author moments, perspective

The Story Within a Story

Every story has a hidden story within. The why or the why not of the subject. Maybe the storyteller shared the hints, maybe they didn’t.

For example, I may write a blog post or story that shares a fun adventure but within the story is another story of personal triumph for a person on the journey with me. Maybe it’s even highlight a memory that is meaningful to me yet just a unique story to another. That is the beauty of storytelling.

In our last book we invited children to be authors with us. We did this intentionally. We wanted to provoke learning without telling them they were learning. We wanted to promote creativity. We wanted to share our love for writing. You wouldn’t know that from the book cover, but we left hints all around the book. It’s one of the coolest author notes we share with kids when we read and engage at book signings. Talk about a wow factor. It’s the story within the story.

Often times online we invite our readers to join us on the adventures we write about. We invite, provoke, engage others to do more with what they have. Be a better version of themselves. That’s a story of inspiration from within the bigger story.

Maybe my co-author is writing about something she wants to share and it includes her vantage point. Could there possibly be another vantage point within? Maybe you have to find the hidden door to find the message. Maybe that is her hook within her story. Of course there can be a story within a story, maybe even more than one story.

For each post we write we have many who like, some who don’t like and others who just breeze through the content. Whatever the reason or the season for the read, whatever the outcome is, we enjoy sharing our stories as authors. It’s what we choose to do.

We write our way. We leave clues in one post that may link to another or maybe not at all. We may write about the same topic yet it seems so different based on the voice we use or the vantage point. We may provide a visual or maybe we don’t. No real rhyme nor reason to our madness rather we just create what feels natural much like any other artist.

Our blog is a glimpse or a snapshot of us, not a biography or novel. For a tell-all you will most likely need to purchase our upcoming publications. Our blog space is a tool. A tool to motivate and share who we are with others. Today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Our interests will change over time as will our appearance and influences. This is another reason to check in with our site often. We change like the wind. We bend and flex with life. We share the ebbs and flows of life, even the tough stuff.

Since we are talking about a story within a story, I will share the inner secret of this post: bravery.

We are brave enough to share to the level we do. We are exposed. We have readers from Serbia to Japan and beyond. We are forever thankful for all of our readers (see our reader map below). We have friends and family who read our posts. We may even have business and professional colleagues who see us in a different light on this site.

To visualize the magnitude of our bravery: We could be on a plane and somebody notice us but we not notice them. This is a level of fearlessness that many will never encounter. For that, we share our story of boldness, bravery and unwavering sense of self with the wild and tangled web called the internet. The super highway of today.

We invite readers into our world. We are depositing a piece of us for our future grandchildren to read and learn about. There may be secret clues or passages within but you don’t get the full Monty online. We save the juicy stuff for the books and unfortunately we charge for those.

Until next time.

fitness and nutrition

I Like to Lift

I like to lift weights. There is something about a power snatch that gets my blood pumping.

That same power snatch makes me feel like nothing else stressful in my life matters at that moment. It’s just me and the bar. Of course I have to pay attention to only the bar so I don’t drop the weight on my head! (Photo: Davison Wheeler Photography)

Dumbbells are not my favorite but they serve a purpose. They help me move weight in a different manner than I would if I had just the bar. It lets me focus on defining my muscles in a different way. Although they are not my favorite they are a big part of my weightlifting regimen.  (Photo: Davison Wheeler Photography)

Cleans and jerks. I can definitely say I despise cleaning and don’t have room in my life for jerks but I do work on clean and jerks in the gym weekly. Getting my elbows up and transitioning the heavy weight above my head takes a lot of physical and mental energy. Some days are good while others just suck. Most depends on how well I stretch my wrist and if I can fully commit my mind the way I need to. Self-talk can make or break you on this movement.

This picture is just a random placeholder for me in action. First, I love my shirt. Second, the flair on my arms were for a costume day we had. And finally, I was wearing my taco shorts and who doesn’t love tacos? Which leads me to a shameless plug for Feed Me Fight Me. They have the most comfortable booty shorts for weight lifting girls like me with thick thighs.

