Girlfriends Making Waves: Smile Swag Teeth Whitening

I’m always so proud of my girlfriends and what they accomplish in their lives.  They’ve learned to be fearless leaders in their industries, saying yes to opportunities that open more doors, to even more sparkling futures.

One such lady is my girlfriend Dr. Mehrnaz (Alex) Naini.  Dentist to the athletes, as well as some other very notable patients, she has made waves in the cosmetic dental industry, not just for her cutting-edge procedures, but also her tireless contributions to media, events, and other activities that educate consumers on keeping your smile healthy and fresh.

A few months ago, she launched a small line of products called Smile Swag, geared mostly toward women who want their smile to be and/or appear whiter.

At dinner, she handed me a small box, about as big as what would contain a lip gloss.  Inside was a portable wand of tooth whitener gel, designed to quickly be applied on and in between your teeth, after any stainable food or drink has been consumed.  With regular use, your teeth become whiter. It requires no setting time and no rinse, and even has a hint of minty freshness.

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She showed me how easy it is to apply (you only need very little at a time!) and how within seconds it not only contributes to whiter teeth, but dissolves as though you never applied it (unlike those whitening trays that leave you drooling, sitting around for 30 minutes, waiting to be able to rinse and talk).

She also talked about her small line of lip colors and gloss that have a blue-red base.  This universal tone helps your teeth to appear whiter without rubbing off quickly.  And, I have to say, looks flattering on just about everyone!

I know this is just the beginning for her product line, and I couldn’t be prouder or more supportive of her.  If you want to get straight to shopping, click here.

Marrying for a Lifetime of Fun, Not a Sense of Security

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A few months ago, a viral post went out, by Heidi Priebe, that changed not only how vows should be written, but also how a married couple should spend their life together.

This post struck a chord with me because it hit on every point of what I always knew marriage should be – a best friendship, in which two people grow TOGETHER to take on the world.

All too often, people get married for the wrong reasons.  It could be that it financially makes sense for security purposes; or you both have been together for years and “it’s time”; or that you just don’t want to be alone.  But what goes missing with these reasons is whether or not your life goals/wants will match your partner’s in the long run. And where it starts is the ability to look inside yourself, pull out your deepest desires, and stick to them.  Being honest with yourself is only going to allow you to be honest with others.  The more you can answer to your own wants and needs, the more you open yourself up to a partner who feels the same way.

So many people are terrified of being alone but what is more terrifying than that is FEELING alone in a BAD relationship (we’ve all been there).  I’ve written so many meditation posts on how to be the best you that you can be – to be comfortable being alone, and happy/excited about the prospect of the right person coming along, but not NEEDING someone else to make you feel a certain way.  Priebe’s post is proof positive that she isn’t willing to settle for someone in order to fulfill a desire that she could certainly provide for herself – what she wants is a best friend to challenge her in life, to make her bolder, brighter, and better than she’s ever been.  THIS is what marriage is about, and no one should settle for anything less.

I know some of you are now commenting to yourself on how hard it is to find someone where you live.  Break the boundaries on it – there are billions of people in this world and the right one might not be living close to where you do. I once saw this movie on Netflix called TiMER.  It’s a fictional romance/comedy on people who have a pheromone device implanted into their arm, and when two people are a match, the timer on their wrist goes off, alarming them to when they will meet their soul mate.  It made me think about the fact that there is someone out there for everyone – the beauty is, they could be anywhere/anyone in the world, it’s just about timing.

So go out there, enjoy your life for yourself, print out those vows and use them as a checklist for life. Remember that you don’t NEED someone to make your life better, WANT someone that will make YOU better.

The Practice of Being Present Brings Abundant Joy

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This past weekend was probably one of my favorites of the whole summer.  Everyone had returned from their travels across the world, refreshed and ready to toast to the last few weeks of the summer before the nip in the air becomes a reality.

What made it so amazing was how present everyone was in the moment.  There was no drama, no rowdiness, no excessiveness – just peaceful, happy human beings who completely appreciated who and what was around them.

One of my friends and I talked at length about being present, while boating on the Potomac.  Far too often we are clung to our mobile devices, needing on-demand information of any kind, tuning out the simpler things in life – this includes human connection to not just people but nature as well.  I explained that it’s a practice to put the device away, to be engaging in what surrounds you, and to not let any other thought enter your mind, other than the joy/euphoria you feel from where you are right now. It’s something that should be so simple, yet is so hard for many of us to do.  It’s rare to bring a group together, such as who I was surrounded with last weekend, that understands how to appreciate the simple things in life, yet knows how to make them richer through their energy, passion, and positive attitude.  It’s because of them that I am so thankful, lucky, and elated that I am home.

