Macarons, Memories & Melding

Mouth-watering Macarons that Made My Moments Memorable

My heart stopped. My mouth watered, and I had to refrain from jumping out of my skin. I couldn’t believe they made a special trip just for me after such a minor reference in passing conversation! This was no ordinary confection. This was a French macaron, a meringue-based masterpiece, infused with sophisticated flavors of culinary creativity, boasting a texture and taste that made me swoon!

Anne and Nancy were already among my warmest friends since my recent move to Colorado. From their compelling kindness to their fondness for fare, we were already bonding on numerous levels; but, this was unexpected. At a meet and greet where we were shooting the breeze, we tickled the topics of sweet treats. As they raved of the delicacies not far from Denver, I simply melted.

Savory selections like Black Peppercorn. Pleasure inducing Pistachio. Simply soothing Salted Caramel. Each made me sigh with satisfaction. I vowed to visit the haven soon, eager to explore the little luxuries. Yet, I didn’t anticipate upon our next meeting that they would come bearing gifts! It made me ponder…

So many times, when we’re among family and/or friends, we indulge in random conversations. Some seem minor, others intense, while a few may be simply forgettable. How often do we listen intently, with making it memorable in mind? When do we seize opportunities to couple our character with our caring – without it being tied to a special occasion?

When Anne and Nancy gifted me with my decadence from Honey B’s Macarons, I saw much more than a random snack. I recognized how intently they’d listened to our conversation; their desire to have me experience a pleasure they’d already known; their willingness to alter their schedule, add to their to do list, select the perfect combination and expend their resources to express their affections for our growing relationship. Imagine that.

Among my greatest excitements is finding ways to make others smile. Whether letters, cuisine, celebrations, or surprises, there’s nothing like spreading unanticipated joy! It’s different being on the receiving end. I was not prepared! But I was thrilled. It was a gesture turned joyful that has helped meld us together as even more than friends. For this and many other reasons, we are sisters.

Find a moment today to cement your kindness and love, by showing someone in a way that they didn’t expect. If you’re wondering how, just listen to their heart! What tickles their fancy? What makes them smile? Send a little sunshine – it will brighten your day. #macaronmagic #honeybsmacarons #meldingandmemories #carlamichelle #betheone #thankyouanneandnancy

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To Infinity & Beyond

The Last Love to Make Our Hearts Melt – To Infinity & Beyond

My eyes flutter and my heart skips a beat when I see the dimple sinking into his cheek. A tiny mouth now utters giant words, and a pint-size body houses a personality that overwhelms us all. While I’m enjoying every moment, it comes with a tinge of pain – because there’s a very selfish part of me that wants him not to grow! Can I keep him in a picture frame that freezes his fervor forever?

When I look at the two year old that will soon be three, next to the giant thirteen year old that will be fourteen during the same month, I ask myself, “Where did the time go?” I already want to click rewind. All four of them seem to be slipping into manhood. I am ever reminded that I love each of them to infinity and beyond. Is it possible to slow down the time? In some ways, the answer is, “Yes.”

The closer I get to being half a century (smile), and the more I watch loved ones cross over into eternity, the more acutely I am aware of how precious time is. My body gives me other reminders of course. Unprecedented aches and pains; a stomach that’s not quite as tolerant of the extreme eats it was in high school and college, and here lately, I find words that I’m reading becoming much clearer as I push text away. I put on a pair of reading glasses in a drug store and was frightened to see my grandmother staring back at me.

Nevertheless, it compelled me to examine quite a few things. Among them was treasuring the relationships that mean the most – my children, my spouse, my family, my friends and most of all, my faith which composes my relationship with Him.

I’m convinced that our lives are the sum of many choices. What intrigues me is how many we make that we regret later. I often asked myself, “If the older me could go back and talk to the younger me, what would she say?” Since I consider myself an old soul, I decided to think forward, and apply it now.

I’ve determined to make more time to read stories. Write until my heart’s content. Go to as many games as possible. Listen to the adventures that they think are exciting which may sound crazy and/or boring to me – because it means something to them.

