Just Me...Monica Mariehttp://www.blackvibes.com/monicamariejones/Monica is a Motivational Speaker, Radio Show Host of Motivation Mondays with Monica Marie Jones on www.urbannationradio.com and an author whose published works include The Ups and Downs of Being Round(Fiction/Self-Help), Taste My Soul (Poetry), FLOSS (Fiction), Swag (Urban Fiction), Sweet Soliloquy (Poetry), Monday Morning Motivation (Inspiration) and Momentum (Financial Inspiration). She is a contributing author in Chicken Soup for the Girls Soul, New Directions for Youth Development, 44th (A full color coffee table book about President Barack Obama) and Souls of Our Young Sisters: The Next Generation of Women Tell Their Stories, Overcome Their Challenges, and Heal Their Spirits. Monica received her Bachelor's Degree and teaching certificate in Elementary Education from Eastern Michigan University. She also received her Masters of Social Work from the University of Michigan. She is a youth development expert that does training and consultation for the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality. Monica uses her gifts, talents and expertise to inform her work as a motivational speaker with a focus on topics including but not limited to self-esteem, empowering women and girls, fitness and wellness, and youth development. She is the owner of the publishing and literary consulting company, The Literary Loft and the motivational speaking, training and consulting company, Inspiration Incorporated.en-uscommonicamariejones@gmail.comhttp://www.monicamariejones.commonicamjonespages/Monica-Marie-Jones/18959202452monicamariejones115968ca-app-pub-5614911574263464/9421626631ca-app-pub-5614911574263464/3568931435http://www.blackvibes.com/images/bvc/110/22334-photos-tab-header-mon.jpghttp://www.blackvibes.com/images/bvc/110/22335-videos-tab-header-mon.jpg599344572600000000cc3da8B00SCEI4BSmonicamariejoneshttp://www.blackvibes.com/monicamariejones/http://www.blackvibes.com/images/users/18175-monicamariejones.jpgWhat Are Your Triggers?http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-89216/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-89216/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-89216/#commentsSun, 12 Jun 2016 18:17 GMTWhat are your triggers? We are often triggered when someone does or says something that activates the feelings of painful experiences from our past. "Triggers are on weapons, we use weapons when we feel threatened or hurt." - Ray John?? When someone activates our triggers, often times our first reaction is to pull and shoot. Now we have harmed someone in our present and future because we haven't healed from that past wound. Our perception is our reality. Whatever story you tell yourself, your subconscious can't help but to believe it. Even if it is fiction...in your mind...it becomes fact. How can we free ourselves from this self-imposed insanity?   Realizing that it exists is the first step.  Join me on the journey...63138Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/6-2016/63138-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgThe Fight for Lighthttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-17183111/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-17183111/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-17183111/#commentsMon, 30 Nov 2015 20:02 GMTThis weekend I had a wonderful holiday retreat at my brother's home in Springfield, Massachusetts. Each year he goes all out with his festive d cor, but this year he took it to a whole new level. In his front yard you can find everything from your typical toy soldiers and reindeer to a fully illuminated elephant and hot air balloon. Upon my arrival I could see that he clearly had the rest of his block beat with his elaborate display... That is until his neighbors came out on that sunny Friday afternoon, and even the following soggy Saturday morning and got to work. My brother and my brother in law peeked through the windows and the door like super sleuths. I teasingly told them that they could easily be the stars of a new hit reality show that might be called, "Christmas Light Wars: Springfield Edition." They kept me thoroughly entertained throughout the weekend with their silliness, snickers and sneers about how their neighbors were trying to copy their seasonal style. I couldn't help but smile. Our jolly good time made me think about how much fun it would be if our main battles in life were centered around the fight for light. Their holiday cheer was contagious. It inspired their neighbors to match or exceed the amount of light that was shining from both the exterior and interior of their home. Ultimately, it added to the collective beauty and positive spirit of the entire block. What if we shed so much light through our presence, energy, words and deeds that it inspired others in the path of our bright rays to do the same? What if when we found ourselves in a dark place in our lives, we surrounded ourselves with people who gave off such light? This season I encourage you to be the light, share the light or find some light to get into. While you are there, make sure to keep your balance. Remember, too much darkness or too much light can both be blinding. Happy Holidays!52123Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jones, Holidayblogs/11-2015/52123-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgHarvest Timehttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-19751810/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-19751810/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-19751810/#commentsMon, 19 Oct 2015 12:43 GMTMany seeds are edible. Therefore they serve a dual purpose. They can be eaten and they can be planted. If we eat them they give us satisfaction for a moment, some nourishment, and a limited supply of energy. If we plant or sow them, they will multiply and reap an abundant harvest. Now think about the seeds that are in your life. What do you do with them? Are you looking for a quick fix or long term benefit? The seeds in our lives are our money, time, talents, and energy. Figuratively eating those seeds translates to things like get rich quick schemes, rapid weight loss, and other means of instant gratification. We don't want to wait. We want it all now. What we fail to realize is that by indulging in the small pleasure now, we are actually taking a huge loss in the long run. Imagine how much more we could have if we planted those seeds. Imagine how infinite the possibilities would be if we invested our money, time, energy and talents into things that would cause them to grow and flourish as opposed to dead end situations, things and people that reap no harvest. Here is an example of eating the seed versus planting the seed