My heart was beating so hard as I walked into the small gathering of people having dinner at the lower level of the church. How could it not? This was the place where I was born spiritually, where Sunday after Sunday I attended with my whole family and learned to love God with all my heart, body and soul. This was the place where I learned what it meant to be deeply loved and highly favored by God. This was the place where people embraced me from the very beginning of my christian walk. This was the place which allowed me to serve in different roles and develop in areas I never knew I was passionate about. This was the place where people witnessed miracle after miracle in my life. This was the place where all the stories my mom told me about, became alive!
We totally surprise them! Everyone stopped eating to come and greet us by the door. It still feels like family! The first one to greet us was Edgar, he was a teenager when I met him and I remember him crying out to God asking for his family to learn about His ways. My mom was his prayer partner. Those prayers were answered. She was a prayer warrior. In fact, her prayers are still being answered in his family.
Wally and I planned our visit a few days before the end of the year and although we hoped for the opportunity to catch up with many of the people we left behind, the few that were there, greeted us with much love and joy when they saw us! The conversation during the dinner, after the dinner, during the service and after the service turned out to be a tribute to my mom! Every conversation, every special part and even the sermon served as platforms to speak about her impact and legacy left to the families of Arca. It was a very emotional moment for me!
To hear Pastor speak about having a clear vision for 2020. Or a 20/20 perfect vision of our purpose in life in the new year, was timely, refreshing and wonderful. However, this was not the most impressive thing that happened that night. The most impressive thing that happened that night was the fact that Ruben was the pastor. He was Edgar’s little brother when we were members and I could only imagine how happy my mom would have been to hear Ruben preach and know that many of the prayers, visits, counseling and all her energy and efforts given toward him, Ruben’s parents and the whole family would be paying off today.
We used to say that my mom’s crown was going to definitely be very heavy if counting the number of people she impacted spiritually. I read in a commentary that “The crown is reserved for those who care for, mentor, and help mature Christ’s spiritual children and into spiritual mothers and fathers” based on ! Thessalonians 2:19 by Dr Roger Barrier.
I imagine God sending a couple of angels to help my mom carry her heavy crown when she entered His throne. Her greatest joy lied in those whom she helped on the path to Christ. I myself symbolize a jewel on her crown. She taught me to live a live of significance and I’ll dedicate the rest of my life to honor her. She was, is and will always be my most precious treasure.
My mentor John Maxwell says “no one cares how much you know unless they know how much you care”. The question I ask myself when I think of this statement is “How do I show how much I care?”. I go through a series of steps to answer this question.
- Identify the situation
- How urgent is my involvement
- Do I need to reach out to others for help
- What’s the outcome anticipated
I apply these to any situation that comes my way and it helps me to prioritize my involvement based on the urgency. The situation could be as simple as my friend’s birthday party. It could be as sad a death in someone’s family. It could be as complicated as producing an event for one of my clients or as satisfying as gathering my whole family for a special occasion. Sometimes I just need to show up and give a hug or a word of encouragement.
I recently learned of a situation my friend Alejandra Cano is going through.
Alejandra came to the U.S. when she was 1.5 years old with her parents who were political asylees from Chile. In her teens, after a confusing and alienating childhood, Alejandra began self-medicating, resulting in anti-social behavior and subsequent run-ins with the law. I met Alejandra five years ago, at a time when she made a decision to begin a life of recovery, which remains solid to this day. She rebuilt her life, has a job and lovingly supports her two U.S. citizen children ages 20 and 15. But in addition, Alejandra has had a great desire to give back to society. She became a vocal advocate to and for the recovery community and an inspiration to many people hoping to follow her example.
Alejandra had lawful permanent resident status when she traveled to Chile earlier this year to visit family. Upon her return, she was detained by CBP. She was required to check in for “secondary inspection” on November 14 this year and through the assistance of several organizations and lots of support from friends and family, she was able to present a strong case to defend against deportation and detention. She was given another appointment on December 19 to review additional documentation about her case.
