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OPTIMAL-LIVINGMAGAZINE.COM MAY/JUNE 2012

TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A SAVED BLACK MAN Who Will Cry For the Little Boy Trayvon Martin? The Wifey 101 Series

Before You Say I Do, Think On This Relationship Expert, Hasani Pettiford from the TV ONE Series, Love Addiction Gives Relationship Advice for the Marriage Minded

MUCH MORE!


CONTENTS Before You Say I Do, Think On This... BY HASANI PETTIFORD

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In this photo: Hasani and Danielle Pettiford

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CONTENTS

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06 PURPOSE DRIVEN LIVING TIPS 07 HARVEST MATTERS 08 Before You Say I Do, Think On This... 12 TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A SAVED BLACK MAN 14 THE WIFEY 101 SERIES

16 LIFESTYLES 17 CAREER & LEADERSHIP INSIGHT 18 POETIC MOMENTS 19 THE SPICES OF LIFE RECIPES 20 A TIME OF INTERCESSION 21 OPTIMAL LIVING ABUNDANT LIFE PLEDGE

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THE PUBLISHER’S PERSPECTIVE USING WISDOM IN OUR EVERYDAY LIVES...

OUR STAFF PUBLISHER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tanisha R. Hopson

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efore we endeavor to do anything in our lives, we must first use wisdom. Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” For this reason, I believe that if we would renew our minds daily with the Word of God and focus on God’s principles, we can go further than we ever imagined! When you consider embarking on a new road in your life, you must take the time to count the costs, fully understand what you are walking into, and implement a plan to be successful in it. Life is filled with ups and downs. Therefore, it is good to anticipate change and plan to make the proper adjustments in your life. You must take the proper time to pray, believe and receive God’s best for your life. However, in the interim, you must do the necessary homework and get yourself together to properly go where God is leading you. I believe all inspiration to do awesome things in our lives comes from God. Therefore, whether you are starting a new business, thinking of branching out into a new career, or planning to join your beloved in matrimony, you must use faith and wisdom to successfully arrive at the next best place God has for you! This month’s issue features relationship expert, Hasani Pettiford from the new TV One series, Love Addiction. Mr. Pettiford will discuss a few key points we should consider before we take the next steps down the road to marriage. I pray that this issue will be insightful, engaging, and thought provoking for your next steps in life! Walk in His Peace!

Tanisha R. Hopson

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ASSISTANT TO THE PUBLISHER Advertisement - Subscriptions - Circulation Christine Davis EDITORS Roberta Shannon Laketa Lewis Media Design Layout RNA PRoMOTIONAL DESIGN CONCEPTS CONTRIBUTORS Alana B. Rose Belk Marsha Carroll Kayren Cathcart Rhonda Feimster Christoph Jenkins Hasani Pettiford Rhonda York Optimal Living Magazine is published six times per year with a mission is to encourage our readers to live the most abundant life possible as it relates to their spirituality, purpose, careers, finances and relationships. Advertisers who offer products, services and events in support of our mission are encouraged to contact our Advertisement Sales Department at: 1-888-876-1722 or adsales@optimal-livingmagazine.com. © Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication maybe reproduced in any form, including photocopying, electronic retrieval of publication without written permission of the Publisher.


PURPOSE DRIVEN LIVING TIPS THE POWER OF PURPOSE BY KAYREN J. CATHCART Understanding and knowing your purpose is the pathway to fulfilling your destiny. Each person has a divine purpose that he or she has been set apart to manifest. Do you know your purpose? When an individual knows his or her true identity, it shows. This person is often confidently assured of who they are and what kinds of elements they will allow into their lives. There are many examples illustrated in the Bible of people who either arrived on the scene knowing why they were created, or through the course of life, discovered their guiding purpose for being on the planet. For instance, Jeremiah received personal assurance from God that he was equipped to take on the tasks appointed to him, despite his age. The prophetess, Deborah provided much needed insight for a great national victory during wartime; she was a well-respected and honorable woman in a male-dominated society. Joseph was destined for greatness and achieved it - regardless of the “haters” within his family. Esther delivered her people from utter destruction - by her obedience, wisdom, dedication to prayer, and willingness to take a risk. And Mary was hand-selected to bring forth God’s greatest gift - above all others. The list goes on and on. However, I have good news: you are included in this list! Whenever you examine, discover, and embrace your