that I want you to consider. Think about which side of the spectrum you are currently operating in, and then think about where you want to be... You spent $500 in a weekend on an outfit, some shoes, eating out at restaurants, buying drinks, paying cover charges, and parking fees. You looked good, had a funky good time, ate well, and drank well. The next morning you have a headache, perhaps a temporary one from a hangover, or maybe the start of a lingering one from a consequence that was a result of your actions. The fun is over. You ate the seed. You invested $500 in real estate by placing a bid in a property auction, or going in with a partner to acquire a low cost property in your city. Once you own the property, you rehabilitate it, and sell it for three times more than what you invested, which is still be affordable. Now you have simultaneously iseeds are edible. Therefore they serve a dual purpose. They can be eaten and they can be planted. If we eat them they give us satisfaction for a moment, some nourishment, and a limited supply of energy. If we plant or sow them, they will multiply and reap an abundant harvest. Eating the seed is easy because we believe that it's safe, secure and it feels good right now. Planting the seed is scary because it feels like a risk. Like faith, once we plant that seed, it becomes something that we cannot see immediately. But just because we can't see it, does that mean that it's not there? Taking the planting route may be difficult at times. Things may occur in the process that knock us down or beat us down to the ground, but remember, it is from the ground where all things grow and there is nowhere to go from there but up. Before this year comes to an end, I challenge you to plant a seed that you might have otherwise eaten. If you want the harvest, you must sow the seed.49225Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/10-2015/49225-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgIf it Matters Make it Workhttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-10884610/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-10884610/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-10884610/#commentsMon, 12 Oct 2015 15:50 GMTI was watching the movie Couples Retreat yesterday and toward the end, a line that actor Vince Vaughn said really stuck with me. He was talking to a friend that hadn't been taking his marriage seriously when he said, "If it matters, work at it...if not, move on to something else." All too often we find ourselves in situations that we complain about, yet we stick around. We are obviously sticking around for a reason. Instead of continuing to just exist in such comfortable situations, we must ask ourselves if this job, this person, this project, or this goal really matters to us. If it does, we must get out of our complacent state and work to make it work. If we are not going to put in the work we must either stop complaining...or move on. We are doing no justice to ourselves or the other people involved if we continue to stay around. It's kind of like that kid in the classroom, or that person in the office that has a cold. The school and the office management would rather that they just stay at home instead of spreading the germs and making everyone sick. If you aren't happy with a situation, you'll ultimately exude negative energy, which is also contagious. Beyond that, it sucks the life out of people. Today I challenge you to take inventory of your life and identify an area that you are not giving all that you know that you can. What can you do to improve the situation? In reflecting upon this situation, if you find that it really, truly matters to you, then put in the work to make it work, or do everyone a favor and let go and move on. Moving on is not always a bad thing. It may be just what's needed to liberate you and those who were affected by your actions or inaction. My guess is that if it is a relationship with a loved one, as was the case in the movie...it probably does matter to you. So don't take another second taking that person for granted. As soon as you're done reading this, let them know how much they mean to you and why, and then begin devising a plan of action to put in the work to make it work.48815Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/10-2015/48815-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgUnder Book and Over Lookhttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1079710/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1079710/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1079710/#commentsMon, 5 Oct 2015 16:22 GMTLately I've been exploring meditation in an attempt to quiet my ever racing mind. I've also heard that prayer is you talking to God and meditation is you sitting back quietly to listen for His response. So now, instead of rambling on my long prayers and going about my day immediately after, I've tacked on some meditation time at the end of each prayer to listen to what God has to say back to me. One day last week I set aside some very intentional quiet time to really get deep into the prayer and meditation. In so many words, the response that I got during my meditation was, "You're doing too much." This made so much sense because I've come to realize that I tend to over book myself. This doesn't mean that I'm scheduling things at the same time, but I'm not really giving myself time to thoroughly breath, reflect, and rest in between appointments and engagements. I've come to learn that just because a block of time is not filled on your calendar or in your day planner, it doesn't mean that it's really available. I've had days where I schedule appointments, book signings, meetings and calls back to back to back just because the space is free on my calendar. What I don't account for is transitions, down time, travel time and the fact that I am not a robot and that I might just get tired somewhere along the way like humans often do. When I was given the message that I was doing too much, an example was also revealed to me. Now that my business travel is beginning to slow up a bit, I'd decided that I was going to commit to thirty days of focus to tie up a lot of loose ends in my life. God was like, "Why does it have to be thirty days? Why can't you just start by committing to like two days and see how that goes?" Again, this made so much sense for me because I definitely have a tendency to make grand plans, then I find myself either overwhelmed by them or disappointed with myself because I've abandoned them. Another area where I tend to do too much is within my thoughts. I have formed a nasty little habit of sweating the small stuff, instead of focusing on the big picture. Sometimes we all stress ourselves out