Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Getting Inspired, Energized and Empowered

Recently I attended a women’s empowerment seminar, “Sisters Take Charge!” I originally signed up for the event to hear handsome author and former radio host Michael Baisden, but I got more than I bargained for. I was inspired by all of the presenters—local doctors, business leaders, a minister and an educator—but three speakers really resonated with me.

Dr. Peola Dews Jackson, a local educator and motivational speaker, emphasized the importance of acceptance, improvement and the Law of Attraction. She had three powerful messages:
Acceptance: Love yourself the way you are.
Improvement: Keep growing and trying to improve yourself. “You are good, but you can be damn good if you want to be,” she said.
Attraction: When you feel good about yourself, you will attract the people in your life that you need.

Michelle Tatom, director of Small Business Development for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, talked about three prerequisites for success. She urged us to:
Forgive: Don’t carry the extra baggage of hurt and anger. Forgive the people who have hurt you and move on with your life.
Believe in Yourself: You have to feel that you deserve success. Appreciate your good qualities and know that you are worthy of the best.
Be Fearless: Don’t let fear hold you back from trying something new. “Fear is just False Evidence Appearing Real,” she reminded us.

And Michael Baisden gave us some valuable tips for building healthy relationships. He told us to create a new role model for successful relationships based on honesty, realistic expectations and good communication. He said women should keep our standards high and challenge our partners to meet our high expectations.

Yes, sometimes it’s worth spending time on a Saturday getting inspired, energized and empowered!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

   Deadbeat dad, absentee father, emotionally distant parent. Some folks can describe their father with those adjectives. Thank God, my father doesn't fit that mold. For James Cleveland Gist Jr, his mantra is, "family first". As a child, I always knew who to ask for an expensive toy or an unnecessary piece of clothing. I'd make a beeline to good ole dad. And his answer was predictable: "Just tell me what you want and I'll get it for you, Roz". He loved spoiling his three children and giving in to our every whim.

   My dad will celebrate his 93rd birthday in September and he has a lot to be proud of. He's the oldest of 10 children, he served in World War II and used the GI bill (an educational subsidy for military veterans) to earn a masters degree from Columbia University in the 1940s. He taught at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA for more than 40 years and wrote a earth science textbook, which he taught from in the 1990s.
   Jimmy (as my mother calls him) is a gentleman with a great sense of humor and a phenomenal capacity to teach tough subjects (like chemistry and physics) and explain them in a way that any college student could grasp. He brought science alive for his students by showing them how it is everywhere and part of everything we do. He even got me to learn about geology as a child, by buying me a toy rock collection. He lured his students in with his friendly personality and got them to understand physics--a subject most college kids try to avoid.

   Even today, you never see my dad without a book in his hand and a smile on his face. Before there was a Weather Channel on television, he was fascinated by tornadoes, hurricanes and the power of nature. Thanks to my mom (pictured with my dad at their 60th wedding anniversary in 2010) I have an appreciation for the arts (music, drama, dance, etc.). And I have to thank my dad for making me fall in love with books that tell great stories. He introduced me to poetry and the art of storytelling.

   To say my dad has the gift of gab is an understatement. He loves to talk--non-stop--and paint memorable verbal portaits of people, places and things. When he rears back in his chair and starts teaching, you're going to hear a long, life lesson. Daddy never gives you the short explanation or a quick story. When he starts talking, you'll be there for a while. I have learned to relax and enjoy this master talker work his magic.

   On Father's Day, Daddy, I want to thank you for being a great role model of how to live a life filled with gratitude, compassion, patience and empathy! Thank God (and mom), you're my dad! Happy Father's Day!  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Expanding My Culinary Comfort Zone

When the chief cook in your household is a vegan (eats no meat, dairy…nothing from an animal) your culinary horizon automatically gets lifted higher and higher. Since 2004, my daughter has been a dedicated vegan and I have been enjoying the delicious meals she prepares for dinner.
To say she has expanded my culinary comfort zone is an understatement. When I was the top chef in the house, I had a tight rotation of chicken, fish and ground beef meals every week. Thanks to my daughter, Kai, and TV cardiologist, Dr. Oz, I now prefer quinoa (instead of rice), kale (instead of lettuce) and veggie burgers over a ground beef hamburger. 
Although I dabbled in vegetarianism in college, I never had the stomach or desire to go all the way vegan. I’m still not a vegan, but I embrace their vegetable-rich diet. When Kai whips up a plate of balsamic Portobello mushrooms over a bed of spinach with a side of roasted potatoes (see the photo), I’m the first one heading back to the stove for seconds!
I’m not a foodie, but I am enjoying this ride on the vegan side of the food spectrum. Guys and girls, you really haven’t lived until you’ve chowed down on lentil-quinoa pilaf over arugula (my Memorial Day dinner). I’m not braggin’ but my daughter can make butternut squash and chickpeas taste finger-licking good.
If you’ve never had a meatless meal, don’t knock it until you’ve tried a dish at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FL or the Loving Hut in Orlando. A great vegan meal can fill you up and make you think about taking the plunge into veganism. I still occasionally eat animal fare—chicken, fish and cheese—but I love a steaming hot pot of red beans and quinoa with kale!