Christmas, Inspiration

5 Tips to Surviving more celebrations during the holidays

December 20, 2014

5 tips to survive celebrating more events during the holidays

This time of year is absolutely my favorite for sure but it’s also the busiest. In addition to the holidays I have birthdays and anniversaries of my loved ones to plan for. My anniversary, my brother’s anniversary, his four kid’s birthdays, two of my kid’s birthdays and my husband’s birthday all fall between November and January. It’s always stressful because I take gift giving seriously. It’s one of my top love languages. It’s just that I put so much pressure on myself it can feel overwhelming sometimes.

Over the years I’ve learned a few things about surviving this time of year. Here are 5 tips for you if you have birthdays or other celebrations to prepare for this time of year.

1. Shop Early:

This is probably the most obvious and hardest to do  but start shopping throughout the year so that it doesn’t seem so overwhelming when the holidays roll around. A few advantages are:

  • You can save up for things and spend more money on something for that special someone.
  • You have time to pay attention to that person’s needs and get them something that will really encourage them.
  • You have time to watch for deals and for a certain item to go on sale.

2. Shop online:

I really don’t shop on line that often for things but this year we did our Christmas shopping on cyber Monday. It really took away a lot of stress and I love that the items come already in boxes! I just have to slap some wrapping paper on and BAM! I’m done!

3. Take advantage of the holidays:

I know that kids may not want their birthday parties to be holiday themed but if you look hard enough you can find things on holiday clearance that can be used for other things. You can also take a holiday theme and extend it into something your kids like. For example, you can take Thanksgiving baskets that are on sale  use them to create a scavenger hunt. There are a lot of character driven things on sale at the craft stores this time of year that you can use for your kid’s favorite character themed birthday party as well.

Purchasing 2-3 on sale items for next year can really help you out in reducing stress the upcoming year.

4. Get creative with gifts:

Sometimes you might find yourself in a position where you can’t really spend a lot of money this time of year and you find that you are stretched thin financially. Get creative with your gifts! Here are some examples:

  • Buy $10 gift cards to Starbucks and make a gift certificate for free babysitting so new parents can have some much needed  alone time (even just for 2 hours!). It can make a huge difference to date deprived couples!
  • Make a batch of your famous (you fill in the blank). This time of year is busy for everyone so extra snacks or meals are always a big help to anyone!
  • Offer to help your loved one complete a project you know that they’ve been trying to accomplish for a long time. Whether it’s cleaning out the garage or moving furniture around it will make a huge impact on that person’s life since the project was important to THEM.
  • Spend some quality time with your kids. It’s always amazing to me how much my kids value time alone with me. I guess I forget what it’s like as a kid with other siblings in the house. Sometimes I do this thing where I let one kid stay up 15 minutes later with me to watch a little TV, talk or play games. Whatever THEY want to do for 15 minutes is the key. They absolutely love it! It doesn’t cost me any money but it’s a super valuable gift to the both of us!

5. Shop around your house:

This is another idea for the times when you don’t have the money to buy gifts but want to give someone something special. You might have the gift right under your nose!

  • Is there something that you have (like an outfit or pair of shoes) that your friend/sibling has had her eye on for a long time? Gifting it to her would be HUGE!
  • Maybe you have a piece of furniture you can refinish to give to a loved one as a gift.
  • You probably have the ingredients to make a spa basket right in your on house! I have a tutorial where you can make a “relaxation basket” for a stressed out mom.

You don’t have to let finances or time be an obstacle for you this time of year. But if all fails give yourself some grace. Give a person a store bought card and a hug. Give them some words of encouragement and tell them how much you love them. There are many times when I miss anniversaries and birthdays because life happens. I feel pretty terrible about it but I make myself call, apologize and wish them a happy belated birthday. A lot of people are busy with various holiday preparations this time of year so continue to be merry and focus on Jesus who is the reason for the season. Your attitude can be a gift in itself to those around you!

God Bless.



