Boxing Up Comfort Zones

We are wrapping up the first quarter of 2016 this week. Can you believe it?

It feels like I was just hosting a New Year’s Eve party. For right now my big focus is keeping my comfort zone packaged up like a small box and living outside of it as much as possible.

I have found myself saying yes to more opportunities even when I am afraid to fail. I won’t know what I can learn until I live outside that box.

Dancing in J’ouvert on the streets of Trinidad was a fun leap outside the box. Tossing my hat in the moderating ring was another step outside the box. I just agreed to my first podcast interview for a radio show about relationships. I have been approached in the last couple weeks for advice on how to go after things you want and blogging tips, among other topics.

The first quarter check-in feels good though it has certainly not been without its share of trials and headaches. When I can make forward progress, the day feels purposeful. I am focusing more on intentionality so I can continue to keep an eye on that comfort zone box long enough to push further past its limits. I hope you will take up the challenge and join me.

If you’re serious about it, check your comfort zone box at the door. Let’s make it a meaningful second quarter with the next 3 months of 2016.

How have your first 3 months of this year gone? What goals do you plan to achieve in the next 3 months?

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Spring Clean Your Life

Last year around this time, I wrote a post about spring cleaning your closet. Unplanned yet amazingly I followed that advice yet again over the weekend but am expanding it to spring cleaning your life.

Today, being the first day of Spring and International Happiness Day, it is perfect timing.

I have been re-tuning my life, my health, my style, my mind and many other things lately.

Sometimes we need to scrub, sort and simplify our lives a bit.

A few weeks ago, I started finding myself so stressed from work I was having chest pains on my right side only. I had to make a very serious decision to reassess what was most important in that situation. Ultimately my health is number one.

One decision I personally made for myself was to speak up more when things are off.

Without calm and clarity, everything else will suffer. In work, at home, on the go…you name it.

I have been making a few other spring cleaning decisions in recent weeks and months. I always love travel so the trips I take aren’t just because I can’t sit still. I travel to refresh.

As I inch closer to closing a decade of my life and opening another by the end of the year, fitness and food are more important to be concerned over. My recent grocer trips are more planned and thoughtful so I can develop healthier eating habits.

It used to be so easy to eat all the food I wanted and never think twice. Haha oh those days have passed. I’m working on updating my cupboards and fridge to reflect the changing times.

I joined a few fitness classes and am working on making gym visits a regular part of my routine even when I don’t feel like it. Most days I really don’t feel like it. My boyfriend has graciously taken up the request to be my trainer and he is doing a fantastic job even when I am incredibly resistant in the gym. I am grateful for his patience!

Lastly, I spent a few hours in my closet over the weekend, tossing items that no longer serve me. I had two bags of clothes and shoes to get rid of. Even though these things have not been used or are just worn out, I was clearly scared to let them go. My closet seems so small now but it opens up a chance to fit new things that I like.

It feels so good to take care of yourself and put yourself first when you really need it.  Look for the signs and times to calm your body and clear your brain.

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#WomenAtTheTop: 5 Career Panel Take-Aways

I promised last week that you would hear more about my experience from Wednesday night moderating my first panel ever. I am delighted to share.

The panel was hosted by the Chicago Multi-Cultural Connections group.  I was fortunate enough to have the moderating opportunity thanks to my friend and colleague who made the introduction.

The theme was “Women at the Top”, a look into the journey of business women in celebration of Women’s History Month. The great thing is there were men in the audience too, giving outstanding support.

Women’s History Month highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Events like “Women at the Top” are impactful and important all year long but glad we could participate in it this month, especially in the same week as International Women’s Day.

My moderating goal of course was to guide the conversation, get to know our panelists and engage the audience. I was terrified to try something so new to me. I was not sure how it was going to go and if I would naturally fall into a rhythm. I pursued the challenge despite the fear and I am so glad that I did.

The three panelists were amazing.

Dawn Steele Halbert, a Regional Director for the Hispanic Media division at Meredith Corporation. She is an African-American woman who has spent her life in media making a difference.

