How to Do Yoga & Surf In the City

One of my 2016 goals is to attend a yoga retreat. There’s something about the thought of waking up on the beach, stepping out to truly salute the sun and then taking a dip in the ocean that puts me in the permanent “vacation” frame of mind. Plus, I want to learn how to surf! Until then, I’m stuck in the concrete jungle of Dallas.

Apparently, being in the relatively land-locked city doesn’t mean I can’t figure out how to find my center while challenging my balance. Last week, I found myself at City Surf Fitness down in Deep Ellum with a group of fellow fitness folks (gosh, I love alliteration), hanging 10 and trying not to tip myself like a little teapot right off the board.

Finding Balance at City Surf Fitness
Don’t I look really calm, as I try to work my guns? Alex of Just Alex (on my right) was a champ and kept me laughing the entire time. (Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors Facebook page)

The very laid-back instructor, who looked and sounded exactly what you would think of a surfing coach, took us through several incarnations of the City Surf Fitness workouts: Big Kahuna, Beach Body Bootcamp, City Surf Circuits and Buddha Board. While I had a love/hate relationship with City Surf Circuits because of the way it worked my body from head to toe, as a yoga instructor, the Buddha Board held a special place in my heart. I could imagine myself out on the waves, finding my balance, as we moved through Warrior 2, Reverse Warriors and Child’s Pose. Sweat poured from my face and once I stopped rocking, I could sense an inner calm that belied my intense effort to find stillness.    After working up quite the sweat, we were treated to delicious juices and smoothies from Simply Fit Meals. The Almond Mylk was sweet without being overwhelming, thanks to the dates. I have a bag of dates in my fridge, waiting to be used in a homemade snack bar recipe. The Sweet Beet could have used a touch more sweetness, but when I added it to a smoothie, it was the ideal amount of flavor. Simply Fit Meals Juices - Dallas Fitness Ambassador I definitely need to try my hand (and foot) again at working the board. Check my Instagram to see if I make it! Thank you to the Dallas Fitness Ambassadors group for coordinating the workout, I’m hooked and I can’t wait for the next event.

The Four Lessons I’ve Learned Since Getting Fired

Photo via Flickr user C4 BOO
Photo via Flickr user C4 BOO. Image license.

I sometimes manage to miss anniversaries – like when I started blogging – but an upcoming date has not missed my notice. It’s been (about) a year since I got fired for the first time. In those (nearly) 365 days, I’ve learned quite a bit about myself, professionalism and coping with personal setbacks.

Make a plan – I saw my fate coming from a distance, so it gave me time to prepare. Once it happens to you, it’s normal to want to sit down and sulk, kick rocks and curse and generally be mad at life. If that helps, do it…but do it short-term. Then you get up, dust yourself off and start making a strategy. Nothing good comes from wallowing in your misery. Most importantly, piss poor planning prevents proper performing (thanks band years!). Takeaway: Always have a plan B (and C), even if you think you’ve found the dream job.

Maintain a network  – As I mentioned, I had a bit of a head start so I was able to reach out to my network before the hammer dropped. The fact that I had kept in touch even during the times I didn’t need anything likely helped move things along when I did need them. When I reached out to them about opportunities, it wasn’t from a perspective of “I need” but “How can I help you?” That subtle shift got me more opportunities and recommendations than submitting dozens of online applications. Takeaway: The most important question someone in need can ask isn’t “Can you help me?” but how “How can I help you?”

Invest in yourself  Losing my main source of income naturally made me want to shut down all “unnecessary” spending. I reconsidered this stance when a work associate, Tawanna Browne Smith, someone who knew my industry and had provided me with great feedback, recommended I link up with Mia Redrick. In the past 10 months, Mia has provided me with a blueprint for entrepreneurship and personal and group accountability. If you’re thinking of coaching, seriously, check her out. Takeaway: Strategic investments in your skills – continuing education, professional development, coaching – is a worthy measure if you believe it will help you get past your current situation.

Brand yourself – During a group session, we were asked if someone had to describe our services or expertise, had we given them enough to do so? A year ago, I’d been blogging but not about my area of knowledge. Since then I’ve launched my own website (where you are now), and I’ve begun using this site and my Twitter account (@VeleisaP) to tell more about myself as a professional. Another investment, but very much worth the price when it comes to search results on my name and my brand. Takeaway: Your name is often your entree into opportunities; make sure you are the one telling your story both in person and online.

That’s my wisdom. What advice would you give to a professional going through the transition that comes from being fired? I’ll share your comments via my Twitter account.

Image license

My Experiments With Networking (Online and Off)

Like many people, I suck at networking. I admit it, I’m the person lurking on the edge of chatty circles, clutching to my glass of white wine and hoping to get enough conversation to make the valet tip worth the time spent. I know,  common sense and network communication theory tell us that the more ties you have and the stronger those ties are, the more valuable your network. But there is something ever so slightly terrifying about pasting on a smile, mustering up some courage and saying to a near stranger “Hi, my name is Leisa, tell me about yourself .”

Thank goodness the Internet exists then, because I got all of my life through the recent online stream and Twitter chat for “The Politics of Black Women’s Hair Symposium” at the University of Pennsylvania. Three panels convened to discuss one of my favorite topics from the perspective of intellectual (graduate students presenting their papers), hair bloggers (including one of my favorites, Afrobella) and academics (moderated by another favorite, Melissa Harris-Perry). I wasn’t able to watch the academic portion but I did watch and tweet about the incredibly well written and articulated papers from the students and I was able to catch the end of the bloggers’ segment.

Hegemony, power structures, standards of beauty, patriarchal – it was wonderful to hear these words spilling out of the mouths of these intelligent panelists and attendees. I was reminded of the reason why I decided to get my graduate degree: the love of a thorough and nuanced discussion of the ways we communicate, the study of society and academic excellence. The papers covered a range of topics, from marketing within the natural hair community, specifically looking at Mixed Chicks, Carol’s Daughter and Miss Jessie, to the rise of bloggers as natural hair experts in relation to the decline of traditional hair stylists. Some great points presented from the papers: the transition from beauty companies using models with tightly coiled hair to a more ethnically ambiguous look and the fact that though some natural women look to online styling advice, it is also the responsibility of hair stylists to meet their customers where they’re at, which is online.

And it wasn’t all online. I managed to network, and I did it without a glass of wine! My former cube spouse, who blogs over at Pimplomat, you should go check him out, hipped me to the Dallas Press Club event “Becoming the Ultimate Freelancer.” It was my time attending a Dallas Press Club event, and boy am I glad I went. I met the knowledgeable Neil Foote, who bonded with me over the cultural touch point that is The Tom Joyner Morning Show (complete with karaoke-style singing of the intro hook). The panels featured journalists turned freelancers, freelancers from the start, content marketers, lawyers and other experts. Lo and behold, turns out that speaking to strangers over coffee and breakfast tacos isn’t as hard as I’d made it inside my head. I’ll definitely be back for another workshop and networking event.

Have you surprised yourself at a networking event or during a Twitter chat, and turned it out? Walked away with a list of new contacts, followers and inspiration?  Share your success tips!