A year ago?… beauty and acceptance

Someone asked me the question recently, “Think back to last year at this time, and tell me what you see?”

A year ago was the end of 2016, and I was one semester away from graduating with my Masters of Business Administration (MBA). I was so excited to be done and ready to begin a new chapter of my life. I felt proud, excited, and relieved to be done with school soon. However, at the same time, my mind was filled with worry. What was this new chapter of my life without formal classes going to be like and what would I do? At that time, I really wanted change… I felt ready to move on and anxious.

Beyond school, at the end of 2016, I was dating the first man after my last long-term relationship who I thought I had great potential with. I was excited and felt so happy. I was very hopeful. A few months forward and it ended, but I am still thankful to have shared those few months of my life with him.

Of course, there is much more I could say… so many emotions and thoughts at this time last year. I’m smiling as I reminisce for a few minutes back to this time.

I don’t want to further analyze, dwell, or live here though for this is the past. I would rather look back and just simply see the beauty. Accept what was in my past without further analyzing.

Life is now, it is not the past. Though, it is beautiful for a few minutes to look back on, isn’t it?

Photo by Tom Ezzatkhah on Unsplash

Paint Your Mona Lisa Dream

(Photo by Eric TERRADE on Unsplash)
It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” – Leonardo da Vinci
 
Paint a vivid picture and implant yourself in your Dream. What does it look like? 
What’s your Mona Lisa Dream? 

 

One of the first steps to dreams is to go beyond simply saying you will do something or be something at the surface level. It needs to run deep and truly be something you can visualize yourself doing and being. You want to paint a picture in your mind that’s as detailed as you can possibly imagine. Make your dreams a reality in your mind. Envision yourself living your dream. Imagine everything about yourself and also note who and what you are around. What’s different than your current life and what’s the same? Dream this as well. You want the Mona Lisa painting of your dream! What will this dream of mine look like in the most detail I can ever imagine? Paint a vivid picture (your Mona Lisa Dream) and implant yourself in it. Now look around, imagine, and create in the most intricate detail you can.
Some people do this by writing, talking, creative outlets such as vision boards, or a combination of these three or countless others. The key is to do whatever you need to do in order to paint the picture of your dream in your mind. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Everyone is different and that’s what makes us unique and in turn our dreams unique.
Now, when you paint your dream… please do not implant in your dream people who are criticizing you in your dream including yourself! This limits the detail and beauty you can create the first thing and you may not even get past the dream stage. Remove these barriers. Paint your dream (your Mona Lisa Dream) in detail without negativity.
Many people always say that you can get ahead of yourself with thinking too much. I certainly do not think this is the case in the beginning. There’s a fine line later on, but in the beginning… think with all your might, paint the Mona Lisa version of your dream and implant yourself in it. It’s later on that thinking will get the best of you. Start by creating your Mona Lisa Dream in vivid detail.
 
Create Lasting Inspiration, Confidence, and Enthusiasm while Sparking Creativity
 
Painting your Mona Lisa dream does a wonder on creating lasting inspiration, confidence, and enthusiasm. If you don’t do this level of dreaming or cannot do so, you stand a chance of easily moving onto the next dream instead of making anything a reality, giving into poor criticism that just isn’t true or negativity by those around you or yourself, and you simply have nowhere to turn back to once you hit a wall or a hard spot with your dreams. This painting will also spark creativity. It does so by allowing your mind to not be bound by the present (where your life lives without making your dreams a reality) or by negativity. It allows you to think with a fresh sheet of paper for your mind. You’ve created this and it is truly beautiful. The sheet of paper was blank before you dreamed and now it’s so lush of reality and beauty. So much so that you are confident and passionate about your dream entirely more than ever before this.
You have it in you to create…Remember this, always.
Paint your Mona Lisa Dream.
Hold your Dream in the Corner of your Mind left Untouched and Put Away but Easily Accessible
 