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Stop Saying This… If You Are a Woman in the Workplace

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One month ago, an article came out by the Independent Journal Review,  saying that former Google Exec, Ellen Petry Leanse, suggested that women omit the word “just” from their workplace vocabulary. She noticed that when it was being used in a sentence, such as, “I just wanted to check in on…”, it gave off a certain aura of needing permission for something, i.e. emitting a hint of submission.

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I decided to try omitting this (as well as empty apologies) from my vocabulary for one month and funny enough, it works.  I started with emails (as practice).  I wrote a common work email, utilizing the semi-professional/casual tone that has become the norm in most companies today.  When I reread it back, I deleted the word “just” anywhere I found it, and then re-read it again.  The tone changed from weak and slightly defensive, to professional and to-the-point.

In the short month I’ve done this, I have found to get more tasks accomplished, as my messages come across as clear asks for what I need, and less about sounding as though I’m tip-toeing around issues.

Conference Calls

The second step was conference calls.  More often than not, we don’t realize the fillers we use in conversations, particularly when we’re on point to speak about something we need to deliver.  I found that when I was conscious of my speech, and the vocabulary (and tone) I was using, I came across as more professional, on-point, and confident, because I wasn’t using some of these weaker words when I spoke.  This, of course, radiated outwards to my peers.  As a result, more work has gotten accomplished, and my confidence level has gone up.

Personal Life Spill-over

When I felt I had mastered my workplace vocabulary changes,  I decided to keep on going with this experiment and try this out with my personal interactions.  And sure enough, I found my interactions, both with networking and with personal friends, a lot more solid.  It brings about a level of confidence that one should radiate, resulting in higher levels of respect, admiration, and willingness to help.  Omitting that one little word can be the difference between an opportunity and a miss.  It can be the difference between a solid connection and a distant acquaintance.

I encourage each of you to take the month challenge, omit words, such as “sorry” and “just”, and see what it does for both your professional and personal lives.

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 19) The Path to Total Transformation

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“It’s easy to feel grateful when life is going well but it’s hard to do when it’s not.” — Deepak Chopra

This quote is so simple and so true. If you notice, my posting has been on and off, during this 21-day challenge.  The last week has been a bit trying, and although I’ve meditated everyday, I’ve had a hard time being able to write reflection posts from a good place.

We’ve all been there – no matter how positive we try to keep our lives, we’re going to have bad moments where it’s hard to fight back the negativity.  It’s hard to tell yourself, constantly, that everything happens for a reason, and to just have patience.  Me being the impatient, relentless person I am, it’s sometimes a very uphill battle.

Still, we cannot even remotely follow a path to total transformation if we do not welcome the bad with the good. And, it’s all about perspective.  It’s about constantly asking yourself why something happened that you didn’t like, what were you meant to learn from it, and how can you shift your mindset towards the positive for the future?

The more we are able to fully answer those questions, the more illuminated our path to transformation becomes, and the easier it is to manage any negative experiences in the future.

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 15) Seeing the Big Picture

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All of us are “Agents of Grace”, whether we know it or not.  “Agents of Grace” are able to see the big picture in life – that helping each other is not only the most fulfilling way to live, but also the way the world evolves.  It’s through grace that we are able to “pay it forward” to those in need, bringing a richness to our lives that materialistic goods cannot fulfill.

I have a very close girlfriend, who embodies the definition of being an “Agent of Grace”, by donating her time and resources (2-3 months out of the year) to helping kids all over the world.  As I write this, she is landing in Zambia to bring school and medical supplies to villages who do not have access to what they need to live, grow, and thrive.  Her passion (and heart) for helping these children is the most tremendous I’ve seen.  To those of you who do what you can to help, via donations, you can’t even understand the impact that a box of crayons has on a child, until you witness it first-hand.  My girlfriend has been to some of the poorest villages in the world and she comes back distraught that no matter how much is donated, it’s not enough.  Yet, to that child, they feel tremendously lucky to be given something a first-world kid takes for granted everyday.

Granted, not everyone has the time and resources to do what my friend does.  Being an “Agent of Grace” can mean helping an elderly person with their groceries, it can mean reuniting a stray dog with its owner, it can even mean holding the door open for someone else.  It’s all acts of kindness that are meant to be paid forward, knowing that if these acts of kindness keep getting paid forward, the better the world will be.

So go out and be an “Agent of Grace” – do something unexpected for someone and feel the effects of the happiness you bring – it’s infectious!

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 14) Gratitude Brings Compassion

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Compassion comes when we’re feeling kindness and gratitude in our hearts towards others, which can oftentimes be a difficult thing to do.  As human beings, we find ourselves feeling judgmental against wrong doing, which is fueled by a sense of righteousness (ego).  When we judge against others, we’re putting ourselves in the right, while putting someone else in the wrong. It’s easy to do, as we’re constantly surrounded by what has become socially acceptable behavior – no longer are our views our own, as subjective influences are everywhere, causing us to be a bit lazy in forming our own opinions. Thus, judging becomes a much easier task, when faced with a decision on how to treat someone.  So how do we fill ourselves with compassion in the face of so much negativity?

