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.

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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.

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I’m SO MAD! Re-direct your power to move forward

“When angry, count to four. When very angry, swear.” – Mark Twain

Modern psychology tells us that anger is a secondary emotion rooted in an unmet need, or an immediate response to a primary emotion. It is a response to physical or psychological pain. Anger is powerful and can be used to a positive or negative end. When we feel angry, the brain downshifts to a lower emotional and evolutionary function. Anger is a survival tool that has evolved from the highly effective fight-or-flight response in primitive times when large animals posed a real threat to humans.

If anger is a survival tool, but a secondary response, how can we use it to benefit ourselves and those in our lives? In general I believe that we need to identify the feeling and work with it; but that is a bit simplistic. However, there is something to it. Rather than digging deep into your psyche, I would like to offer a way to re-program your response to anger, and help you re-direct your energy when you feel it lifting it’s head and rising in your body.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing                          it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha

Repressed, prolonged anger is very unhealthy. Some studies show that anger can lead to a weakened heart and stiffening of the arteries. Liver and kidney damage and high cholesterol have been inked to prolonged anger. It can also cause accompanying issues, including depression and anxiety.

To protect your health and wellbeing, it is vitally important to understand your own triggers. Immediately preceding anger, you might feel:

  • afraid
  • attacked
  • offended
  • disrespected
  • forced
  • trapped
  • pressured

This is a pretty good list to help you understand the origins of anger. When I look at the list of primary feelings, I see a common theme: loss of power. When I reflect upon my own anger, I see that when I feel angry, it is always associated with feeling powerless. In these moments, the fight-or-flight response kicks in and I feel my heart rate increase, tension building in my body and the need to strike out or get away from the situation or person that has caused this feeling. I openly admit that I do not always practice what I am about to preach, but every time I do, I feel empowered and in control of my own emotional wellbeing. If you want to feel better, be more in control of your overall wellbeing, then try the following when you feel angry:

Stop Everything. Take Mark Twain’s advice: take a breath and count. This will help stop the trigger from taking full effect and traveling the same pathway as your old reaction. Re-direct your rapid response to the initial emotion, which probably stems from something in the list above. When you quickly stop the response, it gives you time to alter course. If your old emotional response is anger, denial, sadness or some other less productive means, this is an excellent start. If you do nothing more from here, you’ve already made an incredibly relevant change in your life.

Find an Outlet. You’ve counted to four, ten, one hundred, maybe even cursed… Now what? Perhaps the anger has built-up as tension in your body and you need to release it. Sometimes we need to move our body to “get it out.” Stop everything, announce (if appropriate) that you feel angry and need to get some fresh air, then go take a walk. You might feel like you need something more forceful than walking. Try punching pillows or a mattress. You might consider taking a boxing, kickboxing, martial arts, dance, yoga or bootcamp class.

If you are vocal and you need to let it out with your voice, scream into a pillow – a primal release. Your throat might feel a little sore, but you will release it. You may need a more cerebral activity. Try singing, listening to music, writing, painting, drawing, meditating, or anything that brings you relief. Enroll in a class to learn something you’ve always wanted to learn. Perhaps you can find a cooking, art, music or writing class.

Practice Compassion. Be forgiving and patient – with yourself and others. Cut yourself some slack. Try seeing things thru the eyes of others, particularly when you feel angry toward someone. Imagine yourself behaving badly, ask yourself what might cause you to be rude, thoughtless, reckless, etc. Perfection is not the goal; feeling better is. Gaining an understanding of who you really are, having a say in the direction your life takes is what you want, isn’t it?

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet                        you there.”  – Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Along the way, you will no doubt have moments when you want to place blame, stuff-down or externalize your feelings. You have been wronged, you feel a sense of injustice, someone has hurt you or someone you love. This is normal, and you are not alone. However, when you take a moment to stop your automatic, pre-programmed response to wrongdoing, you will begin to find your power. Your feelings will feel safer, you will have more control over your life and you will feel better.