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purpose, the heart’s cry, “Why am I here, Lord?” is inevitably addressed. As a person of faith, you may often reflect on the fact that you have been given the priceless gift of life - and with that, a certain amount of time (your life span) is allotted for you to fulfill the purpose God created just for you. In Luke 16, Jesus told the story of a rich man with a servant who got “called on the carpet.” His master confronted him, “Give an account of your stewardship!” When this man realized his position was in jeopardy, he immediately got busy being productive for his master’s benefit. Each of us faces a similar moment of truth today. When God glimpses at you, does He see you fervently serving Him - or your own interests? He expects His faithful children to commit to using the gifts He entrusted to them (time, talent, energy, skills, abilities, etc.) to profit and promote His Kingdom. Over 2,000 years later, Jesus’ life holds a legacy that we continue to benefit from. Are your actions today creating a legacy that will bless those who look beneath the surface of your life? Power in action will cause you to be a wise investor and not a resource waster! Knowing your purpose and your power will assist you to select the activities in which you choose to

participate, influence where you decide to invest your time, and impact the people you allow to sow into your life. During your personal time of meditation, consider reading Psalm 139:13-16 and Isaiah 49:1-5 to appreciate the fact that you were designed for a specific purpose. Greatness lies within YOU. Tap in and allow God to powerfully direct your purpose; it will make a difference in your life. After all, walking in your purpose with power is what Optimal Living is all about. Kayren Cathcart Articulately, energetically, and creatively, dedicated to helping others enhance their personal effectiveness through spiritual growth and leadership development. Kayren and her husband Gibson are both licensed ministers who reside in Charlotte, North Carolina with their two exuberant children. The author of an outstanding inspirational book entitled, Court Etiquette: Approaching the King’s Throne and a blog: Observations on Daily Life for Spiritual Growth (www.kayrencathcart.wordpress.com) When Kayren isn’t writing, she enjoys ministering in song, as well as, through mime and liturgical dance.


HARVEST MATTERS

ESTABLISHING CREDIT WITH PRUDENCE BY MARSHA CARROLL Establishing credit is another way to become financially independent and remain a faithful steward of the blessings that God has bestowed upon you. If you currently do not have a history of borrowing in terms of a student loan, a mortgage, or a credit card, you do not have an established credit history. While being debt free is a good thing, not having a credit history is frequently viewed as a negative in the world of FICO scores. Therefore, if and when you decide to make a large purchase such as a car or home, doing so may prove to be difficult because you do not have the verification necessary to show a potential creditor that you can be trusted with a large sum of money. Fortunately, a lack of a credit history is another issue that can be addressed through taking easy but deliberate steps towards your goal. First, confirm that you indeed do not have established credit. This can be done by requesting a copy

of your credit report through one of the three major credit bureausEquifax, Experian and TransUnion. By contacting these agencies individually or by going directly to www.annualcreditreport.com, you will be able to see how your social security number has ever been used or requested for financial purposes. Even if you do have established credit, you should implement this practice as part of your personal financial management, in order to ensure that your credit is in good condition at all times. The next step involves submitting an application for a line of credit. This can be done by applying for a credit card from a department store, or even a gas card which will display the Visa or Mastercard logo. This route is easier for those who do not have established credit, as they are less likely to be denied. Most credit cards from the above mentioned providers usually offer a limited line of credit

