Your Life, Your Business: Workshop with Rasheed Ogunlaru

December 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Yesterday I attended an event at the British Public Library: Your Life, Your Business – featuring Rasheed Ogunlaru. What an inspiration! Two hours spent with a small room full of motivated business people and an incredible coach. (Coaches seem to be the key in succeeding in life. I don’t think we give them enough credit).

I first met Rasheed at the Global Entrepreneurship Week a few weeks earlier. It was purely by chance that I came across his table, as I wandered around looking for inspiration. It was a slightly frustrating beginning, soon realizing I didn’t know what questions to ask. I had a very broad idea, but I didn’t have any clarity on what I was really wanting to do. Stumbling on Rasheed’s table, I spent about 30 minutes talking to him about my idea. Some dreams. He was my first step toward clarity. Clarity was the main thing I was missing. “You have enough courage, that’s for sure.” I imagine courage is one of the big things missing from peoples’ ideas. But here I was, on my own in London trying to make something work. A land unfamiliar to me with no guarantee of success.

We pinpointed two key points I needed to work on:
Clarity. I knew I wanted to be in the fitness business, but what was my mission?
Location. “No wonder you want open spaces surrounded by nature. It’s in your name.” Ah-ha! I had never considered my name being something to reflect who I am or what I want. It’s only a name after all, nothing behind it. But there may be more to names than I’d thought.

At the end he encouraged me to purchase his book: Soul Trader, and come to a workshop in a few weeks. I thumbed through the book but almost didn’t make the purchase. I was in the middle of The Fire-Starter Sessions – how many passion-focused business books did I need? But I saw that Rasheed’s book had a more linear approach to business… and it had a stronger focus on that – the business. The Fire-Starter Sessions had more focus on passion. So I made the purchase and welcomed my new travel companion into my life.

The first chapter went incredibly quick – Clarity. At last I had it! I knew what the big idea was… and boy, is it big. I got stuck with the second chapter – Customers. I’ve been stuck there for a couple of weeks, the book lying dormant near my bed.

That was the biggest help with the workshop this Wednesday. There was a big focus on things I had already read, but it helped me explore my goals again and reignite my fire. We addressed exercises in the book that I had done only half-way, which was a good kick in the butt to think about them more.

Rasheed encouraged us to think of three people in our life that we needed to have conversations with in order to help us move forward. So many of us forget to ask people for help; there are people all around us that can motivate us, mentor us, teach us… but we neglect the questions that could push us in the right direction. Who is already on your team? Are they the right people for you? Who’s standing at the sidelines who you can bring in?

Toward the end we exchanged questions with a partner. My partner, James (another professional photographer), asked me questions and I responded as if I was the customer to my own business. I thought it would be difficult to be in my customer’s shoes, but I soon realized that I am my own customer. I have the pain and problems of my future customers. I am my first product. What an incredible realization!

To conclude we set an action plan. Three things be would do to take our next steps forward. My main focus has to become location, so I set #1 at renting in London. From December 27th, I will be staying in the great city!

1. Rent in London
2. Email fitness programs for a project
3. Plan photos for London Paleo Kitchen

Of course, what would an event like this be without networking? I was excited to meet Alan Cox of Movement Lifestyle. A holistic health consultant, his business priorities sounded similar to mine. He also recommended a program at CHECK Institute in San Diego. From the sounds of it, it’s exactly what I’m looking for in terms of health qualifications – but it’s six more years of school. This is something else I will have to explore in the near future.

Life is looking good! Only a day after the workshop and I’ve researched places for rent. I am happier than I’ve been in a long time and surrounded by positive and inspirational people.

For free articles and resources to follow your dreams, visit http://www.evolvedheart.com/
For more about Rasheed, visit http://www.rasaru.com/

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (9 Qualities That Make the Season Special)

November 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

What time of year is it? Winter time! Christmas time! The season of giving, hot chocolate and marshmallows, skiing holidays and warm mittens. Cozy.

Christmas is my favourite time of the year and it always has been. Many people feel similarly, and many people feel the opposite. But for those of us who love it, what makes it the most wonderful time of the year? What if it felt like the most wonderful time of the year all year round? Woah, there’s an idea.

Let’s look at the qualities that make this time of the year special. How can we incorporate those qualities into every day life?

