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Leap Year 2018

leap yearNo need to check your calendar. 2018 is not a calendar leap year. I have declared it as “my” leap year. Years ago, I received a copy of The Big Leap by Gay Henricks as a gift. Like too many of the books in my home office, I started reading it, but never finished (I’m working on this). I had crazy layovers while traveling recently and decided to take it with me. By the time I reached the end, I decided that 2018 would be the year for me to “take life to the next level.” 2018 became my year to leap.

It’s my annual practice to decide what type of year I want to manifest by choosing a word. My word for 2017 was “incredible.” I woke up each morning excited about having an incredible day. But in addition to wanting incredible things to happen to me, I wanted incredible things to happen through me. I purposely looked for ways to provide others with incredible experiences during our interactions.

the-power-of-words-1-728Did you know that the words you choose to describe your expectations are very telling and powerful? That “little member” called the tongue can be used to speak death or life. Perhaps growing up you heard, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Hopefully, you know by now that this idea is completely false. Words do and can hurt. Once they’re said, it’s too late to take them back. Think about it. Are you speaking negatively or positively about your situation, yourself, or others?

In addition to what we say, we have to be mindful of what we do. Don’t sweat the small stuff! It truly is small when you consider the big picture. AND, never lose sight that it’s just stuff. Be careful not to discard or discount the people in your life. We were created as relational beings. You need the person next to you as much as that person needs you. There is shared ownership in relationships so do your part. Although, we may not have it all together, together – we have it all.

Human-beings-NOT-human-doingsWhen I first received my cancer diagnosis years ago, I attended a yoga class. As the only person who showed up, it was my own private class. The teacher was full of wisdom. Of the many nuggets he shared that day, the one that I think about often is the concept that we are human “beings” and not human “doings.” We tend to get so busy with the “doing” that we are no longer “being.” Just be present with the present. The present is truly a gift for which we should be thankful.

In order for me to take “the big leap” in 2018, I had to change my mindset. Hmmm. So where do I set my mind? Establishing personal and professional goals was a great place to start. I came across this quote, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” I’ve got the goals and the objectives in place to reach them. (Think of objectives as the rungs on the ladder that you’re climbing in order to reach the goal at the top.) I have to be willing to do what it takes to reach that goal. For example, if an opportunity presents itself that is not in alignment with my goals, I have to pass. If someone is not supportive of what I’m trying to accomplish and where I’m trying to go, it’s better that I love them at a distance.

time-for-changeI am responsible for the change, or lack thereof, in my life. Change is never comfortable or convenient, but it’s necessary for growth. Change is a process that requires work. Although change can be difficult, NOT changing can be fatal. I don’t have to see the whole staircase. I just have to take the first step. In addition to taking steps of faith, I may have to take leaps of faith. I know that when I do, God will either catch me or teach me to fly.

The next “real” leap year will be 2020 (hint: it coincides with the Presidential election year). Please don’t wait until then to take  “the big leap” in your life. Yes, 2018 is “my” leap year, but there’s plenty of room on the train. Won’t you join me?

 

be NspireD!

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2018: Take a Chance, Make a Change

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Chance. Change. What’s the difference between these words? Simply one letter. The chance you take. The change you make. What’s the difference? Simply one step. These words and concepts have been on my mind as we transitioned from one year to the next. 2017 was the incredible year that I proclaimed it would be. I’m now focused on my “what’s next” for 2018. Recommitting to my weekly blogs seemed like the perfect place to begin, especially today.

 

You see, 5 years ago today, I finished my last chemo treatment. Wow! My breast cancer journey was nothing like what the written treatment plan dictated. From the very first surgery (which was supposed to be “one and done”) to that final chemo session (chemo was extended by an additional year due to complications), all I can say is, “Wow!” Scratch that. I should also add an AMEN! I’m here because God has work for me to do.

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From the day the doctor called with my biopsy results, I knew that there was purpose in my diagnosis. Mind you, it took some time for me to figure out what that purpose included. I had to take a chance and think about the bigger picture. I made the change and stepped outside of my comfort zone. As a result, the puzzle pieces are coming together as I connect with people who will assist me in the process of manifesting my divine assignment – “to speak a word in season to him who is weary.”