(generally in the $200-$500 range); however, that should be enough as you slowly work towards establishing a documented pattern of fiscal responsibility. After being approved for one of the previously mentioned cards, be sure to use it wisely, paying down (or paying off) your balance every month on time. By doing so, you show the creditor that you are responsible with the line of credit that you have been given. Remember, you are trying to build a good credit history; do not allow yourself to become reckless with money that does not belong to you. Develop a plan of discipline and only spend what you can afford to pay back at the end of the month. And, last but certainly not least, do not get yourself into a bind by applying for too many credit cards at once. Each time you apply for a credit card, your credit score is lowered by varying degrees because of the financial inquiry. Credit scores range from the low end of 300 and can be as high as 850. Due to the fact that you do not have established credit, your score is likely to be on the lower end of the scale. Therefore, too many inquiries can potentially damage your already fragile financial grade. A good credit history can be empowering and provide access to things you want and need such as a home or a car. However, credit can also create a culture of enslavement if you do not exercise wisdom when using it. As always, consult a financial professional, who is usually available at your local bank or financial institution, for more information on what would work best for your economic situation.

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BEFORE YOU SAY I DO, THINK ON THIS… BY HASANI PETTIFORD

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s Americans, we live in a society that is fascinated by the idea of a wedding ceremony. Much thought and planning goes into the selection of the bridal gown, color scheme, wedding cake, reception hall, guest list, bridal party, honeymoon, gift registry, and a whole lot more. It’s quite amazing how the average Americans spends approximately twelve months planning their wedding and only 3-4 hours preparing for their marriage. Marriage is one of the most important seasons in your life. It contains unique and interesting potential. As one bright optimist put it, “Marriage is the only game of chance in town where both players can win or both lose!” Interestingly, much of the success that a couple

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experiences in their marriage is often determined by what they do before they say “I Do.” Unfortunately, both engaged and newlywed couples often make the mistake of thinking that love is all that is required to ensure a great marriage. It is this very mindset that leads countless couples down the slippery slope of marital decline. While love is an important component in a relationship, it is often not enough to ensure its success. If you are considering walking down the aisle in the near future, you need to think about marriage from a very non-emotional and non-romantic perspective. Why? There will be seasons within your marriage


when you don’t feel in love or very romantic. So, it is important that there is a firm foundation that carries you through your dry season. So, before you say “I Do”, think on these things…

EXPECTATIONS Every person who marries enters the marriage relationship with certain expectations. These expectations come from many sources, including parents, values, society, books, speakers, and our own ideas. It is important to take the time to find out what these expectations are, which can be achieved, which are realistic, and how to handle them when things do not go according to plans.

the relationship. Goals are vital, for unless you have something in mind that you want to work toward or achieve, you will not get very far. It is essential that the following topics receive careful consideration: family planning, continuing education, career paths, parenting methods, finances, faith and religion. These topics can be liberating or be a point of contention within your marriage. Open and honest dialogue concerning these matters will give you true insight as to what kind of a person your partner truly is.

FULFILLING NEEDS IN YOUR MARRIAGE

A husband might expect his wife to be at the door when he arrives home, always to be at home and never work, and to have sex with him whenever he wants it. A wife might expect her husband to go to her parent’s house with her whenever she goes, to be the spiritual leader in their home, and to spend Saturdays at home and not out working.

One of the motivating factors for marriage is the fulfillment of needs in one’s life. It is admirable to say that we are marrying the other person in order to help him fulfill his needs; but, to be very honest, we hope and believe that our needs will be met also. In marriage counseling we find that one of the major complaints couples bring up is that of not having their needs met.

A great exercise would be to take out a sheet of paper and write down 10 things you expect your spouse to do once you’re married and have your partner do the same. Then write down 10 expectations you think your spouse will have for you in marriage. The best way to overcome disappointment is to clearly communicate your expectations, hopes and dreams before the wedding.

Often one partner is attempting to meet the needs of the other, but doesn’t always know what the needs are, or exactly how to meet them. Some have asked, “Doesn’t it take the romance out of the marriage if you have to tell the other person exactly what you need?” Not really... In fact, it can increase the romance, since your spouse won’t have to play the game of mind reading and try to figure out what you need and what you want!

