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.

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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!

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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. 

The Storm Within The Storm

Remember the scene in the film where Pi and Richard Parker get caught in the storm after having sailed somewhat calm seas for quite some time? Firstly, he loses everything that made him comfortable during this ordeal- his raft, his food, the water he’d painstakingly collected, the journal he’d been writing and the nub of pencil he had left- all his comforts were now stripped away. At first, he responded in awe to the might and presence of the storm, staring directly into (the face of God), cocksure he was about to die for the umpteenth time on this journey, and un-apologetically unafraid.  Then, he responded in anger, exploding in rage in the face of the injustice being meted out to him and his friend. “WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT????!!!!” He screams into the sky, demanding the universe give him an answer.

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Sometimes just when you think you’ve gotten the hang of it, just when you think, “You know what, this is not that bad!”, everything absolutely falls apart. They say things happen in three’s, but sometimes it seems like “three’s” is more like three-sets-of-three, of the “when it rains, it absolutely pours” variety. Think back to just before this scene where he is content. He’d come to terms with his situation, developed a routine, tamed the tiger, built his raft, and above all he did not give up hope. By all accounts, he hadn’t done anything to deserve what he was facing now- it is unconscionable to conceive a god who, seeing his servant already in the midst of suffering, takes away whatever he has left and hands his servant even more suffering.

And yet, so many times we experience exactly this in our daily lives. We’re already at a place where things aren’t ideal but we’ve committed our resolve to make it work- we’ve built rafts and find comfort daily rituals, just to find the strength and motivation to help us to get through whatever it is we are facing- only to have these things taken away from us too. It takes every shred of composure not to snap, not to climb the stairs of heaven, get into god’s face and ask him dead on- What, exactly, is YOUR problem???

I’ve had so many of my fist-shaking-against- the-heavens moments I’m more than sure god himself has lost count (I mean, I’ve never attempted to count the number of times my children have thrown temper tantrums, so I’m assuming the god of the universe doesn’t either!). In hindsight, I can see though that the things I used to resort to in order to make myself comfortable during the storms were akin to the way babies use pacifiers. I still do it- resorting to procrastination over action, preferring to live a cushy, small existence instead of pushing myself to go for my dreams, settling for jobs instead of pursuing a career, failing at every turn to live up to my own aspirations and to acknowledge my own self worth- these are crutches I use so I never have to stretch myself into being uncomfortable.

Whatever comfort zone I find for myself, the universe is usually quick to strip it away, to leave me raw and bawling, pushing me face first into whatever storms may come, eyes wide open. In the blink of an eye babysitters quit, relationships fail, jobs are lost, markets fail, spouses get sick and/or die and homes are lost. Just like that every single thing I counted on to support me, everything I thought I could count on to keep me steady, every single support I thought I had was gone. No childcare, no job, no apartment. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Luckily, the universe always has bigger plans for us than we have for ourselves

You can rail against the heavens all you want but god is a good parent who rarely responds to temper tantrums. This storm will get you closer to where you need to be- to who you are. You are being pruned, stretched and molded by your storm into the person you need to be in order to fulfill your next assignment, so get ready; there’s more to come. All those things you thought you needed to get you through were actually holding you back from achieving your potential and fulfilling your destiny, that’s why they were taken away.

Whatever it is the universe has in store, know this: you CAN do this. Do not give up hope.

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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.

To find the entire series, click here.

Light & Love!

Yellow Daffodils

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A STORY THAT COULD INSPIRE YOU FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE……

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say,
“Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over.”
I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead
“I will come next Tuesday”,
I promised a little reluctantly on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy.
Still, I had promised, and reluctantly I drove there.
When I finally walked into my daughter Carolyn’s
house I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children.
I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren.

I told my daughter, “Forget the daffodils, Carolyn!
The road is invisible in these clouds and fog, and
there is nothing in the world except you and my grandchildren
that I want to see right now. I don’t want to drive another inch!”

My daughter smiled calmly and said,
“We drive in this weather all the time, mother.”

“Well, you won’t get me back on the road until it clears,
and then I’m heading for home!” I assured her.

“But first we’re going to see the daffodils.
It’s just a few blocks,” Carolyn said. “I’ll drive. I’m used to this.”

“Carolyn,” I said sternly,

“It’s all right, Mother, I promise.
You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.”

So we went!
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road
and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church,
I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read,

“Daffodil Garden —->”

We got out of the car, each of us took a child’s hand,
and I followed Carolyn down the path.
Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped.
Before me lay the most glorious sight.
It looked as though someone had taken
a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak
and its surrounding slopes.

