Holiday Musings

As I sit in my quiet, still-messy-from-the-chaos-of-this-week house, I’m thinking about how blessed and how absolutely in love with life I feel… This is the first time in eight Christmases since my daughter was born that my children will not be with me overnight on Christmas Eve. They will not wake up with me on Christmas morning to see what Santa has brought, to share in the wonder and awe of the spirit and mystery that is Christmas. I am feeling a mixed-bag of emotions. On the one hand, I am somewhat relieved that I get a quiet house for a few days, but on the other hand, I feel a little bit sad to not have my babies with me.

Adjusting to our new life since divorce has been a bumpy road, one riddled with twists and turns that have brought many fears to the surface, and have rewarded us with a bounty of blessings that brings tears of gratitude to my eyes. With the sadness of a mother who never wants to be separated from her children, but the love and compassion of a woman who wants the best for everyone, I share my gratitude and love with you this Holiday season while my children enjoy Christmas with their father, and I reflect…

I am grateful for….

  • my life
  • my children
  • my home
  • my family – mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law and nieces and nephews
  • my career and growing business
  • abundance – we have everything we need and a lot of what we want
  • my TRIBE, my beautiful soul sisters and soul brothers near and far, who support, love and cheer us on
  • closeness
  • distance
  • space
  • coziness
  • boundaries
  • foibles and mistakes
  • fear-turned-excitement
  • anger-turned-compassion
  • sadness-turned-wonder and gratitude
  • discomfort-turned-comfort and true happiness

I would like to share this poem by Khalil Gibran:

On Love

“When love beckons to you, follow him,

Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,

Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him,

Though his voice may shatter your dreams

as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,

So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.

He threshes you to make you naked.

He sifts you to free you from your husks.

He grinds you to whiteness.

He kneads you until you are pliant;

And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,

Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;

For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”

And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.

But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.

To be wounded by your own understanding of love;

And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;

To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;

To return home at eventide with gratitude;

And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.”

I invite you to open your heart to loving yourself, to enjoying the holiday season, and allowing yourself to experience the simple pleasures in life – a smile; a laugh; tears of joy or sorrow; a hug.

May you love yourself and share that love with others this season of light, and all year.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

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On Selecting Your TRIBE: Creating a network of support

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” – Jane Howard

We are born or adopted into a family, and we do not choose that family, for better or for worse. We do, however, subsequently surround ourselves with people we choose – our TRIBE. We have all heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I believe this to be true. I also believe it takes something more specific and specialized than a village to raise a person to his or her greatness; it takes a TRIBE. We attract, assemble and nurture this TRIBE and it lifts us up, guides us, carries, pushes or pulls us as necessary. Even more important, our TRIBE creates a safe environment for self-empowerment. My TRIBE has lifted me up more than once, continues to support me, and continues to grow.

A healthy TRIBE has one very clear understanding: no judgement. The tribal mentality is one of love, support, acceptance, empowerment, growth, celebration and becoming our highest selves – individually, and as a TRIBE. Together we overcome many obstacles. We push, pull or coax one another into the next phase (when assistance is needed and sought); we till soil, plant seeds, fertilize, water and tend a glorious spring harvest of ideas, new thought patterns and personal growth – yielding brighter, funnier, happier, sexier people. Who doesn’t want to be all of those things?

On selecting your TRIBE.

Choose wisely. My parents used to tell me and my sister to choose friends wisely; that water seeks its own level. As a rebellious teenager, I was resistant to this message, but as an adult, those words ring true for me. If water seeks its own level and if the caliber of our friends is lower than what we would like, then we are either projecting something other than our values or it is time to take an honest inventory of where we are, our thoughts, and what we accept.

Are you walking your talk? More importantly, what are you tolerating? Do you have friends who drain you emotionally? Do you avoid returning correspondence with certain friends because of this drain? Does the thought of spending time with this friend light you up or dim the light? Remember YOU are in-charge of your energy, you choose if you want the drain plugged or un-plugged. You decide how to spend your time and energy. Are you spending wisely?

Do you think nice things about yourself? Do you catch yourself making self-deprecating remarks, even if “just kidding”? What thoughts run thru your mind when you look in the mirror? Do you feel jealous of other people? Do you find yourself judging others? Chances are, if you do even a little of this AND you experience draining relationships, it is time to push your re-set button.

If water seeks its own level and we want healthy tribal relationships, then we must first get right with ourselves and be healthy in all aspects of our lives. Take good care of your physical, emotional and spiritual health. Nourish your body with high-quality foods, maintain proper hydration, get enough sleep, be kind to yourself, and make sure you carve-out “me” time every day, even if for a few minutes to check-in.

