get to that level of fitness all of a sudden. Yes, youth had so much to do with it, but it took me a full year of consistency and constantly pushing my limits to do a little more everyday to get to that level. 

It took me about 4 months to go from walking 2 miles every morning to running 1 mile without stopping. I started with 20 push ups for 5 sets and the same for sit ups to get to 100 for both in under 40 minutes. Everyday, no matter how stressful it was or how tired I was, I kept waking up early and completely giving everything my body allowed me to give. Then when the workout became manageable, I would increase my run mileage by a half mile or a full mile and my callisthenic workout by 5 more reps per set. So my push ups/sit ups combo went from 20 to 25 after about a month and a half at a time. Progressively after waking up and repeating this for a full year, I reached my peak fitness as I mentioned in the beginning of this blog. 

I had never had a six pack in my life until that point. No matter how many sports I played in school(Soccer, Track & Field, Basketball, Tennis). However, after that year I saw this physical version of myself for the first time that I was absolutely proud of but it came with even more advantages. I was never more mentally sharp. I started studying to return to school again and it was just much easier. I was able to focus more, make quicker, and more educated decisions. I was never more confident, centered, balanced, and present in everything I did. 

I would have never met this version of myself if I didn’t make the commitment to get up everyday to give a little bit more to better myself. Of course this is written from a physical perspective but I benefited from so many different areas of my life. A few weeks ago I was driving in my car after a long disappointing day and instead of shutting down like I do for a short time, I told myself just to focus on getting better a little bit at a time everyday no matter how hard the day was. 
I have followed through with that since then. I have renewed my approach to each day by not setting an expectation to be perfect but approaching each day with an open mind for growth when my mind, body, and spirit allows it. Now that I am older, I listen to my body, trust my instincts and maintain a discipline that is conducive to my lifestyle.

The question is how does that help you or how does this story benefit you? Other than learning a little bit about me there is so much you can take from this. At the age of 39 I am nowhere near the shape I was as a young 19 year old but it has always been a goal to get back there. It takes me longer to recover from a full day of working out. I do not have a six pack but with a few more months of discipline I see it coming back. I am not a mentally sharp as I once was but with each day I get closer. I cannot just eat anything I want but I am learning about what fuels me better to be more productive. Needless to say, I am not exactly at ground zero but I am excited because I get to go on that journey again to get back to that version of myself 20 years later. 

If you have any goals that seem far away from where you are now, know that you do not have to achieve it in one day or even a week. Take that pressure off of yourself and just commit to doing a little bit everyday in the direction of the results you want. If it is to be physically fit, do a little everyday until you can push yourself to do more like I did above. Walk till you can run. If you want to be a better, more effective speaker then read more, and find opportunities to speak as much as possible. If your goal is to become a better cook then get familiar with your kitchen and start with some easier recipes till you can tackle the harder ones. If it is to learn how to dance, find a dance class or find dance ciphers where you can learn from or learn how you can work to get a little better everyday. Get up everyday with that mindset and I guarantee you will figure out how to accomplish anything you truly want for your life. That’s my message for this blog. If you do a little every day it has the potential of changing so much unexpectedly. 

Story Time with Rishone – Wrong is on the way to being right

I wake up every day looking forward to doing something the wrong way. I know that may sound abnormal to you but I get anxiously excited to know that I didn’t get something right the first time or the 10th time I tried it. Why? because I have become more accommodating emotionally with the journey of learning, making mistakes, truly understanding why I made that specific mistake, coaching my emotions, developing a solution to continue learning, and celebrating each step that is closer to the finish product that I see in my mind. Finally, knowing that each opportunity I get to improve slowly removes the ignorance and the unknown factors of life that fuels inactivity or progress. 

Still to this day, I shrink in my confidence when trying something new due to the programming of perfectionism that we all struggle with but there is apart of me that now knows how to flourish in the unknown when faced with learning something new. This was not the case when I was younger but now I proceed almost automatically beyond excited to walk through that fog of uncertainty in front of me. 

I have spent so much of my life scared in fear of what is next that life decided to teach me to become a superhero to save me from myself. Life has showed me that it doesn’t matter what is next, you have to live full in the version of who you are now and continue to work on who you will be tomorrow.

It sounds like such a cliché, but most of the time we are numb to our own processes or routines that dominate how we function daily. This lack of awareness tends to block our own progress depending on how long it takes of to recognize it and then actively try something different. Being wrong is not we like being so we mask our efforts in knowing it all and being right. 

I know that who I am has been groomed by 3 people throughout my life.

My grandmother is my reflection of the unconditional love I have for everyone and all living things under the umbrella of what God intended. So I don’t take any moment or any involved in an experience for granted. That enables me to respect and support others on their own journeys. 