Now that you have painted your dream (your Mona Lisa Dream) and implanted yourself in it, you need to hold that dream in the corner of your mind left untouched and put away but easily accessible! This is the point where if you continue to think and think and think about your dream, you will hurt yourself. You still must pull your picture out, but it has to have a time and a place. Pull your painted dream out of the corner of your mind when you need to. You should regularly pull it out, but not so much that it overwhelms your ability to take action and make progress. Every person and even dream might differ in how much they can go back to their painting and dream stage. The key here is that you want to be able to make your dream a reality by creating action yet you still want that painting to fall back to in order to remind yourself of your dream and to keep you mentally fresh and creative.
Act and Plan and Be Open to Change
 
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Now, you’re in the action phase. Start by making a plan, however, if you haven’t yet. Even if your plan is not all entirely fool-proof, you act. Then, perfect your plans, if needed. Be open to change. Take that picture you created (Your Mona Lisa Dream), and make it real, step by step.
Progress towards your dream.
 
There’s a reason the word act is before plan in the above. You must be open to change. Change involves taking action by tweaking your painting as you make your dreams become a reality. Please never lose sight of or throw away your original Mona Lisa. You pull it out when needed.
You enhance it, perfect it, and let its beauty shine through even more. Continue to work on your Mona Lisa Dream.
You can do it!
(Photo by Jared Erondu on Unsplash)

Old Treasures can Spark Memories of our Inner Passions and Help us with our Future

Today, I was sitting at a local coffee shop flipping through an old folder on my computer full of pieces of writing I started years ago. I found a book I started drafting about my life that I started writing about 9 years ago (when I was only 20 or 21 years old!) but I never finished. 
Even if you don’t read all of the old scribbles that I share below, my intent with this post is to share a simple, positive message…We’ve had it in us all along to create and follow our passions even if we don’t necessarily think we have. Our past can reveal a lot about ourselves and our inner passions, and in turn, can even help us with our future. 

Right before I ran across this writing draft today, I read an article about something similar. (Ironic, huh?) If you have the time, I highly recommend this article titled, “To Find Your Next Act, Look Back To Your Childhood”. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/10/29/to-find-your-next-act-look-back-to-your-childhood/#10c251365376

Below I share the few pages of unedited writing I started around 9 years ago for a book called, “Life of Aleesa”. 

What should you do when you have faced many battles to get to your future? This is a question that is reoccurring in my mind each day. When I came from the ground bottom, and I have fought hard to make to where I am now, I feel as though I should spread my experience to others in a community serving – life-touching way. My story is a challenge that I hope to enlighten others to forgo so they will see what life will bring them. Go the distances and do everything you can to make your goals and dreams in life a reality.

I grew up in a single parent, poverty-challenged lifestyle. It wasn’t evident to me until I noticed in the lunch lines in elementary school my lunches were registered differently than other students. Why was I unable to get the ali-carte lunch menu? I noticed something was different about me. Every weekend my mom and went to the local panty to receive our box full of the necessities we needed to make it through. For many years at Christmas time, remembering faintly, I remember walking into a small corner room connected to a downtown business building. Inside it was like the North Pole before Santa made his deliveries, in my mind that is. Why did I go to an unfamiliar building for Christmas presents and not my apartment? It was hitting me that I was different.

I was told at young age in a settle way that college was important. My grandmother made me a unicorn bank when I was born which was placed on a tall shelf in my bedroom throughout early childhood. My mother would put a few pennies in the bank and say leave this here and keep adding to it throughout your school years and maybe just maybe you’ll have enough money saved to go to college.

It was always there inside me after the realization that I was different than others that I had to be different than most children. I would detain from my friends and talk to grown ups as though I was all grown up. I wanted to change the way things were. I told my mom I would find a job so we could get a house when I was only nine. I was unaware that no one would hire me. I know now what she must have felt. I learned the greatness of charity and donation at a young age. The nearby Christian Summer Camp named Kimble Camp always seemed interesting to me, but my mom would always say it was too much money. One year the camp offered students to come to the camp for fundraising efforts. Walking door to door around the community and standing just inside by the doorway at a local gas station named Eddie’s I raised all $700.00 to attend camp that summer. I felt great! I knew hard work meant you can receive something that’s great. I continued fundraising to attend for five years after. School was important to me growing up. I was told again and again by mother I could do anything and be anything. I was going to make it happen.

