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.

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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.

Grateful For The Little Things

Grateful For The Little Things

Gratitude

          I’m Grateful for the little things because the little things are actually the Big things! From the individual encouraging words I’ve always heard from my parents my entire life, to the way my sister and brother still look up to me as their big sister even though we’re all adults now, the sweet hugs and kisses from my nieces and them affectionately calling me “TT Carmen” a hundred times a day, to the countless times my wonderful husband tells me, “I love you baby and I thank God for you every day”

          I get so tickled when our Malti-poo fur-baby, Bella, literally spins around in circles of happiness because she’s so excited to see us come home from work every day

          I don’t take for granted the many luxuries I am blessed to enjoy every day and all the moving parts involved in making those things happen. I don’t have to go out and pick all of my fruits and vegetables from a garden or orchard because there are people who have done that for me and I’m GRATEFUL. I don’t have to go out and kill a chicken in order to have meat to eat.

          I’m so super serious about that chicken example. One of the amazing matriarchs of my family, at 93 years old, recently walked me through the steps she would take to slaughter a chicken and have it sitting on the dinner table a couple of hours later. Back in her younger days, if she or her husband didn’t kill a chicken themselves, there was no chicken to be had for dinner that night! I thank God I don’t have to grab a chicken, wring its neck, let it run around in a large barrel until it died, then put it in a pot of boiling water, pluck the feathers……you get the point! THAT is a true story and one I’m glad to have had passed down to me by oral history vs. actual experience lol!

          I don’t have to go out and draw water from a well to bathe, clean or drink because there are many other moving parts at play that allow me to have clean, running water coming straight into my home and for that I’m GRATEFUL. I don’t have to “foot-it” to work because I have a beautiful, safe vehicle to get me to work and back every day and for that I’m GRATEFUL! I don’t have to read by candlelight at home because I have lights and electricity that provide that luxury instead and I’m GRATEFUL. These are things that may seem like “basic necessities” and “expected” for us to have, but if you’ve ever known people who live without these basic necessities you will realize that they are in fact “luxuries”.

          The little moments matter and make up the spice of life. Don’t overlook them for the traditionally dramatic, shocking and spectacular. The little moments can be those things too…..just packaged a bit differently 🙂

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.

My Gratitude Box

My Gratitude Box

Gratitude Box

          My Theme/Word for 2016 is GRATITUDE! I’m Grateful for Life, Love, following Christ and for living a life with more experiences, opportunities, and wonderful people than I deserve. Life is so very precious and I don’t, for a second, take that for granted. Every day that I wake up and step foot out of my bed with a sound mind, is another opportunity to be thankful and express my Gratitude for it all!

          A practice that I’ve been doing for a couple of years now involves using a Gratitude Box to hold my notes of Gratitude to God/Universe. Point blank……..you find less to complain about when you focus on all you have to be Grateful for!! That’s not to say that I don’t have my human moments throughout the day when things tick me off OR have a mini “spazz-out” session or two, because I do lol! However, when the dust settles, as the old gospel song we sing in church says, “And I think things over…..all of my good days, outweigh my bad days, and I won’t complain!” #Hallelujah!

          One of the reasons I use a Gratitude Box such as the one above more often than a Gratitude Journal is because I physically add small trinkets that represent things I’m grateful for to the box in addition to the notes and Gratitude cards I place there. Once that box that sits on my night stand is “full of Gratitude” (I Love how that sounds!!!), I empty it into a bigger box that sits in my closet and start filling up the smaller box on my nightstand again.

Thank You cardsGratitude Cards I fill out and add to my Gratitude Box on a regular basis

Interesting Note: These photos of me were taken last year before I was married…..or engaged for that matter….and it’s a bit “strange” to see my left hand without my engagement ring and wedding band on it lol! The interesting thing about my Gratitude practice is that one of the things I repeatedly wrote a Gratitude/Thank You note to God for was this ———> My Husband….BEFORE I ever had one OR even knew who he would be!!! I have plenty of Gratitude notes in my Gratitude Box thanking God IN ADVANCE for my husband! #TrueStory

Thank you cards

           I physically write out the things I’m grateful for in greeting/thank you cards then place them in my Gratitude Box because the Bible says “Write the Vision and Make it plain” (Habakukk 2:2) There is power in writing down your desires, requests, praise and words of GRATITUDE! P.S. = I kind of have a small obsession with all things paper and beautiful greeting cards so this method of using pretty cards and fancy letterhead to fill the box also feeds that obsession of mine 🙂

Gratitude Journal

          Gratitude Journal – Another way to perform this practice is to write your words of Gratitude directly into a Gratitude Journal. This works well because it keeps everything in one compact journal, keeps the entries in chronological order and can be taken with you when you travel, etc. Once again, you are activating that special power that comes from physically writing down the words!

