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21 Early Days Challenge

So I have decided to do the 21 Early Days Challenge starting with this morning.  I am normally an early riser.  However, the past couple of months I have gotten out of sync and while I wake up early I am not feeling rested and I am going back to sleep until 6:30am.  Well this 21 Early Days Challenge requires a person to wake up at 4:30am.  This will be a struggle but one that I understand and am determined to overcome.

I know that getting up early really gives you a different perspective on life and gives you a way to control the day.  You have a chance to think about the things that need to be accomplished mindfully, without actually having to do them right at that moment.  For me, there is something magical about being awake while most of my fellow Californians are still asleep. Also knowing that I am awake while the other half of the country on the East is just beginning to start their day makes me feel more connected to the world. 

With this 21 Early Days Challenge I am looking to get back into a more productive mode and unleash more creativity. I am hoping I will work out the kinks of the feeling of blah that came upon me this winter and get my groove moving into the upcoming summer months (my favorite time of the year).  The weather here in National City has been a bit gloomy in my opinion and being a sun sign I am not appropriately connecting with the energy source I usually get from nice sunny bright days.  Waking up at 4:30am should change my feelings, which then will change my attitude, thus changing my behavior and bring me closer to my goals.

I know this 21 Early Days Challenge is not new.  It has been around for a couple of years now but it is new to me and I am inspired.  I stumbled upon it after watching a TedX by Filipe Castro Matos where he dares people to “go beyond natural” in other words, to push past your comfort zones to achieve things you have never accomplished before.  I have so many goals I am working towards without the fuel necessary to get me closer so this 21 Early Days Challenge should act like a catalyst and get me where I want to go.  Wish me success… 




Cornbread is an American favorite especially in most southern states.  It has come from humble beginnings, such as the “Hoe Cake” and gone on to grace many tables as the “Corn Soufflé”.  Native Americans taught the early Settlers how to ground corn into meal and flour for cooking and so corn became a major food source.  This happened because it is a flexible staple that can be use many different ways in food preparation. When supplies were low for the Settlers corn bread could be made with a simple mixture of water, salt, and cornmeal.  This basic recipe has since evolved.  Most northern states use sweeteners such as honey, molasses, and sugar to enhance the bread like a cake, which southern states use fat, bacon, or lard for a savory flavor. Due to the natural components of corn, yeast is not needed to make the bread rise, which makes it one of America’s quick breads. 

Generally, Native Americans prepared fry the cakes on hot rocks and probably added additional ingredients such as sunflower seeds, nuts, and berries to make the bread more nutritious.  Settlers commonly called cornbread “Hoe Cake” because of the way it was first prepared.  In the beginning settlers instead of cooking the bread on hot rocks they would bake them on a garden hoe that was help up or wedged up against an open fire.   Here is a great tasting basic recipe for making cornbread from scratch.

1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg lightly beaten

Cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl.
Combine milk, oil and egg in small bowl; mix well.

Mix mixture to flour mixture; stir just until blended.
Pour into greased 8-inch-square pan.

In preheated 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out steam. Serve warm.

Collard Greens

Collard greens are said to be a prehistoric plant that date back to the dinosaurs. Ancient Greeks cultivated collard green producing several different varieties including the modern green with the large leaves and stalks with a mild flavor.  The collard green is from the cabbage family and is a close kin of kale.  Collard greens are nutrituious as they are full of iron, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Here is a great recipe for traditional boiled collard greens without meat.


4 lbs collard greens, cleaned and large stems removed
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 tsp crushed red pepper or hot pepper sauce
1 red onion, sliced into rings
1 tbsp olive oil   (bacon grease)
½ cup cider vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground Pepper


1.            Wash greens and then set aside.

2.            Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Add crushed red pepper and garlic and cook over low heat stirring occasionally, about two minutes until garlic is softened but not brown.  Add water to stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

3.            Prepare collard greens by stacking the leaves and rolling them like a cigar and slicing them into thin strips.  (This technique is called chiffonade).