I was the nerd that everyone wanted their homework answers from. I was the unfashionable queen who sat with the “Dirty Ball Crowd” and wore those ugly nylon, stretch around the foot spandex. I was the band geek. I was the National Honor Society member. I was person who respected everyone. I was the news nerd that watched c-span and news reports because that’s the only channels that would come in without cable. I was the one who wore elf ears to help with Santa’s Workshop. I was the shy girl scout. I was the young volunteer who stood outside Walmart in zero degree temperatures ringing the Salvation Army bell. I was the girl who’s family bought food at Save-A-Lot.

Embracing our Moments in Life

This week I had a work-related conference to attend to Baltimore, Maryland. Even though the conference was on Thursday and Friday this week, I came into Baltimore early on Wednesday and plan to leave late Sunday afternoon. I really want to take the time to enjoy the experience of being away from home and in a unique city.
Today I was reminded of just how much this embracing of the work-travel experience is different than some do. My colleagues all left Baltimore immediately after the conference. They had no particular reason to get home immediately. It seemed as if they merely only cared about the conference and that was it. In a rush to get back to their lives back home, it seemed.
Embracing the time we are given away from our natural surroundings can give us a different perspective on life. Embrace an experience beyond that required, and give yourself ample time to just enjoy the new experience. Feel the energy difference, people watch, enjoy good food, walk around the new city without a plan, and let life unfold, unbound by self-imposed time-constraints or expectations. I certainly feel that my colleagues are missing out, but I will not let this bother me. I share to show different perspectives on work-travel.
I met a 20-year old man on the light-rail into Baltimore this week. All this started by asking him if this was the right way to get into downtown Baltimore from the airport. A mere second of choosing to ask for help and kindly giving others a chance to interact with you can lead to a totally different outcome. We started talking from then on about Baltimore and simple information about ourselves. We found so much in common, and it was quite ironic. Somehow I wonder if we were meant to meet? Life is full of wonders, huh? Hmm…
He did clinical trial human subject participation as a living and made a huge amount of money doing so. Very unique and interesting work. It so happens that I administer grants and know about clinical trial work as well. We had such a great time talking. Our stop off the light-rail was at the same place too. We got off the light rail and decided to walk around Baltimore together. It was quite great! Normally, I might revert to my turtle, groundhog traits (haha!) and never, ever do something like this. However, again, I found that embracing the moment can lead to such different outcomes than had I stayed in my shell or put a time-constraint on my experience.
Have you embraced the moment like this before and the outcome came out totally different than expected? Life, I think, can be changed by our ability to allow these small moments to not be bound by time, expectations, and other limitations we set for ourselves.
I wonder… how would my time be here in Baltimore had I not taken 2 seconds to ask a stranger for help and what if I left immediately after the conference like my colleagues did?…
I stand positive that embracing the moment here led to an experience in my life that was much more interesting and will leave a memory for years to come. So, I think in life if we embrace the moment and not give ourselves such restricted time-constraints or expectations, we can alter the state of our experiences and life-memories for the better.
Inner Harbor – Baltimore, Maryland

The Christmas I will Never Forget – A True Life Learning Experience

Since this is a published article on Medium.com with The Composite, I will simply provide the link to this article I wrote back on 12/10/2016.

