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Month: October 2015

Finding Your Inner Strength – Discovering the Real You

Posted on October 31, 2015 in inner strength

Every day presents us with different trials and obstacles that test our resilience. Whether we are having an emotional day, difficulties at work, problems with people or maybe trouble solving an issue, we all have to find a way to regroup and get through the day. This is easier to do when we have specific ways to handle stress and find our strength.

What are your strengths?

What do you excel at? Do you work best under pressure? Do groups invigorate you or drain you? All of these things are important to helping us identify where our strengths lie. If we work best alone, then looming deadlines may be faced best by working on the problem at our desk and without interruptions. On the other hand, those that work best with groups may be able to find solutions more efficiently when brainstorming with others or when a task is divided among multiple peers. When assessing situations, it is also important to understand how you respond to pressure. Does a looming deadline cause you to panic and work frantically and less precisely or do deadlines cause you to focus and perform perfectly. This is different for everyone but can greatly affect your performance. If deadlines bother you, plan ahead so that the tasks are done ahead of schedule. This will allow you to stay on top of projects and allow you to only face last minute changes with the deadline looming. If you love working with a deadline looming it is possible to find a work environment that functions the same way and flourishes under pressure. Find the environment that suits you best to avoid unnecessary stress.

What helps you be your best?

Many of us work best under particular conditions. Pressure, as mentioned before, can be a strong motivator for some while it simply builds up stress in others. In addition to this, some of us work best with music playing, allowing us to tune out distracting background noises and focus on the music and the task at hand. Music can also be calming when we are stressed. Different songs often register with people in different ways. The link these songs have with memory allows them to trigger calming or happy memories when we listen to them. This sort of trick can work wonders when a person or project is stressing you out. Music can also help us tune out distracting noises by surrounding us with familiar noises that can be more easily ignored so we can focus fully on the task at hand.

Do you need to be alone to think through a problem and brainstorm on your own or do you need a team to help discuss problems and find elegant solutions? There is nothing wrong with either approach; some of us just work better alone and others in groups. Understanding which approach tends to work best for us can allow us to create these situations and work more efficiently.

Inner strength

While understanding what allows us to work better and function efficiently for work and other projects, it is also important to recognize where our inner and emotional strength comes from. When we face difficult and trying times, we must rely on our inner strengths to get us through. Often times these are wrapped around our family and friends. Their presence during hard times can help us endure and come out even stronger. They often encourage us to keep trying when the weight of everything going on, pushes us to stop.  Can you face any situation calmly, no matter how traumatic it may be? This is a remarkable level of strength. Many of us panic when things go very wrong or when there is a traumatic accident. Being able to endure these events without breaking down or panicking allows us to remain calm and level headed, making decisions when they are needed and adapting as needed.

Inner strength also needs outer strength, your appearance is important to give you inner strength, so be shallow and go get your hair done or teeth whitened, it really works to give you confidence.

Practices for strength

Inner strength can be found in a number of places ranging from meditation and yoga to quiet reading or exercise. We all find our strength and calm in different ways. Lately, yoga and meditation have become popular with its strong focus on breathing and stretching which help us focus and strengthen our bodies. Others find their strength while reading and exploring worlds and ideas through text while others are empowered by exercising. Various forms of exercise help people to focus and find solutions to their problems by drawing their attention away from the problem for a bit. This allows them to step back and see the problems from a different perspective and find a solution that was hidden from them before.

All of these methods are used to find strength and calm in our busy lives. By employing the method that works for us while also pursuing environments that allow us to be our best we are able to focus on our strengths and contribute to the solutions.

Finding Balance in Our Technology Driven Lives

Posted on October 29, 2015 in balance

There is nothing more difficult today than finding a balance between work and life. While social media and all of the technology have connected us with one another, it has also connected us to work, twenty four hours a day. It is crucial that we find ways to take time out for ourselves and what is important to us, outside of work. We need to give our best at work, to get our jobs done and perform well but we need to try just as hard in our personal lives. Never stop growing!

Technology and work/life

All of the technology and mobile gadgets have done wonders to connect us. It has never been easier to keep up with family and friends. Simple Facebook posts and updates let us know what is going with everyone we love. As much as we love the connection with family and friends, staying connected to your job any time you want, is an added plus. While we still have technical work hours, time after that just means we are not in the office, it doesn’t mean we can’t be contacted until tomorrow.

