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LIVE WELL WORDS
“GOALS WITH MEANING”
For 2013 I am creating themes for each month, both in my “Live Well Words” newsletter and in my social media communication. So keep a look out for this month’s topic, “goals with meaning” on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and my blog site. Be sure to follow me on these sites to stay connected to daily inspiration and education around the monthly topics.
In this newsletter, I would like to shift your perspective to creating meaningful goals. So often we set goals we don’t accomplish, or goals that are too vague without measureable results. What if you begin looking at goals from the perspective of what you will NOT do this year? For example – you will no longer fail to schedule time for yourself and your own professional and personal development. You will not give all your time away to your job or work. You will no longer avoid setting boundaries around the relationships that deplete you.
By looking at goals from this perspective we address the behaviors and beliefs that no longer serve us and make a conscious intention to change how we think about them. In viewing goals this way, we support ourselves in being the best we can be and take care of ourselves, which ultimately takes care of our work and our families. It also keeps goals realistic and helps us visualize how we will accomplish them. Another important aspect of effective goal-setting is to write out a measureable result—what it will actually look like when you have achieved it.
Key factors when setting goals with meaning:
· Write the goal in the present or past tense – like it has already happened.
· When you write your goal, make sure it has a specific, measurable result and write how you will feel once you have accomplished it.
· Only set 3 to 5 goals and under each one write the key actions and strategies needed to accomplish it.
Statistics show that when you write goals down, share them with a colleague, and state when and how you will hold yourself accountable, your chances of accomplishing the goal are 98%. So start out this year with a new frame of reference in setting meaningful goals and share how you intend to make them happen.
LIVE WELL WORDS
“The storms of our life throw us out of balance again and again. The constant change between being centered and uncentered is the process which teaches us to be more conscious from moment to moment in order to retain that inner peace and clarity when we find it.” Gerd Ziegler
I write you today with news that I no longer am associated with People Biz Inc.
I have experienced great shifts in the last two weeks and great awareness that I am to continue to run my practice under my own brand, Katie B Smith & Associates. It was a clear separation and best for both parties.
So with that I write today about shifts in our lives, in ourselves and with all those around us. With so much change it is so important to stay present to when we need to shift. Be that the direction we are going, our thoughts we are thinking or behaviors we are exhibiting.
I can speak for myself when we stay present to what our gut is telling us and stay present to how we feel then it is just a matter of acting on those signals that can create the shift we need.
To shift means a slight change in position, direction, or tendency. I am entering the new year with keen awareness to deeply listen and act upon what I hear and lots of times the thing I may need to act on is the smallest voice, so small it is easy to ignore. The opportunity is to learn to listen for that small voice and give it attention. It is a mere shift in attention. This shift can change your entire experience of yourself in any situation.
Some ideas to consider when you are being thrown off center:
· Notice how your body feels and if it is stressed or tight - do something to relax it - could be a few deep breaths, a 10 minute walk or jumping jacks. But move it will shift your thinking.
· Tap into resources to get you back on center? A friend that reminds you to shift, a favorite quote or phrase you have memorized, a joke - laughter is great medicine to shift or a hug. Find out what strategies can help you put your attention where it will serve in a positive direction.
Remember that there is opportunity in every moment that you are not feeling balanced to stop and take the moment to assess if the action or thoughts you are thinking or that you are taking is serving you and those you are with.
It only takes a split second but that choice can make all the difference in how you experience the life in front of you.
So this holiday season....give gratitude and attention to the moments of joy, love and family. It's the season to stay present to these amazing qualities we each hold. And I invite you to sit with the question of what strategies can you put in to place that support you in shifting to being in the present moment?
Wishing you all a very happy holiday season and a new year filled with opportunity!
LIVE WELL WORDS
“To fail is human. To resurrect oneself is an act of courage.” Kathleen Parker
We have been brought up to believe that failure is a bad thing and yet, it is one of the key experiences that make one human. Failure is actually an opportunity for growth and can even make one a better leader. In my years of executive search, I could always tell the candidates that never failed. They had a different attitude, a kind of air about them that didn’t allow any room for humility. Individuals that have experienced failure—whether in business, or personally—have a unique sense of who they are, because failure teaches wisdom, humility and the opportunity to connect with parts of ourselves that are otherwise isolated. And that feeling of connection helps us to expand how we think about ourselves and view risk.
Failure also teaches us persistence. How many times have you not tried something new because of the fear of failing? How many times have you shied away from a courageous conversation for fear of being rejected? The ability to allow oneself to fail actually makes one more human and strengthens connection with the self and others. When we fail, we get valuable feedback that helps us redirect our efforts. It gives us an opportunity to stop and re-think a solution to a problem. It stretches us mentally, emotionally and physically. According to findings in Harvard Business Review, when employees and organizations no longer shun failure, they allow themselves to take more risks and hold higher standards.
We are all inspired by those that have overcome great odds and yet, when things do not work out as planned, we beat ourselves up about “failing” to make the goal. How crazy is that? Failure breeds success. We have seen it again and again in our culture. So what can you do to begin holding the idea of failure in a more positive frame of mind?
Here are few suggestions:
• Take action—a fear-of-failing mindset creates stagnation.
• Persist—don’t give up; keep trying different strategies.
• Don’t beat yourself up—failure is simply an event; it should not be taken personally.
• Learn—start to view failure as a learning experience and an opportunity for you to grow and improve.
For more insights into these and other suggestions, visit this link on overcoming the fear of failure: http://www.goal-setting-guide.com/overcoming-the-fear-of-failure#_devo
What are you afraid to do because you might fail?
Share it on my facebook page and get support to do it anyway: https://www.facebook.com/KatieBSmithandAssociate
LIVE WELL WORDS
“Scientific discoveries have found that curiosity affects 5 areas of our life that are non-negotiable. They are health, intelligence, meaning and purpose in life, and social relationships.”
I am reading Curious by Todd Lashing. It is a book about the importance of curiosity—how it affects the brain, our work and our success in life. When I ask myself what stops me from being curious, I think it is moving too fast, thinking that what I have on my to-do list is more important than slowing down and being present. Do you ever notice yourself living this way?
What if we did slow down and practice being present? Habits are hard to break, especially when the majority of our world moves full speed ahead without a moment to breathe. Yet if we just slow down and maybe even stop, it may be a very good thing.
Lashing states that curiosity is often neglected because it operates below the surface of our desires. It’s not as simple as thinking positive, being optimistic, being grateful, being kind, or feeling good. Being curious is about how we relate to our thoughts and feelings. In other words, it’s not about whether we pay attention, but how we pay attention to what is happening in the present.
Lashing says that curious people have a higher sense of well-being. Curious people are always exploring and trying new things. When we move out of our comfort zone to try something new, our brain produces a chemical known as Dopamine. Dopamine kicks in whenever we are in an unfamiliar situation. In curious people this high level of Dopamine generates a feeling of well-being and keeps them in a high-spirited state. In addition, when we overcome fear to try a new activity we feel a deep sense of accomplishment which skyrockets our motivation levels.
In my experience, it is easier to be curious when I slow down. When I am able to hold a mindset of curiosity, I am less judgmental and more accepting—both of myself and others.
What does curious look like for you in your life? How do you want to invite curiosity into your day, your work and your home life?
Here are a few ways to improve your curiosity quotient:
Ask for more - Statistics say that 42% of college graduates never read another book after college. As we grow up we tend to assume that we know everything and there is nothing more to learn. This clogs our curiosity.
Observe & Learn – As Ken Keyes once wrote, “Everyone and everything around you is your teacher.”
Flex your mind - Get rid of those rigid ideas you are hold in your mind. Sometimes the things we believe to be “right” can be wrong.
Go ahead and explore - Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things regularly.
You can read about these steps and more here. http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/what-is-your-curiosity-quotient/
LIVE WELL WORDS
As you can see with the late arrival of this newsletter, I have been at a loss for words this month. So much seems in flux in our world and sometimes there are no words to describe the feelings and thoughts that run through me. For me, the experiences of all the change around us are exciting and quite magical. I believe that we have the ability to create what we want in our world. We are participants in the grand scheme if we choose to see it.
But we have to get honest about our life and how we live it. We have to pay attention to the words we use and the actions we take with our colleagues, teammates, families and significant others. There are unending opportunities to notice what is unkind in what we say and do, and make a different choice in those moments. Yet, it is hard to change ourselves—to determine what is working and what is not. It takes courage to own how we truly want to be in the world and in our work. It is a scary, unknown place where we are unsure of what is coming next, unsure of how to prepare, and unsure of how to BE in the space between our choices.
