Play Hard Playbook Book Challenge

Earlier this year I read about Mark Zuckerberg’s personal challenge to read a new book every other week about different cultures, belief, and histories.  His challenge inspired me to issue a similar challenge.

Play Hard Playbook 2015 Book Challenge: To read two books a month focused on the development of my personal, spiritual, and financial goals for the year based on the reading recommendations of people I admire (such as Oprah, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet).

heart shaped bookAlthough I grew up loving books, something about the forced reading in law school made me pass on the desire to read for a while.  Well it’s been a couple of years and I think I am ready to get back on the saddle as reading is one of the best ways to continue the challenge of learning throughout your life.  If your goal is to continue to get better with time and age, books help give the insight needed for that journey to help you grow more into the person you can be and face up the challenges life has in store for you.

As 2015 for me is a year of personal growth for me, I thought I would focus on books that helped me develop me.  Now going to the “self-help” section of the book store can feel like an awkward place, but the truth is there is no better place to reflect on your own challenge than by reading how others conquered theirs.  By starting within I hope I am gearing up to use the work I do on myself and apply it to the service I hope to share with my community.  Here are the books that are up for my January reading:

Think and Grow Rich: Now I tackled this book last year with a fantastic book club but as it is a classic I thought it would serve as good motivation to get my year moving in the right direction early on.   It is a great reminder that no matter where you want to go in life, the place you start is with you.  Setting your mind to what you want so it becomes a burning desire and gives birth to faith breathes life into the phrase “If you can believe it, you can achieve it!”  By giving me the steps to everyday reinforce my goals in life and what I am willing to give in order to reach these goals sets the table of life up for being things ahead.

How to Win Friends & Influence People:  No matter how you try to escape it, people need people, especially if you are an entrepreneur.   This book is another oldie but goodie that gives real life, practical advice on how to get your way in a manner that is win-win.  If you have challenging people in your personal or professional life this book is a great way to rethink an old problem  If nothing else it powerful insight on what makes people tick and how in trying to make situations better we can easily cause them to move out of control.

 

I can tell my January books have already made a huge impact on my mindset in 2015.  What books have been powerful in directing your own life???

Looking back in order to move forward

new startWell that time of year has rolled around again and it is once again time to celebrate and plan for a fantastic 2015.  With every year many of us make resolutions, or resolutions to not make resolutions, with the hope that we can make the upcoming year everything that we missed out on the year or years before.  Resolutions to lose weight or get a new job or be more positive hit the ground running at the beginning of the New Year but do they somehow look vaguely familiar? How many New Years have those same resolutions been on repeat?  Each new year bring in what we want to be the waves of change but throughout the course of the year feeling more like the same old same dragging us out to sea.

Sometimes to break the repeat cycle we have to take a look back at why our resolutions failed in the first place.  Did our motivation start to fade, or where the old habits too instilled to break?  Whatever the reason for failure a good clue to why they won’t work now is why they didn’t work before.  This process can be especially difficult because we have to be brutally honest with ourselves and stop the blame game.  For me last year I wanted to eat healthier.  At the onset of the year I made sure to come to work with my snacks and be mindful of my portion size to stick with my resolution.  But through the course of working and life I looked up and realized I was back grabbing my first meal at Chick Fil A at 2:00 in the afternoon.  Yes I blamed it on my busy lifestyle but in all honestly I stopped wanting to put in the work to prepare for my healthy meals and found myself at the mercy of what I drove by in the car.  While I liked the idea of being fit and healthy, I only wanted the result, not the lifestyle change that went along with it.  Like most resolutions the goal to change on component of our lives really requires us to change a whole lot more in order to fit it to our lives and when it comes to making the required sacrifice we fall short.

