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How To Make Your Life A Masterpiece

By Andreas Jones

Your life is the greatest masterpiece you can ever create. But to do this, you must first design it. How? You must have a vision of or image of what it looks like. Once you have a vision and design it then you can begin the process of building it.

The questions below can guide you with your design:

  • How do you classify your life when you are at your healthiest, strongest, and best
  • How can you relate your family situation with your pursuits in success?
  • What matters to you most in life?
  • What priorities drive you each day?
  • What makes you come alive?
  • What are you born to do?
  • What are you doing to live and share your purpose?
  • How do you want to describe your experience in life when you look back into it?
  • How do you want to feel?
  • What will you have wanted to accomplish?
  • What legacy will you have left?

These questions are necessary because some people might believe they are building their masterpiece, but rather they are building a piece of junk.

For some the answers to these questions may lead them to a new career because they try to meditate on them. However, for most, it’s simply a great change that will align your life with the vision and design you have for it. For example, you may need to exercise more and eat healthier to create your masterpiece. Or perhaps you may need to spend more time with your family because your masterpiece includes great relationships with your kids. Or you might realize that you are not spending enough time on your priorities and therefore your masterpiece is not developing as it should.

Whatever your masterpiece looks like, your design will help you see what you need to do, or stop doing, to create it. It’s a great effort when someone stops trying to create someone else’s masterpiece and instead focuses on designing and creating the masterpiece they’re meant to build.

Furthermore, it’s good to stay positive as you move from the design stage to the building stage because there would surely be challenges to be faced during the building stage. So, always remember that negative thoughts cannot solve anything but rather destroy it.

Be flexible and adaptable through the process. It’s okay for your plans to change, especially when your plans must give way to the ultimate creator’s master plan.

In conclusion, be sure to choose the right habits because that would affect who you are and your plans for each day .Your habits will transform your design, vision and plans into the masterpiece of your life.

Today, you have the opportunity to transcend from a disempowered mindset of existence to an empowered reality of purpose-driven living.

Today is a new day that has been handed to you for shaping. You have the tools, now get out there and create a masterpiece.

Do You Love Yourself Enough?

Stay Strong Self-Love

Staying strong + true to yourself from the inside out.

A product of the high achieving, you can do anything culture, educational and corporate system, I was trained to believe that if I had self-esteem – self-confidence, belief in myself – that I would be successful, happy and prepared to meet and thrive through any challenge that came my way.

Good intention. But not true. In fact, this sole focus on self-esteem almost cost me – and many women I know – my happiness, a true partnership, my health and living my true calling.

Self-esteem while essential is only 1/10th of the inner foundation needed to stay true to ourselves, trust ourselves, and take care ourselves, no matter what.

Even if you have strong self-esteem, without strong:

  • self-care… you will exhaust yourself, burn yourself out and give more to others or your work and as a result diminish your power, presence and health.
  • self-compassion… you’ll achieve lots but never feel like you are doing enough or well enough, you’ll focus on what you haven’t yet done vs. receiving the fruits of all your labor and love.
  • self-respect… you’ll be a rockstar at work and a disaster in your relationships, and instead of being a source of support, your relationships, or lack of them will drain your power and life force.
  • self-trust… you’ll settle and play it safe, be swayed by other people’s opinions, make self-sabotaging choices, and feel disconnected from your core self because you lack a strong connection to your inner wisdom as your guidance system.

What we really need – beyond just self-esteem – is a strong foundation of self-love that also includes self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-expression, self-empowerment, self-pleasure as well as the four kinds of self-love listed above – which together complete what I call the “10 branches of self-love.

We need all 10 branches to be strong so that we have the strength to meet the challenges ahead, make the choices that keep us true to ourselves, including making sure we are receiving what we need.

In today’s world, we need to be strong on the INSIDE to be able to weather the intensity and chaos happening on the outside without getting swept into the swirl.

The problem is that most of us don’t really know what self-love is. It can feel so vast, esoteric and like a good idea but maybe something we should keep under wraps.