For me, silence is a nurturing place. I try to tap into silence every day—maybe for only a few seconds or minutes, and sometimes longer. It is a touchstone for me to rest, stop and listen deeply to the words in my head, the feelings in my body and what is not being spoken. It is also a practice in the art of listening, refraining from taking action, and allowing myself to feel any discomfort, change, or newness that life offers me. The practice of silence often helps me to make choices during challenging times. Sometimes the best thing to say or do is nothing. This can be very hard to practice in a world of doing. But I believe the rewards are golden.
So as we move into summer, I encourage you to start a practice of silence. What can you do to take one small step toward listening and allowing more silence in your day? However it looks for you, try to make a new habit of not immediately offering your words or thoughts, but holding the space for silence in your communication with yourself, your colleagues and those close to you.
Allow space and invite silence in as a friend. When we create room for silence, it has the space to offer us its gifts.
If interested in strengthening your communication skills, please consider attending my presentation on personal communication styles. http://coloradowomenschamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/personal-communication-style-skills-course-3499
Here is a preview of the presentation - 10 minute interview on communication styles with Katie: http://www.katiebsmith.com/audio/07jghlsdygs/talkshow.mp3
LIVE WELL WORDS
The Webster dictionary defines support as “To hold in position so as to keep from falling, sinking, or slipping.” Since last month’s topic was sitting in the tension of transition, I thought support would be an appropriate topic this month. For me, I know how important it is to call in my support when I feel overwhelmed. It helps me to hold a more balanced perspective. Otherwise I get caught in my negative thoughts and stories and begin feeling like a victim of circumstances. It is hard to see the forest for the trees when you are so deeply immersed in the challenges life brings. So I thought I would share what works for me in these difficult moments, and what helps me to be who I am in every moment of my life.
First, I have to experience release in my physical body, be it working out at the gym, yoga, or even just a short walk when the day is too busy to allow anything else. When I am in my head, it is a sign that I need to get into my body.
Learning to ask for support and help when you need it is also important. This was very hard for me to do at a younger age when I was a single mom raising two kids on my own. I believed that if I asked for help it would be a sign of weakness—that I wasn’t up to the challenge. And yet, I believe we are given challenges that force us to learn the importance of asking for help. In asking for help we learn to be vulnerable and open, and allow ourselves to be held. And in that allowing, there is respite, love and the knowledge that it is ok to stop and take care of yourself and allow others to hold you through the process. This ability develops character strength. We learn to care for ourselves by allowing others to help when we need it. This is such an important lesson for our children to learn as well, and they can’t learn it if we are not giving them an example of it in our own lives.
It is funny, now that I am in my 50s, I still continue to learn new lessons on asking for help and taking care of myself. I am now in menopause and am experiencing overwhelming mood swings. I have another opportunity to explore new habits and tools for balancing out my emotions, and to ask for support from a partner in a way that I haven’t done since I was married many years ago.
Life continues to amaze me—how there are continually new lessons teaching us how to grow into our true selves at every phase of our life. My hope is that this month’s topic will get you thinking about what or who you need to ask for support. I also hope you can honor yourself by getting the support strategies in place that help you move through the transitions of your life with more ease. And if you are in a place of calm in your life, then perhaps there is an opportunity to lend compassion and support to someone you know that needs it.
Holding the meaning of support in our lives helps both parties grow more into a place of unconditional love. And isn’t that why we are here in the first place, to experience the depth of another and ourselves and the strength it brings to each of our lives? I can’t think of anything finer. May the month ahead offer you the opportunity to grow, support and love.
LIVE WELL WORDS
“SITTING IN THE TENSION”
This month I have been experiencing the tension of all the moving parts of my life. And I have noticed clients and others experiencing the same. It seems to be the theme of this month, so thought I would try to help you ease tension, or at least learn how to be with it and allow it, rather than struggle against it.
Any time we experience life as frustrating or overwhelming, it is an opportunity to ask ourselves a few key questions:
How are you experiencing tension in your body?
The first step is to notice how you react to the tension you are experiencing. Typically if you feel frustrated, angry, or depressed, you feel tension in your body. This is important to notice in order to begin allowing you to do and think something different. Tension in the body equals resistance in the mind, and you are likely pushing against your frustration to try to change it or fix it so that it doesn't feel so uncomfortable. Creating more resistance in your mind creates more stress and tension in your body.
How can I release the frustrated state of mind and body and feel more relaxed?
This doesn't have to be an hour at the gym (although that will likely help). I am talking about strategies you can implement in the moment that move you into a state of ease, or at least less tension, in as little as 1-3 minutes. Chris Grivas, co-author of The Innovative Team: Unleashing Creative Potential for Breakthrough Results calls this the “excursion technique.” When you get away from an uncomfortable feeling or problem for a while, you will feel more relaxed and answers to the toughest problems appear. Do something that gets you out of your head and into your body. It could be breathing long and deep, getting up from your chair and stretching, taking a walk around the block, or doing a yoga pose. It is different for everyone and only you know what feels right for you. So take a moment right now and list two or three different things you can do to shift out of your mind and into your body.
I guarantee that it will help make space for more ideas. You will also feel more relaxed in your body and will be able to sit with the tension and allow it to be present while experiencing more calm and acceptance in the midst of it.
Everything serves our growth. The frustration you feel can be an opportunity to learn how to be unconditionally accepting of yourself and what is happening in your life and surroundings. What if you could allow yourself to be present with the feeling of frustration and learn to make a different choice in how you respond to it. Imagine how easy it would be to allow for other annoyances in your life and the amount of unconditional love and acceptance it would create.
As William Bridges says, “It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions. Change is not the same as transition. Change is situational; the new site, the new boss, the new team roles, the new policy, or the new organization. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal.”
Sitting in the tension could be a sign of transition in the works and an opportunity to grow, expand and allow.
LIVE WELL WORDS
“INSPIRATION vs. MOTIVATION”
I realized recently that the words “inspiration” and “motivation” each come from unique reference points. By that I mean motivation implies the need to take action, whereas inspiration comes from a place of being that energizes us or opens us to the possibility of action. The dictionary describes motivation as “the process that initiates goal oriented action.” Inspiration is “to affect, guide or arouse by divine influence.” One word is associated with the mind and one is more associated with the heart. One is initiated by fearful thoughts the other by loving thoughts.
What if we began to use the word inspiration in place of motivation in our lives? How would we live differently if our actions came from being inspired? I ask these questions because in my experience working with clients, many are driven by motivation but few even consider what inspires them. Being inspired is effortless. It is experiencing the flow of the moment and responding to a call to action from something bigger than ourselves. It is energizing and uplifting and keeps us connected to our greater good. Who wouldn’t want to live from this place?
I was listening to marketing guru Seth Godin, and he described the cultural shift we are in as a movement from the industrial age to the connection age. The industrial age was about fitting ourselves into a specific mold so that we were all alike, living a certain status quo; the connection age is all about allowing your unique qualities—your “weirdness” even—to shine, honoring the real you and allowing yourself to speak from your heart even if no one agrees with you. This age is about accepting differences and being truly inclusive. This takes courage, practice and inspiration. But how different would the world be if we each were given permission to BE who we are in each moment of our lives? The permission starts with our selves, not those outside of us. Once we support who we are at our core, then we can begin to make room for inspiration in our daily lives.
This month, in which we celebrate LOVE, I encourage you to sit with the question of what inspires you. What can you begin to do right now—today, this week—to make room for the experience of inspiration? I would love to hear your thoughts. So please feel free to respond to me via email with what this activates in you.
I also want to mention a very inspiring event coming up in April with a cause that is near and dear to my heart, the Warren Village All-Star Breakfast. Warren Village helps single families move from homelessness to sustainability. We are hosting Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe, to come and inspire us with his story on April 20th from 7:30AM –9:00AM at the Marriott in downtown Denver. So if this speaks to you please visit http://www.warrenvillage.org/index.php?s=18917 to support this great local cause and give yourself the opportunity to feel inspired and support others in learning to live from inspiration.
LIVE WELL WORDS
How will you make 2012 a great year? I believe the New Year is not just about meeting goals but rather, positioning oneself properly to attract opportunity, joy and results in an easy and effortless manner. For me it always starts with letting go of the old and making space for the new. By space I mean physical and mental space. I clean out old files, put new systems in place, maybe even purchase new office furniture or clean out the office to create space and energy for the new business that awaits me in the New Year. I also like to color-code my calendar for the year and schedule vacations first (so I am sure to make time for them), then client time, workouts, marketing time, down time, and anything that is important for me to have a balanced life and experience less stress.
Once my calendar is set, I have a clear idea of where I need to put my time and energy to generate the results I want in my business and my life. I no longer take up my mind space thinking about scheduling and time management. My mind is free to focus on what really matters and I have the space to do so. I call these tasks part of my business operations infrastructure. To work efficiently and effectively it is important to put your internal and external infrastructure in place. Like building a house, you have to set up the framework before adding the rooms, floors, windows, etc. Setting up the operations of any business is a key to experiencing more productivity and results. This can also apply to your home—clearing out what no longer serves you or your family to make way for the new that awaits you. And by clearing out and building infrastructure, you actually help new opportunities arrive.
