Category Archives: Reflections

Surround Yourself With Positive People Birthday Wish [VIDEO]

Every year I make a YouTube video for my birthday.  I spend the day reflecting on my life and what I’ve learned in the last year.  I especially focus on what I’m grateful for.  Last night I thought about what had added the most value to my life and a sense of well-being came over me.

Why?  Because I have  fantastic people in my life who are doing awesome things, achieving their goals and helping others.  They’re part of my exceptional support network known as “Team Adria”.  Scott Hanselman wrote a post on this about having a Life’s Board of Directors.

So here is my tribute to to you wonderful people!

2013 Birthday Video

My birthday video on positive people has struck a chord and many of you have left awesome comments.  I’m so glad to get this feedback and want to say thank you!

BlkButterfly777
Happy birthday! I hope this day was wonderful and full of positivity. I love watching your videos. I am not that into tech (I found your channel by way of the video you did a long time ago about your curly hair care routine lol)l, but your energy and passion are inspiring and refreshing. You should definitely make more videos:-) Thanks for sharing this.

Anjuan Simmons
Happy Birthday, Adria! You enthusiasm is as inspiring and infectious as the first day I met you. Your legacy is already well under way!

TobiasBoon1980
Wow, I was just looking at Proverbs 27:17 then I came across your video in my subscription talking about what else? Being around positive people. Good stuff.

PBlueturtle
Beautiful video Adria…positivity and being surrounded by positive people is truly an elixir for the soul… ;)

Ok, that said… back to the story

When I was going through a hard time six years ago, I used to pray for God to help me surround myself with positive people. I named the qualities I wanted in these people and imagined how they would be my support network. I had no idea how I would accomplish this and left it in the hands of God.

Sometimes all you have is your two hands.  For the first time in my life, I began to pray.  I mean really pray.  Not pray “for” things like we do as children; trying to bargain with God for things we want.  I prayed to God to receive guidance, strength and courage.  My father had been an alcoholic and so had the ex-boyfriend who had laid his hands on me.  I found Al-Anon — A support group for people, friends and family, whose lives have been affected by alcohol.  It’s where I learned about the power of letting go and letting God.

I began to pray furiously — Whenever I felt scared or alone, I would pray.  I prayed out loud and in whispers, I’d pray in the morning and before bed, I prayed in the car (yes, got it fixed) and kept on praying, even when I didn’t feel like it.  Prayer got me through a lot over those next couple of very rough months.

All this praying brought clarity and that’s how I realized that I needed more people in my life to help me, to support me and to lean on.  Back then I could barely list 3 people.  Seriously and I had my doubts on if they would even help.  I felt like I was a selfish person for  even considering to ask other people to help me.  I’d be hogging up all their time and that wasn’t fair.  It’s  a common feeling for people who come from an upside down world.  I had to change how I thought about things; to see that receiving help was just as good as giving it.  I’d always helped others.  Even when they had mistreated me.  This was another lesson I had to learn; when to say no and protect myself.

Well I’m happy to say it worked! I now have a generously sized group of people in my life who are honest, direct, in touch with their feelings, who think about me and do nice things for me just like I do for them (being reciprocal!). No matter where these friends are, I feel close to them because we have an authentic connection. My friend Bill in Scotland is a great example.  I trust these people and feel totally comfortable asking for help, support and feedback…and they give it.  Man I’ve come a long way in six years!

Success is the reward for meeting your goals but you don’t have to get there alone; surround yourself with positive people like I’ve done and your journey is made infinitely easier.

I’m going to be taking things pretty easy on my birthday but each year I always make a video and do a blog post to summarize where I am and what I’m grateful for.

I hope the next time your birthday comes around you’ll be able to smile and think of all the things in you’re life that make you happy.

Birthday Gifts

Thanks SendGrid for the ThinkGeek gift card! Tweet

Thanks Jeffrey of Geekazine for the Starbucks coffee! Facebook post

Some send virtual gifts or gift cards while others collect things to give to me later…like the texting gloves secured at a Warriors game *smile*

Good memories with friends are the most precious gift.

Shout outs on Social Media

One of my favorite new traditions has been looking forward to all the nice shout outs I get from friends.  They wish me a happy birthday on Twitter, Facebook, by email and phone.  I wake up to several text messages as some prefer that and then there are always the packages that show up from someone I haven’t talked with in a while but where we hold each other in our hearts ;)

All of these bring me joy and I feel that much more connected to everyone and everything the world.

Twitter

Facebook

YouTube

Birthdays from the past

2009

This was the first year I told the Internet it was my birthday.  I noted that I share my birthday with Facebook and 37Signals’ Basecamp.  My post was short and I focused on the surreal feeling of people wishing me a happy birthday online.   This was about a month before I got my big break on the Rachel Maddow show so most people I knew on social networks lived in Minnesota and I knew them from real life.

2010

I celebrated my birthday with a spa visit and a nice meal and talked about how I missed my sister who suffers from depression.  My blog was about 2 years old.  I was exploring sharing my offline experiences online.  I had owned the iPhone 3GS  and been on Foursquare for about 6 months.  I started taking more photos of things around me.  I knew I would be moving to San Francisco soon and that was both exciting and scary.

2011

I focused on my accomplishments, items of gratitude and my goals for the year.  I worked to keep things in perspective.  My dog Bluey had just become ill the month before with congestive heart failure causing her to pass out.  I cried a lot offline because she was ill.  I was angry.  I was in shock.  I did my best to keep my head up and stay optimistic.  I had hope Bluey would get better.  I had just returned to consulting full time.