She’s been adamant about sharing her story in the hope she can help others – both to show people in the recovery process that it’s possible to overcome, and to bring attention to the need to reform certain immigration laws. Since this situation happened she’s been a guest speaker in several radio stations, on the front pages of national newspapers, she’s been interviewed by many TV channels and even spoke at Capital Hill in Washington where Congressman Chuy Garcia presented the “New Way Forward” Bill in hopes to create a new vision by limiting deportation for convictions that result from enforcement that disproportionately targets communities of color. This bill will allow immigration judges to consider a person’s individual circumstances during deportation proceedings, and allowing more people to remain with their families and move forward with their lives without fear that an old conviction could lead to deportation
Alejandra continues to fight her deportation case with a new appointment on March 16, 2020. In her case, due to the deadlines and the time I found out, I needed to be involved immediately, this was certainly an urgent matter and I reached out for help to support the rallys during her appointments as well as my contacts in the media to spread the word. Most importantly, I simply showed up to hug her and offer a word of encouragement.
I’m honored to have been part of several milestones in her life since I met her. Things that others may take for granted like getting a State ID, completing a resume, finding job opportunities, buying a car, getting her own apartment, traveling, restoring family relationships, reuniting with her children. All these are great memories but I’ll never forget the urgency on her voice reaching out for help in the summer of 2014. Her answer when I asked “how can I help you?” during our first meeting was key to my involvement. “I need God in my life” she said with the certainty that only miracles could help her accomplished the impossible. In the last 5 years I’ve seen a transformation in Alejandra that impresses me.
She’s now a responsible mother, a hard working employee, a loving daughter, a loyal friend and a hopeful human being relying on more and more miracles from God to inspire others and be a difference maker in this world.
How do you show people you care about them? Practice these 4 steps and experience living a life of significance!
These pictures show us having a great time today, remembering old and new experiences and imagining how the next 32 years would be like. “I’d like to go to a nice restaurant to celebrate this day” I said, not giving Wally the opportunity to “suggest” the usual (which is basically whatever he has a taste for and me pleasing him with it). By the way, knowing that any restaurant we go to has choices for me, I don’t mind him choosing “the usual” which is normally asian food, pizza or steak restaurants. My reluctancy sometimes has to do with breaking my own commitment to stay fit and healthy and in my ideal weight but I find pleasing him a worthwhile cause, always!
The Signature Room on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building was my choice. It was a cloudy day but we could still see the beautiful city through our window. The view in Chicago from any high-rise building is always going to be spectacular and I felt as if I was on top of the world, celebrating as I conquered the last 32 years with this man that enchanted me when I met him and is capable of enchanting me now. Yes, I said “he is capable” because he doesn’t always succeed just as I don’t always please him. We’re a normal couple with ups and downs because “normal” is not about being perfect. In fact, I woke up thinking “we weren’t always laughing” but we can sincerely say that, with God’s help, today we are in a place of joy, comfort, support for each other, mutual admiration, open communication and complete trust. Would we do it again? Yes! Over and over again.
We’re grateful to celebrate the day we said “I DO” 32 years ago today through an incredible journey that allows us to appreciate significance.
I invite you to do what it takes to be able to celebrate small and big milestones and live a life a significance as well!!
I’ve met daring, bold and strong women in my life and Jacqueline Garcia is one of the most accomplished women I’ve ever known. She doesn’t only display these characteristics but she’s also a very kind, knowledgeable, professional, committed, wise, loyal and FUN person to be around. I met her a few years ago in an international convention we both attended and I was immediately impressed by the fact that she had reached the highest rank in the company just within a couple of years, while it took others much longer than that. Her secret? She has none! She shares them all with people who are eager to learn, improve themselves and pass their knowledge on to others. She’s a selfless leader who gives back and I’m convinced this is one of the reasons why she’s so successful in life. Follow her and understand why I admire Jackie so much!
Her post on social media titled “KNOW WHAT BUSINESS IS IDEAL FOR YOU” resonated with me because of where I am in life at the moment and involved in my ideal business. However, I know many women would love to be involved in something that doesn’t only provide personal satisfaction but also financial stability. “Of course, with pleasure!” she said when I asked her if I could share it. She suggests to ask yourself these 3 questions to discover the ideal business to be involved with :
1. What do you do well?
2. What do you better than other people?
3. How can you make money from what you do better than other people? She also believes that women are capable of doing two things at the same time and do it right! It involves making a decision, believing it and create it. Following is Jackie’s post mentioned above:
In one point in my, life I’ve asked myself these questions as well. I must say that it took me years, several ideas and trial and error to arrive to the ideal business to be involved with. Once I found out what I was passionate about and how much I enjoyed it, everything fell into place, even my partners in the team seemed to have the same interests in life and value the same core values I do, which didn’t always happened before. Most importantly, I’m supporting my husband with it and we’re enjoying this journey together.