1. It’s the season of giving. I love giving. I love finding gifts of people. I love happening upon something I see in a market and thinking, “This would be perfect for *insert name here*!” I love making the gifts special with beautiful wrapping paper and bows, and I love watching them open it and seeing their reaction. Throughout the year, I always seem to spot little trinkets that would be perfect for a certain someone. You don’t have to wait until a holiday to surprise someone. I am horrible at remembering birthdays, but I love to create a spontaneous surprise. Besides, there are so many gifts exchanged during the holidays. Show someone you’re thinking of them out of the blue. If you want to give in bigger ways, you can donate your time to non-profit and volunteer organizations all around the world. See the Wild is a great resource to search for volunteer opportunities based on your budget, where you want to go, what animals you want to see, etc.

2. Fireplaces, hot chocolate, warm pies, winter vegetables and snow! Snow if you are lucky enough to have a white Christmas, that is. Okay, these aren’t so much qualities as they are things, but important nonetheless.

3. Magic is in the air. I’m not ashamed to admit that I believed in Santa until I was 13 years old. I remember leaving carrots out in a bucket for the reindeer, and cookies and milk out for Santa for his midnight snack. We (my brother and I) would wake up to a few crumbs on the plate and the carrots nibbled away. What excitement! Some years we were lucky enough to even receive a letter from him! Oh, the joy. Santa is still in my heart and all around me during this time of the year. Never stop believing and dream what others would deem as impossible. Remove that word from your vocabulary, and everything will become achievable. You can make the magic in your life last forever if you keep dreaming and believe that anything is possible. Never stop believing in a perfect world, magical Dust, wizards, flying reindeer and dragons.

4. Nourish your family traditions. A good tradition is perfect for keeping your spirits up in the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle. Many people don’t enjoy the holidays because they only see how commercialized they have become. It’s all about money, money, money. Spending, spending, spending. Sometimes it’s okay to plead ignorance and stay focused on what makes the holidays special for you – not what the holidays have become to the consumer market. Traditions can be as normal as putting up a tree on the first of December or as unorthodox as watching Dogma on Christmas Eve.
My family traditions never fail to warm my snowy heart, and I plan to continue them my entire life (when my environment supports it).
Climbing up a mountain and through the snow to saw down a pine tree that we picked out, and taking turns sawing it down. Putting up the Christmas tree on December 1st. Celebrating St. Nicholas Day on December 6th, after leaving our shoes out the night before (if you aren’t familiar with the Norther European tradition, you can read about it here). Watching my two favourite holiday movies: A Muppet Christmas Carol and Santa and Pete. Making a gingerbread house from scratch. Making sugar cookies with Christmas cookie-cutters and decorating them. Leaving out milk and cookies for Santa, and carrots for the reindeer. Making breakfast before opening presents on Christmas Day. Santa always brought a bunch of snacks that we would eat throughout the day: clams, oysters, sardines, cheese, crackers, pickled herring… oh and lots of chocolate! – we never had a big turkey dinner. We would always receive calendars from him as well. Sure, you can get cheap calendars after January 1st, but traditions are traditions!

5. There is always something cooking. It’s a season of baking. Why? Pies, cookies, cakes… in other words, it’s the season of sugar. But there are still roasted squash and winter vegetables to enjoy on a healthier note. And soup! Warm and filling. The heavier vegetables (like squash) are meant to be grounding in the colder months of the year. Cooking and baking can be enjoyed all year round, catering to lighter fruits and vegetables as the weather gets warmer. They may not be warm and cozy, but they sure are refreshing.

6. Wintery love with someone special. Walks through the snow, warming each others heart.. and hands.Keeping each other warm, watching snowflakes fall, catching snowflakes on your tongue. Spinning around, falling over and making snow angels. Cuddling up with a good book with candles or a fireplace.

7. Reflect on the year past. Take time to be still and concentrate on everything you’ve accomplished in the past year. Make a social event out of it, with friends sharing the highlights of their year. It can be too easy to focus on the “what if’s…” or “I should’ve’s…” but let yourself shine! Be proud of everything that has happened. You have gone through a lot of change in the past year and most of it was probably positive. You may have learned something new, discovered something about yourself, changed jobs, quit a job, had your first job. Whatever has happened, you’ve been strong enough to keep pushing yourself forward to today. It’s soon to be a new year and you can start fresh. If you have anything holding you back, you can do a small ritual to banish the negative energy: write things you want to forget about onto pieces of paper, do a small meditation, and burn them over a candle. You can’t light fire to everything in your life though; make sure that you have faced those things and dealt with them the best you can first.

