Category Archives: Motivation

The Ashleys of the World

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I went to a restaurant to grab a bite to eat. We ate at a well-known franchise restaurant, nothing too fancy. Though we’ve been to this restaurant a number of times, this particular day, our experience was different. The service has never been horrible; it’s usually pretty decent. A friendly server named Ashley greeted us. At first glance, Ashley was just like all of the other servers that we’d encountered at the restaurant. She was dressed the same. She took our order the same as the waiters who had served us at the restaurant before. Nothing was out of the ordinary . . .initially. By the end of the night, Ashley had proven to be different from any other server we’d come across.

Ashley was kind and attentive. She always seemed to be a step ahead when it came to serving our table. Before we could ask for anything, she had already had taken the initiative to get things done. She had efficiency as well as foresight. She knew menu well. She knew the restaurant policies. When we struggled to use the paying device at the table, she immediately knew what was wrong and became our tech-savvy hero. Not only had she anticipated any problems, but after their discovery, she had already strategized the proper solution.

My friend and I quickly became aware that this girl was definitely on top of her game. She easily stood out among any of the servers we had ever had before—not just at this restaurant, but in ANY restaurant we had ever been too. We were so in awe of her incredible service, we just had to tell her what a great job she’d done. When we called her over to express our gratitude, she graciously accepted the compliment. However, what she told us next left us floored. THIS. WAS. HER. FIRST. DAY. We could not believe it. How is that even possible?! This young woman was so great at her job; we’d assumed that she’d been a veteran in the restaurant industry. In fact, I’ve experienced great waitressing before, but none of them had even come close to her level of attentiveness, competence, or efficiency.

My friend and I insisted that she call the manager so we could inform him of how well she was doing. When the manager walked over, we were stoned face, not giving him the slightest indication of what was going on. He was a bit hesitant when approaching our table, but then he asked if everything was okay and whether or not we had any concerns. Then my friend and I broke into smiles and said something like, “Ashley was AMAZING! You all definitely need to keep her on your staff.” Then we went on and on gloating about her amazing service. He smiled, seeming pleased, and thanked us for our feedback.

So, what’s the big deal? Why am I taking the time to make a huge fuss in a blog post about the waitress who served my table? Firstly, I think that, unfortunately, great service is hard to come by these days, so it’s refreshing when you experience it. Furthermore, whenever you experience wonderful service, I think it’s important to compliment and encourage someone in that field because they do not have easy job dealing with people on a regular basis. They have to deal with so many preferences, outlandish requests, and a variety of attitudes. (Trust me, I know because I used to bus tables a long time ago. The stories that I could tell ya . . .)

Secondly, I learned something important that day that I felt obligated to share with my readers. You do not have to be limited by the restrictive low expectations of those in your environment. You don’t have to fall victim to their assumptions of mediocrity. You can excel exponentially beyond the measures placed around you.

Ashley provided impeccable service leaving an unbelievable impression on my friend and me. Though we expected nothing out of the ordinary, she exceeded our expectations. She wasn’t limited in the quality of service that she provided simply because it was her first day. She took the limits off, and so should we. Each day we should strive to not only to do better, but also to BE better individuals. How someone handles the position of service is very foretelling of a person’s character, and Ashley’s character speaks volumes. Individuals like Ashley should not only be commended, but should be esteemed as role models of how to be considerate and treat people with kindness and respect.

We should strive to provide quality service, no matter whom it’s for. I’m sure when she went to work that day, she probably didn’t think that the service she provided would inspire someone to write a blog about it, but it did. Now no matter the journey she takes in the future, she now has a documented account of the impression that she’s left on a stranger. Maybe future employers or business partners will look at this as a reference on how professional and wonderful she is. In the future, she is free to refer to this link if she likes (and I hope she will), because I’ll back her 100%. Good on ya, Ashley! You were absolutely amazing! And to the “Ashleys” of the world who are approaching life the same way—in such a diligent and thoughtful manner—thank YOU!