Ah the deadlift. A simple but powerful movement that does require the right technique and weight to not throw out your back. It’s a delicate balance but a challenge I like. This picture is a throw back to a 2019 competition I did and thoroughly enjoyed the deadlift ladder.

I also like to bench press. Many girls don’t but I don’t mind it. For some reason I couldn’t find the right photo to post so let’s just go with the fact I like to bench press and chasing the guys weight load. It gives me motivation not hair on my chest.

There are many other lifts I like and many that I just do to keep my fitness up. That being said I have thick thighs and broad shoulders from the lifting portion of my life. I love the strength my body has and for that I embrace thick thighs and strong shoulders.

It always amazes me when a stranger asks me what sport I do. I could be on a plane or at a business meeting. The scenery may change but the question is the same. Now my answer is always I lift weights or do CrossFit.

Some don’t know what CrossFit is so they can relate to weightlifting. Whatever the case I either get a male comment of “how much weight can you squat?” or a woman may say “oh,” as in that’s not feminine. These reactions crack me up.

Many women at my gym are strong and powerful. Some are thick and some are thin. It doesn’t matter. I am far from the strongest but I enjoy striving for better. My counterparts are strong mentally and physically and they can challenge those who are not committed to fitness or healthy living.

Lifting weights has benefits. My friend Sarah started at the gym to increase her strength to fight off her body weakening due to a health condition. Lifting weights can help people regain control of their body after an accident or injury. So many more benefits but hopefully you get the point.

Like I said above, I like to lift. That’s my story for today. Hope you enjoyed the pics and a glimpse of my lifting preferences.

Enjoy today.

hustle, perspective

One Hour A Day

If you had an extra hour a day, what would you with it?

That is a loaded question for me. Although it’s impossible to get an extra hour a day, you can actually make an hour a day count.

I put an hour to the test. Just one hour. One day. A couple of days. Many days. Now I have a habit. A routine.

I can make an hour a day count for so much more by committing to that one hour my way. What I need to focus on in that snapshot of time.

Maybe your one hour today is meal prepping. Hint: that is one of mine (Sunday).

Maybe you have an hour of strategic planning. Maybe an hour of no technology. Maybe it’s an hour set aside to pay bills uninterrupted. Maybe it’s some me time. Maybe it’s some one-on-one spouse time. Maybe it’s a date day with one of your kids.

The possibilities are endless. In 2020, I’m going to commit an hour a day to accomplish something that is relevant to me and what I have on the horizon.

Can you commit an hour a day? An hour a week or maybe a day a month to help yourself in one way or another?

Challenge is set. Now who is in? Make sure you have a plan. A planner always helps me accomplish a lot in a given year while allowing me the opportunity to reflect on what’s already taken place as well.

2020 is a monumental year. Most reading this post were not alive in 1919 and won’t be alive in 2121. Therefore this is a great year to create a spark of your own. At least that is what I am setting out to do.

perspective

Giving is Not the Same as Expecting

There are so many givers in this world. Those who give their time to others. Those who give care to those in need. Those who offer love and hope to others. The list could go on and on. If you fall into the giver category, thank you. The world needs more of you.

Giving isn’t always a gift that is tangible. One can give love. One can give inspiration. One can give a shoulder to lean on. One can give hope. Whatever one gives, it is a choice. A desire to serve others in some way.

Life isn’t fair. I can’t catch a break. Poor me. If you fall into this category, suck it up. Find resources to help you get over the hump you are in. Start to pay your way little by little. Set a budget and work hard for what you need / want. Do not expect others to do for you and don’t be a mooch. Not much in life is free these days and if you take advantage of kindness in any form you will soon find yourself abandoned and alone. Eventually the givers lose interest in takers.

Expecting is different. Expecting mom and dad to pay for a cell phone until the you turn 30. Expecting the latest and greatest iPhone vs the one that works fine but is a model year behind the latest release. Expecting a brand new car as a teen. Expecting to have access to unlimited funds when one is capable of working. Expecting a car or car service to promote your independence without any contributions to gas. These are just some common teenage / young adult expectations I see over and over.

