In a Mood

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In a Mood

How quickly does your mood change?

If you’re like me, it takes about a millisecond.

You’re going about your day and things are either good, neutral, or lousy.

BAM! – some tiny little thing happens and it sends you reeling in the opposite direction.

This morning, it was my husband’s energy that did it.

Sometimes it’s something more tangible - a phone call, an email, a Facebook post – but this morning Paul, my rock, was actually worried about something and his worry hit me like a thunderbolt.

In the blink of an eye, I had a stomach ache.

In the old days, that moment, that thunderbolt, would have informed the rest of my day. I would have taken it on as my own. Retelling his story in my head over and over and adding in my own fears as it grew and grew.

Back then, I would have gotten nothing done today.

Back then, my mood would have infected others like Paul’s infected me.

Back then, I would have made things worse by adding my worry to his and his to mine, back and forth, each of us feeding the monster, both of us sliding down the spiral together.

Now things are different.

I know that I don’t have to stay there. I know that I can switch my mood back – maybe not to feeling great, but definitely to neutral.

And neutral is productive.

It’s better than worried. It’s better than rumination. And it’s a hell of a lot better than the catastrophizing future-cast.

Learning to shift your thinking and your energy isn’t about hearts and ponies. We’re not donning rose colored glasses and ignoring reality.

Some things are just plain crummy, and that’s life. Pretending otherwise to cheer yourself up will give you a whole host of new problems.

No, shifting your thinking isn’t about hiding. It’s about facing reality and nothing else (the nothing else being the stories your telling yourself about the reality).

The pain of the reality – no matter how grim – is always a fraction of the pain caused by the stories we tell ourselves about it.

This Week: 
Mood Shifting in 3 1/2 Simple Steps

  1. Clarify the reality. 

    You probably don’t even recognize what the reality is at first. Dial it back to the fact – the thing it is without the story. (i.e. “He broke up with me.” “The diagnosis is x.” “She appears to be angry with me.”)

    Each of these has no story attached. Even the one about anger… You’re not making up the story that she IS angry. You can’t possibly know that for sure. What you do know, is that through your lens, she appears to be angry.

  2. Choose your response.

    Is there anything you can (or wish) to do right now that would be useful as it relates to this situation?

    If there is, do it. 

    If not, choose the to do the thing you had planned to do next before the mood-shifting thing happened.

  3. Get present.

    Take a few centering breaths and direct your attention to the task at hand. 

    Each time your mind presents you with an emotion or story about the situation, acknowledge it without judgement and direct your attention back to your chosen task.

3.5 Get grateful

Appreciate yourself for making the shift – even if it’s a small one. It’s better than before. ; )

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Peace on Earth?

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Peace on Earth?

I know a lot of extraordinary people - really intelligent, successful, kind, funny, loving people.

I’m lucky that way.

When it comes to politics, some of them support the current administration. Some of them don’t.

In both cases though, they’re adamant.

That’s OK.

I’m adamant too.

My political beliefs are steeped in my values, in my desires for my children, and in my hopes for the future. They’re worth fighting for. They’re worth standing up for and speaking out about. They’re worth leaning in and being uncomfortable.

We all want the world to be a safer, better, more peaceful place.

But in that pursuit - the pursuit to make the world a better place - we’ve gotten sidetracked.

From both sides, the conversations have degraded into public shouting matches filled with name-calling, finger pointing, and all too often, misinformation.

We’ve begun to police one another’s thoughts by invalidating the opinions of our “enemies”, and in some cases, even forbidding those opinions to enter the dialog.

And it’s getting worse.

Traditional media sources like television, radio, and newspapers are increasingly playing to their own target markets giving us each more of the same rather than challenging us to expand beyond our own experiences, understanding and preferences.

Our social media and internet news feeds have algorithms that, by design, only feed us what we apparently like.

Americans are afraid.

And fear is a tricky thing. It overrides reason and common sense. It pushes empathy aside. It feeds on itself and it grows. Under the heavy blanket of fear, we will choose poorly.

Peace on the other hand, comes from understanding, and understanding can only come from free thought, free speech, and open discourse. To understand we must do more than take sides.

We must listen with curiosity.

We must respect that all values come from an innate desire to do right and to protect those we love.

Peace is a different kind of zero-sum game. Unless it is shared by all, it is experienced by none.

This Week: 
Let there be peace on earth.

Some thoughts to contemplate this week….

“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” 
~ John F. Kennedy

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”
~ Albert Einstein

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you want to end the war then Instead of sending guns, send books. Instead of sending tanks, send pens. Instead of sending soldiers, send teachers.” 
~ Malala Yousafzai (17 year-old Noble Peace Laureate)

“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.”
~ Dalai Lama XIV

“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.” 
~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton

“Anxiety is the illness of our age. We worry about ourselves, our family, our friends, our work, and our state of the world. If we allow worry to fill our hearts, sooner or later we will get sick.” 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Security is mostly superstition. It doesn’t exist in nature nor do we as human beings experience it. Avoiding the danger of life is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.” 
~Helen Keller'

“Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.” 
~ President Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year!

Are you setting a goal or making a resolution for the coming year?

Over half of Americans will.

  • Most of them will be women.

  • 8% will succeed.

