Melinda Armstrong

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Eating With Your Eyes Wide Open…

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 at 10:28 am

It’s funny the things we don’t see.  I am fortunate to have the blessing of nearsightedness to remind me of how lucky I am to have contact lenses.  But isn’t it interesting that despite having crystal clear vision, too often much of what’s present right in front of us goes unnoticed?  This morning I woke up with an idea about weight loss and how so much of the struggle we deal with regarding weight issues has to do with what we do not stop to see.

When was the last time someone gave you something really decadent and yummy to try and you took it?  Was it a slice of pie?  A fresh pizza slice?  A piece of chocolate or a juicy mango?  Well, let’s not get into the good vs bad perception we have of any of these foods.  That’s for another conversation.  But think seriously about what you did with that yummy treat once you received it.  Did you look at it?  I mean, REALLY look at it.  Did you notice the glistening of fat, the oozing cheese or the crumbly crust?  If you didn’t, then you really missed out on something.

Eating is about so much more than the act of placing the food in our mouths.  It’s about engaging all of our senses in the process.  You smell, you see, you taste.  You feel the textured, you hear the crunch!  YES!  This is how we are supposed to be eating.  I know, I know you’re too busy to smell it, see it, feel it, blah, blah, blah.  But let’s consider the possibility that it is only when we do take the time to engage all of our senses that we can process our foods completely and let them nourish us as they were created to.

I am a weight loss coach.  That’s one of the hats I wear.  I do so because after my own weight loss journey I was inspired to help other people achieve success in that area.  I’ve learned a great deal in the process of helping people look at their weight.  Specifically, I’ve learned that the most important step is not examining food choices or exercise habits.  I have learned that the most important step is increasing personal awareness of how we treat ourselves.  How we eat is as important as what we eat.  No, successful weight loss is not likely to come about if we regularly consume large amounts of nutritionally poor food.  What we eat does indeed matter.  But, let’s consider the possibility that we would naturally shift to consuming more nutritionally supportive foods if we ate with our eyes wide open and with a greater sense of awareness regarding all aspects of the eating process.

That muffin, though beautiful and delicious, might not have to be consumed in its entirety.  Maybe a quarter of the muffin would give you what you’re looking for from it.  And when was the last time you allowed yourself to enjoy a serving of fresh anything: berries, veggies, sliced mango?  Try that today and notice how beautiful food is just as it came from the earth.  And what about actual homemade goodies?  Today I will be celebrating the birthday of someone very special.  I made one of my signature dishes: seafood pasta salad.  It’s so good!  To the birthday celebration I will bring that dish along with with a beautiful salad filled with an assortment of greens, juicy tomatoes, vibrant carrots, fresh apple chunks and crunchy almonds.  It’ll be topped with a raspberry balsamic dressing I make myself.  Good stuff!  There will likely be birthday cake at the dinner.  Will I push away the slice offered to me in protest, “Oh, no! Do you know how many calories are in that thing?”  I wouldn’t dare say that.  I intend to receive that cake and enjoy a portion (or all) of the slice given to me.  I will eat it with my eyes as well as my other senses, allowing myself to savor each morsel and bless the person who lovingly prepared it.

Food is meant for nourishment as well as for pleasure.  Let’s slow down today and enjoy every bite.

Today is a good day to do everything, eat, laugh, play…with our eyes wide open.

Peace & Blessings,

Melinda

(P.S. One of my favorite authors on this topic is Mark David.  He has written extensively about the “Psychology of Eating.” I encourage you to pick up one of his books if you are interested in learning more.)

Voices With Purpose: Meet my new friend and fellow dream diva, Joan Cartwright

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm

“All the Joy that you can find is waiting in the magic of a dream…..”

~Joan Cartwright, DREAMIN’

This is the line I heard as I sat down to scribble this blog entry.

“Make sure everything you do means peace and joy for you…”

And she sings…

“Don’t stop hoping that happiness will find you….”

And in that moment, I knew…

God, I was meant to meet this woman.  If for no other reason than this moment when her CD (which she kindly gifted to me today when I purchased her beautiful book about her life’s journey) was playing in the background of my taps on the computer keyboard.

I am happy to say that my attitude when I attend networking events is that each person I encounter has a gift for me.  I know that I must study their faces and look into their eyes for the gift.  It might not present itself in the moment when I am with them.  The gift might surface hours (or days or weeks) after the first meeting.  Joan was different.  I knew the moment she stood to talk that there was something magical about her.