Expecting is annoying to say the least. One should never expect anything. One should expect to put forth work or effort to earn things that matter. There is definitely a benefit to learning this early on in life. If your teen expects things on the home front, they turn into employees that expect things. They turn into spouses who contribute less. They turn into lazy adults.

As I wrote this, I could feel the negative vibe in the post. For those of you who may follow my writing you may know that I am not the Negative Nelly type of writer. However, when the giver and taker scenarios arrive in my real world, I can be frustrated.

The same level of frustration appears when I see entitlement. Scenarios could include my own children acting entitled or it could be just the world around me. It could be an employee feeling entitled to a raise despite minimal efforts on their part. It could be a vendor feeling entitled to contract or a loved one feeling entitled to something. Even the customer who feels entitled to a discount for reasons that would put you below your operational costs.

In life we should think fair and consistent. Is this scenario fair for all parties? Are my actions consistent with my behaviors? Am I doing the right thing?

Earn your keep. Earn your value. In today’s competitive world you need to see what sets you apart from others and springboard off of those strengths. Nobody ever gets anywhere riding the coattails of others.

Make giving part of your motto in 2020 and see how life favors you. Remember giving is free on most accounts. You just may need to get creative.

January can be give smiles month.
February may be give compliments month.
March may be give time month.
April may be give your listening ear month.

With the above samples in hand, you can get creative and find what works for your lifestyle. I do promise you that if you adapt giving into your life you will receive far more in return. I’m not promising money, fame or fortune. I am promising a refreshed look at the world if you give a little.

hustle, working women

Million Dollar Milestone

Less than 2% of women-owned businesses hit the 1 million dollar revenue mark in a calendar year.

I wondered why this was the case. Most women-owned entities start as hobbies like pillow making or other grass-roots favored businesses. They sell to friends or have a limited online presence. Despite the success one may have it takes a lot of sales to hit the million dollar milestone with low cost items with no real volume sales in sight.

Women are great multi-taskers. Most manage families, schedules and work as well. When one finds a path to growth, success isn’t far off. Nothing against male counterparts as many earn their way to the board room fairly, but the wow factor is that the table in the board room isn’t always set equally for one reason or another.

One of the women may be in the token woman seat or the token diversity seat in the board room. I hate to address the elephant in the room but it’s true. With my current project I set a lofty goal for myself. I wanted to see if I could do it my way. From the ground up. No board approval. No favors given.

I wanted to be the underdog. The one who rose from nowhere to make a statement. There were many along the way who doubted me. That’s okay. They ironically motivated me. There were some who snubbed me for various reasons. That’s okay too.

I did it. I made my statement, my way. I was never seeking public approval. I was instead challenging myself to chip away at a revenue goal. My revenue goal. The pie in the sky number that many women won’t attempt to tackle. I did it with my small but dynamic team. I am one of the select few who made it to 1 million dollars. I joined the club so to speak in 2019 with one entity. Much earlier in the year due to some good luck and hard work, and I might even hit the multi-million dollar mark which is the gravy on top.

I can actually say hard work pays off and I am ever so proud of the time investment I made to become certified as a women-owned small business. My careful thought and planning afforded me the opportunity to participate in government bidding opportunities set aside for a business classified as women-owned, helping me reach my lofty goals quickly.

Learning how to leverage all tools available to your business is a very important step in business planning. Remember, without a plan you don’t know where your are going or what you are trying to achieve.

Engaging resources is also important. Finding the right business partners. The right vendors. The right social network. It all plays a part of one’s successes or one’s failures.

Be you for you. Don’t let others define your success. Wait for the right time to peak. Take all the lessons you learned in life and apply them to your business plan. Form a great leadership team and move forward. Continue to grow and shift as your market requires. Never stand still. Complacently is the death of struggling businesses.

Add a little luck. Add a little hustle. Add some good timing. And then the magic happens. Opportunity knocks and you have to be ready to take hold of it when it’s available. Don’t hesitate. Take the risk! Fortune favors those who are bold.

