Beginner's Mind

Shoshin  is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning "beginner's mind". It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. (Source: Wikipedia) The easiest example of this could be practicing meditation or any style of yoga, and although this concept seems simple on paper, it's often more challenging (and sometimes frustrating) to push through. The beauty of this concept is that it isn't limited to these examples. In fact, this could be (and probably should be) the way we approach our day-to-day activities. When you're in a constant state of wanting to learn, without judgment, you're spending less time talking and more time listening/reading/reflecting/researching. This leaves room for us to be curious, creative and to be open to possibilities that may not have appeared beforehand.

So I pose these questions: When was the last time you did or learn something for the first time? What did it feel like? What did you learn? How did it help you be better?

Recreate that feeling, especially if you felt nervous or even terrified just before starting the process.

plant the seed and live forward

Former colleagues turned friends recently launched a lifestyle brand called Arrow that focuses on creating detailed and meaningful experiences to the community they serve. What’s inspiring about Dani and Gabrielle’s initiative is that they broke through “the norm” of working for others to work with others - on their own terms. This morning they hosted the first networking event of a three-part series that focuses on health, personal and career development through connection and education. With over 20 women in attendance, we each had an opportunity to meet others in the health and wellness space.

What they’re doing isn’t entirely out of the box, but what’s important to note is that they’re actually doing the things they’ve always said they wanted to do.

They let go of the fear of starting and creating something that has yet to exist and did the damn thing. The important thing to note here is that the women who were breaking bread together were meant to meet each other. From there, we’re all able to connect and support each other on whichever ventures we want to take on.

don't forget to dance.


"But, I can’t even dance to this!"

Him, “just live in the moment.” ::grabs my hand::

Next thing I know we’re in the front of the stage, the only duo on the floor, while everyone else watches.  A live band was performing and the lyrics were unfamiliar to me (mainly because they were in Spanish),  but still I sensed the vibration and passion that was amplified by these musicians.  He takes the lead and starts twirling me around, pulling me in and out of rotations, and before you know it, we were salsa dancing.

The last time I felt like this on a dance floor was when ?uestlove was performing at The Florida Room.  This place was a go-to spot in Miami on nights, in my case Mondays, to just chill and unwind and drink $12 vodka tonics (with 2 limes).  During winter music conference (my favorite time of the year in Miami, Art Basel is a close second), guest DJs would come in each night, and ?uest was ending the week by performing on a Saturday.  There aren't too many opportunities to say this was the best week ever, but this by far is in my top 5 list.

The Florida Room was designed by Lenny Kravitz, had the feel of your basement turned into a speakeasy and later dance club, with lights just dim enough to see silhouettes swaying around. Five of my closest friends who just so happened to be music lovers, came to experience the beauty behind ?uest's art and as I can only speak for myself, this night was pure gold.

About twenty minutes into his set, I spot a photographer taking pics of me dancing.  It was genuine, as if he appreciated what he saw so much that it needed to stand still in time.  A few songs later, we ended up dancing and I felt the music and energy literally move through me.  Music tends to do that for me. Once I’m in it… I’m in it.

I love researching the producers and composers of songs that move me. ?uest has a beautiful way of piecing together his songs which creates art. His set is his signature. He blends cultures, inspired by his travels and exposure to the world, and as a result, no one in the room is left standing still.

[This is beginning to sound like an ode to ?uest. Maybe it is. Alas.]

In both instances, I let go of every inhibition I had and let my dance partner take the lead.  In both instances, I felt an out of body experience, and I didn't want it to end.  Reflecting on these moments that involved pure dance, partly inspired by Rihanna - my new spirit animal, I noticed I was no longer in control.

As a coach, most times by default, I've managed to subconsciously build systems in my head to be in teacher mode more often than not.  There's a time and place for this, and I learned the dance floor isn't one.

Not everyone needs to be coached in every moment.

Fall back, live and don't forget to dance.


death in motion.

Sometimes I feel that I'm so out of touch with reality that I don't even know what to prioritize. Today changed that.  Practicing expressing what I want & feel to others has opened up my eyes on how out of touch I really was, with myself & how I see others.

I shared exactly what I was thinking with my brother after catching him up on my dad's status, and his sentiments were eerily similar.