Take pictures every day. Eat at the table as a family in the no-devices zone. Laugh and laugh and laugh about anything and everything. Don’t be afraid to talk about the stuff that seems hard, and always find something new to love about the one I fell in love with.

As much as I adore many things about my life, I don’t always love things I see in the world around me. I feel the hate, the heartache, the heinous and the horrendous. It pains me deeply to know there is so much duress and so many who desire to inflict injury among the innocent.

I pray daily and earnestly for protection and providence, practical knowledge and patience, because I do believe that there is One love that can conquer every evil. In the meantime, I choose to share love with those who deserve it – and even those who don’t. Among them are the ones I love the most – to infinity and beyond.

Cherish your moments to love. They usually disappear far sooner than we’re ready.

#tooinfinityandbeyond #fivebabiesfourboys #IlovetolovetheonesIlovethemost #Iknowthegreatestloveofall #carlamichelle #speakerlife

Brilliance in Spite of Bullying & Brokenness

Celebrated Athlete Turquoise Burroughs Uses Faith & Fervor to Overcome Obstacles

In recent months, I’ve been overwhelmingly grieved to learn of young children who’ve been compelled to tragically end their lives. Bullying – in person, in e-mails and in social-media (and at all ages) – has heightened at an alarming rate with many families feeling devastated and helpless.

After reading about yet another student that was only 9 yrs. old who recently took her life, I was quickly reminded of a conversation I had with an esteemed athlete and record-breaking track star who shared her own heart-wrenching story of being subjected to coarse and unkind actions. Her challenges not only showed parallels in many of their stories, but offered insights into how to thrive amidst bullying and brokenness.

While many 5 yr. old girls are incomparably excited about Kindergarten and playmates, Turquoise was beginning an adventure as a member of the track team that was spearheaded by her parents. Setting records locally and abroad, she quickly proved to be a fiery contender.

As a dedicated athlete, she pursued her love into middle school and high school. Initially believing she was embraced by peers, she later recognized she was targeted for bullying. At its worst, she was even placed in a life threatening situation with a fellow team member and was later banned from participating in the sport as a result of a coordinated plan to bar her from competing.

Nevertheless, Turquoise persevered with unwavering passion. When life seemed to throw hurdles into her path, her parents and her faith provided the strength that she needed to soar past each one of them with greater resolve than before. She outperformed her rivals while breaking records, silenced the naysayers without saying a word, and amidst her most challenging year, still mesmerized scouts, cementing a full ride scholarship to UCLA.

Her successes were frequent, and her travels were many. Her personal performance catapulted her to Trinidad, Jamaica, Brussels, Hungary and the Cayman Islands among others, and her talents led her to compete with athletic heavyweights and to be trained by icons like Bob Kersey (husband of famed athlete, Jackie Joyner Kersey).

With the Olympics in mind, she set her sights on the highest goals. Debuting with the same diligence she’d committed to the sport throughout her life, she was devastated to discover a fierce contender in her personal life – debilitating bouts with Sickle Cell Anemia. Her original goals there remained out of reach, so she later determined to change her path in a new, positive direction.

Turquoise experienced heartbreaking setbacks and was crushed by experiences from unhealthy relationships. Nevertheless, she bathed her thoughts in Bible study, processed her life with prayer and maintained open and extensive communication with her parents who became her personal heroes.

Anchored by these ideals, she was able to transition into inspiring and motivating others through various industries, blogging, speaking and social media. Still an American sweetheart, she reminds audiences everywhere that bullies are not to be believed. Their actions should be conveyed and countered with the help of the appropriate authorities.

She also expresses that though life may leave you feeling broken, an unfailing faith and supportive family remind you that you are beautiful and loved. Turquoise has a timeless testimony that illustrates to everyone that their is hope even with heartache. Celebrate your successes and never forget, there’s always a better way.