Once you are right with yourself, you automatically become more attractive and the right kind of people are drawn to you. If you do not believe me, try this: recite an empowering, positive affirmation about yourself five times before you leave your house, let it sink-in, and watch how people respond to you. Wear your favorite color, allow yourself to feel great wearing it, and let that shine. Walk slowly and take notice of people taking notice of you; they will be drawn to that “je ne sais quoi,” that “something special” they see in you.

Know when to reach out. There are times in life when we really need someone to be there for us. We might need a sounding board, a shoulder to cry on or simply to know that someone is thinking of us. It takes courage and strength to ask for help. We have been conditioned to be independent and we have taken it to the extreme, somehow thinking that it is “bad” or “weak” to need help, let alone ask for it. Asking for support is one of the most graceful forms of strength.

Know when to step back. You may encounter situations when you need to step back from your friends or family because you need to take a part of the journey on your own. Just as we need to know when to ask for help, we also need to know when to give it a go on our own, knowing that our friends, family and loved ones will always be there for us.

You may also find times when a loved one is slipping into a pattern of neediness or negativity that is unhealthy for you. This is a time to love yourself enough to put the plug in the drain and conserve your energy for yourself. This act of love not only serves you, but it also serves the other party and those who depend upon you. Sometimes the greatest gift we can offer is “tough love” in the form of loving space. Knowing your limits and lovingly respecting your own boundaries is of vital importance to your overall health and that of the TRIBE.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

Practice compassion. When we first practice compassion with ourselves, we are better equipped to have patience, understanding and respect for ourselves and others. Be kind to yourself, say nice things to yourself, think pleasant thoughts about yourself; share those thoughts with your energy, heart and words.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

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Speak Up! How being honest sets you free

“Say what you need to say. If your message comes from a place of love, it will land exactly as it should, even if it makes waves.” – Tracy Cherpeski

In all areas of life, we are encouraged to be honest. How honest are you? Be real. If you hold your tongue, stuff-down your feelings or shy-away from speaking because you are worried about a negative consequence, are you really being honest? I am an honest person, but I lived a lie for many years. I lied to myself, the world and my former spouse by not allowing myself to feel, let alone speak about, how unhappy I was. At the time I needed to experience unhappiness in order to grow out of it. Interestingly, during that time I regularly experienced laryngitis every time I had even the mildest cold virus. I had quite literally “lost” my voice. Fortunately, I found it, and that is why I am here today, sharing with you.

We all have our reasons for not speaking our mind on occasion. Sometimes it is simply inappropriate, or we are feeling strong emotions that hinder us from using our most impeccable words should we open our mouths to give voice to our thoughts. Sometimes, however, we fear retribution, that we might look bad, or that speaking up might somehow take-away from another’s experience. Do you ever worry about how your words might fall on someone else’s ears, even if you are respectful and loving in your delivery? I certainly have, and still occasionally do. But, when we take a moment to examine those fears, we will see a lot, and from there, choose to free ourselves by being honest.

I offer a method to help you claim your powerful voice. It is not the only way, yet you will learn something and start thinking about how to grab hold of your power and speak up.

Get your needs met. If you are lacking the courage to use your voice in a powerful, respectful and appropriate manner, then it is highly likely you have some unmet needs. Take a moment to find where you might be missing something. Is it self-care? Time to yourself? Are you hungry or thirsty? Are you worried about money, relationships, family or a health matter? If your basic needs are not met, then it will be challenging for you to feel powerful; wouldn’t you agree?

So, get your needs met. Nourish your body with high quality foods. Stay properly hydrated. Get enough sleep; an average of seven hours per night is considered adequate rest for your body to recover and for your brain to organize all the information it absorbed during waking hours. Exercise regularly; move your body for 10-30 minutes at a time, rigorously enough to get your heart rate elevated and your blood pumping. Carve-out time for yourself every day, even if “just” 10 minutes at the end of the day to unwind and enjoy some quiet time to yourself. Recharge your batteries, so to speak, so you can return to balance; everyone needs to disconnect from electronic devices that stimulate and distract, including televisions and computers. Practice this self-care every day; you will feel stronger and will likely begin to speak your mind without even thinking about it.

Be “brutally” honest. When you find yourself searching for words, take a moment to ask yourself a few questions: Does this person or situation contribute to my overall wellbeing? If not, does it make sense to engage in conversation, or politely excuse yourself? Have you felt unhappy in your job or relationship(s)? If so, you may need to make a few minor adjustments first by ensuring your needs are met, and then by addressing the issues at hand, which we will visit shortly.