It’s difficult getting back into the work schedule after being on holiday and saying goodbye to the past year. But what a gift to reflect on what worked and what could be improved, and then set up your internal and external space to reflect that. I can’t think of a better way to position yourself for ease and success than creating the space for opportunities to find you.
While we all have to do our due diligence, it helps to create an atmosphere inside and outside of yourself that reflects who you are and what you aim to gain in the next year. You will be amazed at the clarity of your thinking, your insights, and the ease of results when you focus on your infrastructure. It’s what creating the life and work you want is all about.
So how will you make 2012 a great year? I encourage you to take one small step this month to strengthen your infrastructure and create space so you can attract all the new opportunities that await you.
Work & Live Well,
LIVE WELL WORDS
I was made aware of this word recently, if it is a word. I wanted to give a gift to a friend and he did not want to receive it. When I asked why, he said it had something to do with “deservability.” I immediately considered what this means for me. Where in my life do I feel like I don’t deserve something? I thought about my business and how I communicate my story to the world. I questioned if I hold a hidden belief about not deserving to share my wisdom with others—my specialty in assisting others to be more effective communicators.
It makes perfect sense to me that in raising a deaf daughter to talk and listen for the last 20 years, I was in training to grasp a much bigger picture of the facets of communication. I have learned that it involves much more than just hearing. It’s about incorporating your body, mind and heart into the act of listening—to others and yourself—to create results that are congruent with who you are. I found in working with those who can hear, that there was a need in learning how to listen and communicate with the self in a way that empowers you to achieve your goals. If I help my clients shift their negative self-talk into more empowering communication with themselves, it results in happier living and more self acceptance—and this breeds the feeling of deserving to spread more joy and love.
In our culture, there is a strong belief in having to work hard and put in your dues to get what you want and be happy. And yet what happened to the belief that you are enough? That you are deserving of all you desire? At what point did we buy into the idea that we aren’t deserving? I have to wonder if it relates to the fact I included in my last newsletter about 75% of our thoughts being negative. Why is it that we allow our negative thinking to run the show in our minds? The positive mind has just as much pull if we exercise it. In my own life and in my experience with clients, exercising the positive mind can lead to a shift in thinking that helps us feel more deserving.
I believe the notion of deserving something is tied to accepting and loving ourselves. So what are you doing to love yourself this holiday season? Are you letting the crowds, the stress and the “shoulds” take control over the amount of joy and love you carry inside and share with others? You deserve to celebrate this month; you deserve to be happy, and to experience a month of joy this holiday season, whatever that looks like for you. You deserve to share your story of who you are and what is important to you, and to share love with the people you are with. This is the real gift we give each other—the gift of ourselves. This allows others to do the same and fosters respect for differences. The choice is yours. What do you want to experience in this special month?
My gift to each of you is to say Thank You for reading these monthly newsletters, and for allowing me to share who I am and my thoughts about how we live in the world. For this I feel very grateful and it fosters my own growth in feeling deserving. My hope is that sharing this will encourage your own feeling of “deservablity” too.
So celebrate YOU with those you love this holiday! Spread your ideas, joy and love and experience the magic this time of year illuminates.
LIVE WELL WORDS
I work with clients all the time to help them “reframe” their thinking—the internal communication they have with themselves—so they can begin to effectively communicate what is true for them. Reflect on your typical thoughts for a moment…how many are effective and give you energy? We create 1000 thoughts in the blink of an eye and 75% of the average person’s thinking is negative. What a waste of time and energy. And yet, we wonder why we aren’t happy and why things don’t work out the way we want. While we may not be able to stop our thoughts, we can choose what we think about.
In order to create better results you have to start reframing your negative thoughts into more productive self-talk. Reframing your thoughts is one of the quickest ways to retrain your mind to work for you, rather than against you. The thoughts in your head are just myths—old beliefs that may or may not have served you at one time. You don’t need to spend time figuring out how they got there, however. All you really need to do is notice them, quit judging them and reframe them into a statement that gives you energy and supports who you are and what you want at this moment in your life.
You can start by observing what you say to yourself. How do you feel in your body when your negative mind is going off on a tangent? Does it give you energy? Does it feel empowering and proactive? If not, reframe the thought into one that does—one that feels lighter and supports the result you want to create. You can feel the shift immediately in your body and in your mood. Let that be your barometer.
Everything serves our growth and it is not necessary to look at our negative thoughts as “bad.” Instead, ask ‘it is serving my growth? It is giving me energy? Does it make me feel good about who I am?’ If not, you have a choice to change that thought.
When we reframe our negative thoughts into positive ones, we open to more possibility and opportunity. We have all heard that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. So what thoughts are you thinking when life happens to you? You are the only one that can choose to shift and reframe your thinking to empower and uplift how you feel. And when you do that, you begin to uplift those around you.
Imagine if 75% of our thoughts were positive…whatever we put our attention on grows. This month, the month of gratitude and thankfulness, I invite you to reframe one or two of your negative thoughts and notice what happens and how you feel.
LIVE WELL WORDS
I was flipping through a magazine the other day and came across the word “presenteeism.” The definition read: “showing up for work when you’re sick, even though you can’t perform well. Being on the job while under the weather—ignoring your health…it can aggravate your condition, not to mention your germaphobe colleagues.” The source was Ron Goetzel, PhD., director of the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies at Emory University.
I had to laugh in amazement that this kind of terminology is now being recognized in our culture. And it had me asking myself how present I am in all that I do. I think about all the times I am multi-tasking with kids, colleagues and friends. How present am I really? For me, the word got me thinking about the myth we have bought into about driving results no matter how we feel. We have really brainwashed ourselves into thinking we have to work ourselves crazy to get good results. Yet the funny thing is that the opposite is true. When we work ourselves into the ground, we sabotage ourselves. But when we take care of ourselves, remember to play, and allow space in our lives, we are able to operate at full efficiency and create results beyond what we could imagine in a shorter amount of time.
I have been fortunate. As a single mom and provider for two kids most of my life, I knew what my priority was—my family. So I made my career work around my family life. I didn’t drive the nicest car or have the best things, but we had all we needed and most importantly, I had my priorities straight—things worked for me and my kids. I found a part-time career that grew into a full-time career and provided for my family and myself. Little did I know that it would lead me into the field of coaching and consulting, but I am grateful it did. I chose to sacrifice the nicer things in life and work part-time until my youngest child was in sixth grade because I wanted to be present with my kids in the early years.
Now as I continue to work full-time and grow my practice, I have to ask myself, ‘have I been able to maintain presence?’ The answer is, sometimes and sometimes not. I notice now that my kids are older and into their own lives, there are times I am lazy and don’t hold myself accountable for how I really want to behave. It takes discipline to not over-schedule, for example. It takes work to keep communication open in all my relationships and it takes awareness to stay connected to the life I want to create. When my kids were young, I told them they had to have spirituality in their life. It could be in the form of church or yoga & meditation, but they had to commit to something and we were going to participate in whatever they chose once a week as a family. They chose yoga. And so, every Sunday we would make space at the end of the evening for yoga and meditation. To this day, we give thanks before we eat, stretch our bodies when they feel tight, honor our quiet time alone, and acknowledge our gratitude for all we have been given.
Having young kids was my accountability tool because I knew I was impacting their lives by the way I chose to live. Now that I’m older and have less influence over them, I find myself less present and accountable to the habits I want to change. So what will help me stay committed to being present with myself and those around me? What strategies can I utilize to prevent presenteeism in my life? I will be asking myself these questions as I venture out on a two-week, unplanned vacation. This will be the first vacation I’ve taken that is not planned out. It is an opportunity to let go and experience how to be in the moment in a new environment. I hope to have awareness and insights into the experience of BEING. I invite you also to take this month to ponder what will help you avoid presenteeism in your life.
LIVE WELL WORDS
Have you ever realized how many forms of communication there are? We speak and we have body language, but we also have our own thoughts, dreams, intuition, and the ability to listen to ourselves internally. All of this encompasses communication. Communication is about transmitting or exchanging information. How effective are you in communicating, both with others and with yourself? How often do you actually listen to your voice of intuition and inner guidance?
To me, effective communication means being truthful and direct with an open heart, and keeping our word. Many people feel compelled to communicate when they are angry and off-balance. But maybe it would be better to remain silent during those times, and instead, open up when we are feeling empowered, secure and balanced. Imagine how interactions might look if we only communicated from a place of feeling balanced, rather than upset.
