My Theme For 2017

My Theme For 2017

Happy New Year 2017

I know I say a version of the following statement every Jan 1st, but…….

……………….can you believe it’s 2017 already??!!

          Every year I select a word or a theme for the year that guides and encourages me daily. The theme is a way for me to focus on what’s important and expect the most of my life! I write my dreams down because I believe that when you “write the vision and make it plain” as it says in The Bible, wonderful things happen to our dreams and desires! When we write them down, our visions begin to take shape and become our reality.

 

          My Theme/Word for 2016 was GRATITUDE. I wrote several blog posts about GRATITUDE in 2016. If you want to check them out, here are a couple:

 

          Obviously, these blogs posts only scratch the surface of the millions of things that I’m grateful for. I thank God every single day for my many blessings – everything from waking up in the morning with breath in my body, the ability to speak, see, smell, hear, operate with clear thinking, to being thankful for my family, friends, patients in my medical practice, my sorority sisters, to the random people I meet in the grocery store who show respect and kindness, etc. If you really just take the time to sit down and be grateful for the things that you have, you will realize how astonishing and humbling life is.

 

Being GREAT begins with being GRATEFUL!

          So, now we are in 2017. Thank God for the blessing of entering into another year on this earth. The very fact that I am here means that God has work for me to do and it’s my duty to do that to the best of my ability every single day!

          As I do every year, I will reveal what my Theme for the year is, then encourage you to develop one for yourself. I even have a graphic that you can print off, fill out and post in your home and at work, just like I do 🙂

My Theme for 2017 is a funny-sounding phrase, but one that holds a lot of meaning. Here it is:

hold it in the road

          I had never heard this phrase until I met my husband lol. It’s an old “southern”/ “country” phrase that he probably picked up from one of his grandmother’s or someone at least a generation older than him lol! When I call or text him toward the end of a long work day just to say hi and ask him how his day is going, he’ll sometimes say “Hey babe, I’m just trying to hold it in the road!”, translated —–> “It’s been a long day, but I’m still working hard to get the work done”. I laughed hysterically the first couple of times I heard him say it because it sounds so “old-fashion” and truly “southern”. However, because I am a southern girl at heart, the phrase started to grow on me.

          Admit it, even when you are doing your life’s work, working in a job and/or career that you love, enjoying the relationships in your life, and life is good, it can also be met with difficulties, bumps in the road and can flat-out be exhausting sometimes. We all get tired every now and then. Even a car needs a tune up from time to time! When a car needs a little work, you get a tune-up, get it back into optimal working condition and continue driving it. You don’t send the car to the junk yard just because it needs a little work. Likewise, when things get a little tough or you get a bit tired, that’s not the time you should give up. It just might be a trick of the enemy to wear you out so that you give up before you reach your destiny and the wonderful experiences waiting for you along that journey!

          When I was in residency, there were days when I was on call that I literally felt like a walking zombie walking the halls of the hospital. I would be so flat-out exhausted some days that I would literally want to just throw the on-call pager in the toilet, OR out of a window, OR bury it in the foot-high snow there in Detroit, MI LOL! There was even a time during my first year of Residency that I questioned if this was really the career I wanted for my life. It seemed all so overwhelming. I took comfort in speaking with our residency coordinator who told me that she’d been working with medical residents for many, many years and that every single one of them, at some point during residency, most often during the first year, expressed similar emotions of feeling overwhelmed, second-guessing being a physician as the right choice and even wanting to quit. When I started talking to other residents I found out that she was right! Knowing that so many other residents had very similar experiences to mine helped me and all of a sudden I didn’t feel so alone.

          I had to remember everything my parents ever taught me growing up about never giving up! I drew upon everything my faith teaches me about “reaping if I faint not”, about “counting it all joy”, and that in all things with pray AND Thanksgiving, I must make my requests known to God Had I given up at that point I would not be the doctor and entrepreneur I am today. I learned to “hold it in the road”, even in those times when I wanted to call it quits!

          There are promises that I am waiting on God to manifest for me and during that process of anticipatory waiting, I will continue to “Hold it in the Road”! I will continue to pray AND meditate AND envision AND day-dream those promises into existence! When I “hold my car in the road”, the wheels say firmly on the ground, the car doesn’t veer off course and there is no slipping and sliding involved. I remain focused on getting to my destination successfully. The same is true for my life and staying focused on the desires of my heart. One of my most favorite scriptures is Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” and I know this to be true because it manifests in my life over and over again 🙂

           This practice has transformed my life! What I know for sure is that the things we think about, we bring about! The themes that we focus on in our lives the most are the things and experiences that become our reality!