When you are honest with yourself and getting your needs met, you will be able to communicate easily, clearly and with authority. My daughter set a shining example of this honesty last weekend when she tested for her high white belt in Tae Kwon Do (she passed – proud mama!) When the Master interviewed her, he asked her if she likes Tae Kwon Do. She answered, “Sort of, sir!” She told me that he smiled at her as if he totally understood. One of the principle articles in Tae Kwon Do is honesty, and the Master appreciated and honored her answer. I love how she spoke her truth without worrying that she might offend or upset him. We could all take a page from her book.

Write a script. Many of us have studied a variety of topics to prepare ourselves for our careers and hobbies. We prepare scripts for interviews, speeches and presentations. Why not do the same in life? When we are prepared with a script, it takes the pressure off, particularly if the topic is emotionally-charged. If you are upset with a friend who did something that you experienced as hurtful, you could start by saying, “I feel disappointed/sad/frustrated,” and then say nothing more. Let your friend ask you questions and engage in the conversation. Use phrases like “I experienced,” or “I felt,” or prepare a whole lead-in to the conversation, such as, “I feel… I don’t want… What do you think?” Now you sit back, take a few breaths and quietly listen.

Body language. Make sure your body reads as loving and open. Leaning-in, arms crossed and resting on the table can read as threatening and aggressive. Sit comfortably in a chair, leaning back, hands resting in your lap, palms up. This is open, inviting, non-threatening body language, and is usually well-received. It sets the tone for an open conversation.

Being courageous takes practice until it feels natural. Be honest with yourself and share your honesty with the world. It is the best gift you can ever give, and it will set you free.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

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Silver Linings and Vocabulary Changes: A tutorial in gratitude

“Your daily life is your temple and your religion. When you enter into it take with you your all.” – Kahlil Gibran

I love this quote, and I love anything written by Kahlil Gibran. I am sure some feathers might experience a little ruffling with the temple and religion reference, but I am certain if you are here to read this blog, you can get around that to continue reading. So, join me for a lesson in developing an attitude of gratitude.

I am tempted to launch into a lecture about ungrateful behavior, but that seems, well, ungrateful. I am grateful for the examples of ingratitude I can reference in my own mind, because they shine a light on areas in need of improvement in my life. I believe that every person enters our lives for a reason, even if “just” someone you witness while running errands. Have you ever noticed bad behavior, and then found yourself judging the person? I sure have. I think myself relatively non-judgmental, but I catch myself in that old pattern once in a while. I did this morning while sitting in the waiting room at urgent care with my daughter (all is well, thankfully).

A very young woman with an adorable two-year old daughter tall enough to be four or five, and heavy enough to be considered obese, was also waiting. I first caught myself judging her for allowing her child to be overweight. Then I caught myself judging her for talking about how bright and articulate her little girl was. After that I caught myself judging her for how loudly she was chastising her sweet little girl for climbing on the chairs (she is only two after all.) I suddenly realized how easy it was for me to slip into the judgmental mode, and stopped myself immediately – but not until I had already consciously judged her at least three times. I reminded myself that everyone has their own story, and it’s none of my business how someone else raises their children unless I witness abuse; then all bets are off. You might be wondering why I am talking about my judgmental attitude if I am writing about gratitude. In catching myself judging a fellow mother, I realized that I go to that judgmental place when I am fearful, for whatever reason, and it is my way of deflecting responsibility – a very clear example of a lack of gratitude.

Along the lines of fearfulness and a need to shift to gratitude, I will share another personal story. When my daughter was born, she failed her hearing test in the hospital. When she failed it again at an audiologist’s office three weeks later, I was really scared. I had no idea what a ‘failed hearing test’ meant – if my daughter was deaf, if we would need to learn sign language, how that would affect our family, if kids would tease her for wearing hearing aids, and the list of fears goes on. By the time all of the testing was complete, she was diagnosed with a mild-to-moderate hearing loss, and received her first pair of hearing aids at just 9 weeks old. In the very moment the audiologist turned the aids on, she was speaking to us about how to use them, and my beautiful baby turned her head, looked right at the audiologist and cooed, as if to say, “OH! That’s how you sound! Thank you!” Tears of joy, relief, and most importantly, gratitude, flowed freely.

In grappling with the uncertainty, I found myself saying, “This is not life-threatening. Her heart and all life-sustaining organs function perfectly well. She is healthy.” But until I had some kind of “proof” that she was going to be OK, those thoughts were scarcely enough. In the time that has passed – my daughter is now eight – life has brought me numerous opportunities to move from scared, worried, angry and negative to grateful. Sometimes I find myself expressing gratitude for a lesson I’m about learn, for in the midst of a trial, I cannot see the wisdom, but I trust that I will learn from it.