by thinking about, paying attention to and entertaining some of the most trivial things. Let's use a dating situation as a common example of this... A man and a woman are dating. The woman spends a lot of time and energy paying attention to all of the other young ladies that are attracted to or interested in her man. She overlooks the fact that she gets all of his time, attention and affection, and focuses on all of these women that are making comments on his Facebook page or following him on Twitter. Instead of focusing on the positive big picture, she is zeroed in on the insignificant small picture. My advice to her would be, "If you are the quarterback, why in the world are you worried about who's on the bench?" Keep your head in the game and go for the win! Do you see where I'm going with this? This week I challenge you to UNDER Book yourself for a change and OVER Look the small stuff that doesn't even matter in the larger scheme of things. As your personal guinea pig for positive change I can assure you that your life will begin to improve instantly.48402Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/10-2015/48402-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgYou are the Boss of Youhttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1541139/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1541139/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1541139/#commentsMon, 28 Sep 2015 14:31 GMTWe have a tendency to torture ourselves. We over book ourselves. We take on more than we can handle. We help other people more than we help ourselves. Do any of these behaviors sound familiar? What I have eventually come to realize is that in the past I made my life a lot harder than it had to be. Sometimes we take our lives and ourselves way too seriously. As an entrepreneur, I am my own boss. But as people, we are all the bosses of our own lives. Therefore, we have the power to make our lives work for us. How can you readjust your day to day routine to reduce unnecessary stress? Here are a couple of simple suggestions... Pay Yourself First When I say this, I don't just mean money. Time and energy are just as valuable as money. Do something for yourself first, before you begin to think about what needs to be done for the children, what needs to be done around the house, or what you need to do for work. Each day, I exercise first, which sets a nice tone for the rest of my day and helps me to have more energy, less stress, and peace of mind in knowing that I took care of myself first. It doesn't have to take two hours. It may just be that you spend the first five minutes of your day in prayer, enjoying your favorite breakfast, or reading a chapter of a juicy novel. When we neglect ourselves and put all of our energy into others, resentment begins to creep in and take over our joy. When you put yourself first, if only for a moment, you will feel much better about the things that you do for everyone else. Make Time For Fun Some people play too much, but most people don't play enough. Play is an integral part of the human experience. So make some time for fun, or those things that you've always wanted to do. Reintroduce spontaneity into your life. Go to a carnival, arcade or movie with your mate. Read a book for enjoyment instead of business or school. Make a spur of the moment decision, throw caution to the wind and just do it! This week I challenge you to come up with a simple and manageable plan to make your life work for you. You are the boss of you, so take charge and adjust accordingly.47859Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/9-2015/47859-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgRehab is Not a Bad Wordhttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1439239/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1439239/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1439239/#commentsMon, 21 Sep 2015 14:45 GMTThe word rehabilitation is often given a bad reputation in that it is associated with the process by which someone goes through detox, therapy and behavior modification to help them recover from an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Very rarely do we look at it as the positive thing that it is meant to be. If we looked at the bright side of it we would see that it is a way for people to restore and rebuild their lives. Let''s look at it in terms of real estate. When you buy an investment property it may be distressed or in need of repair. Investing in the rehabilitation that the house needs will substantially increase its value. Even something as simple as painting the walls can make the property worth more than you acquired it for thus making it more marketable and in higher demand once you present it to the world. I want you to think of yourself or your life as that house. What projects need to be done to increase your value? What investment do you need to make in yourself to increase your worth? Perhaps you need to strengthen or reinforce your foundation by continuing your academic or financial education. Or maybe the improvements are structural in that you need to commit or re-commit to fitness. You might need new windows which represents your vision or the way that you look at things. Are you looking at life from a point of view that is broken or damaged? A new storm door represents security...do you need to work on being more secure in who you are, especially in the face of a storm or adversity. Whether the changes are large or small they can all increase your net worth in a major way. Today I challenge you to do your due diligence and conduct a thorough inspection of yourself. Make a list of the projects that need attention, in order of priority, and begin your process of rehabilitation with the most pressing one. In the end you will find yourself in a better place with more confidence and self-assurance because you put in the work needed to increase your value and your worth. Let the rehabilitation begin!47417Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/9-2015/47417-monicamariejones-moti-s.jpgLet It Marinatehttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1371289/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1371289/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1371289/#commentsMon, 14 Sep 2015 15:47 GMTLife is like a piece of meat. In order to get the most out of it, there are certain things that need to be done in order to ensure the best possible flavor, texture and satisfaction. Flavor is all about taste. When you taste something you experience it and life is all about experiences. The challenge is making those experiences high quality and meaningful. Texture is all about the feel of something. In order to live a fulfilled life, we