#listentothequietvoices #rememberyouareloved #faceyourfearswithfaithandfervor #turquoiseburroughs #trackstar #trendsetter #lifechampion #catchyourdreams #carlamichelle #speakerlife

Celebrate The Simple, The Serene & The Surreal

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A look into the past of anyone who had love for their grandparents would yield a wealth of fond recollections. Old stories. New loves. Precious memories, and something that for many of us may seem uncommon these days – a little peace. Nevertheless, it sheds light on an imperative we often overlook – the importance of celebrating the simple and the serene. In hindsight, it today feels…surreal.

I am one of those who nestles into the nostalgia when I see things that remind me of the grandmother who helped raise me. Deep in the South, her vignettes of Memphis, Tennessee’s sun drenched summer days and wonderful watermelon patches filled my heart with excitement and envy. Born near the turn of the century, she certainly endured her heart-wrenching struggles: ostracism, racism, classicism and unthinkable tragedies. While she educated me on the inhumane and the importance of kindness, she never failed to overshadow her obstacles with stories of her optimism.

Life today is filled with challenges. Change is a constant, but it seems, so is trouble. When I find myself at a loss for the ills I see in the world, I remind myself that among the simplest solutions – is love. The most special, I believe, comes from the Father. It is this simple and unique love that I believe will ultimately be the answer to the problems that are otherwise, inexplicable. It is this love, this solution, that I celebrate. It is grounded in simplicity. It leaves me serene, and when I compare it to all of the failed solutions that so many have tried to devise on their own, it seems surreal.

I wish at times that I could fix the world’s problems. I haveth not the capability to do so; but what I can help, I do. When I can alleviate pain, I try. I’m convinced the most powerful thing I can do, is pray, and endeavor to demonstrate in my own choices how to show love in a world that is too often unkind. As you consider who and what you treasure, remember not to get lost in the chaos of conflict. Instead, reflect on the simple – those things that are often the purest sources of our joy. Find your serenity in knowing that one day, things will be better than they’ve ever been. It won’t be surreal then. It’ll be a reality! #keepliving #keeploving #keeppraying #Hecanfixanything #dreamcatcher #carlamichelle #speakerlife #Istillhavehope #gettoknowHim

From Loathed to Loved…

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I listened in amazement as the seasoned educator recalled her traumatic, classroom experience. Despite the years that had transpired since she’d been in first grade, her memory was as vivid as if it had occurred the day before. Her shared sentiments were in response to the inquiry, “What were your best and worst experiences with math as staff or student?” Her recollection was heart-wrenching.

“I didn’t understand subtraction at all, although I tried my best. My teacher gave me a worksheet with a hundred subtraction problems. I guessed on everyone, but I was never sure. My tears led to holes in my paper as I peered out of the window and saw my friends enjoying recess. My dad was a math teacher, and my mom taught special ed(ucation); but, at six years old, I was already done. “

On so many occasions, the most traumatic encounters are those that occur in childhood. Replete with intense emotion, upsetting moments can affect us for the rest of our lives. As I facilitated this mathematics training for teachers, it was clear that many of the unfavorable experiences had charred their confidence in math during their formative years. Nevertheless, their pain fueled their commitment to change outcomes for their own students now.

I’m pleased to say that the former saddened six-year old met a lovely interventionist the following year named Mrs. Freeman. She took her from where she was and guided her to mastering math so well that she was the highest performing student in her class. Today, she uses that same fervor to keep other children from experiencing the anguish she did. Her expertise serves to teach them to love what she once loathed.

Here, we shared a common bond! My heart is what catalyzes my excitement in empowering our future generations. I’m convinced that school should not be a place where you are stressed, worn and weary. Whether educated in a formal building or a house hold living room, learning should elicit excitement, intrigue, discovery and an appreciation for the divine.

When you couple your passion with your profession, you can remove the stigma that others may feel who simply don’t understand the essence of your efforts. Cultivate your craft with excellence in mind, and you can exchange what is loathed for what is loved. Class is in session (smile)! Teach them well…

#pursueyourpassion #eachoneteachone #fromloathedtoloved #dreamcatchers #carlamichelle #speakerlife

A Love Like This…

Yata’s Love for Community Resonates from Aspiration to Action

I am elated, excited, enthused and enamored when I see this scene early in the morning. They are two of my favorite people! Now, as I’m 5’2″ and 118 lbs., Yata looks like an Olympian to me. The football fanatic, fitness guru and trainer I’ll now be seeing every weekend (for FREE, message me!) could easily be a hard core coach that leaves you breathless; but, his careful steps and kind demeanor in this picture convey a message that is very different.