This is great if work is your only concern and if you love your job. For others, this disrupts the ability for them to do other things that are important to them. Constant contact with work can limit the time that can be spent with friends or family. The worst case is when a fun personal event is interrupted by a work call and you end up missing the event while you are attending the call.

Importance of work

Work is important as we all need to make a living and pay for the things that we need. It is also important that we take out uninterrupted time for those that are important to us. In order to do this, we have to work hard and efficiently so that we can wrap up as much as possible before heading home in the evening. By being busy and not procrastinating at work, we can deal with the issues that would otherwise interrupt our evenings with family. While different job responsibilities require different arrangements to be made, it is almost always possible to create uninterrupted time if we try.

Value of friends and family

Sometimes it is difficult to see how important it is to have time dedicated to friends, family and even our hobbies but these parts of life are just as crucial as work. Spending time with friends and family can help us stay balanced and aware of what is going on with those around us. While Facebook can give us a brief overview, nothing is better than seeing our friends and family and get in touch with them in person. Spending time focused, specifically with them lets them know how important they are to us.

We work hard to provide things for ourselves and our family. If we don’t take time to relax and enjoy the things that we have earned, then it becomes harder to continue to work for them and fight for them. We have to balance our time and energy between work and enjoying our time with hobbies and those we love. This is simplified a bit when our loved ones have similar interests as you. This makes it easier for us to include them in our hobbies and enables us to spend time with them while we are up to something of our interest.

Enjoy your time

More often than not, it seems that many of us almost hate our workplace these days. This can make it incredibly hard to spend over eight hours a day not only in the office, but focused on the tasks needed for work. When possible, it is important that we find work that we love and if we cannot do that overall, it is vital that we find some aspects of our job that we can enjoy. When you look forward to your workday, even just a small part of it, we are more energized and able to work more efficiently. When we absolutely dread what we do, it is easier for us to be exhausted by simple tasks.

It is vital that we make time for the things that are important to us without allowing work to consume all of our time. The technology and mobile devices that are available today have made it easier than ever to stay in touch with friends and family but they have also connected us to work. We have to establish a balance between working and enjoying time that is dedicated to our friends, families and other hobbies.

To do or not to do – The Trick is to do what you love

Posted on October 27, 2015 in love

We spend so much time at work these days. Not only are we usually in an office and actively surrounded by work for at least eight hours a day every weekday, but we are also tied to the office after hours and on weekends through our mobile devices. Because of the involvement that work has in our personal lives, it is important to love what we do. If you love what you do, then it is less painful when it intrudes on our hobbies and other free time. It is also less aggravating when we can’t help but babble about it to our friends and family.

What do you love?

In order to do this, we must first figure out what we love. Do you love being indoor or outside? What subjects hold your interest the most? What can you talk about endlessly without getting worn out? If you can answer these questions, then you are well on your way to figuring out what interests you the most and where you would be the happiest. For some people, an office job, working with a large group of people is the happiest place they can think of while others do better on their own. These people are often classified as extroverts and introverts. It is important to recognize which category you tend to fit in when assessing work options. An introvert that is forced to work with large groups of people for long hours of the day can find that job to be extra exhausting as it is emotionally difficult for some introverts to work with larger groups. If this applies to you, it may be preferable to look for positions that allow you to work independently or with smaller groups that are less exhausting. While conflicts between work and these introvert/extrovert tendencies can be dealt with, the exhaustion that may be experienced by introverts when surrounded by large groups can make it difficult for them to perform that job on a daily basis. Over time the exhaustion may prevent them from being able to enjoy their time outside of work as well.

Avoiding Exhaustion

While a hard work day can be thrilling and leaves a sense of accomplishment, being constantly exhausted after work can be tiring. It is normal to have certain days that are exhausting; special presentations or visiting CEOs, a new product launch and other key events can all be tiring. Being exhausted after work each and every day is another issue altogether. When you dread your workday, it is difficult to be motivated and active at work. The tasks that must be performed are more draining than they should be and often, by the time you return home, you are too exhausted to enjoy your free time before returning to the office the next day.

When we find work that we love or that interests us, we are able to work more efficiently and with enthusiasm. Tasks that may seem impossible to some only appear challenging to us. When we are required to spend more time than normal working on projects or involved at the office, we are less frustrated when there are projects that we fully support and believe in.