          So pictured below is a graphic for you to print out, fill out and post up in your home and at your office. I hope you choose a theme for yourself this year that will encourage you and inspire you to be your best self. Sit in silent meditation for a while and listen to the theme/word that consistently pops into your mind. I usually start meditating on my word in Oct, Nov and Dec prior to the start of the new year and follow through with the word that most consistently comes to me and feels “right” during the meditations. I encourage you to do the same!

       

Theme for 2017

Happy New Year!!

Dr Carmen April Speaker          Dr. Carmen April is an entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2014 Nashville Emerging Leader (NELA) Award Winner, a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter. She is a Law of Attraction Practitioner and an advocate for the power of positive thinking! Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership and Life Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

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Grateful For Breakfast In Bed

Grateful For Breakfast In Bed

Gratitude

          I believe that the “little things” in life are really in fact the “big things” that matter the most. I’m on the go a lot and so when I have an opportunity to hang out in the bed with my crisp sheets, comfortable comforter and cushy pillows on a Saturday morning or Sunday morning before going to church, I do so……..or at least as long as I can before I start to get a tension headache from laying in the bed too long lol! Does that happen to anyone else out there?

          My husband gets up and starts moving around much earlier than I do and in particular, he likes to get up and cook breakfast! I’m so grateful for those random breakfast-in-bed moments that he surprises me with from time to time. Prior to getting married I NEVER ate in my bedroom……that was totally breaking the rules and off limits lol! But, there is no way I’m turning down my husband bringing in a wonderfully prepared breakfast to me out of love. Some rules are meant to be be broken, right?!?!?!??!

Prayer for my husband: “Lord, thank you for my husband and for his love toward me. He is one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met in my life! I thank you for blessing me with him. I’m grateful for his love, caring, and protection of me the way you have ordained a husband to be and do for his wife. His small acts of kindness toward me such as breakfast in bed are reflections of your love through him, Lord. As a single woman I prayed for so long to have a husband to love me in this way and I thank you for granting me the desires of my heart just as you promise in your word – “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).”. Thank you for your faithfulness toward me. Help me and support me in being a wonderful wife to Him. Encourage me in showering him with daily acts of kindness the way he does for me day-in and day-out. Continue to bless our marriage daily. Shield our marriage with a hedge of protection from any attacks of the enemy. Shower down your love and blessings over our union. Bless all our endeavors to be prosperous and bring you Glory! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.” – Carmen

Dr Carmen April Speaker          Dr. Carmen April is an entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2014 Nashville Emerging Leader (NELA) Award Winner, a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter. She is a Law of Attraction Practitioner and an advocate for the power of positive thinking! Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership and Life Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

Grateful for Dinner With My Husband

Grateful for Dinner With My Husband

Gratitude

          Growing up, my parents were pretty strict about time spent together as a family and having dinner at the table together every evening. We ate, laughed and talked about our day. We fully engaged with each other the entire time and that’s what made the evening dinners so special and our family bond so close. I guess growing up with this type of experience on a regular basis is also why I find it so sad when I go out to restaurants now and see kids at the table on their phones and tablets, the parents doing the same things and none of them truly interacting with each other!! What. Is. The. Point. Of. That?

          Now that I’m married, I appreciate the evening dinners my husband and I have just as much as I did with my family growing up because it’s an opportunity to for us to connect and bond. We talk about our day along with a million other things! We chill out afterwards, watch Family Feud (I usually get more of the #1 answers than he does, but don’t tell him I said that lol!) or some other TV show that I drag him into watching with me!

          I’m GRATEFUL for the opportunity and time spent in the evenings connecting in this way!

Dr Carmen April SpeakerDr. Carmen April is an entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2014 Nashville Emerging Leader (NELA) Award Winner, a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter. She is a Law of Attraction Practitioner and an advocate for the power of positive thinking! Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership and Life Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

Grateful for Lazy Saturday Mornings

Grateful For Lazy Saturday Mornings

Coffee ad love pillows

          I’ve talked here on the blog in the past about how I used to be a “busy bee” until I made a conscious decision to STOP THE GLORIFICATION OF BUSY! Someone could come up to me and say, “Hey Carmen, how’s your day going?” and my response would always be, “It’s great, but super busy!” My response was the absolute truth 99% of the time! I always had something on the calendar, something to do, and somewhere to go in addition to work and personal obligations.

          I will admit, the “busy” stage served it’s purpose during a point in my life and career where I was trying to network and meet as many people as possible after I first moved to Nashville and was growing my business. Howwwwwwww-ever, over committing and overworking myself became exhausting.

          Fast forward a couple of years later to the current time and I am so very GRATEFUL for lazy Saturday mornings when I can get out of bed when I decide to, grab some coffee or tea, head out for a leisurely walk in the park and just relax. I have a better understanding, since slowing things down a bit, that life is meant to be enjoyed, not rushed through.

