When I grow up, I want to be this guy.

The past few months of staying home and trying to decide what I want to do next have been trying to say the least. I’ve been on the other side of job search for the past seven years, having been a job coach and a case manager, a friend and a listening ear to those in job search. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to fill out applications and post my resume. It’s been a while since I’ve had to figure out what direction my career is going to take.

Since my last employment experience didn’t necessarily end on a positive note, I’ve been wary not to jump carelessly into the next opportunity for the sake of being “employed”. I want to live my passions. I don’t want a job. I want a career. I love helping people identify their goals and achieve them. I enjoy creating things- designing programs and social services projects that have lasting impact improving the lives of individuals, families and communities. I want to help people discover and fulfill their god-given potential.

With as many available jobs as there are, one would assume job search would be easy- boy, do I wish it were! Unfortunately, many times it is not. I want to stick to my guns and only apply for jobs where I feel motivated and excited by the job description and the organization, only apply to those positions where I know for certain I would be most thrilled to wake up everyday and be a part of whatever is going on, regardless of the title. I want to, but my bills are piling up and I feel like I’m running out of time. Despite my anxiety, I hang in there and press on, keeping faith that the universe knows what I need and want, what my next employer needs and wants, and that at exactly the right time, the nexus of these things will manifest itself in an offer at an organization where I will experience an enjoyable and fulfilling career, and I will be very happy that I’d stuck it out and waited.

So far, I’ve found several “dream job” descriptions, and I’ve applied to them all. There are days when I feel so excited about what is to happen. Other days, I sit nervously in front of my Chromebook, refreshing my gmail inbox, checking to see if my phone has been disconnected since use it hasn’t rung in days, nervously scanning the digital horizon for the next opportunity.

In the course of my job search I came across an organization, Defy Ventures, and a guy named Coss Marte.

 033015Coss8TB

Defy Ventures is an entrepreneurship, employment, and character training blended online program for people with criminal histories.

Defy recognizes that many former drug dealers and gang leaders can become successful, legal entrepreneurs.”

Coss is an ex-con whose prison workout is taking over New York. From all accounts, this guy seems to me to be the ultimate modern-day alchemist. Everything he touches turns to gold. As I googled him and read his story, I became more and more inspired to keep reaching for my dreams. I was reminded that obstacles are only opportunities disguised as situations to which I am yet to find a solution. This guy has been to prison, had nothing handed to him and experienced his fair share of unfair circumstances. As I watch his TEDx Talk and listen to his story, I am inspired by his bravery, his vulnerability, his resilience and ambition. From inmate to entrepreneur, he’s partnered himself with an organization, developed his passion, honed his business acumen, delivered Shark Tank styled business pitches, and he’s done a TEDx talk on his life experience. When I grow up, I want to be this guy- his entire life is my bucket list!

workout_coss_angeli_inset2

Coss is a real life person who is skilled at turning water into wine; he knows how to find the extraordinary in the sacred ordinary. It’s good to know that there are real people out there with real life obstacles who are reaching for their dreams, achieving and succeeding despite their troubled pasts. Knowing this gives me the hope to keep holding on to my own dreams, to keep striving despite what it looks like with natural eyes, to believe that the universe can do for me what it continues to do for people like him. It reminds me, too, that turning water into wine is possible everyday for each and every one of us.

Defy-LogoTo learn more about Defy Ventures, visit their website http://defyventures.org/

To read about Coss Marte, entrepreneur, owner and physical trainer at Coss Athletics, go to http://nypost.com/2015/03/30/meet-the-ex-con-whose-prison-inspired-workout-is-taking-over-new-york/

Join my network or view my LinkedIn profilewww.linkedin.com/in/asamarithompsonpmp

(pictures used do not belong to the author)

Take 11 minutes to watch Coss’ TEDx talk. You’ll be glad you did. 

Fighting back when your food tries to kill you

I don’t have celiac disease but gluten-sensitivity is real. 

Sliced-French-Bread-Loaves

For the past few months I’ve been dealing with hypothroidism and gluten sensitivity which has literally forced me to pay attention to the food I’ve been eating and switch to a high protein, gluten-free diet.

For anyone who is rolling their eyes, I’m telling you this gluten sensitivity thing is real. No one naturally gains five or more pounds overnight. The bloating, joint pain, swollen face and legs, muscle aches, and aggravated respiratory distress is not imaginary. I’d like to be able to breathe when I eat! While I don’t carry the genetic marker for celiac disease, the stress on my body when I eat certain foods is very real. What causes it is a mystery to many- I grew up eating a carb-heavy diet- rice, bread, pasta, flour tortillas are among my favorite foods- but I’ve never experienced anything like I have in the past seven months.

IMG_1557

Since eliminating wheat products from my diet, I’ve seen a turnaround. I am breathing easier and rely on steroids less frequently on a daily basis; my body feels lighter even without having lost the extra weight. Drinking green smoothies and including anti-inflammatory aids such as pineapple, ginger, turmeric and carrots has reduced my daily need for NSAID pain relievers. I feel stronger. My mind is clearer. Most recently, I added Shakeology (a Beachbody product) to my diet as well, and haven’t had to consume the seven-plus vitamin and mineral supplements I had been taking (each of which cost over $15.00 per bottle) to maintain my health for the day.

All things considered, I feel great! Now to lose these pounds and snap my body back into shape!

If you want to join me on this journey, you can check out my progress on the beachbody website- http://beachbodycoach.com/thundercat79.

Workout buddies of all fitness levels are most welcome- we’re all champions here!