A VISION STATEMENT A good way to stay together for a long time is to establish a vision statement for your marriage. A vision statement would have specific goals. Vision could be described as foresight, with the significance of possessing a keen awareness of current circumstances and possibilities and of the value of learning from the past. Having a vision for your marriage is having a realistic dream for what you, your spouse, and your marriage can become under God’s direction. Less than three percent of married couples have set goals for their marriage which often arrests the development of

Failure to meet, identify, understand and meet the most important emotional needs of your partner is a surefire way to fall out of love and harbor feelings of neglect within your marriage. One of your primary responsibilities as a mate is to focus your attention on pleasing your partner on a daily basis.

ROLES, RESPONSIBILITIES AND DECISION MAKING What about the question of roles and responsibilities in marriage? Who does what and why? Failure to clarify husband/wife roles in the relationship is a major

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“While love is an important component in a relationship, it is often not enough to ensure its success.”

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cause of marital disruption. As a couple, you will be involved in an almost endless number of activities and responsibilities. Each couple should discuss together and decide who is most competent to do each task. Tasks should not be assigned on the basis of parental example, the expectations of your social group, or tradition. When an individual’s abilities, training, and temperament make it difficult or unnecessary to follow an established cultural norm for a role, the couple will need to have the strength to establish their own style of working together. It is imperative that a couple deliberately and mutually develop the rules and guidelines for their relationship as husband and wife. This clear assignment of authority and responsibility does not create a rigid relationship but allows flexibility and order in what could be a chaotic mess. Typically, wives are accountable for cooking, bill paying, child care, changing diapers, laundry, grocery shopping, assisting with homework, dropping kids off, school involvement, clothes shopping, household chores, doctor’s appointments, holiday planning, care giving, and a whole lot more. This unequal distribution of labor within the marriage often creates resentment, anger, depression, and emotional detachment from the husband. So, to maintain a healthy balance of labor within the marriage, roles and responsibilities must clearly be discussed.

FINANCES Before heading down the aisle it is a smart move to discuss how you will manage your money within the marriage. By having frank discussions now, you may be able to prevent any number of surprises down the road. To begin, it’s always important to learn about a person’s spending habits. One person may spend a lot more than the other is comfortable with, and that’s one reason we recommend being clear with one another from the beginning about your lifestyle expectations and creating some version of a household budget.
 Do you have a budget? Budgets aren’t mandatory, but spending less than you make is key to a healthy financial future. If your intended mate doesn’t have a budget, ask whether he saves for emergencies or

ever runs out of money before the end of the month. If so, how is that handled? If she does have a budget, find out whether she sticks to it or just uses it as a guideline that can be undone by the first shoe sale. Get transparent and share your most vulnerable assets: your credit report. Credit reports tell a story. They show how much debt you have outstanding and whether you’ve paid on time. A bad credit report isn’t necessarily a deal breaker if your partner’s woes stem from the loss of a job, illness or the like. But if the report turns up troubles that are news to you, you’d be wise to dig further before merging your financial lives. Discussions on separate vs. joint bank accounts, investments, taxes, outstanding debts, estate planning, big ticket expenditures, unexpected expenses, and leisure spending are crucial to the success of your marriage.

CONCLUSION Marriage is an important step in a person’s life and having a relationship that’s built to last doesn’t have to be an arduous task. With the proper planning and preparation it can be a wonderful journey that reaps continuous rewards. So, before you decide to walk down the aisle, begin to build a solid foundation that will take you into eternal marital bliss. HASANI PETTIFORD As an award-winning author and speaker, Hasani Pettiford has an appeal that transcends barriers of age, culture and occupation. For over a decade Mr. Pettiford has been a recognized authority on human sexuality, interpersonal relationships, and personal growth and development. Hasani has directly impacted the lives of many nationwide with his best-selling books and speaking engagements. Much of Mr. Pettiford’s work has been featured in major media outlets, including national publications, television and radio programs. Mr. Pettiford is the current Relationship Expert on the TVOne Series, Love Addiction which airs every Wednesday night at 8 pm EST, from April – June 2012. For more information about booking Mr. Pettiford for your next event, visit: www.hasani.com.