I share these personal stories to help you understand that we are all learning, always. We are beautiful works in progress, and every day we can learn something new. Waking up ready to embrace each day and learn from it is a step toward an attitude of gratitude. How else can you shift your thinking and ultimately free yourself from negativity, self-sabotage and other unnecessary burdens? There are a number of ways, and I will address two starting points: change your vocabulary and look for the silver lining. I will likely write more on gratitude at a later date.

Change your vocabulary. Yes, it’s that simple. Change your speech and thought patterns:

Instead of: “Try”

Change to: “I do”

Instead of: “I should do X”

Change to: “I could do X; I choose Y”

Instead of: “Have to”

Change to: “I intend”

Instead of: “I don’t have enough money”

Change to: “I am blessed with abundance”

Instead of: (an immediate) “No”

Change to: “Hmm, let me think about that”

Instead of: “This always happens to me”

Change to: “I’m grateful to recognize a pattern I can change”

Look for the silver lining. That may sound a little pie-in-the-sky (in the true meaning: promising heaven while continuing to suffer on earth) but I assure you that when you look for the positive in things, you will begin to find it. Does that mean you will live a life free of difficulties and trials? Absolutely not, but how you handle life’s ups and downs is key. Find the good in things. Remember there is always opportunity to learn. For that, I am always grateful.

I wish you the best on your journey as you make small changes that have tremendous impact, and I am grateful for you.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

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What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do: Coach Tracy’s guide to problem-solving

“Never try to solve all the problems at once – make them line up for you one-by-one.”

– Richard Sloma

Do you ever need to make a decision and feel stuck? Sometimes we have several decisions to make at once, or a larger problem that feels insurmountable, and all we want to do is crawl back into bed and pull the covers over our heads. Who has not been there? I sure have, at least once, and maybe even twice. OK, I have probably been there a lot more than twice, but I digress…

When we are faced with a problem or a very important decision, why is it that we often go into a state of panic, overwhelm, denial, blame, avoidance or procrastination? There are a number of possible reasons, including, but not limited to: fear, lack of self-confidence, buying-in to others’ influence (good, bad or indifferent) or a sincere lack of knowledge about the subject at hand. As a regular human being, I can say I’ve experienced all of the above, and even had a touch of that as recently as last week. As a success coach, however, I will pose the following for you to consider:

It is what it is. So what? Now what?

  1. It is what it is. OK, ‘it’ has happened or presented itself. So there it is, in front of you, the elephant in the corner. You can close your eyes and pretend you don’t see it, but you already saw it, you can sense it, and you have an acute awareness of it’s presence. If it is an event from the past, then you are now facing it in the present. Whatever the case, accept that it is there; it just is.
  2. So what? What do you want to do about ‘it’? Is it life-threatening? If so, you know what to do, right? Call 9-1-1, run away or protect yourself somehow. But, it is likely NOT threatening your life, and it is now time to decide what to do. How would you like the outcome to look? Is your desired outcome specific and realistic? Is it in-line with your core values? Decide what you really want to do about it.
  3. Now what? What are you willing to do about it? What action steps are you willing to take right now to achieve the end you desire? Decide what you can and will do, then break it down and devise the plan to get to the end you picture.

Once you have worked your way thru the above thought process, now create momentum. Put your action plan into action. If the plan seems too grand, break it down into smaller steps, and then take the easiest or most logical step. If you still feel stuck, take a step back and examine with softer eyes; notice that it is not as large as you once perceived. So, with soft eyes and a smaller task at hand, take a step.

Still daunting? Work backward from the end result to where you are now and figure out what makes sense or what is easiest to do first, and then take a step. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know at the moment… If it doesn’t turn out right, we can modify as we go along.” You can always modify the plan if the trajectory ahead looks like it’s not going toward the end you envisioned, but you must get started.

As a recovering perfectionist, I have gotten caught-up many times in the process of analyzing the problem or the multiple possible solutions rather than doing something to pave the path to the solution, either for fear of failure, or quite possibly for fear of success. So, do something, anything to create momentum. You are smart, experienced and perfectly capable of changing course if you discover that the plan you execute is moving you in a direction that does not contribute to your overall wellbeing.

“You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” – Edwin Louis Cole

One thing is certain: if you choose to stay in one place, you will remain in that place. If that is uncomfortably comfortable, then it is time to make a change, take the decision that feels right, or take the decision that feels uncomfortable and pushes you beyond your comfort zone. When you push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will grow. How you envision your success will expand and you will begin to make decisions effortlessly, and the work will feel effortless, no matter how “hard” it is.