I’ll celebrate my 7th “cancer-versary” in June. WooHoo! I’ve met and befriended amazing survivors and healthcare professionals. I’ve also been given the opportunity to have some amazing experiences such as making a nationally televised commercial, appearing in international print ads, singing and speaking in front of celebrities, mentoring and encouraging others living with cancer, as well as creating events to increase cancer awareness and prevention. All of these doors opened as a result of a cancer diagnosis. Even with the doors opened, I had to take that step of chance in order to make a change in my life and the lives of others.

healthI guess it’s just the teacher in me, but the more I learn about health and wellness and its connection to chronic disease, the more I want to share this knowledge with others. What we don’t know is making us sick or worse, killing us. I don’t want to lose another family member, another friend, or another fellow survivor. Did you know that many of the diseases that plague our communities can be avoided with lifestyle changes? We CAN do something about the things that we are eating, as well as the things that are eating us from the inside out (i.e. stress, unforgiveness). We CAN increase our physical activity. We CAN, but we don’t or we won’t. Why?

It breaks my heart to see people negatively impact their health with what they are eating, drinking, and/or smoking. We’re surrounded by the warnings and research studies. We’ve heard the testimonials of people whose lives will never be the same again because they neglected their health. These habits have become vicious cycles that keep us going around in circles. Unfortunately, some of these cycles are also being transferred to the next generation. Experience is not necessarily the best teacher, but definitely a hard teacher. Again, the question is why? I wonder if this is the frustration Moses felt as he proclaimed year after year that it was going to rain. No one listened to or believed him until that first drop of rain fell. By then, it was too late.

step-by-step-hiIt’s not too late for you, or those you love, to improve the quality of your life and possibly extend your quantity of days on Earth. It’s a new year. There’s still time to create a new you. All it takes is simply one step – the decision to start your wellness journey. 

To me, there’s a difference between living and existing. I believe that most people are doing the latter. My plan is to live life to the fullest – with an exclamation point and not a comma, a period, or a question mark. 

In 2018, what chance are you willing to take so that you can make a change?

 

be NspireD!

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Outdoor Fitness: Tips to Keep Everyone Safe (part 1)

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As far as summer is concerned, we are headed for the home stretch 🙁 Fear not, there is still a lot of time and great weather left to get outdoors, enjoy nature, and improve your health. I had a blog about another topic ready to go. However, the recent disturbing trends that I have seen while on the “track” at the park changed my mind. I get it. Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. Hopefully, these tips will help you, and others, stay safe.

 

 

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Tip #1 – Don’t smoke! (I can’t even believe I have to put this in black and white.) A few weeks ago, in the middle of a heatwave, I saw a woman on the track smoking a cigarette. I had to look twice because I couldn’t believe my eyes. Smoking? No, no and NO! Whatever physical benefit this woman was seeking by being out on the track in the first place was now null and void. We already know that smoking is bad for you (and the people around you as well). The warning on the package is there for a reason people. When it comes to discussions about health and wellness, you will never hear anyone say “cut back” on smoking. Nope. The message is STOP! This woman had two strikes against her – the effects of smoking in her body and the extra strain on her breathing as she smoked while walking on an extremely hot day. By the way, where did she plan to dispose of that cigarette? (remember – heatwave, park, dry grass, and forest-like surroundings). I immediately thought about the possibility of a fire. Please – don’t smoke at the park or anywhere else. Your heart, your lungs, your family, your friends, and your bank account will thank you.

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Tip #2 – Stay hydrated! Hydration is extremely important. However, the liquid your body needs is WATER. I saw a man walking the track with a big bottle of soda. I was also hopeful that there was water inside the coffee cup a lady was carrying. Our bodies are primarily composed of water. Most people walk around in a state of dehydration and don’t know it. By the time you realize it or an ER doctor contributes this problem to your health emergency, it’s too late. Did you know that the large amounts of sugar in soda (as well as in sports/energy drinks and juices) are contributing to the obesity epidemic? To further complicate matters, many times we misread thirst cues as hunger cues. As a result, we reach for something to eat when our body is crying out, “Help! I’m parched!” Please drink water before, during, and after your workout. (Bonus tip: You should consume half your weight in water each day.)