The flowers were planted in majestic,
swirling patterns, great ribbons
and swaths of deep orange,
creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink,
and saffron and butter yellow.
Each different-colored variety was planted
in large groups so that it swirled
and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue.

There were five acres of flowers!

“Who did this?” I asked Carolyn.
“Just one woman,” Carolyn answered.
“She lives on the property. That’s her home.”
Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house,
small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory.

We walked up to the house.
On the patio, we saw a poster.

“Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking”
was the headline.

The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read.

The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain.”

The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”

For me, that moment was a life-changing experience.
I thought of this woman whom I had never met,
who, more than forty years before, had begun,
one bulb at a time, to bring her vision
of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop.

Planting one bulb at a time, year after year,
this unknown woman had forever changed
the world in which she lived.
One day at a time, she had created something
of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden taught me
is one of the greatest principles of celebration.
That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time.

“It makes me sad in a way,” I admitted to Carolyn.
“What might I have accomplished
if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five
or forty years ago and had worked away at it
‘one bulb at a time’ through all those years?

Just think what I might have been able to achieve!”
My daughter summed up the message of the day
in her usual direct way.

“Start tomorrow,” she said.

She was right.
It’s so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays.
The way to make learning a lesson of celebration
instead of a cause for regret is to only ask,

“How can I put this to use today?”

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The Daffodil Principle.

Stop waiting…..
Until your car or home is paid off
Until you get a new car or home
Until your kids leave the house
Until you go back to school
Until you finish school
Until you clean the house
Until you organize the garage
Until you clean off your desk
Until you lose 10 lbs.
Until you gain 10 lbs.
Until you get married
Until you get a divorce
Until you have kids
Until the kids go to school
Until you retire
Until summer
Until spring
Until winter
Until fall
Until you die…

– Author unknown

There is no better time than right now to be happy.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
So work like you don’t need money.
Love like you’ve never been hurt,
and, Dance like no one’s watching.

If you want to brighten someone’s day,
pass this on to someone special (like I did to you!)

Wishing you a beautiful, daffodil day!!!
Don’t be afraid that your life will end,
be afraid that it will never begin!!!

❤ Love you all.

Tastes Like Chicken!

Ohmygosh it all looks soooooooo goooooood!

I’m sharing this with you all from the Team Beachbody Blog- 30 Healthy Chicken Recipes. These are very simple, quick to prepare recipes that are as healthy and nutritious as they are delicious!

Yum yum…April sure is looking good- 30 ways to eat chicken in thirty days- sounds like a challenge to me! Find all thirty recipes here. You can pin them for later and add them to your fabulous repertoire. I know I will!

Do you have any favorite chicken recipes you’d like to add to this dirty thirty? Share them in the comments and I’ll feature them on my Beachbody Coaching blog!

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Chicken and Veggie Fajitas
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Curried Chicken With Couscous
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Chicken Pizza
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Classic Herb Chicken
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Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Love Thyself. Because Self Love is the Best Love.

This infographic landed in my facebook timeline and I couldn’t help but share it everywhere possible. It goes without saying, if you can’t love yourself, who can you love? I’ve heard so many confessions over the past week; absolutely wonderful, hard working, high achieving individuals who have a difficult time accepting themselves as they are, and who make daily habits of being hard on themselves to the point of depression.

Maybe it is an indicator of how our society measures “success”, and that hunger to succeed that drives us to self-loathing. At some point it should dawn on us that it is our personal responsibility to learn to be kind to ourselves first.

Appreciation of self and love for self translates into appreciation for and love for the “other”. The directive to “love they neighbor as thyself” hinges on the premise that one loves one’s self. I’m always wary of people who claim to love others but who have no concept of self love. How can you give what you do not have? Maya Angelou said it best when she said,

“I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”

We owe it to ourselves to learn to love ourselves- truly love ourselves, accepting our “flaws” and our strengths. It is only in so doing that we can ever truly love another. And I should know. I’ve been there too.

I hope you enjoy this infographic as much as I did. Make a mental note on what you can do, what you already do and things you really want to start doing, like, right now. I promise you, you will feel better!

I love you. You should love you too! ❤

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Thoughts Of A Goddess: “Be Strong”

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The word for this past week was “Beginnings”. Funny enough, as I scrolled though social media, the same message came barreling through at me with clarity:

In an online blog:

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On facebook:

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Scrolled down in my timeline a little further on facebook

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And then this morning, while I was contemplating my melancholy,

again on facebook:

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I’ve learned not to argue with the universe, to learn to read signs, to value synchronicity, to honor serendipity.

This week, I will do what the universe has asked me to do. I will stand firm. I will not give up. I will “Be Strong“.