Find your dream

Everyone wants to find their dream job. No one intentionally hates their workplace, but how can you find that job you love. First off, you have to hunt for it. The job you love may not be the easiest to find and it might be rare. In addition to that, it might be a job that you have to do on your own, without an employer. When you think through the details of a job that you would love, these are the things you have to consider. Would you flourish if you had to find all of your own contracts without a boss or team of people funneling work your way? Does the job have demand in the industry or is it a highly specialized skill? All of these things can help you figure out where you need to look to find your position. While finding the job can be tricky, you must also have the skills to get it. Make sure that you work on portfolios if needed or on your resume and certifications so that you can prove that you are capable enough for the task at hand.

It is important to love what you do as much as possible. This makes it easier to maintain the work/life balance that we all need to be happy, without leaving us exhausted at the end of the day. We have to identify the things that we love, before we can find a way to work with them; after this, finding the position can be challenging. In the end, we have to keep looking for the job that we love and sometimes we have to build it on our own. The best way to accomplish this is to keep working and developing the skills we enjoy and need, so that we can perform the job that will give us the perfect satisfaction.

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England here we come

Posted on October 15, 2015 in england

Guess who is the luckiest girl in the world! Me! I just got back from the most amazing holiday. I actually had to get a passport to go. I went to Portsmouth, England. Yes! England! I can’t believe it either. This was by far the greatest vacation of my life. Did you know in England they call a vacation a holiday? How neat is that? I told one of my pals from England that I wanted to visit somewhere that was really going to inspire me. He asked me what inspired me and I explained to him that I really got inspired from water, architecture, and history. He told me that I should definitely visit Portsmouth. To be honest when he told me to visit Portsmouth I had never even heard of it. I am so thankful for his recommendation though. I have never had such an amazing holiday before. Now I sound like I’m English right? I love it!

Portsmouth sits right on the water and it is so full of history. The greatest part of Portsmouth’s history is is naval history. It was a significant naval port for hundreds of years. Portsmouth even has the world’s oldest running dry dock. Let me tell you another secret, if you ever hear an English man explaining a dry dock to you, well you will want to marry him. What amazing accents they have! I thought everyone was royalty because they all talked so elegant and proper, you know me being a fan of Reign and all.

I actually visited the HMS Victory with a nice English gentleman. He was so pleasant. I asked him several times if I could take him home with me, but he respectfully declined. The coolest thing on the HMS Victory was the guns. Wow, I would have hated to been shot at by one of those cannons. I also visited the HMS Warrior. I had a very nice dinner on this ship and it was amazing. I have to say the English do not know how to use spices nearly as well as us in Atlanta do, but I could always move there and teach them!

I also got to visit all the amazing naval museums. I went to the Royal Marines Museum, the D-D-Day Museum, and the National Museum of the Royal Navy. It was an honor to learn so much from each museum. Each one made me realize how much focus I have put into my music and how little focus I have spent learning about the history of the world. Something very interesting I found in Portsmouth was a real castle. Not a castle that you would see built in Las Vegas, but a real castle built in 1544 by Henry VIII. I wanted to just move in there and pretend that I was in a real life version of Reign, but I know that isn’t possible. I believe it was called the Southsea Castle. It was everything like I imagined a real life castle to be like. I just imagined being a harpist in the 1500’s playing for foreign dignitaries and royalty. Ahh that would have been the life for sure.

I also got to see the Square Tower and the Round Tower. Of course the Round Tower was much more appealing to me. Apparently I like circles more than Squares. However, these architectural wonders were very inspiring to see. Other architecture that I loved was the Domus Dei, Spitbank Fort, and the Portsmouth Cathedral. I find the difference in architecture amazing from what I see in America. In America everything seems so cookie cutter while the architecture in Portsmouth is so well thought out and meticulously done. All of it even being hundreds of years old is absolutely stunning. For instance Spinnaker Tower is just an amazing tower that left me absolutely breathless.

I took a Guided Walk and Talk led by the Portsmouth Guiding Service and leaned some amazing information. I learned the story of Spice Island and how it was named after it’s huge business of importing very exotic spices, which made me wonder why they didn’t use more spices in their food. I also learned about the Nelson Trail. I could just imagine Admiral Horatio Nelson passing through each place. It made me excited and I wished that I could have lived back in those days. I also took the guided tour of the Birthplace of Charlies Dickens. Of course, I was very familiar when I saw that Charles Dickens was born there I became quiet excited. His family history is very interesting and I was able to see some of the places that influenced his amazing tales. What really made me happy was that even Dickens needed inspiration at times. Sometimes I feel silly when I say that I need inspiration, but this reassured me that everyone needs inspiration at times.