10 DIY Craft Ideas for a Handmade Holiday

December 12, 2014

10 DIY  Craft Ideas for a Handmade Holiday

I believe that Handmade is always a great way to give a personal touch to something during a time of year when we can get caught up in the hype of the Holiday Season. Here are 10 Holiday Craft Ideas from The Inspire(d) Cafe to make your holiday a handmade one.
easy handmade Christmas cards
Make these easy handmade Christmas Cards for that extra special touch!

whimsical Christmas wreath -
Make this whimsical Christmas Wreath to bring some holiday cheer to your front door!
DIY holiday magnets and board
Make a magnetic board to keep your Holidays organized!
DIY holiday magnets and board
Make these cute holiday magnets made from dollar store decor to keep your fridge looking festive!
glitter candle - DIY
Take some existing candles and get them ready for the holidays with this simple glitter candle tutorial!
make your own christmas stockings
Make these simple burlap Christmas stockings!
Make an easy advent calendar. (There’s still time!)

Make a DIY relaxation gift basket for a special person to get some much needed R and R!
Make some handmade ornaments for gifts or for your tree!
Easy Rice Heating Pads
For those chilly nights make these super simple rice heating packs!

What are some of your favorite ways to make a handmade holiday at your house?

Craft Gallery, Crafts

DIY Fall Candle Holder

December 5, 2014

DIY Fall Decor: Mason Jar fall leaves tea lights holderI know it’s a bit late…actually it’s very late. 

Fall is almost over where I live but I wanted to share with you a quick and easy way that you can bring fall inside with these cute mason jar votive holders! Everyone loves a good mason jar project right?

You will need:

  • tea lights
  • mason jars
  • modge podge
  • sponge brush
  • raffia
  • scissors

I purchased the leaves in bunches which turned out to be cheaper than purchasing them in a garland or separately.
mason jar tea light holder -

The kids and I were visiting my parents when I did this DIY project and I had so much fun filming and taking photos because they have a back yard full of trees. I’ve really learned to embrace doing crafts with the children around. When they were younger I would get annoyed because I wanted “me time” and they kept wanting “their time” all the time. But the lesson I learned was learning to incorporate them into what I was doing and learning to let go.mason jar tea light holder -
I think that they view what we do as an extension of who we are as mothers or parents. If you really think about it they accept us as who we are without any questions asked. They want to be part of that experience and part of what we enjoy doing in our spare time. So finding ways to let them “help”  has been the best marriage between getting work done and spending time with my children. It’s taken me years to change my perspective. By God’s grace I can help nurture their gifts and talents as well.mason jar tea light holder -


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31 days of focus, Goal Setting, Productivity

Focus Series: 7 Tips for Sailing the “You” Ship

November 30, 2014

31 days of focus for blog header large
Does it ever feel like you are drowning in the sea of “everybody?” Everyone seems to be starting an online business, a blog, a youtube channel. It seems like those that have been doing it for a long time have a leg up on you, and others seem to just get lucky and go viral only months after starting? Maybe you’ve been working on your blog faithfully for years and consistently posting you content only to be met with slow if any growth.

I’ve felt that way for a long time. Sometimes I still struggle with those feelings. I used to be overly focused on the numbers, followers and subscribers. I was getting obsessed, angry and frustrated reading for hours trying to figure out what I needed to do to grow my following. Grow my following so I could have permission to do the things that I wanted to do. Write a book, start an online store, whatever. I thought that I had to have a lot of followers to make art, or to make a business out of what I’m doing. I was so wrong. You don’t need followers and you don’t need permission to do what’s in your heart. At the end of 2013 I declared that 2014 would be my #befearlessjourney. Since declaring that journey the biggest change that happened to me was a change in my mindset. I’ve learned that there is a way to stop drowning in the sea of “everybody” and start sailing your own ship towards your goals in life!

Here are a few tips that have helped me to move the focus away from what others are doing and towards achieving the things I want to do.

It’s Your Thang! Do what you wanna do!

Spend the time thinking and envisioning your future. Think about what kind of life you want to live. What do you want to be doing? Where are you living? What kind of friends do you have? What are you doing with your time?

With the way social media is today you can get a glimpse into the lives of lot’s and lot’s of people’s dreams. It can start to jumble up your dreams and steer you off course. You can begin to think that their dreams should be your dreams and their life is better than your life. But if you take the time to hone in on what your dream is then you can always come back to your vision when things get distracting around you.

Have a vision!

After you’ve determined what your dreams are in life the next step is to set goals for yourself. When you set goals it will help you feel encouraged when you reach each milestone. You will know that you are making progress towards your unique dream. When you see others making strides and having achievements you can celebrate with them knowing that those achievements aren’t what you need to be focusing on.

Also having a vision helps you to make it through the failures and set backs along the way.

