Purpose and Passion

An Interview At Sanctuary Girl Grand Social

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On June 14, 2019 over 100 ambassadors from Sanctuary Girl gathered for our first annual conference, which we affectionally called “Grand Social”. Our company is a direct sales company like no other, and this conference was a conference like none other. Friendships were formed, aha moments occurred, lives were saved, and healing began.

On Sunday, there was an on stage segment celebrating the seven women who were featured in the Sanctuary Girl spring/summer 2019 catalog. One by one, I watched the six women prior to me being interviewed on the stage, in a state of anxiety wondering what I would be asked and what I would say.

Sanctuary Girl Spring/Summer 2019 Ambassador Spotlight

Sanctuary Girl Spring/Summer 2019 Ambassador Spotlight

I had the privilege of being interviewed by a dear friend Cheryl Swingle, who I have known for the last 5 years. Cheryl is the Chief Igniting Officer of Luminary4Women , a life and business coach and motivational speaker and a dear friend who really knows my story. As I walked onto the stage, I knew she had the ability to hone in on any number of emotional parts of my story. As she began to ask me my question, there was a split second where I knew I could either chose to take the easy way out and only share a glimpse of my story, or I could be vulnerable and speak the whole truth, and probably end up crying. I chose the latter, knowing that in that moment, I had the ability to provide hope and inspiration to any number of people listening. I had no intentions to share this private moment any further than with the woman in attendance at the first Sanctuary Girl Grand Social, however, again, I am presented with an opportunity to inspire others.

 
An Interview at Sanctuary Girl Grand Social Loved By Blue
 

Not only did Cheryl ask me about my personal brand, but she also asked me about the ministry work I do with Eastlake Church inside Donovan State Prison. Eastlake Church Donovan has become my home group and my church of preference. Although unconventional to some, it is a place for me to serve, to be inspired, and to grow deeper in my faith far beyond what I could do inside the four walls of a church.

Please take a few minutes to listen to my interview, and if it inspires you, please share with others. This is a piece of my story that until last week, I’ve held very closely to myself. However, the time to share is now. Stay tuned for an amazing opportunity to help Eastlake Church Donovan regardless of your location!


Evaluating Your Support.

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A new year brings a time of reflection, hope, and excitement. It’s a time where we naturally allow ourselves to say good bye to our past and welcome our future. It’s a time where we allow ourselves to dream, to set goals, and identify change. It’s a time where we talk about finding not only ourselves, but our best selves. It’s usually a time where we take a close look at ourselves, and think about personal growth. Today, I am going to challenge you to not only look at yourself, but the people around you.

I have a confession to make. This may be too personal for some of you to read, but I promise there is a profound message behind all of this. I have not purchased new bras since I was in college. Who enjoy’s bra shopping, anyway? They are expensive, and I can find a million other more exciting things to spend money on, then new bras. But, here’s the thing, it’s been like ten plus years, and well, if I may be honest, they are falling apart. I’m way overdue for some new bras. So, I drug myself into Victoria’s Secret today, because, who doesn’t love a sale. And if I’m going to buy new bra’s, they better be on sale. And yes, while there, I decided to get fitted... and guess what, I’ve been wearing the wrong size bra, for, well, I don’t even know how many years.

Talk about moving forward in the new year with proper support! Ok, all jokes aside, but that’s the real message here. I’ve been wearing the wrong size, which probably didn’t leave me with great support. It’s easy to get complacent, to get stuck, to get comfortable... but, having the proper support is extremely important... and now I’m not just talking about breast health!

Businessman and motivational speaker Jim Rohn said,

“You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.”

Think about that for a minute... because I’m now talking about that kind of support. You hear it all the time- your ride or die crew, your family, your squad... but do you really take note to what that means. You ARE the average of the five people you spend the most time with. How does that make you feel? Are you excited by the possibilities that unleashes? Are you horrified? When is the last time you evaluated who you spend your time with, who you identify as your support system?

The good news is, it’s a new day, and a new year. It’s never too late to re-evaluate, to re-measure. If I didn’t take the time today to get sized properly, I’d still be walking around unsupported. It’s the same for the people in your life. Society has made us feel like we want to be the best at everything, be the smartest person in the room. But here is my real challenge to you--- How about spending time with five people smarter than you, more talented than you, more successful than you. Imagine the opportunities that will open for you. Imagine all you can learn, and absorb, from spending time with brilliant, successful, talented people. Imagine the drive that will ignite in you, the motivation you will receive, the push it will give you.

