Girl On Fire


Girl On Fire is a song by Alicia Keys, and I love it! Keys wrote a letter to her fans explaining what the song means, it’s quite inspiring and fits well within the theme of my blog, so thought I’d share.

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In Keys’ letter to her fans, she writes, “Girl On Fire is about new beginnings, new perspectives and fresh starts. It’s about finding your own inner strength and channeling it in a way you’ve never tried before. To be “on fire” is to allow yourself the freedom to take full control of who you are and how you want to live your life. To live your passion and shine your light unabashedly!! It’s that moment you choose to claim your power and be extraordinary! With this album, I hope to empower you in the way you have me… I hope to move you to be your own phenomenal self in life. Thank you for your tremendous support throughout my career and for being a part of my journey as an artist. I’m so proud to share Girl On Fire with you all. I can’t contain the flame!!!! Never contain yours!!!”

This song is awesome in so many ways. The lyrics encourage you to love yourself the way you are and let your unique light shine bright. The message conveys that strength and courage come from the inside and the only person who can create your own happiness is you. When you ground yourself in your beliefs and charge forward with confidence you become unstoppable, no matter what the hardship.

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Keys states, “To be “on fire” is to allow yourself the freedom to take full control of who you are and how you want to live your life.” Don’t let others sway your decisions, opinions, goals and dreams. Stay true to who you are and whoever wants to support you in that journey will be by your side. Your passion is your light and taking control of your life is your freedom. Don’t ever let anyone take that away from you.

To empower means to make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights. I hope I can help do that for you the way Keys did that for her audience. Thinking about and taking care of “me” first is not selfish. Loving yourself gives you strength and endurance to reach your goals, take new risks, grow relationships and take care of others.

If nothing else, don’t ever let anyone ever dull your sparkle. Check it out for yourself. I hope you become as inspired as I did by the music.

Music Video.

Lyrics:

She’s just a girl and she’s on fire
Hotter than a fantasy, lonely like a highway
She’s living in a world and it’s on fire
Filled with catastrophe, but she knows she can fly away

Ohhhh oh oh oh oh
She got both feet on the ground
And she’s burning it down
Ohhhh oh oh oh oh
She got her head in the clouds
And she’s not backing down

This girl is on fire…
This girl is on fire…
She’s walking on fire…
This girl is on fire…

Looks like a girl, but she’s a flame
So bright, she can burn your eyes
Better look the other way
You can try but you’ll never forget her name
She’s on top of the world
Hottest of the hottest girls say

Ohhhh oh oh oh
We got our feet on the ground
And we’re burning it down
Ohhhh oh oh oh oh
Got our head in the clouds
And we’re not coming down

This girl is on fire…
This girl is on fire…
She’s walking on fire…
This girl is on fire…

Everybody stares, as she goes by
‘Cause they can see the flame that’s in her eyes
Watch her when she’s lighting up the night
Nobody knows that she’s a lonely girl
And it’s a lonely world
But she gon’ let it burn, baby, burn, baby

This girl is on fire…
This girl is on fire…
She’s walking on fire…
This girl is on fire…
Oh, oh, oh, oh ohhhhh oh oh oh ohhh oh oh oh ohhhh…
She’s just a girl and she’s on fire

Attitude Is Everything


Live the life that’s right for you, not the life that’s right for everyone else. Only then will you be free from self-doubt and negativity. Say it with me, I am free to be ME!

Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to everyone else and what they want. It’s found when you stop living for other people and their opinions and start being true to yourself.  You’re the only person in charge of your life. The only question is: What do you want to do with the rest of it? Businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone once said, “There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.”

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Life isn’t perfect but it sure is great. Our goal shouldn’t be to create a perfect life, but to live an imperfect life in great astonishment. This means getting up every morning and taking on the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. It means that you start to see everything as extraordinary. Each day is a gift. Never treat life casually. To be spiritual in any way is to be amazed in every way. Be mindful, and be joyful. It’s okay to have down days, but it’s important to let go and be at peace with the reality of life’s ups and downs. You’ll soon find and accept that life’s ups require life’s downs.