The way I monitor my routines and patterns is a reflection of my uncle. He represented accountability and emotional intelligence in my life. How to quickly get results through analyzing my actions, take responsibility for them and making small adjustments that creates new opportunities to learn. He is also the reason I am solution focus. I don’t identify a problem without providing a solution. So I look at failures and mistakes as opportunities to try something new that I never thought was even possible for me. 

My mother taught me how to live, laugh, and enjoy myself in the process no matter how hard life gets. Indirectly she taught me to work hard but also find the time to enjoy the fruits of my labor. So as it pertains to this blog even when I am wrong I am accountable but because of her I don’t take myself too seriously because I know I am learning and that is always ongoing. 

We are so incredibly hard on ourselves in new learning experiences but here is what I want you to take from this blog. So often we make one mistake and then get so discouraged that we convince ourselves that this new experience may just not be our thing. 

However, I employ you to consider some of my influences in life. Try your hardest when you go after something new. Be present and intentional while in the process of learning. Truly find ways to love your selves and everyone involved in the process like my grandmother taught me. Be accountable for your mistakes because it creates space for you to work on understanding yourself like my uncle taught me. Additionally, take your progress into consideration, no matter how small it is, while simultaneously respecting/separating the progress of others without comparing yourself to them. Lastly enjoy every moment of your successes and failures, like my mother taught me, so you grow more from the journey. That makes the destination that much sweeter. 

Story Time with Susie – Living Life with Intention after Loss

This past weekend was full of life, celebration, sadness, joy, tears…. I turned 30 years old this past Sunday. However, the weekend was not only about celebrating my birthday, but also remembering my brother Matt who died last year, just 3 days before my birthday. He had just turned 34 years old. I can without a doubt say that last year was the toughest time of my life. There was so much grief, sadness, and anger that came from this loss.

But as with most horrendous and life-changing events, it helps to put things in perspective. After starting the process of working through the initial emotions of his passing, I began to be more intentional about my thoughts day to day and how present I am in each moment – being sure to intentionally feel gratitude each and every single day.

So fast forward to this year – A year after his passing – myself alongside of my family made sure that we held space for us to feel the pain of him not being here, but also to celebrate who he was and enjoy a beautiful weekend together. My sister came in to town from Seattle as did my brother and his family from Rochester, and we spent a day doing all things that Matt would have enjoyed.

The Fam at the East Aurora Town Pool

We started the day at the East Aurora pool, which is where we spent our childhood summers. Matt LOVED water and being in the pool. That was followed by ice cream, cause… Well… We’re the Kushner family. We’re known for getting ice cream. We then made our way over to the cemetery to spend time with Matt and my Dad (such a weird but beautiful experience). Matt was ALL about family, so we finished our day enjoying each other’s company at my house and eating pizza and wings, which he always loved getting.

My sister and I at Village Ice Cream of Orchard Park

What saddens me the most is that we dedicated a day specifically to Matt, doing the things that he loved, but he was not here to experience and enjoy it with us. That just seems so wrong.

I want to start doing things to celebrate people NOW, while they’re here with me. I want to LIVE LIFE, not just to walk through the motions every day, then on my last day here wish that I had done more. Something I’ve made a priority since my Dad died almost 8 years ago, and definitely since Matt’s passing, is seeing my Mom every weekend. That and prioritizing staying active, cause when I move and push my body past its limits, that’s when I feel most alive. And I want to continue to do more of that.

Life is short. It truly is what you make of it. We can’t control a lot of things, but we can control our perspective on each day, so I encourage you to find gratitude in each and every day. (There’s always something to be grateful for, even on bad days.) I hope you move towards the things that make you truly happy and spend your time with the people who matter the most. Tell the people you love that you love them while you can. 

If this blog inspired you at all to take action to move towards a more intentional life, let us know in the comments a step you are going to take today to move in that direction. ♥️

Story Time with Susie – Finding My Purpose

We’ve all been there… Asking ourselves, “What’s my purpose?”

I don’t know about you, but it’s always seemed like such a big question, almost too big to even try to find an answer.

But I’ve recently realized I was making it too complicated. By simplifying it, I was able to find my purpose. Figured I’d share my revelation, cause I know I’m not alone in my quest to figure out what the heck I’m doing here.

I’m just gunna get right to it.

Your purpose is NOT your career. If I could boil it down to one thing, it’s the IMPACT you have on the people and world around you.

So how you have or create impact? You do that by BEING YOU – Your most genuine and authentic self, in all situations. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth.

Before you can “be yourself,” you have to know yourself. Who are you? If no one  or nothing else was there to influence you and your decisions, how would you live? Take away all the “shoulds” that we hear from our friends, our parents, society…. Start paying attention to what truly makes you happy at your core, and move towards those things!