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TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A SAVED BLACK MAN GOD’S WILL…GOD’S WAY! BY CHRISTOPH JENKINS “Where ever His Will is, there is the way!” These are words to live by. I recognize the similarity in the saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way!” The problem with the latter is the lack of specificity. When one is in discovery of their purpose in life, specifics and attention to detail are important. It is not enough for there to simply be a will…because a will is most nearly described as a driving force. When there is a driving force, there is a way in which that driving force will attempt to lead you. So for me, I refuse to allow just anyone’s will or driving force lead me in the wrong the direction. The two vital questions that this quote/cliché doesn’t answer is, “Who’s Will is it and in what direction is this way leading me. We all know that this world we live in has a plethora of driving forces. These driving forces are affectionately and unfortunately known as temptations. Therefore, there will always be a will. In turn, there will always be a way! The question one must ask him

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or herself is, “Do I have the wisdom and wherewithal to determine if this will that is so generously offering a way is God’s way?” That is the question! Romans 12:2 says this, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.” God’s will for our lives has everything to do with our purpose and our purpose has everything to do with our gifts and passions. It is because of this belief system, after years of searching that I recently discovered my passion for writing. For as long as I could remember, I figured writing was just a hobby. It wasn’t until a very good friend of mine passed away with cancer did I recognize that writing was what I was meant to do. Although my friend Justin was only 25 years old when


he passed, he left a great legacy. When I asked myself, “What do I want to leave this world with? What has God blessed me with that will afford me the ability to touch lives even after I’m gone?” It was simple. After 29 years of searching and praying, I discovered my passion by asking myself what I wanted my legacy to be. As soon as I committed to lining the pursuit of my passion with God’s plan for my life, He began opening doors I never thought existed. I wrote a poem about the Trayvon Martin case called, “Who Will Cry For the Little Boy, Trayvon Martin?” and posted it to my blog. It went viral that very same day. The next day, I received a tweet from the coordinators of the very first rally in DC for Trayvon Martin. They asked me if I could share the poem I wrote at the rally. Ever since then, I’ve had the esteemed privilege of sharing this poem that I wrote from the heart at seven different events for Trayvon Martin across the DC metropolitan area. It all happened so quickly and I am so humbled. Reflection: Thank you, Lord God, for the gift that you decided to give me. Thank you for the idea you gave me. I recognize now that the idea was more of an assignment from you than an idea that I came up with. Thank you for blessing me with the courage and strength to carry out that assignment. I avail myself to you because I subscribe to your Word and believe you what you said in Jeremiah 29:11, ”For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Thank you! Amen!

CHRISTOPH JENKINS (www.christopheducates.com) is a writer, tutor, mentor, and entrepreneur. Christoph is now in the process of writing his first book titled, “Seoul of a Black Man”, chronicling his experiences living and teaching in South Korea. He has also started a new blog titled ChristophWrites. Visit Christoph’s blog at: www.christophwrites.blogspot.com and follow him on twitter @ItsChristophJ.

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THE WIFEY

SERIES

DOES IT REALLY TAKE ALL THAT? BY ROSE BELK

The toilet seat is up! Socks were left in his shoes again. Clothes are lying all over the bedroom. You can tell when he comes home because of the trail he leaves from the front door all the way to the kitchen! This time you are “fed up.” You will tell him about himself too because you never expected the man you married to act like a little boy. He does not pick up behind himself and wants you to wait on him hand and foot. So the argument begins and by the time it ends, you have called him lazy, no good, and childish. (Hint: One thing a man does not like is to be called “childish”.) On the other hand, your husband argues that the toilet seat is always down and he can leave his clothes where he likes because it is his home also. He says you always complain about everything; you are too controlling and overbearing. He is tired of you and tired of dealing with your issues. This argument is a no- win situation as long as both parties choose to take their own sides. Each one wants his way and does not want to be the first to admit that “this is very petty”. There are three stages to an argument and by the time this one is over, it has taken on all three of them – mild aggravation to moderate anger, to becoming extremely infuriated. When a concern BEGINS to escalate

