My father made me cry

My father made me cry

When I think back about what my life used to look like, I marvel about what God has done. 

However, my journey to transformation has been hard won and I'm not done yet. 
Actually two days ago, my daughter and I walked up Stone Mountain. I must have seemed like a terrible mother, (actually I got a few nasty looks) because I was making her go to the top. She was complaining and carrying on and making excuses. She gave me ugly looks even. But I kept challenging her, encouraging her and yes even, Nigerian mama, my friend, keep moving...
Why? Because I knew it was good for her and that when she got to the top, I knew exactly what would happen. And I was right. When she got to the top, she broke out into a huge smile. She felt like a winner. She apologized for her poor attitude and we had a coaching session right there about pushing yourself to attain your goals and not settling for just good enough. 

As parents sometimes we have to be tough on our kids and it is from a place of love. Because we want more for them. 

I'm going to share a transparent story that happened years back when I was still in the before stage of that above photo. My father was visiting from Nigeria. I had just had my daughter and had started back at work. Every day, I came back, wiped out and exhausted and I would grab dinner, carry the baby and zone out in front of the TV. 
On my days off, I was not much different, I was walking around in a boubou most of the time and doing what I needed to, cooking, catching up on laundry etc. I watched TV, I read novels...that sort of thing. 

One day, my dad sat me down and said..."Ekene, I have to be honest with you. I'm concerned. You have become so boring...and drab! What has happened to you!"

Wow! Can you imagine how you would feel if you father said that to you? I cried. It hurt. 

It hurt, but it didn't wound. Because regardless of how I feel about whatever is said to me, I always check it for truth and if I find truth, I use it to improve myself. 

And when I checked it...He was right. I had really lost myself. When I was young, I hosted dinners at my apartment, I travelled, I was fun to be around (for the most part anyway). I had dreams and opinions and I enjoyed my life. 
Life had become a mundane list of task after task after task. 

Now my father said some other truths in that conversation. 
He told me that if I continued on this path...he could see trouble in my relationship because men, particularly dynamic men lose respect for women that let themselves go...and when a man loses respect...(Again, the man was giving it to me, straight...no chaser!)

He told me that he expected more from me. That I needed to uplevel. I needed to start working for my life. Not just living for my work. It was an awakening. 

One of the many awakenings I was having in that period. 

Lunch and learn: Eating and living well!

On the menu for today, ROASTED BEETS, BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND PURPLE CABBAGE WITH CUCUMBER, MINT AND LEMON INFUSED WATER.

Recipe

  • I small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • Half a purple cabbage chopped
  • 3 small golden beets, peeled (optional) and chopped
  • Spice mix - 1 teaspoonful of each (Ginger, turmeric, garlic powder, onion powder and organic chicken bouillon paste (Non MSG))
  • 1 tablespoon of organic, unrefined coconut oil.

Mix the spice mix into the oil to form a paste and then rub over chopped vegetables. Place in oven at 400 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes. The larger the chopped size, the longer the roast. 

Stir again after it's done and enjoy!

Did you watch the lunch and learn video yet? If not, please do, there is some great simple information in it that can help you live a happier, more refreshed life. 

Go deep!

Some years back, I went swimming with my husband. Well he went swimming and I went paddling. Back then, I preferred to hang out on the side of the pool where my feet just touched the bottom and I paddled along nicely there, however according to David, my husband, that is not swimming.

“Come on out into the deep end” He called, determined to share with me the joy of really swimming. I shook my head. He came out to meet me and tried to show me some basic moves. “Just relax and let go” I stared at him blankly…let go into what I wondered, didn’t he understand the panic that rose up inside of me? The new sensation of being completely underwater that was so uncomfortable that I kept jumping up gasping for air? Clearly not, because he kept pushing me to come out of my comfort zone, to go deep, so to speak.

I decided to take swimming lessons. Funny thing is now, I swim laps typically at least once a week and my husband can't keep up with me. That day, I was unwilling, but later as I reflected, I decided to go deep and face my fears.

I was thinking about how that experience is like a reflection for life. So many of us paddle along thinking that we are really living; we deal in the superficial, focusing on the aspects of life that keep us from drowning, (or so we think) a big house to live in, a fancy car to drive, a marriage that looks good to onlookers, designer clothes to rock and so on.

When something doesn’t feel right we address it on the surface. We feel inadequate because we don’t have what others in our social circle have, so we hustle to make it, in order to keep up with the Jones. We feel a little unsure with our looks, so we weave, paint and glue on, false pieces to embellish our sense of identity. We starve ourselves if necessary not to be healthy but to fit into a contrived version of beauty.

We only focus on what is on the surface. And I don’t blame anyone, going deep, going underwater is scary. You feel as if your lungs are going to explode and that life as you know it will no longer continue because you might drown.