Of course I’ve made many mentions of the food being bland for this southern girl. I am going to say this about the dining in Portsmouth. All of the food was very fresh. You do not often taste food nearly as fresh as what I had in Portsmouth. The views from the dining rooms of the restaurants in Portsmouth are far better than what we have in Atlanta as well. Being able to eat and view the water was so amazing. My favorite restaurant was the Jolly Sailor. I had a delicious lamb shank and it was so fresh I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t ever find lamb that fresh in Atlanta.

As you can see this really was a trip of a lifetime. It’s one that I will never forget. I was so greatly inspired by all the amazing architecture and the naval history. I actually feel refreshed and excited. I definitely needed this trip. I needed to get a new outlook on the world and I feel like Portsmouth definitely did the trick. I can’t thank my kind English friend enough for recommending I visit. He chose a place that meet every expectation that I had and even more. It was absolutely wonderful.

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Concert

Posted on October 12, 2015 in concert

Hi Guys. It’s your favorite harpist Anastasia. I am so excited because I have an amazing concert that I am going to be performing in. A group here in Atlanta is trying to raise money to increase education standards for all students and they asked me to do four songs. I struggled with what songs to do because well it’s going to be for metro youths. I thought about all the classical songs I know and have been taught and well you know those kids are going to be bored. So I decided to start researching some new funky music to try out on my harp. Now I can imagine you are thinking, that won’t work, but I am very hopeful that it will.

I began researching popular songs and musicians and I have to say that when I heard the songs I got very concerned I was going to have to stick with my classical music. However, I figured that I could turn a popular song into a very melodic song on the harp. I remembered my favorite show Reign often turned really popular music into classical pieces so I figured I could do the same. I have worked countless hours perfecting my songs, but in the end I have mastered Chandelier by Sia, Stay by Rihanna, and Firework by Katy Perry. I think these are going to be songs that the kids will know and I think it will hold their attention rather than make them fall asleep.

I decided that I really wanted to amp up my performance for these young people so I collaborated with a local dancer named Orion. He’s danced on a lot of different stages and often competes in the World of Dance competitions. He’s created fantastic dances to accompany each song. We practiced this morning and I could barely play because his dancing was bringing tears to my eyes. When you think about the meaning of Chandelier then you really start to feel how important the song is. If you haven’t heard the song it is about the regrets of drinking. As you know our youth have issues with drinking and drug issues so I feel this song is going to be very important and I am going to put every part of myself into it.

This is the first time that I have tried popular songs on my harp. I’ve never really been into popular music and have always loved the classics. There is a part of me that is very nervous, but when I think about the opportunity I have to raise money for our educational systems and to help our youth, it is definitely worth the risk. I’ve never had a dancer on stage either. I keep worrying that he might stick his leg right through my harp, but so far he has been the most professional dancer that I have ever met. I can’t tell you how excited I am right now.

I suppose one of my biggest fear for this performance is that I am going to get so nervous that I forget how to play these songs or that the kids may not recognize the songs because I have had to manipulate them so much to play them on the harp. I know a lot of people love harp music, but they often have trouble recognizing songs on the harp. I played with the idea of doing rap music on my harp but I just couldn’t get it down. In the end I am really happy with my decision. I think these three songs have a meaning that each young person will be able to relate to. With Rihanna’s Stay I believe they can relate on several levels. Of course they might think of their relationships, but a part of the song also made me think of the depression and oppression our young people face from so many issues that they have to deal with. With Katy Perry’s Firework they will definitely be able to hear the uplifting message of being able to do anything and not giving up on their dreams. I really want to make sure that every kid knows not to give up on their dreams.

I believe this is the concert I am going to be most nervous about. Several times today I have found myself pacing thinking that maybe I’ve made the wrong song choices. I’ve thought that maybe my outfit was too boring, too fancy, too dull. I understand how young people pay attention to every detail. I also don’t’ want to offend the parents by choosing to go the popular route. I want them to understand that I choose to play this music for their children and not because it is something that I am used to playing. However, I think if the young people are listening to this music the parents will definitely understand why I chose the songs that I chose. If they don’t they are probably way out of touch with their children.