4.            Add collard greens and onion to pot.  As greens wilt, stir in vinegar.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The Money Cycle

We all understand that there is a natural ebb and flow in life. There is a tradeoff of good and bad events that cycle through our lives. There are bad events that occupy us so intently in our present moment and then suddenly recede into the past. As we look back at those events that produced such turmoil and pain, we see them with an entirely different perspective since we are not caught up in them. Often they are situations where someone is devastated after being fired to later find a much better job. Someone has a spouse leave them to only realize one, two, or three years later that it was the best thing that could have happened to them. Or someone who survives a serious illness with a new wisdom and appreciation of life that that they never had before. The passage of time always offers a new perspective.

Like life, money has a natural cycle that ebbs and flows through our lives, sometimes it is in harmony, sometimes it is in discord. Our economy is in constant movement up and down no matter what was planned or predicted by experts. So even if you do every financial thing right --- money like every other living thing is not always going to behave in ways that can be predicted. Sometimes you will have more than you expected, and at other times, money will flow out and you will have less than you thought. There may even be a time where your money in the stock market goes dramatically low and then you inherit some money to offset your losses. You get a promotion and then later are downsized without warning. These transitions are often scary, and then again they can be exciting, but they are all a part of the natural ups and downs of the money cycle.

To persevere these up and downs you must believe that you have the power to create your financial garden at will, building, pruning, weeding, sowing, and reaping. Also, you must believe that everything that happens is positive if you are willing to let it be. This is not saying that some events won’t be tragic and painful. But that if we are open to them, they will give us gifts and opportunities that we would have never found if we had not experienced them. Things that are happening to you can in the long run, lead to riches you never imagined.
If you can believe that somehow everything happens for the best and hold firm to this belief, especially during troubled times or when you undergo what appears to be setbacks in your life, then you will be able to draw the good out of any situation. You will be looking for the benefit, the hidden treasure and you will be able to profit from even the toughest experience of the natural money cycle.

Be Respectful to Money

Money is a living object that responds to energy.  Just as a person you are affected by energy.  Money is also affected by energy.  It is drawn to those who welcome it, those who respect it.  Money wants to be with people who respect it and treat it well wouldn’t you?  There is a law to money that states that respect attracts money and disrespect repels money.  This is why the rich get richer.  

They are respectful to their money.  And if you do what needs to be done with it, then you will become like a magnet, attracting more and more money to yourself. Many people inherently disrespect money because they have grown up believing that “money is the root of all evil.” This creates an environment that supports the idea that caring for money is something done only by people who are poor in character, those that flirt with evil.  They are always saying that there are more important things in life than money and therefore they neglect money. We should already understand that a person’s financial life is like a garden.  It needs to be tended carefully, nourished, pruned, and weeded.  Everyone deserves to have a beautiful financial garden that is bountiful.

There are consequences to not respecting your financial garden.  They show up in your life in many different ways.  You might lose some of money by neglecting to pay attention.  For instance, as soon as you pay off one credit card, your car breaks down and now you owe even more. A promotion you were counting on does not come through.  The repulsion of money in your life comes in many different ways and it is a result of your disrespect to money and yourself.

Some ways that you may be disrespecting money are as follows:

  • Do you forget to pay attention to when your bills are due?
  • Do you return books late to the library?
  • Do you borrow things from friends and forget to return them?
  • Do you spend money on others by never yourself?
  • Do you buy more presents for your children then feels right to do?
  • Do you give to charities because you really believe in the cause?
  • Have you ever bought something that you later didn’t want or need and failed to return it?
  • Do you often go out to dinner because you don’t feel like cooking?

People who are respectful with their money understand that money touches upon every aspect of our lives. People who are said to have the golden touch, actually they are gardeners with green thumbs who have cultivated financial gardens that are prosperous and abundant, who are respectful of themselves.  They are respectful to others who have money as well as those who do not.  They are also respectful of what money can and cannot do.  It seems that whatever they plant in their financial gardens grows.  This is not a learned behavior. If you want a prosperous and abundant financial garden you must learn how to respect money.