Woah Dija!

Failures and setbacks? I thought this was a positive blog!

It is. But it’s also a place where we keep it real. Life is full of ups and downs, honey. So put on your big person undies and strap on in for the ride. Nobody reached success without stumbling and gettin a little bruised up along the way. But one thing that many successful people have in common is that they had a vision that was bigger than themselves and kept them going when times were tough.

What is your vision? Is it to help the homeless? Help your kids go to college? Get out of debt? Start a socially conscious online store? Whatever it is it has to get you fired up and ready to face each day…no.matter.what.

What are you feeling?

Many times when I see someone doing something or achieving something amazing on social media I feel discouraged with where I’m at. In the past I’ve thought that maybe I needed to do what they are doing in order to reach my happy dream. But after analyzing my feelings more I discover that there is always something deeper going on.

For example if I notice that someone’s aesthetic in their pictures is really nice and I begin to feel envious I ask myself:

  • What it is about their aesthetic that I’m so drawn to?
  • Can I learn from what they are doing and implement it into my own art?
  • Are these feelings exposing a desire within me that I hadn’t noticed before?
  • Am I envious of what they are doing or the feeling that they have when doing it?

I think the feelings stem from a desire to feel forward movement towards life goals. That forward movement will look different for all of us. Sometimes analysing your feelings can be a great asset in getting to know yourself better and therefore set better goals in life.

Make a freakin plan! (Here’s how)

Now that you’ve decided what you want to do in life, created a vision, and worked on the every day feeling sludge it’s time to make a plan! A few years ago my husband pointed out to me that I tend to keep going back to my drawing board every day and that’s why I’m not moving forward in my goals. He was so right. I didn’t realize that I was using that as an excuse not to get started on a plan.

If you’re not sure how to make a plan one thing you can do is start at the end and work your way backwards. For example if you’re goal is lose 30 pounds you might take a step back and think about what you need to do to lose 30 pounds. Well it could be start exercising. Then you just start moving backwards one step at a time:

  1. To start exercising you might need to figure out what you like to do for exercise. Maybe it’s dance.
  2. Okay then you need to join a dance class. In order to join a dance class you need to do some research.
  3. In order to do research you need time to sit at the computer and google local dance classes or call friends for referrals.
  4. In order to make time for research you might have to make an appointment with yourself to do so.
  5. You might need to get a sitter so you have time to do all of this without interruption.

You see where I’m going now? I know it seems trivial to go so deep  but if you just write down start exercising you might never start because subconsciously your mind is stuck and doesn’t know how to make it all happen for you. So help your mind out and make a plan.

Now follow the plan!

I’m still learning how to implement this part. It’s scary to me to not stop and not  look back every few minutes to make sure the plan is still okay. That quality has it’s merits when I’m in a meeting with lots of people and they seem to be going off course from the main discussion topics. The pro is that I can use my super mapping  skills to get us back on course. The con is that I’ll keep checking the map instead of plowing forward. This is actually something I’m currently working on in my own life. I’m planning on setting some time aside every quarter for me to check back on my plan but I’m not going to allow  myself to constantly go back and rework the plan every day out of fear of getting started. Which is actually linked to fear of failure I think.

Get some cheerleaders!

Accountability partners can be a great source of encouragement when you are feeling down and a great source of conviction when you need be challenged in a certain area. I know that one of the main reasons that I keep going in my endeavors is because of the people around me. There have been many times when I felt like giving up or question what I’m doing but trusted friends and companions are always there to encourage me or challenge me on this journey. Look, you must accept that road will be challenging and there will be setbacks on the journey. Prepare  yourself with accountability partners to help you stay focused and  you will be setting yourself up for success.

The Battle of the Mind

The last thing I want to leave you with is preparing your mind for the journey ahead. Sometimes your accountability partners won’t be around or available when you call. You  could be in between meetings or you might be out of town when setback occur. You must be prepared to encourage and challenge your own self! I would prepare some quotes, prayers, scripture or even a playlist to get you going when you feel discouraged or feel like giving up. Be prepared because trust and believe those moments will come.