must tend to our feelings in a healthy way as opposed to ignoring, disregarding them or acting on them before we truly understand them. Satisfaction is the culmination of everything because at the end of the day, you want to get the most out of every experience which will lead to you feeling great about yourself and your life. So the question is, how do we make these things happen? Let's look at how we prepare a piece of meat. Step One: Clean the meat. Cleaning out your mind and your life can be as simple as making the time to take a deep, cleansing and restorative breath more than once a day, or as complex as clearing out things and people that may be harmful. Step Two: Season the meat. Spice things up! This directly relates to a question that I like to ask myself and others. Are you just living your life, going through the basic every day motions to get by? Or are you experiencing life to the fullest by savoring every moment? Add some variety. If your level of living is on mild, kick things up a notch or two to medium or hot! Have you been wearing your hair straight with a part on the side for years? Adding the seasoning is as simple as adding some curls or cutting in some layers. Seasoning is about change. What can you do to mix things up? Step Three: Let it marinate. One of my signature statements when I teach, speak or facilitate a training is, "Let it marinate." This basically means to take some time to let it sink in so that you can process your thoughts, reactions and ideas about a particular statement or experience. Too often we go through life without stopping to take the time to reflect on our experiences. Reflection is a powerful tool because it helps us to learn and grow by thinking about what went well and what we would change or do differently next time. It also gives us an opportunity to celebrate our successes. Step Four: Cook the meat. Cooking the meat represents the actions that we take once we have cleansed, contemplated change, and reflected upon previous experiences. Your cooking, or actions must be well planned and timed. For instance, if we cook meat too long it burns or comes out tough. I liken this to when we spend too much time worrying about things that we cannot change or things that are beyond our control. Or when we sit on an idea or talent too long that we know that we should have released by now to make the world a better place. If we don't cook meat long enough or at the proper temperature, it may come out raw and ultimately make us sick. This parallels our tendency to make decisions and take actions prematurely. It's all about timing. There must be a balance. I could go on and take this as far as eating, digestion and beyond, but I'll stop at having you consider what the necessary tools are for you to enjoy your dish that is your life. With meat, you'll need a fork and a sharp knife. What utensils will help you to dig in to your life and cut through the literal and figurative clutter? This week, my challenge to you is to ask yourself the following questions... What needs to be cleaned up in my life? What needs to be changed in my life? What do I need to spend some time mentally processing? What is my plan of action? What tools do I need? Now let that marinate!47005Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/9-2015/47005-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgIs Your Bucket Full?http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-806598/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-806598/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-806598/#commentsMon, 31 Aug 2015 16:25 GMTSome of the most profound advice and wisdom that I have ever received on life and living has come from children. When my nephew was 5 years old he and his grandmother (my Mom) got into a heated debate. He wanted to watch what he wanted to watch on the nice new TV that my brother and I got her for her birthday while jumping on her bed. She was usually quite patient with his antics because he was just so darn cute, but this time she just couldn't take it anymore. Needless to say, the disagreement ended with him in tears when he caught her off guard by saying, "Grandma, you tipped my bucket." "What?" my mother said, not familiar with the term that he had used. "I said, you tipped my bucket." "Well, what does that mean?" She asked. "When you make someone angry or upset, you tip their bucket, so you say you're sorry to fill their bucket back up." Needless to say, she was sold on the idea, so they hugged and made up after which he said, "Thank you Grandma, now my bucket is full." Wow! If only adults could make it that simple. We argue, hold grudges, talk behind each others backs, post on Facebook and do everything else short of addressing the issues at hand directly. In his own simple way my nephew introduced my mother to a method to use to reframe conflict. They discussed how each of their behaviors affected the other person, they acknowledged one another's feelings, and they came up with a plan together for moving forward. When I called for an interview he had no comment, so I asked him to call me back the next day and with reluctance and a little coercion from my mother he did just that. The few words that he did have for me left a major impact... "Aunt Munka (His pronunciation of my name at that time), We want to be bucket fillers." Enough said. This week I encourage you to take my nephew's advice. Face it. Address it. Communicate about it. Become a bucket filler.46383Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/8-2015/46383-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgObjects in Your Mirror Are Closer Than They Appearhttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-680428/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-680428/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-680428/#commentsMon, 24 Aug 2015 14:43 GMTIf you have ever been in a motor vehicle you've probably seen the following message on the side view mirrors, "Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear." This means that while other vehicles, trash cans, bikes and people may seem like they are far away, that are actually much closer to you than you think. This made me think about life, and how sometimes we don't consider how the people and things that are in our immediate view, are much more closely related to us than we realize. Who and what surrounds you is a reflection of you. We may look at the life or situation of someone else and pass judgement, but if they are within our view, their circumstances might be much closer to our own than we think. So, before we complain about our boss, significant other, co-workers, friends, children, financial situation or neighborhood, we might want