Monthly Archives: March 2011

Relaunch of My (Life) Relaunch

Welcome to my new website

As you may or may not have realized, I am working diligently to be the ULTIMATE me. While blogging, I have continued to research other blogs and discovered that the website I was using was not as efficient for the direction I am headed. So, I switched to this GREAT WordPress site. I will keep my LiveJournal site for a few more weeks until I have fully transitioned.

A long-term friend of mine recently asked, what was the endgame for my blog? After a quick thought and a promise to clean up my elevator spiel, I ultimately realized that I wanted to create a blueprint for people on how to live their lives inclusive of their passions, skills, loved ones, AND have peace of mind at the same time. I am approaching this subject from the perspective of a person that has not been doing this, BUT that has the skills, personality, access, and knowledge to do so. I also am fully committed to taking on this task!

As I am learning, I will share with you my discoveries and at times, I will repeat, retract, and revise my opinions and plans so that eventually the blog will become a point of reference for life planning. In addition to my opinions, I will include a link to another source that supplements my comments, and at times even contradicts what I am feeling. The blog will grow as I do.

One thing you will find is that I often correlate business practices to the same habits used to manage self.  I use this strategy because I have personally shown a commitment to excellence to every organization and employer I affiliate with. I am now learning that my hard work to a company or even education, does not replace the time, effort, and development that I must continue to put into myself; MY PLAN. I will occasionally refer to myself as a business because it is through this concept that I am able to process how I can turn my passions and strengths into a sustainable service.

I believe that SUSTAINABLE businesses/services are crucial to communities as both a physical entity and in the more theoretical concept of community. I want my abilities, my skills, and my presence to be a sustainable addition to the people I serve. I pride myself on this!

Ultimately, my blog and the plans I will detail on this shared space, is the best way I know how to live out my personal mission statement:

To creatively impact urban change by designing sustainable communities. 

Below is a link to an article that discusses how your personal reputation can influence your career options.


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Beginning Your Life Plan

You are ready to create your life plan. Of course there may be a million templates on the internet, but I am going to share with you some tips and a format from the author, Michael Hyatt. Hyatt provides examples from his life plan and says that,

“When things get chaotic, it serves as a map, telling me where I am and how to get back on the path to my intended destination.”

You are encouraged to change the template to a format that works for you. No matter what your choice and how you change the template, give yourself plenty of time to think about this fresh start of your life.


Think about the major categories/ priorities in your life (family, work, education, spirituality, etc).

  • List your target audiences.

Hyatt selected:

God, My Spouse, My Children, My Parents, and My Friends.

  • Determine the outcomes you want to see in the major categories of your life. Outcomes are tangible ideas or the eventual end results. Hyatt encourages us to think about outcomes as the lasting impression or comments that people would say at your funeral or the process of beginning with the end in mind.
  • Prioritize your target audience.
  • Create a purpose statement for each life category.

Hyatt’s example for his Health category (or account as he calls it) is:

My purpose is to maintain and care for the temple God has given me.

  • Detail your ideal vision for each category. A good question to ask yourself is- what does success look like for me? You need to describe the account when it is functioning at its best, using the present tense as if it is already a reality.

An example from Hyatt relating to his vision for his health is:

I am lean and strong, possessing vibrant health and extraordinary fitness. My heart is strong and healthy. My arteries are supple and clear of obstructions. My auto-immune system is in excellent condition; I am disease-, infection-, and allergy-resistant. I have more than enough energy to accomplish the tasks I undertake. This is because I control my mental focus, workout six days a week, choose healthy foods, take supplements as needed, and get adequate rest.

  • Detail your current reality as it stands with each life category. During this part of the process you are to describe in detail, what your current situation looks like. (Refer to my weight loss update on March 27, 2011).
  • Create an action plan for each outcome- these are the actual practices you will add into your life, take out, or continue doing to reach your goal. Be specific and think S.M.A.R.T. List the resources you have or need to make these actions happen as well.

We should review our life plans quarterly AND make changes. Life plans should change as we grow and make progress.

I will be revealing my first stab at my life plan in the near future. If you are looking for an accountability partner, feel free to post your plan to my blog and/or email them directly to me at I am happy to help keep you encouraged and on your path.

Below is a link to the life planning template by Michael Hyatt.


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Weight Loss Update- S.M.A.R.T. Planning

So….I should have lost 2 pounds this week according to my S.M.A.R.T. plan.

Hmmmm, let me reflect on what I have done so far to make this happen.

1-    I have opted for walking to the store, bank, or other locations in walking distance, weather permitting.
2-    I have taken the stairs up to my 12th floor apartment two times this week.
3-    I have actively and HONESTLY been keeping track of my eating and exercise habits with my free account on
4-    I have been drinking more water, thus not buying pop to keep in the house.
5-    I have cooked and/or ate leftovers on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
6-    When I wanted a snack, I made a homemade smoothie instead by using only yogurt, soy milk, and strawberries.