Something that I’ve been telling myself is that “it’s going to be hard. You can do it” I know that sounds wierd but by acknowledging something is going to be hard takes away the disappointment that my idealistic personality tends to have that things are supposed to be easy. Somewhere in my mind I usually go through this process of becoming upset that “everything is always so hard” or “I wish that it was easier”. Instead I quickly get myself to accept that it will be hard but I can make it through. It just cuts out the extra energy expenditure of negativity. It’s what works for me. Something else will work for you. You just have to identify your negative self talk and combat it with the positive and inspiring.

I hope that these tips were helpful to you as you focus towards your dreams and goals! Please dont’ hesitate to contact me if you have any questions at dija(at)

God Bless



5 Ways Failure Can Help You Focus

November 24, 2014

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to attend something called The Fail Fest through the co-working space I’m part of  in Indianapolis IN. It was a whole day of listening to now successful entrepreneurs share their stories of failure. There were some epic stories that included millions of dollars in losses at times! But each time these entrepreneurs chose to learn from their mistakes and move forward to even more success in their businesses. Throughout the day we heard around 20 speakers tell their stories.
5 ways failure can help you focus
One of the most inspiring stories I heard was that of Marcia Barnes. She shared about day that her business was supposed to launch and she discovered that her business partner was a drug addict, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, her car and had crashed it. A few hours later she was sitting on the floor holding her babies after having her son diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. I almost started crying at that moment remembering my own times on the floor crying as my heart was torn over my children’s health problems and a desire to be successful as an artist. She shared how she had to turn to God to get through this extremely challenging time. She had to make a decision to be a better mother, a better person, and to give back to those around her. Today she is a transformed woman and has a transformed and successful business. Her goal in life is for others to see themselves as God sees them and to know that everyone of us has so much potential placed in us by the one who created us. You can find her on facebook.

There were a lot of different types of businesses represented at Fail Fest 2014 from coaching, to traditional businesses, to tech based businesses. After hearing several of the speakers I began to see a pattern with their stories. Afterwards I was more inspired to get focused in what I was doing in my business. I wanted to share them with you in hopes that you might feel inspired to get focused towards your own goals.

1.) Have a bigger vision and goal for your business

Having a map will help you stay focused even when decide to stop for a coffee break -Tweet That

Failure can come when you are just focused on the here and now and make short sighted decisions.  After you accomplish your smaller goals  you can easily lose your direction, motivation and drive. As a result your business will no longer thrive. By having a larger vision and goal for your business smaller successes and failures will not affect your direction and drive because you know where you are going.

2.) Spin your story

Marketers are notorious for exaggerating or spinning statistics in their favor. Do that with your failures. I don’t mean exaggerate by any means but I do mean put a positive spin on your failure. I’ll give you a quick example. This past weekend I did my one woman show Sweatpants & High Heels in NY. It was a great opportunity and I was totally excited about it. However, I forgot some of my lines, and at times became a little distracted by things happening in the room and had to improvise parts of the show. Instead of beating myself up about it I decided to focus on the fact that I was able to stay open and react well to what was happening around me. Afterwards, women shared with me that the show really touched them. To me, that was a success! Not having a perfect show but impacting someone’s life!

3.) Don’t give up

I really don’t think that I can elaborate on this much more. You will have ups and downs, and set backs in your journey. Sometimes you will have to change directions to reach your ultimate goal. Sometimes people won’t understand what you are doing but you can’t give up. I think many times we feel frustrated at failure because we are surprised by it. I’ve begun to adopt the idea that I WILL fail. I will have bad days and I will mess up sometimes. But it’s a freeing thought process really. It takes the pressure off for immediate success. It’s really about staying consistent and focused. The race belongs to the tortoise not the energizer bunny.

4.) Be jealous with your time

One business woman really impacted me as she spoke about how careful she was with her time. She created priorities in her life and with her time in order to be a good mother to her child. She really stressed the importance of spending time with positive, helpful people. This was a common thread among many of the entrepreneurs. They surrounded themselves with like-minded people, mentors and coaches to help them along in their journeys.

5.) Have confidence

This is not necessarily anything that anyone said specifically. It’s an observation that I made among the 20 or so speakers. Many of them said that they didn’t fit in corporate America. Many of them seemed to march to their own beat in life. They admitted to being risk takers and they all believed in their pursuit of being successful business people. Their stories were varied and challenging at times, but they believed that they could make it.