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Happiness is simply the result of one’s thinking. Happiness starts with you – not with your relationships, not with your job, not with your money, but with YOU. It’s not always easy to find happiness in ourselves, but it’s always impossible to find it elsewhere. Regardless of the situation you face, your attitude is your choice. You simply can’t have a positive life with a negative attitude. When negativity controls your thoughts, it limits your behavior, actions and opportunities. If you realized how powerful your thoughts were, I bet you’d try your best to never think another negative thought again.

If you want to be successful you must remember that attitude is as equally important as ability. If you want to be a good person you must remember that character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you. These are important lessons that are often overlooked, simplified or taken too lightly. The people who live life to the fullest and make the most out of each day are those who truly see the beauty in everything and those who see the joy through the sadness.

When you live in the present moment with an open mind you are able to quickly validate your emotions and see the light in any situation. When you remove the drama and charge forward with love and gratitude there’s nothing you’ll not be able to handle. You can either wallow in your own sorrow or embrace life’s ups and downs and keep your head up. Train your mind to see the good in every situation and you won’t be caught off guard when things don’t go as planned. Strive to inspire people and be the reason they don’t give up. A positive attitude will lead to positive outcomes. I really believe that the difference between a good day and a bad day is attitude. And one thing that can quickly change a good attitude is change.

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Change is inevitable, that’s a fact. So, if we know it’s always going to happen, why is it still very difficult to accept? It’s difficult even when we know there are rewards and positive gains waiting for us on the other side. People who handle change well don’t try and fight it, they accept it and charge forward.

If you’re not being challenged you aren’t changing, growing or bettering yourself. It takes a lot of small, mindful steps and patience to make progress and move in the direction you’d like to go. It’s about doing more than just existing and leaving things up to chance. Max De Pree, American businessman and writer, once said, “We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.” We can’t change our past, but we can take action in the present. We can make mindful efforts to practice and build up our confidence until we really believe we’re strong enough to accept change, or make a change.

We take chances and face change all the time, whether it’s in our personal lives, our work, our relationships, fitness goals, the list goes on and on. The word change seems like a simple word with a simple meaning, but really it’s constant chaos. That’s why we must find ways to work within it and accept that things will not stay the same.

Every new day that we’re granted is a chance to learn and grow. When life changes to be harder, change yourself to be stronger. The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance (Alan Wattskatieswim (2), Philosopher).”

I’ve always taken life pretty seriously, but am (slowly) learning to lighten up a bit, and can say with confidence, that I love this new-found freedom that comes from letting go. It takes courage and strength to really embrace the ideas that: it’s okay to make mistakes, we learn from experience, and perfection applies to math problems, not real life.

I want to leave you with a lesson I learned from Bruno Mars’ song, Uptown Funk. In the song he sings the lyrics, “Smoother Than A Fresh Jar Of Skippy.” This phrase made me laugh when I heard it.  I thought to myself, who doesn’t want to be smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy!? Cause I sure do!

My definition of smooth is having emotional intelligence, a good attitude, accepting change and being able to laugh at myself. It means making time for things that matter to me and spending time doing things that make me happy. What’s your definition of smooth, what does being smooth look like for you?

If you haven’t already started, I challenge you to turn up the volume in your own life. Smile. Relax. Dance. Let loose. And if nothing else, be smooth.

Featured on She Is Fierce HQ: http://sheisfiercehq.com/fierce-living/attitude-is-everything/

Music video: 

Take A Walk On The Wild Side


Are you Type A or Type B? An extrovert or an introvert? Well, whatever, it doesn’t matter. You’re human and that means you’re allowed to have some fun once in a while. Mindfulness teaches you to enjoy the little moments, to take an active role in your life and to focus on spreading love and compassion. I’ve really tried to start doing this in my daily life, instead of just on vacation and weekends, and let me tell you it’s completely changed how I view my life and the world.

wild side

It’s okay to have fun at work, to laugh too loud in front of strangers and to play Marco Polo in the swimming pool with your kids. Yes, there are times when we need to be serious, but we also need to make time to be silly and carefree. Vacation exists so we make time to relax and re-energize. But imagine if every day you could feel this energy, well good news, you can! That’s where exercise, meditation, mindfulness and taking care of yourself come into play. Just like we need sleep, food, water and exercise, we need to make time to clear our minds and nourish our brain every single day. Because we can’t see the brain we sometimes forget that nourishing it is kind of important to our health.