  • Of the 92% that fail, most will have made the same resolution at least three other times in their lives.

So, what’s going on here? Are that many of us lazy, undisciplined slugs?

Not even close.

We are hardworking, passionate, value-driven women who never seem to stop. We juggle our careers with the needs of kids, elderly parents, and relationships while managing households, worrying about money and trying to squeeze in a little self-care.

Every single one of us has set and met many, many goals in her lifetime.

And yet, there is this one thing – this one really, really, really wanted thing, that never quite materializes no matter how many times we try to make it happen.

Sound familiar?

If it does, take a d e e p b r e a t h.

As my New Year’s gift to you, I’ve created a little Do-It-Yourself workbook with some of the strategies I’ve used to get myself and my clients over the hump and on to achieving our biggest goals.

Believe me. You’ve got this.

This Week: 
Lookout 2019, here we come!

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Oh HO!!!!

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Oh HO!!!!

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

I’m Santa.

I have been for years.

And I’m a damn good one too. I work hard to make sure that everyone gets what they really want or need each year.

Every good Santa does. That’s the magic.

This year, I’ve decided to make that same commitment to myself…to make sure that I get what I really want.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. It’s so much easier to work hard for others than it is to do for ourselves.

So, I’m enlisting a bit of support (from my Santa-self). You may want to try it too!

This Week: 
Write a letter to your Santa-self.

Here’s mine….

Dear Santa –

This year I’d like:

  • To let myself be playful again.

  • To laugh out loud every day. (The real way – from my belly, not the lol way that comes from my thumbs.)

  • To be sure to touch in regularly with the people I love (no matter how busy I am).

  • To remember to see the person right in front of me (the cashier at Starbucks, the UPS guy, the lady across from me on the train, etc…). To meet their eyes and smile, even when it’s just in passing.

  • To ask for what I need from the people who care about me.

  • To accept fear for what it is and move on.

  • To continue to earn the trust of my friends, children, husband, sibling, parents, colleagues, and clients.

  • To revel in the simple beauty of living this life and to be grateful for every single moment of it.

Thanks Santa.

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Be Careful. It’s Contagious.

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Be Careful. It’s Contagious.

There is so much hatred, fear, and pain in the world.

And it stops us.

It stops us from growing into who we're meant to be, from experiencing the love we're meant to have, from creating peace for ourselves and others.

I know that it’s not easy to move beyond fear.

But I promise, it is simple. And it's a tiny little thing that anyone can do.

In fact, you can do it right now.

Choose how you show up.

That's it.

Every day, as many times as you can remember, ask yourself this question:

How do I want to show up right now?

Then let your mind fill with everything that is the best about you…

Your best smile, your best patience, your best humor, your best confidence, your best problem solving, your best voice, your best love…you get the picture.

This Week: 
Allow your actions to flow from that place. That place of you – the real you – at your best.

It’s a tiny thing, I know.

It may even seem silly.

But go ahead and practice it for a few days. The more you do it, the less afraid you’ll feel and the more love you’ll be putting out in the world.

You really do have the power to change your life and impact the lives of everyone around you.

Hate is contagious.

Fear is contagious.

Confidence is contagious.

Hope is contagious.

Excitement is contagious.


LOVE is contagious.

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It’s Not All in Your Head

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It’s Not All in Your Head

That’s right, Over-thinkers, I’m talking to you.

No judgment here. I count myself among you. My brain has always had a hard time letting go of a problem when I haven't found a satisfactory solution.

This is a great power.  I’m a girl that gets things done. I’m tenacious and NEVER give up.  

Of course, every great power has as a constant companion: an equally great weakness. And this one’s is rumination.  

I guarantee you that for every real problem your whirring mind grabs onto and solves, there are dozens of regretful replays of the past or fearful forecasts of the future that go absolutely nowhere.

These drain your spirit, sap your energy, and feed on themselves creating the all too familiar negative thought spiral.

Over the years, I’ve developed a number of really effective thinking tools to shift myself (and others) back into a place of power.  You’ve learned many of them here in this column

Lately though, I’ve figured out something new about our ilk…

Thinking is not the only way.

If, like me, you are primarily a head that drags its body around behind it – (and I’m not talking about whether or not you exercise – I’ve done some of my best thinking on an elliptical) – pay very close attention.

Your body can inform you as much as your mind.

This bears repeating.

Your body can inform you as much as your mind.  AND you access this wealth of information by not thinking.

You get there through experiencing, through detaching yourself from expectations and outcomes, and most importantly, by being present.

This Week: 
3 Ways to Tap in to Your Body

Like all contemplative and mindfulness exercises, these feel great any time you do them, but produce their intended results when you practice them regularly.

Try to make one of these a daily habit…

  1. Use stretching as a mindfulness anchor.

    Get up every 20 minutes or so and stretch.  Begin with three deep breaths. Then choose a muscle you like to stretch.  (sides, back, hamstrings, even your fingers will work)

    S l o w l y  stretch your body in sync with deep cleansing breaths.  Keep your mind focused on the sensations of the body. If it wanders, gently guide it back to the body. 

    Repeat 3 – 10 times

  2. Sit with sensation.

    Two to three times each hour, look up from your computer.  Close your eyes and breathe. Focus your attention there for about three breaths.  

