Change your thinking, Change your life: Tips for shifting your thoughts into assets.

Have you ever spent time around someone who seems to never have anything positive to say?  When asked how their day is going, brace yourself for a laundry list of everything wrong in life.  An uncle of mine used to say these people were “happy to be mad.”  Oftentimes they have alienated quality people from their lives because of their negative outlook on life.  The good news is there is still hope for this group to transform their negative thinking into positive thinking.  One may question the benefits if they view life as unfair.  Life is unfair, but what if I told you that life is 10 percent of what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond.  If my math is correct, this adds up to us having huge control over our lives.  Will you choose to traverse through life expending energy with a negative attitude?  Or, are you ready to transform your thoughts to positive thoughts and experience a paradigm shift?

One of the distinguishing characteristics between successful and unsuccessful people is their mindset.  Successful people do not succumb to the seduction of victimhood and sing the “Woe is me” blues.  Successful people choose to stare in the eyes of adversity as their unwavering commitment to their goals will not allow them to quit.  When problems arise, successful people view problems as “possibilities” or opportunities to learn and grow.   The more successful people have actively taken steps to make their thoughts assets instead of liabilities.  You may be wondering; how do they accomplish such a simple but powerful task?  Based on my experiences, observations and conversations with the more successful people in life; I have learned that their answers to the following questions separates them from others.

Who do you spend your time around?  “If you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room.”  Do you spend time around people who inspire, encourage, challenge and motivate you?  Or, do you spend time around people who criticize, discourage and drain you.  We are the sum or our 5 closest friends and oftentimes we can find at least one quality that we share with those friends.  We attract who we are and where we are in life.  If your desire is to shift your thought process and become more successful, take a look at your circle.  I discuss this concept further in my book Vitamin C: The Healing Workbook, which can be found here.

How do you spend your time?  Time can be our ally or our friend. I am a firm believer in “work hard, play hard.”  However, I also come from the generation where parents told us “if you are too sick to go to school you are too sick to play.” The purpose of this concept was to instill work ethic.  The ways in which we choose to spend or invest our time will determine our level of success.  You can also read more about the impact time has on our level of success in my blog about balancing full time employment and part time entrepreneurship here.

What book(s) are your reading?  Are you reading? Our brains are like gardens and the seeds we plant in our brains by the material we choose to read can impact our thoughts.

What thoughts dominate your mind?  Do you focus on the problems or the opportunities?  If we remain problem focused, we are more likely to view life as problematic.  The more successful people are problem solvers.  They identify the problem and use their resources to find solutions.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  What legacy do you want to leave behind? Are you living or existing?  Do you go through the motions or apply yourself?  Another characteristic of successful people is they have long-term thinking.  They begin with their end in mind and work in the present to plant seeds for their legacy.

Who inspires you?  Who do you look up to?  Do you have an accountability partner?  As aforementioned, the more successful people are mindful of whom they share space, time and energy.  Most successful people started their journey with a mentor, someone who tells us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear.  I encourage you to reflect on one person you look up to.  If you haven’t already, reach out to them and pick their brains.  Successful people are usually not hoarders of information and are more than willing to share their knowledge with people who are open to learning.

The direction of our lives can begin with one thought! Our thoughts become our words, our words become our behaviors, our behaviors become our habits, and our habits become our values, which can ultimately determine our destiny.  Remember, whether you think you can or cannot, you are absolutely correct.

How do you keep negative thoughts at bay? How has your life been impacted by positivity and/or negativity? Please share your experiences.

If you are ready to transform your thoughts to transform your life, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation @

From the military battlefields to our backyards: The impact of Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on our communities

In the wake of the increased neighborhood violence throughout the country over the past several months, my heart compelled me to dedicate a blog to discuss the correlation between neighborhood violence, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the residual effects it has on our youth, families and communities.

Most, if not all of us have experienced or witnessed some form of trauma.  Trauma is an experience that overwhelms our ability to experience a sense of control over ourselves and our environment, maintain connection to ourselves, others and make meaning of our experience.  Trauma impacts our relationships with ourselves and others, our safety, our understanding of humanity and our core beliefs.   Trauma can be caused by a variety of events including, but not limited to the untimely death of a loved one, neighborhood violence, domestic violence, chronic pain, natural disasters, physical, emotional and sexual abuse and military combat.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is an intense physical and emotional response to thoughts and reminders of the traumatic event that last for weeks or months after the occurrence.  Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, uncontrollable thoughts, uncontrollable shaking, heart palpitations, tension headaches and increased arousal (overly alert, easily startled, difficulty sleeping).