This may be where we start talking about career paths. I know I said your purpose is not your career. And I stand by that. However, we are meant to be our authentic selves, and with that, we all have our own passions. Things that truly light us up inside. And when we do those things, we tap into our true selves. So whether it’s your career, or your other day-to-day activities, I encourage you to follow your passions, regardless of what other people say or think. Because your passions are where YOU LIVE.

Which then brings us back to living in your purpose.

Let me give you an example based on how I understand this in my current life.

I LOVE dance. It’s where I feel at home and most like myself. Sometimes I can’t even handle the different emotions I feel when I watch dance because it’s so overwhelming to take it all in. But dance is NOT my purpose. It’s my passion. When I create routines, perform, or even simply watch someone else who also has a true passion for dance, I shine from the inside out. My whole being lights up. You know when you’re around someone who just loves what they do? You can feel their passion for life. Those are the people that you gravitate towards because you can tangibly feel the energy beaming from them. That’s because when we live in our passions, the right people are able to authentically connect. Our vibe attracts our tribe, right? #facts

But what if you could live your purpose through other day-to-day life activities, not just through the “big” activities such as dance? I’ll give an example.

You’re walking through Wegmans, and you see this woman who has an adorable haircut. You immediately think, “oh my gosh, her haircut is so cute.” And you have a thought of sharing that with her. But you stop yourself. You don’t want to look weird or feel awkward. And then you think, “no, I should tell her.” But then you stop yourself again. And then alas, the moment has passed, she’s now in a completely different section. In that scenario, you stopped yourself from being you because of some weird societal thing that makes us feel uncomfortable making a connection with someone in passing. But for all you know, maybe that compliment was exactly what she needed to hear that day. Maybe she’s going through some family health issues, and just that little compliment would have lifted her spirits.

Again, living your purpose has everything to do with you allowing yourself to be truly you, in every and all moments. So stop caring what other people think about you! I know, easier said than done. But it’s the truth. The more we can stop caring about what others think and what you “should” or “shouldn’t do”, and we start living in a way that makes us truly happy, that’s where the impact comes in. Whether it’s in a small interaction with a stranger at the grocery store, or it’s through you letting your light shine through your passions.

If you’re still not sure what your purpose is, start taking note of the things that make you happy. Do you love dogs? See if there’s a way to spend more time around dogs. Maybe volunteer at a dog shelter. Start a side business of walking other people’s dogs. Heck, just go hang out at a dog park. Notice how you react and respond to being in those scenarios, surrounding yourself with the thing you love. You start feeling like yourself again. You start feeling ALIVE! And you know what, the dogs and other people there with you will be able to feel the energy of your true self, which encourages them to be their genuine selves.

My biggest takeaway – The world doesn’t need me to be like my mom, my sister, Rishone, Beyoncé…. The world needs me to be ME!!

So get comfortable with being unapologetically you! Screw what other people think. When we are our true selves, the right people come into our lives and this ripple effect of positivity happens that can’t help but spill out into everywhere we go. And THAT is us living our purpose.

If you want to hear more on this topic from both myself and Rishone, check out our latest Mindful Monday video on Facebook or Instagram.

Drop a comment below if this resonated with you at all or if you had any of your own revelations about what it means to live in YOUR own purpose. We love to hear from you!

Story Time with Rishone – The Year in the Rear View

Most of us would prefer Will Smith’s character from MiB, Agent Jay, to remove his neuralyzer from his black tailored coat pocket, put his cool, dark shades on, adjust the time knob to 1 year, instruct us to stare into the blue light as it flashes and wipes our memory of everything that took place right after the ball dropped for 2020. Then with an assertive demeanor explain to us that “2020” was a bad movie that shouldn’t have made it to the theatre but we all had to see it to prepare for a better 2021. However, as much as we desperately want 2020 to be a movie, it’s not, and looking at it in review is the only way to pave a new less traumatic experience for the up coming year.

We all started the year like any other. The 10 second count down started as our eyes focused on the digital numerical transition, 2020 made its way into this reality like the bride of Chucky. LOL, smh, ok, okay, I promise I’m done with all the movie references. 

2020 was a year that completely took us for a emotional roller coaster ride that never seemed to deliver the hands up and hair blowing in the wind exhilarating experience we were looking forward to. After the first 2 months of resolution setting and forgetting, Covid-19 made us see everything in the world a little different. It made jokes of our plans and laughed in the face of what we once considered normal. Due to that fact, we can no longer live each day as unconsciously unaware of everything that created headlines in 2020. 

First of all, so many of us lost members of our family that meant the world to us. As emotional beings we empathize with you and want you to continue to live even if it is hard without that person you valued so much.

Susie lost her brother during this time and I lost 3 family members (2 uncles and 1 sister in law). To be fair none were because of Covid-19 but for those who lost a family member, a friend, or a coworker to the virus or any other causes of death we empathize with the hardships you experienced in trying to be present for their last moments and facing all the emotional hurdles as well as pit falls you faced in properly laying them to rest. We know a gap already exist in your life because of it and it didn’t help to wrap it in feelings of frustrations out of your control. So we send our love and support for what you endured because of it and moving forward with your own life. 