Self-love can feel selfish and insignificant in a time when the world faces so much turmoil and uncertainty and so many serious issues are at hand.

But I would offer that self-love is one of the medicines and practices we need more than ever in times like these.  And that we need it not in the ‘love yourself’ rah-rah generic platitude kind of way… but in real, practical ways that allow us to assess where our foundation and connection to self are weak so we can shore up our strength from the inside out.

I see so many girls who have been given the self-esteem message – yet they still beat themselves up for not being perfect or good enough, they still give their bodies to men in ways that make them not feel good about themselves, and they still doubt that inner wisdom voice within and make choices that limit their power, hold back their voice and sometimes even alter their lives forever.

I see so many women who are successful in their work life but feel like they aren’t living their true purpose or doing meaningful work, women who sacrifice their health over and over again to take care of their families and careers, women who are silenced, stuck and settling because inner fear instead of inner love is running their internal operating system.

Self-love isn’t something I knew I needed until I realized I didn’t even know what it is … and once I found it, I realized that part of the power we are missing as women and girls stems from not knowing how to assess, activate and practice self-love.

What I learned is that Self Love is a path, a practice, and a choice.

There are real, practical and powerful ways to assess where your self-love foundation is strong and weak, and then practices and tools to put to use in your day to day life to stay strong from the inside out.

I founded the international self-love movement, which every year hosts Self Love Day on February 13th and The Path of Self Love School which has taught over 35,000 people.

Every year we choose a “Self Love Mantra” + people take Self Love Promises to support them to stay true to themselves, trust themselves, and take care of themselves.

This year our mantra is STAY STRONG… not like a machine, martyr or macho bully, but in the true sense of feminine power.

Here’s the mantra, I share it with you now with the invitation to write it out, put it in your journal, make a piece of art with it, and then practice it this year. In the moments you feel lost, lonely, depleted, defeated, frustrated, confused, come back to it, come back to yourself and let Wisdom guide you forward on your Path supported by the practice of self-love.


S – Speak your truth + stay connected

T – Trust yourself

R – Rest + Replenish

O – Own your power + play your part

N – Nourish your heart & soul desires

G – Give & Receive

To find out where you are weak and strong in self-love – you can take the free self-love quiz at

To receive a recording of the STAY STRONG Self Love Day feminine super power session with Christine Arylo go to

Christine Arylo, m.b.a., is an inspirational catalyst, transformational teacher and best-selling self-love author who teaches people how to put their most important partnership first, the one with themselves, so that they can create the life their souls crave. The popular author of the go-to book on relationships Choosing ME before WE and the self-love handbook, Madly in Love with ME, the Daring Adventure to Becoming Your Own Best Friend, and her newest Reform Your Inner Mean Girl. She’s affectionately known as the “Queen of Self-Love” for her groundbreaking work in self-love, including founding the international day of self-love on Feb 13th. Arylo is the co-founder of the self-love and empowerment school for women, Inner Mean Girl Reform School.  You can follow here on Twitter, FB or visit her sites here & here


Just Because It’s Supposed to Work Doesn’t Mean It Will

Dan finished his education degree without ever stepping into a classroom.

After he graduated, he realized he didn’t like teaching and wasn’t good at it. The very first day of student teaching, where the goal was to serve as an intern before accepting a full-time position, he knew that this was not the career for him.

You’re probably thinking: hey, that’s life! He just had to stick it out, and then he’d be fine. And it’s true, sometimes there’s a learning curve on the road of purpose. We’re supposed to challenge ourselves, and it takes time to gain real-world skills.

This was different, though. Dan really didn’t like teaching. It felt uncomfortable and unnatural. He knew he could probably soldier on through the internship, but he didn’t want to go any further.

He thought back to what he really liked to do—the things he enjoyed when he was a kid, the skills that came naturally to him, and the times when he had taken pride in an accomplishment. Eventually, he realized that the next step on the path was to make an app that helped people monitor their daily fitness activity. Maybe it wasn’t the plan for the rest of his life, but it was a lot better than being in an environment that made him feel uncomfortable.

