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Radical Recovery of Rob Decker


Fitness, faith and friends delivered Rob Decker from the depths of despair to the heights of a clean lifestyle. Written by Suzanna Cullen Hamilton Photographed by Shane O’Donnell.

Originally published in Southbay HEALTH Magazine Spring 2017, a publication of Moon Tide Media  http://www.oursouthbay.com/

 


Written by Suzanna Cullen Hamilton | Photographed by Shane O’Donnell

 

Opioid addiction claims more lives each year than firearms or automobiles. Growing up with parents who were alcoholics with opioid and drug addictions presented Rob with an almost insurmountable hurdle. Although Rob now has a thriving career as a fitness instructor—particularly to youth and people recovering from back surgery, his path was riddled with the landmines of addiction and negative messaging.

“It’s impossible to not be affected when you grow up with meth-addicted parents who abuse drugs and alcohol,” says Rob. He started using marijuana at age 16, and by his early 20s he was taking Ecstasy and cocaine. “I was on a fast path, and my father told me that I’d never make it,” he continues.

A life of constant addiction culminated one dark night that could have ended Rob’s life. After a drunken argument with his then-girlfriend that included a call to the police, Rob decided to take his own life by jumping from a building.

“In that moment, I was ready to end the nightmare,” says Rob. Although friends had recently taken him to a prayer service at a nearby church where Rob says he “felt chills on my spine and knew the Lord’s presence,” he wanted to go.

Fortunately, Rob hit part of the building, and it broke his fall. Although he shattered his back, arm and wrist and collapsed a lung, he was alive.

It took five years and $2 million in multiple surgeries to heal Rob’s fractured back and arm, and he had to learn to walk again. “During that time, I learned to understand deep physical pain; the fundamentals and patience required for recovery; and I learned that my faith would deliver me through it,” says Rob.

 

Titanium rods, screws and cages now hold Rob’s body together, while his faith holds his soul together. He’s also eliminated all drug and alcohol use.

Today Rob has a thriving business as a personal trainer at Equinox. “I want to give people hope,” says Rob. He and his wife, Alyssa, live in Torrance, and they welcomed a son, Caleb, in 2016.

When asked what he’d say to his teenaged self, Rob replies, “You can be whatever you want to be, and be the best you can be.” Caleb is going to have a great pillar in his father, and back surgery patients have an advocate in Rob.

Written by Suzanna Cullen Hamilton Photographed by Shane O’Donnell

For more articles written by Southbay, visit http://www.oursouthbay.com/


 

 

 

Believe It – Or Not! By Donna Davis

Article Written By Donna Davis

 

There are 84,600 seconds in a day. That’s a lot of time to plan for failure – or success. Every waking moment is a chance for greatness, purpose and accomplishment…if we so choose. We have and make choices thousands of times a day both consciously and unconsciously.

Our minds are cluttered with old baggage that no longer serves us, and perhaps never did.  All the thoughts of minding someone else’s business, rehearsing conversations, if-onlys and wishful thinking are a big jumbled mess up in that beautiful mind of yours.  Maybe it’s time to tune in to our thoughts and thinking and sort things out a bit.

In order to do that you need to “find” yourself- the self that does all the thinking. Do you have a certain pattern of thoughts?  Do you have a preferred style of thinking? Are you on autopilot and let thinks run amuck-hoping that they will sort themselves out on their own?

Take a look at some choices below and see if any of these categories of thought seem familiar:

Spin Cycle:  The same thoughts, or series of thoughts are stuck on “repeat.”  For some reason your perception is that if you replay the same thoughts over and over again somehow things from the past will change. You think the same thoughts and place them in the “theatre” in your mind. You then take turns trying a new intro, a new outro, going through several wardrobe changes hoping that the outcome will be different. It’s time to shut the machine off, realize that the past cannot be changed or altered in any way, its already done. How do you want to move forward?