Here’s the thing I am finding.

No matter how much you are paddling and how cool you look in your bathing suit with your hair not really getting wet, David was right, you are not swimming. No matter how comfortable your life appears and how glamorous you may be, if your life serves no purpose, then you are not living. Simply existing. If I can be morbid, you are a walking corpse, albeit a fabulously dressed one.

Whose life have you touched? What heart have you inspired? What kindness have you proffered that has impacted someone’s existence? What is your life’s purpose? What were you born to do?

I was coaching a woman some years back and she said “I have no idea what my purpose is. I don’t know what my passions are either.” Now this woman holds a professional degree, is a mother, wife and has been working in corporate America for more than a decade, but recently she came to the conclusion that she wanted to change her life. She was dissatisfied with so much in her life. Her marriage wasn’t quite what everyone thought it was, intimacy between she and her spouse had all but died, she felt like she was shortchanging her children because she never had any quality time to spend with them and while she was a competent worker she felt like she would never reach a certain pinnacle of success at work. And moreover, she just simply wasn’t happy.

So we talked about what it would take to create the life she wanted.

And at the end of that conversation, she responded with “Ekene, I just don’t know, you are asking me to change my life, I don’t think I can…” I smiled and reminded her that I wasn’t asking her to change her life, she desired to do so, but her response was what I expected. She was like me, back then, content to paddle along and watch others swim powerfully, slicing through the water and creating a new path. My fears owned me back then and so did hers.

Going deep isn’t easy. It’s about looking at yourself and dealing with what lies underneath. Not focusing on the extra weight you are carrying about but dealing with the reasons why you are carrying it around (I could write a book on this…wait, I am writing a book!:)), not fretting about the cost of that designer bag you feel you have to have, even though you know you can’t really afford it, but facing your feelings of inadequacy that push you to have it, it’s about getting to the core of who you are, discovering your weaknesses, fears and strongholds and dealing with them, strengthening your core.

In the world of fitness, you will hear a lot about strengthening your core, it is where your true strength lies. Well going deep is about doing just that, strengthening your emotional and spiritual core. Understanding and accepting who you are and the value you add uniquely to this world. It takes work, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not about a man shrugging his shoulders and saying “yeah, I cheat occasionally, it’s just who I am”, It’s about recognizing that you have the power to be better than who you think you are and pushing past your comfort zone to achieve it.

I say this, not because I am there yet, because one never really gets there, if you are growing, you are always going deeper. And it has been painful at times and exhilarating at times.

I have looked into what lies underneath my emotional responses to things, why did I make some of the choices I made in my past, who am I really, under the words and the sound bytes? What are my areas of insecurity, what are my areas of strength?

Going deep is a process and it is scary at first. But just like you won’t drown while learning to swim, your lungs expand and your endurance builds, your life changes, you get stronger, wiser and deeper, when you choose to leave your comfort zone, then you can begin to live in a way that is purposeful and impacts the the world at large. Then your actions and choices will begin to add positivity to your life.

Then you can really begin to swim.

PS: I wrote this in 2010!!! Wow...Note to all the lovely ladies who think you build something overnight...Back then I hadn't even done my first Refresh event...I had just started coaching and was still working through my own process.

Since then, I have gone deep, in more ways than one. And that core...I've strengthened it, though it's a continual process. Part of that was getting certified in emotional intelligence among other things. If you are standing at the edge of the pool and really want to go deep but want some guidance, book a discovery session at www.calendly.com/refreshwithekene

The true cost of stress

We live in a culture that has made stress sexy. We say "I'm so stressed" almost like a badge of honor. We self medicate routinely.

When I worked as a pharmacist, I would often see a progression of illness in certain women. When they came in, I could tell they were in emotional pain or under stress. It's in my nature to be more sensitive to other's pain.

Quite frequently it would start with insomnia. Then progress. I remember the woman who inspired me to start Refresh. She was a gorgeous woman. Coiffed! She came in and asked for something to help her sleep. I asked her what was going on? I wanted to ascertain if she needed something like melatonin vs doxylamine. 

But something strange happened. Maybe it was my voice. Maybe because she had created a world where people stopped asking how she was because she had it all together, but she burst into tears. 

I led her to the side of the pharmacy and we talked. She was carrying a lot of stress. Emotional stress. I asked her if she was getting help for that. And perhaps the thought of admitting that vulnerability was too much, she began to pull back & retreat into her shiny shell of perfection. She said. "I know I can do all things through Christ". I nodded. Yes, you can. But you are not required to carry the cross. 
She calmed again. And we talked. Like the women in my home country who help each other take down trays of oranges and buckets of water from their heads unto the floor, I helped her lay her burdens down. 