Dr Carmen April SpeakerDr. Carmen April is an entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2014 Nashville Emerging Leader (NELA) Award Winner, a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter. She is a Law of Attraction Practitioner and an advocate for the power of positive thinking! Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership and Life Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

Grateful for 5.5+ Years of Entrepreneurship

Grateful for 5.5+ Years of Entrepreneurship

Dr Carmen April Professional Photo

          As those of you who regularly read my blog know, in addition to being a blogger I have a career…..the one that actually pays the bills and for which I studied and toiled and stayed in school and residency for what seemed like FOREVER to achieve lol! As “Dr. Carmen April” I am an entrepreneur and owner of my medical practice, The Foot And Ankle Healthcare Center, PC for the past 5 years. When I was first getting started in my medical practice, I heard over and over and OVER again that most small businesses fail within their first couple of years of operation. In fact, that statistic is more specifically around 90% of small businesses FAILING in their first couple of years. Making it to 5 years is definitely something to be celebrated and I certainly have! I thank God every SINGLE day for the success of my business!

          There have been times, especially in the beginning where I grew weary because the money coming into the business seemed to be at a snail’s pace compared to the money going out! There have been many times where I have been frustrated with dealing with health insurance companies lowering reimbursements year after year when the cost of doing business continues to increase. There are many things that I, along with any other entrepreneur COULD complain about and have complained about as it pertains to our businesses, BUT the day I started to express more GRATITUDE than I did complain about everything that was wrong in the medical industry, a SHIFT happened! It was as if expressing Gratitude un-clogged a pipe and allowed an abundance of good things to flow into my medical practice! Opportunities for financial increase came my way and I was in position to take full advantage of it.

           Some entrepreneurs are afraid to openly talk about “money” especially in fields that service people and the community, such as in medicine. My main job as a doctor is to diagnose and treat my patients with the best medical care possible and I’m confident I do that. However, if the money is not available to run the business properly, that does not happen. Entrepreneurs have to get comfortable talking about money! When it comes to the finances of my business, My small business is no different from the big hospitals and health centers, no different from your every day restaurant or clothing store. They all require positive cash flow, great report with patients/clients and the community, marketing, advertising, good money management, etc to make them successful.

           It’s been 6+ years since I first nurtured the idea of starting my own practice and it’s still amazing to think back on every storm I weathered to get to this very point. A couple THOUSAND patients later from the first day I hung my shingle and opened the doors to my practice, I have a renewed strength and tenacity to see it grow even more! God is great and I give Him all the glory and honor for the success of The Foot And Ankle Healthcare Center, PC!

          My prayer for my business: “Lord, I thank you for giving me the idea and the courage to pursue my dream of starting my own medical practice. The opportunity came before I thought I was ready to take the leap, but you had already equipped me with everything I needed to get it done! Every bit of any amount of success I have experienced in this business is because of you and for that I say Thank You. During the trials, and doubts, and hard times, you were also there and didn’t let me fall. You didn’t let me quit. I continue to pray for every single patient who walks through the doors of this practice. Bless them Lord and bless me to use my knowledge, skills and intuition to medically treat them to the best of my ability. Bless my employees that they continue to find satisfaction in their work with me and this business and allow them to be a blessing to the patients as well. I know that these accomplishments you’ve allowed me to have at such a young age, inspire others and for that I am Grateful! There have been many people along the way who I have looked to for inspiration and I’m glad that I’m now able to pay it forward. Lord, continue to allow me to uplift, encourage and inspire other people through the work of my mind and my hands. I pray that all my endeavors are prosperous and are used to serve you and uplift your kingdom! In your son Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.” –Carmen

Gratitude

Dr Carmen April Speaker        Dr. Carmen April is an entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2014 Nashville Emerging Leader (NELA) Award Winner, a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter. She is a Law of Attraction Practitioner and an advocate for the power of positive thinking! Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership and Life Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

Grateful For Balance

Grateful For Balance

Gratitude

          At this very moment I can say I’m Grateful for Balance. This has not always been the case (ie.- those years during med school, residency, first couple of years starting my medical practice) and will not always be the case, but…………….. for right now, it’s how I feel and I am grateful for it.

          We hear a lot about “work-life balance” and what that’s supposed to look like. I’m asked that question often when I’m out on various speaking engagements, especially by young professional women and college students. My best answer is for everyone, on a individual bases, figuring out what your activity limits are as it relates to pouring out too much of yourself into others without investing back into yourself.

          Instead of “Work-life balance”, I prefer to use the term “Life Integration” because to me that is more of a long time approach to this concept. Life occurs in stages so there will be times when we feel totally balanced like I do at this point in my life, but there are also times when things don’t feel balanced, and that’s OK too. As long as you are working to integrate work priorities with family obligations, community service, etc in a manner that works for you, no matter what it looks like for someone else, do THAT!