No matter how hard it is to pinpoint the problem, once you done you can work towards a resolution that you have the inspiration and commitment to that you can actually keep.  Perhaps losing 20 pounds starts to feel impossible around March every year but the commitment to walk 10,000 steps on Fitbit is a smaller bite out of the chunk you can actually manage.  Once you start on your way with baby steps it is a lot easier to turn your walk into a stride and your stride into leaps.  Learning the lessons of previous missteps is the best way to ensure your one step forward won’t end with 2 steps back in 2015.   After all Rome wasn’t conquered in a day so why should your lifestyle changes be so easily boiled down to a couple of resolutions?

Making black and white fun and chic

IMG_9767You don’t have to define fun in color when it comes to apparel.  Truth is that black and white can offer just as much fun and sassiness than its more colorful counterparts when you take a play on cut and textures as opposed to colors.  When done correctly black and white can pair to have a striking effect on your look and still give some of the fun that gives life a little zest.  At the event Art of Conversation I play the role as mastermind and moderator as we welcome an open forum to discuss some of days most interesting and challenging issues.  IMG_9765As with any outfit, I like my look to be an expression of not just the occasion but the part I am playing in it.  In wanting to evoke both power and openness I chose strong contrast such as black and white commanding fabrics like leather combined with the airiness and freedom I found in a cropped blouse.

IMG_9762For the base of the outfit I started with a black pencil leather skirt from BCBG.  Pencil skirts are a great way to elongate the figure at a length that gives the coverage to allow me to be comfortable to sit at the front of an audience.  The pleats in the skirt help break up the straight lines of the skirt and give a little leeway in problem areas that might arise giving an overall smooth and sleek look.

IMG_9766The blouse was a great balancing act as it took some of the structure of the skirt and turned it on its heels.  The softness of the material made the blouse free flowing and soft.  With contrasting black trim on the collar and arms made the look a lot more striking that a regular white blouse.

And to finish off the look of course there are the shoes.  In my nod to something old and something new I pulled some Gucci patent leather peep toes out of my closet.  The white piping was a great match to my color palette choice and the throwback shape and design of the shoes made the shoes modern day classics.

How do you think black and white pair for a chic classic?

The Art of Conversation: Money, Power, Respect: Choose One

Masterminds, Bum B and QueenieA great conversation can draw you in so that you not only can see someone else’s perspective but also provide clarity for your own motives and beliefs.  Being able to have those conversations in a forum where you feel free to share and open enough to respect other’s opinions is one of the ways we can unplug and genuinely reconnect to others around us.  In this manner conversations can inspire growth in a way few forms of communication can mimic.  At last week’s Art of Conversation, the masterminds challenged everyone to think of the old order of Money, Power, Respect and give their perspective on how to choose one and the risk that comes from making that decision.

Money, Power, Respect has become an American standard on how to get the life you want.  It is what we see on TV and read in books and sing along to in music.  But is this really the right order to obtain the things you want in life?  To be sure money does a great deal in both attaining a certain level of comfort to your life and because of it is the first goal that many people often set for themselves.  Once you have it you certainly can buy a certain lifestyle or things that you want but you can never buy the hearts and minds of people with money alone.  So where do you focus to get to where you want to be to have a life that has it all or is that even possible??  Indeed the answer to that question is personal to us all.  With every start of the pursuit comes the opportunity to earn all three.  A job, for instance, gives you the ability to make money but also garner power over your assignments and respect of your peers.  By working to empower others, but just use your power over them and to receive respect by giving respect you can work to balance not just money power, respect, but how your own value system.

The great things about the conversation is that you don’t have to completely agree with someone else to get in on it.  At Thursday’s event we welcomed Bum B, a Houston and rap legend, to share in the conversation.  Hearing from someone who has seen it all it gave some real perspective on the fact that balancing the three is something that many don’t even aspire to and the perils that come in the fall when your whole focus is on just one.  The truth is that in balancing the three it can be easy to lose the other two with all your focus on one thing.  It’s why we see people with money become disrespectful such as Kanye West or people with power abusing it.  What’s your take on Money, Power, Respect???

Make sure to stay tuned to the next installment for the Art of Conversation on December 20th.