    Next, allow your attention to expand slowly outward from your focal point until you notice sensation, tension, or discomfort somewhere.

    Avoid addressing the sensation (i.e. by shifting, scratching etc... ) simply direct your attention to it with curiosity, without judgement.  

    Notice your breath in relation to the sensation.  Does it aggravate it? Alleviate it?

    After a couple of moments, gently direct your attention back to your breath and open your eyes.

  3. Try this free app by Body Brain Yoga.
    http://1minchange.changeyourenergy.com/

    It allows you to schedule one minute of directed, specific physical exercise each hour.  You can choose one focus (core, weight, brain, stress) or you can customize and mix and match.

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What’s on Your Mind?

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What’s on Your Mind?

The National Science Foundation states that you have an average of 12,000 - 50,000 thoughts every day. Other estimates go as high as 70,000.

That’s up to 50 thoughts per minute.

It’s a wide range for sure and there’s quite a bit of debate about what is actually considered a thought – but I it’s pretty clear that you have a lot of them.

It’s no wonder you feel like your head is spinning some days.

Here’s the kicker…

Most of those thoughts, as many as 80% of them, are negative. And 90% of those negative thoughts are repetitive.

Repetition as we know, creates long term learning.

That means most of the time you are teaching your brain to believe your worst thoughts about yourself, about others, and about the world around you.

By paying a bit more attention to your thoughts, you can begin to shift the way you see things, open your eyes to the more positive aspects of life, and discover more choice, freedom, and happiness.

This Week: 
What’s on your mind?

Here are a few types of thoughts that you may notice when you begin to pay attention. You don’t need to do anything with the thoughts. No need to judge yourself for having them.

Simply name the category and ask yourself whether or not the thought is useful to you.

Then move on with your day.

Categories of Thoughts You May Face

  1. Blame  Discomfort and fear feel bad. When you feel bad, you want answers. Why is this happening? Who’s to blame? Who or what is causing this.

    Blame places the control for your well-being outside of your own power.

  2. Future-casting — This is your mind’s runaway train. What if this happens? What if it doesn’t? 

    These thoughts build on themselves, creating maps to futures that are completely imagined but feel so real that they increase our stress and anxiety. 

  3. Rumination — Ever play a scene from the past over and over in your head? Rehashing old hurts or mistakes does nothing to provide for a better future. 

    While you may trick yourself into thinking that this is problem solving, these thoughts tend to go nowhere.

  4. Self Loathing — Negative thinking about yourself is completely natural. In fact, it’s a coping mechanism your mind has created to keep you safe from failure, judgement, pain, and humiliation. 

    The problem with these thoughts are that it doesn’t actually help you at all but holds you back from the very thing it’s trying to protect you from.

A bit of curiosity goes a long way here. The more aware you are about the kinds of thoughts you tend to repeat and whether or not they’re serving you, the more likely you will be to naturally shift to more productive, useful thought patterns.

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It’s About Time

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It’s About Time

How often do you hear “I’m so busy” or “There’s not enough time”?

If you’re anything like me, it’s pretty darn often. And as frequent as not, it’s coming out of my very own mouth.

So I tried something a bit wild –

I took the Thanksgiving holiday off.

A l l f o u r d a y s  off.

No client sessions, no mastermind groups, no social media, no talks or training, no content creation – not even writing. (In fact, I’m cranking out this Mindful Monday post today, the day you’re receiving it.)

Guess what?

For four straight days, I was still busy.

We think about time as a linear thing. One minute follows the next until it completes the hour, and then the day, week, month, year…

And we use our time based on that concept; particular hours carved out to eat, sleep, work, play, even love. This can be extremely useful. Repeated studies have shown that by attaching a particular time to doing a thing, we’re much more likely to actually do it.

So, go ahead and keep that planner up to date.

But what do we do with all the spaces in between the scheduled bits?

We fill them.

Social media has certainly proven that. For a generation with absolutely no free time, we certainly find a ton of it to engage with our screens and social media.

And that’s OK, no judgment here.

The challenge I’m posing is that perhaps we take a look at how we define our time – and how much of it we use intentionally.

This Week: 
Paying attention to TIME

Try this…

  1. As an experiment, begin each day this week with the following affirmation. Take 3-5 deep, grounding breaths and repeat “I have all the time I need. Time expands for me.”

  2. Take a look at your scheduled time and remove anything that is not 100% in alignment with your current priorities and add it to a separate list labeled SWING Items.

    Each day, when you find yourself in an in-between space – those spaces between scheduled tasks – take a deep breath and choose how you’ll use your time.
    Scrolling Facebook
    Having a snack
    Chatting up a friend
    Doing something from your Swing list
    Cleaning out your top drawer
    Taking a walk

    For this experiment, what you do is less important than that you choose to do it.

  3. Savor the moment. Do your best to be present, not just with the choice you make, but the thing you’ve chosen to engage in.

  4. At the end of the week, take a few moments to evaluate your experiment.

How did you feel this week?

Did you get more done? Less? The same?

What else did you notice?

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#blessed #grateful

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#blessed #grateful

We’re kindred spirits, you and I.

