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“Halfway There!”

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Whew -can you believe it is July?? The halfway point of the year! It caught me by surprise – especially when I realized that my youngest daughter will be starting high school in less than three weeks..eeeckkkk! Talk about time flying she was just a toddler yesterday!  I wanted to take this week’s blog post to remind everyone that it is the perfect time for a halftime break.  I invite you to take a moment to step back, evaluate your year so far and take action to get back on track if needed. Or if you are like me and have a lot going on, step off that ‘track’ and rip a few things off your plate before we get into the busy season of the fall!

 

Since time is flying so quickly I wanted to suggest a few quick tips to be more mindful and to be fully in the moment.

 

Don’t Wish It was Friday on Monday

 

It is so easy to wake up on Monday morning wondering where the weekend went and then start longing for it to be Friday.  I am so guilty of this and just decided that instead of waiting for Friday I am going to enjoy the 24 hours that I am blessed with every day.  Why should we suffer through and spend our days longing for the weekend when we have this moment to be happy and thrive?

Take a 5 minute “Do Nothing Break” Everyday

 

Sit in silence, become aware of your thoughts and focus on your breathing for just 5 minutes a day. It sounds so simple but our mind is constantly going a million miles a minute.  It helps to just take a moment to sit in silence to take in the sounds and energy that is flowing in the moment.  Take several if needed – I know I do!

 

Schedule Breaks and Leave Room

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If your schedule is like mine – jam packed with back to back meetings, appointments, etc. it is important to plan breaks in between your laundry list of to do items.   If you have a meeting or appointment scheduled leave a thirty minute or hour break in between to regroup. When you get home from work take a moment to relax and write down three things you are grateful that happened that day.  I am notorious for hitting the door when I get home and going 90 miles an hour into mommy mode after a long day at work.  We just need to take several chills pills (need to bring that phrase back) on a daily basis!

 

Make Undivided Attention a Daily Practice

 

We have become multi-tasking monsters doing a million things at once. Especially with cell phones it is so easy to handle multiple tasks and conversations at a time.  If you are having a conversation with someone focus on the conversation, being fully present and not distracted.  When you are taking care of a task be in that moment and focus on what you are doing.  In Georgia they implemented a hands-free law while driving as of July 1st.  You cannot hold your phone to talk or text while driving or you will be ticketed. It is crazy how much restraint I had to have on the first few days to not grab my phone and scroll while at a red light.  Now I just focus on the music in the car or just my surroundings more.  It is hard to believe that idle time has become something that we try to avoid.

 

 

Overall take a long deep breath in and savor EVERY wonderful and crazy aspect of your life daily. It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in the New Year and now it’s July.  Now more than ever we need to be more mindful and enjoy our lives as it is a gift! I heard something the other day that said that God is not in the past or the future only in the present moment. I’m learning to spend more time there for sure – it is the best place to be!

 

Oh yeah, I almost forgot – Deepak Chopra and Oprah have a wonderful FREE 21-day mediation starting on July 23rd. It is a great way to develop a meditation and mindfulness practice. They will be exploring the energy of attraction and manifesting your best life. These are so good and only come around a few times a year! Sign up soon by visiting: https://chopra.com/.

Be sure to leave a comment letting us know your favorite ways to chill and slow things down!

 

Cheers to the halfway point of 2018 and making EVERY moment count!

By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/

“My Mental Breakdown”

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Last Friday around 1:13 in the afternoon I experienced a mental breakdown. Is that okay to share or talk about these days??  If not, this is a break from all regularly scheduled programs that are being broadcasted on the picture perfect social media channel.  I interrupt this program with a dose of reality.

 

After a week full of 9 – 10 hour days covering for a colleague’s work load on top of my own – my brain could take no more.  I had received three calls from frustrated suppliers and managers that morning.  During the last call I could feel my voice starting to crack as I tried to listen to this manager’s frustration.  Nothing to do with me, just her frustration with the process.  I hit my red ‘end call’ button on my phone and started to shake, then the tears started to flow.   Luckily, I was working from home. The dam that was holding all the stress and anxiety of trying to handle too many things together finally broke.  I mean I was seriously sobbing uncontrollably the kind of cry that comes from a deep place within.  My laptop continued to chime with incoming emails, reminders, skype messages pinging me everyone wanting something. All I could do was cry –  I could not take in one more thing.

