Inspired Life

Is Luxury Frivolous or Essential?

Is Luxury Frivolous or Essential?

When you think of luxury what comes to mind? Does it seem like a wonderful extravagance that you desire or does it seem indulgent and give you a negative connotation? Luxury is defined as the state of great comfort and extravagant living. It is a condition off abundance.  It adds to pleasure, satisfaction, ease, or comfort, and the fact that it is not wholly necessary makes it a special treat.

The Importance of Courage

Does courage come naturally to you? Are you a thrill seeker who loves to face your fears, loves the adrenaline rush, and loves living on the edge? If you are, you are in a small percentage…

Most of us aren’t…in fact we tend to avoid whatever scares us.


But, we all need a solid dose of it at pivotal moments in our lives.

The definition of Courage is being afraid but taking action anyway. It is about having concerns, worries, doubts, but persevering through and past that fear.


Whether you are considering becoming an entrepreneur and taking the bold scary steps of starting your own biz, or you are making a life change such as new hometown, new job, new step in your relationship, you have fears that can be overwhelming, paralyzing, or just burdensome.


Here are some tips to muster up the courage you need to follow your dreams.


1.       Courage is a muscle that when exercised gets stronger. So, in order to build your courage, you need to put yourself in situations that are out of your comfort zone, but you take them on anyway. Yes, at first it will be intimidating, scary, uncertain, and feel risky. But the more you persevere, the stronger your courage muscle will be.


2.       Focus on the outcome that you want. Everything that you want is probably on the other side of the fear. But, rather than focusing on the fear or the worry, try keeping your eye on the prize. Stay focused on the results and outcome that you are working towards. This will amp up your motivation which is a great way to counteract the fear.


3.       You must make your desire greater than your fear. Be fully engaged in your desired outcome. Be fully invested in reaching your goal. When you want it that badly, you can tip the scales so that your desire absolutely outweighs your fear.


4.       Become aware of your inner wisdom. Intuition is profoundly wise. And the more you are able to hear your own intuition, the more courageous you will be. Learn to decipher between your intuitive voice and the voice of fear. We each have both, and typically they will sound different. For example, for me, the intuitive voice is deeper, speaks slowly and with a steady voice. The fearful voice is like a high pitched chatter that speaks quickly, almost panicky. By distinguishing between the two, you will be able to listen more closely to your intuition, and silence the fearful chatter.


5.       Surround yourself with courageous people. It is always more scary to go at it alone. If you are looking to start your own biz, surround yourself with others who are doing it too. Having comrades on the same path helps immensely. You give each other courage by numbers.


6.       Find a role model or mentor that has done what you are doing. We can all benefit from finding someone who will share their ups and downs, the struggles they encountered, and how they pushed past their fears. This can be an incredible source of support. When you doubt your own courage, they can remind you of your strength and conviction.


7.       This is not the first time you have been afraid. Make a list of all the times you were afraid, but succeeded despite the fear. We tend to forget or dismiss our wins. Reminding yourself that you have not only overcome this kind of fear before, but succeeded in spite of fear does wonders for your confidence. The more confident you are, the better equipped you will be to face your fears head on.


In order to reach your goal, your desired destination, you need a well-designed plan, a map with the steps laid out, and you need to muster up the courage to get you there.

I’ll leave you with an inspiring quote from an inspiring leader…

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. “ -Nelson Mandela

With Gratitude,

Karen Otis

What’s In Your Art?

Art is in essence a measured contribution to our world, it is an expression of imagination and ideas generated by the human mind for others to experience. It is the result of creativity, innovation, aesthetic and beauty. It is a person’s individual creation and expression. It is a form of communication and an expression of a multitude of observations, thoughts, and emotions. Art is not solely about something beautiful, but rather a depiction of all sorts of emotions, such as anger, sadness, love, regret, joy, fear, worry, and gratitude. It can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, writing, music, photography, film, and architecture.


I am sure that if we asked the question “why do you make art” to different artists, we would undoubtedly get a potpourri of answers. It is a highly personal endeavor. Some artists feel a deeply rooted need to express themselves, to create and put their thoughts out into the world. It is as if their creativity is so embedded in their DNA that for them being an artist is not a choice, but a calling. For others, it is a desire to connect with others who will experience their art. It is a vehicle for communicating and connecting with the outside world. And, even if the reason for their art is purely for enjoyment, many artists feel they are doing what they are meant to do. It is their destined path, and the need to create is fundamentally tied to who they are.