He’s a “retired” physician who still thinks he runs the hospital, so he was dictating vs. accepting and listening. Smoker for probably 60 years and 73 years old. We can count the times our entire family will see each other again and it’s frightening. Yet, we have an opportunity (as you do too) to cherish every single moment with those in your circle. Those you love and care for.

My dad is fine and not on his death bed, but today put everything into perspective.  As he's being treated in the hospital room, we were watching the live stream of Baltimore City Police describing what did or didn't happen to another black man shot by cops in America. Countless deaths are being broadcasted everywhere you look, and I've lost count the number of names that turned into hashtags. Death can put a lot of things into perspective and in motion.

As I was afraid to even enter the hospital, I knew I eventually had to as I've learned to face my fear to understand what it's trying to tell me.

We all need a safe space for people to share their stories, whether that’s through a blog or face to face.  This starts conversations where people open up & trust is built with one another.  We're all hurt and have a story to tell. We all need healing. Provide the space for someone you love.

when was the last time you cried?

Three years ago I met one of the most fearless humans I know.  A friend of mine had a group of friends in town visiting Miami for the weekend, and we all decided to hang out together.  I instantly connected with one of them, and we started talking about each other's lives and sharing our stories. He was spinning off of a massive injury (broken rib cages) from a motorcycle accident (trying stunts mixed with going too fast), something that he was so proud to share, in addition to the time he got electrocuted while at work.  In my mind I kept thinking that this guy is absolutely insane!  It turns out he lives and breathes for this adrenaline rush.  He was intense and bold and not afraid of anything. I was completely at a loss for words on how this man is still alive today, but what attracted to me to him were our conversations and the fact that he was fearless. [Side note: That same weekend happened to be the weekend I met Ishita who's premise at the time was about getting over the fear of fear which I subtly wrote about here.]

He and I spent the weekend together just touring Miami and getting to know each other by way of me picking his brain and sharing with him my ambition for taking a leap/moving out of Florida/quitting my job. He stopped me in my tracks and asked me this question: when was the last time you cried? In that moment, I couldn't think of a time so I responded with something generic, "probably 3 years ago"as I literally could not pin point a moment or time. [In hindsight, this is an incredibly long time to shed tears considering now I feel I cry at least once a month :)].

The point he was getting across was that I hadn't done anything worth testing my limits or getting out my own box - things that compliment growth & expansion.  All the signs that weekend led me on this hunt to do things that scare me, that evoke an emotion that I've been hiding without even realizing it.

There was a moment where we were just sitting on my couch in silence, listening to Christian Scott's album and I remember the song that I kept on repeat long after this weekend passed was Litany Against Fear.

"I must not fear.Fear is the mind-killer.Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.I will face my fear.I will permit it to pass over me and through me.And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." - Frank Herbert, Dune

Three months later is when I resigned and moved away.

What I've found over the course of the years is that whenever I feel that I'm on the verge of flipping to the next chapter of my life, I cry. Not because I'm sad or afraid, but because I know that it's in these exact moments where I'm facing my fears....and it's okay.

but, what if it works?

These are the first five words that are written in my journal.  It's always exciting to start fresh, and it can be scary, but only if you let it. Ways to shift your mindset from scary to "I got this":

Prep.  Whatever you plan on doing for the day, week, month or next 90 days, prep for it.  I started writing down my ideas, formulating plans to make those ideas actually come to life, and took action each day towards them.  Ordering the passion planner helped with this process.

Like most of you, I intentionally started a resolution on January 1st to commit to writing every single day for at least 15 minutes.  This is something that I've committed to, with the exception of one day where I can't remember why I didn't write.  I didn't beat myself up because of this, but I did acknowledge that I missed a day, and kept writing anyways.

Keep it simple. Create a mantra or something you can repeat that's positive and will move you towards your goal.  "But, what if it works?" Is a simple way to keep this momentum going - to keep whatever you set your mind to to actually come to life.

One of my favorite podcasts that nails the effectiveness of simplicity is this.  Don't over complicate, over analyze or over think what you're doing.  Progress is made in small steps.

Move. Move your thoughts to paper.  Move your body. Stop complaining that you're too tired, or too cold or too [any other excuse] that prevents you from being the best version of you.  You just have to make a choice and go out and do it.

The absolute worst thing that can happen is that what you decide doesn't work and you have to try again. You'll still survive and at least have a story to tell.

thought process.