Long days. Late nights. Weekends. 24:7 availability means personal sacrifice. Lots of sacrifice. I made it. I made it the to the one million mark and beyond. The numbers scribbled in my Wonder Woman journal as a dream are taking shape.

Remember, I said it’s hard work. There were many bumps along the way. My husband wanted to kill me many days I am sure. It’s time to turn the page and set the next set of challenges. Where will I go? What will I accomplish? Who will I take on my journey? Will I fail? Will I succeed?

I must circle back again to celebrate me. Not only did I hit the number, I reached well beyond. Millions more is in sight but I’m not holding my breath or putting a specific time frame on the number. I am a firm believer that if I put in the work / effort, the rewards will follow. It may not be a revenue number this time around. It may be a strategic account. Or maybe a new connection with a key influencer. Those steps are part of the growth process. Connecting the dots so to speak.

As I reflect on the million-dollar achievement there is so much to be thankful for. All the people in my life who support me. My amazing but small work team. My family who motivates me to be strong and fight through thick and thin. It truly takes a village to be at the top of your game. Whatever your game is, you were inspired by others to seek the higher ground.

Now that I am here, I like to savor the moment and reflect. See what went well but where the opportunities are for improvement. Sometimes making slight modifications in operational efficiencies is far more important than the next revenue milestone!

As I write this post I know some will perceive my celebration as a sign of arrogance. Well, there may be a hint of that but the motivation is to share this with other aspiring business people who are reaching for the stars.

I am a growth coach for those entering entrepreneurship for the first time as well as those trying to find their spot in life. In order to be a good role model for those I mentor, I leave sprinkles or nuggets of my development online for others to read. I don’t need a New York Times Best Sellers list number to validate my growth. I just want one person to be motivated to reach to the stars because my stories inspired them.

Write the lofty goals. Chip away at the goals. You will get there. Hard work pays off. Be consistent. Be confident. Be prepared.

For now I will stay in the moment. I will take great pride in what was accomplished and be ready for what’s next.

And what’s next is part of the #1095 Days project. What’s next is always a new story. Stay tuned for the next chapter.

adventure

Relax Was All She Typed

RELAX!

The one word received by text before I left the country for vacation in the beautiful island of St. Maarten. “Relax”

 How that word sat with me on the plane ride to my destination and beyond. Relax. 

How does a high strung, fast moving girl really relax? Is it possible? The questions that ran through my mind. The soul searching that would happen over the next few days as I figured out if I am capable of relaxing and what relaxing really feels like.

Routine went out the window first thing. No up early to workout. This was a first change of routine in over 4 years. Is this relaxing or was I stressed because I was breaking my routine? I did a shoulder shrug to myself repeatedly when I thought about this change.  Instead of working out hard core, I opted for a casual walk to a quaint little bakery kiosk where I was greeted by a bubbly island girl each morning. A creature of habit, I ordered the same thing each day. A plain but buttery croissant and a jug of orange juice. Both of these are not normal items I would have in the morning or in general but this week was about doing things differently. I was choosing to select differently while on vacation. Maybe not the best choice for balancing carbs / fats / proteins, but for this vacation break I was not worrying about what time I was eating and so on. Just like I wasn’t worried about writing on my blog. I was “checked” out on island time.

Island time is interesting. Everything moves slowly. People are extra bubbly and social. It was easy for me to go to bed early and sleep late each day. I had nowhere to rush to. No deadlines to meet. No bosses to answer to.  I enjoyed the sunsets, the spectacular views, the fresh smells and the people of the island I was on. I had no reason to stress over technology, business or life. There was no rushing to sports practice, no to do list, no deadlines to meet, no bosses to answer to. It seemed there were smiles everywhere. Workers smiled and greeted you at every interaction. Guests were cordial even if there was a language barrier. Island life is definitely slow. It seems to take 2-3 hours for a meal. Food is fresh, service is slow but pleasant, atmosphere is always “happy.”