Personal growth junkies, always reaching to understand a little bit more, endlessly stretching to be a little bit better, and trying, forever trying, to be the very best we can.

We may even follow one another on Facebook or Instagram clicking and commenting on the bits of insight, inspiration and wisdom shared.

Lately though, I’ll admit that the cynic in me has been rearing up. My shadow side – clever and snarky – is rolling her eyes at the lot of us.

Some days it just feels like a bunch of platitudes.

Of course I’d rather see words of love and gratitude out there than hate and ignorance.  Yet platitudes often have the opposite effect of the intended meaning.  

One of the first questions I ask both my individual and corporate clients is “how do you want to show up?”

It’s an important question.

We rarely show up as we intend.  (And it’s not just because we all have a snarky shadow side.) Our brains are wired to automate anything that we repeat.  That includes actions, thoughts and emotional responses.

While we may intend to show up as grateful, sincere, playful, confident, etc… we more often exhibit default behaviors that our brains have automated over years of reacting to the external stimuli we’re presented with.

And when people respond to that version of us rather than the #bestself we think we’re putting out there, we feel confused, disconnected and misunderstood.

So, what does showing up have to do with social media platitudes?

Modeling makes it real.

When we show up as #grateful, we’re actually creating the change we want to see in ourselves and in the world.  Here’s how…

This Week: 
Showing Up

Right now, (literally, right now) jot down all of the qualities that describe you at your best. We’re going for the real you – the you that you're proud of.  This is no time to be humble,. Jot them all down.  

  1. Take a critical look at the list (this is just for you - no judgment please) and cross off any quality you added because you think you’re supposed to have it, or you’re expected to have it, but it’s really not you.  

  2. Take a couple of deep breaths, close your eyes and envision that version of yourself.  Notice everything about it. The way you walk, talk, smile, dress, gesture, respond, etc…

  3. Several times each day, pause take a breath and ask yourself the question, “how do I want to show up?”  Take another few breaths while allowing the vision of your best self to flood your mind.

Go on with your business, allowing your actions to flow naturally from that place.  

Practice enough, and your best self will become your default.

Me?  I’ll be practicing too.  And I’m so grateful to be connected with you.  Wishing you a year of gratitude, love, health and abundance.  Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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That Wise-Cracker May Not Be So Wise After All

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That Wise-Cracker May Not Be So Wise After All

Today, I read an article in this month’s issue of Psychology Today about cynicism and intelligence.

Across cultures, ages, and genders, people tend to believe that the more cynical or suspicious a person is, the more intelligent they are.

It’s a theme repeated throughout popular culture – the highly intelligent are often portrayed as highly cynical. (Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As it Gets, Robert Downy Jr as Tony Stark, Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes.)

But it's pure fiction.

In fact, study after study has proven that cynicism is linked to lower scores on intelligence tests, lower levels of education, and lower income.

While sufficient data explaining why does not yet exist, every hypothesis mentioned in the article predicted that a person’s level of intelligence is the catalyst creating a cynical attitude or not… i.e. smart people have it easier, so they become less cynical, or less intelligent people get taken advantage of, so they become more cynical.

It seems to me that the opposite is more likely the case, that it is actually the cynicism itself that impacts success in test taking, education, and income.

Perhaps mindset plays a key role here.

Cynicism, I think, is an indication of a fixed vs growth mindset. An “it is what it is” rather than a “what can I make of this” mentality.

Research has proven that the more fixed your mindset, the less likely you are to explore, or even notice, an opportunity outside of your own predictions.

And less opportunity equals, well… less opportunity.

This Week: 
Finding Opportunity in a Growth Mindset

Try this…

  1. Get MINDFUL. In order to change something, you need to be tuned in to it. In order to tune in to something, you need to be present with it. Take mini-breaks throughout the day to pause for a few deep breaths and bring yourself into the present moment.

  2. NOTICE where your mindset tends to be fixed. Fixed thinking comes through loud and clear when you’re paying attention to it. When you notice always/never thoughts creeping in, that is a definite sign that a shift needs to happen. Here are a few examples of fixed thinking:

    ● I’m not smart enough
    ● He always does that
    ● She’ll never change
    ● This will never work
    ● People are lazy, so of course it failed

  3. SHIFT to a growth mindset by exploring options beyond the always/never fixed thinking:

    ● I’m not smart enough BECOMES I’m always learning.
    ● He always does that BECOMES What are his strengths that we can play on here?
    ● She’ll never change BECOMES What’s getting in her way?
    ● This will never work BECOMES What are all the possibilities?
    ● People are lazy, so of course it failed BECOMES Let’s brainstorm new strategies.

  4. Be GENTLE with yourself and others. There is no right or wrong, only what does and does not serve us. The more often we operate with the mindset of service, the more efficient, productive, successful, and happy we become.

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From PANIC to PEACE

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From PANIC to PEACE

I know you’ve felt it. Everyone has.

I spend my life helping people shift their thoughts, behaviors and outcomes. I teach mindfulness. I meditate every day. I practice what I preach…

And it happened to me this week.

PANIC.

You can feel the heat rise from your toes straight up through your body.

It spreads across your chest – reaching up until your cheeks blaze with it and your ears are on fire.

Your stomach flips.