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from mild aggravation, it is time to stop. Say to your spouse, “Now is really not a good time for us to discuss this. I am getting angry and I know that is not good.” Go to opposite corners and cool off. During that time, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Some years ago, during financial difficulty, my husband and I argued a lot. Our disagreements always ended in shouting matches. Iwas the one shouting though. My husband is a very mild mannered man and not easily upset over anything. He has a quiet strength and tried his best to choose his words carefully. (I have learned a lot from him). Instead of joining in the fight, he would try to talk reasonably. When that did not work, he would just simply not talk at all. That made me even angrier. On the inside, I thought he wasn’t fighting for me or comforting me the way he should.

We have been married now for thirty-three years and have learned so much about each other and what makes our marriage work. The first thing we learned is to have respect for one another. That is key. After all, he is not just my husband, he is also my brother in Christ and I am his sister in Christ. We are held accountable for the way we treat God’s children and each other. That has helped us to always use common courtesies like “thank you”, “you are welcomed”, “I apologize” and “please”. Secondly, decide if your argument is TRULY worth bringing up. Step back; see if it will benefit BOTH of you. If not, leave it alone. Thirdly, if it is a true concern, pick the right time to discuss it. And then say “honey, I would like to talk to you about something that is very important to me. When is a good time for you?” Over dinner is usually a good time or on your weekly date. Fourthly, stay calm and in control. Allow the Lord to do His work. And

lastly, ask your spouse for their opinion concerning the matter. Be willing to accept his or her input. So, does it really take all of that? What we say and how we say it can set the course for our life. Proverbs 18:21 states, “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” With our words we build and with our words we can tear down. They determine where we will be in years to come. We must use them wisely to keep our marriages strong and healthy. It really takes all that!

ROSE BELK is a multi-talented wife, mother, minister, and Gospel recording artist. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Rose is the founder of Rose Belk Ministries. She has released two CD projects titled, My Song of Praise in 2000 and Simply Rose – Nothing But Praise in 2007.

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LIFESTYLES

BON BINI TO ARUBA!!! BY ROBERTA SHANNON

car service or the public bus. Many of its attractions include Arikok National Park, the Butterfly Farm, Aruba Historical Museum, Access Art Gallery. You will also find golf, horseback riding, spas, and an array of water sports. Since most of the hotels are along J.E. Irausquin Blvd. I found the bus to be quite convenient to access the downtown area, or shall I say, “Shopper’s Paradise”. Roundtrip bus service is $2.30 from the hotels to downtown Oranjestad. You definitely cannot beat those prices coming from the States. You will definitely find some bargains at the various shops and markets downtown. Do not think all prices are written in stone. The goal of the merchants is to sell so most prices are negotiable to some degree.

If you have never been to Aruba, you are definitely missing out on paradise. It is pure refreshing from the time you arrive to the time you leave. In order to gain entry, you will need a valid passport (or visa sticker), a completed (and signed) Embarkation and Disembarkation card (ED-card); a return or onward ticket and proof of valid reservation of accommodations. Don’t worry the Customs agent are not as mean as they look – they are at work. One word of caution: If you lose your ED card you cannot leave the island, so I was told. After the first day, I was ready to take up residence and have my mail forwarded to that tropical paradise! Aruba, in the heart of Caribbean, is known for its white beaches, blue-green waters, watapana trees, and trade winds. Having a population of approximately 120,000 residents, Aruba represent over 80 different nationalities. The Aruban

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people are the true essence and greatest asset of Aruba. I have never met more genuinely nice and cordial individuals until I visited there. They are very resourceful and will make you feel right at home. As one local told me, “We take great pride in our country. Unemployment is low and the streets are extremely clean.” Well, I never got the stranger’s name, but he spoke the truth. Aruba has the highest rate of return in the Caribbean. Over 800,000 visitors travel to this paradise annually. The official language of Aruba is Dutch, but many people are fluent in English and Spanish. The Aruban florin (AWG) is the official currency. One US dollar is approximately 1.79AWG. There are so many activities to partake in during your stay and getting around will be no problem. You will have your choice of tour agents, renting a car, taxis,