You have to really examine yourself and what you want so that you can have the confidence and consistency that it takes to achieve your dreams.-Tweet That

Implementing these 5 themes into your life will help you to stay focused on your goals. Don’t worry if you fail or something doesn’t have the desired outcome. Think of failure as necessary steps towards your goals in life. Failure can help you continue to focus in on your goals, what’s really important to you and teach you new skills towards achieving your dreams.

Do you have anymore tips or lessons that you’ve learned about failure?




Popsugar November Unboxing

November 23, 2014

Hey this is my first unboxing video and it was so much fun to partner with POPSUGAR  this month! I decided to open the items for the first time with you just to give you an honest reaction to everything. I always love receiving these boxes because the variety and quality is always great. I’m also excited to offer you a special $10 off of a 3-month subscription!

november popsugar unboxing

Here are the coupon details:
  • Code: NOV14SELECT
  • Type: Save $10 on a 3-month subscription
  • Start Date: Today
  • End Date: 12/2

If you liked the video please remember to subscribe and share!

This was a sponsored post and all the opinions are 100% mine!

Adventures in Allergies, Food Stuff, Lifestyle, Recipes

3 Pasta Recipes for Kids with Food Allergies

November 22, 2014

power pasta collage

Sometimes it’s hard to get kids to eat enough protein which is necessary for their growing body. For some reason cookies, bread, and cereals are more tasty to them.

Who am I kidding?

They are tastier to grown ups too. They are easy to grab and usually what we crave when our hunger levels are high. Protein actually takes longer to digest which causes us to feel fuller longer. Protein is also the building blocks to our hair, nails and muscles. In fact some signs of protein deficiency are:

  • low energy, moodiness
  • hair is falling out
  • constant craving for sweets
  • muscle and joint pain
  • trouble sleeping

Growing kids need appropriate amounts of protein to develop. Ask your child’s pediatrician for more specifics on the protein requirements for your child.

Many of the recommendations to get more protein into children’s diets includes dairy, nuts, fish, eggs. Not the most helpful when your kids have a lot of food allergies like mine do. Needless to say making sure that the kids get a well balanced diet is always on the forefront of my mind. ALWAYS. (It has been known to bring on mild panic attacks at mealtimes.)

So you can imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to partner with Power Pasta. Power Pasta is pasta that is made from 100% black beans or red lentils. Power Pasta is gluten free and it’s a great source of protein and fiber. What’s really super great about it is that it actually tastes good and maintains it’s consistency when cooked. I’ve tried other gluten free pastas and they just get mushy and frustrating and I end up throwing away batches of it. I was able to get this pasta right the first time! lol!

Here are three recipes that you can make with the Power Pasta. I’m going to share with you how I would modify the recipes for my kids.

perfect fall fiesta power pasta

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups uncooked bell peppers
1 cup onion
½ diced tomatoes
½ cup frozen corn
8 oz Black Bean Power Pasta

If your kids are allergic to dairy there are great alternatives available today. You can find veggie cheese products at your local grocery store. Some of these cheeses have soy as a main ingredient which might be a problem for some kids. After some research we found rice cheese at our local health store.


Servings: 4

  • 12 oz. pack of Power Pasta (or 6 oz. of Power Pasta and 1 and 1/2 cups of green peas)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 1/4 c Parsley
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Again for this recipe if your kids are allergic to nuts there is a chance that they could be allergic to peas as well. Surprise! Peas and Peanuts are actually in the same food family. I know. I was really overwhelmed when I found out. Not only do I have to worry about their allergies to certain foods but to FOOD FAMILIES! Geesh! Anyway. I would replace the peas with something else that is green! We love spinach at my house and that is my go to green because it’s full of the good stuff. (iron, protein, calcium, etc.) Again I would replace the parmesan cheese with a veggie cheese or a rice cheese product from the Daiya Foods or Rice Dream company.

halloween mac and cheese by powerpasta


Servings: 6

  • 1 12oz package Power Pasta Black Elbow Macaroni
  • 2 TBSP Butter
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 8 oz Velveeta Processed Cheese, cubed
  • 1 1/2 c. Shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar
  • Pinch white Pepper
  • Pinch Cayenne Pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp Dijon,
  • Dash Salt

I love the colors on this ingredient. It’s really perfect for Halloween!


Here are my replacements:

Milk-Almond milk (if the are not allergic to tree nuts) or Rice Milk. Again for the cheeses I would replace them with a non-dairy alternative. Daiya has some good products that you could use to replace for the velveeta cheeses in this recipe.