I really believe that everything is going to be wonderful. I know that several of more wealthy citizens are coming and I really hope that we can raise enough money to really make a difference in our school systems. I am also hoping that this concert goes so well that we can turn this into an annual event. I would love to have the opportunity to learn new popular songs to play just for these young people every year. However, if this is the only year that we do this benefit I am going to make sure that everything is perfect and I leave having no regrets. So wish me luck, I have to leave in about six hours. I’m going to go get my hair done first of course, then I will practice for an hour or so, get dressed and head over. This is going to be a performance of a lifetime and I am hoping for success. Keep me in your thoughts everybody!

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By any means necessary?

Posted on October 12, 2015 in any means

What are you willing to do to make your dreams a reality?  In all the success stories we’ve heard, sacrifice is always a part of the journey.  If there’s one thing that we can take away from those stories, it’s that in order to make our dreams a reality, we have togive up some things.

Whether it’s changing habits and behaviours or the people we spend time with, there are sacrifices that need to be made.  It really comes down to how bad you really want your dreams to come to fruition.  Are you willing to lose sleep, give up television and/or release negative people from your life?

Some of the sacrifices we need to make will be easier to commit to than others.  What we need to remember is what our willingness to let go of certain things will mean for the creation of the life we want.  If we want something bad enough, we must be willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen!

This is why being clear on our priorities is such an important thing.  When we’re clear on what’s important to us, we know where we should be focusing our time and energy.  When we are struggling to make our goals a reality, we have to take stock of where it is we are spending our time.  Are we doing what we need to do to get things done, or are there things that aren’t getting us any closer to making our goals a reality that are constantly distracting us?

We often talk about not having enough time in the day to get everything we need to get done completed.  What we often overlook are all of the ways in which we use our time ineffectively.  Whether it’s watching television or playing games or doing other things on Facebook, there are many ways in which we don’t use our time in the most effective way.  Once we are clear on what we want and why we want it, it’s easier to understand what we need to do to make things start to happen in the way we want them to.

The same can be said for the people we spend our time with.  If the company we keep encourage our bad habits, discourage us from following our passions and keep us in a negative frame of mind, then it’s time to let go!  As hard as it may be to let go of some long-term friendships (or keeping distance from family members), may be necessary in order for you to stay focused, inspired and motivated in the pursuit of your goals.

We all know that we have habits that lead to self-sabotage.  Whether it’s procrastination, looking for excuses or worrying about whether or not your dream will ever be a reality, these are all activities that keep us off-track in the pursuit of our goals.   We need to increase our awareness of the habits that are serving us and helping us get closer to realizing our goals and those that are holding us back.

We don’t have to sacrifice our families, our health or our integrity in order to make our goals a reality.  We do have to let go of the habits, beliefs, and people that we allow to keep us from making our dreams come true.  We are the ones who control our destiny.  If you aren’t living the life you want and aren’t on the path to making your goals a reality, then you have to get honest with yourself.  Ask yourself why you set the goal in the first place and what you’re willing to do to make those goals manifest themselves in the way that you envision them.  Remember, no one said it was going to be easy, but it will be worth it!

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Charity event

Posted on October 10, 2015 in charity event

Well guys I just got back from an amazing charity event and I decided that I wanted to do a short blog here telling you about all the amazing charity work I do. You know volunteering my time is something that really blesses me. My beginnings came from a grant and a very underpaid teacher, but the love he put into music and teaching is why I am able to be who I am today. I like to think that my charity work is really making a footprint on many people’s lives.

My main charity is teaching children music. When I was about 24 I decided that I wanted all children to have the same opportunities as I did. I wanted to make sure that they were able to really get a feel for music and see if it was something they loved. However, I soon found there were other reasons that kids came to my free music lessons. Many of them were escaping home lifes that weren’t always so pleasant. I began to hear stories of moms and dads fighting, being on drugs, and drinking too much. I began to hear that music class was the greatest escape these children had. I soon found that they came not for their love of music because they knew that I loved them and I cared about them and that I was one of the first people in their lives that ever did. You know it’s sad that we live in a society where children feel like they have to escape from their parents, but we do. I can’t say that everything I teach them is just love, some of them really do love music and they are really good at it too. My little orchestra has played all over Atlanta. When they play for people and they hear the applause you should just see their little faces light up. That is when I know that every bit of my time I put into these children is worth it.