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Tip #3 – Follow the rules of the “road!” The track I frequent is a multi-use park used by a variety of people engaged in various activities. There are walkers and runners, bikers and skaters, dogs on leashes and babies in strollers, individuals and groups, etc. Driving rules apply – walk/run/bike/skate on the right and pass on the left. This may seem like a minor issue, but it’s big because safety is involved. Think about it – a person moving at a fast pace (i.e. bike, skates, on foot) will have a harder time coming to a stop or maneuvering around someone. I’ve been in situations where I needed to pass a couple/group from behind at the same time that a person coming toward the couple/group needed to pass. It gets to be tricky and dangerous when that couple/group is walking in the middle of the “road.” It’s an accident waiting to happen that can be avoided. Please walk on the right and pass on the left.

And, if you are out with your dog, obey the signage: “Dogs on leash at all times except where posted.” My park has a really nice doggie playground. Here, furry four-legged friends can run and play without being on a leash. However, on the track, leashes are required. You don’t know if someone has an allergy or an aversion to your beloved pet. I don’t want to hear that your dog doesn’t bite. If the dog has teeth, the potential to bite exists and I don’t go to the park for that type of encounter. Please obey the rules.

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Tip #4 – Don’t wear scents! Why would you go to the park to workout wearing perfume or cologne? Scents are a great way to attract insects that sting, buzz in your ears, get in your face, and are just overall annoying. Additionally, some people are sensitive to smells and can become sick. This is especially true of people who are undergoing medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer. Remember, you are outside sharing a public space with others. Please be thoughtful and save the scents for after the workout. (really after the shower! LOL)

Look for part 2 of this blog next week. If you are already adhering to these tips, THANKS! If not, please consider implementing them the next time you lace up and head to the park. Your health and safety, and that of others, really does matter!

 

 

be NspireD!

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boUnd

racing

 

It’s 6:30 am. Time to get a few miles in before the sun really comes out. My preference is to always be outdoors on the track, instead of inside on the treadmill. There’s something about being outside with nature that helps me think with more clarity. Besides, I enjoy looking at and speaking to the bunny rabbits and the birds. Now the geese? Let’s not even go there! LOL

 

As I crossed the 1 mile marker, my question remained unanswered. When am I going to get this blog done? You see, my time has not been my own lately. I recently completed an intense 2-month class at Temple University and am now a certified Community Health Worker. (WooHoo!) AND, my comedy show fundraiser is quickly approaching. (Got your ticket? www.nspiredbynicolle.com) But when I settled on the topic, I knew I had to make the time.

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Weeks ago, my attention was drawn to the words “limit” and “less.” Hmmm. If I simply “limit less,” I can be “limitless.” This morning, I heard the word “bound.” Ideas began to bounce around in my head and I was off and running (well, not quite – I’m a race walker). What keeps a person bound? And more importantly, why? I found the answer in the middle of the word. The reason why you are boUnd is because of “U” (YOU). The faster I walked, I clearly saw an illustration using the body.

Head – What thoughts leave your mind bound? Forget the “should-a, would-a, could-a” reason. The past is behind us and re-dos don’t happen in real life. Why do we spend so much time focusing on the past? Why do we allow people to take us back there? I refer to this as rear view mirror thinking. The rear view mirror is small for a reason – we’re not going that way. Focusing your time and attention here means missing the bigger picture that the front windshield provides.

 

blindfold

Eyes – What is covering your eyes so that the vision that you have for yourself and/or your family is no longer in sight? When vision is blurry and blocked, or distorted and dim, moving forward can be extremely challenging. At times when the light at the end of the tunnel is nowhere to be seen, it’s easy to simply settle and adopt an “it is what it is” mentality. Changing the lens through which you view life in order to bring the vision back into focus, will require patience and possibly assistance.

 

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Mouth – What is gagging and preventing you from using your mouth? Perhaps you are now unable to speak up, speak out, or speak into the lives of others. Perhaps you have been silenced, suppressed, or censored. Perhaps you can no longer cry out for help. Contained within your voice is the power of life and death. Words can build up or tear down. You have the ability to nurture a dream or destroy it at the root level. Be mindful to not only speak the truth, but to speak your truth by being true to who you are.

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Hands – What has your hands bound so that you are unable to accomplish your life assignment? Whether it’s a rope, handcuffs, or maybe even a wedding band, restricted hands prevent you from reaching out to touch the people who need you most. No longer will they receive comfort as you embrace them or wipe away their tears. No longer will they be encouraged from your pat on the back or that high five to acknowledge a job well done.