8. Bring nature into the home. Pinecones, pine needles, mistletoe, holly. Wreaths and garlands of leaves and berries can be found inside and outside. The smell of pine fills living rooms with a fresh Christmas tree. Being in touch with nature is good for the soul, so why don’t we keep seasonal plants in the house all year round? Some of us do, with flowers and simple house plants. But we can take steps to create something beautiful every time of the year. You can turn nature into a craft (there are many different project ideas on Pinterest). In autumn  you can create a beautiful squash centerpiece surrounded with scattered dried leaves. Summer and spring are a good time for different flowers that can brighten up the house and be a symbol of growth.

9. Spend time with family and friends. I asked my friends what makes the winter holiday season special for them and the most common answer was being around family and friends. This especially rings true if you have moved away from your home, or never even lived near family. When everyone comes together, it can be a time of joy and memories when everyone reflects on the new changes in their lives. Of course, no family is perfect and there are many stories around the holidays about family disagreements and problems arising. If you have one of those families, focus on staying present. Be here and now, and love them for their good qualities. Remember that the holidays are temporary, and you’ll be back to your normal life in no time. You even have the power to choose if you see your family the following year. Each moment belongs to you, so make it that happiest that you can.

What is your favourite part of the holidays? And what are some quirky or normal traditions you celebrate each year?

In Between Holidays Sugar Detox

November 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Wintertime is a season filled with chocolates, pies (apple, pumpkin, mince), mulled wine, hot cocoa, apple cider, eggnog… What do all of these have in common? Sugar!

But the holidays are only a couple of days out of the entire three months: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. So why do we spend the entire season overindulging in things that we know aren’t good for us? Part of this probably has to do with the money-making industry. If we didn’t over-stuff ourselves then we wouldn’t be a good market for losing weight for bikini season. Doesn’t this vicious cycle ever make you wonder if it really has to be this way? Why should you have to eat a bunch of junk and be pulled into spending more money on that bikini body that you want for the summer season… that you had only just had a few months before!

Let’s go on a sugar detox. Who’s with me? I began at 11 am, GMT, November 26th. From now until Christmas, I will have no sugar*. Zero, zilch, none.

Not only am I giving up sugar, but I’m also giving up coffee. It’s been giving me headaches and making me feel lethargic. So without sugar, I have no desire to have coffee. Bleck! So far, so good. No headaches.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, all of the leftover pie should be out of your way. If you don’t have sugar-y things in the house, keep it that way. Stick to the fresh food aisles of the supermarket: fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. If (for some reason) you buy something in a package (such as sausages or bacon or coconut milk), check the ingredients! Sugar sneaks into almost everything, with a variety of different names. Be sure to avoid all of the treats when you’re at home! Save your sweet indulgences for when you’re out and food is more of a social event.

If you feel tempted, ask yourself if it is worth gaining weight over. Think of the long-term effects, too. Make your body last long. It’s the only one you’ve got!

So what does no sugar mean?

NO…

Plain Sugars: Beet Sugar | Brown Sugar | Caramel | Cane Sugar | Powdered Sugar | Raw Sugar | White Sugar

“Natural” Sugars: Agave Nectar | Coconut Nectar | Coconut Sugar | Date Sugar | (Evaporated) Cane Sugar | Golden Syrup | Grape Juice Concentrate | Fruit Juice | Honey | Maple Syrup | Molasses | Rice Malt (extract) | (Sweet) Sorghum | Treacle

… Syrups: Buttered Syrup | Carob Syrup | Corn Syrup | High Fructose Corn Syrup | Malt Syrup | Refiner’s Syrup | Rice Syrup | Sorghum Syrup

Science Sugar: Dextrin | Dextrose | Diatase | Disaccharide | Ethyl Maltol | Fructose | Glucose | Galactose | Lactose | Maltodextrin | Maltose | Monosaccharide | Polysaccharide | Ribose | Saccharose | Sucrose

Artificial Sweeteners: Alitame | Aspartame (Nutra-Sweet and Equal) | Acesulfame Potassium (k) | Cyclamate | Neohesperidine Dihydrochalcone | Neotame | (Sunette and Sweet One) | Saccharin (Sweet ‘n Low) | Stevia | Sucralose (Splenda) | SweetLeaf | Thaumatin | Truvia

Sugar Alcohol: Arabitol | Dulcitol | Erythritol | Galactitol | Glycol | Glycerol | Hydrogenated Starch Hydrosylate (HSH) | Iditol | Inositol | Isomalt | Lactitol | Maltitol | Mannitol | Methanol | Polyglycitol | Ribitol | Sorbitol | Threitol | Volemitol | Xylitol

*I am allowing cheats on days when special events are planned or special nights out, but being mindful about what I’m putting into my system to avoid a sugar crash. The cheat will have to be worth it. 