Long Live the King of Pop

Me being silly at the Wax Museum 🙂

Today marks the King of Pop’s birthday. The legend would have been 60 years old. Ever since I can remember, Michael Jackson has inspired me—everything from constantly borrowing a friend’s Moonwalker VHS tape every chance I got to trying to mimic his signature moves. I even forced friends and family to watch his music videos and documentaries with me over and over again. I’m sure they enjoyed it though. (Hey family, if you’re reading this, sorry, not sorry.) I’m even convinced that my first words were, “Michael Jackson.” (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

I have always been awestruck by his musical genius. His artistry had always been innovative. His performances were always breathtaking. His talent is unmatched and his skill is incomparable. He’s inspired me to strive for excellence on my own personal journey.

One thing that we can glean from the superstar’s life is that we should work hard, dream big, and maintain a giving and humble heart. Though he is no longer with us, may we continue to be inspired not only by his music, but by his creativity, work ethic, excellence, and his philanthropy.   May each and every one of you all’s journey be filled with purpose and love.  Blessings.

The Next Time You’re In L.A. . . .


So recently, a few friends and I went on a trip to Los Angeles for birthday shenanigans. None of us are originally from there, but my friend wanted to do something different for her birthday, so we did. We ended up having an incredible time and I left feeling truly inspired. Here, I’ve listed some inspirational takeaways from this trip that I hope you too will experience the next time that you happen to visit L.A.

 

Lovely Art

The city of Los Angeles is just bursting with creativity. There are gorgeous murals to be found all over the city that are not only Instagram worthy, but memory worthy. What would typically be a plain wall in another city splashed with beige paint, is filled with color and artistic design in L.A. Even the architecture of the buildings were artistically inspiring. And the performing arts were just as interesting, from stumbling across the occasional solo musician on the sidewalk to the high-energy street acrobats. The art was truly a sight to see for any  individual who is in need of some inspiration to get creative again.

From top to bottom: California Dreaming wall, Unknown (location Venice Beach), and the Love wall
Top: Michael Jackson (I know those Jackson eyes anywhere lol.) Bottom: Mike Tyson (location-  Frank’s Chop Shop Barbershop)
Petersen Automotive Museum

Live Adventurously

My time in L.A. was truly an adventure. My friends and I didn’t really have anything planned; we sort of just went with the flow. Normally, my analytical and logistical self would have freaked out with so much spontaneity because I’m a planner at heart. However, I had been so exhausted from previous weeks at work that I was not about to spend what little energy I had left to make suggestions for an itinerary. Thus, we came, we saw, . . .we had fun!

Each day was an adventure. It was as if God was guiding our adventure since we took the limits off. I’m sure if we were on a stricter schedule, we would have missed out on a ton of events that were happenstance because we were in the right place at the right time. We met all kinds of people, visited interesting places all without having a schedule. The amazing food spots we came across . . . totally unplanned. Which brings me to my next point . . .

Lingering Appetite

This trip had to be possibly one of my best food experiences ever, which is saying a lot because I have quite a few trips under my belt and I consider myself a total foodie. We went to a lot of local spots and even made friends with restaurant owners along the way. The next time you’re in L.A., you have got to try this hip new breakfast spot called, “Hash.” (The name even sounds cool, right?) Typically, I’m not into breakfast food. I’m very particular with how my eggs are prepared. Plus, I usually don’t find breakfast food to be filling or full of variety so I tend to avoid those type of spots when eating out. Well, the Hash proved me wrong.