2012

Last year I didn’t make a video.  It was probably the worst birthday ever.  I had gone to Tahoe with an IT consulting firm I was working for.  I fell on mushy snow and had broken my wrist.  I didn’t have health insurance.  I was scared.  I was in constant pain.  I hid the injury for weeks for fear they’d let me go.  I was still mourning the loss of my dog Bluey from the year before.  Everything seemed to suck.  Eventually I healed. I never mentioned this online until now.  I made a commitment to protect my health.  I never want to be in that situation again.

Summary

For me life has been about perseverance, self improvement, setting goals, achieving goals, helping others and being a better person than I was yesterday.  We all experience things, good and bad in life.  Don’t give up.

Here’s my recipe for happiness and success:

  1. Create a game plan and plot your life journey
  2. Surround yourself with positive people
  3. Give to others without expecting anything in return
  4. Be grateful and thank God often
  5. Be direct yet forgiving with yourself and others
  6. Do what you love and delegate the stuff you don’t
  7. Reward yourself when you do well
  8. Laugh as much as possible
  9. Expect to be successful
  10. Share your story to inspire others

Honesty And Integrity In Life

Today I’m thinking a lot about the importance of honesty.  Those who lie and deceive spend much of their time keeping their stories “straight”, hiding information and convincing themselves their version of the truth is shared by all.

“Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.”
Henry Louis Mencken

Honesty is telling the truth to those who should have the information.  Integrity is consistently telling the truth because it’s the right thing to do.  There is also tact which is knowing the right time to tell the truth and how you deliver it.  That last one I’ve been working on to ensure my communication is effective.  Overall, I personally don’t struggle with personal honesty because it often seems illogical to lie.  I saw that a man was charged over $6 million dollars by a computer repair shop to remove a virus from his computer, according to the article posted by the Consumerist and it felt like a perfect fit for this post.

“Honest hearts produce honest actions.”
Brigham Young

Each night I go to bed knowing I’ve done my best that day to make the world a better place.  In spots I’ve fallen short, it’s never been due to a lack of honesty on my part.  When I’ve discovered others have been untruthful with me, it pains my heart but I know they must own their deception each day of their lives; in fact, each of us is responsible for controlling our moral compass in life.  Just because you have the ability to take advantage of someone else, doesn’t mean you should.

“Honesty: The best of all the lost arts.”
Mark Twain

I always go out of my way to help others without the expectation of the same being done in return.  This is known as altruism.  I experience great joy in helping others discover, develop and embrace their inner strength.  In one word: empowerment.  Sometimes I know these people but often I don’t.  Empathy is the ability to identify with someone else’s experience, situation and often emotional status.  This awareness often causes us to take action to ease the discomfort of that person because we know we wouldn’t want to be experiencing that sort of pain.

“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.”
Edward R. Murrow

When others reach out to help me, I am grateful for their help even if I wasn’t aware I needed it.  One recent story that comes to mind is the woman in Scotland.  She must have been able to see that I was trying to catch the bus but was confused about bus stops.  She asked and then told me she was catching the bus as well.  I could see the kindness in her eyes and followed.  We walked over together and caught the bus.  I struggled to pull out the correct change (in Euros, not pounds) to pay the driver, dropping some of my change.  She was right behind me and picked up my coins.  I smiled sheepishly, thanked her and sat down.  I realized that her small act of kindness made me feel welcomed in this new country I’d never been to before.

“Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully.”
Richard Bach

Sometimes when people aren’t straight with me, I wonder if there is something I’ve done to cause it.  Of course, people who choose to discard integrity and honesty do so of their own free will.

“Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty.”
Plato

I remind myself that my family tree is dotted with perseverance, resilience and courage because I’m Black and Jewish.  Both sides of my lineage have overcome phenomenal challenges.  Despite slavery, genocide, laws prohibiting participation in society based on race and all the small things that happen between people regardless of institutionalized discrimination, they kept their heads and kept moving forward.  I will do the same.

“An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.”
Thomas Jefferson

When I feel anger towards those who choose to be dishonest in their lifestyle, I look to my friends who embrace faith, God and prayer to overcome the challenges of life.  Back in 2006 and 2007, I used to pray on a daily basis for guidance, protection and opportunities to enter into my life.  Those were especially hard years for me and I felt like there was more than I could handle and like many, I looked outside myself for help.  God seemed like a good starting point.  Now I pray rarely and it’s usually to check in with a progress update or to ask for strength around a particular event going on or to help someone I know who is experiencing pain or health issues.

“My responsibility to myself, my neighbors, my family and the human family is to try to tell the truth.”
Toni Cade Bambara

This weekend I spent the night at the house of a good friend.  Faith and God are important to her.  She has just moved from her home state to work for a prestigious technology company in her dream role.  As we settled down Friday night to go to sleep, she said her prayers over both of us: Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

I realized again how lucky I was to have several, friends in my life who keep God and faith close to ensure they stay on track with their goals and morality.  I’ve also had technology clients who have emphasized the importance  faith based decisions in how they do business.  At first, before I strengthened my connection with God, I found this a bit strange but as I saw how values drove business decisions, I was a believer.  Whenever I travel and stay with these friends, I always attend church with them because it’s beautiful to see how faith transforms and uplifts the soul.  By attending, I acknowledge and support their values and our friendship, regardless of denomination.

Rather than focusing on the burden of liars, I enjoy the company of truth tellers who’s moral compass is aligned properly.