I have been working with a mentor, and that has been a positive experience for me, for a lot of different reasons. But, easily, one the biggest reasons for that success, is because she is someone I respect and admire. I strive to be a better person because of her. She guides me to be that better person. She challenges me. She doesn’t except the mundane, and has taught me that I shouldn’t either. We challenge each other. We learn and grow from one another, because success is contagious.

She shared a recent sermon from a visiting pastor at her Church, Pastor Jeremiah Stingl. He did a sermon yesterday on moving forward. He talked about things that really resonated with me, including an analogy of not spending too much time looking in the rearview mirror. He also spoke about assessing the people you are spending your time with. He said “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” He went on to say

“The key to your calling is your crowd.”

He explained that as long as you are still breathing, God has a purpose for you. You may have yet to discover that purpose, but Paster Jeremiah explained that God has a person for you that will help you discover that purpose, but asked, “do you have room for them, or are you full”.

I’m not suggesting you dispose of those in your life. I am suggesting that you work to identify your supports from those that may bring toxicity into your relationships. Perhaps you just need to make some changes with how much time you spend with someone who can be toxic. If you are not satisfied with your top 5, make sure you have room for the right person to come along. Trust me when I say that “your person” may already be someone in your life. My person was in my life far before they were IN my life. It’s all about timing, and being open and willing.

Happy New Year! Wishing you love, happiness, and amazing support in 2019!


Love Always, Alycia and Bluebelle

Love Always, Alycia and Bluebelle

The Other Side of the Wall.

Looking into the United States from Tijuana, Mexico

Looking into the United States from Tijuana, Mexico

At an initial glance, it’s impossible to see the difference between either side of this wall. In one direction, just 10 minutes from this wall, I reside in Imperial Beach, California; a small beach community south of San Diego. In the other direction, 10 minutes from this wall you can find Zona Norte, the largest Red Light District in North America. If you are unfamiliar, the Red Light District is a neighborhood filled with prostitution, the sale of illicit drugs, gangs, and brothels. What is highly illegal in the United States, is seen out in the public in this neighborhood. Because of it’s proximity to the United States, it is also an area frequented for the sale of drugs, women, and children.

During the month of November, I had the opportunity to invite people to sponsor a Child in Tijuana for Christmas. I partnered with Eastlake Church Playas, and together, we had a large goal to collect 200 Cinch Sacs to fill with toys, and provide to the children at Hope Zone. Hope Zone is an organization located in the center of the Red Light District, inviting children of the community into this safe space to play, learn and be introduced to the word of Jesus. Their main hope is to provide prevention to the youth of this community, in an effort to break the cycle. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this mission and admire the couple who founded Hope Zone.

The entrance to Hope Zone- an outdoor space between two buildings, lined with barbed wire.

The entrance to Hope Zone- an outdoor space between two buildings, lined with barbed wire.

I eagerly committed to the goal of 200 cinch sacs, feeling compelled to help each and every child who enters the gates of Hope Zone. But, shortly after getting off the phone, I realized what the financial picture of 200 cinch sacs looked like. I was completely prepared to bless each and every child; what I wasn’t prepared for was how much my faith would grow. It didn’t take long to refocus and tell myself “If God gave you this, he will get you through it”. This may be the first time I can say I completely just had faith and trusted God in his vision for me. Through monetary donations, hostess credits, fellow consultants donating their own product on hand, and incentive rewards points I have earned through my Thirty-One business, I was able to collect 181 cinch sacs. I later found out that the 200 was an over-estimate, and that we would be serving approximately 140 children that day.

“God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called”

This past weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel down to Zona Norte and meet the children of Hope Zone, participate in their holiday party, and hand out the cinch sacs filled with Christmas Gifts. The entire event was spoken in Spanish. While my ears could not understand what they were saying, my heart felt everything that was occurring. Skin color, ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status…. none of this mattered. Children are children; humans are humans. I may not have been able to communicate verbally to these children, but I believe a simple smile is a universal language. I hope that they could feel and see the love that was being provided to them.

Amanda, the founder of Hope Zone (along with her husband) shared with us that this community is used to people coming into their community to take from them (prostitution, the sale of children, drugs) and she was incredibly grateful that we could come into the community and give to them. 10 minutes from the border. 10 minutes from the wall. As I was driving out of Zona Norte, I could see Imperial Beach, and the Coronado bridge in the distance. 10 minutes across the border is one of the wealthiest communities. And yet, 10 minutes in the opposite direction, children are being sold and purchased for sex and organs.