Aruba offers a diverse selection of accommodations along its beaches. Each resort offers its own charm and amenities. To get a decent meal, you will have your choice of hotel restaurants, Aruban restaurants, international franchises, snack trucks, and deli shops. As with anything, recommendations are important whenever taking a vacation. The locals will refer you to good restaurants and each hotel has a directory of the entire restaurants on the island. One little thing I did find out after I left was that hotel prices drop 20%-50% after April 15. Peak season for Aruba is December 15 – April 15. As for my experience, I went on a spare of the moment decision. I booked my trip three weeks from my October departure. I stayed at the Westin Resort & Casino and ate dinner at the little deli shop up the road. So, if you have never been to Aruba, I highly recommend that you visit. For more information about planning a trip, visit: www.aruba.com or www.aruba4u.com.


CAREER & LEADERSHIP INSIGHT

ARE YOU THE PROBLEM OR THE SOLUTION IN THE WORKPLACE? BY RHONDA YORK How do you become part of the solution and be a valuable employee to your company? The solution to the problem is more important than where the problem originated. Stop blaming other people and start finding the answers today. The following is a list to assist with becoming a better person in the workplace: • Work hard, honestly and with integrity • Listen fully to your colleagues, really hearing what they’re saying. Truly connect with them.

• Learn to communicate openly and frequently. Stop assuming you know the answers or what the other person is thinking. Ask them what they are thinking and for their thoughts. Get the facts.

Several of my corporate coaching clients have shared with me their frustration with their employees. Their complaint is that the employees seem unmotivated and dissatisfied with their jobs. We are all aware of what dire state our economy has been in this past year. To add unhappy, complaining, disgruntled employees to the stress makes the CEOs’ react like a spewing volcano. They think everyone should just be happy they have a job and are still getting a paycheck. While this thought process may be a little cold, there is some validity to their frustration. With the talent pool being as wide and deep as it is these days with people looking for employment, those employed need to be asking themselves; What makes me so special and valuable to my employer that they would want to continue paying me for the job I do? If you answered, I deserve it; I have been

here 10+ years; the boss is my friend, etc – employees beware. Someone is out there that would love to have the opportunity to take your place and prove they are better at the job than you are. They would love to be bringing home your paycheck. What’s a person to do? The answer is simple – be part of the solution and NOT part of the problem. In good times or bad, employers are looking for motivated, hard-working, innovative employees. Is that you? Do you go to work with ideas and initiative for helping the company grow and thrive? Do you look for ways to make life better for your team? Are you functioning in a WE-centric thought process or I-centric? Remember the quarterback of a football team cannot win the game without the help and support of all the other team members.

• Be open to different opinions. Give up on having to be right all the time.

• Support your team members. By helping them succeed, your team experiences real success. The whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

• Be the best you can be. Are you giving your job 110% of your effort? Think WE, not ME.

• Bring your boss and colleagues suggested solutions, not problems and complaints. Learn to find answers and solutions to your problems and not expect others to “fix” them for you.

• Be willing to ask for and accept help. You are not weak for admitting you don’t have all the answers. Tap into the strengths of your teammates.

• Stop all gossip, negative talk and attitude. This can spread like a virus through an organization.

• Be a positive, happy, healthy and engaged employee.

For additional resources for developing a WE-centric work environment, read Creating WE by Judith Glaser and 42 Rules for Creating WE.

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POETIC MOMENTS

WHO WILL CRY FOR THE LITTLE BOY, TRAYVON MARTIN? ( Inspired by the poem in the movie, “Antwon Fisher” )

BY CHRISTOPH JENKINS Who will cry for the little boy, Walking home from the store. Who will cry for the little boy With potential galore? Who will cry for the little boy, Armed with Skittles and tea. Who will cry for the little boy Harmless as can be? Who will cry for the little boy, One hundred and forty pounds.. Who will cry for the little boy, On gated community grounds? Who will cry for the little boy, What makes him seem suspicious? Who will cry for the little boy, Gunned down by a man so vicious… Who will cry for the little boy, Who cried and cried HELP!! Who will cry for the little boy, Who fought all by himself… Who will cry for the little boy, Who had dreams of succeeding. Who will cry for the little boy, Who now lays bleeding… Who will cry for the little boy, Justice has NOT been served!! Who will cry for the little boy, The system has become unnerved. Who will cry for the little boy, Who the world has come to know.. Who will cry for the little boy, Made to reap where he did not sow.