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We need play and creativity in our lives just as much as we need logic and statistics. Even through the tough times and sadness, it’s important to search for the light in the darkness. Life isn’t perfect, but it sure is beautiful. We’re usually busy in meetings, on our smart phones or rushing from place to place, but within all the chaos try to center yourself and find some peace. When you’re relaxed, joyful and open to whatever comes next you’ll find life is more enjoyable. Smile more and worry less. Stay present and know that things aren’t going to always go as planned. Take a different route, call an old friend or try a new sport. These are all things that will get you out of your daily routine and comfort zone. These are the kind of actions that will help you experience life.

Don’t limit yourself to what you always knew or what you’ve always done. Exercise and nourish your mind, make new headspace, and if nothing else, be spontaneous and take a walk on the wild side. 🙂

 

10 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About The Brain And Mindfulness


  1. MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress. As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker.
  2. Reframing negative events in a positive light literally rewires your brain and can make you a happier person, as can regular meditation.
  3. The average number of thoughts that humans are believed to experience each day is 70,000.
  4. You have a finite amount of will power each day because to exercise will power you need energy in the form of oxygen and glucose, that’s why it’s harder to say ‘no’ when you are tired or not feeling yourself.
  5. Until relatively recently scientists thought that the brain was the only area of the human body that didn’t generate new cells. We now know that’s not true and the brain does reproduce shiny new cells for you to use.
  6. Concentration meditation, in which the meditator focuses complete attention on one thing, such as counting the breath or gazing at an object, activates regions of the brain that are critical for controlling attention. This is true even among novice meditators who receive only brief training.
  7. The brain is very poor at concentrating for long periods of time and needs to clear it’s head so to speak about every 90 minutes or so.
  8. The old adage of you only use 10% of your brain is not true. Every part of the brain has a known function.
  9. Mindfulness meditation offers freedom for people with anxiety, in part by changing the way the brain responds to negative thoughts.
  10. There are no pain receptors in the brain, so the brain can feel no pain even though it is where you actually experience pain in your body.

Sources: A Daring Adventure, Brain Training, Scientific American, Mindful.org, Fineartamerica(image)

On And Off the Court


I can’t help but blog about my favorite sports team today, Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Basketball! I’m so excited for them and how hard they’ve worked to get to the National Championship game. Win or lose they should be proud of themselves and how far they’ve come as a team, and as individuals. I don’t just like them because I went to school there, but because they are talented, funny, hardworking and respectful. They play with class. I believe it all starts from the top down, with Bo Ryan, what a guy…and what a ride for them.

I read an article today entitled, America Falls in Love with the Badgers. The article goes on to say, “What’s most impressive is how easily it seems to come to this team (Jason Krause).” And as Grantland’s Robert Mays wrote, “All tournament — from Frank Kaminsky hitting SportsCenter in capri sweatpants to Nigel Hayes’s stenography fascination — it’s been obvious that no one has been having more fun than Wisconsin.” I think we can all agree that they’re relaxed, confident, charming and a little goofy.

I can testify that Wisconsin’s fans have helped the cause! Jason Kruse reported that after beating Arizona on Saturday, Bo Ryan was concerned about State Street. “Did anybody hear anything about State Street tonight? Is everything okay?” he asked almost as soon as the game was won. He cares about the team, but also about the fans and the school. It’s good to hear nothing happened. The fans are happy, enthusiastic, and polite.

To say the least, I’m extremely proud to be a Badger! On Wisconsin!

5 Benefits of Yoga That May Surprise You (Mindfulness)


Yoga is for everyone, not just women, not just adults, everyone. No matter who you are I think we can agree that we all want to feel happy,confident, healthy, at peace and minimize stress. I have one word for you, yoga. Read on to learn some of the key health benefits of practicing yoga, and discover how yoga directly relates to mindfulness.

Improve Your Concentration
Concentration is simply taking your attention to a single point of focus. In everyday life the mind is easily distracted which makes it hard to concentrate and get things done. During a yoga class, you are encouraged repeatedly by your teacher to come back to your breath, which is a way of putting this single pointed focus in action. You can try this really simple technique of watching your breath any time, on or off the mat and you will notice your concentration skills start to improve.