Amanda and her husband Jesse, founders of Hope Zone.

Amanda and her husband Jesse, founders of Hope Zone.

My hope in sharing this is to bring awareness. A reminder to be kind to others. To smile. To give, when everyone else is taking. We, in the United States, often feel we live in an ugly world. While I will admit that it can be ugly, just 10 minutes from that wall, is an unimaginable ugly, compared to what we see here. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love like Jesus did.

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Hope Zone, part of YWAM, is funded completely on donations. Every program is built completely on cash, so that their is no debt accrued. Their current space is outdoors only, and they are working on a building proposal with the vision of a 4 story building. More space, and more time to provide safety and education to these children. Please take a moment to read more about Hope Zone and consider donating.




Sponsor a child for Christmas!

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Last month, I traveled to Tijuana, Mexico with my church for a house build project. It was my first time driving across the border and going to Tijuana, which is literally a ten minute drive from my house. My initial thoughts were shock and disbelief…. disbelief that life could look so different, just ten minutes away. Spending a weekend there, and getting to know locals, it became clear just how humble and grateful they are for what they do have. They don’t focus on the things they don’t have, they find a way to make what they do have work.

A small area inside the families home with their daughter’s toys.

A small area inside the families home with their daughter’s toys.

I had the opportunity to speak with one of the Pastor’s of our churches locations in Tijuana and she told me that many of the families that attend their church live similarly. It became clear that I wanted to bless as many families as possible, and that with the holiday’s approaching, now was the perfect time.

How you can help!

During the month of November I am collecting donations to sponsor a child in Tijuana for Christmas. Your $18 donation will provide a holiday Littles Carry All Caddy filled with age appropriate gifts for the children. These caddies will be distributed to the children of Tijuana with the help from Eastlake Church Playas. Your donations can be made via PayPal to “alcardona16@gmail.com”. I have set a huge goal of 56 caddies being provided, and we are currently half way to our goal. Please join me in making a difference in a child’s life.

Purpose? What's that? Do I have a purpose?

All Things New: A  Sanctuary Girl  Retreat.

All Things New: A Sanctuary Girl Retreat.

Raise your hand if you have no idea what your purpose is. I know I am not the only one that was clueless in this area. I also am willing to bet that you know at least one person who eats, sleeps, and breathes their purpose. That person that everyone who knows them, knows what their purpose is. I’m willing to bet that you may have been jealous of them, at least on one occasion, just wishing that you could be like them, and know…. like, really know, what your purpose is.

Here’s the good news: If you are alive, you have a purpose. You may not have discovered it yet, and that is totally ok, but trust me when I say that you have a purpose. What’s even more neat, is that you may be living out your purpose, and not have any idea. That was me.

This past spring, I went to a women’s faith based retreat with Sanctuary Girl (time out… click this link and go give this page a like, I promise you will not regret it). Here is part of the description of this retreat:

This retreat is for women who are ready to explore the patterns of thinking that have kept them from truly walking out their purpose on planet Earth. We will dig deep into what it is we really think we are here for, explore what we believe are our passions, and pull out the strengths to make them happen.

I was so excited to attend this retreat, and hopeful to find out what my purpose was, or if I even had one. I never imagined to be smacked in the face with what felt like a mack truck regarding what I believe my purpose to be.

Sanctuary Girl Retreat: Los Angeles, CA March 2018

Sanctuary Girl Retreat: Los Angeles, CA March 2018

Utilizing the Spiritual Gifts Test to

Discover your Purpose.

One activity that we utilized on this retreat was the Spiritual Gifts Test. Allot yourself some time, without distractions, to take this test. I’m going to be honest, when I took it, I wanted to melt into my chair and disappear. I was very new into re-engaging in my faith during this retreat, and to be quite honest, I didn’t know how to answer a lot of the questions. I remember, at one moment, panicking and thinking to myself “this is going to come back that I have no gifts”.

Imagine to my surprise that my top three gifts described me perfectly! Not just that, but my number one gift, was what I did for a living! After you take the test, you’ll be able to click on the link Spiritual Gifts-definitions and descriptions, and read all about yours.

My top gift was Mercy, which is described as “concern for those that are hurting”, “great empathy for others”, “feel the need to be there for others” and “THE HANDS AND THE FEET OF GOD TO THE AFFLICTED”. You will see that expression come up numerous times throughout this blog, because it’s a phrase that continues to appear in my life. I have learned that I may not have the bible memorized, or attend church every Sunday, I can’t recite scripture to you, but I am the hands and the feet, and I am out there caring for the afflicted, day in and day out. And I continue to find ways to do that, further learning about my true purpose, all while following my passion.