My second charity doesn’t always involve my music however sometimes it does. I’m with a group who gives kangaroo time to drug addicted babies who have been abandoned. Kangaroo time is just allowing a baby to rest on your skin. It helps them so much. Lately I’ve been taking a CD I made of me playing lullabies to play as I hold these children. I tell you there hasn’t been a baby I haven’t held yet that I don’t want to adopt. Many of these little babies are in so much pain because they have to go through withdrawals. Seeing these little precious children hurting just breaks my heart. I sit there and just rock and pray for them. Many times after I’m finished volunteering I have to go home and just cry for these little babies. I pray that they find good homes and that they don’t have any damage, but it is something I feel is necessary. Someone needs to show these little ones that this world is full of love and that they don’t have to go down the paths that they were born into.

Of course my orchestra does a lot of charity work. We hold about six charity concerts a year, however, if there is a tragedy then we will normally hold a concert for that as well. We’ve raised a lot of money to support many different organizations. My favorite charity concert of course is the Christmas concert. We get so many donations for toys at this time and being able to give those toys to children who are less fortunate is so wonderful. I can’t imagine being a child and hearing other kids talk about how awesome their gifts are and know that I wasn’t going to get something awesome too. For us to be able to go into the schools with all these toys and make sure that every child has something is just amazing. I know that years down the road these children will remember these acts of kindness and I hope they feel the need to help out in return.

My least favorite volunteer work is playing the harp at a drug rehabilitation center. Many of the patients there are very kind and they find my playing to help them. However, there are a few who will actually approach me and ask me if I can sneak them in drugs. I cry for those people. I cry because I want them to find help, but if they can’t help themselves I don’t know how to help them. It seems that drug abuse in our country has become more and more of an issue and I just hope that one day we can find a solution to keep our children from getting addicted. It’s a sad state of affairs when you go into a drug rehab and see fifteen year old girls pregnant and on drugs. It breaks my heart to pieces. I wonder if someone like my music teacher could have been in their lives if maybe they would have found a different path. I often wonder if there are words I could say to help them find the right paths. In the end however I play my harp. I praise the ones who have had successes and I tell the ones who are struggling I will pray for them. Other than that I don’t know how else to help these poor souls.

As you can tell I keep a fairly busy life with my charity work. Sometimes it gets to me and I feel like I am going to burn out. However, when I think about the differences that I am making in people’s lives that is what keeps me going. I want to ensure that I am doing something to be a change maker. If we don’t all do something to make a change then I worry about the future. I know that we can’t make everything perfect, but I do know that we can’t do any harm by trying to make it better.

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Learning to say “no”

Posted on October 10, 2015 in Say no

Saying no can be a challenge for many of us.  Lowself-esteem and self-confidencecan cause us to become constant people pleasers. This leaves us unable to say no to things we really don’t want to do in the name of not disappointing friends and family. Of courseit always starts off with the best intentions, but more often than we’d like to admit, we’re left with regret and sometimes even resentment.

Learning to say no can be challenging, but it can also been empowering.  To know that refusing to do something that you simply don’t feel inspired to do doesn’t mean the end of the world shifts everything.  You are not the only person in the world that is capable of doing someone a favour and in trying to do everything for everyone; you’ve left no time for yourself!  Once you are able to be true to yourself, and become aware of what you’re willing to do, you have more time to take care of yourself!

If you really think about it, you’ll be amazed at how much time we spend taking care of others, while completely forgetting to take care of ourselves!  Many of us may think that taking care of ourselves is a selfish thing to do, but it should be considered an act of self-preservation.  If this is a concept that you have a hard time believing this, remember what you’re told during the review of emergency procedures on a flight. The flight attendant always reminds us that: “should the oxygen masks descend, please secure your own mask before helping those in your care”.  This is an important thing to remember when our own self-care takes a back seat to the needs of others. If we don’t take care of ourselves, how will we ever be able to do our best in helping others? Taking care of ourselves isn’t selfish; it’s the only way to be of true service to others.

Don’t feel bad about saying no.  Maybe you’reworried that you’re going to disappoint someone you care about, or that they won’t feel the same way about you because you refused.  It’s important to understand that as long as your response is coming from a place of real love, it won’t affect the way the people in your life feel about you.  Once we know and truly believe that we are not responsible for anyone’s happiness but our own we give ourselves the freedom to live a more authentic life, more confident about ourselves and secure in all our relationships!