At last a relaxing time of do something, nothing or whatever strikes my fancy. I snorkeled, enjoyed fish and shipwrecks in the waters below, ate many varieties of food, tasted a new drink called “ting,” rode a horse in the ocean, enjoyed a massage, and met many friendly faces. A few notable friends are described below:

New York – A sweet and sassy woman from NY whom I shared giggles with on my snorkeling trip but then found out she stayed at my resort. We bumped into each other multiple times making us new friends. 

Nix – A bus driver that was a bit quirky. He didn’t smile much and had a long face. He said the word “WOW” a lot. His quirkiness was memorable and his driving skills were interesting to say the least.

The New Zealanders – An older couple I met on a tour. A whole day spent with strangers who had a funny accent but enjoyed learning about our cultures as much as we did theirs. They arrived by cruise ship, us by plane. A chance encounter but one that left many memories. I especially enjoyed eating lunch with these new friends while we learned so much about our different countries. Again, a chance encounter that was very insightful.

John – A taxi cab driver turned tour guide. He picked us up in town at random for a ride back to the resort. He shared his cooler of drinks and gave us his card for his side hustle (tour guide). We booked a tour with the kind gentleman and spent another full day learning about the island from him. His charm, his humor, and his knowledge was a big part of our trip memories.

The cookie man – There is a cookie man and he works in a cheese shop. It may sound weird but he serves the freshest almond paste cookies at the cheese shop when you check out. These cookies were so amazing we went back for more a few days later. He was all out but he offered to make a special batch the next day. We couldn’t wait. We went back out of our way to meet the cookie man at the cheese shop to buy tons of cookies to bring home for our families. Do you think any actually made it home?

AJ – The jeweler, the joker, the hard worker. The friendliest jeweler in town. Oh, how he added to my memories this week. AJ was another chance encounter. I met a wonderful older lady on my plane ride to the island. She had been visiting this island for years and mentioned I should visit AJ should I desire any jewelry this trip. Of course I had to check out AJ and see what all the hype was about.

As you can see from the post above, I relaxed and enjoyed my island vacation, but more importantly I met new people. The kind souls that made my memories will be forever cherished. Some I will never see again, while others I hope to see sometime in the future should I make it back to this island. I never set out to meet new people nor did I have a specific goal in mind for my trip. In the end I had a great time and have an awesome memory book of the time spent on St. Maartin.

My travel time was just right. Enough time to enjoy the relaxing life yet not too long to miss out on all that requires my time on the daily on the home front. I am thankful for many things after this week. Too many to list. As thanksgiving has recently past, I will just say I am thankful for the “relax” text as it set The tone for my week. Thank you, Kim, for the one word text! I appreciate you.

My vacation time was spent on the friendly island of St. Maarten. I spent most of my time on the Dutch side, however I did visit the French side as well as visit Anguilla and Prickly Pear on the British side. I highly recommend travel to St. Maarten and I encourage you to fly a big airline vs. a discount airline. If you make it there be sure to visit the beach by the airport to watch the planes land. It is definitely an experience.

I am leaving you with a few snapshots of my trip. It is my hope that you find some peace in the tranquil pictures. They are meant to spur thought of relaxation and happiness.

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adventure, balance, Teddie Aspen

Neglected

Neglected is the word that comes to mind when I think of this blog site in the last 30 days.

As I shake my head in disappointment, I actually remind myself that I was busy making memories and just didn’t have a free moment to share the glimpses of these memories with the world. A temporary state of course, which means I will most likely be posting repeatedly in the coming weeks and months to ensure this blog moves into an elevated status instead of a neglected status.

This blog isn’t always about life but sometimes it is. Life for me is good, but hectic. The holidays are upon us which add chaos to any family, but I definitely had a busy six weeks or so full of personal and professional travel. Stay tuned for updates via the blog.

On top of the above, I welcomed the cutest little bundle of joy to my family. Not a baby, well maybe a baby. My baby. The cutest little Golden Doodle puppy who answers to the fabulous name of Teddie Aspen. Since a picture is worth a thousand words I am going to leave you with a few of my favorite pics of Teddie. I am warning you I will probably post many, many more through the year as I document training and other puppy stuff under the Teddie Aspen header.

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