 

Thankfully my husband returned home early and found me.  He didn’t know what was wrong and I could barely get any words out.  He told me that I needed to message my manager to tell him I needed a break as I was in full meltdown. He had watched me come home from work that week each night like a zombie.  How do you message your manager telling him that you are having a mental meltdown?   It’s not like in a sports game where you can yell to the referee that you need a timeout – this is life.  You can’t use the words “mental breakdown” in a skype or email message at work.  Well this girl had to break that ‘rule’ on a beautiful Friday afternoon as I simply could not pull myself together.

 

My manager responded after a few seconds and asked why I did not ask for help earlier in the week and wondered how things got to that point.  I told him that I thought I was handling things okay, but evidently, I wasn’t.  More embarrassment as I continued to try to explain how I got to this point – where tears were spilling onto my hands and splashing my laptop as I typed. He made me step away from work for a few hours to regroup.

 

I was in shock that I got to the point of breaking down. As a mom, I’m used to mentally juggling a million different things, throw work and life on top of that and this is just another day in my world.  Nope not that day – my brain and spirit said otherwise.  The whistle had been blown I was officially down and in time out.  I feel slightly embarrassed and vulnerable post meltdown at work especially with my managers.  I guess my meltdown did result in a conversation led by my managers the following week making sure that the team knew that although things are super busy we need to know that we can ask for help.  There is even discussion of a monthly mental health day.  I guess my tears are making a difference, lol!

 

It has me thinking, why is this the norm? Trying to keep everything buttoned up, perfect and okay.  We give our best selves to our work all day and come home with nothing to give but irritability and exhaustion to the people that matter the most.  Our society rewards and encourages this work horse, lean in, slaying it mentally. I especially do not think this is good for women and moms. We must take more things off our plate, speak up and ask for help.  The norm should not be to run a million miles an hour and juggling a billion things.  If you do have a lot going on you need to have more downtime and self-care.  It needs to be okay to ask for a time out at work.  Where do we find that courage to say we are not okay and make this a priority?  Our western culture rewards the hustle and places more value on material possessions, success and power while eastern cultures embrace going with the natural flow of life, shorter work days, time with family, slowing down and taking care of yourself spiritually, mentally and physically.

 

Last week’s meltdown was a scary wakeup call that I was NOT expecting. I feel differently and want to change my approach to my mental health.  I also hope to create social change in our culture and how we work especially as women in a society that was created by men with traditional 9-6 values.  Our bodies were not meant to slay it Monday – Friday for 8-10 hrs.  Especially as women we go through monthly cycles that sometime require us to rest more or need more downtime.  We are taught as woman to ignore our bodies and to be like men, umm yeah no we are different we birth babies for crying out loud! Our work systems were not designed with this in mind.   It is time for more conversations around this topic and change.  I’ll start here with sharing my meltdown moment instead of the highlight reels of my life that we all choose to share daily.

 

I hope my emergency broadcast will help someone.  If you are in a meltdown moment, find someone to talk to, if you have EAP (Employee Assistance Program) at work use it. If you are in extreme crisis and no one to talk to call 1-800-273-8255 or even message me if needed.  I’m here to help and support!

 

Feel free to leave a comment about any recent meltdowns that you have experienced or practices that you have in place to protect your mental health and wellness!

 

Cheers to breakdowns that lead to getting the help that we need!

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By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/

“Leaping, Falling, Tail Tucking & Getting Back on the Horse!”

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Six years ago, I walked away from my six-figure job to pursue my dreams to empower women and girls.  I found this picture and I blogged about that moment when I walked into my boss’s office and boldly said “I quit!”. You can check out my original blog post here: http://empowerherinc.blogspot.com/2012/08/ps-i-quit-step-closer-to-my-dream.html.  That person that took that leap seems so foreign to me now. I’m in tears just thinking about that moment and even sharing my thoughts in this week’s blog post.

 

I quit my job to have more flexibility for my family and to walk in my passion and gifts. I took on some contract work to supplement my income and set off to change the world.  I had no plan just – a 501 (C) 3 and a dream. My oldest daughter was entering high school and I knew that I wanted to be home when more.  I was very successful at work but my job was very demanding and offered little flexibility. Prior to my quitting I had helped to run a community based organization for girls for 5years.  I created great programs and events for girls in our community and was ready to branch out to help women and create more events that would spark social change on a full-time-basis.

 

I launched my organization and hosted several events.  It started out great – then life happened.  A close family member got sick and passed away, we experienced unexpected financial issues and many other challenges.  A year later I tucked my tail between my legs and returned to my 9-5, so ashamed that I was back where I started.  I was back to being overworked, stressed and embarrassed that my plan did not work.  I tried to keep things going with my dreams on the side but I got busy being a mom and wife.  Empower Her, Inc. had a “Closed” sign on its virtual door.  I have tons of dust covered boxes in my attic right now full of my Empower Her, Inc dreams, visions, etc.

 

Fast forward to June 12th, 2018.  My friend sent me a screenshot of plans I made in 2013 for a leadership camp for girls. She read me the details of my proposal for this program and the requirements that I was requesting for a space to host the camp.  I could not believe that it had been 5 years. The details were so specific.  At the time I knew that I would get that space, register tons of girls and provide a camp that would also help my girls! The camp was a big part of my plans but it never got off the ground due to not finding a space and the resources.  I had forgotten about that dream and about my plans.  It’s funny how God brings things to your attention at the right time.  Especially as my 14-year-old is settling into her summer routine and is too old for camps but needs some type of enrichment.

 

The same thoughts of wanting to put together amazing programs for girls and women has crept back into my spirit as well as fear. The thought of putting something together again and relaunching has me shaking in my boots. Just to even write again on this blog started out as a struggle. I enjoy blogging as a guest on this blog because it is under the safe covering of someone else’s dream. I have my own blog that I started over six years ago that I have not touched instead I am sharing my thoughts here where it is safe. It’s like I have “Leaping for Your Dreams PTSD”, lol.

 

God has been telling me over the last few months that it is time to share my journey and gifts with the world again. I want to stay hidden and quiet but He is pushing me to move forward. So,I am leaning into Him more, praying, planning and strategizing to launch some new programs/events in the fall.  I am at the end of this week’s Power Hour Blog post and I realize I did not have much to share – just my journey, where I am today and where I want to be.  I guess that is okay too.  I would ask for prayers and support as I get the strength to get back on the horse again.  For those of you that have scrapped up knees from your recent leaps I am here to provide band aids, to be scared with you and to be your biggest cheerleader when you are ready to leap again.

 

Feel free to share your recent leaps, falls or tail tucked between your legs moments in the comments section.

 

Cheers to leaping, falling and getting back up again!

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By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/

Happy National Creativity Day – Nourish Your Creative Spirit!

banner for Kara Power Hour2May 30th is the official day to celebrate the creative spirits in your world! It’s National Creativity Day! Raising my virtual glass and throwing some confetti in honor of the musicians, hairstylist, authors, actors/actresses, artist, DJ’s, filmmakers, photographers, carpenters, designers, chefs, caterers, bloggers, engineers, stylist and tons of other creatives in the world. When you really think about it everything besides nature started with a creative thought. What a cool day to stop and take time to toast the power of the imagination!

I have always loved creating things since I was a little girl. I would write, paint, re-arrange my room almost weekly, try to make things, one time at 6 years I even tried to make shoes out of cardboard!  It has carried over into my grown-up life! I LOVE everything about creating events for women and girls and gathering beautiful details and extraordinary content to make my experiences special. I love hosting family and friends in my home – and making everyday gatherings something wonderful and memorable. Why be boring!

Sometimes in life we can bury our creativity with the day to day hum drum of life. So It is important to always make time to be creative and tap into your God given talents that you were born to bring to the world.

Here are 5 great tips to help nourish your creative spirit!

  1. Work when you are inspired and excited! I know there are certain ebbs and flows in my creativity and I am learning that when the spirit is flowing within it’s time to capture new ideas, design new things and take the steps to execute a plan. As a woman I have noticed my natural rhythms and at certain times of the month my energy levels are down, creativity is out the window and I need take time to rest and recharge.  I am learning to not push myself during this time and mother myself if needed.  Then a few weeks later I am the energizer bunny ready to roll!  There are even certain times of year or seasons when I am more inspired. Take note of these times and work with your flow to make the most of your creativity.
  2. Get out of your comfort zone and try something different! Set aside time to write down at least 10 things that you would like to try this summer and get out there and try them!  I am normally a person that does not like to try new things. I always order the same food at restaurants but lately I have been trying new dishes and trying to cook new things.  I am normally a person that always wears black or dark colors but now starting to branch out and wear different patterns and more bold colors. Making little changes in the everyday experiences helps to feed our creative spirits.
  3. Find creativity in the everyday moments in life!  Try and find ways to infuse your creative spirit into the boring task of life.  Find innovative ways to do the laundry, cook, clean, and work to make things more fun and interesting. Changing your mindset about everyday tasks can do wonders!
  4. Find and connect with other creative people on a regular basis!  I was blessed to be a part of Kustom Kreations recent Portfolio and Perspectives event last month where event stylist came together to do styled shoots. The creative energy in that space was palpable and on fire!  I loved seeing all the beautiful details and how they came together. Surround yourself with creative people especially when you are feeling not so inspired! Check out upcoming events on Eventbrite that interest you and get out and connect!
  5. Create space and take care of your creative gifts! I am learning to spend more time in mediation/prayer to get still, quiet and connect with God. He ultimately put every talent and gift in us when we were created. He knows best how to nurture, cultivate and grow our gifts.  Getting the right rest and having time to dream and be still allows things to flow more smoothly. When I am busy or tired I have no space, energy or desire to do anything but the basics. It’s important to take care of ourselves and be replenished! Also, schedule time to disconnect from social media and the busyness of life to find quiet spaces especially in nature to flow in YOUR gifts not someone else’s that you see online.

 

Cheers to your creative spirit – may you unleash more of your greatness into the world today and every day! Feel free to leave a comment and tell us what your creative gifts are or some of the new creative things that you would like to explore this summer!

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By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

 

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

 

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/

Did you work on Mother’s Day?

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My Mother’s Day weekend was wonderful. I made a conscious decision to spend Mother’s Day eve pampering myself by getting my hair and nails done and just spending the day with myself.  It was wonderful! Sunday rolled around and we went to church and then my family took me out to brunch. I received lovely gifts and beautiful flowers.  We came home and I looked around the house and there were several things that needed to be done to prepare for the week.  My family told me to sit down and relax because it was Mother’s Day. I knew that if I didn’t take the time to get things done and plan for the week everything would really spiral out of control. I was refreshed from my self-care day the day before and got busy taking care of things on Mother’s Day evening.  I love this picture below this is totally a mother’s reality! Ha!!

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I went to bed on Mother’s day feeling so refreshed and relaxed. I hit Monday morning ready for the week.  Well it’s only Wednesday and my week has been CRAY – ZAY! My Zen from the weekend has totally evaporated and I am in busy mom, wife everything mode!   I smile at myself knowing at least I tried to prepare before all the wheels came off.  So, on this week’s blog I wanted to remind all the mothers out there to practice self-care daily, heck even hourly during those crazy times.  We are the best for our families when we take diligent care of ourselves. I am always reminded of this principle when we are traveling on the plane.  The flight attendant directs the passengers that in an emergency if you are traveling with small children to put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then place it on your children. We are no help if we are passed out or exhausted mentally and physically.  So, Moms here’s your permission slip to make self-care your daily practice!

 

Happy Mother’s Day/Week/Month and year to everyone!!

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By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

 

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

 

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/

Hello May!

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A brand-new month is already here – can you believe it?  If your life is like mine May is always a busy month for my family and I. My schedule is filled with school plays, spring concerts, 8th grade dances, end of the school year activities packing up my college daughter to return home, graduations and birthday celebrations all on top of our regular schedule. Whew! I normally approach busy seasons flying by the seat of my pants, exhausted, stressed and doing way too much. This year I am working on being intentional and focusing on how I want to feel as I move through life. More peace, patience, enjoying the journey and joy in the middle of the storms.  Self-care strategies that I have mentioned in my previous post have helped me tremendously.

One of the ways we can be more intentional about self-care is to be more aware of what our stress levels are and their long term impacts.  There is a great tool called the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale that can help you understand the way different stressors both good and bad can impact our lives on a short term and long term basis. It is good to be aware of the different levels of stress and how to better manage on a day to day, month to month and year to year basis.

Take a moment and add up your stress levels based on this quiz/point system below and assess the impacts that your stress levels can have on you. An online version can also be found here:

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_82.htm

 

 

Once you add up your scores you can use this scale:

Total Point Score:

11-150 Points –  You have only a low to moderate chance of becoming ill in the near future.

150-299 Points – You have a moderate to high chance of becoming ill in the near future.

300-600 Points –  You have a high or very high risk of becoming ill in the near future.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we will dive into this topic even further this month as well as develop better-coping strategies to be more intentional with our mental health and self-care practices!

Cheers to May!

By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

 

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc, have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/