I’d love if you would take the test, and share your results (if you are comfortable) or feedback in the comments below. It was such an eye opening experience for me, and a defining moment in discovering my purpose.

National Pit Bull Awareness Month

National Pit Bull Awareness Month

October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month, and it brings to light a subject that is very near and dear to us at Loved By Blue. It is a subject that is very close to my heart, and a topic that we sadly need to bring to light. Unfortunately, we live in a world where discrimination and biases are formed in all areas of life, including our pets.

Did you know that people, organizations, and businesses can discriminate against dog breeds? We (pit bull owners, as well as other dog breeds) are not welcome at all dog friendly hotels. We are limited with what rentals/home owners insurance companies we can use because of the type of dog that lives in our homes. We are even banned from certain rental properties, because they do not allow “aggressive” breeds. It seems kind of silly to generalize and ban people because of the type of dog they own, but it is true. This bias and stereotype is so true, that at times, people will walk away from us, or cross the street, because of our scary dog.

I will begin by saying that I have the utmost respect for people’s fear. It may be hard to realize, but growing up, I was afraid of dogs; and sadly, that included pit bulls, because I did not know any better. I did not enjoy having a dog as a pet growing up, and I never wanted one of my own. It wasn’t until I met a friend’s pit bull that I even entertained hanging out with a dog. It didn’t take long to fall in love with the breed, in fact, they are known to be steal your heart.

I want to spend a few minutes telling you some facts about Pit Bulls. While this is impossible to say that it applies to each and every pit bull, it is no different then generalizing any other breed. I want to share some of our favorite pictures to de-bunk some popular myths about the breed.

Photo Credit  MIOphotography

Photo Credit MIOphotography

It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with Bluebelle soon after I adopted her. Pit bulls are specifically known breeds for their love and loyalty to their owner. Since she was rescued, and I did not know much about her history, including her age, I wanted to get some professional pictures done to capture the bond between us. What we got in return, was unimaginable. They say a picture can say a thousand words, and this picture no doubt captures the love and bond between the two of us.

Photo Credit  MIOphotography

Photo Credit MIOphotography

Many people believe that pit bulls are more aggressive than other breeds, and more likely to bite than other breeds. It is important to understand that any breed can become aggressive and/or bite if not trained properly. It’s also important to understand that studies have been done that report the opposite of this myth. The American Temperament Test Society, which provides a uniform national program of temperament testing found that pit bulls passed the test at higher rates than other breeds, including the family favorite golden retriever.

You shouldn't expect a dog bite, but be prepared for lots of kisses.

You shouldn't expect a dog bite, but be prepared for lots of kisses.

Another popular myth is that pit bulls are not good family dogs, because they are unpredictable. Again, it is impossible to generalize a characteristic specific to an entire breed. Many pit bulls that we have met and encountered make wonderful family dogs, because of their strong desire to please their owner. Pit bulls may be active, playful dogs; however, they also have the ability to adapt in different situations. Bluebelle has presented very calm with any child she has met, including a newborn. Before being labeled the aggressive breed, pit bulls were once labeled the nanny dog. “According to Vetstreet.com, The American pit bull terrier is one of the top three favorite breeds in 28 states”.

Bluebelle playing with her friend at the park, being sure to never leave her side.

Bluebelle playing with her friend at the park, being sure to never leave her side.

In celebration of National Pit Bull Awareness month, and all 365 days of the year, I kindly ask you to open your hearts to accept this breed, or judge them for who they are... an individual dog with an individual personality, and not a breed filled with mishaps. When I was designing my brand, I hesitated for a brief moment to include Bluebelle or not, because I knew I was taking a risk with potentially turning away people that were afraid, or did not like the breed. But, we have been blessed with so many people who have quickly fallen in love for who she is, not what people say her breed is. And, she is so much a part of my life. Thank you for everyone who has supported us and allowed Bluebelle to open your hearts to the breed. I know that she has changed the way at least one person thinks, and that is all that we can ask for.

If your heart feels compelled to share this, please do. I want to bring awareness to as many people as we possibly can this month. Thank you from the bottom our our hearts here at Bags By Blue!

There is no greater love, than that of a dog.

There is no greater love, than that of a dog.