If your story begins like Dan’s, and you find yourself not enjoying the work you trained for, you might be tempted to stick it out. That’s what everyone expects of you. Maybe some people would even disapprove of you making a change.

It’s not just other people who are the problem: you also feel like it would be a waste to not continue down the road you chose long ago. You might feel wistful over the money spent or the time invested.

Then again, you also have the rest of your life. Which matters more?

It’s normal to cling to a chosen course of action, but that’s not always the best course of action. Just because it’s a good job doesn’t mean it’s the right job for you. Just because you acquired certain skills doesn’t mean you need to use them in any particular career.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to abandon the plan and explore something else. @chrisguillebeau (Click to Tweet!)

Why should you listen to anyone who says otherwise?

Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of PursuitThe $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. 
Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounge.


25 Other Letters

If Plan A Fails, Remember That You Have 25 Letters Left


Chris Guillebeau | October 13, 2016 | Living, Working

Lesson: Craft backup plans. They will allow you to take more risks and make better choices.

There’s no shame in having a plan B, or even plans C–Z. Use the “if this, then that” method to make a backup plan for every career choice, and then make a backup for the backup. If one strategy doesn’t work, move to the next.

Vanessa Van Edwards had a message to get out to the world. As an expert on social psychology, she spent her days developing business courses on persuasion and influence.

The business was going well, but soon she wanted to expand her audience. She’d set her sights on partnering with Creative Live, an online platform for lifestyle and business instruction.

Vanessa had several friends who’d taught Creative Live courses, so she could easily have asked for an introduction to a high-level decision-maker at the company—but that’s not what she did.

Instead of connecting to one of the producers or executives at Creative Live, she took a different approach. She wrote in to the customer support email that was listed on the website, making her case for why her course would be so effective.

At first, this sounds like a terribly risky strategy. Writing in blindly, with no introduction, to an all-purpose email address that probably received any number of random pitches? It was the online equivalent of cold-calling. Surely the odds of success would be low, if not nearly zero.

But you may have guessed that Vanessa was actually quite smart. She gave the message an unforgettable subject line: “Here’s how I’ll make you a lot of money.” In the email body, she included a link to a slide presentation that went into great detail about why her proposed course was such a good fit for the company.

As an expert in persuasion, Vanessa put her skills to good use, building a case that made it easy for the executives who eventually saw the email to say yes.

The technique worked. Vanessa’s course went on to become one of the highest-grossing Creative Live courses—no small achievement, since there are hundreds of courses taught by experts and great teachers. But that’s not what was most interesting about her technique, at least to me.

When she told me this story over coffee, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the route she had chosen for that initial pitch.

It was a bold move, no doubt, but it also sounded unnecessarily risky. Why not just go through a referral, I asked. Wouldn’t that greatly increase the odds of her proposal reaching a real decision-maker instead of having the message relegated to the spam folder or deleted by an intern?

Her answer was interesting. She told me she had purposefully wanted to build support for her course throughout the whole company, not just in the executive suite. She was seeking true partnership in the project, and wanted the people on the front lines to know about her. (A senior producer for Creative Live confirmed that this is exactly what happened: “We saw Vanessa’s email go through the ranks, being passed around from department to department.”)

Still, though, I persisted—why take the risk of rejection in the first place?

To this question, Vanessa had another quick answer: “Oh, I thought about that. If the cold pitch didn’t work as I hoped, I would have gone to the referral network.” That’s when I understood: there wasn’t actually any risk. Because her initial approach had only been her plan A, she had a whole suite of contingency plans ready and waiting in the event that plan A failed.

In other words, even though the cold pitch was her optimal scenario, she also wasn’t banking on it. If it didn’t pan out, she’d simply change tactics.

When I was starting out in business I used to say things like, “Screw the backup plan! Backup plans are for wimps.” But now I know that this isn’t usually the greatest idea.