Gilda Green, Michelle Massa, Sarah Hein and Brooke Thomas are part of my support team. They cheer me on and encourage me to believe in myself and reach for the stars. We’re business associates in a company that is positioned for explosive growth and is disrupting the mental wellness industry. We’re the fastest growing team in the company and most importantly, we’re friends and prayer partners. My mom would have loved them so!
I’m blessed to have found the ideal business to be in and to know it’s a resource helping me make a difference in people and adding value to their lives every day. It’s so true that once you find SIGNIFICANCE, success is not enough. Try it!
It’s that time of the year in which our email and social media accounts are saturated with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday announcements. As I meditate on this phenomenon it made me wonder which one out of the three, people pay more attention to.
Beginning with the celebration of Thanksgiving, mostly everyone is more sensitive to gratefulness and they want to contribute to their favorite charities. However, after a spending spree over the weekend, Giving Tuesday becomes more like a burden for some and as much as they’d like to contribute and be socially responsible, they think twice about it. We all love a great deal, special discounts and free stuff when shopping but I often wonder if the order of these 3 days could be reversed, would help people contribute to their favorite charities more. I believe so.
Could we make the Friday after Thanksgiving “#GivingFriday” instead of Tuesday? What impact would this change have on our social responsibility if this actually happened? Just the thought of how this would impact the world makes me think like Dr Martin Luther King would and say “I have a dream”. This may never happen but you can’t denied that it would actually make a difference of how much we give.
My involvement with several organizations recently, compelled me to write about this. There are so many options for humanitarians and philanthropists to contribute whether they are inclined to help children, youth, marriages, suicide prevention, family relationships, domestic violence, environmental driven causes, veterans, homelessness, immigration, mental health, animal anticruelty, sex trafficking or anything they have an interest in, such as, the arts, education, leadership or personal growth.
Are you actively participating and giving back? What are your favorite causes? I’ll highlight 3 organizations I recently came across and the reason why I’m impressed by them.
- 1. I recently met Rafael Bello, TV Anchor for Univision NY, during an award ceremony. One of the things that impressed me the most about him wasn’t all his accomplishments or his sense of humor, it was his big heart to help others! He will be running the Boston marathon in April 2020 in support of The David Ortiz Children’s Fund to help low income children afford medical interventions such as heart or kidney transplants. Follow Rafael and learn more about how own foundation “Saca los Dientes Foundation”
- 2. I often meet empowering leaders in the Chicago area from the many networking events I attend. One of them is Olga Camargo, CEO and Founder of Faro Associates. She has an impressive long list of achievements and has earned everyone’s admiration on a national level. I recently learned of her involvement with HACE, Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, a national non-for-profit lead by Patricia Mota, President and CEO and a team of accomplished and experienced entrepreneurial women and men that have committed to supporting the ongoing development and advancement of latino professionals. Olga is the National Chair for HACE and under Patricia’s leadership, HACE continues to impact lives with a network of over 64,000 across the country who work with employers to remain competitive in an increasingly dynamic economy by helping them attract, develop and retain Latino and diverse professionals. Learn more about ways to contribute at www.haceonline.org
- 3. In the last few days I’ve learned of three sudden and completely unexpected deaths of some friend’s family members and acquaintances. I saw posts on their social media accounts and it was disturbing to see so many condolences to people I know. I first reached out to my friend Ruthie and found out that a co-worker took his life and no one knew he was struggling with any mental conditions. My friend Denisse’s girlfriend took her life on Thanksgiving day living her little girl motherless. These situations are sad and confirm the need to continue to increase awareness of mental health and my commitment to do so. My thoughts and prayers go out as well to my friend and Doctor Chiropractor, Mary McAndrews, who lost her 21 year old son unexpectedly the day after Thanksgiving. Mary is supporting the Samaritan Counseling Center Northwest, whose mission it is to provide hope, helping and healing for those struggling with emotional and mental challenges.