Your knees weaken.

The spit in your mouth dries up.

It all happens in about two seconds.

Anything can trigger it - actual danger or a gut feeling that something is unfamiliar, not right, or unsafe. But most often, it’s a simple thought that sets it off.

The all familiar uh oh. (Or if you’re me, “oh f*#%!”)

A thought that sets off a chain reaction in your body, and as you're well aware, can absolutely paralyze you.

With a little reverse engineering however, you can set it all right again and move on.

This Week: 
Using the PEACE tool to pivot out of panic.

Try this…

Pause

The pause is critical. It’s what takes you out of the default – which, when you’re panicking, is likely to be a fight, flight, or freeze reaction.

It’s simple to do, simply tell yourself “this is panic.” That’s it, you’ve paused.

Exhale

Here’s where you’re tapping in to your physiology to get it working for you rather than against you.

Why do I say to exhale rather than just breathe? Because I can pretty much guarantee that you’re still holding your breath at this point.

So go ahead, let it all out. (A big old sigh will work well here too!)

Now that your lungs are empty, your body will automatically inhale. Take a few more nice, slow, deep breaths.

You’ve got your parasympathetic nervous system working for you now, helping to trigger the body’s relaxation response.

Ask

Ask yourself what you want to do next. Some helpful questions may be:

  • What do I want to have happen here?

  • What is the most useful thing I can do in this moment?

  • How do I want to show up?

Choose

This is responding rather than reacting.

There’s no right or wrong here. You’re making your best guess about what to do in this moment. And because you’re out of that default mode, because you’re intentionally choosing, you’ll be able to evaluate how it goes.

Evaluate

How did it go? What would you do the same in the future? What might you do differently?

The process of evaluating your responses regularly and without judgement, provides your brain with data which, over time, will make that particular panic less likely.

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Virtual Energy

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Virtual Energy

I was a late adopter of the whole social media thing.

Reluctantly, I joined FB in 2009 – which was pretty late to the party – and I’m just now sticking a toe into the Instagram waters. Admittedly, to this day I remain terrified of LinkedIn and am honestly so overwhelmed by Twitter that it makes my head spin.

I suppose it’s sort of weird that I feel this way. These are just new ways to talk to people (or, at least, they were new).

And God knows, I love talking to people.

But this method of talking seemed sort of hollow or artificial or something. It felt one-dimensional - like we had all become little magazines for one another to consume.

Initially, it really creeped me out.

Of course, I got used to it. I grew to appreciate the immediate re-connection with people I rarely see anymore, the ever-expanding circle of a like-minded tribe, and the ability to see into circles that are so different than my own.

Communicating and connecting has always been the main driver for me – trying to understand myself and others. I can’t turn it off.

In childhood, it made paying attention in school difficult because I was thinking about the teacher and the kids around me more than the subject on the board.

Now, my husband laughs at me at concerts because he watches the stage and I watch the audience.

To me, people are amazing.

At a concert, their energy is united. And when so many of them are in one place, simply loving the same thing together, the energy is palpable … and almost overwhelming. Everyone (not just the geek watching the audience) feels it.

There’s something to that. And I’m beginning to believe that social media creates that same kind of energy – an energy that permeates the glass and connects us – for better or for worse.

In truth, it's the intention we have in using social media that matters. The attention we pay to it, in the moment that we’re on it, that holds the power to electrify and connect us or deplete and divide us.

Think about those concert halls. If we were to look into the FB profiles of every person there, in the very moment where the energy is highest and visceral – we would discover a myriad of backgrounds, opinions, and (in today’s political climate,) polar opposites.

And yet, in that space and moment, they are connected. They are one. They are a community. They belong to each other, and it’s breathtaking.

No doubt creating that energy of connection is a bit more challenging in a virtual setting. People so easily become those little magazines – just a highlight reel of opinions that are like or unlike yours, of modern day Norman Rockwell scenes that trigger the reflex of social comparison, and of comments (whether edited or impulsive) that only offer a glimpse of a real conversation. But I believe we can truly tap into the connection available in social media - if we practice a mindful approach to it.

This Week: 
Use mindfulness to experience your world as fresh and new.

Try this…

  1. PAY ATTENTION: Notice your own energy as you scroll through the posts on your FB, IG, LinkedIn, or Twitter feed. 

    ● What sorts of posts build your energy in a productive and useful way? These don’t need to be things you agree with. Productive, useful energy inspires problem solving, creativity, connection, etc….

    ● What sorts of posts energetically drain you? What about them specifically shuts you down, makes you angry, frustrated or hopeless?

  1. RELEASE JUDGEMENT: Intentionally separate people from their actions. This may sound counter-intuitive. Fear not, you needn’t change your opinion about how they behave or what they believe. You may discover however that by separating the two, you can learn to protect your own energy from being drained and then use it in ways that build and add to the conversation.

    ● Choose one or two people whose posts or comments deflate or anger you and scroll through their profile.

    ● Make note of at least 3 things that you can relate to. (For example: They love their pets…)

    ● Notice where your own judgement gets in the way of your energy around problem solving, creativity, connection, etc….

  1. SHOW UP INTENTIONALLY: As you engage on social media ask yourself the following questions:

    ● How much of myself am I filtering for “the magazine?”