Backup plans don’t make us wimpy; they actually allow us to take on more risk. @chrisguillebeau (Click to Tweet!)

Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of PursuitThe $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. 
Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounge.

5 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self by Gail Caldwell


1. Your father was saying something that you couldn’t hear.

My dad was a tough, sometimes domineering Texas patriarch, and his idea of protecting his two adolescent daughters was to scare hell out of the boys in the ‘hood. Granted, it was the Texas Panhandle in the 1950s: When a kid came to my or my sister’s window late at night, Wild Bill would do a patrol around the block with an unloaded rifle on his shoulder.

Why couldn’t he just tell us to watch our backs, or say how much he loved us? Now I know that he was telling us, but too often the greatest generation translated love into laconic shows of strength. I wish he could have said, “You are the most precious cargo in the world and I will do anything to keep you safe,” which might have helped me learn to say it to myself.

2. You have muscles and brain cells that are poised for amazing possibilities.

Like childbirth and mountain climbing and dancing until 3 a.m., you can learn calculus, or walk across half of Spain, and your body and brain will barely flinch. Then, you can sleep it off and start again. You will be able to do this for many, many years, particularly if you forego stupid drugs and too much booze and seven helpings of cheesecake and walking in front of speeding vehicles; or, for that matter, getting into them.

3. Walk tall, even—especially—when you are afraid, or cowed, or insecure.

If you assume you are too good to be taken advantage of, the bullies of the world will usually believe you, and move on.

This skill involves daily practice, like sports or meditation, and, as my gun-toting, poker-playing dad would say, a little bluff at the right time. I had a creepy guy twice my size acting inappropriately in an airplane aisle recently—he reached his hand around my waist—and without thinking, I looked him in the eye, moved toward him with my hand up, and said, “Sir, you’re going to need to step back, now.”

I think I’ve been watching too much Matthew McConaughey in “True Detective.” But hey, the man got out of my way, fast.

4. Everything—I mean everything—matters.

The friend’s kid brother you were nice to when no one else was; the parking place you got into a screaming match over; the bearable, or awful, breakup you had. What matters is not the parking place, but the way you react: the kindness you display, and the mercy and the poise to be your own best self when you can. Everything matters because it morphs into this giant thing called history, or experience, and eventually life itself. Even the murderous Hound in “Game of Thrones” tells Arya, “A man’s got to have a code.” Find yours and live by it.

5. Remember the gulping-air surprise of being alive.

Love, color, music, the beauty of the planet—all these things will serve you later, decades later, when you are walking down a street in St. Louis, or a beach on Cape Cod, and you hear a song that sends you spinning. You hear “Night Swimming” and want to weep because it takes you back to Point Reyes in California, or a sunset over Mount Bonnell in Texas. Your memory is the motherboard. Feed it the experience and it will always give it back.

P.S. You will note that I have left out much counsel about the bad times in life. That’s because they will always be there, the worry and sorrow and little hells that we can do nothing about. No prep book for those. Do the good stuff, see above, and it will cushion the rest.



Howard University rower says he’s lost his sight, but not his vision

July 11 at 1:45 PM
Blind Olympic Rower Howard University.jpg

As Ibrahim “Dammie” Onafeko watched his vision deteriorate to the point of blindness, he was nearly alone.

He’d had six surgeries attempting to save his eyesight, which was being overtaken by cataracts. His mother had returned to Nigeria after a three-month visit.

“I didn’t have my mom with me, not my dad, not my brothers, not my sister, not my friends. I didn’t have school. My life in Nigeria, I had nothing,” Onafeko said. “I only had hope. I was depressed.

“In the middle of it, a voice asked me, ‘Dude, what has been keeping you back?’ I realized it’s not my vision, but my vision. I might have lost my vision, but I haven’t lost sight of my vision.”

This is how Onafeko, 32, ends up rowing on the Anacostia River on a recent Monday evening, a smile painted across his face as he repeatedly raps the chorus to Terror Squad’s “Lean Back.”