Doing things because we want people to like or love us rarely gives us what we’re looking for. Whether we want to admit it or not, we have expectations about how our acts of kindness should be received by others. When we don’t get the appreciation that we are looking for, we can feel like we’re being taken for granted. There’s nothing wrong with saying no when that’s what you feel is the right thing to do. Overextending ourselves doesn’t help us or the ones that we intended to do something for. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and others is to simply say no.

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Atlanta my home

Posted on October 8, 2015 in Atlanta

Hi Guys! Anastasia here. So my last blog told you a lot about me and my life both in the past and present. Too bad I can’t tell you the future, but I’m sure it’s going to be great. Something I really want to share with all of you is how awesome my city is. So many people underestimate how awesome Atlanta is. Growing up in Atlanta has taught me one thing and that is Atlanta is the best place to live. If you don’t want to live here that’s cool, but you should at least visit. Here are the amazing parts of Atlanta you probably never knew about.

Atlanta has the best food ever, seriously. Of course, Atlanta has the best southern food that you are ever going to find. From our amazing chicken to our awesome biscuits you won’t be disappointed. However, Atlanta also has some really cool unique treats that are so delicious you won’t be able to resist them. When visiting Atlanta you have to try the amazing Popsicle from the King of Pops. These are a special treat, especially in the hot Atlanta summers. My favorite flavors are the Chocolate Sea Salt, Cookies and Cream, Raspberry Lime, and Sweet Tea and Lemonade. However, you might find that you like some of their other flavors. My favorite restaurant is Empire State South. I love getting their amazing cheeses for an appetizer, their chicken African squash for dinner, and then their delicious sorghum apple cake. Not only do they have the best food in the city, they have great prices as well. If you want authentic southern food then visit Miller Union. Have the amazing Carolina Trout or Griddled Pimento Cheese and Bacon. You will be so full after leaving Miller Union that you won’t want to eat for the rest of the day. You’ll also be a huge southern cuisine fan too!

So yes, we have awesome food. I think I’ve clearly made that point. However, we also have tons of activities and places to visit. We have an amazing aquarium that is the biggest in the country. You will see seventy habitats with amazing animals. Of course when I go to the aquarium I love to see the huge beluga whales. I think they are the cutest marine animals ever. However, the aquarium also has manta rays, dolphins, sea otters, and penguins. I love the penguins too. They are the strangest little creatures. When I was a little girl I was a penguin in a play. I loved waddling back and force and marching in line with the other penguins. It is fun to watch all the amazing exotic fish as well. I am thinking in the future of getting an exotic fish aquarium. If you are really feeling brave you can swim with whale sharks, that is if you are feeling brave. This is definitely something you don’t want to miss if you ever visit.

If you are like me and the rest of my family you probably enjoy a Coca Cola every now and then. I have to say I enjoy them more often than I probably should. If you do like Coca Cola then you have to visit the World of Coca-Cola here in Atlanta. It is so neat. You can try over 100 different flavors of soda. The machine you try them on is so neat too. It’s this machine that has a touchscreen just like your phone and you can try multiple flavor combinations. Try Cherry Sprite I promise you will love it. The vault that holds the secret recipe for Coca Cola is also here so you might try to sneak in there, but there is no way you will ever get in so maybe don’t try that. I really love visiting the World of Coca Cola, there is something so much fun about it. I would really suggest visiting it, even if you don’t like soda. The history of the company is well worth the visit.

If you like parks then you have to visit Centennial Olympic Park. It is one of the most beautiful parks I have ever been to. Inside the park they have the Fountain of Rings which symbolizes the Olympic rings. You will love this fountain on the hot days of Atlanta for sure. If you are hungry while in the park then you should try Googie Burger. Everything is homemade, they don’t even sure you a frozen burger. It’s absolutely delicious and you won’t regret it. The best part is you are already in a park so you can walk off any calories you gain because I know you are going to want to have more than one Googie Burger. There was one day when I was in a bad mood and I had three of them. I felt so full I thought I was going to bust.

If there is a game while you are in town then you should definitely check out Turner Field. It’s a really great stadium to watch games in and it gives Atlanta a real hometown feel. If you are feeling nerdy like I often am then you should take a tour at CNN’s World Headquarters. You can actually visit the working studios and get a cool behind the scenes look. I’ll be honest I always keep an eye out for Anderson Cooper because I think he is the cutest anchor in the world. I have never seen him there, but that doesn’t mean I can’t wish. And also doesn’t mean I can’t turn up in style when I do visit.