For those that lost their jobs, their careers, their businesses, we empathize with you as we understand the fear and feeling of hopelessness you experienced not knowing how you would pay the rent much less feeding yourself or even worst your families. If you survived those 6 months of uncertainty and is experiencing something close to that again, we want you to know that it will be ok. As gloomy and as far fetched as a recovery looks beyond the horizon, the sun will rise again for you. It will take a collective effort as a family, a community, a country, a world, and a universe to recover but if even 60 percent of the world works at it we will make it through to better times. 

On the contrary, it proved to us that we can survive beyond the luxuries that we thought we couldn’t live without. It reminded us that family was more important than work. It reminded us to live life one day at a time and be more intentional about our relationships especially the one we share with ourselves. It forced us to question all the pacified truths and to seek more knowledge. It created discussions that were meant to be had for centuries on a global level about race and equality. Overall it taught us that nothing was important than the procurement of human life and that we have so much more work to make the world a place that we all can really live equally. 

As a business we failed and learned how to succeed in other ways. We became more comfortable with learning and doing. Recognizing that the only thing that held us back was ourselves and how we manage our time. We exhausted our creative energy and found joy in your support and positive feedback. Above all, we recognized that even in our struggles, and your own, we kept each other afloat because that’s what we were meant to do for each other. So we thank you for giving us smiles when were lost. We thank you for encouraging us when we didn’t quite deliver our norm. We thank you for showing up for us when showing up for your own lives was a challenge.

So Agent Jay can take his neuralyzer and stick it up his you know where, because we lived through a battle in 2020 to make it to 2021. Yes the scars still hurt, yes we lost many good souls, some of us even lost our livelihoods but we made it regardless. We survived and we are looking out onto the horizon renew, and refresh our lives. Make new goals, live more intentional, be present in every moment, and support each other through any challenges we are faced with. We are due for a reunion like Fresh Prince of Bel Air where everyone is invited, even the original Aunt Viv because difficult decisions need to be had in order to make a new prosperous path. So bye bye 2020 and hello to new 2021. We are happy and ready to meet you. 

Story Time with Susie – What being Thankful for 30 days has taught me

Can I be real with you guys? This past month has been especially challenging for me emotionally. As you may know, my brother passed away in June of this year, and my dad died back on December 31st, 2013. For anyone who has ever experienced such a loss, you may know that certain seasons, music, and smells can put you right back in that place of loss and bring the most intense emotions. It’s definitely something I’ve been experiencing as the weather is getting colder and the sky becomes increasingly darker.

But I know I’m not the only one to be feeling all the emotions these days. It’s fair to say that 2020 has certainly shed a new light on our lives. It’s unfortunate but true that hardships, and even devastation, help to give us new perspective on our lives. When we gain new perspective, this can lead us to feeling gratitude for what we do have. And I can absolutely say that the loss and pain I’ve experienced has caused me to reflect on all the wonderful things and people in my life. With that, I’ve certainly been holding on even tighter to everything that I’m grateful for, trying not to take any of it for granted.

Now if you’re not aware, Rishone and I just wrapped up the Thankful Days of November, where each day this past month, we put up a story on Instagram sharing something specific that we were thankful for from that day.

Here are my 3 main takeaways of things I learned about this process and myself over these past 30 days of intentionally expressing gratitude.

  1. Sometimes thinking of things that I’m grateful for don’t always come quick or easy. Now I know that I am a very blessed person. I have everything that I need and more. Not to mention I have an incredible support system through my family and friends. But at the same time, I realize that thinking of something specific that I’m grateful for on any given day doesn’t always come naturally. On some days, it really took several minutes of deep reflection to land on something to share. But what that tells me is that I need to do this more often. It has to become a practice, just like anything else – Expressing gratitude is a skill that we can grow through practice. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing moving forward; I plan on restarting my daily, written gratitude practice.
  2. I had many challenging days that I felt heavy and down overall. On those tough days, I realized that it can be really hard to think of things that I’m thankful for. But those are the days that it’s most important to be in a state of gratitude. As you force yourself to reflect on the wonderful things in your life from that day, it naturally pushes you into the direction of a better mood. So even when you don’t want to feel grateful, just do it.
  3. When I’m grateful for someone else, I should tell them! First off, it always feels good to genuinely compliment someone else and express gratitude for them. Second, you will instantly lift the other person’s mood, especially when you’re specific about why you’re grateful. And the world needs more of those high vibes these days.

With all of this being said, for anyone wondering how I’m doing emotionally these day…. I’m not gunna lie, it’s still an everyday struggle. But actively working on feeling and expressing thankfulness on a regular basis has definitely helped.