Fears Like Weeds in Your Financial Garden

Money does not define a person it says nothing about whether they are kind, loving, or smart. However, money is an important aspect to our lives because we do need money to live. Almost all of us though have fears and anxieties at some level about money. We may not be able to admit them to those around us or to ourselves but these fears and anxieties are holding us back from taking control of our financial lives and preventing our financial success.

Fears cause us trouble because we keep then inside and refuse to deal with them, so they grow like weeds left alone in a garden. Not having enough money to cover your monthly bills is a substantial fear. This fear is one that many people face and left unchecked this fear grows into the fear of not having enough in general. And with some tending and worrying that fear continues to grow and become plentiful into the fear of having nothing and somehow losing everything. If that fear is fertilized even further with negative thoughts it becomes the fear of being worthless and being nothing.

Just think how the simple fear of not being able to pay your monthly bills can create weeds in your financial garden that grow into a complete financial crisis. When we hold onto fear in this way we give it power. Once you state your fears out loud then you can see it, and you can control it. Fear takes your time and time must also be given to the cultivation of money. So that time spent in fear is the less time devoted to money. The less time devoted to money the less money you will have. It is important to weed your fears from your financial garden so that time can be used to grow your financial success.

Surrender by Letting Go

Whenever you are in doubt, let go ---- give way, give up. When you are feeling in expectation, or in pain, surrender when you are in confusion, fear, or impatience and you don’t know what to do next or maybe you’re losing control --- let go.  Let go, surrender, give up, and give in.

You will see as you let go that it is an emotional and spiritual surrender.  It is the act of willingly jumping out of the lifeboat of your preconception of reality and during the open sea of anything-can-happen.  It is a relinquishing of your definition of reality and the watching of it dissolve right before your very eyes. In doing this you will begin to instinctively comprehend that the state of surrender is a creative condition.  It is the tearing down to then build back up.

It’s hard to let go to live in the nothingless, formless place.  We are taught in life to always hold on, that we are the masters of our fate, the captains of our soul. But in truth surrender is the most elegant kind of daring.   It is the mastery of vulnerability of the highest order, an emptying out of one’s self. It is the silencing of all the idea, attitudes, schemes, and plans.  It is offering yourself as an empty vessel to be filled again.  There is so much possibility in the emptiness. In this vacancy anything can happen, there are breathtaking transformations, changes of direction, miracles that are astounding.  Love will come out of the woodwork and dramatic spiritual conversion. 

The process of letting go is bringing alive the power of nothingless.  It is living in surrender, trust, and the belief that emptiness is at once the perfect completion and the perfect beginning. So let go. Take caution to not hang on to even a shred, for this will prevent something new and wonderful from happening.

What Is Holding You Back?

No matter what happened to you in life in the past, no matter how many setbacks you have suffered or who or what has tried to get in the way of your success, see today as a new day and allow the universe to do new things in your life. Do not allow your past to hold you back or let it determine your future.

You were born to win. You were created to be a champion. Do not accept whatever comes your way in life. Take a stand and make a difference. Use your words to propel yourself forward they have amazing power. Talk about what you are going to do and stay in an attitude of faith within yourself. Remember that in using the right words you are changing your thinking, and then you are changing your life. Quiet your heart to understand what is it that is holding you back and break through this thought barrier.

Think of how you consider yourself and your chances and if they are in direct agreement with your goals. Have confidence in yourself and your capacity to make the outcomes you need to accomplish. Here and there your thoughts are so dominant that you are not by any means mindful of how negative they may be. To prevent yourself from holding back attempt to change your thinking patterns during the day. Perceive when you are thinking negatively and replace them with positive and empowering thoughts.

A Fresh Start: Happy New Year’s 2016

A new year marks the beginning again of the Gregorian calendar. While there are many ways to celebrate this date commonly people attend parties, make resolutions, and eat delicious special food. I think that the coming of the New Year is about starting fresh.
"Drink from the well of yourself and begin again."
-Charles Bukowski, Author
It is always good to hit the reset button on life. Clear away all the clutter and errors and get back to the original intent of your life. The following are some changes that one can make to recalibrate to get the fresh start that you need to get through the next upcoming year.