The Art of Conversation

artofconversationcoloredbigBetween Instagram, emails, texts, and Facebook it has become easy to feel up to date and in the know with everyone from close friends to celebrities to strangers on the other side of the globe.  Within this overload of information about someone, however, it becomes easy to lose some of the essence of who they are and how they feel that comes from good old fashion conversation.  Conversation offers the possibility of being able to talk to someone and hear their voice to pick up on their emotion or see their face to find the wealthy of clues found in their body language.  Effective conversation fills in some of the gaps that we miss without using this form of communication.

At its best conversation is a great way to both bring people into your world and be able to step into theirs.  That is because the basic mastery of conversation comes in knowing the ebbs and flows of how to give and receive communication.  Balancing the power of speaking as well as listening is no small challenge and practicing the skills set that allows you to do so is the art of conversation.  Within these arts you practice the skills that make you stronger, how to listen with an open mind and an open heart, how to speak in a way others understand and relate to you, when can silence say more than words.  Practicing these skills get you closer to the goal of being not just in a conversation but using conversation as an effective means to communicate.

Although it is increasingly a lost art, mastering the art of conversation can open doors that are impossible to unlock without it.  Whether it’s meeting a new client, or making a new friend or engaging a new mentor, conversations matter.  Although the power behind it is a bit of a mystery I believe that a part of it comes in opening sharing with someone else.  Without the screens that can come with sending an email or a text where some one cannot grasp all of what you mean or are trying to stay.  The art of conversation is open and honest and in trying to receive what someone is giving you, it sets the ground in them likewise receiving you.  That type of sharing is moves people and inspires them to do things they never would have imagined doing without it.  How do you feel like your skills range in the art of conversation???  No matter where you are now there are always room to improve as you move towards conversations that inspire both you and others.

Davis St. bringing Fine Dining to Hermann Park

Me in Davis StEvery once in a while something comes a long that not just meets a need but also surpasses expectations.  Davis St. came in right on time to fill the fine dining void there has been in Houston’s museum district and Third Ward.  Not only does Davis St. give the neighborhood something it was missing in fine dining, it also delivers great food and ambiance that will wet the appetite of the whole city.  Located in the Mosaic towers, one of the great luxury living locations in the area, the restaurant puts New American cuisine on the map with interesting twist on new and old dishes alike.Davis St digital tabletop Davis St Cocktails Davis St Chandaleir

IMG_9143 Davis St Red Fish IMG_9139

 

 

 

 

Although I have had my eye restaurant for a while, it wasn’t until my dinner plans lead me to a restaurant closed on a Monday night that I stepped in the door of Davis St. By pulling from the urban elegance of the Mosaic, the décor of the restaurant is sleek but with pops of the signature green all around.  I was like a kid in a candy store walking in with my eyes dancing between the fun lounge chairs, a statuesque bar, and digital screen table (where you can check out the menu and play a quick game of checkers or chess).

At my seat I really found myself at a loss for words when it was time to order.  Too many wonderful choices on the menu on and only one belly to fill with them!!! Crab cakes or fondue or buffalo chicken spring rolls had my mind spinning but despite the temptation I decided to skip appetizers and go straight to main course.  I could not have made a better decision.  No appetizer means I had more space to clean my plate with my order of Crispy Red Snapper.  With perfectly crispy skin sandwiching a plum piece of red fish all on top of dirty rice I was one happy camper.  Add a side of Brussel sprouts and this is the type of meal you fight over when people ask you for a taste.   To ensure I would be completely addicted we finished the meal with a Brownie Waffle S’more.  With every bite I got the sweet treat of my favorite part of the brownie (the crust) partnered with marshmallows.  SINFUL!!!!!  The entire meal was so great I had to ask to speak to the chef just to shake his hand.  With the winning combo of fantastic food, service, atmosphere and location I am sure that Davis St. is going to be on the map for a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulling strength from yourself and others at the Oprah Life You Want Weekend

New Friends and Old Champagne at Life You Want WeekendWithout question the Life You Want Weekend was an awe inspiring experience for me. In planning to go I really set off to hear Oprah and all the great speakers share their insight on success and peace and inspiration with the hopes it would take seed on my own life and struggles.  True to this expectation the weekend was a great way to catalog old and new mantras and guidance.  The unexpected gift of the trip wasn’t in a gift bag or book or souvenir t-shirt, however.  It was found in the work I put in with myself and the strength I was able to pull from the people I met around me.