What is the difference between Trauma and PTSD?

Many people who encounter traumatic events have difficulty coping for a while but they do not have PTSD.  Time and good self-care allows the condition to improve.  However, if symptoms get worse, interfere with daily functioning, last for months or even years; you may have a diagnosis of PTSD.

What happens when we experience or witness a traumatic event?

Traumatic events impact our bodies, minds and relational networks.  It is also imperative to consider the age of the person at the time of the traumatic event.  Children, adolescents and adults may view traumatic events through different lenses.

Common responses to trauma include:

Fight: Examples include crying, clenched fists, feelings of anger rage, fight in eyes, grinding teeth, suicidal/homicidal ideations, nausea and knotted stomach

Flight: Restless leg/foot movement, anxiety, shallow breathing, sense of feeling trapped, tense, excessive exercise, sense of running in life and big darting eyes

Freeze/Dissociation: Sense of stiffness heaviness, feeling stuck in some part of body, feeling frozen, numb, pale, increased or decreased heart rate, holding breath, difficulty breathing and  sense of stiffness, “out of body experience,” and emotional numbness

Chronic Hyperarousal: A sense of always being under extreme attack; or a chronic sense of fight or flight.  The longer our fight or flight system stays active, the more draining; both physically and emotionally.  This is common in those who experienced or witnessed rape, natural disasters, military combat, beatings and/or neighborhood violence.

In the 21st century, Americans in violent neighborhoods are developing PTSD at rates similar to combat veterans.  The experience of neighborhood violence in our country can be compared to the loss of life on the battlefields in the military.  More recently, Harvard doctors have created the term “hood disease” to describe a complex from of PTSD threatening the well-being of inner-city youth.  I go into detail about PTSD in the community being redefined as the “hood disease” in my book “Vitamin C: The Healing Workbook, which can be found for purchase here.

It pains me as I think about the experiences of the youth, particularly the youth in the African American community.  Our youth are experiencing traumatic events in the form of neighborhood violence at alarming rates.  Most of the youth in the 21st century have consistently experienced the untimely death of friends and family members as a result of neighborhood violence.  Death is a difficult concept for children to understand.  As adults, oftentimes we struggle to manage our emotions and behaviors when experiencing the death of a loved one.  However, we are still charged with the challenging task of helping our youth process, manage and express their emotions, thoughts and behaviors during these trying times.  You may be questioning if I struggle to discuss death of a family member due to natural causes to my 9 year old; how in the world do I explain to my 9 year old who is beginning to conceptualize death that his or her friend was gunned down in a drive-by shooting?  Most of the traditional therapeutic models are not geared toward neighborhood violence or black-on black crimes.

How do we begin the healing?

As parents and caregivers, it is important to express feelings and emotions such as shock, disbelief, sadness, anger and guilt when dealing with our children.  Sharing these feelings helps in reducing children’s sense of isolation and reinforces caring and validation, even in times of grief.

Support system: Seek out the natural support of family and friends, seek local support groups.

Seek counseling:  Even in the 21st century, there is still a stigma attached to counseling, especially in the African American community.  I encourage you to seek the help of a counselor who has a good understanding of trauma.  If you or your children are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, please seek help.  You do not have to suffer alone in silence.

Get involved in the community: Be the change you want to see.  If you see the need for community outreach, counseling, community meetings; initiate the process.  There are people who watch things happen and there are people who make things happen.  Our youth are hurting and being taken away from us way too soon…time is of essence.

Although most of us, especially our youth are hurting from the acts of violence in neighborhoods across the country, our youth are resilient and all of us are survivors.  Parents, teachers, caregivers, counselors, community leaders, law enforcement are charged with banding together for the common goal for a safer, more stable and family oriented community.

Instead of asking “What’s wrong with you,” let’s begin to ask “What happened to you?!”