*This was a sponsored post. All of the opinions are 100% mine. 

Reviews, Socially Conscious

Three Avocados Can Change the World

November 21, 2014

After attending the Influence Conference 2014 in September I became very interested in making an effort to make socially conscious purchases. Meaning purchases that help the livelihood or quality of life of others when you buy from a company. At the conference  I found out about companies like fashionABLE and Better Life Bags that work to help improve the lives of those  in our local and global communities by providing job opportunities through fashion. But the opportunity to help doesn’t stop there. Three-Avocados-Coffee As many of you know, I’m a huge coffee lover! I know that many of you guys out there love the java as well so I think you will enjoy this Socially Conscious Company! I recently had the opportunity to partner with a company called 3 Avocados which is a non-profit coffee company  I’m going to briefly share with you their story:

“It had been a long day, we were all tired and eager to get back to the comfort of our hotel in Jinja. And then it happened. As the offering basket was passed around, a poor widow placed three avocados in the basket. It was literally all she had. And she gave it up, all for the sake of others. You see, in Uganda, the pastors do not receive any pay. The food they eat is given through the offering as they visit different villages. That widow had given all she had  to ensure someone else could eat. What a beautiful gift.


It was that simple gift that inspired us. We left Uganda brainstorming ways that we could help. Though our efforts could never match the generosity of that widow, our goal is to do everything we can to ensure the poor throughout the world are cared for and are never forgotten. And we deeply thank you for being a part of ‘Three Avocados.’”

This company was born out of a desire to help provide clean water and education to children in Uganda and Nicaragua. In developing countries clean water can be miles away and it is the job of young girls and women to travel to get the water and bring it back to their villages. This can result in missing school and impeding their education. In addition the water is not even clean. Having access to clean water allows the children to be able to attend school, be healthy and more awake to learn. Clean water is a pathway to a changed life for a child.

three avocados coffee

You might be wondering how much of your purchase goes towards helping these villages get clean water. Actually Three Avocados generously gives 100% of net proceeds go to providing clean water in Uganda and education in Nicaragua. 


There are several ways that you can get involved with supporting the work of Three Avocados from donating, to spreading the word via social media. They even have an affiliate program and opportunities for college students.

So let’s talk about the coffee.

Their coffee beans are 100% Arabica meaning they are from the Arabia Coffee shrub which is believed to be the first species of coffee. They are harvested from Mt. Elgon in Uganda which is shares it’s northern border with Ethiopia which is believed to be the birthplace of coffee. For the highest quality of coffee possible, the beans are picked when the coffee cherry is at it’s peak of ripeness, dried in the sun and then wet processed. Three Avocado’s coffee has been praised for it’s smooth, bold taste with hints of dark chocolate.


When I received the coffee the first thing I noticed was a picture of a lovely little girl from Nicaragua. You immediately know that this coffee is special because with each sip you are helping a child get clean water or a better education. When I opened the bag –

The most rich, full, smooth aroma filled my nostrils! This was no off the shelf coffee aroma. It was fuller and more bold. It was like a bear hug of a smell. It made me happy.

I definitely experienced the “smooth, bold taste with hints of chocolate” when brewing myself a cup of Three Avocados coffee. I enjoyed the coffee even more knowing that Three Avocados is making a positive difference in the world and we have the opportunity to be part of that simply by drinking coffee!


I’m so grateful to have been able to partner with Three Avocados and share their phenomenal work. All of the opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Inspiration, Reviews

RESPECT! Campaign & Challenge #RESPECTCHALLENGE2014

November 13, 2014

respect challenge

Today I have the honor of partnering with Futures Without Violence (through Popsugar Select Moms) in support of its RESPECT! Challenge. Futures Without Violence provides  programs, policies, and campaigns to end violence against women and children around the world. 

command respect don't demand it

“Command respect. Don’t demand it.”

That is what a mentor told me when I interviewed him for a high school career project. The  summer before I went to college I worked for a Systems Engineering company close to Washington D.C where he (my mentor) was the Founder and CEO. This summer would be one of my first encounters with an entrepreneur. Seeing how a small business worked where everyone had to chip in from developers to support staff. Like my father, he had come from India and built a life for his family in the United States.

I would learn a lot about respect that summer.

