life lessons from the dojo

3 Life Lessons from the Dojo To Apply to Everyday Living

I learned 3 life lessons from the dojo that have left an indelible mark on my life.

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When I was in my late 20s, the last thing I ever imagined I do is walk through the doors of a dojo and sign on the dotted line to become a karate student. But destiny called me towards those doors and into a place I’d soon come to call my second home. I use the word destiny loosely here because I’m not sure how many people might refer to a close call with a criminal and an alleyway a call to destiny. But I needed confidence and skills, and the dojo appeared when I needed it to appear. To me, that’s the definition of destiny.

My Journey to these Life Lessons

After committing to be a student, I stepped onto the sacred mats of that brightly colored dojo. I sported my new key in my new white belt, carrying both hope and trepidation for what would come.

Mentors

Mentors come in all forms. Mine just happened to come wearing a fifth degree black belt and a can-do attitude. His posture told me everything was going to be okay. No criminal was ever going to get the best of me again, if I could help it. And I believe my mentor would say the same thing still, to this day.

Here’s the thing about embracing the lessons of a mentor. They can teach us things quicker than we could ever learn them on our own. Because they’ve lived it. They have their finger on the pulse of certain aspects of life. And it’s our jobs as mentees to seek out that which they are willing to share. It’s been my experience that a mentor shows up when the student is ready. Well, I showed up that may afternoon, ready to learn what he was willing to share.

Life Lessons I Learned

Over the course of three years, and a rainbow of colors to add to my belt collection, my mentor sensei Carlos taught me three very important life lessons. I carry them with me to this day, some 20 years later. And I’m able to still carry them because I was open and eager to soak up his knowledge. He was living his life the way I wanted to. He lived with a healthy respect for self control. Everything about his great attitude reminded me how self control can serve us when we find ourselves in perilous situations.

The 1st of Life Lessons from the Dojo

First case in point was the day he taught me that practice doesn’t make perfect because we all need correction. Accepting that we are all in a state of learning and growth means we’re open to adapting. We adapt based on new knowledge we gain as we open to criticism. This concept has helped me throughout my career as a novelist and in my Toastmaster’s International Leadership and Communication journey.

The 2nd of Life Lessons from the Dojo

Second case in point was the day he taught me that relaxation is powerful. Before I met him, I went through life like I was one step away from an anxiety attack. He taught me how to sit still with myself. To use only my breath to root me to that moment at hand. To this day, whenever I feel pressured about life, I stop everything and find a safe place. I close my eyes and breathe. I’ve done this before meetings at work. I breathe before being interviewed. And I breathe like this before logging into my bi-weekly Toastmaster meetings when I have a speech to give.

The 3rd of Life Lessons from the Dojo

Third case in point was the day he reminded me that we’re never too old to start something new. When I took karate, I learned alongside men and women who are grandparents. And I learned along with those who just graduated from high school. Age was not relevant when one entered that sacred dojo. This life lesson he taught me rings especially close to home for me these days. You see, I just started a rigorous graduate program at 51 years of age. It’s been over 25 years since I’ve been to college as a student.

When I first thought about enrolling, I heard his voice in my head. His voice encouraged me to remember that I could be 90 years of age and still enroll in graduate school. It’s important to keep doing new things, and gaining new experiences, especially as we age. It keeps us flexible and dynamic. You can be 100 or 18, and still have incredibly valuable insights to share and gain. Age has very little to do with anything in life when it comes to learning.

I’ll forever be thankful to my mentor sensei Carlos for teaching me these three important life lessons. I’ll never again take for granted valuable criticism, the art of breathing, or my ability to learn new things. No matter how old I am! 

What about you?

What life lessons have you learned that still shape and guide you to this day?

live your best life podcast

Live Your Best Life | Tips from a Life Coach

Ever wonder what it would take to live your best life? To wake up in the morning and be excited to face the new day ahead?

Life coach extraordinaire, Natalie Miller-Snell, of NMS Coaching, came onto my podcast, CurvesWelcome, and shared her top tips for how you can get started living your best life. No matter what your new journey entails, you can live the life you deserve to live.