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SPICES OF LIFE RECIPES

COCONUT CURRY SAUCE is a major hit over shrimp, chicken or vegetables. Simply follow the instructions and enjoy at your next family dinner, soiree or event.

Ingredients: 2 Tbsp. olive oil 1 lbs. of sliced bacon 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger (grated) 1

1/2

Tbsp. curry powder

1 Tbsp. brown sugar 2 Tbsp chili powder

COCONUT CURRY SAUCE

Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes

Preparation:

1. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, put 2 tablespoons of oil. 2. Then add onions, tomato, ginger, curry powder, onion powder and sugar and sautĂŠ for 2 minutes. 3. Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer. 4. Stirring occasionally Cook the sauce for about 10 minutes over low heat.

1 Tbsp. onion powder

5. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

2 Cups coconut milk

6. Add a little cayenne for kick.

1 small tomato (seeded & diced) kosher salt, black pepper cayenne pepper

CANDACE THORNLEY (Owner, Around the Table) Personal Chef Service providing nutritious and delicious menu planning for the whole family. For more information contact Ms. Thornley at: 973-713-4425

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“No weapon that is formed against us shall prosper.”

A TIME OF INTERCESSION Father God in Jesus name, we come before you with humble hearts to say thank you for all that you are doing in our lives. You are faithful, righteous, true, a mighty protector, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, and all together perfect in all your ways. For these things and much more, we worship you! We surrender to your will and your way. In instances where we went the wrong way in our lives; show us how to get back on the right path with You. We surrender and ask that you would speak a word specifically to us concerning our individual situations, and lead us in the way that you would have us to go. Help us God to be more deliberate in our walk with you. Help us to hunger after your presence and to be intimately knitted together with you. Father, we ask that you would touch our minds and hearts to stay renewed in You through Your Word. Renew our minds and keep us in your perfect peace. Please comfort and keep those that have lost loved ones in this season. Remind us to keep our eyes on You for answers and divine guidance, during difficult times and situations. We ask that you would keep us in our daily walk with you. We ask that you would help us to hear you clearly when you are simply trying to keep us out of harm’s way. In Jesus’ name we ask all these things. Amen.

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THE OPTIMAL LIVING ABUNDANT LIFE PLEDGE! 1.

I will always put God first in everything I do!

2.

I will love God & love my neighbor as myself. (Matthew 22: 36-40)

3.

I will keep my vow to pay my tithes, give with a cheerful heart and look for opportunities to bless others as God freely blesses me.

(Nehemiah 10:37; Malachi 3:10)

4.

I will be joyful as I live within my means and not covet my neighbor’s blessings. (Deuteronomy 5:12)

5.

I will study God’s Word daily and make it come alive by living it every day of my life! (Psalm 1: 1-3; Psalm 119:15)

6.

I will honor my mother and father all the days of my life. (Exodus 20:12)

7.

I will learn to forgive others, as God forgives me. (Ephesians 4: 32)

8.

I will strive to be at peace, as much as possible, and treat others with respect and kindness. (Galatians 5:22-23)

9.

I will be sure to feed and clothe my brother or sister in their time of need. (Proverbs 19:17)

10.

I will intercede daily for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, those that have not come to Christ yet, the President of the United States of America and all those in power all over the world.

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Optimal Living Magazine is the premiere Christian lifestyle magazine encouraging readers to live the most abundant life possible as it relates to their spirituality, purpose, careers, and relationships.

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OPTIMAL LIVING MAGAZINE MAY-JUNE 2012 ISSUE