Crowd at Life You Want WeekendThere is always something magical that has the potential to happen when you go to an event where everyone’s intention is change for the better. Those who paid the big bucks to go to the event didn’t do it just to do something on a Saturday night, but equally seeking something that was missing the week, day or minute before they walked through the doors.  Perhaps that something missing was self-love or motivation or understanding, but it was something they wanted to grow from by the experience.  When the room is set in this desire it becomes almost like a field ripe for planting.  Within the experience we all received new ideas or repeats of forgotten ones in a personal dialogue that could speak directly to almost any situation.  That level of receptiveness spreads like wildfire and makes you more willing and enthusiastic for the change because you see that when you came missing something that you were not alone.  O Town WristbandCollectively everyone was looking and when you lose that loneliness of your personal situation it can prime you in a way to grow and change that few other scenarios can duplicate.  The people I met along the way all exuded this spirt of receptiveness and even though I came in attending the event solo I felt like I was leaving a good group of friends at the end of day two.  Meeting these strong, intelligent, giving women was a great inspiration for me to look at my own life with new eyes and to feel thankful for the blessings that connections shine through even when they are unexpected.

Goal Setting at Life You Want WeekendKerline at Life You Want Weekend Me at O TownThe second gift to me was the guidance through some of the exercises to do the work in my own life to produce change. The accompanied book with the weekend went through exercises that let us explore some of our motivations and dreams.  With a clear vision of where I wanted to go and the why of my wanting to get, suddenly the road in between the present I have and the future I want felt less scary.   For me the exercises were a strong reminder of not just the reason for it all for me, my beautiful daughter, but that it was as okay for me to want the best for her as it was for me to want the best for me.  The combination of the internal work I put in on myself as well as the energy not just of the entire stadium but in the personal connections of the women I met helped me to leave the Oprah Life You Want Weekend energized, enlightened and ready for whatever troubles may come my way

Getting through the birthing pains of creating a new life with Iyanla Vanzant

When I went into labor I distinctly remember thinking why didn’t anyone tell me about this. While I was in the midst of it, I thought that the feelings were something other mothers would mention first as a dire warning of the real cost it takes to being a mother.  Now, however, as those moments filled with pain and complete discomfort are over 12 years ago I  know the reason…the pain doesn’t seem as bad when you consider what you get from it.  Changes in life are similar, as horrible as they seem when you are in it, when you get a beautiful gift at the end of the road all of the heartache and pain seems to diminish.  At the Life You Want Weekend, the incomparable Iyanla Vanzant gave her unique spin on pushing through the pain to get to your new life.

Iyanla reflection on the birthing pains of a new life is a great tribute to what it takes to get through the process. She gave a simple plan for getting through the process.

Live The Life You Want Weekend, Miami1. Grace and gratitude are there as vehicles to help you get through the pain. Setting up an effective daily spiritual practice helps you tap into that grace and gratitude everyday so it is strong when you really need it.

2. The starting of the process is always jarring because it demands leaving where you are to go where you need to go. Leaving is a difficult decision because dysfunction becomes comfortable and familiar, even when you know you need to leave.  Part of leaving means forgiving yourself for staying in a place you didn’t want to be.

3.  Everything you need to give birth to the new life you already have.  The more you focus on getting through the more you realize that even when you believe you don’t the tools you need to get through have come to you in the form of experiences.  You real life is waiting at the end of the process of birth and once you commit on the journey you can rely on life as the training to endure pain required complete the journey.