It did not have your basic breakfast menu of eggs, bacon and sausage, but it consisted of exotic dishes with multi-cultural inspiration. They had everything from the sweet tasting Acai bowl to the Carrot cake, cream cheese drizzled Belgian Waffle. (And I didn’t even get to try that one, so I MUST return.) And let me tell y’all how this Chiquitas & Gringos dish blessed my life . . . . This dish had tortilla chips, eggs, cheddar cheese, pickled onions, salsa verde and red chili crema. You could choose the protein to be added. I selected the braised beef, which was tender beyond belief. That no doubt had to be one of the most savory dishes that I’ve ever had from a restaurant in my entire life! Not only that, but the staff was super nice and the environment was really relaxing. We met the owners, who I also found to be awesome, and turns out they own ANOTHER restaurant. So, guess where my friends and I headed for dinner? Yep, that’s right. We cruised on over to this trendy greek restaurant called, “Rodini Park.”

Prior to attending this spot, I had never had Greek food in my life, but I found the experience pleasing to say the least. I had gyro, rice, and pita bread topped with chipotle sauce and olives, tomatoes and feta cheese on the side. I washed it all down with a nice refreshing glass of Rosemary Lemonade. And before you could say the word, “OPA!” there I was downing a piece of Baklava cheesecake and another piece of yummy custard dessert. I left stuffed! Now that I’ve returned back to “life as usual”, my appetite for that great tasting Los Angeles cuisine still lingers. It’s a bit of a bummer now that I’m home, but at the same time, it motivates me to take on more food adventures next time around.

Left: Chiquitas & Gringos dish, Top Right: Baklava cheesecake, Bottom Right: custard dessert (Sorry guys, so busy stuffing my face that I forgot the name.)

Laugh Always

It was great to reconnect with friends. Though we are typically separated by several states, it’s always beautiful to reconvene in one place and pick up where we left off. We cracked jokes and laughed until we couldn’t anymore. Each of us spoke of how we hadn’t laughed so hard in so long due to the many curveballs life had threw at us. After experiencing a rough period in your life, there is something about laughter that can be so comforting. To quote my friend, S. Lynn, “I laughed. I laughed. And I laughed.”

Leave Astounded

Being in L.A. sparked something in me. I left feeling exhilarated and rejuvenated. My creativity was re-energized. I now have an appetite to be more artful, to taste adventure, and to share laughter. It is my hope that you too get to experience something so inspiring even if it happens to not be in L.A. As for me, I hope this feeling doesn’t fade. Nevertheless, just in case I need to re-up on my sparkle, L.A. is only a plane ride away.

 

RECLAIM YOUR DOGGONE TIME!

It wasn’t too long ago when Congresswoman Maxine Waters took the internet by storm with her brilliance yet again. She nearly broke the Internet (and put us in stitches, lol) after she sternly, but oh so gracefully, executed procedure during a discussion. When her fellow colleague tried to dodge a question she’d asked, Auntie Maxine replied, “Reclaiming My Time!”

In other words, Auntie Maxine was not about to let some sly, filibustering individual try to steal her time to speak by filling that time with excess jargon and compliments. (What you won’t do is try to flatter your way out of answering Auntie Maxine’s questions directly.) She took back her time to speak. She was not going to get distracted during questioning session. She went on to say, “[W]hen you’re on MY time, I can reclaim it.” The now popularized phrase, “Reclaiming My Time!” has since taken flight as if it had wings of its own.

Personally, I’ve found ways to insert this phrase into my casual conversations with friends. After my overuse of the phrase in a recent texting conversation with a friend, it dawned on me. This “Reclaiming My Time” principle can and should be applied to our real lives.

You see, so many times in life distractions come our way. They manage to hinder our focus. Those distractions knock us of off our game. Sometimes they come in such a subtle way that if you’re not attentive, you can easily get tangled up into it’s web of manipulation. What appeared to be harmless initially is now counterproductive to your overall well-being and your ultimate goals.

That job with the long hours and mundane duties but cushy benefits has you trapped in contentment, too scared to venture out on that dream that you’ve been holding onto. That situationship with the space-filler of an individual has gotten you distracted into thinking that right now you just don’t have the time to dedicate to start that company or write that book. Wake up and smell the wrist watches! Reclaim your doggone time! That foolishness that has slithered its way into your life, that has distracted you and prevented you from dreaming, building, creating, and doing—enough already.   I’m not saying that you should act hastily and drop everything, but rather refocus and come up with a plan.