Effective communication also encompasses the ability to listen. It is when we listen and turn off our responses that we are fully engaged with another person. It takes practice to listen effectively, and some don’t feel comfortable articulating the truth of what they mean or are not conscious of what lies under the words they speak. But with practice, you’ll learn to tell the difference between what someone is saying and what they really mean. After all, talking takes energy, so why not conserve our energy and practice listening?
Likewise, have you ever been in a conversation where you or the other party doesn’t stop talking? You continue to talk about your expertise, your successes, and are not engaged in what the other person is saying but rather, in what you will say next. When we compete with the other party, we show our insecurities by needing to justify ourselves. We communicate from a place of ego instead of heart. However, when we fully accept who we are, we don’t need to justify or share our victories because we are at peace with ourselves and what we know. There is no competition to prove we are better than the people around us because we are more open and engaged in the moment.
This topic is near and dear to my heart, perhaps because I raised a hearing impaired daughter to talk—and she taught me how to listen. I learned a lot about communication through her journey into the speaking world. She lost her hearing at 17 months and our journey in learning to talk and listen began. She is 23 years old now and an amazing communicator, with herself and others. I am in awe at her ability and how much she has taught me to listen and to honor the amazing gift of communication that we all have. She has taught me that the ability to communicate effectively takes commitment, practice, and the awareness to choose how we speak and listen. So I invite you to honor your ability to communicate this next month.
What is one small step you can take to become a more effective communicator? Maybe it is being silent instead of always talking. Maybe it is listening more deeply to your inner guidance, or maybe it is being quiet when you are upset, rather than dredging it all up to someone near and dear. You could even try speaking up at a meeting in which you would normally sit back. Whatever comes to mind in this moment as you read this, take note. It just takes willingness to shift one small habit to enhance our awareness of how we communicate. Like everything we learn, it takes awareness and practice. And we can’t change how we communicate until we begin making small changes in how we experience ourselves.
Enjoy this wonderful season and listen to the sounds of fall all around you.
LIVE WELL WORDS
Will we ever give up the mindset of trying? I wonder how we can hold doing and not doing in balance. There is an effortless ease that comes from being balanced and fulfilled. In my experience, when I enter the mindset of trying and needing to control something, that sense of ease is shifted out of balance. Why is it we cannot be content with what is? Granted, we all have goals and desires we strive for that keep us going, but does that stop you from enjoying the ride to get there? I believe the ideal is to enjoy the journey and not be attached to the outcome. When I live from this place of non-attachment, I experience much more ease in reaching the goal.
How much of your day is spent trying and what would it take to view trying in a different frame of mind? For instance, imagine not being attached to a particular outcome—letting go of trying, releasing control and simply enjoying the journey into the unknown of whatever goal you hope to achieve. By just putting out an intention for a goal and moving towards it, you can trust that the right outcome, the one best for all concerned, will come to fruition. It may not look the way we wish, but I have to wonder if by holding this state of being, the results may be greater than we expect. We can choose to see trying from several points of view—expanding our reach and potential or adding unnecessary stress to our bodies, mind and lives. What will serve your growth?
As summer comes to a close, I look at nature—the mornings and evenings are starting to cool down and the leaves are beginning to shift colors. They do this organically without trying. What will it take for us to live from a more organic place of allowing, evolving and participating without trying to control the outcome? I believe it will take more trust, a greater ability to stand in the fear of the unknown, and more nurturing of our true nature. How would our experience change if we honor what is true for ourselves while respecting others that believe differently, appreciating the differences that enrich us.
As we transition into fall and the final quarter of 2011, I invite you to allow the goals and events in your life to unfold organically, and to trust that what comes is for the highest good of all concerned, no matter what it looks like.
LIVE WELL WORDS
I was recently thinking about The Moments in my life. Throughout our lives, we all have moments we never forget – the special words from a lover, the fun times with your kids, the moments when the veil drops and you see things in a new way for the first time, in awe that you had lived so long without seeing this way.
Life is made up of moments, and while some of them take our breath away, others are part of the daily grind. So what makes the special moments different? Is it possible to live each moment in awe? Often in movies when someone is getting ready to pass away, the special moments of life flash through their mind. I have never been in that position so I am not sure if that really happens, but it makes sense to me that at the end of life we would recall the moments when we were opened.
When I think about what makes the special moments unique, I realize that during those times I was more present – I was vulnerable to the moment. I stopped and allowed myself to feel the impact of the moment deeply, and was in a state of awe, joy or sadness. Perhaps that state of presence and openness is what is required to live a life full of magical moments, where each moment – even those that seem mundane – have a special life to them.
So how do we do this with all the responsibilities we each hold? I think it takes practice. For me it is the same as developing a meditation practice. After practicing meditation for over 20 years, I feel a deep connection with the beloved within me all the time. I know deep in my soul that I am cared for and connected to a power greater than myself, and I have developed the discipline to call on it in times of fear and challenge. So maybe this allows me to be more in the flow and less encumbered by the mind. It enlivens in me a feeling of fulfillment and unconditional love which is greater than me.
Imagine if we experienced each moment in this way – WOW! In order to do this, we have to practice it and take small steps to grow into this way of being. A good place to start is acknowledging the magical moments you have experienced in your life, offering gratitude, and feeling the awe and heart opening they created in you. Just thinking about it begins to shift you. Then take one area of your life you desire to be more present in and turn each breath into a moment of observation. Don’t judge, don’t critique, just observe with a neutral eye. We can’t change any way of being or behavior until we observe what is really going on first. Then we have a choice in our action.
When I used to teach yoga, students would always ask me how to start a practice. I would say start with five minutes a day and do a pose you really like. Plan to do it two to three times a week or every day and commit to 5 minutes. Just taking this baby step to get started creates the momentum for your practice to grow.
This month I invite you to take a few minutes to simply observe yourself, recalling the moments that have taken your breath away and opened your heart. Take five minutes and allow yourself to be impacted with the intention to create more of these moments in your daily life.
And finally, share what you experience and what works for you so others can partake in the opportunity to live a life full of wonderful moments.
As the song goes…..”No matter how life is today don’t let another moment slip away”!
LIVE WELL WORDS
“PLAYING VS. AGING”
My apologies for not getting this newsletter out sooner – I have been caught in the vacation mode of wanting to play lately. But since I have the “play bug,” I thought I would write about it.
How much play do you incorporate into your day, your week, your life? I heard an ad for Kaiser Permanente on the radio recently, and all it said was, “the day you stop playing is the day you start aging.” I could not believe it when I heard it, but this theme has been showing up for me lately. Working for myself, I tend to work at various hours of the day and night – not unlike many of you, I am sure. And I find myself trapped in a routine of being attached to my computer, email, phone, etc. I still make time for my exercise routine, yoga, meditation and getting outdoors, but what about playing? What does it mean to play and why is it so important?
Clearly the idea of play is surfacing in our collective culture of driven multi-taskers. Based on the ad I heard, healthcare companies are aware that lack of play can impact our health, and yet, are we aware of it? It is almost a foreign concept to think that by playing we are taking care of ourselves. And yet play is what brings us joy, makes us laugh, and lets us relax and smile more often. All of these qualities help us to be more engaged in our work and relationships, and less stressed throughout the day. Play gives us the ability to think more clearly and feel better about ourselves and the challenges we face.
What do you do to incorporate play and laughter into your work day? Even something as simple as sharing a joke can lighten your colleagues’ load and allow space to relax. So this month I invite you to incorporate some play time into your work and home life. Go out and have fun. Be silly, laugh, giggle and enjoy some time to relax and smile. Who knows – it may help you stay healthier longer and give others the chance to lighten up.
Happy Fourth of July – enjoy your holiday and spread some sparkle!
LIVE WELL WORDS
This past month, I noticed that the majority of people I interacted with, including myself, are experiencing life-changing transitions. Be it personal, professional, business related, family related – many of us are navigating a shift into a new way of being and doing. I see it in my work as well as in my personal life. My son and last child graduates from high school this weekend. As a single mother since he was two years old, I have been waiting for this moment, and yet it is bittersweet. I remember the innocence of his stages of growth and how much joy he brought into my life even from a young age.
My son Shelby was relatively easy to parent. I made life-changing decisions based on providing good life experiences for him, like moving from California to Texas for a better education and family experience, and moving from Texas to Colorado in the hopes of him connecting to his body and the environment. Like me, Shelby is an experiential learner who loves the outdoors. For him, having the environment as a part of everyday life is important to his well being. So here in this majestic state he found his passion and the beginning of a career. For this I am very grateful and validated that I made the right decision to listen to him – from the first time he commented that he could live in Colorado to when I acted on my intuition and we moved to the mountains.
One of the most amazing things in being a parent is the ability to see your kids as your mirror. Shelby has mirrored my own transitions into finding my calling and what motivates me, and honoring that calling. He also reflects the parts that still have room to grow and thrive as we continually evolve. Most of all, he reflects the joy of laughing at myself and enjoying the journey – a reminder I needed often in the years past.