Art has the profound ability to touch an emotional chord with us, to make us feel and experience something more. It can be beautiful and breathtaking, and it can also render you breathless. It can transport us to a new place beyond our own lives. Art that truly resonates for you and touches your soul, can be incredibly powerful. Its purpose can be as simple as being a symbol of human emotion. It can speak of our needs, our desires, our struggles, and our journey. The most enlightening and soul-catching form of art is that in which the artist shares openly. The artist is putting into tangible form their experience, their discoveries, and their unique understanding or interpretation of the world, and sharing that with us. We feel gratitude for their honest expression and for letting us into their psyche if only for a moment.


So let me ask you, what is your art? How do you express your imagination? How do you share your thoughts, ideas, and creativity with others?


You may feel that you don’t have that creative gene. But—truly we all have the ability to be imaginative. We all have the right hemisphere of our brains that thinks intuitively, creatively, and spatially. But for many, this part of the brain hasn’t been cultivated. It is like a muscle, the more you access and use that hemisphere, the stronger and more powerful it will be. You will see how it begins to positively affect your everyday thinking. New options, new ideas, and new solutions to problems you face will come more naturally to you. By putting your right brain to work, you will broaden your thinking in enlightening ways.


So, flex your creative muscles. If you focus more on the process of creativity, rather than the result or outcome, you will find that yourself less inhibited and less critical of your abilities. You don’t have to create another Mona Lisa; instead it should be about the imaginative activity in itself.


And maybe instead of painting or drawing you could put down your observations or thoughts in a blog that you share with others...or maybe you have a book waiting to be written. Think big and don’t let the logistics scare you away from it.


If it sounds somewhat daunting, I’ve got some simpler ideas here just for you:

Start an art journal.

Create or color a mandala.

Put together a collage of different images superimposed.

Create a vision board.

Splash paint on a canvas.

Take a bunch of random objects, art material, and/or remnant fabric and combine it into a collage.


I’ll sign off with this quote by Maya Angelou:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Exercise Without Adding ANY Extra Time To Your Daily Routine!

Why do we really need to exercise?  The benefits of exercise go well beyond maintaining weight and weight loss. It’s not just about looking good or fitting into those skinny jeans!


It is about so MUCH more!


Ok, let’s be brutally honest…Does the word ‘exercise’ make you kind of cringe? Do you put it off as long as you possibly can, coming up with excuse after excuse to avoid it?


Chances are, unless you are an avid athlete or a devoted workout fiend, you are probably groaning about the idea of exercise…am I right? And know that you are NOT alone! 80% of Americans are not achieving the Federal Government’s recommendation of 2.5 hours of exercise per week. Uh oh! Are we getting lazy?


I think that the entire notion of “working out” feels burdensome, time-consuming, and difficult to fit into our very busy lives. But—what if I could give you a way to exercise without cutting into your daily activities at all! Wouldn’t that be fantastic?


I have a surefire EASY way to incorporate your exercise essentials into your day without taking time away from all your other obligations, your work, family, or your pass times. You are probably wondering, “what is she talking about…that’s not even possible.”


But trust me…it is! But first let me explain why we should even exercise at all. How important is it really?


Your body was not meant to be stagnant and idle. It was designed for movement, for walking, running, dancing, etc.   The problem is that while technology has continued to advance, the need for us to really move our bodies has plummeted. Most of us do not walk to work; we drive. Many kids are not outside playing soccer, dodge ball, etc. instead many opt to play video games indoors or be engrossed in social media—both not requiring us to move our bodies all that much.


When we fail to use our muscles, they will inevitably atrophy which leads to weakness and loss of movement. This becomes a downward spiral to issues with balance, posture, and body strength. I’m sure you have heard the line, “If you don’t use it—you lose it!”  That most certainly applies to exercise.

So—in answer to the question I posed earlier…YES, exercise is vitally important!



Your Mind needs exercise.

Exercise is not just a benefit for our bodies—our minds reap the rewards as well. With exercise, your blood flow to your brain increases and it stimulates the brain mass in the hippocampus. This area of your brain is critical for memory retention and for reducing dementia.


And you have probably heard about those happiness-creating endorphins which are released when you exercise. Endorphins can powerfully affect your mental and emotional health and well-being as they stave off symptoms of depression or overall anxiety.


Your Bones need the exercise.

When we fail to exercise our bones start to lose mass and they become thin and frail. This leads to an increased possibility of fractures and falls. For this reason, staying active and using some weight resistance even if they are very light, helps to maintain bone health.




Your Heart and Lungs thrive on exercise.