Things I Am Thankful For (+ Happy Thanksgiving!)

November 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving, America! Today is the day to give thanks and appreciate everything you have in life.

I found some inspiration in a “Gratitude Photo Challenge” from Positively Present. Not only does it get me to think and appreciate what I have to be thankful for, but it also gives some inspiration to photograph things that I care about (eventually). In no particular order…

1. A loving and supportive family. This is something I may have taken for granted for most of my life. Not in an unappreciative way, but in a way that I wasn’t aware there was a family other than the supporting and loving kind.

2. The time I’ve spent with Havok. I have missed out on over half of my puppy’s life, but he is mine and he will be mine forever. I am grateful for our loved memories together, especially when he was the only thing that got me through a couple years of my life.

3. My long-distance friends and their patience. As soon as I left my friends behind from university, I lost touch – almost immediately. I have had an extremely hard time with staying in touch with people, so I appreciate anyone and everyone who has had the patience to wait for my responses and listen to me, even when I haven’t gotten back to them from a previous message. This has also taught me a valuable lesson to be patient when others are taking a while to respond to me.

4. Courage. I have the courage to conquer the world, dream big, travel to far off places and do it all alone. Being alone isn’t always the best option for mental health, but it is something that many people wouldn’t be able to do.

5. A roof over my head. The roofs haven’t been mine for a while, which has been challenging for me. I grew up independent, so going backwards and relying on the help from someone else has been something I’ve had to adjust to.

6. Awareness. I’ve become aware of the world around me and it gives me the freedom to ask questions and form my own opinions, instead of living blindly and relying on what the world tells me.

7. Consciousness. Becoming conscious of my decisions and choices and thoughts in life can be both a blessing and a curse. I have always been more conscious than most, standing to the side of the doors while everyone gets off the tube. And as everyone else rushed on in front of me without letting others off, it would make me angry and frustrated. Paying more attention to things like this can lead to these negative feelings, but I have also learned to practice patience and tolerance. It is not a life or death decision, and I have to face the fact that I can’t change everyone immediately, and instead I have to be the change I want to see in the world.

8. The opportunity to be raised in America. Traveling has made me realize how lucky I have always had it. My parents had the freedom to raise me differently, which gave me the tools to think differently and create a life that I want. America has given me the opportunity to have an education and grow as an independent woman. In America, I can sweat all over the place while lifting weights and throw myself on the floor… and no one questions it. I am equal the men in my life, and they are equal to me.

9. A big + loving heart. I may have a fear of intimacy and commitment when it comes to relationships, and sometimes I am horrible at friendships… But I love to listen to people and I love to help people. I love to try to make life better for others and I enjoy offering advice. When I care about someone, I give them my whole heart. It might take a while for people to see it, because of those fears that I have… and some might not ever see it. But when I’m not feeling stifled, my love is radiating from within me and shining on the people around me.

10. Being raised on frugality. My parents never had a mortgage or car payments. We bought second-hand clothes, used furniture. We went to garage sales, and my dad even explored the aisles of the dumpsters. Something to be ashamed of? No, I don’t think so! Why buy something brand new, when there is already so much stuff in the world? Paying rent instead of owning, eating roadkill. Yum, free meat! Deer, elk, big horn sheep and mountain lion. It has taught me to buy things only when needed and use things until they are completely useless.

More on this later…. :)

What are YOU thankful for? I want to know!

Short and Long Term Goals

November 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Setting goals for yourself are important in your life if you want to make progress – be-it business, personal, health… you name it. Set sight on your dreams and break down the time so that the steps put the big ideas into a manageable perspective. Yes, a ten year goal can become overwhelming, but if you look at how you will make progress in one year, three years, and five years, you can stay grounded and have patience during the pursuit. After all, life is all about the journey!

If you need inspiration, you can use Lululemon’s “Vision and Goals” worksheet:

A good resource like this can be a good inspiration to take the first steps toward dreaming. Now that you have that resource, take time to meditate on your goals. Make sure to give yourself the time, space and environment to find stillness in your life. Focus on what you want and the results you want from those things. Be specific. Make sure to review and revise your goals – in the beginning you might want to review your goals every couple of days. As you start to find confidence in your dreams, you might review your goals every month and eventually work up to quarterly goals.

As my dreams have begun developing, I have found the beginning to be filled with different ideas popping up each day and I have to revise my goals based on that change. But as I find clarity in my vision, my ideas are becoming more grounded and I am able to focus on more stable ideas.