The decorative accoutrements are not his own. He’s holding her handbags while gently guiding Georgia to her seat. It’s an admirable, weekly routine that includes bringing her in from the door in the back because it’s much easier than the steps out front. They have a special bond. Not only is it grounded in honesty and integrity, but it transcends generational boundaries. Their relationship is powered by something unrivaled by any other expression: faith-based love.

I can’t help but notice a pattern I see in corporations, campuses, churches and communities everywhere. Many of our matriarchs are maturing. Often, our gifted gentlemen are graying, and though they possess endless treasure troves of knowledge, wisdom, experiences and expertise, we don’t seize meaningful moments often enough to live and laugh with and learn from them- especially in our younger generations.

Among the relationships I prized the most was growing up with my grandmother. From her Southern sass to her incomparable compassion, sitting at her feet (and in front of her late night TV shows) was among my favorite past times. She was my coach and my confidant. My in-house comedian and my constructive critic. And as I consider the world in which I live today without her, I’m reminded of what we need more than anything else – a love like this.

Yata is one of many whose love is grounded in a faith that I find most comforting at Crosspoint Community Church. There, I see potential opportunities turn into practical realities! Next generations can become future leaders, shaped by the seasoned and the savvy to share love with communities near and far. This gives me hope! In a nation that’s hurting and in need of healing, I pray pictures like this will be everywhere. Because I love a love like this.

#priceless #myloveforChrist #crosspointcommunity #faithbasedlove #loveforcountry #loveforcommunity #oneofmyfavoritepairs #thankyouyata #happymlkday #drkingwouldbeproud #whattheworldneedsnowislove #alovelikethis

Hone What You Heart

What Happens When Heart Work Meets Honing

When I met Heather nearly a decade ago, I couldn’t resist the decadent chocolate chunk cookies still warm from the oven that beckoned me to her 2nd grade classroom. She was an amazing baker who was in the kitchen at her leisure. However, her tasty treats were in high demand – even though she was an educator by profession.

Fast-forward to present, she decided to pursue her passion and transition from casual cooking to premier pastry chef – and the results have been oh-so-sweet! Her heart work has earned her prime real estate in Nordstrom’s, coffee shops, universities, and a host of clients from small business and single patrons to corporate giants. She’s easily a culinary contender!

Collaborating with her regularly for presentations in my speaking career, I’ve enjoyed many powerful lessons from her journey. Chief among them is “Hone What You Heart.” Heather has not only poured her passion into each product, but she educates herself about her craft, the industry, contemporary trends and classical culinary insights that give her a one of a kind competitive edge.

So often, we find ourselves interested in and/or intrigued by things in which we could easily lose ourselves; but, if you find it to be more meaningful than menial, what are you doing to master it? If others consider you to be the “go-to” or “resident expert” for what you do well, find out how you can enhance your acumen to be the best.  If you’re an entrepreneur, maximize your potential by staying abreast of what’s happening in the industry. Add a healthy dose of your ingenuity to show what sets you apart from everyone else.

Does this require you to own your own business? Not at all. This applies to foundations, community entities, worthy causes, professionals, and even personal preferences. I met a lovely lady recently whose cookie couture parallels the industry’s finest – but, she donates all of her proceeds to worthy causes. Her passion isn’t profit, but partnering with those who can positively impact the lives of others.

Whatever you determine to commit yourself to, reward yourself – and others – by honing your craft to match the intensity of your passion. Learn more. Work smarter. Push farther – even when difficult – and savor the scent of sweet success! You may be surprised at the difference it makes. Hone what you heart! #heatherdavis #mychicsweetscom #allheartwork #simplydelicious