At the end Iyanla said something I love about life: “You don’t need an “A” to pass. If you made it through the past then you passed”.

 

Embracing the miraculous nature of your life with Ron Bell and Oprah

Live The Life You Want Weekend, MiamiIn and out, in and out. It is something we do every day but rarely really think about.  It’s our breath and everyday our lungs inhaling happen without much ado.  The truth is, however, even something as simple as breathe is a reminder of just what a miracle our existence is.   At the Life You Want Weekend, Pastor Ron Bell shared his secret on embracing life out of the spirit of gratitude for all around us, down to our daily breathes that make life possible.

Resetting your perspective with gratitudeRon Bell’s secret to embracing life really resets the tone of life apart from much of the general expectations that can lead on the dark road to despair.  Despair happens when we lose site that any day everything can change because everyday miracles do happen.  Without being present in everyday miracles all around us it is easy to hold our breath waiting for the big one.  Waiting for the big hit at the lotto for instance or for all our problems to just up and go away.  When that big payoff we are expecting does not happen it starts to take on the expectation that every day will be just another version of today and change our hope into despair.  A focus gratitude, however, allows the silver lining to start to shine through.  Instead of worrying about something like a flat tire you become grateful you have a car.  With that perspective you can focus on the small things that demonstrate just what a miracle the gift of another day really is and all the miracles that can come your way when you are open to seeing them.

Doubt that embracing the miracle of life could really be that simple? Well try out this simple exercise and see if can shine some light on your own miraculous life.  Think of the three events that most shaped you as a person.  Now think of how that change from who you were to who you are happened.  Whether it was gradual or sudden that transformation is in and of itself miraculous because without those events your life could be totally different.  Appreciating things, even the small things helps believing in the transformation so much you can actually surrender to the process so you can recognize the greatness in life and in yourself.

 

 

Oprah Life You Want Weekend – Kick starting your Hero’s journey with Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert LYW 2No matter if the journey to the life you want is long or short, easy or torturous, one thing remains the same: it all begins with the first step. The step towards something new and different, however, can be scary and is often one of the hardest steps to make.  At the Life You Want Weekend the bestseller author of Eat, Love, Pray, Elizabeth Gilbert, shared some ways to kick off the hero’s journey that lives within all of us.  This personal quest that gets us from where we are to where we want to be is our own hero’s journey.  By taking a look at the truth’s in our own lives we can take the cues for that we are indeed ready for change.

Elizabeth Gilbert LYW 4Elizabeth Gilbert is known for documenting the journey of her personal transformation was a deeply intimate exposure of the challenges of change. This is because on the quest to become who we ought to be you have to stop being who you are.  This type of life transformation is so hard because the unknown is scary and uncertain.  Making each step into the darkness of change is so uncomfortable enough that it keeps many from taking on the journey.

Elizabeth Gilbert LYW 1To take on what the change feels like Elizabeth shared a story that has persisted in civilizations for centuries: The Hero’s Journey. From mythology to Batman, the hero’s story have been repeated in history as a way to capture the journey of transformation in ones lives.  As Elizabeth Gilbert walked through the steps of the journey it was easy to connect to how each phase has appeared in one’s life and face the truths as to how we responded.  Elizabeth Gilbert LYW 3Whether it was a slow whisper calling for change or a move to something new in our lives, or a long road of challenges, or the friend, enemies, and mentors we meet another way, once we decide to take on our personal quest we share a common thread to others all around, no matter how unique or story may be.  In knowing this story, the common thread that links the many stories of conquering fear and the unknown can give strength and motivation. Pulling from other’s hero’s journey give insight and a light in the unknown as in our most broken moments we all have divine assistance and inner power that is unimaginable at the beginning of the story.  The story for me was a great inspiration to start on my own path of seeing how God wants to use me in my life and to spark the courage that leads to change.