I’ve been here before. The feelings of frustration, endless list of tasks that need to be done, uncertainty of what’s ahead, the bad habit of self-doubting. There’s a fine line between deciding when to escape and when to dig in. I’ve learned that before I make a decision, I have to find the answer to why I’m feeling this way in the first place. Diving into Pam Slim’s latest book, I came across a quote that instantly gave me some clarity.

“If you can’t change your circumstances, you need to change the way you think about the circumstance.”

Analyzing too much and not actually doing anything to rectify my feelings or the situation I place myself in situations that always leads me to feel stuck. More often than not, it’s rooted in the way I perceive situations or think of what may or may not happen.

Outlining what I’ve done, what I want to accomplish and what I haven’t tried yet - that just might work - aids in my decision to dig a bit further instead of giving up or escaping what’s difficult.

face your challenges.

“You are the fearless.” These were the first few words Edith said to the class. Then followed up with “I must’ve scared everyone else off last week.” Some people laughed while I immediately got tense amidst the sweltering 90+ degree room thinking what the hell happened last week?

I really didn’t have an idea what I signed up for. I just knew it was a hot yoga 1.5 hour session.  The style? No clue. The teacher? Didn’t even glance.

Sometimes I don’t like to prep myself up for a workout.  I rarely look to see what a WOD is posted, going in with the intention to adapt to whatever I’ll be in store for.  This class was no different.

The room wasn’t that packed, maybe 15 people at the most; a few guys, majority women.  Maybe the rest of the room knew what was about to happen? I still had no clue.

After lying in shavasana for about five minutes, she turns up her iPod to a mix of energetic, yet ambient music that immediately sets the tone for the rest of the 85-minute class. The sounds of heavy, but steady breathing complimented the intensity of the music, and it was invigorating.

We went through a series of chaturanga into upward and downward dogs, leaping to the front of the mat going into swan dives and repeating this cycle - all to the pace of the powerful music.

She gave us a break once we’ve all got the flow of the movements down, to challenge us into leaping properly, and falling into chaturanga skipping the plank.

These breaks in between each set of cycles challenged us further.  To make that first leap, to hold that pose for 5 more breaths, to ripping off the band-aid so to speak, and performing (and holding) the wheel pose for about 8 deep breaths. Three times.  She pushed all of us to go after each thought of “I don’t think I can do/hold this pose” and helped us improve.  With her help, I did my first handstand and held it for two seconds.  Maybe it was three. [Cues Aubrey Graham: “When’s the last time you did something for the very first time?”]

Today marks exactly one year since I’ve started publishing (most of) what I write.  Reflecting on my first post, I can say that I’ve made some life-changing decisions and have continued to be up for a challenge.  Whether it’s been self-imposed or brought on by a coach, make that leap towards it.  The result, for me at least, has been a feeling of openness, accomplishment and just being bad-ass.  And yes, being fearless too.

infinite possibilites.

I first heard of Ish during my second full week of living in NYC.  I remember this day vividly.  I was still in flux with where I was going to stay for the next few months, I was going on maybe two-full hours of sleep and had recently just started a new job.  By 5’oclock when I came back to what was my temporary home in Chelsea, the first thing I did was chug grab a glass of wine.  It was one of those days. Scrolling through Facebook, I came across a spoken-word/poetry event being hosted by Greenlight Bookstore – which ranks as one of my favorite bookstores I’ve been to.  The event was starting in an hour so I rushed to get dressed and pretty much ran to the train so I could get there on time.

The front of the store was converted to fit about 30 people seated in folding chairs, while others could stand behind.  I was lucky enough to find a seat in the third row, surrounded by people of all ages and races. I can’t remember the order of poets/authors who spoke, but each one was incredibly remarkable.  They picked out their favorite stories to share and illustrating their thoughts in our minds as they spoke aloud.

Ishmael’s stories resonated with me the most.  Spinning off of an emotional week, let alone day, this is exactly what I needed to here at the time.  Now seven months later, I came across a poem in his book titled “Tramontane” which illustrates the correlation of fear and the depths of our feelings.

“Wonders as to why the highest altitude gives us the most butterflies. Why the kiss one will cherish most lies in the zenith of a ferris wheel.” – Ishmael “Ish” Islam (Tramontane)

To do the scariest and what seem to be impossible projects end up being the ones you cherish the most.  It’s by navigating the depths of self that open the window to infinite possibilities.

a dedication to Jess.