If you or anyone you know is in need of counseling services please contact HandinHand Counseling Services, LLC at 412-414-7782 or 412-607-4805.



The Vitamin C Healing Book: A holistic approach to healing for the mind, body and soul

The Vitamin C Healing Book:

A holistic approach to healing for the mind, body and soul

I have learned that one of the most defining moments in our lives is the moment we find our reason “why.” Your why is your purpose, your passion, the cause that is bigger than you.  I chose the helping profession because I wanted to effect positive change on many levels.  I always knew I wanted to help people in some capacity.  As I evolved in my profession my “why” became clear.   As a social worker, one of our major responsibilities to the communities is to advocate for social justice.  After working for various organizations in the helping profession I began to notice a common trend of individuals struggling to advocate for themselves and their families.  Two of the most common settings where this trend occurs include school meetings and doctor appointments.   Picture the principal, vice principal, dean of students, teacher, teacher’s aide and possibly the cafeteria aide on one side of the table and the parent and child on the other side of the table.  This setting can be intimidating and can influence the parent to become too aggressive in  his/her defense of the child or too passive out of fear, guilt and/or lack of knowledge of the education system.  A doctor’s office can also be an intimidating setting for patients.  Doctor’s appointments are designed for physical wellness and preventative care.  In my experience, most patients have avoided the Doctor’s office due to being overwhelmed by the difficult medical terminology used to describe their condition, the measures needed to treat the condition and ultimately not knowing what questions to ask in regards to their health.  Often times questions are not asked and concerns are not raised as patients do not always feel heard by the medical professional.  Although the settings are different, the individuals in both settings want to feel heard.  In each scenario, my role as a social worker is to ensure individuals know their rights and are prepared for the best and worst case scenarios during the meetings.  More importantly, during these meetings it is my role to find the balance in advocating for individuals while also allowing them the space to use their voice and advocate for themselves.

Vitamin C: Healing for the Mind Body and Soul is a spin off from my private counseling practice, HandinHand Counseling Services, LLC.  HandinHand Counseling Services is dedicated to promoting Hope, Health and Healing to individuals and families struggling with situational concerns to more pressing mental health issues.   At HandinHand, our mission is to assist individuals in seeking clarity, restoring hope and experience healing through the course of treatment.  Understanding that there are individuals who are unable to receive services in our office for a variety of reasons; but would benefit greatly from a resource that offered the tools to facilitate positive change in their lives inspired me to write a book.

Have you experienced disappointments, pain from losing a loved one, or divorce? 

Have you ever struggled with balancing the joys of life and emotional differences? 

Are you struggling with finding your voice?

Are you ready to interrupt the generational patterns that have been keeping your family stuck?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, The Vitamin C Healing Workbook provides resources and life applicable tools to facilitate sustainable change.  Each chapter includes a thorough workbook section that allows you to work through some of your most pressing issues and experience the healing you desire.

I invite you to join me for The Vitamin C Healing Meet and Greet Book Signing event where you can purchase a new copy, get your copy signed and your questions answered!   The event is being held this Saturday, May 16, 2015 from 12:30pm-2:30pm at the Union Project Building, 801 N. Negley Avenue Suite # 5 Pittsburgh, PA 15206.

Books can also be purchased at or

I can also be reached via email at

I look forward to meeting and conversing with both new and familiar faces!

See you there!

Balancing full time employment and part time entrepreneurship: Tips for managing time and focus.

“When do you sleep?” This phrase probably sounds familiar to my colleagues balancing employment and entrepreneurship.   One may also ask, “When do you find time for leisure, family or “me time?” One of the most important lessons I have learned as a current employee and entrepreneur is our time is arguably one of our most important tools and we will make time for the things that are important to us.  If something is important to us we will find the time, if not we will find an excuse.  Speaking of time; each of us are granted the same 24 hours 7 days per week.  The distribution of this time throughout each day will determine one’s success rate in balancing the task of employment and entrepreneurship.   Most full time jobs are 8 hours per day for 5 days per week. There are 168 hours in a week and in a given week the average full time employee works between 40-60 hours 5 days per week.  If my math is correct, this leaves 108-128 hours of free time per week.  This sounds like a lot of “free time” and I am well aware that this time can slip away if one is not mindful of how it is spent.  If entrepreneurship is truly your long term goal and not your hobby (it can become a VERY EXPENSIVE hobby) the activity in the remaining 108-128 hours throughout each week will determine the success of your business.  I know you are tired after a long day of work; some of us have to balance family responsibilities and most of the time we want to go home relax, take a nap or engage in some other leisure activity.  By no means am I suggesting that you eliminate this from your life.   I am merely bringing awareness to this window of time being an asset or liability in your choice to grow a business on a part time basis.  There will be great days, bad days; as well as days where you are physically and mentally drained.  You will experience pain, setbacks, self-doubt and even ponder quitting your business!  The common denominator in any given scenario is “you!”  How will you manage your time and focus to balance these two roles and enjoy life?