Undoubtedly you have been judged unfairly in your life for something you may or may not have done.  It’s the worst feeling in the world when a finger is pointed at you, and you feel helpless to defend yourself.  As the saying goes, “Walk a mile in their shoes.”  It’s super easy to tell someone how to do something, how to feel, how to live their life, etc., based on your own unique experiences that may or may not relate to the situation at hand.  It’s also super easy to deliver that message with too much emotion.  So how do you remove the judgmental/emotional behavior, so that compassion is uncovered?

Deepak suggested a set of exercises that can definitely put you down the right path, and I can say that they truly work:

  1. Imagine yourself being that person’s parent or sibling.  They’ve come to you with an issue, or perhaps they have done something to offend you, or perhaps you don’t even know them but you’ve heard about what they’ve said or done.  How would you handle it?  Would you immediately scold them, or would you find the compassion to help them?
  2. If the answer is help, then the next step is forgiveness.  This is, by far, the hardest thing to do, as most of us are just ego-prone enough to feel like we’ve “lost” when we do.  But what most fail to remember is that forgiveness is the most powerful thing you can give someone else, next to love.  When you forgive, awareness becomes more inclusive, and compassion takes over – it purifies the soul.
  3. When you’re able to achieve these two, you will notice that you stop judging others, which means you stop judging yourself.  Believe it or not, most of what we project onto others is secretly things we, ourselves, need to work on.  And, when you get to a place where you’re judgment-free, you are then in a state of grace.

Having compassion takes work. And oftentimes, these steps are hard to get through.  I always tell people to volunteer at the charity of their choice, even if just for a few hours.  The amount of compassion you can feel for another, when helping someone less fortunate, is tremendous, and it definitely gives you a running head’s start in the right direction.

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 12) Loving With Gratitude

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“There are only two emotions in life: love and fear.” — Marianne Wilson

When you open yourself up to gratitude through love, fear melts away, paving the way to joy, acceptance, and freedom.  It’s not about how someone responds to our love, so much as it’s about connecting to yourself and how you love.

Divine love doesn’t have to be deserved by someone else.  Most of us love what is good in our lives and withdraw love when we are displeased.  But, it’s important to remember that God (or any higher power) loves the “bad” too  (he breathes life into all of us), as the grace that comes with love, isn’t a choice.  Grace exists in the infinite field of consciousness, which means love is already part of your awareness.

When we love, we can’t love in a vacuum.  We need to remind ourselves that loving unrequited, produces karma – positive energy that the universe receives and sends back to you tenfold.  Loving unrequited is super tough to do – especially when there are so many negative influences surrounding us.  So how does one combat this?  By loving (and being honest with) yourself first.

Loving yourself is something we are not socially programmed to do. We are taught to love and respect others and through this, love for yourself will follow.  But, unless we know how to fully love ourselves, we can’t really understand how to truly connect with and love others.  The reason for this is we are seeking for someone else to fill those voids we have been yet to figure out how to fill for ourselves.

I have seen (more times than I want to) people float through life, bouncing from short relationship, to short relationship, trying to fill that “love void” they refuse to fill for themselves.  They end up in meaningless “relationships” (usually physical in nature) that satisfy instant gratification “needs”, but do not satisfy long-term “needs”.  Because they are not honest with themselves about their “needs”, they are not honest with others.  As a result, dramatic “flare-ups” occur, feelings are hurt, and two people are left complaining about how “it’s so hard to find someone decent in this town”.  Had they learned to love themselves, they’d be able to open themselves up to more quality individuals that not only accept truer love, but also have genuine, unrequited love to give.

I always tell people that I’m curious as to what most think about before they fall asleep at night, and what they first think about when they wake up in the morning.  Are they happy?  Do they truly want to float through life?  Do they really want to settle down?  Are they miserable with how they live their lives?  Do they wish for a more quality life that doesn’t involve their common daily activities?  I usually suspect many don’t have positive thoughts because it’s at both those points when you’re most honest with yourself.  When you’re constantly seeking new, instant stimulations that produce the same feeling as giving unrequited love in short bouts, you get bored, sad, and complacent.  So how does one reverse this?

First, begin to remove yourself from the normal behaviors you tend to exhibit socially. I’m not saying you must remove yourself from your environment entirely, I’m saying, practice worrying about you, practice more kindness, practice moderation.  Are you prone to gossiping?  Practice listening and not responding to it.  Are you prone to drinking too much, causing you to make bad decisions you regret in the morning?  Practice sticking with 2-3 drinks throughout the night (alcohol causes weight gain anyway).  Are you prone to going on a date, finding something wrong with the person because they might not possess (insert materialistic good/personality trait here), and calling it off?  Practice listening to them, observing body language and chivalrous gestures.  If they are doing everything right, then take some time to self-reflect on what you need to love about yourself first, before you can let someone else in.  In other words, practice being honest with yourself and following through with what your mind and heart are telling you to truly do.