We hope that you were able to take part in our Thankful Days of November, and that you can use this past month as a launch pad to push you forward with your own gratitude practice. Whether it be something you write down, share on social media, think in your head, or tell someone else… We encourage you to make this a practice for yourself. Like I said above, this is a skill that the more you do it, the easier it’ll come to you and the less you need to actively think about it. Cause I don’t know about you, but I definitely want to get to a place where I simply live in a state of gratitude and that’s my vibe throughout the day. Who’s with me?

Let us know in the comments what you thought about our Thankful Days of November! And if you didn’t get a chance to participate with us last month, let us know if you have a gratitude practice you’re working on.

Story Time with Rishone – My Mental Tricks and Treats

I have been in a rut lately. Like everyone else, the effects of the quarantine, uncertainty of Covid-19, the political meandering and side choosing has either made us disconnect from each other or fearful of what is next. 
I had to mentally make a choice to face that fear and move on with my life as well as my goals. It has not been easy because somehow, as these incredible beings, we have let the creative marketing of the unknown become our kryptonite in owning our awesomeness and resilience to push forward to claim what is truly meant for us. 

Yes I agree, it has been incredibly hard to not lose your mind on a daily basis. Everyday has been a chaotic, domino effect of challenges. When I am not battling with myself, I am battling with my drive, my emotions, my family issues, and most frequently what my future holds. Some days smiling after brushing my teeth in morning naturally prepared me to conquer everything on the schedule and on other days I have to use every mental tool I own to engineer my next move. 

Ye,s I am aware this is some form of depression but in order to be balance we have to learn how to navigate who we are in the messy bashment of our lives. We have to find a way to assess what we are looking at, throw out the unnecessary, unused piles of garbage that we love to hold on to and find a way to organize the mess we created for ourselves to make room for a new version of yourself. 

It is so easy to blame all of this on the restrictions of Covid-19 and be the victim of so many of the programmed victim narratives we feed our comfort driven selves but the reality is that this state of our being was present before the trauma of now exposed it.  To be transparent I was too busy to pay attention to it or I used the too busy excuse to not work through because I knew it would be too much of a challenge. So in some ways I am thankful for this opportunity to be accountable for the parts of my life that need improvement. 

With that said, there is no way to meet a better version of yourself without taking the necessary steps to do so. So for the past 4 months I have been using all the tools to either get started on clearing our my messy basement to make room for my life upstairs. 

I want to share those tools that has been beneficial to my life that is slowly bringing me back to a place where I am inspired to live and evoke change. With the inspiration of Halloween just passing I copied the phrasing as the mental tricks, and treats to a better me as well as a better you. 

First of all it is very important to know your self and the bullshit you tell yourself when things get challenging. Also you need to know what I what inspires you, what keeps you focus, what distracts you, how clear you need to be with my goals, and most importantly knowing what weapons/tools you need to have in your mental tool box to conquer the unknown. Yes, the unknown, something that has kicked everyones’ ass is 2020. 

First in order to be a little more transparent I will share 3 of my personal in three separate areas of my life but they are all significant in my growth to a better version of myself. My first personal and family based goal is to be more be more present in my mother’s journey as she battle some mental illness and also continue to help my sisters navigate the confusion and emotional toll it has taken on the entire family. 

Secondly from a business perspective It is time to take the steps to expand my Plated_Soul Business with the creative ideas I shelved for some time. 

And as self it time to build better habits to learn new things and feel comfortable in that process of uncertainainty and the unknown. This was my goal for 2020 and trust me it has kicked my ass but during the times of getting my ass kicked I spent enough time figuring out the nature of my opponent, how to counter his attacks, and make it through day with just a few scratches.

Mental Trick # 1: Visualization – Be clear about what you want to improve in your life. Write it down, make a song about it, rap about it, put it over you bed so it’s the last thing you see before bed and the first thing you see when yoy wake up. Know what is smells like, taste like, feels like, and sounds like in real life. Sometimes you can start without an end goal in mind but the moment you give yourself a clear picture of what that clean basement looks like after you’ve figured how to clean it, the quicker you will find the resources you need to get it done. 

Mental Trick #2 : Plan for your self destructive patterns or bullshit cards. Most of the time we tell ourselves we cant because of this or that. Sometimes they are valid reasons but even then you know better. Just because its uncomfortable or new doesn’t mean you wont figure it out over time. Keep going and create an inner voice that tells the bullshit card creator to STFU because you CAN indeed do it. 

Mental Trick #3: Create healthy Boundaries. I know you have heard this before, but protect your dreams or your growth journey. You have to have boundaries with family, friends, and even yourself sometimes. In order to keep yourself consistent you have to create boundaries for your emotional sanity and productive functionality. What you allow people to say and do to you can derail your progress way more than you could even imagine. So if you share you goals with someone and they seem negative or discouraging about it, then you know you need to leave them out of your process. I mean sometimes it’s hard because things happen in life that can definitely throw things for a loop. However toy have to have a boundary for how far you let it pull you under before you decide to swim. 