Doing any form of cardiovascular exercise, requires your heart and lungs to provide oxygen to the muscles. This makes the heart pump faster so that it can delivers that oxygen to your cells. All this dilates your veins and arteries and keeps them from building any unhealthy plaque or any clots.


When you regularly exercise, your lungs increase their capacity so that you build your stamina and don’t get out of breath. Cardiovascular exercise is critical for the prevention of strokes and other forms of heart disease.


Ok….so I think we can agree that exercise is important and vital for our health and well-being. And we need both of those in order to achieve our goals, live happy lives, and be our very best both at home and at work. But, I know that life is BUSY and oh so hectic…

Stay with me…I have an innovative solution to this endless problem we face.


For me, I like exercise, but it does take a lot of motivation to get me going. So I have found over the years, that staying consistent in my exercise routine can be a struggle. But, to stay fit, stay toned, and healthy, I do the 4 essentials and I painlessly incorporate them all into my life daily. Here is how:


Essential #1: (abs and core)

Driving in my car or sitting at my desk at work, I do pelvic tilts. It is basically tucking the tailbone and pulling your hip bones up towards your navel, creating a scoop in your stomach and a curved back. Then tilting the pelvic back to beginning position. This is wonderful for the abdominals and your core. I do 25 at a time, and as many sets as I’m able. You will find that not only is it a great stretch while sitting at work, but it can make your commute to work go more quickly while also being highly efficient! For a video tutorial check this out:


Essential #2: (arms)

While I’m watching tv at night, I stand up for a while and work my arms. Usually I get restless sitting for a whole evening of tv watching. You do not have to use any weights; you can just use some resistance, of if you are like me,  I like to use little light weights (typically 3 lbs). While I’m watching tv I work my arms (bicep curls, triceps, shoulders ) etc.


Essential #3: (legs and booty)

This is an easy-to-incorporate exercise that you can do while showering and/or brushing your teeth. Every time I am conditioning my hair in the shower (and I want to leave the conditioner in for a few minutes) I do squats. Yup, you heard that right. And when I brush my teeth (morning and night) again I do squats. I promise that you can multi-task while brushing your teeth and you haven’t cut into your schedule at all!


To make sure you are using good form, check this quick tutorial:


Essential #4: (arms, core, abs, back, and chest)

While I am in tv watching mode, I also do push ups. I prefer the Pilates push-ups which really help to tighten the arm pits as well. These are usually tough to get to, but the Pilates push up sure helps! Do 10 at a time, and then rest, do more reps.

It is VERY important to have good form with these, so check out this:



So did you see how you didn’t have to carve out ANY extra time for your exercise routine? It didn’t cut into your morning, or your happy hour meeting friends, or your relaxing evening after a long day at work. Genius right?


Let me know if this works for you. I love hearing how you are putting this to good use. I promise that it is the MOST painless way to get your exercise on a regular basis. Go for it!


And I will leave you with this inspiring quote:


“We do not stop exercising because we grow old—we grow old because we stop exercising.”

-Kenneth Cooper

If You're Brave Enough to Say Goodbye, You Will Be Rewarded With a New Hello

For me, home is a sanctuary. It is a place that gives us security, a sense of belonging, shelter, and serenity. It wraps its arms around us, basking us in its warmth and comfort. I have always taken great pride and joy in my surroundings, striving to create the most blissful and peaceful spaces possible.


A few years ago, Jeff and I embarked on the journey of creating our first home together in Redondo Beach, CA. It was without a doubt, a labor of pure love. I learned what he likes, what he needs, and how to create a space that embodied both of us. We collaborated, we shared ideas, and we poured our hearts and souls into making a home that would enhance our every day.  And, during that year, Casa Gertruda was born.


And, we have enjoyed every minute in this beautiful home. I feel lucky to have had this amazing opportunity to forge a life with Jeff and have it reflected in the place we call home.


As summer comes to a close, Jeff and I are starting a new chapter. We are preparing for our move to Fountain Hills, Arizona where we are building a new “Casa,” and I will be opening up Otis Architecture’s second office located right in the heart of Fountain Hills. While many people would run away from such an endeavor, Jeff and I look at this as another exciting adventure in our life together.


But, before leaving our Redondo Beach beauty, I wanted to share the images of the house we have come to love beyond measure. I hope you enjoy!


Is Entrepreneurship Right For You?

Have you been contemplating starting your own gig? Are you looking to be your own boss?