Lululemon recommends using the present tense to make your goals more likely to be achieved. My biggest goal right now is to get back into a fit and healthy routine, so what is my goal? I am going to get healthy again. Wrong! I am eating paleo and exercising at least an hour a day, mixing cardio and simple body weight exercises, to achieve a level of fitness I am proud of by February 2013. What goals do you want to turn into reality?

A Paleo Thanksgiving

November 16, 2012 § 4 Comments

Next week is Thanksgiving! A day full of food where you can stuff yourself silly with unhealthy food, or choose to make a more health conscious decision. Most people use the 90:10 method when it comes to paleo, or even the 80:20 method – so many people would probably use Thanksgiving to use their 10% or 20%. If you’re visiting friends or family and have no choice but to consume what they’ve cooked, then that is fair enough. But if you have a say in the cooking, why don’t you make it paleo?! It may take a little more effort on your part, but it will taste better and be better for you! A while ago I would have thrown in the towel and gone with the unhealthy option, but finding out that I am gluten intolerant has changed my perception on how much I can cheat and whether an upset stomach is really worth it. Let’s go for quality and throw the french onions and canned soup in the donation bin.

There are dozens of paleo recipe websites out there, so you have hundreds of recipes to choose from. Here are some of my favourites. Some of the recipes contain butter, so I substitute it with coconut oil.
(If you are in the USA, I recommend coconut oil from Trader Joe’s. If you are in the UK, I recommend it from Holland and Barrett)

Green Bean Casserole
*Contains coconut, eggs

For mashed potatoes, substitute Cauliflower, Parsnips, or Fennel.
Who knew there were so many variations?!

Cranberry Sauce

Stuffing, without feeling stuffed
*Contains eggs, nuts

Sweet Potato Casserole or Butternut Squash Bake
*Contains eggs, and I would recommend adding pecans to the sweet potato casserole

Pumpkin Pie with Walnut Crust with Coconut Whipped Cream
*Contains nuts, eggs

Or if you want to switch up the tradition pumpkin pie, why not try Pumpkin Cheesecake?
*Contains nuts, coconut

Warm up with a healthier and cheaper Pumpkin Spice Latte, too.

Want Thanksgiving all year round? Make Thanksgiving Stuffing Meatballs!

Don’t forget to give thanks next week. Take a moment to be still, meditate on the past year, and receive appreciation for everything you have in your life: experiences, people, special moments, opportunities… Here is a fun way you can share what you’re thankful for.

Savannah’s Happiness Rules to Live By

July 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have found a great amount of inspiration in Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. To be honest, when I first picked up the book I thought it sounded tacky, so I had low expectations for it… but I was desperate for a change in my life. It was time to take charge and work towards making the most of every moment. No more sitting around and being passive! You are the only one who can make a difference in your own life. If you wait for change to happen, it will never come. You must initiate it. Fortunately, the book turned out to be an incredible find and I have since then been taking steps on my own Happiness Project (or rather, my Happiness “Journey”) – and telling everyone about it. It’s been a slow process to get going, and for now, most of my resolutions are only existing in my head.

But, some of the things that I’m working on have made their way to a small pad of paper. Gretchen Rubin wrote a list of things to remember when living her life. She called it her Twelve Commandments. I wanted to call mine something else because I feel like the title carries too much of a religious implication (even though after a quick search I discovered that “Commandment” simply means “a divine rule”).

And… let’s face it; I have a list of nineteen! I will admit that most of them are subcategories of another, but it helps for me to see each specific thing, as I will explain in the future.

Gretchen Rubin’s first Commandment is “Be Gretchen.” I have adopted this philosophy as well – be yourself. Don’t give in to peer pressure and do what you want to do.

Here are mine. What are yours?

1. Be Savannah.
2. Be an athlete.
3. Be an artist.
4. Express yourself through your body.
5. Love what you do and pour your heart into it.
6. Confidence is the key.
7. Do it now. Tomorrow never comes.
8. Do what you know needs to be done, little by little.
9. Do it, don’t think about doing it.
10. Be mindful. Live in the present.
11. Just breathe.
12. There is only love.
13. Love thyself. Practice patience and tolerance. Don’t punish yourself.
14. Give yourself permission.
15. Believe you deserve happiness.
16. Don’t sell yourself short. Give yourself what you deserve.
17. Live your life. Don’t live someone else’s life.
18. Identify the problem so you can face it and deal with it.
19. Have big goals, but enjoy the process of getting there.

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