Mental Trick # 4: Be Brutally Honest with yourself. I cannot stress this one enough. It is the most important mental trick that gets you through the rough times and helps to to break those patterns you need to go to the next level of self. No matter how painful it is confront it with honesty and the commitment to m work through it. 

Mental Treat #1: Genuinely celebrate your small victories and be thankful for the people or the effort you put fort. The journey of bettering yourself is a long never ending journey. Celebrate the small things you accomplish. There is enough time to evaluate the mistakes because we do that subconsciously all the time. Conscious take the time to say thank you ro yourself or give your self credit for the work you put in. Of course knowing that there is more to do and it wasn’t the best you had in you but you put fort the effort for genuine change and that my friends is what is all about. 

Mental Treat # 2: Seek Experience. As much as I pride myself on being self sufficient, recently I have learned that people are a great resource. We are all battling some of the same things and can be a resource to each other. Find someone you trust, someone with  experience, someone who can be a mentor to help guide you through or a simply someone that understands to challenges of the journey. Even though it’s hard to find people that genuinely care about your well being and your goals to be the best version of yourself, just finding someone who has worked through or is working through the same things you are helps to unload that burden you carry around. 

Mental Treat #3 : Meditate – Find time during the day where you can just sit away from everything and tune into your life force and the life forces in your path that are open to helping you. Or just use that time to recalibrate and release all things that drain your energy. 

Mental Treat #4: Smile and Laugh at your own jokes. Smile when things get rough so you can be reminded of being happy. Smiling resets your emotions and pensive mindset. When you have an opportunity, find memories that make you genuinely happy and use them to help you pick yourself up in the tough times and make your happy moments that much better. 

These are the mental tricks and treats I have employed more intentionally over the past 4 months. Again, it is an on-going journey with inevitable ups and downs that you have to accept. However, as long as you stay consistent and focus on the cumulative growth rather than the momentary failures you will unlock the best parts of yourself that you never knew existed. Also the unknown will also feel a little more familiar and fear will also start to be less and less of a deterrent in going after the things or improving the or relationships you value most in your life. 

Story Time with Susie – Learning the hard way not to take my health for granted

I sat there next to my toilet on the bathroom floor thinking, “how could I let this happen again?” I knew better, but I let myself fall into old habits which led me to this low place, yet again.

Let me explain.

This time last year I started experiencing pain in my stomach. It was a nagging, burning sensation that left me feeling nauseous more times than not. Without getting too graphic explaining the symptoms, it was discovered that I had inflammation in the lining of my stomach which was causing the pain that then led to vomiting on a regular basis. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty horrible. But once I knew what the issue was, I could do something about it. I could take control.

I know what foods lead to inflammation in my body, so I started minimizing and cutting them out of my diet. I eventually started feeling more like myself again! So of course, I felt like I could start eating what I really wanted again, aka, a whole lot of ice cream. Unfortunately, my body reminded me that my food choices came with consequences.
Long story short, for the past year, I’ve been on this roller coaster like cycle of experiencing the symptoms of the inflammation of my stomach back to feeling healthy and around and around again. I’ve been on this roundabout at least five times since last year. It was clear I was taking my health for granted. Every time I felt okay, I would eat whatever I wanted.

But recently, I came to my breaking point. The pain was just too much, so I made the decision that I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure that I don’t have to go through that again. The key word here is that I made a decision. When you decide that you’re going to do something, that’s it. No negotiations. Before I was allowing for myself to float back and forth and cross the line of playing with my health.

I’ve now made the necessary changes to my diet to remove the inflammatory foods that are not good for me. And I share all this with you to simply serve as a reminder: do not take your health for granted. It can be so easy to do that when you’re feeling good and well. As I mentioned, that’s exactly what I did. I made decisions to eat things that I knew weren’t good for me simply because I felt okay. But I know for myself that I don’t want to wait until I’m severely ill to take my health seriously.

So I want to challenge you. What is one step you can take today that will lead towards a healthier you, or at the very least maintaining the health you have now? Maybe it’s going for a walk, or having some eggs for breakfast instead of that chocolate chip muffin. Just one thing that points you in the direction of health. I challenge you to pick that one thing, and commit to that for the next month. I know you can do it. I will be right here with you continuing on my own health journey, trying to make sure I don’t take the health that I do have for granted. Cause no one wants to live life filled with pain and sickness. So let’s take control and make the decision to live full and healthy lives, one step at a time.

If you’ve accepted my challenge, I would love to know what your one thing is. Comment below or shoot us a message on Facebook or Instagram. We will be cheering you on!