If I had only one thing to say about navigating transitions it would be this aspect Shelby taught me, to lighten up on yourself and others. Remember to laugh at yourself and engage others in your smile. Do the things that you love and enjoy. It is such a healthy way to relieve stress and change a bad disposition to one filled with joy and ease.
Recently, I was asked to make a professional decision regarding where I want to grow. When I finally recognized the choice and allowed myself to say no to an opportunity and follow what is congruent for me to be happy, I felt a deep sigh of relief from inside. I made a choice to honor who I am and how I choose to live and grow professionally, versus a role that offered immediate monetary rewards but was not “me.” The choice is ours at each moment in our lives: Happiness or compromise.
Imagine how different our lives might be if we all followed this belief: Do what makes you happy.
WORK WELL WORDS
“THE PRACTICE OF SUSTAINABILITY”
“Sustainability” is a buzz-word these days, given the changes in economy, climate and consciousness we are all experiencing. Webster’s Dictionary defines sustainability as, “to keep in existence, to provide with nourishment and necessities, to support with spirits, to encourage and support from sinking and failing.” What does it mean on a personal and organizational level?
After reading these definitions, it makes perfect sense that sustainability such a buzz-word right now. In our businesses and in our lives, we are all learning new habits to sustain us, keep us from sinking and keep us nourished and supported. But how does a business begin to implement this kind of language in its employees and culture? It starts with each person as an individual. What sustains you when all else falls away, and what motivates you to keep prospecting, networking and making connections for your business?
Of the individuals I coach, it never fails that time management comes up in the conversation - how to get everything done that needs doing, including the things people usually avoid, like prospecting for business. I like to think of time management as self management. Ask yourself, ‘what is the best way to manage me? What will help me come to work with my energy high and my mind ready for the task at hand, regardless of whether I like the task or not?’
For me it is making sure I have specific time scheduled for prospecting, administrative work, connecting with clients, and marketing. For example, maybe I want to reach out to 50 new prospects in a two week period. Then, once I have clearly specified my goals and marked them on my calendar, I ask what I need to do to be like a focused beam of laser light, able to achieve my expectations fully engaged and excited about the work. I need to make sure I get enough sleep, eat healthy, and get my exercise in so I am not at my desk for eight hours straight with no movement of my body.
When we find ourselves working until all hours of the night, not getting the sleep we need or the exercise we desire, it is hard to stay focused on the task at hand and apply our energy in an effective way that gets positive results. However, when we manage ourselves to be the best we can be, the work and goals we set out to achieve happen much easier. Managing ourselves well creates more effective time management, and this is something that helps us attain the results we need and sustain our personal and business growth. Ultimately, it is not just about executing on the task at hand, but about how you are being in the process of getting it done.
What self management techniques work best for you and the people in your organization and what will you do this week to create more sustainability in your work and in yourself?
Work & Live Well,
LIVE WELL WORDS
Hi Live Well Enthusiasts,
I was interviewed this past month by Rodger Roeser of The Eisen Agency on That Marketing Show. We discussed practical ideas and strategies for being a better boss and doing better business.
If you need a little inspiration take 5 minutes and listen …..it will shift your perspective.
Join us in the conversation!
What makes you be a better boss and do better business?
WORK WELL WORDS
“ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AT WORK”
As we move into the third month of the year, I decided to write about acknowledgment. It’s hard to believe March is upon us. It feels as if we are moving at warp speed. I love March. It is the beginning of spring, warmer weather and longer days, and it is my birth month. We begin to wear warmer clothes and get out into the world in a different way than we can in winter. So what a great time to become aware of the change in seasons and think about how, or if, you are acknowledging your colleagues, partners, kids and self.
Do you take time in your day, week or year to acknowledge the good in your life, your work and your relationships? In the book Switch, authors Chip and Dan Heath discuss cultural change in organizations. One of the strategies they say helps companies move through change is to focus on the “Bright Spots,” which are processes, people, or things that are working well. When you focus on what is working, you create more of it. I have said it in the past – what you put your attention on grows.
Likewise, it is hard to create a habit of acknowledgment in others if we are not acknowledging ourselves first. It all starts within us. Once we fill up our acknowledgment tank internally, we have plenty to give to others. And let’s face it, just as it feels good to receive acknowledgement from others, it feels good to acknowledge others.
So looking at your work week, where can you begin to practice acknowledgment – first with yourself and the “bright spots” in your work environment, and then with your colleagues, boss, and the many others you encounter every day? Try to identify one part of your day when you can speak encouraging words to yourself and then to someone else.
You might be surprised at how good it feels to shift your focus from what is not working to what is working and take your thinking in a positive direction. We seem to be a problem-focused society. 75% of the average person’s thinking is negative. We look for what is wrong before we look for what is working. However, we have a choice in what we think and how we respond. So why not shift to a more positive mindset? After all, does focusing on the negative create greater ease and effortlessness? Of course not. Maybe focusing on the positive would…worth a try, don’t you think?
As we move through the change in seasons and the changes in our business environments, experiment with acknowledging and speaking about what is working well. Put your attention there. This may just make change that much more enjoyable and create even greater abundance of the good things in your work and in your life.
Work & Live Well,
LIVE WELL WORDS
"HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!"
Click the link below for Valentine’s Day Live Well Words inspiring video
Have an inspiring love filled week!
LIVE WELL WORDS
“LESS IS MORE”
I hope this New Year finds you excited about the possibilities it holds. Everything begins again with the potential to create a new view of ourselves, our environments and our relationships. My topic for this first newsletter of the year holds true for our personal as well as professional lives – “less is more.” We have all heard the phrase and yet, how many really practice it? How many of us practice using fewer words, less thinking, less paperwork, less eating and drinking, less doing, less control? In doing less we allow more space, and in that space is where we learn to relax and trust. In the space lie possibilities and ideas. Without space we can’t see clearly and listen to our own inner voice directing us; we can’t allow solutions to flow in for the tough problems we encounter. Instead we get clouded by all of our negative thinking and dialogue. How does one begin to create more space in their lives and in their being?
This is a great time of year to clean out the closets, drawers, spice rack, and even the documents and emails on your computer. In doing so, you will make room for what the New Year has to bestow upon you. It is a natural law of the universe that if you feel stuck, clean out a closet, a drawer, your computer, or anything, because getting rid of the old and stagnant gets things moving and allows space for the new to enter your life. What will help you experience the natural abundance of “less” in your life?
Perhaps it is about going back to the basics of what we really need and value. Given the current economic situation, many have already started doing this. For example, you could spend time and money only on what is most important and what really fills you up inside, and let go of what no longer serves you. This could be material or mental. Perhaps you are ready to give up your negative thoughts about a certain situation and replace them with something hopeful, so you retrain yourself. It is no different than a diet and letting go of the foods that no longer contribute to your good health. Many of us can look at it as a mental diet. It even applies to relationships. What friends no longer serve your positive changes?
What about control in your relationships? Perhaps it is time to let that go and start allowing space for your friend or partner to be who they are without judging them or expecting them to be a certain way. When we allow space in relationships, we allow unconditional love to hold us both. When we can hold an unconditional space in all our relationships – with friends, colleagues or partners – magic happens, and that kind of space lets us interact in a place of love instead of fear.
How about the spaces you work and live in? Is there a closet that needs cleaning out? How much space do you have where you work? If it is crowded with papers, books, and file folders that need to be gone through, that would be a good place to start.
The magic about creating space in ourselves and our environments is that it automatically makes room for the new to appear. Believe it or not, it energizes you because the clutter is no longer taking up any of your mental space. And the less you have in your head to worry about, the more room there is for new ideas to come through. Remembering that less is more may help motivate you to live your life aware of what is most important for you and those you serve. With less of everything we have more space to love, laugh and create…I can’t think of a better intention to hold for the year ahead.
Live & Work Well,
Here is a great article on creating space with technology: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/30/technology/personaltech/30basics.html
WORK WELL WORDS
I decided to write on the topic of “cross-pollination” because I feel it is an appropriate term for describing how we merge the diverse mix of employees in many businesses today. As we navigate through global changes to grow and stabilize our bottom line, we are all aware of the range of backgrounds, ages and experience that comes to the table. Since your people are your business, I felt it was appropriate to engage the topic of how we begin to effectively cross-pollinate the varying cultures, ages and perspectives of employees among us.
“Change” is definitely a word that describes our business climate, whether you are a publically held company, private company or sole proprietor. Those that are ahead of the curve are willing to be nimble, embrace change, try something new and collaborate at every level. Because new business ethics demand it, we are experiencing new ways of being and doing business. And collaboration is a key element in navigating this new cultural shift. To collaborate means to work together with friend and foe. How do you do that when there may be a 30-year age span between you and your colleague and the younger one is your boss?