LIFE, A FEATHER, AND DREAMS

I want to live the dreams that have been in the back of my mind for many years. I feel an odd calmness, unlike anything that I’ve had in many years. I would almost describe as this: I feel like a feather with a sense of passion and direction, but without anything to get in the way allowing it to float freely and travel where it wants, unbound by anything. I think about my dreams of visiting huge cities but also roaming through open nature filled fields without a single worry in life and only a sense of wonder and curiosity. I want to walk around barefoot and smell the earth and feel the dirt between my toes. A fresh breath of crisp air and sense of being. I want to teach others, read, learn, people watch, and experience. I want to live simply and decluttered and clean. I want to show off my fashion and beauty and creativity. I want to inspire others to do good and be all that they can be. I want to listen to music and enjoy the fruits and talent of others and see the special side to them that makes them unique. I want to run and I want to walk. I want to see the joys of life and experience all there is….
LIFE. It is so beautiful.
(Originally written on: 04/16/2015) 
Medium.com version of this post can be found here: https://medium.com/@aleesatoman/life-a-feather-and-dreams-fbbd97f3b5d7

Do What Makes You Happy

I’m sitting here on my couch with Miles curled up in a ball next to me lying on Richard’s clothes. How beautiful. I sit in my apartment and I am happy with everything I have done thus far and where I am at with my career and life in general. I listen to the clock tick, the air purifier hiss, and the furnace huff. Somehow these sounds make my apartment seem even more relaxing. A great peace and quiet shelter. Hmm.. maybe I could try writing poetry. The sky is the limit; you do know…
Today, I sat in the Target cafe and watched the people come and go for a good hour. I know! How fun! haha. It really was great though. First, I watched a mother question her daughter with good life questions. She asked, “Are you going to not do something now and regret it later? You’ll spend your whole life knowing you could have done it.” I have no idea what they were discussing really, but it made me think. It seemed like after I heard that question, I watched everyone even more.
Another mother sat with her two children and bought them each a small slushie and ordered some breadsticks from the Pizza Hut there at Target. There were only three breadsticks. She gave her two daughters each one of them and then sat the other down. The one daughter said, “Is that other breadstick for us to share? Can we share it mom?” The mother said, “yes”. Then the daughter replied, “I thought so.” Here we have a mother that didn’t get a drink of her own nor did she eat the third breadstick. She gave everything she bought to her two daughters and sat there quietly and watched them both so happily eat their breadsticks and slurp their Slurpees. It was like this was what brought her extreme happiness was seeing her two children eat.
Across from the Target, cafe was an in-store Starbucks. I watched so many people line up for coffee. The barista was so friendly and patient as the line crept up to 10 or more people. She was so happy helping them. At about the 8th person in line was an old man wearing a feathered hat who used a walker. He was eager to get that cup of coffee that brought him some happiness. He patiently waited and walked an inch every chance he could. ha. He really wanted that coffee!
Then, after Target I went to a thrift shop. There were quite some clothes at this place! Designer names for $5 in a sea of clothes. One woman tried on a designer jacket and she absolutely loved it. I could tell that she didn’t have much money and buying clothes wasn’t something she did very often for herself. She just loved that jacket! All I could think was how great that she can now have it for less than $10 because someone decided they wanted to pass the treasure along to others. Maybe the original owner was just cleaning meaningless items from her closet, but it sure meant the world to that woman at the thrift store.
Now that I have written about these memorable sights today, I notice something. Each of these people did what made them feel happy. That is truly a very valuable observation. It’s not about the money you spend or what you do, it’s whether or not it makes you happy. Is it seeing that someone you love not make what could be a mistake by simply speaking up? Is it watching your kids eat happily? Is it helping others with a tasty treat? Or slowly inching your way to get your cup of joy? Maybe it’s giving your designer clothes to a thrift store or buying a trendy jacket for yourself. Whatever it may be that makes you happy. Please, do it.
So, I sit here and write tonight. Writing makes me happy. I rarely do it anymore, but when I do I absolutely love it. Maybe you have something that you know makes you happy but you haven’t done it in a while. Do it.
Do whatever makes you happy.
(Originally written on: 12/31/2014)
Medium.com version of this post can be found here: https://medium.com/@aleesatoman/do-what-makes-you-happy-8053816d9c58