Listen on Curves Welcome Podcast Channel or watch on Youtube below.

Tips to Live Your Best Life

Understand Your Why.

When you know why you’re doing something, the motivation to continue doing it continues to build. When you feel lost, that why will help guide you back to that point where clarity of purpose exists.

Connect with People.

In today’s world, we’re more isolated. Many of us have lost that connection with folks. We have to find ways to reconnect because we’re a tribal species at heart. And, to move this point even further forward, connect with people who lift and encourage you. Seek people who are on the path or the direction that you want to go and learn from them.

Learn at every opportunity.

Look at the world as a classroom willing to teach you everything you want to know as long as you open your eyes to it.

Be Open and Flexible to Change to live your best life.

2020 has thrown so many curveballs. We’ve had to adapt and change to them. And this openness to bend with the curves will help keep us supple and able to deal with blows. We’ve all experienced massive changes this past year, and those who are coping well are the ones looking for the bright light behind the clouds. Every curve offers a lesson to get us to higher ground. But you’ve got to seek it.

Embrace the lessons in the highs and lows.

Life is full of highs and lows. There are lessons to be learned in both. When dealing with a low, it may feel like it’s never going to end. But realize this, everything is temporary in life. If you can get to a place where you can embrace the lessons that the highs and lows offer, you’ll find your way to middle ground, eventually. And once there, you’ll be able to glance around and realize how much you appreciate it. But without the highs and lows, you’d never fully appreciate the beauty in those rest stops along the way. If you stand on a hill for your whole life, you’re never going to appreciate the beauty that the valleys offer. The real power is, regardless where you find yourself, you need to seek the beauty of the lessons. It seldom comes to you unless you seek it.

A man and woman conversing

How to Converse with Anyone

You can learn to converse with anyone by following a few helpful tips. If you’re the type of person who struggles with striking up a conversation with someone who has a different approach to communication than you, keep reading!

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A Shining Light

My friend Valerie was a shining light in life. She passed away at the age of 45 many years ago. But I’m not here to talk about her passing today. I’m here to talk about her life, and more specifically, what I admired most about her.

She was an artful conversationalist. who had a knack for making me feel like whatever was coming out of my mouth was the most important thing she’d heard that day. She seemed to connect with everyone in this way, regardless of their communication style. Valerie had that ability to converse with anyone.

Communicaiton Styles

Communication styles come in several formats. According to Toastmaster’s International there are direct communicators, those confident ones who enjoy a competitive edge to their conversations. There are Initiator communicators. They are those gregarious types who enjoy expressing their feelings and emotions. There are also analytical communicators. They are those who prefer no nonsense, fact-based conversations. And finally there are supportive communicators. They appreciate a calm, steady approach to their conversations.

My Observation

I’ve seen Valerie converse artfully with people from all of these communication styles.

Based on observation, I believe Valerie was a supportive communicator. I, too, according to Toastmaster’s online assessment, am a supportive communicator, but nowhere near Valerie in terms of her artful approach.

You see, Valerie had an ability for bringing out the best qualities of a person’s communication style and turning a conversation into what appeared to be a beautiful piece of conversation art.

What did she do to make it possible to have a productive conversation with someone who possessed an entirely different set of conversation principles than she?

3 Things to Help You Converse with Anyone

Today I’m going to share with you three things that I believe makes a person such a great communicator regardless of their communication style based on what I observed from one of the greatest communicators I had the pleasure of knowing.

Listen More than Speak

The first quality that made Valerie such a great communicator was that she listened more than she spoke. She’d pose a thought or question and let it marinate between us, encouraging me to talk it out. She’d sit across from me reassuring me with a nod or smile, clueing me in that she was fully invested in what I had to say. I always walked away feeling valued and deeply understood.

Show Great Interest

The second quality that made Valerie such a great communicator was that she showed great interest in our conversation. She wasn’t glancing around the room wondering what everyone else was doing. No. She made great eye contact, showed great enthusiasm, and made me feel like I was the most important thing happening in her life at that moment.