1.     Set your motivation for the New Year. Write a personal mission statement that summarizes who you are and what you stand for to bring focus and purpose to your life.

2.     Get attuned to your mind, body, and spirit. Set a new schedule that allows for you exercise more and to consistently get a good night of sleep. Change your appearance to match better with how you perceive yourself. Honor yourself by taking more breaks throughout your day.

3.     Change your environment. Try a change of scenery, surround yourself with a new group of friends, and rearrange your life.

4.     Evaluate the past year. Celebrate your successes and determine how to overcome your challenges. This is where your growth happens as your work through both the positive and negative situations in your life and the emotions that come with them.

5.     Reconfirm your values. Your system of value is the roadmap for how you choose to live your life. They are the core beliefs you have about yourself, about others, and about life in general. Ask yourself the hard questions like, what inspires you, how are you in service to your community, what do you respect most in your life.

Hoppin' John

A delicious southern stew that is a traditional dish served on New Year’s Day, cooks from start to finish: 1 hour. Makes 20 servings.

2 smoked turkey thighs, skin removed
1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
4 cups freshly steamed white rice
1 cup green onion, chopped
1 cup red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 jalapenos, stemmed and deseeded, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, jalapenos and garlic, and cook until opaque and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the turkey thighs, peas, chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme and a teaspoon of salt. Simmer for 40 minutes, or until peas are creamy and tender. If liquid evaporates, add more stock or water. Adjust seasonings, and garnish with green onions. Serve hot over rice.

4 Social Media Trends for 2016

If we had just a few major social communities out there, the occupations of advertisers and online marketing directors would be significantly less demanding. Be that as it may, as it seems to be, the digital scene has been scattering, particularly throughout the last two years. The difficulties that brands consequently face include a greater, yet scattered group of onlookers; more assorted, yet divided social networks; and an always-focused environment with noteworthy promoting endeavors.

It is said among researchers that one quarter of the world's populace utilizes online networking. This implies 1,7 billion individuals are posting, tweeting, vining, pinning and instagraming. At regular intervals about 5 million posts are uploaded on Tumblr; 280k snaps are shared on Snapchat; and more than 5 million recordings are seen on YouTube. Like never before, brands must be on their toes staying current with the most recent advancements and deliberately putting assets into the patterns that are prone to stick aorund. These are the most significant four social media trends I see commanding in 2016:

Social Media Trend 1: Anonymity

Despite the fact that advance of big data, wearable tech and the Internet of Things pushes the limits of individuals' view of security, late improvements highlight the interest for obscurity, with stages, for example, Whisper, Ello, and Facebook's independent Rooms are being introduced to the digital world. It will be interesting to see how brands can take advantage of this new innovation since consumers are not likely to want to associate with brands in this space.

Social Media Trend 2: Private Messaging

Private messaging has been around for a while, but brands have yet to seize fully its potential for customer interaction. The beauty of messaging apps lies in the rich diversity of content formats. Media companies are only now starting to use the likes of Snapchat and WhatsApp for live media coverage. 

Social Trend 3: Social Video

Instavid, Vine, Snapchat, Hyperlapse – show how social video is the best in class holding two noteworthy advantages for brands. To begin with, varying media narrating is sincerely convincing so share your story and presentation your items with flawlessly made messages. Also, vloggers and micro-vloggers are an incredible source for getting your message before your crowd. Most importantly do not just rely on influencers to share your message. Common users produce a lot of content on platforms such as Vine and Instagram, learn to make common user created content an important part of your marketing strategy.

Social Trend 4: Mobile

Among all the other social marketing channels, mobile
lets brands make (and exploit existing) convincing small scale moments at different parts of the purchase journey. SMS, push warnings or in-application item recommendations allow conversation. Geo-targeting retailers should put mobile and owned mobile apps at the center of their marketing strategies. Considering the global mobile penetration of 93%, social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and such are always enhancing their mobile presence. Social sites and applications are the most utilized on mobile devices, 2016 will definitely see improved web and online networking destinations turning into the standard and geo-targeted, contextualized content leading in every digital marketing strategy.