It’s not about a task “being easy” but the feeling of effortless draw as you begin to create momentum. Momentum is your friend, if you create it. There are times when we need to fix our eyes on the desired outcome, and that will propel us forward. However, there are plenty of times in life when we simply need to get started. The best way to get started is to think about and envision the goal, and then create a plan from there (and note that thinking about the outcome, envisioning the goal and creating the plan are steps taken, so you have already created momentum.) Once you have a plan, you can adjust as necessary, but in order to get anywhere near the finish line, you must take the necessary steps and keep going. Remember the “Little Engine That Could”? She kept moving forward, with a positive attitude, believing that she could do it, saying to herself, “I think I can…” Well, I KNOW you can, so put one foot in front of the other, create forward momentum and keep going.

When we become crystal clear about what we want, focus on creating the path, and then take the path, we can achieve anything.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

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Happy Birthday to my AMAZING Daughter!

Happy 8th Birthday to my AMAZING daughter! Isabella, you are a bright, sparkly light and I love you more than words can say. You inspire me every day to be brighter, kinder and better. The world is a better place with you in it, and I am so honored, blessed and grateful that you chose me.

You are my:

Sunshine
Muffin (Mc Muffin)
Sugar Plum Fairy
Sugar Bugar
Sweetness
Love Bug
Mufaletta

I love you so much!
Love, Mami.

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Open Your Heart, Find Yourself: Opening yourself to all the possibilities brings you exactly what you need

“Only from the heart can you touch the sky.” – Jalal ad-Din Rumi

I used to love the phrase, “The sky’s the limit” until I shifted my thinking to unlimited possibilities. That phrase instantly became less meaningful because the sky is not high enough. In recent soul-searching, I ran across the above quote. I absolutely adore how Rumi’s words are timeless, and how even the shortest phrase can have such a monumental impact, so much so that I shifted my entire perspective. I believe that life brings us exactly what we need, when we need it – that is easy for me to incorporate into my thinking. I can even use several different methods to help others understand that logically. However, I noticed recently that when I brought myself out of my logical mind and back into my heart and my passion, more doors began to open.

So, I asked myself, “What’s that all about?” I confess limited knowledge of the Law of Attraction; I have not studied it and probably will not get to reading about it for a while, yet I think I have a basic understanding. When we find our own happiness, lead with our hearts rather than our logical or analytical processes, we find and follow our passion. When we believe in what we do, in any area of our lives (business, personal, relationships, family, volunteering, spirituality/religious practice) we attract to us exactly what we need. If we are focused on negativity, the past, fear or other people’s problems, we experience negativity, repeat patterns, create blockages and attract people who are no good for us and drain our energy.

Stop to think about this for a moment. Without re-living your past, think about a time when things seemed to go wrong all the time, so much that you felt like you couldn’t catch a break. Do you remember how you felt, how you thought, your attitude about life? Do not linger there, do not analyze, just observe and note how you felt. Now, remember a time when you felt amazing and good things were happening all around you. You might have even had seemingly random opportunities plop right into your lap. Maybe you had the most amazing romantic encounter ever. Perhaps the dream job you always wanted landed in your path, and you accepted it. Possibly a series of incredible events converged to bring one very positive outcome. Notice the differences between the two sets of circumstances. Which do you prefer? I know which I prefer, and would choose it at every opportunity.

When you felt amazing, incredible things were happening around you and life was great, which happened first? Do you believe that stuff happened and then you felt great, or do you believe that you brought those wonderful circumstances and people to your life because you were in a good place in your life? We could probably have a “chicken or egg” discussion here, but let us assume that good things come to us when we are living a passionate life, and we feel good about what we do, who we are, and the people we have chosen to accompany us on our journey. In any case, good things seem to breed more good things.

“You are a creator; you create with your every thought… You are attracting the essence of whatever you are giving your attention to – whether wanted or unwanted. And so, you often create by default.”  – Abraham-Hicks

Regardless of whether you subscribe to the Universal Law of Attraction, everyone can benefit from answering the following questions:

  1. What makes you feel happy? Make a list, write a note, whatever format you choose, but write it all out. Whatever it is that makes you feel happy inside, write it down. It could be something so simple as a color, a smell or the sound of children laughing. Notice if any of the things that make you feel happy have anything to do with you. Do you externalize your “happiness” or do you choose activities and experiences that you can create yourself?
  2. What stirs your passion? Do you love music, theatre, flowers, sports, hiking? Do you feel passionate about helping others, cooking, writing, race cars? Whatever it is, write out all of the things you feel passionate about.
  3. If you could have the life you want, how would that look? Write down your ideal life. Aim as high as you wish. If your ideal life seems absurd to your rational mind, write it down anyway. If you want to run off to the mountains to write a book, live on your own island, travel the world, get married, have 2.3 children and live happily ever after, whatever it is, write it down, all of it.

Now with your happy thoughts, passion and ideal life in mind, observe how you feel inside. Do you feel positive, or are you hung-up on the “impossibilities” of getting what you want out of life? What do you need to do to get the life you want? What keeps you from getting what you want and need?