Respect the Opinions of Others

The third quality that made Valerie such a great communicator was that she respected other people’s points of view. I’m a million percent positive she didn’t agree with everything that came out of my mouth. Yet, she never made me feel less than for having a different opinion. She approached our conversations with an open mind, one that reminded me of a curious child eager to learn as many new things about the world as possible. I felt respected and, in that shared respect, we enjoyed beautiful exchanges about life.

Converse with Anyone and Bring Out Their Best

My friend Valerie taught me that whether we’re direct, initiating, analytical, or supportive communicators, we can bring out the best in others through listening more and talking less, showing interest in the other person, and respecting their right to have a different set of ideas than our own.

The next time you become tongue-tied around someone with a different approach to communication, try one of these qualities out for yourself, or all of them. Turn your conversations into a piece of art by helping others to see that they are the most important person to you in that moment of shared time together.

Woman writes in a journal.

A Look Back and A Look Ahead

As I reflect back on this year, I’ve learned some things about myself. I learned that I’m not defined by any one project or milestone in life. I’m the sum of every action I’ve ever put out into this world. And that offers me great hope that yesterday doesn’t equal today and today doesn’t equal tomorrow. Every day is a fresh new start.

Typically, this time of year I write out my top 5 goals to work toward in the new year. I also reflect back on how I did with the goals from the last year, and get excited when I have them all checked. This year’s reflection will look very different, as I didn’t achieve any of the 5 goals I’d written down. Every year, the first item is Write a Novel. And every reflection session, I happily check that off and eagerly wait for release day a few months into the New Year.

A Look Back

I didn’t write a novel this year for the first time since 2003. I couldn’t bring myself to write one single word.

I did, however, release my blended romance novel, Uprooting in March 2020. The same week as the pandemic rocked our world. Needless to say, very few people read it to date. And that has gutted my writer’s soul in a very real sense. I sincerely wish I could do a redo of launch day for that story. But that’s not how it works in the literary landscape. If you haven’t read it and want to, as a thank you gift for your support in reading this post, I’m happy to send you a copy. Email me to request a copy and the ebook format you prefer.

At first glance, I took this book launch disaster as a failure. But then, as my reflective session grew, I realized how much I did accomplish this year as a result of trying to find new ways of viewing a world that had changed so much overnight.

Things I Did Right

I enrolled in graduate school and earned a 4.0 in the first class I’ve taken since 2002. I designed an entire certification course that could potentially be implemented. I renovated my entire home from ceilings to floors. I learned how to use power tools. I helped organize and run a virtual conference helping to bring together writers and readers from around the globe. With the help of my siblings, I helped teach my parents how to zoom! I helped my spouse emotionally overcome a scary sepsis illness. I gained 3 new video clients for my production company, Sunny Bee Productions. I adapted my production company to a virtual model, which allows me to work with clients anywhere in the world so long as they have an Internet connection. I joined Toastmasters International and will be competing in a speech contest in early January. I moved my Curves Welcome podcast over to its own channel. I blogged a whole bunch this year on health and wellness topics. And I thrived on the other side of those days when I spent more time crying than smiling as I worked through new emotions that erupted during these times of isolation and unknowns.

And Still…

I did a bunch of new things. But I didn’t write a novel this year…


I’m going to reread this post on March 1 when my new books usually launch to remind myself that it’s okay. There will be future books somewhere down the line. And until then, I’m going to enjoy gathering all these new experiences in order to gain a fresh view on life.

A Look Ahead

As I put my sharpie to my dry erase board to write out my goals for 2021, I will pause and cut myself some slack.

I’m going to set myself up for success by offering myself the kind gift of freedom. My goal for 2021: to learn and share.
Whatever form that takes is of no concern. I just look forward to learning and sharing.

Be kind to yourself as you reflect on 2020 and look toward 2021. And if you’re reading this, thank you for being part of my journey.

student typing on a laptop for career opportunities

Career Opportunities You Won’t Want To Pass Up

Changing your career completely for new opportunities could be a scary move to make. But not so scary to pass up the change.