Interested in Shakeology (what is it made of? what does it taste like? where can I get some?)? Leave me a note in the comment section-let’s chat! ❤

(Photos used do not belong to the author)

The Gift Of Emptiness

Seeing the good in what is left when everything you have has been taken away. 

LifeOfPi2

For centuries humans have recognized the benefit of stillness and quietness in forms of meditation and spiritual practice. For some of us, we already practice stillness and mindfulness in our daily rituals of prayer, meditation, yoga, journaling and decluttering walks. For others of us, it is not so easy. Life inundates us with lists of things to do. Now that we are “connected” all day to newsfeeds and tickers, pings, dings and rings, disconnecting is even more difficult to do, for fear of missing out! I usually say that “God sends people to the desert when he really wants to talk to them because the reception is really good out there.” I think there’s some truth to this. Barrenness and stillness is where we are most connected with the soul of the world.

One thing that we need to remember is this: where there is emptiness and barrenness, there is potential for miracles.

Sometimes the universe will deal us a heavy blow if for no other reason than to get our attention. One day everything is going smoothly. The next, we’ve lost our job, our house burns down, there is a divorce or a loved one passes away- in the blink of an eye the entire world has changed.

Sometimes the storms of life happen if for no reason but to bring us back to these places of nothingness so we can build again.

Sometimes life breaks us so we can be rebuilt from the pieces into something even more beautiful.

For some of us, the shock and grief of losing everything can throw us into quite the tailspin from which we have a difficult time trying to recover. Our pain comes not from our brokenness, but from our unwillingness to be broken. We have to learn to let go and be okay with being broken.

To understand what I am saying, one needs only to look at nature. None of the seasons last forever. There is the time for sowing seeds and time for harvesting, and then there are times when the land lies fallow, whether intentionally as a result of an individual, or due to corporate activity around it as in the wild. In and of itself, that land does not lose its worth. Farmers (Mother Nature included!) understand that leaving land unseeded for a while allows it to build up it’s nutrient resources before sowing seeds for harvest once more.

In wintertime there is snow covering the ground and the trees look dead, but we know for sure that when springtime rolls around the snow will thaw and the leaves and grass, flowers and animal life will all be back. So too, when life razes us and we feel like there is nothing left, right there in that moment is potential for growth- finding one’s self, hearing one’s soul; there is opportunity for rebirth among the ashes. We must remember first that this too is temporary- no season lasts forever; no storm lasts forever. We must not lose hope. We must look forward to the next season, and we must do it today.

 

Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis makes this recovery much easier. I’m not saying this to seem harsh or uncaring but quite the opposite- the self love and self care that goes into building this habit into our daily routine often pays off in the face of disaster. If our ear is already pressed to the soul of the world, then we are attuned to what the universe has to say even when, to the natural eye, everything has gone wrong. If we can find the strength in the midst of the storm to be still, we will find the strength to endure the storm. When we are removed from the noise, we can hear what the universe- what our souls- are trying to tell us. We can hear all the things that the busy-ness and business of life drowns out by keeping us distracted. God, as you understand him, is always there.

If you are facing emptiness and barrenness in any area of your life today, I want to encourage you to embrace it. This too is a gift.

lighthousecover326x326  

I’ve decided to call this series Lessons From The Lighthouse, in homage to the imagery found in the film, Life Of Pi. These lessons have served as an inspiration to me in my personal growth and development in the past year and half, and now, I’m sharing them with you. I hope that they are instrumental in helping you find your inner ability to create miracles in your own life.

Light & Love!

To find the entire series, click here.

An ‘A’ For Effort

“Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:21 NIV)

excellent

Jesus likened the Kingdom of Heaven to what it would be like when a man, going on a long trip, gave his servants amounts of money in trust until he returned. He gave each a differing amount proportionate to their abilities. Upon his return, he assessed what each servant did with the money. There was reproach and shame and loss for the one who did nothing but bury the money in the earth. But the ones who took the risk to invest reaped a profit, and earned the praise of their master.

God gave each and every one of us a specific set of skills and traits that make us unique and qualify us to do the job He put us on this earth to do. We can choose to use those gifts for good, use those gifts negatively, or not use them at all. Think back to the time when you were a child and what others would always say about whom you are and what you were doing. It is true that, even then, you knew who God created you to be.  God expects us to use those gifts, with which we were entrusted, to reap a profit for Him in this lifetime.

All our time on earth is crafted by how best we use our gifts and talents. In your professional life, you will be doing something meaningful for God’s Kingdom with your gifts. It is wise for us to take some time for introspection, to find out what those gifts are, and how best we may use them to bring glory to God’s Kingdom.

If you do not have a job, consider the following:

If your talent is for service and helping people, volunteering at your church or local mission could be a great way of networking and improving your resume by building references and gaining experience.

If your talent is in computer skills, doing online applications (and then following up, of course) may be your best bet, as well as helping others in job search with their online applications.

If your talent is for handiwork or craftsmanship, staying current with your craft by doing odd jobs for others is also a great networking tool and gives you an excellent source for building Quantified Selling Points while helping someone else.

If you’re an artsy type of person, think of a creative way to sell yourself in the interview. Hiring managers are looking for people who stand out. Using your creative flair in a tasteful way makes you memorable and gives them an idea if you are a good fit for their company.

You see, God has put on the inside of you exactly what you need to achieve what you want. The responsibility is ours to use the gifts and talents we already possess to gain what we want. When we do, God recognizes our efforts and blesses us in ways we could never have imagined. He is all too eager to give us an ‘A’ for effort, as long as we are faithful enough to try.