I invite you to make one small change. Every time you find yourself thinking there is no way you could ever achieve what you want from life, STOP immediately and take a breath. Picture holding the negative thought in the palm of your hand, and send it away. Blow it away, toss it or brush it away; just be done with it. Shift your focus back to what makes you feel happy, passionate and on the path to your ideal life. When you come back to the happiness only you can create and the simple things that bring you joy, you align yourself with your purpose, which keeps you inside of your heart. Only thru the heart can you touch the sky. How profound. Open your heart and reach as high as you wish.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

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What To Do? The answer lies in the question

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” – Dr. Seuss

I recently read a quote on Facebook by Mike Klingler, “The answers are in your questions.” If you think about it, whenever you ask yourself a direct question, you will learn that you probably already know the answer. What amazes me is that we often don’t think to ask ourselves because we are blocked against the answer. The answer might stir us to attention and “force” us to make an effort toward our goals.

I write about this because I recently stopped the spinning wheels long enough to ask myself the questions I needed to ask in order to find my answers. A number of different business opportunities have presented in the past couple of months, and one in particular seemed very promising. However, I had a slight tugging feeling that I tried to ignore because I really wanted it to work. Yet somehow I knew in my heart that it might not be the right fit for me or for my company. I stopped and asked myself this simple question, “How do I feel about this opportunity when I imagine the long-term picture?” My answer was simple, “I do not see this in my long-term picture.” WOW, that’s powerful! I didn’t have any feeling necessarily, I just didn’t even see it in my long-term picture.

The next question I ask myself when I get such a strong answer, “OK, so now what?” My answer, again, was simple, “Step back on your path. Trust yourself, ask for what you want and keep moving forward.” This business proposal presented for a number of reasons, including a clear opportunity to change a pattern I nearly allowed myself to repeat, expanding my network and further empowerment. I am a professional, I know where I want to be, and my vision is clear. Now, I need to step back on my path and continue moving forward.

If you trust yourself, you will begin to unravel the old thought patterns and roadblocks you have placed in front of yourself. Every time you take an honest inventory, asking yourself pointed questions and answering honestly, you can begin to take steps toward reaching your goals. When you take an honest inventory, examining every detail with a keen and watchful eye – for example, plants in a nursery – you start to see that not all things are equal, even if they have come in the same container and have the same label. So, if you have 100 potted plants yet only 87 of them are in good enough condition to sell to customers, then your honest inventory reveals 87 potted plants available for sale.

What does your honest inventory reveal to you? What is your question? Do you feel like you have gotten off-track and need to come back but don’t know where to start? Ask yourself the question or questions that lead you to the answer you probably already know. Once you ask and have your answer, you can get to work. If you are blocked and feel you cannot even formulate a question, I can help you, with a few simple steps.

If you have no idea where to start, try any of the following, then proceed to the final step:

Write it Down. Try writing a stream of consciousness journal first thing in the morning. Do it in a dark or dimly lit room, or close your eyes while you write. Ask the questions and answer yourself. Throw all the possibilities into the mix. Ask anything and everything, even what may seem absurd to your rational mind. Write a few pages, set it down and get your day started. When you have a chance to get back to it a little later in the day, read what you wrote; do not judge, just read and let it soak in.

Stop, Drop and (Let It) Roll. If you are feeling panicked or anxious, stop what you are doing. Take a deep breath, drop your thoughts into your belly and ground yourself. Roll your shoulders and move your head and neck around while you take two or three deep breaths. Now ask yourself this question: “What do I feel right now?” Answer honestly. Perhaps you feel fear, anger, resentment, resistance or sadness. Identify your feelings. Now, ask yourself, “What do I want from this situation or relationship?” Answer honestly. If you want a business deal, some sort of satisfaction or a positive outcome, then ask the next question to reveal how you will get what you want.

Make A Commitment To Yourself. Once you have asked the questions and answered honestly, make a commitment to yourself to always be thoughtful and mindful. Commit to asking the questions openly, and to answering them honestly. Trust yourself, believe in your abilities and know you are smart and capable enough to answer your questions.

Now you take action.

Create Your Path. You have asked and answered your questions, now ask yourself, “OK, so what now?” Make a decision based on the answer to that question and stick with it. Decide what you need to do next. Trust that you have chosen well. If you misstep, you will right yourself. Don’t fret over what could happen or whether you made the right decision. Remove the uncertainty and “Just do it, NOW!” Sometimes the hardest thing is not answering the question or taking action, but in ASKING the question. You are beyond that now, so take action and watch your life change with every step you take.