My first rule in learning to love with gratitude is to like/love everyone until they have done something negative to truly affect my life.  The second rule is to not take on people’s problems, and when a situation arises that might call for help, making sure I’m helping objectively, and not out of emotion.

Focusing on myself means listening with an open heart, offering SOLICITED advice, not gossiping about others, being fully present on dates and get togethers, practicing moderation when drinking, keeping myself on the forefront of every decision I make, and working on my own interesting story to tell – not relying on anyone for my happiness.

When you can figure out how to do these things for you, inadvertently, people take notice and feel that love, light, and warmth radiate out of you.  This is the point where you know you love with gratitude, so much so that you have more than enough love to give.  So spend some time with just YOU, think about what it is you truly want, start to chip away at those desires, and practice self-love first.  Remember, you have you and only you for the rest of your life.

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 11) Nature’s Generosity is Waiting

It’s important to know that nature is always ready to give to us the love and support we need to live our lives.  We need to be open to that infinite abundance and connect with it, as gratitude is the way we contact nature’s generosity, to bring us that support.

Sometimes, it’s super hard to be grateful in trying situations.  There are days, still, that even I want to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and sleep the day away, almost as if the problem I’m facing will just disappear if I do.  It’s tough in those times to pep talk yourself into trudging on, and realizing you’re better than that.

In the last week, I was blessed with some wonderful events in life that unexpectedly came out of the blue.  However, those events seemed to have lost its “magic”, leaving me feeling a bit confused, and saddened.  I had opened myself up to possibilities I never thought I’d see again, exposing who I am in my core, my feelings, and anything else that my being was willing to put out there.  Because I opened up myself and showed my gratefulness in abundance, my expectations on receiving were higher than they should have been, causing me to feel way more let down than I would normally allow myself.

In times like this, I feel pain, as most people do when they allow themselves to “feel”.  But instead of the usual moping about all day, through my practice today, I decided to focus on what I am grateful for. I told the universe that I appreciate every experience in my life, no matter how good or bad; I focused on everything that has been brought into my life in the last week and decided that it’s part of an experience I needed to go through, in order to move forward.  I focused on the fact that I appreciate nature for what it is and for helping to guide me in the direction I was meant to go.  It made me relax, feel lighter, and more confident.

So, if you are going through a bad time yourself, take 20 minutes to relax, sit still, breathe slowly, close your eyes, and focus on what you are grateful for.  Thank nature for all it has given you and in return, you will feel the love and support you need to push forward!

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 10) Gratitude Expands Every Relationship

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Relationships are all about the connection we establish.  The most powerful gift we can give one another is accepting the person for who they are today, and not trying to mold them into something they are not.  Acceptance is a powerful thing to possess.  It dissolves differences between us, opening a connection for alignment and positive energy.

Of course, to have a fulfilling relationship, you have to relate to each other, forming an emotional bond that can withstand anything. This means giving and receiving to each other – and being grateful no matter how large, or how small the gift.

When we form new relationships, our hearts are wide open and exposed.  We are willing to give all of ourselves to someone, as we want them to be pleased, so that the relationship will continue to form.  We have a piqued curiosity about the other person and almost anything we do or say elicits a level happiness that helps continue the relationship down a positive course.  Both parties are giving to each other and receiving in equal amounts.  It could be sweet words, nicknames, dinners out, kisses – anything that evokes happiness and a sense of appreciation.  In many cases, relationships start to go stale after a while – the giving isn’t as frequent, which means the receiving isn’t as frequent, and silent resentment builds up – gratitude begins to get lost.  Fights, silence, and other negative behaviors take over; and the relationship starts to drift apart.  We start to wish the other person was more like what we had formed in our mind – the pedestal we put them on in the beginning.  Instead of working on giving and receiving, two people decide to move on.  Then the pattern is repeated with someone else.

As depressing as this whole story can be, it’s important to remember these two things: 1. Negative actions can easily be avoided by always being present for the other person.  2. Never stop being grateful.

We so often forget that all relationships have a pattern to them, and it’s how we respect and work through that pattern that matter.  At the heart of every relationship, gratitude is everything – it will always build love, trust, affection, and appreciation for the other.  It helps provide a “force field” when times get tough, and can help relationships last a lifetime.

So your “homework” for this lesson?  It doesn’t matter if you’re married, engaged, dating, or just good friends – do something for that special someone to let them know you are grateful for them.  If nothing else, just tell them, “I’m so grateful for you being in my life.”

Namaste