Improved Relationships
Yoga affects your mind and spirit in a way that has an effect on your relationships with others—your spouse, your kids, your parents, your friends, and even strangers. When you feel more at peace, more in the moment, more in tune with everyone around you, you begin to notice things and interact with people in a much more positive and compassionate way. If yoga has given you more confidence, you’ll probably be more open to communicating your own thoughts, needs, and suggestions. Don’t be surprised if you not only begin strengthening your current relationships, but begin to attract new friends and acquaintances, too.

Ability to Stay in the Moment
Have you ever tried to hold a balancing pose while your mind was on dinner, the drama with your sister, or some issue at work you’ve been dealing with? You topple over, right? Yoga trains you to keep your mind focused and in the moment, and with enough practice, that ability bleeds over into all other areas of your life. You’ll be a more attentive friend because of it, and you may also find that you’re much more efficient in your daily life because you’re not slowing yourself down by letting your mind travel into the past or the future while you’re working on something else. In addition, you’ll really get to revel in those little moments of joy you might have otherwise missed, and those all add up to a happier you!

Become More Patient
Yoga teaches us to let go of the outcome and surrender to the present moment. Impatience is a need to be somewhere else – quickly – and there is no better way of counterbalancing impatient tendencies than holding postures and focusing on your breath. With no place to go other than your mat, you get to practice trying to find stillness and peace, exactly where you are.

Feel More Grounded
The root chakra (Muladhara) relates to our roots, our sense of physical security. When it’s functioning well, it helps us feel grounded and connected to the earth. Located two inches in front of and below the tailbone, this chakra is stimulated through wide legged asanas such as Warrior 1 and 2, Trikonasana and wide legged forward bends (standing or seated). By holding these postures you work the energy at this chakra and become more grounded, which can be particularly beneficial during times of physical change such as moving houses or travel.

Stimulate Your Creativity
The sacral chakra (Swadisthana) is the centre of creativity within the subtle body. It is located in the region of the tailbone so asanas that activate this area will also ignite your creative flow. Remember creativity is not just painting a picture, it also relates to the way we think and solve problems which are beneficial whether you are artistic or not! Try adding Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend), Bhujangasana (Cobra) and Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee) pose to your practice and let your creative juices flow.

 

Sources: Anna Coventry and Kimberly Snyder

Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna To Break My Stride


Nobody’s gonna slow me down, I got to keep on moving. Matthew Wilder said it right in his song, Break My Stride. With a bouncing keyboard riff and a mild Jamaican flavor, this was by far the biggest hit for Wilder. This is definitely a song you want to be stuck in your head because it’s pretty awesome.

This song was described as “a gift to myself” by Matthew Wilder in an interview with People Magazine. How he never had any support in the music industry and was turned away by everything. This song was a big confidence booster for Wilder to continue taking on the music world during the roughest of times. Little did he know that it would become a very successful single and a very catchy tune that a lot of people would associate with the 1980s in the decades to come.

I think it’s an important message. It’s a reminder to stand up for yourself, stand up for what you believe in, have confidence your gut is telling you to do what’s best for you. Make mistakes, fail, feel sad once in a while, but don’t let it get you down forever, get up and keep going. Put a ‘look out world’ smile on your face and get out there.

It does not matter what kind of mood I’m in, I feel much better after listening to this song. This is the type of song that not only stays in your head, but in your heart. Check it out by clicking the YouTube link below. I bet it brings a smile to your face. 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLE_emfAd74

Dream, Dream Big


(Reading time 1-2 minutes)

Kids use their imagination each and every day, and as adults we know how fun and entertaining it can be to play along with them and hear what they have to say. Why is it that once we reach a certain age we stop dreaming big, stop imagining new heights and start refusing to be silly. Why is it that all of a sudden we become serious and fearful of the future. It is because our awareness of reality and the real world sets in, but just because we are more aware does not mean we need to be more scared.

If we could all see the world through the eyes of a child, we would see the magic in everything. I think it is important that we continue to use our imaginations and let our guards down as we age. It is okay to work towards goals, be responsible, have aspirations AND still have fun at the same time. When we open our minds to what could be and remove the rules and limits we put on ourselves life becomes full of new possibilities and wonder.