Why Keeping Your Promises to Yourself is Incredibly Important

There is something supernaturally invigorating about keeping your promises with yourself. The first time I experienced what keeping a pact with myself felt like I was a young adult at the age of 19. I am now 38 years old and I still experience this natural high and sense of accomplishment when I am able to keep my own promises. 
Committing to Running 22 Days Straight with a 9 day layover into September. 

My most recent promise that I have been sharing with social media is a 1 mile run challenge that Mara Morris created to keep herself accountable and active for the month of August, 2020. Now to be honest with you, running is something that I enjoy, but due to the quarantine, scheduling, and race relations of this country, I decided to give it a rest over the quarantine. It is my time to meditate and organize my thoughts especially when balancing so many things simultaneously. 

I have been wanting to get back to running more consistently after the quarantine period, especially after gaining about 15 extra pounds from all the delicious eats I create. This challenged seemed like the right place to start and Mara was the perfect accountability run buddy so I decided to piggy back her promise to herself. 

MY Pre-Quarantine Norm
Before the quarantine period, I was in a really good cardio rhythm. I was running at least 10 miles a week, getting about 30 miles through teaching spin classes, choreographing, teaching, and dancing about 30-35 hrs a week. Some days I would spend about 3 hours choreographing in the morning, then teach a 45 min spin class in the evening, then run 5 miles immediately after, and then teach an hour long dance class an hour later. I would call those days my Be Moved Triathlon day. They were tough and challenging but it made me feel incredible the next day after some good rest. 

However, I just recently I realized I need a little more of an outside boost to get me started back on my goal to get back to the my routine of pushing my limits physically on a weekly basis. I saw that Mara was getting up early every morning and staying committed to her goal and I wanted to get back to that commitment. Therefore, I made a promise to myself that no matter what happened throughout the last 22 days of August I was going to run every single day with the possibility of an additional 9 days to complete running for a full month like Mara. 

The craziest things happen after you make a commitment to something challenging. You learn about your weaknesses, your strengths, and the grit you possess. They are some of the most beautiful things you will ever learn about yourself. Overall it is always a learning experience but I had some personal best days, I had some I have to walk to finish my goal days, I had some you are holding this pace till you finish days, and I had some wow that was amazing days. They all started with some of this possible excuses that could have deterred me from the journey.

My Internal Excuses
First of all, it was not easy. I struggled the first week. I second guessed myself every time I went downstairs to start and complete my run. My mind would tell me to just walk or it would try to convince me that I don’t have to run. Saying things like “You dance and teach spin on a weekly basis; what additional exercise do you need. You are doing too much.” The most reoccurring excuse button that my mind would throw at me was that running was not conducive with me being 100% ready to teach my weekly dance classes. However, if there is one thing I learned over the years about making promises with myself is that during the process my mind will want to keep me in a comfortable/manageable space. It is up to my higher self to break me out of that comfort zone if I want to keep my promises to myself.  

Some External Excuses
During the 22 days of August it also rained, I had some emotional family days that were debilitating, I was exhausted, I had a physically overloaded day, I was overly stressed, I did not eat enough, I was sore, I had shin pains, I had calf pains, I had side pains, I got sick of the same route, I missed my planned run time, it was dark out etc. Regardless of all those actual excuses that I could have used for 22 days I chose to run and because I did I noticed some amazing things about myself.

Results of Getting up and Running Regardless. 
I was happier after ever run. I felt more focused on what I needed to do. I felt accomplished. One of those 22 days I ran a 7min 36s mile and a half. That has been my fastest recorded mile since I started running again. There were days when I thought I did not have it in me but I did it anyway made me feel invincible. Also there were days when I felt like I had it and just could not finish that goal I set from that positive feeling. The most important thing to me was that I ran at least 1 mile a day, anything after that I treated as a bonus. That’s exactly what I did. 

Here Are The Keys to Keeping Your Promises to Yourself.
This is how I kept my most recent promise with myself and countless other promises in the past. So if you are making promises, or setting goals you want to achieve/accomplish, these are the things to keep in mind. First of all, your mind will try to keep you in your comfort zone so do not believe it or give those thoughts life. Always challenge those thoughts or start working on your goal before you have too much time to think about it. Your body will also tell you that what you are doing is too much. Do it anyway! There is a difference between soreness and an actual injury; You will know the difference. Life isn’t going to make a way for you to keep your promise but if you really want to keep that promise you will find a way. The weather is not going to cooperate so be flexible. Plan your day but be flexible in getting it done, especially if you are balancing many different things throughout. If you lack motivation find individuals that are doing the same thing you are trying to accomplish so they can help keep you motivated to fight through your struggle days. Speak to yourself in a positive way regardless of the expectations you set for yourself but still hold yourself accountable. Control what you can control and be flexible about the things you cannot. Lastly commit to executing what you need to do the day before then wake up and do it. Additionally if you know yourself then you know the excuses you make to so plan om the counters to keep you on track. Finally, be connected to the why you want to achieve this goal. For me being in shape, and running every day or as often as 4 days a week, makes me a happier person, a more organized person, my cognitive acuity is sharper, I am more patient with everyone, especially myself, and I believe that I am capable of achieving anything I put my mind to. That is my why so going through a few struggle days is minor compared to the overall result of what completing a promise does to my being. 