Time is precious, and we don’t have a second of it to lose. You’ve got to know that you CAN reclaim it. (<–That’s courtesy of my mom.  You’re welcome.)  We must remain attentive when it comes to following our dreams. Refocus. Revaluate. Reclaim your doggone time!

Thank you Auntie Maxine for helping us dream chasers get some perspective. You’re my shero.

Supersize It

Me, enjoying my french fries.

My father and I sometimes go hang out and grab a bite to eat. Sometimes I’ll buy, and sometimes he’ll buy. Anytime my dad says that he’s buying this time, I joke with him and say, “Well in that case, Supersize it!”  Since I would be depending on his wallet and not my own, I want the boundaries to be endless, well . . . at least to the extent that the menu allows.

Recently I started to wonder, what if we had that no holds barred mentality when it comes to God and our dreams? In our minds, we have these structured, miniscule plans, while God’s plan could be to take us bigger and better than we initially planned. We just have to put our trust in Him. There’s nothing too hard for God. Your dreams are big, but they can be even bigger. Lean on Him and depend on His provision. Take the limits off. He can do above what you can imagine. We need to depend on God’s provision, not our own.  Pray and ask God to supersize it.

Be a Peach

Have you ever tried to do something, but the timing was all wrong? Whether it’s starting a business or changing that career path—we’ve all been there. Heck, even certain fruit is better in certain seasons, but you get one out of season and it’s disgusting. Take peaches for example. Peaches are an excellent summer fruit. Now as a fan of peach cobbler, I’m not one for tangy peaches. I prefer the sweet kind. Even the idiom, “You’re a peach,” is used to refer to someone who is kind and “sweet.” When gathered in season, you’ll find peaches that are firm, spotless, and sweet. On the contrary, if peaches are gathered out of season, you’ll find that they’re often blemished and tart.

The point I’m trying to make is when something is in season, it’s at its best. It’s capable of reaching its maximum potential. If something is out of season, then it is doomed from the start because it is out of order. Being out of season involves more constraints that didn’t exist before thus limiting one’s ability to fully blossom.

Oftentimes in life, we try to rush things. We want what we want when we want it. When things fall apart, sometimes they are just not meant to be. Other times, the timing is just wrong and you’re out of season. You have to gain wisdom in order to distinguish which is which. Sometimes things have to develop a while before they can fully flourish. Get out of your own way, and let things ripen as they should so that you can obtain the best results. Be the best you that you can be—in season. Do not be out of order. Be a peach.

Catching the Wave of Your Creativity

I don’t know very much about surfing. My understanding of the activity is minimal. After seeing it practiced countless times on tv, I’ve heard individuals say things like, “Catch the wave.” My observation (and all you surfers out there, forgive me if I’m wrong) is that the surfers try to “catch” the wave by attempting to ride the water at just the right instant, i.e. capitalize off the water’s movement in order to reach maximum potential for the best surfing ability.

Creativity is the same way. You have to catch the wave. Writers often experience periods of writer’s block. That is why you must capitalize on moments of creativity because you never know when your creative juices will be flowing again after suffering a creativity drought. Now I understand the importance of people saying, “Whenever you get an idea, write it down.”

To my fellow writers, those moments in life when you get a little extra time on your hands, just start writing. Some days you’ll write a little. Some days you’ll be able to write a lot. It’s in those moments of overflow where you must catch the wave and allow that overflow to be the catalyst for future inspiration. That way, in those moments when you can’t think of what to write, you can refer back to the day when you were bursting with creativity and pull from that. Just. Start. Writing.

Let God control your pen, and let the words flow from your heart.

You’ll be surprised at all of the precious gems that will begin to emerge simply because you took the time to sit down and just write. Once the words start flowing, keep going because you don’t want this moment of creativity to pass you by.