Life is funny sometimes. After spending a few days this past weekend celebrating love, friendship and unity amongst friends and family and coming off an incredible high from it, I was told today that my dear friend and former colleague, Jessica LaBonte has passed.

She had suffered a battle with cancer and I had heard some news just 11 days ago that things were not looking too good.  At that point I was reminded of a few things, but what stands out the most is life isn’t short.  It’s full, and long and bountiful.  Life is meant to be lived to the fullest; everything that is meant to be will be.

Her love and passion for life (and her teams!) was full and she absolutely loved the Miami HEAT.

She always put others ahead of herself.  From taking me to and from Ft. Lauderdale Airport (a 30+ mile drive each way from both of our apartments) to doing everything she could to provide and help her clients at each HEAT game and event - her love for others was contagious.  She dedicated her life to help and service as many people as she could.

My favorite memory of her was when she sent me a text on ring day last year saying that Dwyane Wade had personally handed her her 2012 NBA Championship Ring.  "Shaking and almost in tears" was her reply after I told her "the world needs to see how amazing you are" (by posting the pics online :)). Today, a few members of the team and HEAT Family have posted pictures and updates in memory of her.

The world now knows, Jess.

I will miss her laugh, her smile, her incredible and hilarious stories, and our conversations during those car rides.

I dedicate this post and my passion for life to you, Jess.  May you no longer suffer, continue to shine wherever you are and watch over all of us.


the jonah complex.

Warning: lots of hyperlinks to insightful topics in this post. You’re welcome. Seth Godin defines non-clinical anxiety as “experiencing failure in advance.” In his post titled The Opposite of Anxiety he touches upon the notion that if we think of a future that incorporates all worst case scenarios, we’re already setting ourselves up for failure.  He also brings up an interesting fact that our culture doesn’t have a word for the opposite of this mentality – experiencing success in advance.

The other day scrolling through my twitter feed, I saw this tweet by my friend, Willie. Curious, I clicked it and immediately had one of those “a ha” moments.  Taken from Wikipedia: the Jonah Complex is “the fear of success which prevents the realizations of one’s potential.”

I feel that this is precisely what I’m trying to overcome.  Yes, I understand the whole it’s-not-about-you-mentality, the it-doesn’t-matter-what-you-ship-mentality, and everything related to not caring what other people think as long as you’re passionate about what you create. And yet, I still create this mental block for myself.  I often ask myself what am I afraid of?  What will happen if people actually respond to what I create – positively or not? I get stumped, and cower at the idea of possibly doing something great.  I think that I don’t want the attention; I don’t want the praise and accolades that may come from it.  Even just writing that sounds stupid.  Why wouldn’t I want someone to come up to me and say thank you or what you created actually helped me?

Yes, I want to help people and give back through writing, through fitness, through storytelling, but I also don’t want the praise that could stem from it.  Can humility and success coexist?

I believe it can.  Clearing some internal hurdles I’ve built is the key.  I’m the only one in the way of my own success.

just start.

Coming up with something to write for today was hard.  There are other things that I’d rather be doing that don’t take so much effort - like sleeping or reading. I’m hoping that as I continue to write, it won’t feel like so much of a chore. The hardest part is always starting.  So here I am…writing away.

I downloaded Jeff Goins’ latest book titled “The In Between” and started listening to it earlier this week. It’s about embracing the moments that are occurring right now and the tension between now and the next big thing.  It’s a great reminder that it’s in these moments of feeling like nothing is happening (when in fact things are happening if you just pay attention), that make up your entire story.

It’s easy to get caught up in dwelling on the past and wishing you could’ve or should’ve done something better, but this type of reflection is ultimately unproductive.  By doing that, we forget what’s actually going on around us in this exact moment.  A million thoughts go through our heads and eventually doubt and fear seem to creep in if you don’t take any action in the thought process.  So just start.  Start doing something.

It’s not a coincidence that I decided to embark on this experiment of writing to publish everyday, or that I want to create a job I love that doesn’t exist yet.  I chose to do this.  It’s the action of putting thoughts to paper to implementation, to create the tangibles that subdue any tension during this transition period.  I’d rather not just wait for the next big thing, because it may never come. I’d rather embrace these moments, pick myself and start somewhere even though I have no clue where this path may lead me.  I just know if I don’t, I’ll be waiting for an eternity filled with the weight of fear – something that weighs far too much to stay above water.