Roller Coaster: Woo-whooo what a ride we are on! We often get on this ride-with no seatbelt-and think that when we reach the end of the ride everything will turn out ‘just fine’ because we braved all of the emotions and twists and turns that the ride provides and somehow it will all will be worth it. We find ourselves bruised, battered, bewildered and disappointed. This ‘emotional’ ride has taken its toll on us and we have paid a very high price and often don’t get the outcome that we so desperately needed and believed that this ride would give us. Sometimes we get on the ride willingly, sometimes not. Often times we don’t realize that we have the option to get off. Don’t let this turn into a runaway train! Find the emergency brake! Find some steady ground and choose some better options, step by step.

In The Valley: It is VERY easy to take inventory of your sadness, pain and failures. They seem so BIG!  They are also very heavy and we have allowed them to wear away at our self-esteem, worth and purpose and it has created a large, deep pit where we can go to feel sorry for ourselves any time of day or night. It is a welcoming place and always reminds us of how many mistakes we have made, all the things that went wrong and just how bad everything is.  There is a special place within this canyon called “The Pity Pot” and you are welcome to sit on it 24 hours a day and think about how everything has turned to shit. Your perception of yourself and the world has hit a record low and it is very difficult to get out of this rut!  This place would like you to think that it is impossible to leave and that climbing out of this hole will kill you.  Truth is- you can leave any time you want. You may need some guidance and a helping hand – or two, but it IS absolutely possible to get yourself out of there. It’s time to trade in your real estate for a better future, starting NOW!

Lost In Space    There will always be plenty of information and opinions to suggest perfect outcomes and ideal situations. There are 101 ways to do ‘this,’ and 57 ways to do ‘that!” You want to try all of them, just knowing that you will find 1 that will be extraordinary! But first you have to assimilate ALL the information, with its endless possible scenarios to figure out what that perfect outcome will be before you try and implement anything! There are unlimited ifs, ands & buts. You want to KNOW before you DO anything so it will all be flawless!  It’s time to land. Pick one thing, something and test it out. Through trial, error, and experience, not thinking, you will find what you’ve been searching for.

It’s time to come back to reality. Like it or not, believe it or not, agree with it or not, that is what you need to accept and deal with. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, take a few deep breaths, find your awareness in THIS moment and steer your mind in a forward, positive direction. Create the best YOU and the NOW that could ever possibly BE.

The choice is and always was ours. We may not have realized it, someone could have taken our power away from us or we could have willingly handed it over thinking and hoping that someone else could do better for us than we could do for ourselves. It’s time to wake up, be aware and consciously make better choices.

Much Love,

Donna xx


 

Beliefs & Affirmations – Written By Hayley Young

Written By Hayley Young

 

When you truly believe in yourself, anything is possible! Affirmations is one of my favorite topics, and I can speak from personal experience when I say they work, they actually work!

Beliefs are what we think of ourselves. They create our lives and our futures, they are the cause of everything we think, say and do. Many of our beliefs are formed unconsciously as children and through personal experiences, but at any time our mind can be reprogrammed by our thoughts and affirmations.

To change our core beliefs about ourselves we need to be ready to start our journey of self-improvement and becoming the best version of ourselves. My journey first started several years ago when my friend shared a documentary with me, you may of her of it, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I was immediately hooked, and instantly life felt different, more positive and happier. By the time I went to bed, my affirmations were written, and I have stuck by them since that night. They have changed over time as I have had my achievements, but I truly believe in them.

Daily affirmations reprogram your brain with your new beliefs and views of yourself. You see yourself differently; think more positively, and confidence and self-esteem develop. You might not realize it at the time, but when you look back, you will see the personal journey you have taken. In the future, you won’t recognize the person you used to be, in the best possible way.

Decide who and where you want to be in life in the future. You need to be clear about what you want and set goals around what you’d like to achieve. Then you can write your affirmations. You can also make a note of any negative thoughts you have about yourself and write the counterpart down in an affirmation. Put them in places you will see every day (fridge, mirror, phone screensaver, laptop background, etc) and say them in from of the mirror every morning and every evening.

Affirmation Tips:

Write your affirmation in the present tense.