Gratitude Journal

          My Gratitude Expressions include everything under the sun and the Heavens above  – Literally! I include expressions of Gratitude for the love I have for my family to an appreciation of my favorite color, green, simply because it makes me happy! I express Gratitude for the food that I am blessed to eat everyday and for the farmers who grew that food in their fields, to the truck drivers who delivered it to the grocery store and the cashier who rung it up for me when I bought it! There is an unlimited abundance of life experiences to be grateful if we just take the time to sit down and really concentrate on them 🙂

          Choose the method that works for you, but my all means…..DO IT! Express your Gratitude!! The more you express Gratitude to God/ The Universe for the things you are ALREADY blessed with, the more the Universe will open up it’s channels to pour out MORE blessings and MORE things and MORE opportunities and MORE experiences and the right people in your life to be Grateful for!

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 to Be of Service

Grateful to Be of Service

 

Gratitude

          As I discussed in my first blog post for 2016, My Theme for the year is GRATITUDE! I am so grateful for all that I am and all that God allows me to be. I am grateful for beautiful things seen and things not seen in my life. I’m grateful for my peace of mind, my family, my husband and for the love and peace of God which surpasses all understanding.

Gratitude is an emotion that expresses appreciation for what one has as opposed to focusing on what one wants.

            Expressing gratitude is a great multiplier because the more we are GRATEFUL for what we already have, the more the Universe gives us to be GRATEFUL for! Expressing gratitude has been shown to increase happiness, optimism, and empathy. Gratitude can allow you to see the sunshine through the rain and can offer peace in the midst of a storm.

          This morning I visited Renewal House , a safe haven in Nashville for women working to overcome drug and alcohol addiction. I’ve visited Renewal House many times taking donations of clothes, housewares, food and snacks, etc. Two weeks ago I also visited Renewal House with my Sorority chapter for Martin Luther King Day of Service and spent the morning with the women who are going through the program. I gave a short presentation, “Secrets of Success” that apply to everyone, no matter where they are in life. I always feel a strong sense of gratitude every time I visit that I’m able to donate things that have brought me joy and share them with others. Last week I also enjoyed sharing that bit of motivation with the women

Renewal House volunteering

❒ This morning, however, in addition to feeling gratitude for all that I have, I also felt gratitude for the women and their children who have come to Renewal House to recover and keep their families together.

❒ I’m grateful that Renewal House exists to provide a safe haven and recovery program for women who really need it

❒ I’m grateful for everyone who works with these women and their families on a daily basis

❒ I’m grateful for the two caring souls who started Renewal House 20 yrs ago

❒ I’m grateful to those who give of their time and talents on the Board of Directors

❒ I’m grateful for the strong spirits of the women in the treatment program who desire a better life for themselves and their children

❒ I’m grateful that lives are being changed and restored through this program because of the love, generosity and dedication of individuals with big hearts!

❒ I’m grateful that the clothes, kitchen appliances, wall hangings and housewares that have brought me happiness in my home can now be used to bring happiness to other women

❒ I’m grateful that I’m able to offer what I have to give to help make another woman’s journey a bit sweeter 🙂

          So you see, this practice of GRATITUDE opened my eyes today to not only appreciate what I have to give, but also to be GRATEFUL for everyone else that my gifts will touch and for the program that is allowing them the opportunity to do that.

What are you GRATEFUL for today?

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.  Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership and Life Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

Gratitude Unlocks Blessings

Gratitude Unlocks Blessings

Gratitude Unlocks BlessingsWhen you fall in love with Life, limitations Disappear!

          Gratitude is an extremely strong energy and it pleases God/Eternal Spirit/Spirit Guide – whatever term you choose to use.

          Breath in your body and the fact that you woke up this morning is enough to be grateful for! There’s a reason you are still alive here on earth. You may not have everything you want at this present moment and may not be exactly where you want to be at this point in your life, but I can almost guarantee that if you are reading this right now…….you have more than enough!

          If you are constantly complaining about what you don’t have and not having enough, the Universe will send you more things to complain about not having.

          But, thank God – the more we are thankful for the things we DO have, the more the Universe will send us great things to be thankful for! Isn’t that awesome!

          You give and your receive…..it’s the Law of Attraction! Put out negative energy = get negative energy back. Put out good energy = receive good energy back!

          Being Grateful for what you have is an awesome Spiritual key to opening up a flood gate of additional blessings!

          Take a minute to just sit down with a piece of paper and start writing down things you are grateful for. I do this quite often and find that I really could write for hours and hours on end about the things I am thankful for. I encourage you to try it for yourself and see how amazing you feel during and afterward 🙂

Mathew 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

Luke 16:10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

Dr. Carmen April          Dr. Carmen April is an entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2014 Nashville Emerging Young Leader 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.  Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership and Life Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

You can follow her daily #Leadership insights on Twitter @DrCarmenApril