This inspired the very first Refresh conference. As I explored more, I started with coaching then leadership & adding emotional intelligence to the mix. Especially as I learned more about the links between emotional stress and illness in our bodies. 

Generally stress, triggers the production of cortisol and sustained high cortisol levels (the result when stress is continuous) has very destructive effects on the body, like weight gain, hypertension, high cholesterol, lowered immune function and premature aging. 
Emotional issues have also been linked to systemic inflammation. Inflammation has been studied as a contributing factor in a host of diseases, including cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

This is why I have taken the combination of my knowledge as a coach, organizational & change leadership consultant and my training in social and emotional intelligence and put together this life class in emotional wellness. 
My classes go in depth and are interactive & regardless of the topic, there is always some laughter & joy. It is not just a lecture. You will participate in exercises & the ability to ask questions & spot coachings. Plus you will be in the privacy of your own home. www.refreshemotion.eventbrite.com

Emotional wellness is not a nice to have. It's a need to have. Stress doesn't always look like crying. Some of us are trained to be more stoic, but it's manifesting in stomach issues that have no medical solution or headaches that are consistent or insomnia or worse. 

Some of you have become harder. You get angry easier. You fly off the handle. You've taken on an edge and you don't even know it, but people are withdrawing from you. And even more important that edge is actually doing damage to your body. Not to talk of your soul. 

I'd like to invite you to register for the emotional wellness class in just a few days. Please stop putting yourself last. Stop trying to manage it all alone. This You are the most important resource in your life. If you don't value yourself & something happens what will your children do? Your husband? Your business? Your career?

This class will give you insight, techniques and strategies to create emotional wellness in your life. There are a myriad of benefits to emotional wellness. It can improve your relationships, affect your bottom line and improve your physical health, not to talk of less wrinkles and a more beautiful life.
Learn more now at www.refreshforlife.com/classes

Detox Part 2 - Continued

Detox for life - Part two

Detox your input: You are what you consume. If you consume mostly negative things, you will put out mostly negative things. The input you receive informs your thinking. 

Consider your input sources - judge them with an intentional eye. What messaging is this intended to send? What messaging am I receiving? Is it consistent with who I want to be? If it's not, then stop letting it in. This goes for television, music, even conversations with people. I started becoming really careful about the phone conversations I was having and I started filtering. 

I had some people who always wanted to take me back to the times when things were difficult for me. FILTERED OUT - That will keep you stuck. They need you to be back there perhaps...but you need to focus on where you are and where you are going. 

I had some people who always wanted to talk about other people. FILTERED OUT - That will only invite darkness into your own life. Whatever you focus on, grows. 

I had some people who never constructed anything but were forever criticizing other people's work, not even mine. FILTERED OUT - It was creating perfection paralysis and I wasn't executing like I needed to. (Funny thing, every time I did this, I saw immediate gain - I filtered one person's constant conversation and in 48 hours, I launched a beta program that was paid and I had 30 participants. I had been holding it back for months!)

Detox your output: Sometimes it's not them, it's YOU!

Our tongues are very powerful. What we speak constantly we create. This is a spiritual principle and a physical reality. Whatever we say, we believe and once we believe something, it influences what we start to see as we subconsciously self select data to prove our story. I didn't make that up, it's called inference.

The other thing our tongue does is change the energy in the environment around us. Some of us have toxic tongues, often because we have never really sat and examined our hearts. I know a woman who often says hurtful things without thinking. I challenged her because I believe the word that says "From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh". I wasn't saying that her heart was dark, I was asking her to examine her heart. I know that she was often going above and beyond for people and while that is admirable, when you are giving from an empty cup, you can start to resent it internally and feel unappreciated and actually bitterness and a martyr mentality can set in. Another scripture I believe says "Guard your heart with all diligence because from it flows the issues of life" If your heart, dictates what your mouth says, then you must see your words as having the capacity to be life. 

1. Speak life to yourself and about your life circumstances. Stop saying negative things about yourself and beating yourself up with your own words.

2. Speak life to the people around you. Do your words build up, encourage and more. When you are angry, how do you use your words? Do you become venomous or do you express your anger in a healthy way?

3. Use your tongue as a tool (be kind, pay compliments, show love) and not a weapon. Gossip is a weapon. Judgment is a weapon. Using Empathy or sympathy is a good way to counteract those things. Ask questions, when you feel like judging, stay open, try to understand and accept other people. Think about the principle, what we see in others is a reflection of what we see in ourselves. Also when you feel moved to discuss someone else or judge someone else, use that as an opportunity to turn inward instead and ask what it is hitting up against that is causing you to focus on them. 

A reminder for you: Sign up for the emotional wellness master class today, a lot of these issues are addressed more in depth.