If you take-up a new activity to fill-in the negative spaces with positive activities and thoughts that facilitate a new outlook, you will see your life open up before you. When you take yourself out of your old patterns, you are already making a positive change in your life. You have the power to do this. Re-direct one thought at a time. Rome was not built in one day, and neither are healthy habits. You are a work in progress, and construction can sometimes be messy, loud and disruptive. However, if you keep your eye on the prize and recognize the small changes along the way, you will also experience the joys along the way.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

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Boldy Going….. Where you want to go

Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful.” – William Shakespeare

I like to live my life the way I like my coffee: bold, strong, multi-faceted and somewhat sweet, with a touch of indulgent, creamy goodness. The above quote really caught me because as I look back over the last few years, I see that through some difficult times and struggles, I have found my rhythm, I am living my life with intention, and I have become bolder. I still have goals I want to reach, and aspirations that need attention. I am a work in progress and have experienced a few blips on the radar screen, but as I observe where I am, I see that I have reached down inside of myself and accessed my strength, even, or maybe especially, in my more fragile moments.

If you really know what you want from life, and you are secure in who you are, you will live your life according to your own principles, and you will get your needs met. Make no mistake, diplomacy is key in most situations, and in no way do I mean to say that you should conduct “in-your-face” confrontations to get what you want from life. The boldness I speak of is derived from internal strength, virtue and goodness that cannot be easily shaken, and possesses a beautiful, warm subtlety.

A friend recently observed that some people’s confidence comes from within and some externalize their confidence to cover up what they are lacking in strength. I understand that one must derive boldness from an internal source in order to go anywhere, let alone to the unknown. In-your-face is abrasive and uncomfortable, and does not represent true strength or courage; in fact, that kind of behavior usually masks insecurities and fear.

I am very fond of quiet strength. I believe that in knowing who we are, solidly grounded in our own foundation, we can be bold. In my youth, I had what I call “fake strength” that presented as cockiness, and a little bit as steam roller. It was a feeble attempt to protect myself from getting hurt, to build a tough exterior and prevent anyone from getting close to me. However, with life experience and maturity, I have learned to be quietly bold, and to let down that barrier and just be myself. To me, boldness sometimes means planting a seed, sometimes I “just do it” in spite of my fears; yet other times, it means standing tall in the face of something that seems threatening or scary.

Have you discovered your bold self? Are you ready to make some progress and move forward? If so, then keep reading. If you want to boldly take yourself where you have never been before, to where you really want to be, try this on for size.

“If you want something you never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”      – Dr. Shaun Marler

1. Listen to Your Inner Voice. It is not always easy to know which way to move or where to place your foot in order to take the next step. It may take some time to figure that out. Take a few minutes to listen to your inner voice, and really listen to what it is telling you.

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Dr. Benjamin Spock

Pay attention to your feelings, what your inner voice, or “gut” is telling you. When you listen to your internal voice, the part of you that really knows what you need, you can then allow yourself to expand beyond the farthest reaches of what your life has been so far.

2. Be Open to the Unknown. If you give yourself permission to expand, you will inevitably open yourself to all the possibilities, including the wide-open unknown. Meditate, write in a journal, take a class, or find another way to provide yourself the creative freedom to broaden your horizons. As you open yourself up, you will learn to listen to yourself more closely. When you have begun to really listen and trust yourself, you will step forward without fear, because beneath fear and uncertainty lies the inner knowledge that always tells you which step you need to take next. So, open yourself up, dig a little deeper, brace yourself in your core, and move forward.

3. Take a Step. When you know what you want, and you hear the inner voice say it is time to make a change, you will put one foot forward, take just one step, and you will know you are safe to continue. You will only get to where you want to be, however, if you make it happen. You must be the one to put one foot in front of the other and walk.

The other day, I shared part of a recent struggle on Facebook, and when asked if everything was OK, I said, “Oh yes, all is well. Just processing, growing, opening the next chapter and pushing, pulling, crawling, leaping, shoving myself to the next level.”

We all struggle and have moments when we are lacking in confidence, for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reasons, know you are not alone, and keep on going. Move yourself forward, learn from your mistakes, and trudge ahead. Take the first step toward your bold self, learn to be quietly bold, and get yourself where you need to be.