I’ll continue to admire, promote and contribute to the following organizations and I encourage you to learn about them as well:
A Beatiful Project (Volunteer/Personal Growth)
A Gift of Value (young girls/women)
A Safe Haven Foundation (Homeless/Veterans)
Chicago Youth Shakespeare (Youth/Arts)
Dr Maribel Lopez Scholarship Fund (Education/Scholarships)
Equip by John Maxwell (Faith base/Leadership)
ELISA Foundation (Personal Growth/Leadership) -created to honor my mom
Let’s not forget that a financial contribution is often preferred by most of these organizations. However, volunteering, promoting and in-kind donations are welcome by most as other ways to fulfill our responsibility and be part of the solution. Let’s do more together!
“Home sweet home!” I screamed as I entered my home after a long day of travel and my last trip of the month. As much as I enjoy traveling, I love, love, love the moments I spend in “my space” at home where I reflect on my experiences, do my devos and get inspiration. The first thing I noticed after being away for basically 3 weeks straight, wasn’t the sunny light coming through the balcony, the comfortable cushion I rest my head on as I write, nor the end table where I place my delicious cup of tea. Instead, I noticed what once was a beautiful plant adorning my space, was now an awful looking planter full of dry leaves and dead branches. I don’t remember seeing a flower from this plant in a long time so the first thought I had was “I’ll throw it away”. I mean, being as tired as I was at that moment, seemed like the best and easiest solution! Nevertheless, I started giving it some attention by cleaning the dry leaves and pruning the branches.
Buried under all of the ugly mess bloomed a beautiful looking flower as well as many new and healthy leaves. I have a question for you: What is surrounding your beauty? Can you think of relationships, habits or your own attitude about life or situations that are covering a better version of you? Give it the attention it deserves, take action and get rid of things preventing to show more of your inner beauty!
Sometimes we need to get rid of things in our lives that are covering more of what we want to give to others. Think of Michelangelo chipping away pieces of marble to release the statue of David. As I thought of Rodin creating the famous statue of The Thinker out of bronze made me research the steps it takes. There’s a lot of layers of molding, covering and melting several times to then proceed with “the breaking of the mold”, which means smashing, hammering away and removing big chunks of clay and the ceramic shell to then refine the imperfections and patina the sculpture. You basically create something to destroy it in order to uncover the beautiful finished piece of bronze.
A good friend and business associate had a minor stroke 45 days ago. I’ll call him Dr De La Paz. For over 3 decades he’s lived a healthy lifestyle but very busy teaching on the importance of the body, mind and soul. This near death experience made him pay attention, take action and get rid of some things that were preventing him from prioritizing properly . Just a few hours ago and with teary eyes he said to me “I’m not scare of dying but having the stroke made me closer to God and those around me, I now don’t do certain things to do more of more important things and I’m closer to God, my most important goal in life”
Just by observing a plant lacking of the basic things to stay healthy or an expert in healthy living neglecting certain practices that make his life truly significant, teaches me three things: Give it the attention it deserves, take action and get rid of things I don’t need in my life!
I’m writing from Costa Rica today on our first day of an enchanted trip that Wally worked hard to earn. I give him much of the credit because it is through his Mental Wellness Academy that we’ve been able to help many people improve their mental wellness. After his traumatic experiences as a veteran, Wally’s quest to find alternative and natural solutions to manage and prevent stress, anxiety, depression and even suicide, got him to partner with Amare Global, The Mental Wellness Company.
Amare Global is positioned to cause a revolution in the area of mental wellness. We’ve seen, just in the past year, so many known people opened up about their struggle with these type of conditions. You’ll recognize names like Oprah, Michael Phelps, Lady Gaga, Prince Williams, Duane “The Rock” Johnson, even younger personalities like singer Zendaya that have publicly shared their need to manage their mental health and who can forget people like Robin Williams, and others that have committed suicide because they simply didn’t know of other solutions to feel better.
Up until recently, mental conditions have been neglected by many companies, but little by little, more and more employers are looking to provide options to their employees as they realize, mentally healthier employees equal an increase in production and a positive environment for everyone. Here are some ideas to manage these conditions:
· Mindfulness sessions: Whether you practice meditation, relaxation or mind breaks, be consistent and do it often!
· Active Lifestyle: Have a hobby! It’s okay to work hard and accomplish a lot but do things you enjoy and are passionate about. Fill in your extra time with physical activities like swimming, cycling, running, walking, dancing, exercising or any other physical activity. Reading, memorizing games, Sudoku, word scrabble or puzzles help to exercise your brain, which is just as important as your physical health.