    ● Who are the insiders in my circle and how authentically do I communicate there? How can I deepen the conversation to be more like my non-virtual connections?

    ● How much of what I post elevates the overall energy?

    ● Which circles or people do I want to disengage myself from because the energy there is not productive.

When we show up as whole and real, when we can release enough judgement to respect every human on the other side of the screen (regardless of their beliefs), when we are intentional about the energy we’re putting out there, that is when we can and will build a community of creativity, of problem solvers, of innovations and ultimately of deep connection.

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Stuck? Maybe Not

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Stuck? Maybe Not

Have you ever had a day, or a week, or even a year when you just felt STUCK?

Of course you have – I've never met a person who hasn’t.

It’s actually a good thing.

Feelings like “stuck,” “frozen,” or “trapped” are your intuition’s way of getting your attention – of telling you that something about the current way you’re living your life isn’t quite right for you.

It’s really easy to misread the cue and start to blame yourself or others for the situation you find yourself in. But beating yourself up or pointing the finger only leads to further feelings of powerlessness.

When you’re stuck, it’s time to start trusting your gut. The longer you ignore it – the more stuck you’ll become.

Think about it.

You’re always one choice away from completely changing your life.

That’s a TON of power.

Does this mean that you should be making radical, life-altering choices every time you feel stuck?

Yes and no.

It all depends on what you define as life-altering. It’s not the size of the change or decision that really matters here. It’s the simple act of choosing to do something different that begins to move you forward.

Trust your gut and those choices will lead you down the right path. The speed you travel is completely up to you.

This Week: 
3 intuition hacks to help you tap in.

Try this…

  1. The Friend Factor
    When you’re unsure whether or not a decision is the right one for you, imagine a friend is given the opportunity or choice instead of you and they say YES

    Do you feel relieved that you’re off the hook, happy for them? If so, it’s probably your gut telling you that this is not for you. 

    If you feel envious on the other hand, your gut is clearly telling you that this is a choice that you want to make.

  2. Catch a Tiger by the Toe
    Go ahead and eenie-meanie-miney-moe it. Really. This works more often than you think. If you’re disappointed in the result, or if you try to game the system to end up on a certain response, you can be assured that your intuition is behind it.

  3. Feature Film
    This is my favorite strategy for figuring out what my gut wants me to do because it works even when the situation feels more complicated than a simple should I or shouldn’t I.

    Picture yourself as the protagonist in a film about your life. Play the movie out in vivid detail in your mind’s eye, running through all the choices you have in front you. 

    Each time you change what the protagonist does in the film, imagine the audience’s reaction. 
    ● Are they at the edge of their seats with their fingers crossed hoping that you make the leap?
    ● Do they have their hands over their eyes, screaming “NO, don’t DO it?”
    ● Are they bored and disgusted with the character, thinking “Ugh, here we go again?”

This is your intuition speaking up.

Listen carefully.

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Sometimes It’s Not So Easy

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Sometimes It’s Not So Easy

Our emotions are raw.

Everywhere we turn, it’s right in front of us. There is so much to fight for, to protect, to honor. There is so much at stake. It can feel like everything can be gained or lost every moment.

Our bodies and minds are on high alert, every day, around the clock.

It’s simply not sustainable.

The human body is designed to protect itself - it’s designed to survive. Any perceived threat to safety activates your body’s fight or flight response, flooding the body with chemicals to give you the best possible chance for survival.

This process is intended to be switched on and off within moments or maybe in extreme circumstances, hours – to conquer or escape the danger and move on.

When the switches stay on, you become depleted – physically, intellectually, and emotionally exhausted.

Creativity declines, your ability to solve problems and innovate decreases, you have very little bandwidth to connect meaningfully with people around you, and your body’s immune response begins to diminish.

In short, it’s costing you more than you have to give.

In truth, it’s not the passion, the fight, or even the fear that’s getting the best of you.

It’s the endless stream of thoughts and conversations about the passion, fight, or fear that are dragging you under.

And that, my friend, is something you can control.

So how do you stand strong for the things you believe in, help foster positive change, and fight for what you value without living in fight or flight constantly?

This Week: 
Fighting the battles without living the war.

Try this…

  1. Close your eyes and imagine that there’s a room in your brain where you store all your values. Whatever they are (justice, kindness, loyalty etc…) create an image that represents each one and place it in the room. 

  2. Now imagine that there is also a giant chest in the room with an iron padlock for which you have the only key. This is your armory - the tools you’ve developed over your lifetime to defend what you value. 
    Open the chest and look inside. Be specific about what you see. Do you write, speak, argue, fight, attend protests, lead by example? Don’t judge what’s inside. Simply notice and name each tool.

  3. Close the lid to the chest and mentally place the key in your pocket.

  4. This week, each time you feel triggered or stressed by something you read, hear, or see, notice the stream of stories that flood your mind:
    1. Pause and take a few breaths and bring yourself into your value room.
    2. Match the feeling you’re having with one or more of the values without retelling any of the stories. Simply say, this feels “unfair,” “unkind”, “disloyal” etc.
    3. Next ask yourself the question, “Is there anything useful that I want to do about it right now?” 
    a. If the answer is no, proceed to #5
    b. If the answer is yes, remove the key from your pocket and open the chest. Carefully select what you would like to do (write a letter or FB post, engage in a conversation, plan to attend an event, etc...) and do it. When you’re finished, proceed to #5

  5. Take a few deep breaths and release any thoughts or stories that remain by visualizing them exiting your mind with each exhale. Next give your mind something productive to work on by moving on to some other aspect of your life.