to take a look internally. The very things that we take issue with are closer to us and our behaviors than they appear. They may be a reflection of something that we are putting out into the atmosphere. The beauty of this process is that it goes both ways. If you see someone around you doing well, and wish you had their blessings or luck or whatever it is that you believe in...those great things may be closer to you than you think as well. We are often a reflection of our environment and our environment is often a reflection of us. What is in your distant view that you think may have nothing to do with you? This week I challenge you to take a look in the mirror that is your life. What do you see? The things that are captured in the reflection, the things that you are near or that you allow near to you are closer to you and your reality than they appear. So what will you get or allow near? Get in proximity with those things that add value and drive away from those things that may cause you to crash. We often look ahead, which is important, but what or who is at your side and behind you may be the very things that are propelling your forward...or holding you back. Check your side view and your rear view mirrors and move accordingly. 46131Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/8-2015/46131-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgNumbers Never Liehttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-205438/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-205438/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-205438/#commentsMon, 17 Aug 2015 13:49 GMTFeelings and emotions might be fuzzy, but numbers are cut and dry. We often let our feelings and emotions lead us. We react to life even when times are great. But what if we took a moment to measure our true well-being by the numbers in our lives? Last week, I took my own advice and practiced self-care by slowing down and making space. While there, I finally had the room, time and clarity to make a shocking discovery. My weight was at an all-time high and my credit score was at an all-time low. Based on that data, I realized that it was due time to get back to ME. What do your numbers look like? For you, it might not be weight or credit score, but it might be your blood pressure, cholesterol level, blood sugar, hours reading, hours watching television, hours of work versus hours of play, hours of sleep, or time spent with family and your loved ones that matter to you most. One thing that I ve learned in the business world is that when in doubt, check the numbers, because numbers never lie. Now I ve come to learn that numbers also matter in your personal life as well, particularly when it comes to health, personal finances and even your relationships. This week I challenge you to identify which numbers in your life are out of balance. Once you do that, make the necessary adjustments to get back on track and back to you. Here are a few of the things that I did to give you some ideas... Joined Curves for Women (again) with my Mom as my workout buddy for fitness and quality family time. Today I m going to buy a bicycle so I can go riding regularly with my best friend. I unsubscribed from several of the email lists that were filling up my inbox that I never had time to read. I paid off some small debts that I had no other reason not to pay off other than just being too darn busy to sit down and do it. I went on a grocery shopping spree and purchased enough fresh and healthy items to last me all week. I could go on and on, but those are just a few ideas to get you started. What will you do? Even when you are lying to yourself about the quality of your life, your numbers will tell you the truth. 45960Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/8-2015/45960-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgYou've Made It!http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-193938/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-193938/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-193938/#commentsMon, 10 Aug 2015 14:00 GMTIt seems that we are always in a state of trying to acquire more. More money, more status, more property, more security or more love. We are often aiming to increase these things because we believe that they will bring us more happiness. So why is it then, that when we get what we say we wanted, we don't always stop to savor and celebrate it, but instead we venture on in the constant quest for even more? Recently I realized that I am in a very great place in my life. Of course, more money or more things would be nice, but in all honesty, that's not what motivates me. I discovered that I too had been working hard and diligently on this constant mission for more when I paused and asked myself a very important question. "Would any more attention, fame, responsibility, social media followers or engagements added to your schedule make you happier?" When I thought about the answer, I recognized that any more than what I have in this moment would not necessarily increase my happiness, but would most certainly increase my stress. In fact, as wonderful as all of the things that I am involved in are, I could stand to remove quite a bit of my current activity from my piled high plate. You, see, we always relate stress to bad or negative occurrences, but you can get stressed out or burned out from the good stuff too. It may sound like settling, but I came to a realization where I was able to say to myself, "You've made it!" I have come beyond the times of struggle when I was in the midst of my storm. I don't want to be so busy and famous that I don't have time for my family and friends or can't go to a grocery store without being stalked by paparazzi. That life is not for me. So now that I think about it, I have the life that I talked about and wished for and dreamed about when I was younger. So why not savor and celebrate my right now instead of constantly living for what might be? This week I encourage you to take inventory of what REALLY matters to you. When I took the time to analyze where this path of more, more, more might lead...I realized that it wasn't a destination that I had any desire to travel to. So my right now, is alright for me. It's not settling, it's sanity.45832Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie Jonesblogs/8-2015/45832-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgChange Your Storyhttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-751188/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-751188/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-751188/#commentsMon, 3 Aug 2015 16:30 GMTOne day while watching motivational speaker Tony Robbins, I heard him mention a concept that sparked