· Nutrition: Be mindful of what you put in your body. Reset your body at least once a year (Amare Global’s Reboot is an excellent choice and only 3 days long). Eat lots of greens, legumes and low sugary fruit.
· Supplement: No matter how healthy your diet is, adding quality supplements will ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need to feel, look and be at your optimum health. Amare’s B3 is one of the most wholesome programs we’ve found in the market and it targets your body, your brain and your biome.
“I urgently need a mindfulness and breathwork session this week on Tuesday for a group of teachers at Steinmetz H.S.” read the text sent to me just a few days before “Tuesday”. I called immediately and started asking lots of questions to understand the need and put together a proposal. It ended up being a 15-minute session and due to other commitments, we had to push it to Thursday that same week to accommodate to Wally’s schedule. We’re glad to partner with organizations that understand the importance of managing stress, anxiety and depression and prevent suicide.
My mom would say that one of the most important things to help with any of these issues is to give priority to your spiritual life and I completely agree with her. Therefore, I make it the top item on my list. If you’re reading this blog and want to be part of our community of leaders helping others and spreading the word, reach out. Let’s do more together!
If the way my month started is an indication of the importance of preparation, then November will be an amazingly interesting month this year! I have an aggressive traveling agenda, including the huge responsibility of producing an event off-site Chicagoland, meet with editorial and publishing companies about book ideas, attend several fundraising galas and board meetings, start planning for 2020 and very important to me, stay connected with family and close friends as well as my ministry at church. Without proper preparation, none of that (and other things not mentioned here) would happen.
Representing a variety of companies through Zambrano Consulting Group has allowed me to understand the importance of PREPARING. Some people only take preparation seriously upon certain topics. An experienced traveler, would prepare according to destination, weather, business or pleasure, time of year, length of trip, etc. A Public Speaker would need to prepare well to capture his or her audience attention with a strong, concise, clear and interesting message when delivering a speech. A Professor, would need to study the lessons and assignments he or she will be given to students and hopefully inspire them to make education a priority. When participating in a marathon, an athlete would go through a series of training and preparation expecting to win first place. When taking an exam in any trade or industry, without preparation, you’d risk not passing the test. When becoming pregnant, a new mom would learn about the changes in her body and prepare for the arrival of the little miracle in her life. In reality, we need to prepare constantly and in all areas of our lives.
I could speak to any of those things just listed, but I’ll take my trip to NY as an example of the importance to preparing well. It became obvious from the beginning of the proposal I received, that the challenges producing a local event in another city would be huge! Being part of the producing team of The first Latinos 40 under 40 in NY entailed coordinating all the moving pieces from a distance and still guarantee to run a show within budget and in a timely manner. Getting a centric venue for professionals during the week was important, securing sponsors, emcee, DJ, photographer, volunteers and traveling arrangements were the basic things to think about.
Even though I was brought onboard close to the date of the event, my expectancy was to help deliver a sold out event at 150 guaranteed attendees. Just a few days before the event, they only had about 40 entries sold. It’s no secret that most people procrastinate and we knew we’d get a rush of reservations at the end. Still, the marketing efforts from everyone involved was extremely important.
There was an interesting situation happening throughout the planning of this event. From these items, the biggest one that worried the Publisher and PIC (person in charge) was how to get the 40 beautifully framed certificates of recognition from Chicago to NY. I gave several ideas knowing he wanted to buy them from Walmart, a national franchise. “Order the frames and have them mailed directly to the venue or hotel where the event will be held” I confidently said knowing it was the best option.
“There’s a charge for every day the hotel holds the packages” he said as if there was no way he would pay any additional costs that will take us out of budget. “Have our local contacts buy them at the store, set them up and hold them for us “, I said as another good option. “No, some of the frames will most likely break and we need to ensure we prepare the certificates ourselves, set them in each frame and use UPS or FedEx to deliver, but it will be very costly.” I think he was still impressed by the fact that he had to pay over $1,200 USD recently for one package to be sent from Chicago to another city and that was definitely out of budget. “Let’s carry them ourselves as additional luggage” I said reluctantly and hoping he would say that he decided to send via UPS or FedEx. However, he didn’t.