Consider the following tips to assist you along your journey as an employee and entrepreneur:

Be present in the moment: It can be very seductive to attempt to multi-task while balancing the two roles.  If you are at work, be present at work.  Be the best employee you can offer your employer.  While you are on the clock, you are on company time, so make the best of it.  Remember, you also run a business; how would employees stealing company time impact your business? The time you devote to your business may be limited to a couple hours per day or per week.  Whether you dedicate 5 hours per week or 50 hours per week to your business, make the most of this time by working in and/or on your business.

“To Do List:” Plan! Plan! Plan!  If we fail to plan, we are planning to fail! There are several ways to organize your day.  This can be done via calendar alerts, memos in your electronic devices, pocket calendar or writing a daily to do list on notebook paper.  I suggest finding a strategy that works for you and sticking to it.  If you get overwhelmed by a lengthy “to do” list, prioritize 1-3 goals you would like to accomplish before the end of the day.

Networking: Any social interaction with another human being is an opportunity to network.  Be curious and genuinely interested in what other people do and how you can help each other.  Attend networking events (remember those 108-128 hours of “free time”).  Don’t just attend networking events, prepare and be present during these events.  What is your elevator pitch?  How will you engage people you do not know?  Who will you distribute business cards to?

Self-Care Day:  As a full time employee and part time entrepreneur you will work at least 80-110 hours per week.  This equates to a lot of time and energy being poured into others, leaving little time for self-care.  I have learned it is imperative to designate at least one-day of the week where you engage in a self-care activity that you do not feel obligated to complete ( massage, go for a walk, lounge in your favorite lounge wear, watch a movie).  This is your day, it is okay to say no or say yes.  A wise woman reminded me the importance of not forcing anything on our “me days.”

Support network: Family and friends can be great support systems.  I also encourage you to reach out to your colleagues and/or fellow entrepreneurs for support.  Networking events, social media groups geared toward professionals and entrepreneurs are some examples of ways to build your network. This is also a great opportunity to seek out an accountability partner.  Sometimes life can get in the way of us accomplishing goals.  An accountability partner does just that; holds us accountable to the goals we set.

Mentorship: A mentor is someone we look up to, inspires us to be better, offers support encouragement, and pushes us beyond the limits of our potential.  Mentors are not always our friends; although this relationship can grow into a friendship.  Mentors are not there to make us happy or tell us what we want to hear.  Mentors tell us what we need to hear and guide us to the best of their knowledge.  Choose your mentor wisely; your success is dependent on it.

Keep your end in mind:  Being an employee is hard.  Being an entrepreneur is hard.   Life is hard.  When the complexities of life strike, most of us focus on our circumstances.  If we have a clear view of what our end looks like; we can begin to focus on our goals in spite of our circumstances.  What are your short term goals?  What are your long term goals?  Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years?  Where do you see your business in 5 years?

As we traverse through our unique journeys, we will continue to encounter obstacles, setbacks, rejections, disappointments; all of which may feel like we are treading water or even sinking.  While in pursuit of greatness, please keep in mind your journey is a marathon and not a sprint.  This marathon may take years to complete.  Patience, persistence, consistency and discipline will be the key ingredients needed to withstand this journey.  As the late author Jim Rohn quoted,” We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.  The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”  Hang in there; you are closer than you think!!

Please share your experiences with balancing the roles of employee and entrepreneur.   Full time entrepreneurs; what advice do you have for those who may be looking to transition into full time entrepreneurs?