I was the front office secretary and I hated it. I split the job with the CEO’s daughter who was just one year behind me in school but was brilliant. She would go on to get a perfect score on her SATs and go into the medical field. My less than perfect score would cause me to struggle with the thought that I was a failure to my Indian heritage.

Boredom was my companion that summer.  I would sit and calculate how much I would make on my paycheck that week to pass the time.  My mind didn’t naturally work in the administrative tasks. At 17 I didn’t know the company mission or understand how support staff was everything to a small company.  I was tired every day from getting up early with my dad and driving through rush hour DC traffic to work and coming home late into the evening. I didn’t know how to take pride in my job.

“Command respect. Don’t demand it.”

These words echo in my mind even 18 years later.

To demand means to: To ask or call for with authority; to claim or seek from, as by authority or right; to claim, as something due. (webster dictionary)

To command means to: To have power or influence of the nature of authority over; to obtain as if by ordering; to receive as a due. (webster dictionary)

The main difference between the words “command and demand”  is that demanding respect is asking, seeking or claiming something that is due. I would elaborate to say that one can think that it is due when it might not be. If you have to ask, seek or claim respect…then you don’t really have it. To command means to have influencing  and to receive something that is due. It is due, there is no question about it. You have it there is no need to seek a claim. Commanding respect means you have earned it and it’s due to you.

At 17 I wanted it. I thought I deserved it. I did well in school, I never caused trouble at home,  and I was going to college soon. However,  I would react in the normal teenager-ish chip on my shoulder way  if I felt disrespected. (I still fight that tendency). I demanded it. I would keep my frustration inside when I didn’t feel like I was getting respect. After all,  this job was easy…just sooo boring. I wanted a project, something to engage my brain. I remember getting a firm talking to for falling asleep at my desk one day. How could you blame me when every 3 hours only 1 person came into the office and the phone rang maybe 1 time an hour? Geesh.

But I didn’t know that when you do a good job at the small things you  get entrusted with the bigger things.

I went to work every day getting up while it was dark, driving through the crazy, scary 6 lanes of traffic (my dad took the drive home), sit at that dang desk for 8 hours and drive another 1 hour and 45 minutes home every day of the work week. I would come home to more chores, family demands and trying to figure out how to prepare for my move to Purdue University. Life wasn’t so carefree anymore.

My father never complained. Not one time that I could remember. He woke up, went to work, came home and dealt with the traffic, bills, family, work at home without complaint.

That summer I saw the work ethic of men who traveled from east to west with courageous hearts to start life for themselves, have a family and give their children the best opportunities they could.

While I internally fumed  at how 13-14 hours of my day were taken up by work, how 4-5 of those hours weren’t even paid for and how I really didn’t like my job; my father went to work and provided for our family without negative words. He just kept going every day…for us.

That summer I learned about respect in the most unexpected way. My dad quietly earned my respect. He commanded it because of his work ethic and his diligence every day for his family. He patiently let me learn about working with patience and support. He could have chosen to react to my bad attitude. But he didn’t.

That summer I had a brief moment of stepping into my dad’s shoes, walking his path. A path that traveled across lands, oceans, and roads to another country, and a new culture. A path that resulted in building a life from the ground up with faith and determination and love. I say love because my mother walked a similar path coming from Jamaica. And so this life they built was together.

I would find out later that my dad had been laid off from his job and had taken this new job close to D.C., which he was actually over qualified for…to keep us going. My mother kept things going at home while her spouse was away many hours of the day as well. We always had a homecooked meal to come home to, gifted to us by a strong woman raising her children with love and support to go out into the world. Never being selfish or holding us back. These words from her I still hold in my heart:

“The sky is the limit, Dija. You can do anything you want.”

That summer I learned about respect. It’s not pretty, or glamorous, or loud. It’s earned in the quiet, steady work or a person. It’s earned not in loud demands or fearful tones; but it is earned in kindness and diligence.

A beloved leader who has earned his followers respect over time can command his troops into the fiercest battle without fear of rebellion. Commanding respect means you can trust that those you expect it from will give it willingly because you have earned it.

18 years later this lesson has affected my life in a major way. As I parent my children, as I go to work, as I deal in business, or in the community. I remember that respect is earned and then commanded.

Respect is  a good thing, a noble thing. When it’s mutual, amazing things can happen in our world.

When I finally told my dad I felt like a disgrace  because I didn’t get a perfect score on my SATs (I know, I have a dramatic streak.) My dad told me that he was proud of me. He said that he was proud because his kids asked questions, had our own thought processes and didn’t just accept everything that we were taught. He was proud of us no matter what.