Let’s face it, a lot of people place a huge focus on their career, and rightly so. After all, we spend a large proportion of our time at work or doing a job, whatever that may be. Some people are content to stick with the same thing day in day out, and earn the standard paycheck each month. Whereas others strive for career progression and the next big step for them in the workplace. Whatever your choice may be, there will always be career opportunities that are too big to pass up. With that in mind, here are some of them.     

Changing your career entirely

Making a complete career shift is overwhelming. But, if you’re passionate about the new career, it’s worth the challenge to face that overwhelm. Too many of us will settle for a mundane job that we don’t love, purely to pay the bills. The luckiest people get to do what they love for a living. So whether you want to help people with their mental health and search for open psychology jobs or whether you need to think about retraining and getting new qualifications so you can finally do something you love, don’t disregard a career change. It could be just what is needed at this very moment in your life. 

Working from home

Working from home can provide you with an excellent opportunity for work and enables you to become much more flexible with your time. This option works fantastically well if you have a family. You’ll be around for the school drop offs and collections as well as being on call for those emergencies. It can be an ideal solution. However, it isn’t as easy as some people think. Working from home merges your work and home life. Often this can be hard to differentiate between the two. You might constantly feel on the job, or find you procrastinate because you see home jobs that need doing instead. This is when looking online for tips and tricks for working from home could prove useful. It will always be an amazing opportunity, and getting the balance right makes it all the more perfect. 

Becoming your own boss

Who doesn’t want to be their own boss? Not many would disagree that this can be an excellent career move for some. However, it can be a hard to overcome some of the initial hurdles of setting up on your own. Many start-up businesses fail in the first year, so it is important to do some groundwork before taking the plunge completely. Most people start their business in their spare time and build it up to a point where they can start to consider leaving their normal employment. It can provide a wonderful opportunity for your career filled with many different experiences. 

Working abroad

If you get the opportunity at some point in your life, working abroad could be an excellent thing to consider. There may be a different work culture to get used to, different benefits you are entitled to, and could even provide a better quality of life. It may seem daunting, but working abroad could be easier than you realize. There might be a lot of forms and paperwork to fill in, not to mention securing a job and somewhere to live. But it could certainly provide the adventure of a lifetime. 

Let’s hope this has inspired you to maybe consider alternative options for your career in the future. 

visiting dental office after lockdown

Tips For Visiting Your Dental Office After Lockdown

Keeping up your smile is crucial to keeping up your physical health. It’s so important that it’s recommended that you visit your dentist every six months instead of whenever something comes up that requires an emergency visit. When you visit your dentist regularly, you’re doing preventative care.

Just because you don’t have an immediate issue, that does not mean that you do not need to see a dentist. Your dentist will check your mouth for cancer as well as head and neck cancer. They will check you for any abnormal lumps on your head or neck and check for any red or white patches in the mouth. Doing these simple checks will catch any concerning issues before they become larger problems.

Regular check-ups with your dentist are also a great way to get feedback on your at-home dental care. They will be able to show you the proper way to care for your teeth in between teeth cleanings. If you are considering starting teeth whitening, they can tell you the best option for you.

Overall, visiting your dentist on a regular basis is great preventative care. They will catch problems before they become out of control. They can even give you advice about whatever your specific needs are. With that being said, you cannot let the current times deter you from looking after your oral health. If you’re worried about visiting your dental office, whether you go to Stead Willis DMD or a family dentist you have known all your life, here are some tips for vising your dental office after lockdown and what you should expect.

Arrival Changes

Typically when you arrive to your dentist office, you show your insurance card and sign in. Now the process may be a little different. It may require some extra steps. All dental practices, no matter where you live, have to make sure that you’re feeling well enough to come into the office. You can expect to be contacted before you walk in to make sure that you are not showing any signs of COVID-19.