This woman has presence.  Not unusual for a Diva Songstress, I know.  However, I believe that if you put her on stage with 100 other Diva Songstresses, she would still stand out.  She is a woman who was placed here to be heard via spoken word, written word, and music.

And she speaks.  She said to me rather matter-of-factly while we chatted in the parking lot after the networking event, “You have nice hair, why don’t you take it out from under all that?” referring to my curly hair weave that saves me from the daily chore of curling my hair after the gym each morning.  “Just cut it off!” she told me – ME, a virtual stranger!  I had to respect her voice.  She is one of those women who will be heard, even if not obeyed.  I confess I contemplated her suggestion for a moment.  I’m not there and I felt sort of bad that I couldn’t just embrace that idea!  Damn, why don’t I just wear a flipping afro?  Black IS beautiful baby, right?  I’m not there.  She punctuated her recommendation by confidently stating that I, too, would be 60 years old some day.  This I took to mean that she believes I will eventually acquiesce and go weaveless and natural and short.  We’ll see.

Joan and I squeezed in a lot of sharing in the few moments we chatted in the parking lot.  We talked about being a musician, about how we treat (or mistreat) our bodies, and the collective mission of all women: mutual empowerment.  It was a rich conversation; one that I pray I have the opportunity to continue.

We all need women like Diva JC in our lives.  Her voice makes our voices stronger.  Everyone has a vision, yes?  Joan reminded me of my dream: to use my voice.  It must be her dream too.  And she lives it.  Standing up and anointing the group with the call to support and encourage other women, especially those who do not have husbands at home to support and encourage them, Joan let her truth out.  Joan dreams out loud.  She does the thing I believe we must all do.  We must take our dreams out of hiding, even if it means stepping gently on our friends’ toes.  But she steps on them with love.  Joan is the perfect kind of bold.  You listen because she is confident in her dream to use her voice.  She has something to say and to sing.  And she sings the reminder to us all…

“Keep on dreamin, cuz only they come true…”

I am Joan! I am!

Peace & Blessings,

Mimi

Joan Cartwright is a woman with a purpose.

She is the Founder and Executive Director of

WOMEN IN JAZZ SOUTH FLORIDA, Inc.

http://www.wijsf.org

Listen to her on Blog Talk Radio at

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/musicwoman

Whose Dream is This Anyway?

In Uncategorized on May 11, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Lately, the subject of dreaming has come up quite a lot.  Not nighttime dreaming but daytime dreaming; the kind where you actually stare off into the space around you as if you’re looking into the infinite sky.  I’ve come across a couple of nice blogs about this.  And, low and behold, the book we are currently studying at church for the Sunday sermons is entitled, “The Dream Giver.”

How perfect.  Perfect because all of 2010 my dream has been buzzing loudly on the inside.  Yours too, I bet.  I’ve come to some realizations about this type of dreaming that might serve me well, if I remember them, as I choose (or not) to realize my dreams.

It’s interesting to note that if you press people about the things they dream about, you will stumble upon their fears masked as excuses.  Close your eyes and become 7 again.  Or 10 or 16 or whatever age you were when you still allowed yourself to dream.  Open your eyes again and what you might see is the pile of “lacks” stacked up over a lifetime reminding you why you felt you couldn’t be a dreamer.  Look a tiny bit closer and you will discover that it essentially boils down to fear outweighing courage.  We can convince ourselves that all our excuses are valid.  But the truth is, we are afraid.  This is what paralyzes us before we even begin moving towards our dream.  It is what halts us in our tracks.  We are afraid.

Being a mom, a wife, a sister, a worker, a friend, and all the other labels we wrap our personalities in become convenient excuses when we are asked why we do not pursue our dreams.  Hold on a minute, you might be saying.  “I’m too busy buying groceries and answering emails to indulge in dream finding.”  I know, I know.  You are legitimately busy.  Your kids, your spouse, your job and your email have sucked all available life out of you – so much so that you barely have the energy to brush your teeth before passing out across a pile of unfolded laundry at night.  I get that.  Ok, now be 7 again.  Dream again.  Remember that dream?  Good.