Start with ‘I’ or ‘My’.

Make sure they are positive.

Add an emotion such as ‘I feel so excited that…’.

Feel like it has already happened.

I hope this helps you on your own journey, thank you for reading.

Much Love,

Hayley xx


I am 5ft 5/6ish, dark blonde hair (often dye it red), blue eyes, happy-go-lucky, easy going, always happy and up for a laugh. Love travelling. Life is to short to be miserable!! you can connect with me right here: https://www.facebook.com/hayley.young.9237

27 Affirmations That Will Change Your Life

Affirmations??

Affirmations are a very powerful tool that can be used daily and they can plant a seed within your mind which develop into a whole new way of thinking for you.

Affirmations can be used to inline you’re thinking about the results you desire in life and they can turn your negative thoughts into positive ones. Which will then work in harmony with the natural spiritual laws of the universe, to attract what it is you want to you.

What are Affirmations?

An affirmation is spoken or written statements that are read daily which can completely transform your thoughts and make your belief systems shift to a whole new level. When using affirmations you speak of already achieving the goals you desire. Which then shifts the mind to that level of achievement and so you start to believe you are what you want to be. When your mind shifts to this level the laws of the universe work in harmony with these new thoughts and draws everything to you that you need to become what it is you desire.

So basically if you read a simple paragraph of say 3 to 4 lines twice a day. You start to become what it is you truly want to be and believing you can be it. Before your very eyes, you will start attracting the things and people to yourself in order to make your goal possible.

If you use the same affirmation for 90 days and ready it twice daily you will start to really see a drastic change in your thoughts. I myself have an amazing story about how affirmations transformed my life and I will share this with you on the audio when I talk about your next exercise. Now to begin with you may think how the hell are a few lines going to change my life?

Just please trust me when I tell you that they do. In order for affirmations to work you need to place them somewhere that you will read them at least twice a day. I place my affirmations on my bathroom wall right next to the sink. This way I read them twice daily when I brush my teeth. In the whole time it takes me to brush my teeth I am repeating this paragraph over and over again. You need to have fun with it and turn it into a little game for yourself and see how many times you can read the paragraph in the time it takes you to brush your teeth.
In the next exercise, you are going to write an affirmation of your very own. You are going to write what you are going to read either out loud or to yourself twice daily. I want you to set a goal so high that it makes your knees tremble thinking about it and then I want you to write your affirmation in the present tense. I want it to read like you are already what it is you desire to be.

To begin with, it’s hard to decide what to write in an affirmation. So here are a few examples to help you get started:

• I am the master of my own destiny.
• I am happy and love myself from the inside out.
• Miracles happen in my life daily.
• I am a truly amazing person who lives life to the full.
• I attract health, wealth and happiness where ever I go.
• All my desires have come true daily.
• Everything I need to succeed lays within me
• I have love, success and happiness
• I have the perfect weight I desire
• My finical situation becomes more wealthy each day
• I am a money magnet
• I attract opportunities to make money every single day
• My body is giving me the gift of great health
• I love myself and everyone around me
• I am surrounded by love

There are different ways that you can use affirmations. You could just write one sentence on several posts it notes. Like the example sentences above or you could write a paragraph which states your entire goal in one. You can then place this in one area of your house that you know you will go to at least twice a day. You have to decide how this will fit into your life the best and place it somewhere that you won’t forget to read it each day.

I asked The Missing Piece Magazine followers to share some of the affirmations that have changed their own lives, here is what they shared:

I am lovable, loving, and loved. Lynette Davis loveselflovebiz.com

My children inspire me to be the person I strive to be. Donna Anne Pace

Be the person others aspire to be….. be kind always, be passionate about what your mission is…. inspire and others to follow their dreams. Support, encourage and uplift one another. Dr Michele Langbein www.leadersempowerlives.com

I am my Master teacher who can find all guidance within my heart. Ellen Rich www.act2.expert

Wendy Hutchinson: There is no room for negativity in my life. Put that bitch in a box and stand in your power. www.alinealifecoaching.com

Mary Jean Marquez “It is possible to be a blessing to others while in the midst of your own difficulties!” -Mary Jean Marquez Women Uplifting Women / Women Uplifting Women / Inspiring Healthy Living – Whole Clean Plant-Based Food – Exercise

Vanessa Carter, I am filled with divine wisdom, divine intelligence, divine love and divine abundance and so it is.