my interest. He talked about the stories that we tell ourselves. I found it interesting, but I wasn't completely clear on it, so it didn't really stick. Then a year or so after that I went to an intense personal development experience that took place over a weekend. We spent almost twelve hours each day really digging deep inside of our ourselves to identify what barriers were holding us back from where we truly wanted to be in our lives. One of the main things that stood out to me in this seminar what that they brought up this concept about stories again. This time it stuck. The basic idea is that when something happens in our life, instead of looking at it for what it is...something that happened, we attach our interpretation or story to it. The problem occurs when that story that we created, which is not the truth, becomes our reality. Let me share my story with you.... Here is what happened: My mother and father got a divorce. My father moved away. Here is the story that I created: If my father left, he must not love me. Here is how that story affected my life when I allowed it to become my reality: If my father can leave me, anyone else can leave me, so when it comes to relationships let me leave them before they leave me, or hurt them before they hurt me. All that actually happened was that my parents got a divorce and my father moved away. Everything else that I created was not the truth, yet I allowed it to become my reality and as a result my relationships and the quality of my life has suffered...until that weekend when I attended that seminar and I finally woke up and saw myself clearly for the first time. And finally...I was able to let that story go. I wrote my father a letter asking for his forgiveness and letting him know that I love him and that he is a great father. I've never told him that he was a great father before. I wrote letters and had discussions with the last two men that I had a relationship with, taking responsibility for the role that I played in the challenges that occurred in those relationships. I also asked for their forgiveness. And now...I am free. Free to live, to love, to laugh, to enjoy and experience life to the fullest! What is your story? I challenge you to take the necessary steps to change your story today. 45618Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/8-2015/45618-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgYour To-DAY Listhttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-387257/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-387257/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-387257/#commentsMon, 27 Jul 2015 15:55 GMTFor most of my life I've operated from a daily To-Do list.This is generally a long list of tasks that I'm not particularly excited about doing, but I know that these things must get done and I have to write them down to make sure that I don't forget them. I rarely get through the entire list in a day and the chores often carry over for days, weeks or even months depending on how unenthusiastic I am about the item to be accomplished. So the other day I thought, wouldn't it be exciting to put things on the list that were fun and crazy. This led me to thinking about how we are really only promised this moment. We really only have today for sure. What if we lived as if each day was our last? How different would that To-Do list look? For me, it would become a TODAY List and it would include adventurous activities such as taking a spontaneous road trip and having dinner in another state or country (Canada is right across the bridge from us here in Detroit), or visiting one of the amazing places right here in my city that I often take for granted, like the Motown Museum because it is so close that I figure I can just go any time...Perhaps making a call to say "I love you" to a Grandparent or someone who you rarely reach out to but you hold dear to your heart. This week, I encourage you to spice up your regular list and make it a Today List, living each day to the max as if it is your last. Enjoy!45439Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/7-2015/45439-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgMake Space for YOUhttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1129157/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1129157/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-1129157/#commentsMon, 20 Jul 2015 14:07 GMTLast week I did what turned out to be an unintentional experiment. I decided to take a week off to just catch up with myself and my life. Things had gotten so busy with the show, my youth development consulting work and my voice over work that I found myself with little time for myself. So I asked my team to hold off on scheduling anything for that week. My initial plan was not to take on any new projects or meetings, but somewhere in the midst of it all, I decided not to take any calls and very few messages. I'm sure that the people that I did not respond to are not happy, but in taking a step back and looking at my life from the outside in, I learned something very valuable. On any given day or week I get several people reaching out to me to ask for help, advice, assistance or promotion. Normally I respond to or answer every request without thought or question. By going silent for this week and just watching, I realized why even though I go into a week with few things scheduled, my days and weeks end up being really full, and I end up really tired with little time or energy left for myself. Have you gotten yourself into a situation that you say "Yes" so much that it forces you to say "No" to yourself? I mean, you don't literally say "No," but you've filled up all of your waking hours with the time, energy, activities, favors and life savers that you give to everyone else, therefore, how is it humanly possible to save yourself. What I learned from all of this is that it's important to make space. You have to leave yourself space in your schedule, in your mind, in your home and in your heart...for you. This week I encourage you to ask yourself this question: "How can I make more space?" The answers may be something like... going for a walk to clear your mind, hiring a cleaning service to help you thoroughly clean your home once a month, going for a drive by the water, picking a day once a week that is just for you, taking a mini vacation get away once a quarter. Keep asking yourself this question over and over again and see what comes up for you. How can you make more space? Sometimes we fill up our lives so much that we push ourselves out. Make space for YOU. 45172Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/7-2015/45172-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgYesterday, Tomorrow