There are so many upsides to being an entrepreneur. You get to set your own schedule, when to work, how to work, and where to work.  This allows you to set up a remote career if you choose. What exactly is a remote career? It is the ability to work from anywhere you want. You could be sitting on a beach with your laptop—and there you go! There is incredible freedom when it comes to entrepreneurship, since you can create your “office” in basically any setting. For those that want to travel, this can be a much appreciated perk of being an entrepreneur. Imagine sitting in a European café handling your biz remotely. Nice huh?


I actually started my architectural business while raising my kids. The flexibility of my schedule as an entrepreneur was a huge plus so that I could be the one raising my kids as it allowed me to coordinate time to be at all their events and activities. There is something to be said about the freedom that owning your own business brings. You can literally create it in the way that suits you best.


Another perk of the “be your own boss biz” is the room for financial growth. There is immense financial opportunity since the sky is the limit. There truly is no cap to the amount of money you could potentially make. Since you are the captain of your own ship, you can decide how to navigate it, what course to set, and the speed you want to take to get there. On the other hand, as an employee you are typically paid a set amount, and that is your cap.  Working harder does not guarantee that you will make more as an employee. Unless your work is commission-based, you are more than likely capped at your salary.  This benefit can also be a double-edged sword, but we will get to that later.


As your own boss, you also don’t really have to answer to anybody else. That can be tremendously liberating. That feeling that you could potentially be fired or reprimanded is GONE! And, you really are in charge of your own career destiny. There is an overwhelming feeling of ownership and pride that comes with being an entrepreneur that is not easy to find as an employee. Feeling that pride in a job well done may be hard to come by as an employee. Yes, you may be able to feel that on a project you are working on, or the part that you worked on and can take credit for; but you rarely get to feel pride in the entire production, outcome, or process. As an entrepreneur, you connect so much more deeply with your work as it basically has your name on it. That feeling of pride in what you build is rewarding beyond measure.


Running your own business definitely gives you the opportunity to follow your dream. You create the vision for your career, and you create the business to achieve it. As an employee, you are typically following your boss’ dream. You may be fully supportive of it, and you may be 100% aligned with the vision your boss has set, but there is nothing like charging after your very own dream. That can be exhilarating.


But…there is a downside to consider. And I would be remiss if I didn’t point those out too. In 2015, studies show that only about 5% of the working population are entrepreneurs. That number has gone up to approximately 7% in 2017.  With such a low percentage, there must be some serious downsides or everybody would jump on board the entrepreneur train. Let’s take a look at some of the negatives to running your own company.


One of the biggest has to do with money. Here is the double-edged sword I mentioned earlier. As an entrepreneur, you are not guaranteed a steady paycheck which can be stressful. Counting on a regular paycheck becomes a thing of the past when you make the decision to go it alone. And for many new businesses, financial stability takes a while to achieve. Studies have shown that it typically takes a new business three years to reach a profit.  And studies indicate that first time entrepreneurs only have an 18% chance of succeeding. Yikes!


Given those statistics, entrepreneurship can be a risky proposition which many people cannot stomach. You must have the stamina to undertake starting a business, since it will not reach profitability overnight. It will take lots of grueling hours, a whole lot of faith in it and your abilities, and the motivation and drive to sustain you.


Entrepreneurs can also find it difficult to maintain a good work-life balance since you are not really clocking in and out of your work. Most employees apply themselves at work during their work hours, and then can separate themselves from it, leave the office, and enjoy their personal lives. For entrepreneurs this separation becomes a bit blurred. Whether you find it difficult to break away from work or if it stays on your mind well after “office hours,” it can be a struggle to create a healthy balance that your family would appreciate. While many people think that you can work less hours as an entrepreneur, it is completely the opposite. Typically entrepreneurs work much longer hours, with an ever-increasing list of duties. You will have to take on administrative tasks that may not have been a part of your job as an employee, and you now also have the task of managing employees which can be difficult at times.


Another downside to being an entrepreneur is that it can be lonely up there. While it sounds exciting to “have it all,” it can be a scary and lonely place when you are the one fully responsible for your company’s success or failure. The stress associated with this responsibility can be a tough one to control or manage.


So now that we’ve covered the ups and downs of the “be your own boss gig” do you feel that it is something you want to try? Or have I scared you away?


I can speak from experience that while the challenges as an entrepreneur have been great, the rewards have been even greater. Mark Twain says it well…


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

~Mark Twain


If you are ready to embark on entrepreneurship, check out the YouTube for how to start your own gig here….


And if you are wondering if you have the personality to go on your own, check out this blog….


And remember to “like” either one if you find it helpful!


Until next time—

Stay inspired!