Today he tells me the same thing when I feel inadequate having had chosen to stay home to raise our kids. He encourages me in my choice and I know he is just as proud of me (a stay at home mom)  as he is my sis ( a surgeon) and my brother (a father of 4, and VP at an Engineering firm.)

That is the summer I learned about respect. Today I’m working to live it out.

Share who taught  you about respect by joining the Respect Challenge put on by Futures Without Violence and win $10,000 for a non-profit or school or even a VIP trip to NY and a $500 gift card from Macy’s.

Their mission:

“For more than 30 years, FUTURES has been providing groundbreaking programs, policies, and campaigns that empower individuals and organizations working to end violence against women and children around the world.

Providing leadership from offices in San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Boston, we’ve established a state-of-the-art Center for Leadership and Action in the Presidio of San Francisco to foster ongoing dialogue about gender-based violence and child abuse.

Striving to reach new audiences and transform social norms, we train professionals such as doctors, nurses, judges, and athletic coaches on improving responses to violence and abuse. We also work with advocates, policy makers, and others to build sustainable community leadership and educate people everywhere about the importance of respect and healthy relationships.

Our vision is a future without violence that provides education, safety, justice, and hope.”

To find out more you can watch the video below. Don’t forget to support a future without violence by liking their facebook page.

31 days of focus, Productivity

Are you a Procrastinator? (31 Days of Focus – Day 5 )

November 6, 2014

31 days of focus for blog header large
Once there was a little girl who had a plastic pearl necklace that she absolutely loved. She would never take it off no matter what. She wore her pearls to the store, to school and even to dinner. Every night her father would ask her if he could have her pearls. Her chubby little hands would grab them tightly to her chest and she would shake her head no. But every night her father persisted in asking if he could have her pearls. After many nights of asking this same question the little girl began to wonder why her daddy wanted the pearls? On this particular night when her dad asked the same question she asked him,

“Dad, why do you want my pearls?”

He responded,

“Why don’t you trust me? Give them to me and you will find out.”

She slowly took her pearls from around her neck. Her little hand trembled as she  placed them gently in her father’s open hand. He smiled widely and gave her a hug. He pulled out a beautiful velvet box from behind her back and handed it to her.

The little girl opened it and inside was a pearl necklace.

The little girl looked up at her father questioningly.

“Another pearl necklace?”

Her father lovingly put them on his daughter and watched her prance around the room. He took her by the hand and sat her down.

” I have something to tell you.  They are real pearls. I love you and I want you to have the very best.  I couldn’t give you these while you still held on to your plastic pearls.”

That story always gets me because it makes me think about the things that I could be holding on to that are just keeping me from moving forward in life.

What emotional baggage, thought processes or habits do you hold on to?

I’ve heard it put another way. If there is a hooptie in your driveway then there’s no room for a Rolls Royce to park.

I made a huge realization this week during some studying I was doing. I realized something about myself that I NEVER realized before. I’m a procrastinator. I’ve never considered myself one. I’m too focused, I work to hard, I’m to driven to be a…procrastinator. But I am…let’s call it what it is. Procrastination is kind of a sneaky thing.

Except I procrastinate in the worst way. By staying busy…super busy. I can find projects and opportunities to take part in like no other when I want to avoid doing the hard work. But in the end the hard work is what I want to be doing. It’s hard work to write a book…but I want to. It’s hard work to produce a movie…but I want to. It’s hard work to figure out how to run an online shop…but I want to. Instead I find that I take on mini-projects to distract me from the fear, worry, and anxiety that grips me when I think about writing a book.

I told a friend that I didn’t feel adequate to write a book. That I was no theological scholar and didn’t think I could do it.

She sent me this in response from a devotional she read:
Too many Christians have already decided how much the Lord can do with them, based on education, personality, or talent. But God isn’t interested in qualifications. He seeks willing followers who echo Isaiah’s call, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8). That’s triumphant living.

“Man! That made me check myself really quick before I wrecked myself! I was certainly holding on to my finite “qualifications” instead of simply having a willing heart. Willing to let go of my plastic projects and receive the real things He wanted me to focus on.

Have you ever experienced this? I’d love to hear from you!

Here’s a great article from to check out on the subject of letting go.