or Right Now: What is Your Address in Time?http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-944297/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-944297/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-944297/#commentsMon, 13 Jul 2015 16:29 GMTIs it ever truly tomorrow? Is it ever truly yesterday? Is there ever any moment where you can honestly say, in the present moment, that it is tomorrow or it is yesterday? You can get all technical about it, but the real answer is, no. Therefore, Today is all that truly exists and all that we ever really have before us is right now. I remember reading that if we feel depressed, that means we are living in the past and if we feel anxiety that means that we are living in the future, but if we feel joy, that means we are living in the present. Where do you reside? What is your address in time? So often we get stuck living in the past or worrying about the future that we fail to experience, embrace and engage in the present. If we are constantly living in the past or for the future, how can we ever feel satisfied? Today and this week I encourage you to be present and in the moment. Instead of constantly thinking about what has already happened, or thinking about what you are going to do or say next, I want you to truly be wherever you are. Here are some suggestions to get you started... What does the sky look like, what does the air or the breeze feel like against your skin? Ask the people around you thought provoking, open ended questions and stick around to really actively listen to the answer. Savor and taste your food when you eat it. Smile at a stranger. Focus on how good the water feels when you are in the shower. Focus on one thing instead of multi-tasking. Breathe. Right now is all that we truly have. So live in the moment. This is where you will find your bliss. 44910Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/7-2015/44910-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgWho Do You Admire Most?http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-681507/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-681507/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-681507/#commentsMon, 6 Jul 2015 16:17 GMTI'm sitting at Jungle Java as we speak while my nephew plays on the massive indoor jungle gym. (For those parents who don't already know about this establishment, it's a great place to get work done while the kids play. They have Wi-Fi, coffee, healthy food and a massive play area for the kids). While I was sitting here working to send off some important emails and figure out what I was going to write for my Monday Morning Motivation today, he takes a break from the play to sit with me while enjoying his favorite food, pancakes. Then out of the blue he asks me, "Who do you admire most?" I asked, "Do you mean famous people or real life?" He said, "Both." For me it was Oprah, for him it was Michael Jackson when it came to famous people. When it came to real life, for me, it was my Mom and him. For him, it was his Dad and me. After sharing all of our reasons why these people were who we admire most, there were a few common themes that stood out to me. They overcame challenges. They looked out for us. They gave us advice. They took us places. Let's examine these four areas and think about how they can apply to the affect that we have on others as well as how people in our lives do these things for us. Overcoming Challenges Oprah, Michael Jackson and My Mother have one thing in common, they faced a lot of challenges in childhood and life. Yet, they still managed to impact and inspire many. In the case with my Mom, she selflessly sacrificed in so many ways to raise us so that we might have a better life. Do you know that whatever you've been through, or whatever you're going through may be the very reason you are an inspiration for someone else? Sharing your truth, no matter how shameful or embarrassing it may feel, is not only a way of healing for you, but it may very well save the life of someone else. Think about how many people feel like they are all alone in what they are experiencing. If they only had the opportunity to meet you, or read a book you wrote or hear you speak so that they would know that there is hope. Advocacy (Looking out for or taking up for someone) There are certain battles that we cannot fight alone. My nephew shared that his Dad is always looking out for him. That is important to him, because believe it or not, children also face a little known and little talked about form of discrimination every day...Adultism. So how will their voices be heard if they are being treated unfairly, or if they are not getting what they need and deserve if not for having someone who will advocate on their behalf? You may feel powerless in your situation, in that case, there is someone out there that that can look out for you, sometimes we don't even realize the resources that are available to us. But on the flip side, you can be that person to help amplify the voice of another in need. Advice My nephew shared that one of the reasons that he admires me is because I always give him advice. We all have experiences and knowledge that we can share with other to help them navigate the road that is their life a little more easily, so why not share. You don't have to know it all. Often times I just have conversations with my nephew where I just ask really good questions and he actually comes to the best decision all on his own. I just provide the space for him to process his thoughts, choices and behaviors and how his environment and others play into that. Experiences (Taking people places) My nephew also said he admires me because I always take him places. This makes me think of something I read where instead of gifts, we should spend our money on experiences with our children. It also makes me think about how in many instances, our kids, or other loved ones actually want our time more than they want any material things (unless their love language is gifts, which in that case, receiving gifts might be the way in which they feel loved). Taking someone places can also go beyond the literal. Through education, inspiration (Oprah) or through entertainment (Michael Jackson). So given these themes, how can you apply them to your life? How can you use your challenges to inspire others, or study how others overcame challenges to help you with your own? Who can you be an advocate for, or what resources and people are available to advocate on your behalf? Who can you get advice from or give advice to? What experiences can you create for yourself or others so that you can experience the joy of life every day? Who do you admire most? This week I challenge you to select the area that most resonates with you and act upon it so that you may experience the inspiration that stems from admiration. 