How can you get started? Try purchasing a cereal you only allowed yourself to eat as a kid, enjoy a Popsicle on the patio, walk around barefoot, go to a local candy shop and indulge, eat ice cream with your kids, watch an old movie you used to enjoy, smile more, be a kid again. See how much fun it is to be a kid again and how it opens your mind to new ideas and sparks your creativity. Enjoy life’s little moments and pleasures. I think you will notice that your dreams get bigger and your laugh a little louder.

Spring is in the air. No better time than now to rejuvenate, renew and live the life you have always dreamed of.

The Heart Wants What It Wants


(Reading time 1-2 minutes)

What makes you feel alive, what makes your hair stand up on the back of your neck, what gives you chills, what makes you smile from ear to ear, what leaves you breathless? What is your passion? These are the questions we should be focusing on, instead of questions like, what makes you mad, what makes you upset, what are your pet peeves.

Live like there is no tomorrow, with your full attention, let your sparkle shine. It takes more effort and energy to give thought to the negative. And most of us have heard by now that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile.

Unleash your beast, do something new, adventurous, daring, risky, thrilling. It is okay to face your fears, feel pain, and face uncomfortable situations. This is what helps us learn and grow. Go for the “impossible,” reach for the stars, don’t let up. You are the only person who can make change and make things happen in your own life. Be curious about what is coming next; go forward with drive, force and liveliness. Let people know you are on this Earth to make a difference, to make someone else smile, to reach your goals.

Do not be afraid. Laugh in the face of danger and fear.

I leave you with some music to help jump start your journey (Jock Jams, Let’s get ready to Rumble!) Have a beautiful day! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAIAET2e2y8&list=PLZAgkmYLV6G66NuWZmbYzxCsgBlOr0ViD

Life Lessons from the Dominican Republic


Ever wonder what it would be like to wake-up each and every day in a joyful mood, with a smile on your face, extremely happy to tackle the day and just live? Well this lifestyle is not so far-fetched. I recently traveled to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic for a family vacation and I can tell you that I returned not being able to say enough good things about their culture and the kindness of their people.

A few things I specifically noticed during my time on the island; they don’t complain, they always have a smile on their face ready to greet you with a boisterous hola, they are concerned about your happiness and making sure you’re having a good time (not me and mine), they communicate that you are a valued guest in their country. They remove worry, stress and negativity from their daily routine, and fill up their hours working hard, entertaining tourists, soaking up the sun and being one with nature.

We hiked and swam through waterfalls, watching the guides leap from rock to rock without any fear, took a catamaran sailboat out into the middle of the deep waters to snorkel, spent time relaxing and dancing to fun music on the boat as we sailed. During each excursion I can’t tell you how many times I heard the guides and locals asking, “Are you having a good time?” “Are you okay?” “How are you?” saying “smile mon,” referring to us as mi amiga/amigo, repeatedly saying gracias/thank you, and just dancing and having fun. These are just a few of the phrases and words I encountered while on the Dominican Republic soil that really made my trip that much more amazing.

As I toured the towns and drove through the hillsides I noticed that the locals didn’t have much, not many things, small houses, little food, some don’t have running (or hot) water, some don’t have enough money to keep shoes on their feet, but yet they remain happy, friendly and courteous to their guests and each other. Why is this? Shouldn’t we assume they are sad and unhappy because they don’t have abundant “stuff” or riches? No, because what they value doesn’t have a price tag. Things like nature, the weather, sunshine, family, friends, big crashing waves and the sand beneath their toes.

The Dominican people practice mindfulness by slowing down, making happiness a way of life, not stressing about each and every little detail, not complaining, working hard and doing it with a smile, maneuvering through life with a positive attitude, and most importantly, being grateful.

I think we can all learn a lot from the Dominican people and their culture. This particular vacation reminded me that we don’t have to rush through life unhappy and stressing; we have the choice to slow down, enjoy family and friends, experience nature, say thank you more often, and wake-up each day with a smile on our face. Setting an intention each morning can help achieve these personal happiness goals.

Go on have fun with it, it meaning life, because life is beautiful.

Relax. Enjoy. Smile. Be Thankful.

Repeat after me, Estoy agradecido, I am grateful.