I travel light so this was my least favorite choice, but guess what? We ended up carrying 6 huge packages ourselves. After several inquiries and an actual visit to the airport the day before our flight to NY, it was confirmed this was definitely our best choice. It was a bit inconvenient but it was free and apparently very important! Having benefits with AA and access to the Admirals Club became such an important part of this trip! Early morning on the day of the trip, I received an email stating that our flight was canceled and we were booked into another flight late that evening. Under normal circumstances, this would have been fine, however, we needed to get to NY as early as possible as the event was the next day and by then we already knew we had close to 200 people attending. This entailed additional preparation from adjusting our list of attendees to changes in the venue. We were excited and nervous! It’s so easy for me to manage my flights and any unexpected changes, but managing a canceled trip involving several people is challenging, especially when a snow storm in Chicago was not allowing flights to depart or arrive. We were placed on many standby flights along other hundred people. Our original flight was moved several times until finally leaving around 11pm. We arrived in NY at 1:30 am and found ourselves getting to bed around 4am. Talk about an adventurous trip! Why am I highlighting all this? I learned from my mentors that preparation is important and very helpful but there’s always a need to adjust to sudden changes. I often mention my mom because, for the most time, remained positive when things got out of her control. You may think my mom was perfect when you read my writings about her. She wasn’t perfect when it came to planning or anything else. It’s simply the level of respect I had for her and her character as a strong and positive role model in my life that makes me realize the impact she had in everything I do and my perspective on life. If we were to measure who is less perfect, I’d probably win a medal. Would you believe I actually forgot my passport just a few days ago and realized it at the airport on my way to Mexico City? Yes, me! The experienced traveler that I am! Let’s grow together!
I found myself a bit frustrated as I realized we started November and I most likely won’t be able to finish my book project before the end of the year. I’ve done what I believe needed to be done to complete it. I’ve made a decision to go with the JMT new publishing company announced last year. I also talked to a close friend who self-published her third book and went over the process, I even reached out to another friend whose published 15 books and owns a very successful marketing and publishing company.
Having chosen the word “completion” in the beginning of the year for 2019 caused me to feel this way. It honestly made me sad. I had the same feeling 2 years ago when I publicly stated that I’d be donating my long hair for cancer and regardless of the many times I scheduled this to happen, it didn’t. It’s not a good feeling. It was as if I had failed my mom, myself, God, everyone…
I recognized the need to reach out for help and talk about these feelings. Something interesting happened. I found immediate encouragement through different people and resources available to me. As I talked things through with my friend who self-published 3 books she said “Norma, if God placed those desires in your heart, than He will help you to see it into fruition”. I prayed about it and continued to listen to my sources of motivation and encouragement and just like that, the same message started to appear. I heard it from my mentor Mark Cole during an interview on a podcast with John Maxwell and Mark Buckingham and “turning setbacks into setups”, then during a mentorship call where Cole challenged us to identify why we’re not taking action on some of the things we set out to do this year. However, when I heard my friend Brook Thomas say “”When I hear the same message from different sources it makes me think that it is something important and that I need to meditate on it” I did not doubt that I had to write about it. It was as if everyone around me was conspiring to say the same thing over and over and with the only intention to make me realize that it was okay. That just because I felt like I failed because I had a deadline to finalize it, I completed the process and it’s on its way to be completed. It made me realize that I’m still growing, getting to know me and very important “like me” and not be so hard on myself.
Brook’s main point was “know yourself, like yourself and be yourself” and it has to do with knowing our strengths but also our “areas of opportunity” as Mark Buckingham would say or “weaknesses” as others would say. Brook challenged us to write three things in which we stand out and three things in which we have to improve.
In my case these are the 3 that come to mind:
1. I am persevering
2. I am a support for many people
3. I am spontaneous
Within the areas of opportunity to improve, it is perfectly clear that:
1. I need to be more organized (especially with my time and punctuality)
2. Apply limits (do not say “yes” to everything)
3. Be spontaneous (this could become a distracting area if you don’t control its thus reason why it’s listed as an area to improve)
The idea of knowing you better is to accept that we all have weaknesses and areas of opportunity to improve. Brook says that giving thanks, if someone gives you a compliment, is a sign of liking who you have become as a person. Many people find it difficult to receive praise or recognition for what they do or accomplish. Being able to know you well and like you makes it easier to be authentic and transparent with others. It has taken me a few years to feel comfortable with compliments that people give me and it’s taking me a lifetime to understand that it’s okay to use setbacks to setup something grand.