Now, here are all of the things that I SHOULD not have done as I am working towards my S.M.A.R.T. weight loss plan.

1-    I snuck in some burger king WITH a pop.
2-    I only exercised on my elliptical for 10 minutes.
3-    I have not cooked or purchased any green vegetables.
4-    I have had SEVERAL alcoholic beverages during pre-game and a fun gal’s night out.
5-    I also had all you can eat fried chicken wings at a bar in Wrigleyville.

So…..At least the good habits are winning (This is what I tell myself. As I am finishing this post I am going on the elliptical for at least 10 minutes).

One important thing that I have not consistently made time to do is to visualize the weight loss. When I told my acupuncturist that I wanted to lose weight, she told me to meditate and visualize the weight being removed from my body and to think of my body as a machine that works to push the weight through and out. Of course she mentioned exercise and diet, but our discussion primarily revolved around vision.

I asked my poetry mentor for some advice about his path to spoken word greatness and he explained to me that he visualized what he wanted every step of the way. He knew what he wanted his life path to look like three months out, five years out, etc.

Both the acupuncturist AND poet mentioned vision as the key factor for two of my current goals. Vision(ary) seems to be the word of the week for my blog.

This week, I am going to continue my positive steps toward weight loss as listed above and I will add 5 minutes of VISION planning to my S.M.A.R.T weight loss plan.

Below is a link to a humorous story about weight loss. Enjoy!


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Speaking of Investments

Lately, I have become very intrigued with the way words are used and interpreted. I recently had a very spirited conversation with a young man that involved me labeling him an entrepreneur.

Now, if I would have known that he was going to become extremely enraged at me over this title, I would NOT have used it. Without going into too much detail about his rage, I will say that he accepted the term as one of a person that evades responsibility by not taking a “real job”.

I was extremely disgusted by his response to the term because I (as I thought most people in the world did as well) associate the term entrepreneur with a person that takes full ownership and responsibility of their skills (usually to operate their own business and have a greater sense of control of their financial income). Every business owner I know works harder than the people they employ. The owner has to know every single function of the business and/or have access to the resources that ensure every function is executed efficiently and effectively. As a result, I had to ask myself why the word entrepreneur had such a negative connotation for him.

When I think of the word entrepreneur, I think of someone who possesses a visionary spirit. After all, to be a successful entrepreneur one must be able to foresee his/her ideal goal and have a plan for how he/she will get there. BUT, after looking up the term visionary in preparation for this entry, I was highly surprised at the definitions I found. Overall, the words “imaginary”, “unreal”, and “radical” were included.

When I describe a person as a visionary, or if I say a person has vision, I am referring to their ability to dream in great detail of a changed system or reality.

Some well-known visionaries include:

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his ability to envision a fully integrated America
  • Phil Donahue for his ability to envision a more well informed day time television audience
  • William Shakespeare for his ability to envision a style of literary and performance works that would stand the tests of time
  • Oprah Winfrey for her ability to envision how journalism and story telling could ultimately lead to healing

I have spent countless hours envisioning a new Chicago, dreaming up a plan to provide arts to youth and families, and even helping others expand their visions into sustainable business plans. BUT, the person that it is most important for me to have a vision for is me.

I struggle with this as I try to find the words that will communicate my vision to others so that I do not appear to be living in fantasy or wonderland. I struggle with this even more because I have watched committed leaders (both visionaries and entrepreneurs) be ridiculed when others are unable or unwilling to see the bigger picture.

Daily, I am working with an entrepreneurial spirit and skill set to make choices that align with my vision. The truth though….. is that I have not fully created my vision.

What does this mean? It means that over the next few weeks, I am going to commit to creating a vision plan that is the sum of my hopes. The business I am currently running is Ashley S.C. Walls and I MUST get my strategic plan together. I am my number one resource. People invest in good business plans.

It’s time we ask ourselves, are we truly worth the investment?

Below is a link to an article that discusses the importance of investing in yourself.


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Connecting S.M.A.R.T Goals to Your Life Plan

Perhaps there is a difference between planning a career that fits into your life and fitting your life into your career. In the business world, this is often why strategic plans are created. Organizations focus on three to five-year plans to prevent coordinating events at the spur of the moment or implementing programming on a dime. Once the strategic plan is accepted, businesses have a more clear direction of hiring needs, financial requests, allocation of space, and even the smaller details such as what supplies to order.

 How do you plan your life strategically?

 How would you allocate your last $20?