This isn’t even a quarter of all the fun and exciting things to do in Atlanta, but it’s some of my favorites. There are so many opportunities for adventure here you could spend a month seeing everything and still not get to it all. Atlanta may be a huge city, but it’s a fun-loving, family oriented city as well. You will eat well, have fun, get some rest and relaxation, and be able to explore a wonderful city in the United States. Who knows, you might even be able to see someone play the harp while you here.

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Welcome to my blog

Posted on October 6, 2015 in welcome

Hello! Welcome to my blog. My name is Anastasia Kinnison and I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I wanted to start a blog because I want to inspire others. Growing up I was not encouraged to be anything other than a white collar worker. My whole life I heard my mother say, “Oh this a be a good grocery store for you when you graduated.” I wanted more than that. I knew with every part of me I wanted to play the harp. When I was six our school district got their first grant for music classes. Our teacher, Mr. Baugh, had very few instruments to offer us. In fact, we could pick from instruments like the harp, the keyboard, the xylophone, and the flute. I feel in love with the harp the very first moment that he plucked it. The noise that came from it made my heart jump. Since that day I have played the harp ever since.

Being a musician is a wonderful career. I have had more opportunity than working in a grocery store would ever provide me. I have been able to play in beautiful cathedrals, amazing concert halls, and do amazing charity work. The opportunity to work for charity is really what keeps me playing music. When I walk into a school where underprivileged kids just like me when I was a young girl start smiling I realize I am giving them hope. I want my music to fill their souls with love and hope. It is the best feeling in the world.

I live in a nice townhouse, something far from where I ever imagined myself living. When I was a little girl I assumed I would live in the project just like I grew up in. I had huge dreams as a child, but very little hope. It often seemed that few people left our neighborhood. The ones who did usually ended up coming back. It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I began to really have hope. A man from a local college came to our recital and approached me afterward. He told me that my playing was amazing and he’d like to have me interview for a scholarship. I said yes thinking that it was something that would go no where. I figured he’d look at my family’s income, where I lived, and immediately say no. However, it went completely differently. I walked into that interview and held my head high. I answered every question with passion and by then end of that interview I was offered a full scholarship. My life began at that very moment. A girl who thought she’d never go to college was going to college. I had somehow avoid the career of being the world’s best harp playing cashier and I was going to become the world’s best harp playing college student. My mother went crazy. She jumped up and down and thanked God for giving me the opportunity. I think she was more excited than me. Anyway, that’s how I got my chance.

I spent every moment at college learning everything about music I possibly could. By the time I graduated I was given a career with a local symphony and I have worked with them ever since. Our symphony is amazing. We are one huge family. In fact, we probably have the best parties in town, but no one knows that because they think we are all nerds. I hear that all the time. “You play a harp for a living, what a nerd.” Hey, I’m a nerd who is following her biggest dreams, life isn’t that bad. We always do an amazing concert and I get a solo every year playing Silent Night. I cry every time because it is such a beautiful song. After the concert we bring presents to local children. It is by far the greatest feeling in the world. I feel like a harp playing Ms. Claus. A few years ago there was a little boy named Tommy who loved cars and we had three matchbox car sets left. I walked over to him and gave one to him. He hugged my neck and cried. I cried right there with him. I was just like him as a child and to see that I am making a difference is amazing.

It may seem that I spend all of my time volunteering and playing that harp, but I don’t. I love television as well. I have a few favorite shows that I can’t miss. I love The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, and Reign. Anything on the CW is really good though. I could just sit around and watch the CW all day. However, I also enjoy all the amazing sights of Atlanta. I don’t think people realize all the amazing places Atlanta has to offer. That doesn’t include the traffic, sometimes the traffic in Atlanta can drive me nuts, but other than that. Atlanta is awesome. I also love cooking. I would love to have the time to take cooking classes one day, but for now I play with soulful flavors. Sometimes I need to post my amazing recipe for gumbo. I have a secret ingredient that will blow your socks off. I’m serious about that. It’s probably one of the best recipes in Atlanta. My great grandmother taught me before she passed away and I am so very glad she did.

That’s pretty much me. I find myself a simple person. I’m a nerd who plays the harp, loves teenage drama shows, and likes to cook. It’s a simple, but happy life. It’s fun, exciting, and most of all rewarding. I hope that my blog inspires you to continuously strive to follow your dreams. You can grow up in the most dire of situations and still find success. The most important thing is to do your best and always take every opportunity that you can. In the end you can be like me. You can have the life that you dream of.

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