Through it all, I got clarity that the things I committed to finish this year (going back to school and my book project) will not disappear from my GOAL PLAN, they are part of my GROWTH PLAN and the urge to complete them got stronger than ever which means there’s no stopping me because I want it done in God’s timing and not mine! Let’s grow together!
You may recall I’ve been preparing for a couple of months for my aqua exercise certification and it happened to be this weekend in Wisconsin. I’m sure the group getting certified would have been bigger if it was held in Chicago. Why would I drive a couple of hours very early in the morning, work out all day and end up walking exhausted into the house so late at night to even be able to kiss my husband goodnight? Well, this experience reminded me something I heard Oprah say when I met her in person “we are the captain of our fate…the things we want to happen in our lives happen because we make it happen”. Yes, it was my commitment to learn how to swim, to continue to grow and never stop learning.
Something interesting happen during the training and just like when I met Oprah, I found myself saying “It’s a small world!”. While getting ready for the training and in between sessions, I started small conversations with the participants (I love getting to know people and their reasons for doing what they do). Well, in one of the breaks, I spoke to Judy Friedman and we both started talking about mutual events we’re having in the next few days. She’s the Co-Director of Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts so I mentioned my son’s involvement with the In The Heights musical ending yesterday and invited her to attend his staged reading of King Lear by the Chicago Youth Shakespeare (CYS) at the end of December. She immediately said “do you know Manon, the founder of CYS?”. Of course I know Manon! I’m on the Board of Directors of CYS! Would you believe, they went to camp together and know each other well!?! What a small world!
Whether you think there are coincidences or not, when something “coincidental” happens in your life you can’t help but think “how is this possible?”, “there must be a purpose for this to happen!” “there are no coincidences in life”.
I’ve shared my Oprah story because when I first saw her on the cruise, I was nervously excited and hoped for an opportunity to talk to her, hug her and tell her how much I’ve always admired her. I quickly understood that it was going to be nearly imposible to get close to her because of all the security around her and everyone trying to get close for a picture. At least I was able to secure great seats for the “A Conversation with Oprah” session! My friend Dragana and I anticipated getting great pictures from where we were sitting. When she came on stage, she was wearing black bottoms and a beige off the shoulders top -JUST LIKE I WAS!!! Coincidence? Maybe…the next morning I was walking into the food deck and she was coming down the stairs from the upper deck after filming for the O Magazine. She looked at me before rushing into the elevator and said “hi there”. I looked around (literally) to see who else she was possibly talking to and I was the only one there! So, I did what everyone would do, I rushed and tried to get in the elevator with her. Her security guards stopped me and I just waived from outside the doors and thanked her for being my inspiration. Everything happened so fast and didn’t have anything prepared to say. I remember blurring what I believe made a difference in getting her attention “Thank you Oprah for all you do, I’ve always admired you, we share the same birthday”. She heard me and she probably doesn’t get “we share the same birthday” a lot because she asked “we share the same birthday?” I nervously nodded and she said with her powerful voice “STOP THE ELEVATOR!”. She came out, hugged me and said a few words, including “people from January are beautiful people”. She asked me if I wanted to get a selfie and I said yes. I was too nervous to get the phone to work so she took our selfie.
I couldn’t believe it! My wish came true! I talked, hugged and told Oprah how much I admired her!
I kept telling my Oprah story whenever I could and everyone I had a conversation with. In fact, the next stop was a town in Canada and we got off the boat to get souvenirs. We spent more time at a store where I bought a couple of things for the family. I started talking to a very nice lady, she looked like she could have been the owner or the Manager. Her name was Cary Kelly. She asked me how my cruise experience was so far. I immediately told my Oprah story and at the end she asked me when in January is my birthday. “January 29” I said and guess what? Yeah, her birthday was also January 29! What a small world for me to meet Cary Kelly in that way! Coincidence? Maybe, but I still am in touch with her.
Who in your life has inspired you so much that you know even their personal details? I never imagined knowing that Oprah’s birthday was January 29 would allow me this experience or that inviting Judy to the stage reading would uncover our mutual friends. Truly the things that happen in our lives happen because we make them happen.
I agree with Oprah in that we are the Captain of our fate. Don’t stop! Keep pressing on! Live a life of significance and share your journey, but only to make someone better!