I am on fire with LOVE for All That Is! – Trilby Johnson www.trilbyjohnsontheconnective.com

Aime Hutton “Inch by inch dreams and goals come true!” – Aime Hutton www.inchbyinchempowerment.com

Suzanne Gabli I am Aurora Borealis. The divine is leading me. All is well.

Sylvia Friedman Self-love is the only wealth we need.

Now it’s time to write yours!
Here’s to writing your own life and future reality!

Much Love

Kate xx


 

REAL LIFE STORY – Blindsided by Donna Davis

REAL LIFE STORY – Written by Donna Davis

He seemed so very charming. Or was it easy for me to be so distracted because my heart was recently broken in a recent break-up. Misery makes it easy for predators to ease right in. I never saw it coming.

He always had time for me. He smiled a lot and was adventurous. He seemed to know exactly what to say and when. We had fun together and things seemed great. I didn’t know he had a temper and a short fuse.

It started the night that he was teaching me how to drive. I hadn’t had the opportunity before so it seemed wonderful to have the chance to learn.  I started out doing well and then at one point drove off the curb, by accident of course, and watched him turn into a monster. He started yelling and cursing and then hit me. What?!  What’s happening?  I’m sorry it was a mistake! The car is fine. We’re fine. What’s the big deal? He later apologized and I thought it wouldn’t happen again. Unfortunately it did. Over and over again for a ten years. No rhyme or reason. Half the time I couldn’t even figure out what the trigger was. It seemed that I was living in hell.

Prior to being with him I never really knew how painful and destructive anger was. I had never experienced it. If he was angry I would get hit. If he was angry I would get punched. If he was angry I would get raped. If he was angry I would have to listen to hours of yelling and threats while I was cornered in the bathroom.  I didn’t dare question him or answer back and had no idea of how to stand up to him. Year after year it went on and on.  I would subconsciously walk on eggshells afraid of relaxing because he could “blow” at any time. We would have patches of okay existence and even some seemingly happy times and then out of nowhere I would get backhanded in the chest or punched in the head. My belief about anger became:  if someone was angry-especially a man- I was going to get hurt!  It would take me years to have this conscious awareness and several more years before I confronted the fact that this was a lie.

That experience taught me many lessons. It allowed me to see how strong I had become, even after years of feeling so weak and helpless.  I found out what forgiveness was. The surprise-and gift-of that was learning and understanding that forgiveness sets me free. It doesn’t justify what happened or excuse his role in the abuse. It allows me to move on and find peace and live life fully.

The dark memories do come to visit from time to time. I’ve learned how to deal with them.  I acknowledge that they happened and I rejoice that I’ve found a way out. It seems like so long ago now since I was able to put it all behind me.  Each day is a victory, another chance to make better choices for myself and make sure NOONE ever does those things to me again.

I sit here today listening to the Kesha song; “Praying” and smile at the thought that somewhere, somehow, perhaps he has found forgiveness for himself, and maybe has a more peaceful life. That is a wish I can send his way.

I get silent and say a prayer of thanks and ask God what to do next: I hear “Your celebration of life IS your release, IS your reward and IS your freedom.”  I dance in those thoughts with a happy heart, a smile, and a sincere hope that many who find themselves in a similar situation can one day be free as well.  There is a way out.  NEVER give up!

Thank you for reading!