Examine your questions carefully; do not judge, just be honest. Do not complicate the question. Be straightforward, and as Dr. Seuss says, the answer is likely to be quite simple. I wish you the best as you search for your answers, and know you will find them when you start asking the questions.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

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High Value vs. High Maintenance: Placing value on yourself

“Only the man who crosses the river at night knows the value of the light of day.”      – Chinese Proverb

We place value on all kinds of things: cars, houses, toys, other objects and our loved ones. I wonder, though, do we place enough value on ourselves? Do we know how to differentiate between placing high value on ourselves and being “high maintenance”? I think we get confused along the way. I sent a silly text to a friend a while ago, and it went something like this:

Me: “My hairspray costs $22.95. Does that make me high maintenance? 😉

Friend: “HAHAHA! No sister, it makes you have fabulous hair.”

First, let me say: my friends are the best! But, regardless of whether I spend too much on hairspray, and we can debate the finer points privately, it made me think about whether or not I value myself highly enough. I certainly don’t give too much thought to how much I spend on hairspray because I like how it works on my hair in the humid climate here in the DC area. However, when I thought about it, I also realized that I had not been giving too much thought to how much time, energy and effort I was giving to other people’s needs, often at the expense of my own. So, in a simplified way, I was placing more value on my hair than on my own energy and time. This got my wheels turning. If I mis-direct my personal value, others must do it too.

Ask yourself: Do I spend my energy wisely? Do I place high value on myself? Do I make value statements thru my choices, words and actions? Consider the quote below.

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” – M. Scott Peck

How much time do you let slide in one day? Do you dedicate time to things that do not serve you or benefit your family? Are you able to say no when you really don’t have time or energy to complete the task that is asked of you? Do you feel guilty for saying no, or putting your needs ahead of others? If so, read on.

I believe that the difference between high value and high maintenance is very clear: high value comes from an internal belief and understanding of who you are. If you place a high value on yourself, you will automatically create and maintain firm boundaries, carve-out “me time” and treat yourself and others with compassion. High maintenance is an externalized need to validate yourself by being outwardly demanding or needy. If you want to see yourself as, and be, high value, you are moving in the right direction already by thinking about it. Now, take immediate action.

Replace old negativity with positive messages. When you find yourself thinking negatively about yourself or others, stop yourself, take a breath, and say, “Hmmm.” No judgment, no analysis. Just, “Hmmm.” Now, take another breath and send the negativity away with a strong exhale. Find something good about yourself, the person or situation. Say it aloud or to yourself. The idea is to remove the negative thoughts and replace them with positive messages, immediately. Every time you think negatively or place judgment on yourself or others, you etch-away at your own value. We want to increase  our value, don’t we?

Account for your time and use it wisely. Do you run out of productive time? Observe how you spend your time, without judgment. If you spend a lot of time surfing the internet with no goal in mind and feel the time crunch elsewhere in your day, set aside a dedicated time to do that, but finish the biggies on your to-do list first. Reward yourself with free time to surf.

Along those lines, do you feel overwhelmed and over-committed? If you do, pause before agreeing to do something you are not certain you have time to do. If you are the volunteer extraordinaire at your children’s school, does that bring you joy? If it does, but you also feel like you can never catch your breath, start delegating some tasks to other volunteers, setting a time limit on your volunteer activities and (gasp!) practice saying “no.” If saying no immediately feels uncomfortable, here is a great way to get out of it gracefully, with dignity intact: say, “Hmm, let me think about it and get back to you.” You can send an (unapologetic) email saying that at this time you do not feel you have the time to dedicate to properly completing the task.

Release drama. I recently adopted the following motto for my “outside my home” life: I will not tolerate drama from people to whom I did not give birth. My children are little and provide enough dramatic flair for this busy mama. I do not have energy for additional drama. I quietly remove myself from dramatic conversations, take a breath and try to leave it behind. I do not engage. I do my best to stay out of gossip and other related drama. I do not always escape and avoid engaging, but I usually do, and the quality of my life has improved tremendously.

Practice Compassion. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself kudos, give kudos to others. Celebrate your accomplishments, and feel proud of yourself. Allow yourself to feel happy for others, especially if they have achieved something you have not yet. Let others inspire you, and be your own inspiration. One way to practice compassion is to write yourself a letter praising yourself. Allow yourself to feel happy for where you are right now. Write encouraging, motivating notes to yourself. When you practice compassion with yourself, you will automatically give it to others.