Feet – What has your feet bound so that you are unable to walk in your destiny? You were created with purpose and on purpose to fulfill purpose. Chains, shackles, and ropes negatively impact your life journey. Don’t become the elephant tied to a stake by a rope. It has the strength to break loose, but remains stationary because of the mental rope conditioning that began at a young age. 

Are you bound in any or all of these areas? If so, you don’t have to remain bound. Acknowledge the fact that YOU possess the key to the handcuffs and shackles which have restricted the movement of your hands and feet; and that YOU have the strength to rip off the bandages which have silenced your voice, blinded your eyes and clouded your mind. The next step is to take action.

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Ironically, another definition of bound is “to leap forward or upward, to spring, to jump.” The choices that you make, or fail to make, are directly connected to your destiny. Will you be bound, confined and limited, or will you move forward by leaps and bounds? Today is a great day to remove those internal and external factors that have kept you bound. Take the limits off and decree and declare that you are no longer being held hostage. Experience freedom one day, one step, and one decision at a time. Oh, and when you’re strong enough, go back and rescue someone else!

 

be NspireD!

Name2

 

 

A Healthy F.A.L.L. for Children

fall31 in 3. This is the ratio of children ages 2 to 19 in the United States who are obese. These children are at risk for serious health problems such as Type 2 Diabetes, asthma, and heart failure. They are also likely to become overweight or obese adults. As summer quickly comes to an end, here are a few things that you can do to help your child have a healthy F.A.L.L.

F – Foods

Food is the foundation of wellness. Children should begin each day with breakfast. The term itself indicates a “break” from the overnight “fast.” Just like a car cannot operate without gas, the brains of young people won’t function at optimal levels without proper nutrition. Studies show that breakfast helps to improve memory and stabilize mood. Children also tend to score higher on tests after consuming breakfast.

fruits

What else can you do? Purchase foods that are whole and minimally processed. This means that they are close to their natural form. Involve children in the grocery shopping and food preparation. Cook meals at home and eat as a family. Keep healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables, and healthy beverages available. Limit portion sizes. And, remember to be a positive role model for your child.

A – Activity

It is recommended that children participate in a minimum of 60 minutes of aerobic physical activity each day. Aerobic activity gets the heart pumping and makes the lungs work harder. It also helps a child’s mind and mood. There are many options from which to choose – from biking to basketball, running to rollerblading, and let’s not forget the classics – playing tag and jumping rope. It’s important for children to choose activities that they enjoy to increase the likelihood that they will stick with it.

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Outdoor activity is equally important. Children who play outdoors regularly are fitter and leaner, have stronger immune systems, have imaginations that are positive and active, play more creatively, and have greater respect for themselves and others. Additionally, they benefit from the Vitamin D provided by the sun. 70% of children have this vitamin deficiency. Why not make it a family affair and do the activity together?

L – Limit Screen Time

Did you know that school aged children are spending 32 hours per week watching television? As a result, less time is being spent exploring, playing and interacting with parents and others. Unfortunately, the amount of television viewed increases with a child’s age. Too much television for older children may interfere with being physically active, reading, doing homework, playing with friends, and spending time with family.

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Excessive television watching increases the likelihood that a child will be overweight. Children who view violent acts may demonstrate aggressive behavior, and fear that the world is scary and that something will happen to them. Television characters may display risky behaviors such as drinking and smoking. They may also reinforce gender-role and racial stereotypes. Television should be utilized for occasional entertainment and not continual escapism or as a babysitter. Adults should monitor the content of television programming and set viewing limits.

L – Listen

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Today’s children are growing up in a world that greatly differs from that of their parents. In this fast paced society, stress is a problem for adults AND children. The disconnect that exists between generations can be lessened as adults engage in active listening. When adults listen, children become more interested in what they have to say. Children also trust these adults more and feel better understood. Additionally, when you rearrange the letters in the word LISTEN, you get the word SILENT. Adults need to be silent in order to really hear.

A F.A.L.L. that’s successful and healthy should be the goal for every child. This will require: F – Foods that are healthy, A – Activity that gets children moving, L – Limiting screen time, and L – Listening actively. You can have a healthier relationship with your child. Pick a letter and get started today!

be NspireD!

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