Word of the Day: Excellence

*Excellence: the fact or state of excelling; superiority; eminence.

May the choices and actions you take each day lead you on a path to excellence.

Do not be lured by the status quo or average state of living. Strike back at mediocrity, a contagious illness of a state-of-being where you are neither succeeding or failing. Shield your mind and soul from ordinary. You were destined for more!

As mediocre is a disease of ordinary passed from one to another, excellence is the cure. Excellence is found in the one more step, the little bit more, the struggle to go beyond. As an oak tree grows, it does not ask how tall it can grow– it grows as tall as it can and then we gaze at it in awe and wonder. Why? Not because it is an average tree and it grew to be good enough, but because it is a magnificent tree and is an excellent display of creation and nature!

“God’s gift to you is potential, your gift to God is developing it.”- unknown


The Unmuted Life: Gerald Hodges

“I felt like if I couldn’t handle not being good at something, then how could I consider myself a successful person” —
Gerald Hodges

For an inspiring story of success, determination and leadership, look no further than high school student, Gerald Hodges. He is a prime example of living an unmuted life! His wisdom to intentionally seek an experience outside of his norm highlights a young man seeking to live his potential!

Way to go Gerald! You are an inspiration!!

Check out this amazing story!

#geraldhodges #success #highschool #leadership #unmuted

Book Review: “The Only Pirate at the Party” by Lindsey Sterling

This article contains affiliate links.

The book in review: The Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Sterling and Brooke S. Passey

Confession time: the primary reason I selected this book to read was because of the title. Really, how could I pass up a book titled, The Only Pirate at the Party?

If you are the only pirate at the party, then you most definitely should be living an unmuted life and it is quite possible that we have much in common, as I too have been out of place often in my life! The other major contributing factor for my desire to read Lindsey Sterling’s book is that I happen to be an avid fan of Lindsey Sterling’s music!
Who is Lindsey Sterling? She is a unique violinist who has taken the sounds and music of the violin and made it mainstream. She combines the music with her beautiful dance style movement. Her initial fame came through her music videos on her YouTube channel. Her big break out song, Crystallize, has over 194,000,000 views. For your enjoyment, I have included it below.

Before she gained her fame, she lost on America’s Got Talent (don’t always believe the judges), did gigs in cafeterias and block parties, and worked tirelessly to follow her vision (life clue). Her talent and determination paid off and now she can be heard on mainstream radio and playing concerts around the world (including The Woodlands, Texas- super yay)!

Lindsey Sterling YouTube, Crystallize:

While The Only Pirate at the Party is an easy read, it is also a fun read! The chapters have quirky titles like, “Mind Your Own Business,” “Travel Pants,” “Confessions” and “Everyone Starts out in Khakis.” In each chapter, she mixes hard doses of truth serum with humor and reflection. She includes pictures that contribute to her storytelling and help you to connect with her even more. What I found to be most compelling about her story is her raw authenticity which is a core attribute of living an unmuted life. It doesn’t hurt the entertainment factor that she uses words like “poop” and shares silly stories about skinny dipping among other various shenanigans.

Lindsey is open and vulnerable as she reveals hardships and struggles dotted in her life that she resiliently learned and rebounded from. She shares her early challenges with reading due to a learning disability called, cross dominance, as well as her later struggle with anorexia. Her ability to communicate her challenges in an honest form has you drawing in closer to be her friend.

True measures of success are found in reliance, persistence, reflection and staying true to values. Lindsey brings those key success components to life in her journey from struggling reader selling lemonade, to a world-renowned violinist. Throughout the entire book, she is taking you on her journey.

“I think one of the biggest things we all face is falling in love…with ourselves.” –Lindsey Sterling

Lindsey discloses information about her faith, drugs and alcohol use, or lack-there-of, because of her strong faith. I find that her devotion to her church and living a clean life in a world known for its transgression is refreshing and inspiring, especially for the youth of today.

After reading her book, I love her even more and I am an even bigger fan. I love that she lives an unmuted, authentic and beautiful life. Even through its challenges, peaks, and valleys, she keeps her priorities and makes all efforts to maintain her grounding. In her own words she reveals, “But I want to spend more time balancing in the present. It’s the only thing that truly exists. If I’m too busy ruminating over the past or pining for the future, some of those great moments will pass by before I ever get the chance to live in them.”

Oh, and if you didn’t notice, I failed to tell you WHY the book is called, The Only Pirate at the Party

” Yep, totally intentional. I do not want to spoil EVERYTHING! Overall, I found it to be an entertaining read, about a great person, doing great work! If you need a little inspiration or pick me up, Lindsey Sterling’s, The Only Pirate at the Party

could be just what you are looking for!

The Unmuted Spotlight: Jessica Banahene

I am grateful to know the fabulous Jessica Banahene! She is a wonderful example of living an Unmuted Life! Beautiful inside and out, she strives to live her truth and be authentically Jessica. She is a loving wife, mother, sister and daughter. On a daily basis she helps people reach their health goals. She is a true inspiration to all who meet her and I am glad to call her friend! My favorite thing about Jessica? She lights up a room with her energy and love for others!


Jessica and I met a few years ago for a promotional event at The Woodlands Jenny Craig office where she was Center Director. Her leadership and care for others was evident as her staff was encouraging, lifting and smiling with each and every person that arrived. Her enthusiasm stems from changing lives, “What I love most about my job is the level of impact I can make on a person’s life. We talk on health, spiritual and mental levels. I get to watch a broken person morph into a healed and happy individual right before my eyes. That’s why I kick my covers off every morning. We….I change lives!”