“Dammie, man, I don’t know how he can sing,” his coach, Jai Mitchell, said from the chase boat, shaking his head. “Maybe I need to work him harder.”

Even with the rough times, including the pain that comes from rowing more than 5,000 meters, Onafeko says being blind is no excuse. He uses it as his motivation to do better.

“Do something with what you have and what you can,” Onafeko said. “You gotta do something with what you can. You do not worry about what you can’t. Let what you can’t go. Life in itself is anything but fair. Enjoy life to the fullest. You’ve got to make the most of what it gives you. I think I’m doing the best I can in the moment.”

‘A natural’

The spirit of a champion has run through Onafeko’s veins for most of his life.

“I grew up in an area back in Nigeria where everyone wants to claim a champion,” Onafeko said.

After he lost his vision, he was looking for a specialized sport to get involved with. With his strengths being height, speed, power and agility, he immediately thought to take up boxing. Instead, he found a different challenge.

Before Onafeko started rowing, he worked out with other visually impaired people at the now-closed YMCA on Rhode Island Avenue. Onafeko said one of the volunteers there knew one of the former coaches at Capital Rowing, Karen Eakes. That volunteer introduced them, saying that Onafeko was a “perfect fit” for their adaptive rowing program.

On the first Saturday of July 2014, Onafeko spoke with Eakes on the phone and told her he’d come out to the boathouse that next Monday. And ever since, he’s had a ripple effect across the sport.

Rowing is one of the most demanding athletic endeavors, Mitchell says, as it takes endurance, strength, power, balance and strong senses. Four of Onafeko’s senses are well above average; they compensate for his blindness.

Dan Longo, another rower in the Capital Adaptive Rowing Program, has rowed with Onafeko four times since they both started two years ago.

“He’s strong,” Longo said. “We just have to stay in sync. He has long arms, long legs.”

Onafeko stands 6 feet 5, and his coaches say he has the perfect build for rowing.

Despite participating in the sport for the same amount of time, Longo said Onafeko generally rows with more experienced competitors.

“Dammie’s more of a natural,” Longo said. “He came out of nowhere on the circuit.”

Within Onafeko’s first six months rowing, he won a gold medal at his first competition at the Bayada Regatta. He’s currently first in the world on the Concept 2 ergometer, or rowing machine, for his category.

There are several class­ifications of adaptive rowing, which incorporate those with physical or intellectual disabilities or visual impairment. Onafeko competes in the men’s legs-trunk-arms, visually im­paired category.

Onafeko was invited to a legs-trunk-arms development camp in Boston in late May. The camp was put on by USRowing, the governing body for rowing in the United States, and the United States Association of Blind Athletes. Because of support on his GoFundMe page, he was able to attend.

Looking for greater things

Onafeko is a rising junior at Howard University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in audio production. He has a summer internship as the assistant production manager at WHBC 96.3 FM, the student-run radio station at Howard.

“I’m looking forward for greater things to happen,” Onafeko said. “My ambition is to be a radio personality and at the same time audio production personnel. I’m working all of that out. Rowing is just part of the life. You can’t not stand on your two feet and not want to make contributions to the world. Blindness is just an opportunity for me to do more than I could have ever done with vision.”

One contribution Onafeko wants to make is to row in the Paralympics, which begin Sept. 7, for Nigeria. He’s currently trying to qualify, and he’s one of the world’s best in his category. But there’s a catch.

There is no Nigerian Paralympic rowing team.

And Onafeko needs two Nigerian women and one Nigerian man, all of whom are Paralympic rowers in his category, to row with him in order to qualify.

But Onafeko isn’t giving up hope. And neither are his coaches.

“The Olympics will mean a great deal to me,” Onafeko said. “The meaning of the Olympics to me is self-actualization, meaning you should not settle for less, but reach for more, until you accomplish the best that you could ever be in life. If I’m doing this and I’m climbing up the ladder, why not go to the top of the ladder, if that’s the next rung on the ladder to climb? Doing that will mean I have self-actualized myself in rowing.”