Much Love

Donna xx


About Donna Davis:

As The Menopause Fairy I now help other women fine tune their lives as they discover their “A-HA MOMENTS” and discover happiness and pursue their true purpose. Over the years I have had the honor and privilege of helping women all over the world get clear on their dreams and goals while helping and supporting them as they found their balanced hormonal health and peace. Find out more at: http://themenopausefairy.com/

Beliefs and Affirmations- The No Non-sense Approach By Stephen Garrett

Article Written By Stephen Garrett

A lot of attention has been given to positive affirmations over the years especially in this time of New Aged Spirituality. There is a tendency to lean towards the light and avoid the dark at all costs. Well, the cost is actually in avoiding the dark, as that is where our personal power lies and also where it gets all knotted up.

Buried in our dark side are ALL the limiting self-beliefs that are our true magnets – magnets that draw to us those things we want and more those thing we do not want. These dark side magnets must first be re-polarized before any affirmations will have a permanent and lasting effect. If we simply lay positive affirmations on top of these unearthed and unhealed limiting self-beliefs all the laws of attraction will avoid the new lawyer of positive affirmations and instead attract what our core beliefs demand.

Positive affirmations painted on top of negative unconscious self-beliefs is much like applying a coat of paint on top of an ageing, cracked, existing paint job. It looks great initially but over a very short time period the cracks show their true colors and all the efforts of the new paint job were for naught.

If you intend to have a fantastic new paint job last the test of time you must first do the hard work of scrapping off all the old paint and getting back to the original surface of the wood. Once down to the clear base the new paint job will hold true and look as good as new for a long period of time.

Well, if it is true for a paint job it is also true for affirmations. They will not hold to an old cracked belief system not matter how much effort you apply. The old cracked belief system will always show through and the laws of attraction will bring to you what the old paint job has always brought you. You need to scrape away all those old limiting self-beliefs and get down to the base you – your divine spiritual heart.

Once the scrapping has effectively removed those once powerful dark side, negative beliefs the way is clear for new beliefs in the form of affirmations. So do your scraping work! Ask yourself these types of questions and be brutally honest;

  • How do I keep myself small?
  • How do I really think of myself?
  • If I am being honest with myself what are some of my negative identities?
  • When someone gives me a compliment what is my first thought?
  • When I make a mistake how do I really talk to myself?

These sorts of questions get at the negative self-beliefs lying beneath the surface in the shadows of your emotional mind/body. They must be brought into the light of day so you can de-identify from them and free yourself in order that you are able to receive the new paint job in the form of positive affirmations.

Without doing this preparation work; without scraping away the old paint; without getting down to the original clear wood surface you are simply wasting your time doing positive affirmations.

Much Love,

Stephen


Over the past decade I have spoken to groups as large as 1,200 people and more intimate groups from 15 to 200 folks. I have spoken in person at conferences such as IdeaCity, Double D’s Death and Dying Conference, the Ageing and Spirituality Conference in Los Angeles, the Bereavement Ontario Networks 25th Annual Conference, along with numerous radio and television shows.

I currently work with such organizations as hospices, professional continuing education organizations, colleges, communities, and churches creating tailor-made workshops to suit each group’s unique needs and learning styles. Learn more at www.stephengarrett.ca/

Self-Esteem:- By Kim B. Smith

Self-Esteem:

A confidence and satisfaction in oneself

Self-Respect

1:  A proper respect for oneself as a human being

2:  Regard for one’s own standing or position

 

Webster’s Dictionary definition of self-esteem and self-respect.

Why do we have such a struggle with all of this?

Self-esteem and self-respect are a group of muscles; they must be worked and strengthened every day. In this article, I want to talk about how to do just that, not the reasons why we lack the confidence and satisfaction in ourselves. I will say one more thing, we all experience this and we even have insecurities as well.

The key questions here are:

How long do you stay in this environment of yourself and who do you turn too?

I talk a lot about the ‘Hag in the attic,’ that nagging voice in our heads. You know who she is! The one that keeps you small, comfortable, questioning yourself so your confidence is compromised and satisfaction is never reached. Sound familiar? Believe me, you need support and tools to keep strengthening your self-esteem.

Think about your muscles and you want to become stronger. You need to do a strength-training regime, right? The same goes for your esteem. Esteem needs spiritual training. Yes, spiritual training.