          Just up until about a year ago, I was THAT person who was on the go ALL the time! If I wasn’t in my office seeing patients and running the business side of my practice, I was at some meeting for one of the 3 Board of Directors I was on at the time, at a sorority meeting, doing community service with my sorority chapter or out blogging about something, somewhere! It was all cool and exciting until I just got tired. Point blank and THE period —-> I. Was. Tired.

          All that I was involved in looked really good on paper, but it wore me down and I felt that I had no time to myself. Even my Dinner With Nerds Food Blog, that I designed to be a creative outlet, began to get stressful. When I was doing full features on particular restaurants by interviewing the owners & chefs and coming in with my camera to photograph all the food, the owners and managers always wanted to know when I would be publishing the feature which then put me on a deadline, which then made it start to feel more like work and less like fun 😦

          My balance was off because I wasn’t integrating the various aspects of my life in a way that satisfied me. At the end of the day, if I’m not taking care of me……extensions of me begin to suffer (ie., my business, my health, my attitude toward things).

          When I began to say NO to some things, NO to people requesting my attention, rolled off a couple of the Board of Directors I was on and realized that my contributions to my community , to my work and to the people I love were already more than sufficient without having to add anything more, slowly but surely I began to feel more like myself again – less stressed and happier! I always feel honored when I’m approached to serve the community in some capacity or to offer my expertise in certain areas, but I have learned that I only have so much so give before I start feeling off-balanced. With time and age comes wisdom and with wisdom comes knowing your limits. I’ll choose this feeling over being over-committed and over-worked any day of the week!

Dr Carmen April Speaker              Dr. Carmen April is an entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2014 Nashville Emerging Leader (NELA) Award Winner, a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter. She is a Law of Attraction Practitioner and an advocate for the power of positive thinking! Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership and Life Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

Grateful For Time Spent in My “Me” Place

Grateful For Time Spent in My “Me” Space

Gratitude

          I looooooove my “me” time, but I’ll be honest and say that it’s taken some practice for me to establish specific, set-aside time just for me to meditate and be with my happy thoughts! When I began carving out time to sit with my thoughts and mediate on the things in life that I’m grateful for, I began to notice a SHIFT in my way of thinking. My dominating thoughts have become those of GRATITUDE, love, faith, peace and of moving myself in the direction of “greater”!

          Spending alone time with God and my thoughts has allowed me to change the narrative of my life. I have a strong belief that, no matter what, life is on my side and is always pushing me to be a greater version of myself each and every day. I know that my dominating thoughts become my reality so I’m very intentional about concentrating on GRATITUDE, love, faith and expecting the best out of life! When I take the time daily to elevate my vibrations to a higher level of happiness, peace, love and GRATITUDE, all of those things return to me in immeasurable ways!

Here are a couple of things I do to get into my happy place during my “me” time:

  • Listen to calming spa-type music while laying awake in bed or on my couch and meditating
  • Tapping into one of my favorite iPhone apps, Calm,  that allows me to listen to sounds of the ocean and the beach while daydreaming about all that I appreciate, love and desire in life
  • Heading out to one of my favorite parks to walk/jog, listen to nature, and perform one of my walking meditation exercises where I thank God/Universe for all I see that is beautiful and makes me happy 🙂
  • Logging onto Instagram and following hashtags that lead me to awesome feeds of food, landscapes, beautiful homes, luxury hotels, luxury spas and inspirational quotes! I loooooove photography so seeing beautiful photos that raise my vibration into a happy place always do the trick and leave me feeling happy, at peace and serene 🙂

          Sometimes folks find it difficult to carve out “me” time, especially since we are in an age when the glorification of “busy” seems to be an “it” thing. However, I’ve learned that it’s detrimental not to do it. The “me” time does NOT have to be during the same time every day. Schedules vary, work and family demands vary and it’s ok to cut yourself some slack and be flexible with your personal time as well. Some days it may be better to spend time in the morning with this exercise and on other days the evenings may be better. Either way, we all owe it to ourselves to steal away and take some time to relax. Not only is it good for your psyche and mental health, but periods of relaxation and meditation have other health benefits such as lowering blood pressure & resting heart rate and lowering levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in our bodies.

          Lastly, as a Law of Attraction Practitioner, I encourage relaxation and meditation during “me” time as essential to elevating yourself to a higher vibration and attracting those things, experiences and opportunities into your life that you desire. Your dominating thoughts mixed with the positive emotions they create within you, bring them into your reality! It’s all about faith!

Dr Carmen April SpeakerDr. Carmen April is an entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2014 Nashville Emerging Leader (NELA) Award Winner, a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter. She is a Law of Attraction Practitioner and an advocate for the power of positive thinking! Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership and Life Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.