 Another thing, I'm currently working on, is detoxing my space and surroundings. I'll share more on that on a later date.

Have a fabulous day y'all!

 

Detox

This detox changed my life.

Perhaps you were expecting a cayenne pepper, maple syrup recipe?...I'll leave that to Beyonce and as fab as she looks, this detox is still more powerful. 

It is a life detox.
If you have followed my story from the beginning, you know that I don't proclaim to have had a perfect life. I did a lot of things wrong. Made a lot of mistakes. If you wanted to judge me, there are plenty of things to tsk, tsk about. 
I'm human. 
But the beautiful thing about humanity is that we have the capacity to change. People can and do change (I'm living proof), relationships can change, lives can change. 
If you want a change, start with that faith, set your intention and take action. 

When I started changing, I realized that there were certain things that were holding me back from living an optimized life and I started paying attention and eliminating certain things and that was when I noticed that I started to change and my life followed suit. 

First Detox is
1. Detox your mindset. 
Get rid of negative thinking. 
What is the impact? Negative thinking defeats you before you begin. It creates a sense of futility and disempowers you. You will find that most people who think negative have difficulty starting any project or implementing ideas, because the brain is the most powerful organ in our bodies. What we believe we will make true. 

My husband is an ideas person, a dreamer. He always dreamed a bigger dream for me than I dreamt for myself. If you have attended any Refresh live events in the US in the past year, you will likely have received some handcrafted self care products. I have made them for years. Years ago, he thought it would a great idea to create a retail line...but I had every reason not to try. You know how they say, stay away from negative people, they have a problem for every solution, well that was me. 

When Carol's daughter, the beauty product company that started in Lisa Price's kitchen was sold for millions, he looked at me like, that could have been you. I owned it, perhaps it could have been me but I was too negative to try but thank God that I have finally detoxed from negative thinking and the difference is clear in my life.

What opportunities could you be missing right now by entertaining negative thinking?

So how do you detox? Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative...Choose what to focus on. If you find yourself focusing on all the bad things in a situation, choose to focus on the good things. Stop thinking about what could go wrong and start focusing on the things that could go right.
Use affirmations. Affirmations are powerful because when you change your language, it changes messaging your brain sends out to your body and that can change your behavior and how you show up in the world, which also changes what you experience in life. 
Set these affirmation reminders in your phone to go off every day once in the am, afternoon and pm

AM affirmation
I was born for this life. I have everything I need to accomplish my goals. I am enough and I can do this. 

Afternoon affirmation: My life is by design, I am intentional and everything around me responds to that and is leading me closer to who and where I want to be. 

PM: I am grateful and at peace. I choose to rest and refresh as I continue to move to my next level. 

Journal assignment. 
If you find yourself spiraling into negativity, take some time and journal through it. 
Reflect on the following questions
What is happening here?
What is the fear driving this thought?
If fear is false evidence appearing real, then what is the possible false evidence that I am showing myself?


2. Detox from unforgiveness & bitterness
I have learned to let go and release people that hurt me. Sometimes when people hurt me, I release the relationship as well but I can honestly say, even for people who are no longer in my life...there are no hard feelings because unforgiveness is too damaging a burden to carry. 

If you are really struggling with needing to forgive, please watch this video to learn more about how to forgive with grace.

Unforgiveness turns you into someone other than who you want to be. It is like a virus, it mutates and changes you. That's why hurting people often hurt people. That's why sometimes victims become the victimizers. When you don't release something, it takes a hold of you. As I said, I go deeper into forgiveness in this lengthy video.

Now I know how busy you are, so I'll stop here for today, I'll post part 2 tomorrow. I'm going to ask you to share this with anyone who you think would benefit from a life detox and feel free to share it. 
Finally, have you signed up for the new emotional wellness class?
This is your life, don't procrastinate it away or talk yourself out of it. This class is vital for women who want to be soulful and successful. 

I am deeply excited about this class because it is a game changer. I'm certified in social and emotional intelligence and in change leadership. This class is not just a feel good rara class, it is filled with techniques backed up by science to help you become more emotionally intelligent. 

Becoming more well emotionally improved my ability to be a business woman, all of my relationships and I'm able to teach my daughter some techniques as well. I spent a lot of time & money getting certified but it was worth every penny. You don't have to get certified but if you want to be a better leader and a better woman...take this class. Men need it too, but I teach women, so they don't get to be part of this fabulous class.

When you take this class and implement the learnings, you will have deeper and more loving relationships with your loved ones. You will be able to manage even the most difficult situations with grace. You will be able to identify toxic relationships & patterns and set boundaries quickly. You will become a better leader or professional in the workplace. 

By the way...have you registered for the rise weekend yet? Registration closes soon. 

Go ahead and sign up...it's a small investment for your big fabulous life.