A higher belief of one’s self, call it what you want, The Universe, or God. I believe God created everything, so I speak God. We need this to release all of our lamenting to grow stronger, through chaos, joy, ups, and downs! Think bicep curls, planks, squats and lunges, crunches (all Pilates based of course). Training! Hard core training. Period.

We have twelve laws of the Universe, begin there for your routine. Read them, understand them. You also need water, a dehydrated body leads to misery and that is not the way to strengthen your muscles. Hydration is so key in so many ways.

The bottom line here is when self-doubt creeps in it is a recipe for misery, and you need someone to hand this all over to: God! We think we need other people in our lives to help us through all of this ‘stuff’ we have going on, and we do, however, they have stuff going on as well. There is only one person that can help us grieve, forgive, lament, and give it all too; and that is a higher power is God!

There was a time when I didn’t turn to God, and I felt He was too far away to even help, let alone trust. So here is how I lived:

I chased money, titles and I placed people on pedestals. That left me disappointed, empty, feeling like I was in a deep dark hole, chasing people for love, drugs, and sex. I lied to climb corporate ladders for money and titles. All because I thought this is what society expected of me, and because I didn’t have satisfaction in myself. I didn’t have a family lifting me up, they beat me down. I was on my own since high school navigating my way with little to no tools.

I quit school because it was more fun to go to Florida at spring break and party. I built a career on lies, I cheated people for money, and I did drugs because it was a powerful place to be, or so I thought. I rebelled, believing in my own false confidence. I was wrapped up in my appearance of my body image, so I took on an exercise disorder. I lived a low life because I thought this is what society, and more importantly, my parents thought I should be doing. And yes, these were my judgments, all of this was in my mind.

Anxiety crept in, and it became worse. Physically, I was getting sick. On the outside, it looked like I had it all going on, but the price to pay was my lack of spirituality, faith, self-esteem, and self-respect! I compared myself to others, and I always felt like I had work hard to chase everything down! I would say things like: “I don’t have luck, I don’t come from money, only other people know how to achieve success.” This my friends is the Hag attacking and controlling when you are low.

A few easy suggestions to break this down into simple steps:

 

R.E.A.D.! (I heard this in church.)

 

R: ready in your heart

E: engage the text

A: ask questions

D: decide to act

Read and get to know God’s words, fall in love with Him, then you will be in love with yourself. Take His words and bury them deep into your heart. Slow down to have a conversation with Him. We live in such a fast-paced, surfaced, quick-fix environment. We need to go deeper in our hearts, bury his words so deep nothing can dig them up. Ask the questions of who, what, where, why, and when? Do this daily!

This is the muscle-building regime for developing confidence and satisfaction in oneself, a proper respect for oneself as a human being, and regard for one’s own standing or position!

You now have your foundation of strengthening your self-esteem.

Peace,

Kim xx


Kim Boudreau Smith is a multi-talented CEO and business leader with a legacy of empowering thousands of women. From a corporate background in sales and marketing and over 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, Kim has gone on to become an #1 International Best-Selling Author with the book being one of the best-selling on Amazon for 2015! Kim also has become a multiple International Best-Selling Author Business Consultant and Speaker. Kim combines her expertise with a passion to motivate and inspire other women to become “top producers in their lives”. As CEO of Kim Boudreau Smith Inc. & Founder of Bold Radio Station her international speaking and consulting work has enabled thousands of women to benefit from her inspirational and empowering work. Find out more at www.kimbsmith.com

Seven Words – Written By Desirėe Toldo

Written By Desirėe Toldo

 

Stubborn. Loud. Introverted. Passionate. Inquisitive. Precise. Frank. Seven words that capture the essence of who I am.

Seven words are what you need to learn what you believe about who you are. I often find that the words we use to describe ourselves find their origins in labels assigned to us so early on that they seem branded into our souls.

Our self esteems are so rooted in the opinions and words of others from such an early age, that by the time we are able to conceptualize our own self-image we are already so inundated with ideas about who we are that its difficult to separate who we are from who people think we are. We are a compilation of layers and layers of labels that ultimately create our self-concept; good, bad, or fierce.