  6. When your mind attempts to engage you in rehashing any story attached to a trigger, simply re-ask yourself the questions “Is there anything useful that I want to do about it right now?” and follow the steps from there.

The goal is to train your mind to choose action when it serves and to acknowledge that when action doesn’t serve, neither does the accompanying story.

Initially, you may need to repeat this exercise several times in a very short period. That’s OK! Keep practicing and you’ll find that you’re actually accomplishing much, much more with far less stress.

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The Golden Rule – It’s Not So

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The Golden Rule – It’s Not So

We all learned it.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

It’s a beautiful thing really. Clean. Clear. Simple.

Treat other people the way that you like to be treated and bingo, the world is a better and safer, a more loving and connected place.

And yet, it doesn’t seem to be working.

So, I’ve been asking around.

“What do you think of the Golden Rule?” Everyone I asked, truly everyone, said they thought it was a good idea, and that they considered it a key piece of their value system.

“Do you practice the Golden Rule?” Again, everyone I asked – every single one – either said “yes” or that they do their best to practice it.

Hmmm…. if we all believe in it, and we’re all practicing it, why the devil isn’t it working?

Reciprocity and expectation.

Somewhere along the line, we’ve muddled the intent of the rule. And even though almost everyone can quote it accurately, we’ve come to interpret the rule to mean treat others the way we want to be treated and they will do likewise. Simply stated, do unto others so they will do unto you, too.

Therein lies the rub.

The Golden Rule is about being your best self without the expectation of reciprocity.

It is about treating both friend and enemy the way you like to be treated. It means showing up as a model of the value, even when it is most difficult.

This Week: 

4 Steps to practice the Golden Rule.

Try this…

  1. Get Clear – Take out a piece of paper and answer these questions:
    • How would I like to be treated by my friends?
    • How would I like to be treated by my colleagues?
    • How would I like to be treated by my family?
    • How would I like to be treated by the people who vehemently disagree with me?

  2. Set an Intention – Each morning this week, before you begin your day, reflect on your answers to the 4 questions, and set an intention to show up that way yourself.

  3. Give Yourself Space – Pause and take a breath before you respond in difficult situations this week. Give yourself a moment to respond the way you choose rather than react by default.

  4. Cut Yourself Some Slack – When you start beating yourself up this week, remember your answers to the 4 questions and treat yourself the way you would like others to treat you.


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Just the Facts Please

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Just the Facts Please

This week, I’m sharing one of my favorite tools with you.

It’s about inner presence.

Unlike using your senses to help bring you into the present moment, this tool helps you to explore the very thoughts that get in your way.

With practice, you’ll be able to apply this simple 3 step process to any thought that is causing you suffering, interfering with your relationships or holding you back.

This Week: 
Try this 3 step process.

Click the button to download the workbook.

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The Search for Purpose and The Meaning of Life

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The Search for Purpose and The Meaning of Life

What is the meaning of life?? – That age-old stumper is slowly becoming eclipsed by a newer, more personal puzzle.

“What is my purpose in life?”

If you’re like most people, you’ve spent a bit of time pondering one or both.  

I know I have.

They’re big questions – undeniably important.

Or are they?

My favorite Monty Python flick above all has always been The Meaning of Life (sorry, Holy Grail devotees). And it’s not because of the question it poses. I’ve seen it dozens of times because it doubles me over with side-splitting belly laughs. 

I think that’s why such a ridiculously silly and perverse film has stuck with me for all these years.

Side-splitting belly laughs make me feel fully alive.

In a culture where the search for purpose and meaning leaves it's evidence virtually everywhere, perhaps the lesson to be learned is that the search itself may be distracting us from achieving it.

Perhaps – stay with me here – perhaps the meaning of life is… 

…living.

Maybe it’s as simple as that: laughing, and crying, and helping, and loving, and working, and eating, and fighting, and…

Think about the moments in your life when you felt FULLY ALIVE.

I’ll bet my hat that you were totally engaged, body, mind, and spirit, in what was right in front of you:

  • The sun on your face.

  • That twinkle of love in the eyes of someone who is seeing you.

  • The wind in your hair.

  • Singing at the top of your lungs with the radio blasting.

  • The sound of the forest.

  • That welling of pride that comes from a job well done.

  • Smelling the tangy ocean air.

  • The fire in your belly when you’re fighting for something you believe in.

  • A meal with people you love.

  • Sending a thank you note.

I could go on and on, but you have your own list.

This Week: 
Dive into Purpose and Meaning in the Present

Try this…

  1. List the moments in life when YOU’VE FELT FULLY ALIVE.

  2. Upon waking each day this week (before you even open your eyes) set the intention of experiencing some FULLY ALIVE moments that day.

    Imagine all the different ways that may occur.