Now imagine if every day, amidst the clutter of the rest of life, we chose to pursue our dreams anyway.  Right, kids, hubby, blah, blah, blah….I get that.  Just keep going back to being 7 and reliving the joy of dreaming.  Do this over and over again until you are so compelled to live some part of your dream, you will steal time away from some other energy drain in your life in order to pursue it again.

Are you creative?  An artist?  Me too.  I write.  And I’ve done a piss poor job of it lately.  Why?  Because I don’t have time.  At least that was my excuse.  Now, I have started looking at dreams in a different way.  In my past, I felt that my life was too busy and too filled with more important, urgent matters – like laundry.  And Facebook.  Yes.  Now I’m considering this idea that my dream does not actually belong to me.  When we say that WE have an idea or WE have a dream, what we’re doing is acting as if our ideas are spontaneous firings from within the closed system of our being.  This cannot be true.  If it were true, then we would have every right to take our dreams so personally.  “This is MY dream and I alone must nurture it.”  What egos we have, yes?  I think that you and I should start considering a slightly bigger picture when it comes to pursuing our dreams.

Not to get all spiritual here, but who do you think planted this seed of a dream in you?  Seriously.  Maybe the same “One” that decided you would have brown eyes instead of blue ones and that you would have a size 7 foot instead of a 10.  Before you decide that you don’t have the time or energy to follow your dreams, maybe you should consider why you’re the one with an eye for color, or a voice for singing, or a flare with words.  Remember, you’re 7 and you haven’t talked yourself out of your dream yet.  You’re not 40 and “too old” or “too busy” or “too stuck.”  Try that.  Try letting yourself just fall up into your dream for a moment.  How does that feel?

So, this is what I’m doing.  I’m telling my ego to sit down and shut-up.  I’m reminding myself that my level of self-importance has stopped me from nurturing the dream seed.  I did not give this seed to myself.  It was given to me.  It is the gift.  And, if I am to enjoy it and bring it forth for others to enjoy, then I must nurture it.  Daily.  I must nurture it daily, not for my own self-serving reasons – although it will serve me.  I must nurture it for what it will add to the world.  Whose voices will fill the radios and bookstores?  Whose, if not those that have the dream seed of a voice that inspires others?  Whose minds will create worlds for our kids to learn in if not the ones who have the dream seed of teaching?  Whose hands will build art that makes love to our eyes if not the ones who have the dream seed of an artist?  No, your dream is not at all about you.  YOU are the conduit.  YOU are the one chosen to nurture it to life.  It is not a romantic indulgence.  It is your responsibility to nurture this dream and bring it to life.

Now, I say these things not to put any pressure on you, but to take the pressure off of you. Your dream is not about you.  And, truth be told, you cannot possibly believe that you alone, in a vacuum will be able to bring this dream to fruition.  It will indeed take an army of beings to bring this dream to life.  And they will.

So, now that you’ve indulged me in going back to remember your dreams, how about we take the next step?  Note that I am not telling you to work out all the details of how the dream will manifest.  No, I’m only asking you to do one thing that NURTURES your dream.  It doesn’t have to be ready for it’s public debut.  It needs to roll around inside you a bit longer.  You have to get to know it a little more before it’s ready to be seen by others.  One day, maybe it will catch you off-guard, you will know that it is time.  One day, you will write your blog, or create your business plan, or stand-up and speak.  One day, your dream WILL make its debut.  And on that day you will be nervous.  You will ask yourself what the hell you were thinking.  You will.  On the day your dreams start insisting they be shown in public, you will attempt to bargain with them.  You will.  You will promise them that when the time is right, you will show them off to the rest of the world.  When this happens, remind yourself that it’s only your fears trying to stop you from hurting yourself.  Tell them it’s ok.

You might even have times when you will talk your dreams right back into their seeds.  But they will never fit again.  Once they know what’s possible, your dreams will never let you rest.  They will not sit down and be quiet.  And this is ok.  Dreams must compel us, yes?  They must keep clawing at us from the inside in order for us to get out of their way.  And we will.  So, since we WILL get out of their way eventually, why not do it right now?  This is not easy.  But in order to let our dreams flourish as they want to do, we must first surrender to them.