44702Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/7-2015/44702-monicamariejones-moti-s.jpgSeek To Understandhttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-802196/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-802196/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-802196/#commentsMon, 29 Jun 2015 15:09 GMTYesterday I took my nephew swimming. While he was in the pool playing basketball, I noticed that he was trying to keep the ball to himself, use it as a flotation device, and that he would get upset when the other boys in the pool would try to get the ball. I called him over to talk about it and explained to him that the ball was there so that everyone could play basketball and that it was meant for sharing. We got into a little debate because he said that the he wasn't trying to use it for flotation, he just wanted to shoot the ball and the boys kept trying to take it from him. I reminded him of a previous conversation that he initiated where he shared with me that sometimes people are jerks to him, but he knows that it is because he does things to annoy them. During that conversation I explained that it's not cool for people to be a jerk toward him, but I was proud of him for taking responsibility by recognizing his part in the treatment and how his behavior might have affected the outcome. So with the reminder of our previous conversation and my growing frustration, I sent him back to go play and I took a little walk away from that area. When I came back, no more than 2 minutes later, I was surprised to see that he was sharing, cooperating and playing with all of the boys in a fun and happy way. I couldn't help but smile. I could have scolded him and tried to make him do what I wanted him to do, but having the conversation and letting him make the decision led to an outcome that I never could have imagined. I must admit that I fully expected to come back and still see him struggling with the other boys. I learned a huge lesson from this. When in an argument or debate, we have to communicate in such a way that we allow the other person to come to their own conclusion. We can't try to control, dominate or manipulate the situation, and we can't spend the entire time trying to be understood. The reason for this is because they too are trying to be understood, and if we are both trying to be understood simultaneously, that means that neither of us is truly, actively listening. Instead of just scolding my nephew, I listened to his perspective and realized that in his mind, they were wrong and he was right. He stated that he just wanted to play by himself and they all kept taking the ball away. So I asked him, "What if they all feel the same way that you do?" I took a moment to understand him, and I helped him to understand them. I said what I had to say, and then I gave him, myself and the entire situation some space. The result was that he heard me. I just needed to give him an opportunity to be heard as well and then some space to apply the information...an opportunity to understand. The ideal situation is that both parties would seek to understand, but, that rarely happens, so this week I challenge you to be that person who seeks to understand. In doing this you will be surprised at how much more quickly you will arrive at your desired outcome. "Seek to understand, not to be understood." - Author Unknown 44496Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/6-2015/44496-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgAre You Roaming or Getting Reception?http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-711436/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-711436/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-711436/#commentsMon, 22 Jun 2015 16:53 GMTMany mornings I take a long walk around a beautiful park in Detroit. The park is an island and on one side Canada is just across the water. Whenever I get to that side my phone loses reception and begins roaming. This made me think about how sometimes we may be trying to reach a goal or a dream, or God through prayer,but we feel like we can't get through or to that place that we are trying to reach. Or, in the case with roaming, we can get through if we really want to, but it will come at a higher cost. Our inability to connect doesn't mean that our phone is dead or broken or that we should throw it in the river. It just means that we need to proceed to a new place or space with better reception or pay the higher cost. Now let's apply this to life. Getting better reception may mean a change of environment, space, surroundings or people who you spend time with. Paying the higher cost when it comes to roaming may mean making an investment in yourself or your business to get you to that next level. Think of the literal meaning of roaming. You may be going in circles or wandering without a destination. Or you may be doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, which by the way is the definition of insanity. It may take that investment of time, money or some other resource to get you on a clear or direct path to where you want to go. This week I challenge you to move into a place in your life, business or relationship with better reception or make the investment to elevate these things when you find yourself roaming.44290Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/6-2015/44290-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpgTaking My Own Advicehttp://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-190006/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-190006/Posted by monicamariejones0http://www.blackvibes.com/features/blogs/monicamariejones-motivation-inspiration-faith-190006/#commentsThu, 18 Jun 2015 17:15 GMTToday I'm taking my own advice. On Monday I wrote a message called "Fall in Love with YOU" where I challenged my readers to treat themselves as good as they would treat someone that they are courting or in a romantic relationship with. So today I'm taking myself out on a date. I just treated myself to a fresh new journal and lunch at the DIA (Detroit Institute of the Arts) and then I'll be buying a ticket to the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo exhibit. For those that have been following me for a while, you may also remember me talking about going on an "Artist Date" (From The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron). It feels great to make ME a priority. I challenge you to do something similar for yourself before the week ends.44198Motivation, inspiration, faith, love, beauty, peace, Detroit, Monica Marie jonesblogs/6-2015/44198-motivation-inspiratio-s.jpg