Believe in yourself, trust your instincts, and keep your intention clear. When you are confident in who you are, your boldness will be natural, and you will take the first step effortlessly. May you be virtuous and good, bold and fearless in your life journey.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

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Pain and Suffering: Healing and growing thru acceptance

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Kahlil Gibran

What a powerful statement. We’ve all heard the phrase, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” right? I suppose that is true, but I do not like the negative connotation, because my literal mind interprets that to mean that great suffering is always negative or that some form of death is imminent. Suffering and pain are a natural part of life. Stuff happens. Life happens, and we cannot control that. We can, however, control how we view life and what we make of our experiences. We can accept the lot we are given and not only make the best of it, but move it the direction we want.

If out of suffering emerge the strongest of souls, then perhaps we need to reach deep down to decide how to use the difficult periods in our lives to build our character and emerge from the ashes stronger, more powerful and ready for action. We all have our own story, and if you know me personally or follow this blog, then you know that I’ve had a significant amount of life change in the past couple of years. Much of that change arose from profoundly painful decisions and experiences, but those were necessary in order for me to find my way to where I am now, and to my current path.

I used my pain as the impetus to start my new life. I will not say I have been able to do this with grace and dignity every step of the way, but I do my best every day given the circumstances and the resources I have (energy, emotional intelligence, time, strength.) I believe scars show as reminders of what we have learned, and will fade over time. I also believe, however, that the challenge is to keep the scars from hindering our ability to continue to move, as some scar tissue does after injury or surgery. This is a strong metaphor. If we leave our painful experiences in place and do nothing to massage, stretch or heal the damaged areas, we will eventually lose some of our mobility.

When the physical body sustains an injury or is recovering from surgery, there are three distinct stages of healing: Acute Inflammation, Repair and Remodeling. I compare the emotional and spiritual healing process to the physical, because I believe that the mind, body and spirit are interconnected, and frankly, linking our emotional healing to something tangible like tissue repair can give us hope and focus. The end of a relationship is an excellent example of the need for healing and recovery.

Almost everyone has experienced the loss of a relationship, either by their own choice or by the other person’s choice. It hurts, is often a blow to the ego and emotions, and can take some time to recover.

Stage 1. Acute Inflammation. This is the time immediately following injury. When a relationship ends, there is a period of pain, sometimes experienced as anger, hurt, frustration, sadness or some combination thereof. As with physical injury, this is very normal. The immediate response is pain, swelling, heat and redness. Inflammation is an imperative part of healing because it helps defuse the toxins to allow the healing process to begin. Plainly stated, we have to feel the injury, the pain, swelling of emotions, and discomfort in order to rid our system of the toxins and negativity that would otherwise fester into something far worse and potentially more damaging. As inflammation decreases, the repair process can begin.

Stage 2. Repair. Damaged structures begin the repair process by forming new connective tissues. This is a fragile time when the injury should not be touched. Only gentle stretching, beginning slowly, and gradually building in intensity over time. At this point, the healing process is building toward remodeling, the final stage.

There is always a period of time after a relationship ends when we need to get ourselves right before we “move on” to another relationship. There is no definite timeframe for this, but we all know we need to take the time to heal, work on figuring ourselves out, learning what we need to learn. This is the time when we are most fragile, and as with physical healing, it is recommended that you allow yourself to heal before hitting the ground running again.

Stage 3. Remodeling. This is the time when you need to take a more active role in your healing. Damaged tissues can be “remodeled” thru a series of range of movement exercises. How fantastically symbolic! Once you have experienced the pain of the injury, given yourself time to feel the pain, allowed the inflammation to push the toxins out of your system, gently eased back into life – into a more active role in your recovery – then you can really remodel and reshape your life.

Taking into account the natural healing process, we can treat difficult times as we would an injury or recovery from surgery by taking this attitude: “Here I am, what now? (or, it is what it is, now what?)” We accept that something has happened, and now we need to recover from it. How do we best do this? It seems for the most part that we readily accept a physical injury and the need to heal from it, but emotionally and spiritually, this presents as a larger challenge. If we change one thing, our perspective, and just accept that we need to heal and move forward, we will already begin to grow in the right direction.