When it comes to making appointments or just showing up to your dentist office without an appointment, those days are long gone. Typically patients will have to call the office to schedule appointments. If you don’t have an appointment, you likely won’t be able to come into the office. They’re trying to limit the number of people in any given area at the dentists’ office, particularly in the waiting room.

Waiting Room Changes

Speaking of the waiting room, there are many changes to be made in this area too. A staff member at the reception may request to check your temperature, making sure that you do not have a fever. You can expect it to either be from an ear thermometer or those gun thermometers that can scan your forehead to check your temperature. You can also expect to have your hands sanitized upon your arrival.

Just like your trips to the grocery store, there may also be a protective barrier separating you and the receptionist. In some offices, you may be asked to wear a face mask along with shoe covers. They may also ask you to put your personal belongings in a clean bag to help reduce any accidental contamination of the virus. The waiting room will be modified to abide by the 6-foot social distancing rule, and you may not see as many people in the waiting room.

Dental Team Workflow Changes

You can rest assured that most dental offices will be well ventilated, meaning you do not have to worry about breathing in recycled air that may be contaminated with the virus. Do not be alarmed if your dentist is also wearing personal protective equipment like a face mask, face shield and gloves. You may or may not be able to spit in the sink, so you can expect to have your saliva suctioned out instead. There may also be some changes to where certain procedures are performed. For those that create high levels of spray, it may be done in a completely different room. There may be longer wait times in the waiting room because any non-emergency procedures will be prioritized under patients that need immediate assistance. Because they are making sure to clean the area thoroughly after each patient, the extra wait time in between patients may also be due to that. Rest assured that they have come up with smart techniques and best practices to reduce the spread of the virus, even in their dental office.

working woman achieving work life balance

How to Maintain Your Perfect Work-Life Balance as A Career Woman

The twenty-first-century woman has to juggle a lot. Although men and women both hold demanding jobs, society still demands that women play more roles than ever. According to the US Department of Labor, women represent 47% of American workers. This dynamic causes many women to feel pressured due to society’s expectations. But there are innovative ways to cope. Are you interested in how you can maintain an optimal work-life balance? Here are four points for you to consider.

Keep a planner for more work-life balance

Many career women advise that keeping a planner helps you outline all the necessary tasks during the week, both at home and work. Your planner prevents you from being overwhelmed with stress because it makes you aware of tasks ahead. You can get a diary or use the Notes or Calendar App on your phone to schedule personal and professional events. As a result, you will remain updated with meetings, birthdays, deadlines, date nights, etc., to help you maintain a healthy work-life balance and improve your well-being.

Get your priorities straight

Many career women admit that the conflicting demands of their work and personal lives always question their priorities. It is crucial to set clear goals to give yourself direction in your personal and professional life. Outline what you aim to achieve and where you hope to be in the coming years. If your priorities lean towards a strong career, pursue it passionately. You need not allow childbearing to get in your way. If you want children later on, you can freeze your eggs to preserve them. Consider using the services of the Advanced Fertility Center to help you make timely future decisions freely.

Make a distinction between work and private life

Experts advise that you draw a fine line between your work engagements and your personal life’s demands, to prevent them from becoming too intertwined. You can achieve this by making your home a getaway from your career rigors. When you are at work, maintain a professional outlook by not receiving calls from home or texting family members, unless it’s an emergency. When at home, don’t receive calls from work. This calculated attempt at setting boundaries will allow you to enjoy both aspects of your life to the fullest. Therefore, you should always strive to balance both worlds to ensure that you are not overwhelmed by either.

Learn to delegate to have more work-life balance

A Columbia Business School study revealed that women are less likely than men to delegate their responsibilities because they feel guilty about doing so. Women perceive admitting overwhelm as a sign of weakness, leading them to take on more tasks than they can handle. Experts conclude that this might negatively impact their careers. You should fight this tendency as much as possible. Outsource labor at home – hire a nanny to help out around the house. Do not hesitate to ask for assistance from your spouse and other family members whenever you need it. At work, if you are in upper management, experts recommend delegating as many tasks as possible to the competent staff so you can enjoy free time to pursue big-picture activities.