Lucy Diaz is the VP of Corporate Sales at Univision Communications. Univision Communications is the leading broadcast media company serving Latin Americans. Lucy works with ad agencies and businesses all over the Midwest. Lucy shared refreshingly honest stories and tips about her experience and what she has learned over the years as a mom and businesswoman.

Yann Woolley is the Owner of Pistachios Contemporary Jewelry. Pistachios lies in the heart of downtown Chicago on the famous Magnificent Mile of Michigan Avenue. Pistachios has been a Chicago staple for over 21 years and they specialize in contemporary jewelry design created by talented and cutting edge artists in the world. As an immigrant to the United States, Yann had made tremendous success and really struck great cords with the audience about how far she has come but how her journey has had such impact.

Each of these ladies were truly inspiring. I opened the panel with a few starter questions about the career journey and what added challenges do they face being women and minorities.

We talked mentors, future goals, empowerment, competition, balance, men and leadership on and off the work clock throughout the panel. It was a dynamic conversation and I learned so much from it. The audience was engaged and a few people asked great questions to keep the conversation going.

Some of my favorite sound bites were:

1. Make your voice credible. You have to work twice as hard to make your point. (In regards to discrimination against women in the workplace)

2. Everybody is dealt a different deck but you can use your strength to forge through, deal with disappointment and  adversity, to overcome, to try harder

3. Speak Up! This was shared by Lucy Diaz in regards to a question about what she would tell her younger self

4. Opportunity will come but you have to Be Ready

5. Promote Yourself and Network within your Company

After the event, I had so many attendees asking if I moderate for a living and when I told them it was my first time they were shocked. I was even offered a job by one of the panelists.

It felt good to take a leap outside my comfort zone and fly. I prepared for the opportunity and I was ready when it came. That’s not always an option though and I understand that. Even if it did not go well, I would have learned just as much about where I am and where I want to be. I have many more goals and seeing these women and hearing their stories, I found more drive in myself.

I look forward to taking more risks, diving right in and continuing to live in my purpose.

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L to R: Lucy Diaz, Me, Yann Woolley, Dawn Steele Halbert

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A Week In The Life

It’s going to be a big week.

Tomorrow I welcome a new person to my team at work. After being recently promoted, I have learned so many lessons and I am excited to on-board a new employee and bring her up to speed on our organization.

In the evening leaving some space open to spend with my boyfriend who began training recently at the world-famous Second City. Last week, we got free tickets to a comedy show after class. Hearing his excitement and supporting him on this new journey means the world to me too.

Then at midweek, I will be moderating an event for the first time ever. I am so excited and nervous about jumping into such a project. It is outside my comfort zone but with the goals on my vision board this year, I declared diving right into new things.

The event will be a panel of women at the top of their careers, sharing advice and lessons to a diverse audience. I will share more about what I learn from the entire experience next week.

I will be joining a webinar Thursday to continue celebration of International Women’s Day which is March 8. The webinar is hosted by Dr. Sam Collins, Founder of the Aspire Foundation.

After attending Aspire’s International Women’s Day webinar last year, I was ultimately inspired to apply for scholarship with them. I was awarded scholarship and attended the Trailblazing Leadership conference in London last June.

My life changed so much last year and this year has already brought amazing new opportunities for growth.

At the tail end of the week, I will be hosting family and friends in the city for a day of fun surrounding the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Chicago.

I am most excited about that day because I had been talking about planning something for a few years and kept making excuses or putting it off.

I love hosting but don’t do it very often. I host an annual new year’s eve party and this might be my other new thing.

I just added a new post to my vision board  at home that explains why I’m so excited about this get-together. It is about staying connected with loved ones in person. We will have live conversations instead of only communicating through social media or text. We can have fun and enjoy one another’s company. It will be the perfect way to end a full week.

This week will be about keeping things in perspective, that teaching is also about learning and lastly not to forget to let your guard down to have some fun.

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