So, who am I?

I am stubborn. The word comes to mind first because next to “Desirée”, its what I’m called most often. Being stubborn means you don’t accept an answer just because it’s an answer. It means you push beyond the point when most people stopped pushing. It means sometimes (lots of times?) you get yourself in trouble. But ultimately it means that you believe in something so strongly you’d stake a trip to Disney on it—belief like that is invaluable.

I am loud. I often say that I have no volume control, but being loud is to be expected when you’re a Cuban Italian girl from New York. Loud just comes with the territory. I speak loudly, I laugh loudly, I even sleep loudly. Our voices are the strongest tool we could possibly be armed with. Having a loud voice doesn’t always mean you will be listened to, but make no mistake, you will be heard.

I am introverted. If that’s not juxtaposition, I don’t know what is—loud and introverted. How can that be? I may have a loud voice, but my soul is quiet. I thrive in familiar settings with lots of books and snacks. I would choose a night in over a night out any given night. I’m the oldest 23-year-old I know and I love it. Being introverted forces you to step outside of your comfort zone quite often. You are faced with challenges that an extrovert wouldn’t give a second thought to, which means that you have the opportunity to overcome challenges often—its quite empowering.

I am passionate. I become even louder than normal when I begin talking about something that I’m passionate about (teaching, Disney, the Harry Potter series, food, etc.). My passion has afforded me a career, an opportunity to write my experiences down to be read across the world, a successful relationship, a stocked fridge…the list goes on. Passion is what fuels the soul—it’s the fortitude of your belief in something that drives you to pursue it at all costs. When it comes to your passion, stubborn isn’t a bad thing to be— never accept the answer you don’t want, always pursue your passion, always keep pushing.

I am inquisitive. I always have a follow-up question. Always. If I could swing it, being a student would be my fulltime job. I love to learn and I am always looking for something new to discover. If the family of one of my students speaks a language I am unfamiliar with, I research it—that’s how I discovered that the Igbo language is spoken in parts of Nigeria. If I come across a word I don’t know, I look it up—that’s how I learned what the word “tenable” meant after reading it on the back of a security guard’s shirt. I am always asking questions—of those around me, of my environment, of myself. Being inquisitive means never being satisfied with the amount of knowledge in your brain’s filing cabinets. There is always more to seek—knowledge truly is power and the more you know the stronger you can be.

I am precise. Some would say controlling, I say precise because I am precise. For example, there is an exact science to making a bed the right way—two pillows per side of the bed, the sheet and blankets must be folded four inches down and there must be the exact right amount of pillow showing out from under the comforter on top (or what I like to call pillow cleavage), all to be demolished within seconds of getting into bed. Precise. Maybe also neurotic, but definitely precise. For me, precision is calming—its organized, its dependable, and it creates a standard that can be met and a goal that can be achieved, even on days when making the bed might be the only goal you feel you can meet—and there’s nothing more satisfying than turning down your bed and jumping in after a hard day.

I am frank. I could have said honest, but my dad’s name is Frank, so hi Dad, I’m frank too. Candor is not something I lack—in my mind, its better to say directly what you mean than to have people translate what they think you mean for you. It’s the most dangerous game of telephone you can play. To be frank means knowing where the line lies between the brutality and dignity of honesty and not crossing it. To be able to say what you mean and mean what you say is crucial to your integrity and is a skill that must always be practiced.

When you think about who you are, about your self-image, what are the first seven words that come to mind? Are they positive? Negative? Critical? More than half of my seven words have been used as criticisms towards me—I’m too stubborn or too loud or too introverted or too precise, yet I use those words to build up my self-image rather than tear it down. What others perceive as our greatest character flaws have the potential to become our strengths, our most brilliant qualities. I challenge you to always find the very best in your seven words and beyond. After all, they are yours and nobody else’s.

It’s nice to meet you. Who are you?

Much love Desirėe xx


About Desirėe Toldo: