Blog 17 Surrendering

The Universe has sent me a message. It tells me, “Stop, look around, observe, and wait to see what unfolds!” And I am paying attention! Especially this past week, I am being told to stop fighting battles that aren’t mine and stop being the caretaker for everyone around me.
We cannot really control other people’s behavior. Instead we must trust in our own strength, surrender to the Universe and wait for signs on how to proceed. If we truly want to move forward from all the crossroads we encounter we must take the time to listen. When we talk instead of listening, we miss the signs. When we don’t take time out for ourselves, when we are too overwhelmed by all our day-to- day business, we miss the signs.
Sometimes you must take a deep breath and surrender to the Universe. Listen to the sounds around you, appreciate the day. Walk away from anything that no longer serves you. Walk away and stop making excuses for the unacceptable. Remember what you like to do and do it. Draw on your inner strength. No matter what people are saying, or doing, it ultimately reflects back on them, not you. If it is toxic, surrender to the beauty in the world and rise above it! Surrender does not mean standing up for what you believe, it means believing in it so strongly, no one can touch you. Revel in your own power! It turns out it is an interesting place to be.
And it will take you to the next level.

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Blog 16 Deserving what we need in life

As we work each day caring for individuals who need our help, we often see them trying to cope in ways that may be hurtful to others. In my opinion we are all guilty of behaving badly sometimes. As we try to take care of our personal needs we sometimes repress feelings, say things that are mean and passive-aggressive, or just ignore others by saying nothing at all.
Who benefits from this? No one, really. It only leads to unhappiness and guilt all around. What to do? Maybe we need to stop and ask ourselves, “What’s not working in this relationship and why?”
It doesn’t really help anyone in a relationship to blame someone for asking us to give them what they desperately need. They deserve it! If a relationship is not working with a friend, family member, or significant other, it may be better to just walk away – if only for a little while — so you can figure how to can fix it. If a relationship doesn’t honor your own needs, it shouldn’t be allowed to undermine your self-worth. In fact, you can make your self-worth soar knowing you had the strength to move on when you weren’t getting what you needed – and deserved – from a relationship that needs repair.

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Blog 15 Intern Movie Reflection

I have been reflecting over the past week on administrative changes I have made at Elegant. I was able to make some much needed improvements in accountability and structure. Instead of not knowing where an activity is from day to day, there’s now a structure and plan. This means less uncertainty for our staff and individuals. In making changes I took into consideration all that we love to do and then, boy ,did I make it happen. I scheduled a cooking class. I made fitness a top priority. I scheduled weekly bowling and art and monthly music therapy. Everything we deal with is a lesson and I view the world through that lens for my state of the art program, Elegant.
Just a few years ago I was struggling personally and professionally to do better. I was getting caught up in my personal drama. But in less than three years, I was able to build a program and a life that I am passionate about. Not that I didn’t have a team to help me. I sure do. However, it is my own vision coming more and more alive as we speak.
Over the weekend I was able to relax a bit and watch the movie “The Intern.” It really resonated with me given my incredible hours, focus and passion for Elegant. I don’t want to give away the story line, but I felt so close to the main character played by Anne Hathaway. I am always looking for someone to bring to Elegant creative thought, problem solving and my kind of love and dedication. But I have yet to find that person. What I realize now is that it is my job to do all that. It makes me feel good to know that I was always intended to carry out my purpose as CEO of Elegant and that is exactly what I am doing. I must also accept other people for the wonderful things they bring, not keep looking for my clone. Sometimes things come up for us and we may not know the meaning. But as time goes on we see the lesson we were meant to learn. Because the lesson is always there – if we just listen.

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Blog 14 Genuine

Genuine is a word someone used to describe me recently. I’ve always loved that word, but never thought it fit for me. Genuine means being sincere, being authentic. I have used it many times to describe Elegant. Now that I have had a few days to think about it I am reflecting on what the Universe might want me to learn from it. Genuine is such a powerful word!
Being genuine allows you to offer support with true love for others while they jump onto their path of choice and travel through this life. When you accept others without conditions and travel with them on their journey — while they travel with you through yours — you share the experience even if you truly weren’t on the same path. Everyone has a story on our journey here on Earth — our individuals, myself and my team included.
The way the Universe works, an entire chain of events will happen to help explain “genuine” to me in a way that I fully understand. I greatly respect the person who said it to me and I take seriously that the universe is working for me to understand what it means. I have many inspirational private discussions with amazing people that I come in contact with at work, or outside of work, and I always put the best interests of others in the forefront when I am giving any feedback to someone.
Every minute of our time is spent for a reason. I am well aware of all of my actions and at the same time responsible for them, although sometimes I do not want to be!
The truth is, I have been through trials and tribulations on my ongoing journey to be exactly where I need to be at a given time for a given purpose. When we let go of judgments we open ourselves to possibilities that we never knew could exist for us. Trust me, I am living proof!

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Blog 13 The Things we want in others

Over the past few weeks I have been returning again and again to a common theme. As I look at the people we serve at Elegant, I watch individuals struggle to get the things they desperately need from us. Yet it has become more and more clear that what they want and need is love. How do we provide something so precious?
Among other things our program strives to get people working and make them productive members of society. In order for this to happen, we must go through the process of talking to employers about the benefits of hiring our individuals. Meanwhile we are working to build better relationships with local employers to overcome ignorance surrounding what people with disabilities can do. More importantly we strive to develop a strong sense of commitment from the individuals we are attempting to place. In most cases, due to mental illness, we are not able to get full work days from them. Yet we must keep going, getting better job coaches for them, along with many other things they need. But in reality, we are all working for the common goal of employment, independence, and of course, fulfilled promise. A critical missing element is often that we need to find a better way to achieve success. It is not just a good resume, better training, or improved job coaching methods. We must assess what our individuals really need to succeed.
For example, we have an individual who came to our program who works hard, inside or outside. Most individuals have a preference. And she is willing to do almost any work. But as good as she is, to find employment for her we need to do something different. We need to focus on what SHE needs. What she needs is love, to feel a sense of belonging. We all need that feeling as much as she does. However, sometimes she swims through a world where others have no idea how to give love and are themselves struggling with a sense of belonging. So how do they provide that necessary love? We all need to look deep within ourselves and recognize what is missing within us to fulfill ourselves and be able to find the love that is so necessary for success in what we do.
I really understand this dilemma. I have searched my whole life for many things and, more often than I like to admit, I have been let down. If you are never taught how to love, how do you love deeply? Unless we are able to find fulfillment ourselves by truly loving ourselves, we do not have the capacity to love others. Certainly not in the way our individuals need.
So maybe we are all looking to be saved by someone, or something. The toughest part is that we are the only ones who can save ourselves and be free to truly give love to others. So, sometimes what you want to give is something that you do not possess. When you hear a person say, I need trust, I need loyalty, I need love, I need intimacy, a little reflection may be in order to look within yourself and see if you possess those qualities yourself. They may not be there no matter how badly you want them. So I advise you to go back and nurture your soul. Then 2016 can be a year where you find the happiness and love you need to help and nurture others.

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Blog 12 Program Keys in on Love

Over the past few weeks I have learned a few things about the keys to program success, especially during the holidays and the sheer emotional intensity they create. At this time of year structure goes out the window, consistency is missing and days don’t flow the same way. We humans like structure, or at least predictability, of some kind. Some of us have families to go home to during the holidays and some of us don’t. So it is a tough time of year, for positive or negative reasons. Often we are not as health conscious as we celebrate. That can throw our moods off, at a time when there are so many variables to contend with!
So what can we do to help keep the positive energy flowing? Well, we can give more hugs, and generally introduce more love into our lives. It is a time of need and giving! If we cannot love more, then we fuel negative energy that can spread like a virus. With unpredictability in the air, we need to share ourselves by loving more, giving more of ourselves and getting through the Season in an elegant fashion!
Here at Elegant we have adapted our program to the demands of the holidays by including healthy snack incentives, increasing fitness to four times each week, and adding social skills training that relates to the holidays. Lately we have had unprecedented success with our programs and we continue to track outcomes closely. We are thrilled with the results. By seeking outcomes that are measurable and using love to achieve your goals you have the keys to fulfilling your mission all through the year!

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Blog 11 Special Mention

So…my Blog with Special Mentions for those who need to know I see them.
I am so blessed to have such an amazing family at home and extended family at Elegant. I have my true number one and soul mate, Mr. Tracy Mark Gaston. Without him, Elegant would not be. I would never have found the love for myself I needed for my mission in life without the love I have for this man. My babies, Lita and Nyla are both blessings. Lita, who is always testing me with her brilliance, has my sense of humor and the same ability to follow a calling that was meant for the two of us to share. Nyla, my youngest, so far… has taught me patience and wisdom and how to keep my own emotions together to stay positive throughout the day. Negativity pushes her mood to the dark side, so energy is everything for her. I am forced to keep it together for this little one. My next child, or children, will be calm. I need peace and tranquility and I know that’s what I will get.
As for my team, Ms. Jackson keeps it real, does her job and carries the Elegant Bee Mission far beyond what I could do. She embodies our mission and beauty all in one. Chantel, is someone I can count on and the love she gives is something that I deeply admire. You are exceptional. Miss Monica, you know I love you. You are so direct and truly fit in my world. The rest of my team, know that you are each appreciated and never forgotten. You all are just a few of those around me I am grateful for.
I came from a very negative team early in my journey through this world, but now I have truly found the right people. You are the right fit at the right time and all the time. As I have said before, those who don’t belong make a quick exit. That is not because I don’t think they will find a place to fit in, or because I won’t pray for them. They are just are not a fit for the Elegant world I am so blessed to have around me.

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Blog 1 Bees

Over the past few months, I appear to have become a major attraction for bees. At first, I would swat at them, to the point where a man in a Walmart parking lot could not stop staring at me swatting and trying to escape from one. At first, I took it personally. “Why are you after me? Are you trying to sting me and hurt me?” Then, I thought they might be after my children and at that, I raced to my car and left. Even after, it seemed like the bee was still attached to the car. Finally, he was gone. But it keeps happening. The bees keep coming. Were the bees trying to tell me something? So over time, I have accepted the bee as my spirit animal.
So I looked up the meaning of the bee as a spirit animal only to be disappointed, or so I thought. Retrieved from: http://www.spirit-animals.com/honey-bee/ I found that if a bee comes buzzing into your life, examine your own productivity. It asked if I could make my life more fertile? Am I busy enough? Am I making time to savor the honey of life and not becoming a workaholic drone? The bee, it says, reminds us to make our lives more productive while the sun shines and enjoy the sweet nectar of our efforts. No matter how great the dream is, there is always the promise of fulfillment if we pursue our dream.
Pondering what the bee symbolizes did not resonate with me at first. Maybe, I thought, I do not get the meaning just yet. In the end what I got from all this went much deeper and was more meaningful.
I feel as if I am always productive. But in truth my ability to inspire others is my real skill. I can inspire a waitress, a woman in a grocery line, a man doing construction, a staff member who works for me, or individuals that we serve in our program. But where I am not entirely effective — and certainly less consistent — is at home with my own family, the very place where I should be completely successful before shedding my light on the world. So, Mr. Honey Bee…I am on track now. My goal is to shine my light so bright at home and with my own family that I can march into Elegant Clinical Corporation and shine an even bright light on the other people closest to me. Thank you, Mr. Bee.

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Blog 3 Listen to your Heart

I have been thinking a lot lately about the responsibility that comes from the ability to help, inspire and influence everyone around us. As we all continue to grow and change, we must remain keenly aware of our powerful influence and do everything we can to make it better. That includes being open to changing the way we live and behave. While it is important to treasure all that we have learned there is a time to move on. Lately I’ve noticed that many of us don’t recognize when it is time to gently let go of anything, or anyone not in tune with your personal journey. Failing to do so can create gnawing tension that can undermine all the good work you are doing.
When I was doing my graduate studies, I read a book called, The Truth Will Set You Free, by Alice Miller. The book’s introduction talks about how psychologists must confront and subdue all of their personal demons to avoid implanting any belief in a patient that could jeopardize their treatment. This is a critical concept, since psychologists touch so many lives and their recommendations are taken so seriously. What they do has real and lasting impact.
But all of us bear responsibility for our powerful impact on others. The higher your own level of self-awareness the better off you and those close to you will be. Work at it. Listen to your heart. Pay attention to the small voice that whispers in your ear when you are moving in the wrong direction. Think about what you do. The decisions we make don’t just affect you, but impact your family and friends and all those close to you. Recognize that all is not what it seems to be, or centered on you. Maintain a clear vision of your own world and try with all your might and all your heart to avoid projecting or implanting your insecurities and mistaken beliefs onto others. Then you can be free to share yourself — and all that you have to offer — to inspire and change other lives for the better.

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Blog 2 Businesses with Like Energy

While reading my e-mails I came across a survey from Facebook Business. They were looking for information about how businesses are using Facebook. The survey stated that there might be a follow up meeting in New York City the following week and asked for my availability. I said yes, I was available. The very next day I received an e-mail asking me to attend the meeting. It was certainly a spontaneous decision, but it also gave me some much-needed time to drive into Manhattan and have a lunch with my partner. At Elegant our purpose is so clear that sometimes the energy just needs to flow and we need time to breathe and make things happen.
So, the next week we found ourselves at Facebook Business (which is a really cool place, I might add). We were taken to a room where our responses were video recorded and posted on our Facebook page. Among many thoughtful questions, we were asked how Facebook could do a better job for its customers. Personally I find Facebook amazingly user friendly with so many ways to market all the services Elegant has to offer. I also feel that Facebook listens to customers like us in a very thoughtful way. It is a truly user friendly service that really cares what its customers want.
When you arrive at Elegant, you immediately feel an enormous rush of energy. Facebook feels the same way. In fact, their approach to customers and the way they do business — although on a much larger scale –reminds me a lot of our approach here at Elegant. Facebook cares about their customers, just as we care about our individuals. Like Facebook the incentives we put together are all people-focused, goals we set are all attainable and we are always listening to what our individuals want. It is this constant listening, and paying attention to those you serve, that can make one business stand out in a very big way. We enjoyed our time with Facebook and look forward to meeting with them again as Elegant continues to grow and expand its services.

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