The first step is looking at how collaborative you are. How well do you work with others? Are you naturally curious about the ideas and opinions of others? Are you afraid of conflict or do you see it as positive? Can you set aside your need for personal gain in order to accomplish something with others?
Cross-pollination is about doing just that – being open with yourself so you can improve your behavior with others and be a better team player. It is also about harnessing the ability to reserve judgment and accept your colleagues instead. It can be very hard to do at times, especially when a particular colleague really pushes your buttons. Try to notice how you respond when you are provoked and allow yourself to step back and take note that a difficult colleague may really be there to show you your own blind spot. What part of yourself holds you back from collaborating? Can you be grateful that this individual is really here to teach you? This takes a willingness to exercise your self-awareness muscle and accept that we are all on the same playing field.
Cross-pollinating the generations in today’s workforce is an opportunity to accept, rather than judge. Judgment is a state of mind, whereas acceptance is a state of heart and awareness. So what moves you into acceptance? It is this way of being that supports agility, self-awareness and an opportunity to produce results in a shorter time that are superior to anything one person could create alone.
Give the gift of acceptance to yourself this holiday season by contacting me at email@example.com for a complimentary coaching session that reveals your blind spots and supports your flexibility and growth.
WORK WELL WORDS
As I launch my newsletter this month I am changing the format to include my experience in talent management consulting and coaching for companies and candidates to help us navigate this economic transition together. Of course, there will always be an internal component to each topic I write on, and this will be brought into the conversation to help shift some beliefs to more inspiring possibilities for your future.
This month’s topic is “hire up.” Whether you are a candidate or a hiring manager, you may have noticed that one of the biggest challenges is finding a good fit. That is, candidates often have a difficult time finding an organization aligned with their values, and hiring managers often fall short in finding good talent. Hiring up refers to bringing talent on board that is ahead of the curve, that is committed to growing out of the gate and that looks for progression within an organization. Such are the candidates that hiring managers can envision as inspiring leaders in the years ahead, if not sooner. They can be diamonds in the rough. Companies have been talking about succession planning for many years and yet, few companies are committed to growing their talent out of the gate, starting at the interview.
Hiring up begins with hiring employees that go beyond what you are looking for. In this economy there is plenty of good talent on the market and I frequently hear about candidates that are over-qualified for the position to which they are applying. I ask, wouldn’t you rather have someone over-qualified than under-qualified? Yes, I know the risks – the candidate may get recruited away by another company, they may get bored, etc. But a strong, over-qualified candidate is not going to take a job that is not aligned with their values. So what if you ask qualifying questions of the candidate and yourself? What questions would diffuse those concerns and create more transparency?
Some questions to consider are those that focus on integrity, self–awareness, interpersonal competencies and risk-taking ability. For example: What are a couple of the most courageous actions you have ever taken? What are the biggest mistakes you have made in the last five years, and what have you learned from them? Tell me about a situation in which you were expected to work with a person you disliked. What are the biggest risks you have taken in recent years? Ask yourself, are their values aligned with the organization’s values? These types of questions help create transparency in determining if the candidate is cut from the cloth that would be good for the organization. Hiring talent has to be a win/win situation for all parties involved or it doesn’t work long term.
Are you sabotaging yourself into hiring someone less qualified because of the threat of them taking your job or being too much of a challenge? What a great opportunity to learn how to have courageous conversations, create transparency and step into a leadership role. That is the ultimate goal – to hire talent that can grow into inspirational leaders, employees and teammates. So what are you doing to facilitate the hiring of your organization’s next leader? Raising the talent bar is one way to grow top talent, and it is also an opportunity to grow you.
LIVE WELL WORDS
“THE ART OF WAITING”
I have had to do a lot of waiting this month – waiting for my daughter who recently graduated from college to move out; waiting for the love of my life to come back into town after a summer of work in Alaska; waiting for my roof to be finished; waiting for the time to finally finish staining my deck – and the list goes on. I have realized that all of these situations are giving me the opportunity to learn how to hold the act of “waiting” differently on the inside.
I think of all the times we must wait for business deals to close, projects to finish, job prospects to call, etc., and the anxiety that it builds, the negative self-talk it creates, and the tendency in these situations to not stay present in the act of waiting. Why is it we tend to crave action vs. non-action? (I am speaking for myself here, as I am sure there are some who are fine with letting situations organically take shape). “Wait” has almost become a dreaded word in our collective because we are so programmed to work fast, multi-task and keep moving forward. God forbid we stop, breathe and enjoy a moment. Perhaps all of this waiting exists to teach us how to allow it, embrace it and enjoy it.
We create resistance when we view something in a negative light, and that blocks flow and slows things down. What if we look at waiting as an opportunity to stop, take a break and redirect our energy? I know we live in a culture that makes it difficult to stop and be still, and I know it takes practice and discipline to allow pauses in your day or week. But the good news is, by stopping you allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling in that moment, and in so doing, the feeling dissipates and you open yourself to relaxing and enjoying these moments. What will it take for you to stop and enjoy the change in seasons – to smell the scents of fall, breathe the fresh cool air, and watch the birds and squirrels gather their food for winter; to take notice and just be present with the change at hand?
I invite you to harvest the attitude of waiting this fall. Where in your life is it difficult to wait? What new strategies will help you ease the stress of holding waiting as a negative thought and instead, enjoy it as the anticipation of possibility? Waiting is an opportunity to stop, dream, and decide what outcome you wish for whatever it is you are waiting for, and then to let go and enjoy the moment , the space, and the time to just be.
Be present with the wonderful change of season into fall and allow yourself to be held in the waiting, to let go of trying to control the outcome, and trust that this is an opportunity to listen to what is present in you.
LIVE WELL WORDS
We typically associate the word chaos with disorder and confusion. However, if we choose to look at chaos differently, we can also find guidance speaking to us through the confusion.
Author Caroline Myss speaks of chaos as a way that heaven tries to reach us; that life is turned upside down to get our attention. Where in your life do you experience chaos and how do you create it? Is it in manipulation and drama, focusing on the negative, acting helpless? What aspects of the chaos you are engaging in and what aspects are you ready to release?
God speaks in fire, wind and flood. Chaos is the language of God and a system of guidance. Is it wiping everything clean because you are not listening to ordinary guidance? Perhaps chaos is God changing your life in order to tell you something. Every experience serves our growth. Our job is to walk into the chaos and learn from it. What will help you to do so?
My life used to be full of drama and chaos until I decided to step into my fear and give it up. I was once married to an alcoholic, which created a lot of chaos. Through the help of my spiritual practice, a loving community and immense courage I stepped into a part of myself I did not know existed and confronted the disorder head on. This changed the course of my life and my children’s lives for the better. And now 13 years later I am grateful for the experience and all that it asked of me. It is said we have to go through pain to reach joy on the other side. Like the chaos of a bad storm, there is an exquisite sunrise and calm after the storm subsides.
But getting through the chaos without blaming it can be difficult. Learning to embrace chaos and observing where it shows up and how you can respond to it is the first step in taking responsibility for the life you desire. No one said it was easy, but the first step is to know that you have a choice. If you are willing to step up and respond, ask yourself what support you need to encourage your action. Remember to acknowledge that it will sometimes be painful and difficult. By looking at the situation honestly you will lessen the burden of it and create a more conscious experience. So begin by asking what will help you to shift the pattern of chaos in your life, and what you need to put in place to begin stepping into the fear of changing it.
I invite you to observe your life and all it holds, notice where the disorder is showing up and think about what the alternative could look like. It is all up to us and the choices we make. We can live life from a perspective of struggle and strain or joy and ease. The choice is ours and the work involved will help you develop dimensions of yourself you did not know you had.
LIVE WELL WORDS
Summer – what a great time to kick back and surrender. The heat tends to slow everyone down a little, and with summer vacations and kids out of school, we feel a natural draw to let go and just be. We have been taught to control the events and surroundings we live in, and certainly, managing things is a necessary part of life. Yet, do we allow time to just surrender, and if not, why?
Webster defines surrender as “giving up; admitting defeat.” The spiritual definition means that a believer completely gives up his own will and subjects his thoughts and deeds to the will and teachings of a higher power. We all know that when we let go, relax and choose to surrender, we feel better and experience more joy in our life. So why do we resist it? If you think of the word surrender as “letting go,” rather than giving up or admitting defeat, does it make it easier for you to accept the idea of surrendering?
I have a friend that recently made her transition from this life and during her process she had a hard time surrendering because she felt like she would be giving up on life. I look at her and I think that the ultimate lesson – and test – of surrender must be turning your life over. I wonder if learning to surrender when we are full of life force would make it any easier to surrender when we make our transition to death.