This should make us feel better.  It makes me feel better.  I know that little old me is smaller than the dream seed that is in me.  I know, now, that that dream seed has within it the power to light me up and help me fulfill my purpose.  And it will if I surrender to it.  Oh, how I love and hate that word: surrender.  Let’s talk about that tomorrow.  For now, I will simply commit to nurturing the dream seed in me.  I think I was 16 when my dream seed first spoke to me.  That was nearly 30 years ago.  What have I been afraid of?  Maybe it is enough for me just to admit that I have been afraid; that I have sabotaged my own dream because my ego got in the way.  “What will they think of me?” is the thing we’ve all wondered when faced with the act of bringing our dreams to fruition.  Now, I actually do not care so much since I know that there will be those who think I’m not very good at what I do at all.  But, I also know that my dream came to me with the possibility of linking up with other people – people who will indeed get it and get me.  I’ve already over-thought my dream when all it wants me to do is surrender to it.  Ok.

I’m 16.  You?

There is a dream seed in you.  Your fear is not bigger than your dream.  The world is waiting on you to nurture this dream, not just for your benefit and pleasure, but for the rest of us.  Try it.  You’ll see.  And report back tomorrow.

Peace & Blessings,

Mimi

Freed Thinking Defined…

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2009 at 6:29 am

According to TheFreeDictionary.com, the word ‘FREE’ means…

Not imprisoned or enslaved ~ being at liberty ~ not controlled by obligation or the will of another.

And ‘THINKING”…

The act or practice of one that thinks ~ a way of reasoning ~ judgment.

Ask just about anyone if they are a freed thinker and they will likely tell you they are.  Dig a little deeper, probe, question them about their beliefs and you will quickly learn that much of what they believe and think was issued to them by others.  Family, friends and the media converge on the receptive-as-a-sponge baby and turn him into an adult who processes information from inside the box that has been created and defined for him.  Yet he believes that he is free and free thinking.

Parents wish us well with what they want us to be well with.  Deviate from their “box” and their beliefs and they ask, “Where did we go wrong?”  Friends say, “Follow me” and when you fail to play their game their way, they call you different, strange, weird.  We comply because we want to fit in.  We comply because lack of compliance is a lonely road and we mostly like having company on the journey.  This is all well and fine until your soul knocks so loudly at the doorway of your heart you have no choice but to finally listen.  Eventually, you stop resisting and you let her have her say.  Your soul (I call mine “Mimi”) cares little about your ego’s need to comply with the masses.  She only knows what she knows.  You can run from the truth for only so long.

Freed Thinking means choosing to occasionally turn from those outer voices and turning to Mimi…or whatever you have named your soul.  Call it Fred.  I don’t care.  You should give it a blog and let it loose every now and then. Freed Thinking (or “Fred Thinking” maybe) means getting naked and baring the most sensitive parts of yourself.  It means asking yourself the questions you have previously ignored or tried to pretend did not matter.  It means that you observe and love the world and it’s perpetual desire to teach you how to be and who to be, but you also choose, at least occasionally, to unshackle your thoughts from the biased and opinionated thoughts of others.

I love this stuff.  We should be rocking the boat, not sitting stiffly in the middle going with the flow of wherever others choose to take us.  Churches are filled with non-boatrockers.  I’m not bashing church and religion.  I’m a fan of church.  I’m not a fan of stifled thinking, of robotic teaching, of religious views that place the creator of the universe in some tidy little people-defined box.  I am a fan of freedom.  It is my observation that too many of us read whatever is written – books/blogs/magazines/whatever – and swallow them whole. Don’t do that to Fred.  He’s knocking…just sit still for a bit and you will hear him.

My passion is for thought.  And, if for no other reason than the fact that I am a black woman, what black people think and HOW we think is a matter of particular interest to me.  So, read this to stimulate your own thoughts.  I have no particular expertise on human thought.  I only have what I’ve taken in from my life.  Just so happens that I like chewing on this stuff….on thoughts…on beliefs…on words long enough to grind them into little pieces.  Most of us hold to our beliefs so strongly, we don’t make room for them to breathe, to grow, to expand.  We hold on to them so fiercely that we forget to question WHY we believe WHAT we believe.  I actually don’t really care what you believe.  I only want you to choose to pick it apart…mash it up….pulverize it and see what’s left.  It’s only when you have allowed your beliefs to be placed under the microscope of your own critical eye that you can say you stand on anything solid at all.

And Mimi celebrates….

In Love & Gratitude,

Melinda