Be courageous in making changes, yet soft and humble. Be kind to yourself and to others. You will notice a brighter outlook and your life will change for the better.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

Posted in Exercise, family, fitness, life coaching, lifestyle management, meditation, energy, chanting, workout,, Money Management, Motivation, natural medicine, personal growth, relaxation, Self Improvement, Self-Help, spirituality, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, women, Yoga | 3 Comments

Pinch Me, I’m Dreaming! Using dreams as a guide

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” – Oscar Wilde

Our dreams tell us a lot. Sometimes the brain is simply uploading and organizing information while we sleep, and this is one of the reasons why sleep is critical to our overall wellbeing. However, our dreams can also give us insight to our internal workings when we are processing information from our waking life. If you are trying to sort out an emotional situation or if you are ignoring something, the brain and subconscious have a way of bringing you to attention by sending you a whopper of a dream. Some people experience recurring dreams. Some experience chasing, scary or euphoric hero dreams. All of this is your subconscious sorting out situations and input from your waking life.

The study of dream analysis has been varied over the years. In ancient Egypt and Greece, dreams were seen as a supernatural communication or as a means of divine intervention. In Europe toward the end of the 19th century, dreams were used as an integral part of psychoanalysis, and the perceived content of those dreams was said to reveal the latent meaning to the psyche of the dreamer (Sigmund Freud’s work The Interpretation of Dreams is a famous and relevant example of dream interpretation.)

While I believe that dreams offer us a some juicy symbolism for our waking lives, I also like the word “dream” for how we see our lives unfolding. Our hopes and aspirations are also “dreams.” When I was younger, I had a number of dreams: go to college, grad school, get married, have a couple of children, own a home, etc. I have achieved all of those dreams, yet I still see my complete dream as unfulfilled. I continue to expand the idea of that dream and fill it in with some very interesting and fun experiences, new people and brighter outlook.

How do you feel about your dreams? Are they still alive? Have you ever felt like your dream was shattered? I have. When my marriage ended, I had to examine what my dream was, why it felt shattered into a million bits, and whether my dream was really my own, or something I had worked toward because I thought that was what I was supposed to be doing. I have since learned that my dreams were tied into what I believed I was supposed to be doing, what I believed I should dream of. I recently had coffee with an amazing coach, Margie Warrell, and she said we all need to stop “should-ing on” ourselves. The moment we use the word “should” we are already wrong, because “should” automatically places judgment on ourselves or others.

I want to tie this to dreams because as my life unfolds, I open myself to all the possibilities and watch everything come together, I recognize that when I stopped “should-ing on” myself and allowing myself to dream of what I really want, I started to feel free, and that freedom has allowed me to expand my dreams and aspirations. Now my dream includes expanding my business, helping people change their lives, hopes for my children, our life together and a whole host of future experiences.

Would you like to fulfill your dreams? How can you do that? I can help you get the ball rolling, with a few easy steps. What lies ahead might seem somewhat disjointed, but I assure you that you will enjoy changes and see results almost immediately if you open your mind and heart to creatively choosing a new path for yourself.

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” – James Dean

Dream big. Write down what you want from life. Be adventurous, bold and aim high. Write it out with specifics like places you want to visit, things you want to see, the salary you know you deserve, how you envision your life in the bigger picture. When we put it down on paper, it becomes more real to us. You can get more specific by setting mini-goals to keep you going, or keep it big picture, stretched-out across the horizon.

Pay attention to your dreams. Your dreams can shed a lot of light on your waking life. If you have a very symbolic dream that leaves you scratching your head, write it out and jot down your thoughts on what it could mean in your life. I often refer to a dream analysis website when I have a crazy dream that needs some more thought, and I pulled some basic symbolism for you to shed some light on your own dreams:

Recurring Dreams: indicates unresolved issues or unhealthy patterns

Nightmares: suggests that there is an unresolved issue with emotional or frightening content, perhaps a health issue you have been avoiding

Chasing Dreams: a metaphor for some type of insecurity. You are avoiding a situation you think is not conquerable

Animals: your own physical characteristics, primitive desires, sexual nature, depending on the animal.

Try lucid dreaming. Lucid dreams occur when you are somewhere between asleep and awake. In a lucid dream, you can actively participate in and manipulate imaginary experiences in the dream. You can confront perceived threats and improve your self-confidence. Using lucid dreams can help you sort out a problem from your waking life and visualize and practice asking for what you want and need – practice a speech, prepare for an event, ask for a raise, etc.

Set high goals for yourself, give yourself permission to touch and embrace your dreams. Be mindful of what your subconscious is telling you while you sleep. Use the symbolism to sort out issues you may have buried that need attention. Your dreams can guide you to your better path, to the life you want, if you are willing to listen and take action to change your life.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

Posted in Exercise, family, fitness, life coaching, lifestyle management, meditation, energy, chanting, workout,, Money Management, Motivation, natural medicine, personal growth, relaxation, Self Improvement, Self-Help, spirituality, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, women, Yoga | 2 Comments