10 Things I Learned About Friendship

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This article was featured in its entirety in elephant journal at http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/03/10-things-ive-learned-about-friendship/ 

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Over the past year or so changes in my life have caused me to take a good look at the people I consider friends. Growing up, my parents dispensed a lot of advice about friends and friendship- some good, some not-so-great- but as I grew older I realized I had to be smarter about my choices. I needed to make my own rules. Not everyone who smiles with you is your friend; not everyone who seems mean to you is your enemy either. People who mean so much to you one day may not mean so much a year or two out. Be that as it may, I still have some very good people in my life who confirm to me not only that I have good friends, but that I know how to be a good friend.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1: Your friends celebrate with you when you are happy. They don’t look for ways to diminish your happiness, even when they are not happy themselves.

2: Your friends cry with you when you are sad. They don’t downplay your grief as though it were insignificant, even if they believe differently.

3: Your friends will call you out on your bullshit. They will be the first ones to tell you when you are being an idiot, when you are being petty or rude, when you are being a moron or a jackass. Your friends are not “yes” people. Your friends help to keep you in line with the truth of who you really are.

4: In the dark times of your life your friends will find you and turn the light on. Your friends don’t add to the drama and insanity by punishing you with insensitivity.

5: Your friends learn your song and will sing it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words. There will be times when you feel so lost, like you’ve forgotten who you are. There are people who know you inside and out who will be happy to remind you because they love you. These are your friends.

6: Your friends will take great lengths to understand your quirks, your flaws, likes and dislikes. They will not judge you. They will love you just as you are and will not try to change you.

7: You know your friends because they are the ones who help you to be a better person just by virtue of who they are and by their presence in your life, whether you talk to them every day or once every seven years.

8: Facebook may say you have over 100 friends. In real life, you only have seven, plus or minus two. Of those seven, only three are in your inner circle, and there is only one person whom you will call at 3 a.m. when you cannot sleep. Understand those numbers. The entire world cannot fit in your front row, nor should it.

9: As you get older, your friends will change because your needs and wants will change. Your true friends will understand that and be okay with it.

10: Friendship, like love, is a form of energy. It can neither be created nor destroyed; it simply transfers from one state to the next. Cherish your friendships and pay attention to them. They are important in navigating the seas of life. In order to have good friends, you must practice being a good friend.

What are your friendship rules? Share in the comments! I’d love hear about your friendship experiences.

Asa-Mari

Standing Firm On God’s Promises

Psalm 84:11: “No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

Promises

The beauty of being covered by the blood of Christ is that once born of His Spirit, we begin to see the world in a whole new way, we begin to perceive things differently. And with this new set of eyes, our value systems begin to change, and our everyday walk begins to change it’s shape. Suddenly the things that used to be pleasurable and fun, the negative things, just don’t seem to be fun anymore. We value the things that God values. And when we begin to live this way, our lives become truly blessed, for God rewards those who seek after Him.

In the Jewish culture, this weekend marks the beginning of a brand New Year. Let us all put on a brand new attitude, one of faith and confidence in the promises of God! Let us remember that our God is a faithful God, who seeks to reward those who love Him above all things. Let us remember that all things work out for good for those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28).

We are all called to fulfill some purpose while here on earth, and every facet of our lives is part of that kingdom building work! Remember that God always finishes what He started, and be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phillipians 1:6). And let us always remember that when we seek after the things that are of God– when we focus on His plans for us instead of our plans for us; when we allow Him to have control over our lives and our destinies, He promises to fulfill the desires of our hearts. (Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.)

My friends, the promises of God are sure and they are true. When we make His Word the foundation of our hope and our happiness, when we are standing securely in His Word, then no downturned economy, criminal background, chemical addiction, bad relationship or any other ghost of our past can take us out of the game! Because God’s promises are sure and strong, and they will sustain you even in the roughest times. When I think back over my life in the past ten years, I am grateful that I finally came to understand who God is and how truly powerful He is, and I see now that had I not been standing on His promises specifically in the past three years of my life, I would surely have given up. But when your source of hope comes from God, then there is always hope. And when God is your source of love, then there is always love. And love never fails. God will never fail you. He will never leave you, nor will He forsake you (Joshua 1:5). Remember that above anything else, He loves you so much , that he sent His Son to die in your place so that you can be free to live the life you have today (John 3:16) Jesus entered this world to take on the burden of our sins and the penalty of our sinfulness so that we could share His perfection.

Today, if our hearts are aligned with God, our walk is considered blameless, for there is no condemnation for us because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. He gave his life so that we might truly live. Go boldly knowing that God rewards those who seek after Him. Declare your faith by speaking positive words over yourself, your loved ones, your situations and circumstances.