What I know for certain is that resistance stops flow and creates stress. To live a life focused on joy and relaxation instead of struggle and strain, it helps to make a daily practice of surrender. We can choose to surrender what others think of us, surrender getting caught up in office politics, surrender to our hearts and intuition – we can choose to surrender in every moment of our day. I believe surrendering allows us to open, and when we open we become a channel of possibility. How exciting to hold that state of being in every moment. Another nice thing about doing this yourself is that you create a ripple effect for others to do the same. By giving yourself permission to surrender you allow others to let go as well. Imagine a world where everyone allowed themselves to relax, trust and let go.
I invite you to observe where in your life it is easy to surrender, and where there is resistance. Do certain relationships, circumstances or thoughts stop you from surrendering? Would becoming more aware of letting go in those situations help ease the resistance you feel? It is in these hard situations that you can learn about the things you resist most deeply. Maybe the situation is giving you the opportunity to practice surrender and experience more joy and ease.
Meditation to Surrender:
Sit with the spine straight, left palm in right so that the forefingers meet at the first knuckle at a 90 degree angle, thumbs touching. Hands resting in your lap, eyes closed and focused at the brow.
Inhale in 8 equal sniffs so that the lungs are filled on the 8th sniff and chant as you exhale WA HAY GURU (indescribable wisdom).
If it is hard to take 8 sniffs start with what works and be consistent with that amount until you can do more. Continue for 3-11 minutes.
This establishes the appropriate relationship between the ego and the infinite self.
LIVE WELL WORDS
“Perfection vs. Practice”
I have been reading about Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun in the 1500’s and a great mystic of our time. She believed that the goal should not be perfection, but practice and self-compassion. Imagine what our world might look like if we held practice as the goal instead of perfection. What is perfection anyway? Isn’t it true that we are actually perfect at every moment in time the way we naturally are? Perfection is not a single ideal. Perfection means allowing ourselves to be who we are and do what is right for us and others in the service of love and compassion, so it looks unique to each individual. How strange that in our culture we have adopted a belief that perfection is a specific way of doing and being.
Practice is about becoming, evolving and allowing change and flow. It is an active tool that cultivates balance, objectivity and discernment. Practice also builds discipline, stamina and commitment. Just as when we practice a particular art or sport, it takes practice to master certain skills before we can move on to the next technique. Having a practice, whatever it might be, is a tool for learning about ourselves and exploring our reach. It allows space for reflection so we can develop wisdom. In what venue are you learning something new about yourself every day? What practice can you adopt that will begin to reveal your authentic self and position you to expand your self-awareness?
I invite you to observe how you get caught in the idea of perfection. Then ask yourself what would help you focus on your practice and the journey, instead of reaching an idea of perfection. Just thinking about it may relax you and allow you greater acceptance of who you are and what you are experiencing in your life.
LIVE WELL WORDS
The word trust is at the core of so much in our lives. It is the foundation of rich relationships, it is the anchor of self-navigation, it is the jewel we look for in the companies we work for and the people we interact with. And yet, we cannot create trust in all we interact with if we do not trust ourselves. I decided to separate the word into letters and let each letter represent a piece of what trust means.
T is for tolerance. I believe trusting involves tolerating the things that push our buttons. If something bothers us, we have a choice to do something about it or accept what we cannot change. Dealing with the difficulties in our lives directly is a great vehicle for learning to trust ourselves and act on what is best for us. What are you tolerating in your life? How will you learn to handle or accept a particular situation?
R is for respect. When we trust someone, we respect the individual we interact with. We cannot trust without respecting. Respect is the seed for growing trust within oneself. How do we respect ourselves and demonstrate our respect for others? What strategies can we put in place to be more mindful of this aspect of self and strengthen it?
U is for unwavering. Have you noticed that when you trust someone or something, there is no wavering in judgment about that person or situation? There is a steadfast feeling of commitment. Where are you unwavering with yourself and others in your life? Where do your commitments lie?
S is for sustenance. What sustains you in regards to trusting yourself? Do you have a practice or discipline you are committed to that nourishes you or helps you strengthen your trust in yourself and others? Sustenance is important because it keeps you going when all else falls away.
The final T is for truth. What does truth look like in your relationships and in your life? How are you truthful with yourself and others and how are you not truthful? How do you embody sincerity and integrity? These elements of truth support each of us in living authentically and being true to ourselves.
Trust is a powerful word when we break it down and begin to ask how we can embody it. There is a great book called The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey. In his opening remarks he states that,
“There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy and civilization throughout the world – one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love. On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and the most underestimated possibility of our time. That one thing is trust.”
Trust is something you can strengthen, like a muscle, but it starts with taking a look inside and examining the relationship you have with trusting yourself. I invite you all to explore these questions and observe where there is trust in yourself and where there is not. You may surprise yourself when you realize how freeing it is to create more trust in your life.
Meditation for TRUST:
Sit cross legged on the floor. Arch the arms up overhead with the palms facing down. Put the right hand on top of the left. Put the thumb tips together with the thumbs pointing back. The arms are bent slightly, and the hands are 6-8 inches above the head. Keep pressure on the arms to maintain the arch. Your eyes should be open slightly with your gaze looking down toward your lower lip. Begin to whisper the mantra: “Wa hey Guru.” Whisper so that the word Guru is almost inaudible. Continue for 6 minutes.
This meditation affects the element of trust in the human personality. A steady practice will elevate the individual so that he or she can stand up to any challenge.
LIVE WELL WORDS
As I see the flowers blooming and the tress budding, I am struck with the idea of sustenance – the birth of newness and how we cultivate it in our lives. I love spring and the newness it brings. For me it represents what is being birthed in my own life, like new projects and relationships, and ideas that are coming to fruition. The dictionary describes sustenance as “something that gives support, endurance or strength; the act of being sustained.” What sustains you so you can start anew each day? What keeps you planting seeds and watering your ideas with patience so they can grow and blossom?
It is different for each of us and only you can answer what it is that sustains you when all else falls away. For me it is my spiritual practice which I do every day to connect to my body, open my mind and nourish my soul. In Angeles Arrien’s book The Second Half of Life, she writes that,
“Spiritual traditions around the world teach that practice develops and transforms us, encourages discipline, and enables us to focus, facilitating change and increased awareness. Whenever you want to learn something new or want change to occur, you must consciously and consistently engage in a practice.”
She goes on to say that practice incorporates a daily action that supports change and provides discipline for building new skills, character qualities and wisdom. What do you incorporate into your life that helps you embrace change, expand your awareness or birth new ideas? All these elements are crucial to growing with ease and allowing ourselves to control the mind instead of the mind controlling us. In the book The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, she writes that a practice is a regularly repeated and at least minimally structured way of connecting with our sense of the mystery of which we are a part; it gives us a way to open ourselves to what sustains us when everything else disappears. It can start with a simple prayer at the beginning of your day. In the beginning there will always be resistance – the voice that says ‘I am too tired, too busy,’ etc. but try to do it anyway. As Oriah Mountain Dreamer states, “It requires not so much heroic discipline as a deep commitment to life, a willingness to dedicate our lives to something larger than ourselves.”
I invite you this spring to notice and observe what is blooming in you, and to sit with the question of what sustains you through the growing process. If you don’t know, try experimenting with different practices that you can easily incorporate into your daily life that will assist you in connecting with the bigger mystery. It could be as simple as a walk in nature, a morning prayer, five minutes of silence – whatever it is, welcome it into your daily life and notice what it ignites in you.
Meditation to develop a meditative mind:
Live Well Words
The spring equinox is upon us – the time of year when the days extend and everyone is out enjoying the sun and the beauty of nature coming alive. I like to think of this as the time when we come out of hibernation and begin to birth the ideas we have been nesting with all winter. This change of seasons is such an important passage. Our days are filled with more light and so is our being. We want to get out in nature, move our bodies more and engage with the world in a playful way. So what are you doing to engage in more play in your life? How do you want to BE during this time of light when more is illuminated and more people are willing to open themselves?
We live in a culture and economic time in which everyone has their nose to the grindstone, and people are doing everything they can to stay focused and on task. But what about enjoying this change of season and reaping the rewards of more sun, light and beautiful days? How often do you allow yourself to just play and what does play look like for you? For me it is lying in the green grass at night and staring up at the stars, or lying in the sun during the day and feeling the warmth to the very depth of my being. It is dancing more, riding my bike and exercising outside as much as possible. It is breathing the fresh air of spring and listening to the water from the snow that has melted. It is spending my weekend days outside doing a little of this and a little of that and nothing at all. It is experiencing my lightness of being.