Currently she is located at the Galleria Jenny Craig location with the vision of building solid relationships with the clients and growing a top-notch team. Her goal for this year is to live an authentic life and live in her light, “If I could tell people anything it would be…’To thine own self be true!'”

She strives to be honest, truthful, kind and inspiring.  She is living an unmuted life! Thank you Jessica Banahene for striving to be the best you and helping others do the same! You are an Unmuted Inspiration!

Contact Jessica Here.


Not Easily Broken

I would like to introduce you to my friend, Warner Phelps. He is an advocate and mentor for children. He believes in making a difference everyday and he is certainly a model of living an Unmuted Life.

Warner brings enthusiasm, humor, love and faith to his everyday and shares that with everyone he comes into contact with.

Thank you Warner Phelps for being the truest version of you to help the world be a better place.

Dealing with Defeat

When I was 5 years old and in my first few months of Kindergarten, my class was out on the recess field playing kickball. I had never played kickball before. I had never even been on a ball field before. I was 5 years older than my younger sister and we lived where we had only a few neighbors. The experience of kickball was brand new to me as were all of my classmates. I was so excited to be out there with all of the other kids!

When it was my time to kick, I kicked that ball as hard as I could with my little foot. The ball flew into the outfield and I ran and ran. I ran straight to the bright orange cone, not to the base, and I was OUT!

Stacey age 5
I had my dad rummage around in our old photo albums to find me at 5 years old. Thanks dad!

I was flustered because I did not understand why I was out (I had no idea what a base was) and the experienced kickball kids and little leaguers were yelling at me and calling me “loser” names.

It was a defining moment for my 5-year-old self. It was the day that I decided that I wasn’t good at sports and the word “loser” was introduced to my mind. It was my first moment of awareness of failure and I did not know how to deal with the pain I felt. I was so embarrassed that I did not even tell my parents about the event. It was a nudge on my life path. I felt shame.

We cannot avoid these moments, they happen. It is how we choose to deal with them that matters. That is where the true power lies.

My 5-year-old-self needed a pep talk. Inside, we all still have a little child that needs an occasional pep talk and encouragement. She needed a vision of possibility and a few coping skills. She needed to know that she was loved and that it was an experience to grow from and that next time would be better.  Instead, she bottled it up and stored it and drew from each time shame showed itself to remind herself that she wasn’t good enough.

I have children of my own now. I watch them struggle with growing up. We have dealt with bullying and cruel words. We have had moments of rejection and losing: games, school elections, toys, and pride. We have experienced loss and defeat as individuals and as a family.  Such is life. As parents, my husband and I have worked hard to equip our children with the abilities to handle life’s hard knocks because the truth is that life is difficult! Father Mike Schmitz remarked, “Life is not a cruise ship, it is a battleship!” He is right. Every day, we face challenges that we must navigate and without the skills in place to handle them, we might find ourselves in a place of retreat and despair.

We have a duty as a parent and as a person to continue to strengthen our own resolve to have skills and strategies in place to handle life’s hard knocks so that we can help ourselves and others dust off and get up.

Here are 3 immediate actions that we can take to begin to begin the process of dealing with defeat.

#1 Be Present. This is an act of intention. To be present means no electronics, tv, or distractions. It is the decision to be in the moment at hand. It is where we use our senses and tune in to the people with whom we are present.

As parent and friend, this skill is important. The subtle glances, things said (or not said), empty eyes or slouched posture can tell us a whole story before we even know what is behind the curtain.

My daughter is not communicative about her feelings. I really must watch her signals and then go to her in the quiet and wait. In her time, she will disclose her thoughts, her hurt or confusion. Tune in to their station.

#2 Listen.  As adults, we like to know all the answers, solve and move on (guilty). A true gift of love is the power of truly listening to the person that you love, be it your spouse, your son, your daughter, your aging parent, your friend, sometimes even a stranger. Let them get it all out. Maybe through releasing they will find their path to solution or peace. Regardless, they need to be heard.

#3 Respond with compassion and love. There is honesty and trust in their vulnerability. It is important to keep the trust alive. If that child is revealing a pain or hurt to you it is important to them, therefore it should be important to you. By responding with compassion, we are teaching compassion. St Theresa of Calcutta boldly says, “If you want peace on earth, go home and love your families.”

Compassion is a critical step in this process. If this step is missed or avoided then the nasty feeling of shame rears its head. Brene’ Brown writes in her book, Daring Greatly, “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”  Compassion is critical!  We must be warriors for ourselves, children and others to protect their beautiful spirits!

“We cannot equate defeat with being unworthy of love, belonging and joy.”– Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

I have learned over time that I certainly do not have all the answers, sometimes we table the topic until morning and approach things with a fresh mind and spirit. Sometimes there is no direct answer, instead, it is an attitude we must adjust.

Whether we are in role as a parent, friend or dealing with our own defeat, the strategies of being present, listening fully and responding with compassion are three tools to create a healthy life-learning environment. Approaching our difficulties with a humble spirit and a teachable heart allows us to learn forward. The experiences then become evaluated experiences which then translates into wisdom. Life is complicated. Life is difficult. Life is beautiful. Life is hopeful. Let us live it!


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