Summing It All Up
I could have given up or broken my promise to myself for any of the reasons I mentioned above but because I didn’t give any of those excuses life, there is a level of supernatural belief that grew inside of me that no one ever told me existed. A level of belief that I now know happens when I challenge the comfort zone of my mind, spirit, and body. You cannot cheat it, you cannot make it up, and you cannot lie to yourself about it. You will only find out how rewarding it feels after you’ve kept your promise to yourself. Knowing that you did it, and no one can take that from you because you stayed committed to yourself is a sense of accomplishment I know you cant wait to experience. So no matter how 2020 has gone for you so far, there are still promises that you can keep to yourself to salvage what is left of the year. Its your time. Go get it!

Story Time with Susie – Running from Conflict

In the past, if someone said the word conflict, I would run the opposite direction as fast as I could. I had no desire to confront someone if I thought that they did something wrong or that I didn’t like. I just kind of hoped that it would go away, and we could all live happily ever after. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that things don’t just magically disappear, as much as we want them to. We can try to sweep the dirt under the rug, however, at the end of the day, that dirt is still there. As Rishone puts it, it’s just going to be a bump you keep tripping over, and as soon as you lift that rug up, it all shows.

Growing up, I honestly don’t remember ever working through an argument in a positive manner. If I was ever fighting with one of my siblings, the fight would be immediately shut down by my parents, and we were told to hug, “make up”, and move on. And unfortunately, any conflict that I had witnessed by my parents did not end with a meeting of the minds, but instead with a verbal argument with someone leaving while the air was still hot. Apologies would be given afterwards, but the “I’m sorry’s” were just the rugs placed over the dirt. They didn’t actually solve anything.

Now fast forward to my college years and beyond. This is when I met Rishone. For any of you who have known him for some time, you might realize that he has no problem with conflict. He actually enjoys it, because he knows that it’s natural and at the end of it will be some type of “positive” result. So as we met and became friends, of course we had many things that we disagreed on, especially as we discovered that we are completely opposite individuals in practically every way possible. So when there would be a ruffling of feathers, Rishone would initiate a conversation with me to work through it, however, I would just shut down. I had no experience with diving into a conflict with an intention to solve it, especially when it felt personal to me, so I had no idea of how to productively respond to him confronting me. I am thankful for my friendship with Rishone, because he has been patient with me and essentially guided me through how to have a conversation to work through a conflict instead of shying away from it. He’s taught me the importance of speaking up for myself.

Through all of this, I’ve realized that part of the reason I didn’t want to respond when presented with a conflict was because I was afraid. I think an important question is, why was I so afraid of conflict? Looking back now, it’s all very clear. I was afraid of the unknown, I didn’t know what was going to happen due to us experiencing a conflict. How was he going to react? I may have thought that it could end our friendship, and that was a scary thought for me. So instead of having that as a possibility, I would hope it would just go away. However, the reality is that the more you don’t work through it, the more things bubble up to eventually explode. And normally when things explode, they don’t end well.

So how do we actually work through a conflict productively? If you are someone experiencing an issue with someone else you care about, it’s so important to bring it up to them. But something that I’ve learned over the years when initiating one of these types of conversations is to always start with questions. When you start from a place of trying to understand, the person on the other end is more likely to be open and not shut down. Respect is crucial, and remember that that person that you are talking to is someone that you love and care about. It’s good to know your perspective and stand strong in it, but it’s also important to share it in a way that’s transparent and vulnerable that leaves room for the other person not to feel attacked.

Now let’s say you’re on the receiving end of the confrontation; how do you react? It can be so easy to be on the defensive when this happens. But if you want the relationship to remain in tact, my suggestion is to try to put your emotions aside for a moment. Our emotions can cloud our vision from being able to see the other person’s perspective. Be open and listen, not with intent to respond but to try to understand. It’s ok to apologize. At the end of the day, we just need to be real and transparent. We have to remember that there’s a person with feelings and a different life and perspective on the other end. Both perspectives can be valid at the same time, and when we try to understand where the other person is coming from, that is when we make true progress.

The process of working through conflict peels back those superficial layers to get to the real people behind the friendship. Trust me, sometimes it can be so uncomfortable. But I’m learning that it’s worth it, because whenever we work through the conflict, it makes our relationships stronger.

Do you have any tips for better conflict resolution? We would love to hear your experiences and opinions on the topic! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.