When you are clear about how your actions and tangibles fit into your life plan, you can decide if your nails need to be done, if your car needs to be washed, or if you should purchase a book on how to improve your writing skills to prepare for becoming an author. Ultimately this is called S.M.A.R.T. goal setting:

S- Strategic and Specific

M- Measurable

A- Attainable

R- Realistic

T- Timely

For example, I have been saying that I want to lose weight for many years. I am not a heavy girl, but shapely at the bottom and I was born with a round face and chubby cheeks. While I have thought about it occasionally for the past five years, I had not committed to actually losing weight until recently. I was recording myself doing poetry in hopes of posting some of my performances on YouTube, Facebook, etc. to gain exposure. As I looked back at the tape, however, I realized that my chubby features were not coming across as well on the screen as I would like for them too. Because this has affected my confidence for seeking out opportunities for live performances, I created a S.M.A.R.T. plan for my weight loss:

Goal: Lose 25 pounds in 3 months by changing my diet and exercising

S– The goal is strategic because it has a specific weight loss number and time frame as opposed to a goal to just lose weight.

M– The goal is measurable by a scale as opposed to a goal to look smaller which can be hard to measure or can vary depending on what you wear.

A– The goal is attainable as I actually have 25 pounds of fat to lose on my body.

R– The weight loss goal is realistic. For example, if an adult woman was 5’5 and weighed 117 pounds, it would be unrealistic and probably concerning if she wanted to lose an additional 25 pounds as she may not even have enough fat on her body to lose.

T– The timeline that I created is realistic based on research that states a person can healthily lose up to three pounds a week. My timeline allows for me to lose approximately eight pounds a month.

For over 5 years, my plan to lose weight was disconnected from my life plan. Now that I have made the connection, I am finally committed to this goal. Think about something you have procrastinated on doing and ask yourself how overcoming the procrastination and actually working toward the goal would affect your life. For me, performing is part of who I am. By not losing weight, I am ultimately hiding a part of myself.

If you are nervous about creating your S.M.A.R.T. plan, start with picking one area of your life you want to focus on, and make a S.M.A.R.T. plan that can be achieved in one week. If you are more experienced, set your S.M.A.R.T. plan for a month or longer. Check out my blog regularly for updates on my progress.

 Below is a link to a SMART goal setting worksheet that will help you get started with your goals.


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The Language of CommUNITY

A response from my friend regarding my entry: Defining Yourself Through Language

side note: I think being “bilingual” is great, although tiring, you can understand and communicate with so many different types of people. And I think for your future goals and development… being “bilingual” is going to be one of your biggest assets. Instead of it being tiring think of it as a routine work out…. not always what you want to do but it def makes you stronger.

I am very glad this was brought to my attention as I do believe my ability to seamlessly transition between the business world, the community, and other places is a skill. However, I have now learned that I must bring these skills together to demonstrate that my spaces do not have to exist separately, primarily when the focus is community development.

A recent article reported that there have been 19 shootings in Chicago in 48 hours, since the breaking of the weather. Immediately after reading the article, I had to ask myself “how are my actions- in and out of work- relevant to the needs of the community?” I have committed myself to youth development, but for almost two years, my working environment did not support what I know to be sustainable and responsible community development. True community development must include the community in every phase of PLANNING, even when you fear the community may not understand or be knowledgeable.

Ultimately, community developers should aim to work them selves out of a job. If members of the community do not have a voice during every phase of planning, a reciprocal learning process is not taking place. One must always remember that the community holds a level of expertise that simply cannot be found in census information or statistics. 

Organizations that operate to support and enhance the community can choose a people centered approach, an income approach, or one of brand and prestige that appears to benefit the clients (but ultimately puts them on display). Having worked with a variety of non profits, I am beginning to understand the language of organizations and leadership that align with my personal statement. I also believe that when working with a company that does not align with me I have to be willing to do things their way whether I agree or not, AND be willing to leave when I am tired of squeezing my foot in the shoe.

The reason it is important for me to create one “language” (knowledge, belief, and behavior) that speaks to the branding I want to be known for has everything to do with Chicago’s hideous news headlines. I have to speak this language in order to know what commitments I am married to and how my actions will affect this union.

Did you know that even gangs have bylaws and business plans? I ask myself, what language is being created during violent acts on sunny days that filled the best memories of my childhood?

Below is a link that discusses how language is used to shape violence in our society.


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I fear the loss of truth earned while playing Monopoly at the kitchen table on Friday nights with my brother, sister, mother, father and cousins.  


The truth earned while defending my face and body parts as jealous girls sought to hurt my spirit with lies and fists of low self worth.


Truth tattooed on my 36 C cups from the elementary boys that violated me with the ink of shame in the elementary cafeteria followed by the counselors color by numbers of disbelief.


I fear that my time has been monopolized to help me forget all that I know I knew.


I think that since my ancestors wanted education, the “powers that be” decided to put guidelines and degrees in place to reduce us from the path of truth and knowledge onto the roads of careers that distract from purpose.


I fear the loss of still time under dark suns and cloudy rainbows because my next appointment awaits me.


The discovery I missed because I did not trust it was mine to discover. I fear that loss….

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Posted by on March 18, 2011 in Poetry

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