“In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

We have the real opportunity to live fully, with deep meaning and fulfillment. We can all get there with acceptance, love and faith. Allow the hard times to help shape the amazing path in front of you. Let yourself feel the pain, let it flow, and then take an active part in your recovery and keep moving forward. As you travel in this amazing journey called life, you will encounter bumps, twists and turns; this is your time to make that jagged path into something beautiful.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

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Start a Revolution: Creating sustainable change

“In this Revolution no plans have been written for retreat.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am so inspired by this quote, and although it refers to the struggle for racial equality, my wheels are turning. The word revolution is a little radical, but what if we approached changing our lives the same way we might approach starting a revolution? If you want to make your life dramatically different, you are going to need to make some dynamic fundamental changes. So, today I invite you to start your own revolution. Radically change your personal constitution, and never turn back.

Revolution, as defined by Wikipedia, is a “…fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.” If you take this approach to making your life better, there will be no stopping you. While taking our time to smell the roses is in order in its own time, sometimes we need to facilitate a radical change, and quickly.

If you intend to start a revolution, consider this fair warning: you will have to put in the effort. You will have to be dedicated. You will have to choose to make changes, and use your power to get there. You will gracefully glide into the next chapter if you stop resisting and start acting. Remember to be at peace with the flow of life, but continue to look ahead and create forward momentum.

I offer a method to help you start your own revolution, broken down into simple steps, of course.

Step 1. Plan your course of action. Decide which part of your life needs an overhaul. Perhaps your finances are a mess. What do you want to do about it, besides wish you would win the $500 million lotto? Wishful thinking will get you nowhere, and it does not contribute to your overall well-being; it wastes precious energy resources and keeps you from really making a change. So, make a plan. Declare that you will turn your financial situation around. Set a goal with a finite and realistic timeline.

Step 2. Get organized! Prepare, get organized and lay the groundwork to get yourself moving in the right direction. Look at your budget, spending patterns, bank and credit card statements. Examine every aspect, from every angle, and make sure you have all the information you need to get moving. Do not judge yourself, do not go to the negative thought space or tell yourself any of the “should have/could have/would have” business. Self-judgment acts as a roadblock to your personal success, and you deserve better than that. Just look at your finances with a keen eye, make notes and use the information to keep moving forward.

Step 3. Give it direction. Once organized, put your plan in motion. Choose how you want your financial picture to look, sear that image into your mind’s eye and put the ball in motion. Give it direction, keep it on course, and hold yourself to meeting the goal. Set mini goals and exercise self-love as you guide yourself to a better financial picture. You may need outside help to get you on track. Do what you need to do, but make it happen. Be kind and patient with yourself, as you would a small child (I know I’ve said this before, but we sometimes forget to be kind to ourselves.) Set daily goals; decide what you need to do every day to change your spending habits, then do it, a little each day.

Step 4. Quality Control. Raise or lower the bar, as fits your situation. If you set a goal of earning the $500 million instead of winning the lotto and you haven’t yet built your awesome invention, then perhaps you need to lower the bar and be realistic. Keep yourself on track by checking-in daily. Make sure you are working toward that goal and staying on track. If self-sabotage is your pattern, raise the bar and tell yourself you know you can make the daily goal. Work on today only, and raise that bar. Tomorrow is a new day and you will start fresh, no matter what. Every effort you put toward your revolution will pave the road toward lasting change.

Step 5. Never Retreat. You may occasionally need to re-direct course, but never go back. Never retreat from the revolution you have started. Moving backward is not only undesirable, it is unacceptable, and it is not an option. Regression is not an option; progress is our goal. Return to the first step if you need to remember what this revolution is all about.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was an amazing role model. He was powerful, courageous and unbelievably strong. He was a peaceful warrior. There was no plan for retreat; it was not an option. He continued in his struggle against all odds, against immense diversity and resistance. He started a Revolution and gave every ounce of power, strength and grace in his being to make positive, lasting changes to the human condition. We can do the same in our own lives by following his lead.

There will be moments or days when you want to throw in the towel, think you are not cut out for the work required. You have to keep the faith and know that every step you take will get you closer to your goals. I love this quote:

“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” – Peace Pilgrim

Keep this in mind in your darker moments. Remember that your thoughts are incredibly powerful, and if you take a moment to change the way you think about your situation, you will be making a positive change in your entire life. Even the slightest adjustment, say, changing daily coffee shop runs to once per week, can spill-over into other areas of your life. You will begin to take a more mindful approach to how you use your resources, both financially and energetically.

Choose to make a change, set a goal, give yourself a lot of love and grace, and enjoy the revolutionary process.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

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