There is a belief in our society that playing is wasting time or not being serious and productive and yet, isn’t playing a necessary part of being human? Bringing the element of play into our lives allows us to not take things so seriously, to let go and laugh and release the grip of tension and stress that stifles us. Allowing play is about allowing change into your life and giving yourself permission to do something different, such as shifting a task or an exercise routine. Sometimes a mere shift can create so much energy and enjoyment that you have more energy to complete your work. You then work more effectively and get your task done in less time. Play is a natural part of living and a positive element to include in your week. When was the last time you played, and what did you do? Is there something you have wanted to play and haven’t made the time for? If so, why wait? You are worth it. If it is calling you, listen and heed the call.
The definition of play is to occupy oneself with amusement. So, what amuses you or makes your heart sing and experience joy? I invite you this spring to acknowledge the magic of this seasonal change by reveling in PLAY, whatever that means to you. Play is a vital part of living well. Do something that makes you laugh and engage those you love in the experience. Acknowledge your lightness and share it with those around you. It opens the heart and relaxes the mind and body. Have some fun and open to the new season and the light that beckons us all.
Live Well Words
“Love or Fear”
With Valentine's Day upon us, I invite you to ponder the notion of where
you live from – Love or Fear? According to the yogic perspective, when we
live from love we live in the energy centers that are located from the heart
upwards to the crown of the head. Fear resides in our lower body
where the first, second and third energy centers are. For me, living from
love is about living with an open heart, living in trust and acceptance of
myself, my situation (good or bad) and those around me. I know we have all experienced moments of living in total trust and allowing. Yet, it is difficult to live
from this place constantly. It takes discipline to do it daily and experience a place of deep understanding that all is well and everything serves our growth.
The experience of living from fear is more about control, fearing what others will think, and self-sabotaging negative thinking about ourselves or others. It is in this fear mode that we become stuck in our minds. Have you ever noticed that the minute you start moving your body, be it running, walking, dancing or working out, you are able to release
stress and shift to a more positive frame of mind? It is important then to keep our body moving, relaxed and open in order to not get caught in the downward spiral of our mind and its negative thoughts. In this openness we allow ourselves to trust, feel and intuit more.
An easy exercise that keeps me present and relaxed is simply long,
deep breathing. The breath is known to some as the "Tender Charge of God"
because it is the vehicle between physical and non-physical reality, the
bridge between the physical and the spiritual and a massage for all the
systems of the body and mind.
On this week of Valentine's Day, I invite you to live from LOVE, the place
inside yourself that believes and acknowledges the wonderful human being
that you are. So many think Valentine's Day is only for lovers, but it
is also about loving yourself and all those around you. What is it about
yourself that you love and want to acknowledge? Who in your life do you
want to share the gift of acknowledgement with and how has their love had an impact on you? Consider what you love about the people you are close to. Valentine’s Day is a great day to share those thoughts with them! This helps open the heart and spread the vibration of love to yourself and others. And as we all know, love heals.
So take time this week to notice whether you are living from love or fear. If you are not where you want to be, take some deep breaths, move your body, relax and open your
heart to the love that surrounds you and fills you with words of acknowledgment and gratitude. Because you are worth it and the people in your life are worth it too.
Meditation to Open the Heart:
Touch your palms lightly together in front of your face with your arms horizontal and parallel to the ground. The tips of your middle fingers should be at the level of your brow. Look within, at your brow.
Relax and breathe normally for 3-11 minutes.
This helps open you to receiving love and heals a broken heart.
For more downloadable stress reduction exercises and meditations visit:
Live Well Words
“Pausing in Possibility”
The New Year is a perfect time to pause and reflect on what we want to create in our lives. This fresh start is filled with possibility and potential. How often do you pause in your week or your day? It helps to remember that a pause can be pregnant with possibility. It is the space where we plant seeds, set intention and hold the space for new opportunities to grow and emerge. We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of our work and our busy daily lives that we can forget to stop. If we take a moment to pause at the beginning or end of every day, how different would our lives feel and what possibilities could stem from those moments?
At the beginning of the New Year we may be filled with excitement and so many ideas about what the future holds. Yet the trick is not getting so caught up in all the action of attaining it that we overreach and cause ourselves more stress. Pausing allows you space to sit in silence, hold what is dear to you and remain mindful of what your heart is calling you to do. Where should you put your energy? Where will it best serve yourself and others? Truthfully, you are the only one that knows what is best for you and it does not matter what others think. When you listen to your intuition you build trust in what you hear inside yourself. The pause allows you to differentiate what you need to act on. It clarifies what energizes you and creates the space needed to realize it. Trust that what grows out of your intentions and what emerges in the spring or days ahead will be exactly what you need. It may not look the way you imagined it, it may not happen the way you expected it to, but by planting the seeds, by holding the idea of what you imagine your life, work or relationship to feel like will help it grow and emerge.
We can nurture our intentions in silence, in the quiet of our being. This in itself holds the opportunity for learning how to be still and sit in the initial discomfort of doing nothing. By just being, we allow ourselves to accept what is. How comfortable are you doing nothing? While some may view doing nothing as unproductive, it is actually the space from which we can create what we want, to allow things to appear and observe without responding, judging or analyzing, but noticing and allowing. I encourage you to take time in your day or week to sit and notice what is bubbling up inside of you as we embark on the New Year. What is it that feels like it needs to move through you? What is it that is calling for you to take notice? What is it you want to create for the year ahead and for your life? Take time to pause, listen and feel what you are being called to observe.
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Live Well Words
December is always a busy time and this year, with so much emphasis on the economy and the re-evaluation of our lives and work, it is especially so. This is a perfect time of year to reflect on how this economic shift has served our growth. While providing an opportunity for growth, it has also been incredibly challenging for many people. It is times like this past year that help us expand beyond our limits and the confined thinking that we get comfortable in. Expanding into new territory can be exciting, painful and require deeper focus inward and a different strategy outward. Yet without growth and shifts like these, life can get pretty sedentary and rote. What have you learned about yourself this year? How have you grown in your thinking and the way you live your life? Are you doing things differently than a year ago? All of these questions help us realize that change can serve us in ways we never imagined, so take heart.
Now, maybe you’re not making as much money as you did last year, but you are employed. Or maybe you’re having a hard time finding employment but you have time to reflect and be clear about what you really want and what will work for you in your life this next year. Think about all those in your life that have laughed with you, cried with you, supported you and loved you. When the waters of change begin to rock your boat, know that it is for your own good, for your growth and if you can be courageous and look inside yourself rather than blaming external circumstances, you could surprise yourself with a gift you never knew you possessed. Stepping into our fear allows our courage to strengthen and our fear of the unknown to dissipate. When the unknown is no longer scary, we trust and when we trust we can truly love ourselves and all those around us. This allows us to live with more ease and joy.
Allow yourselves to slow down, breathe, take heart and acknowledge the gifts this year has given you. Wishing you a holiday that is filled with joy, ease and allowing.
Sit with your spine straight. Place your left hand inside your right hand gently cupped with the thumb tips lightly touching. Your tongue can be lightly pressed against the roof of the mouth. Allow your eyes to be half open, gazing down in front of you. Breathe long, deep and slow. Count your breaths from one to ten. When you reach ten, begin again at one. If you lose track of your counting, just begin again at one without judging yourself. Whenever you notice a thought, place the thought in the palms of your hands. This meditation creates concentrated awareness and a quiet mind.
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Live Well Words
Thank you for your interest in receiving my monthly newsletter. I hope it will inspire and give you some new ideas on how to live more fully. Please let me know if there is anything specific you would like to see in future newsletters.
With Thanksgiving here this month, I thought it would be appropriate to focus on gratitude and how to become more grateful as we embark on the holidays.
When you focus on what you have rather than what is missing, you go from thinking there is not enough to realizing there is more than enough. You shift your mind from negative to positive. The universe itself is complete – nothing is missing. We create negative thoughts and a belief that there is not enough or that we don’t have enough. But by simply aligning with abundant completeness and having gratitude for what you already have, you open yourself up, attract more of what you want and experience more joy and happiness. I find when I can’t sleep at night, I start thinking of all the things I am grateful for and I fall right to sleep. Being in a place of gratitude relaxes our mind and our body. We move from our head where fear lives to our hearts where love lives. By thinking thoughts of gratitude we allow ourselves to appreciate the abundance that surrounds us.
Sit with your spine straight, on the floor or in a chair. Close your eyes and let your hands rest in your lap. Begin to breathe long and deep. As you inhale, feel the breath expanding your belly, ribs, lungs, throat and back, and as you exhale pull the belly toward the spine. As you breathe, begin to relax into your heart, the center of your chest. This is the seat of truth, compassion and unconditional love. If you find it hard to concentrate, think of a word that resonates peace for you or simply repeat the word “allow” to yourself with each breath. Set the timer on your cell phone for three minutes and do this anytime you feel overwhelmed, fearful or agitated.
The breath is the tender charge of God. Without it we could not live. So take a moment to honor your breath, your heart and all that you have. You are enough and you have much to offer. Remember to breathe, allow and open so that the abundance in your life can surround you.
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