  3. Before you go to bed each night this week, add at least one FULLY ALIVE moment to your list.

I’d love to see you! Post a selfie holding your list to our Facebook group with the hashtag #reclaimingmuchness. (Not in the group, click here to join in!)

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Tummy in a Knot?

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Tummy in a Knot?

Some mornings are just like that.

You wake up with an underlying angst, a low-level dread that casts a shadow on the day before it even begins.

What do you do?

If you’re like most people, you brush your teeth, move through your morning ritual (coffee, please), and get on with your day.

In other words, you suck it up, stuff it down, and do your best to get things done.

While this is a hard won and seemingly productive coping strategy, it’s probably not such a good idea.

That undercurrent of malaise is a cue that you’re afraid of something and your body is responding by keeping its systems on alert.

This is a highly efficient physiological process when there’s something real to fear. And I’m talking about actual danger, the “I think I smell smoke” kind of real.

What we’re talking about here is more nuanced, it doesn’t feel like fear, it just feels like yuck – and so it’s seems easier to simply keep on keeping on.

Unfortunately, while your body is designed to move in and out of alert mode to keep you alive in an emergency, it’s not designed to stay there.

And so, what appears to be a productive coping strategy, is actually raising your blood pressure, effecting your sleep, impacting your relationships and here’s the real kicker – making you less productive.

The GOOD news?

You don’t have to feel that way. You don’t have to suck it up. You can shift yourself out of the angst.

This Week: 
Untie the knots.

Use the acronym F.E.A.R to remind you of what’s really behind your angst and to help you remember the steps to pivot out.

Give it a try. Your body, your relationships, and your career will thank you for it.

  1. Find the emotions. Take a moment to name the emotions you’re feeling. Anger, guilt, shame, sadness, self-pity, dread?

  2. Explore the thoughts behind those emotions. Try to separate out the facts from the stories.

    Hint: The facts are the parts that every person would view in the same way and the stories are the things you tell yourself about the facts.

    For example –
    Thought: “He slammed his hands on the table to intimidate me.”

    “He slammed his hands on the table” is a fact, while “to intimidate me” is your story about that fact.

  3. Accept the facts for what they are and Acknowledge what other stories might exist when approached from a different perspective.

    For example –
    Fact: “He slammed his hands on the table…”

    Possible stories: “…because he was frustrated.” or “…to emphasize a point.” or “…because he was having an awful morning.” or “…because he didn’t know what else to do.” or “…because he bit his tongue while he was eating that donut.”

  4. Release or Reframe your story. Your story doesn’t change the facts, it only changes how you feel about them. And how you feel about them impacts everything you do (or don’t do).

    Moreover, holding on to a story that doesn’t serve you keeps your body in that state of constant alert which:

  1. saps your energy,

  2. wreaks havoc on your body,

  3. blinds you to opportunity,

  4. makes you reactive in your relationships,

  5. squelches creative thinking,

  6. diminishes productivity,

  7. and makes you feel lousy!

So, let it go or choose a new story that truly serves you – one that inspires and empowers you.

Having trouble with one of the steps? Reach out and I’ll walk you through it. ;)

Name *
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No Regrets

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No Regrets

I work a lot and sometimes I catch flack for it.

More than one person has said to me, “No one on their deathbed wishes they had spent more time working, Wendy.”

The comment makes me bristle a bit because I don’t buy it.

Sure, I work hard. And yes, I do get stressed sometimes. (Here’s where the daily meditation practice REALLY helps.)

But this work is my mission. It’s part of the reason I’m on this earth, and I’m certain I would regret not doing it.

So, I did a bit of research (surprise, surprise) to find out how true the deathbed comment really is…

Here are Forbes magazine’s 25 most common regrets quoted among those at the end of their lives:

  1. Working at the expense of my family and friendships
  2. Not standing up to bullies
  3. Not staying in touch with the good friends from my youth
  4. Being addicted to email and missing so many moments
  5. Breaking up with or getting dumped by “true love”
  6. Worrying too much about what others think
  7. Not having confidence
  8. Living a life that was chosen by my parents rather than the one I yearned for
  9. Not applying for that dream job
  10. Taking it all too seriously
  11. Not traveling or seeing more things
  12. Letting my marriage or relationship fall apart
  13. Not teaching my kids more things
  14. Holding onto old, long-standing grudges
  15. Not trusting my inner voice
  16. Never asking that person out
  17. Getting mixed up in the wrong crowd
  18. Not getting an education
  19. Choosing the practical job over the one I really wanted
  20. Not spending more time with my kids
  21. Not taking care of my health
  22. Being afraid to share at a funeral, wedding or other milestone event (fear of public speaking)
  23. Putting off visiting a dying friend or relative and losing the chance
  24. Not learning another language
  25. Not being a better parent

After reading the list, it’s pretty clear that working too much is only regrettable based on what it costs you.

And that could be said of all twenty-five.

Each, stems from living on auto-pilot. Of not being present to see what is right in front of you, not noticing the infinite choices that life bestows, or of pushing meaning and mission aside in the name of practicality.

If you look closely, you may also notice that the list itself can be broken down into three essential elements – authenticity, purpose, and connection.

This Week: 

1. REVAMP YOUR BUCKET LIST.

  • FIGURE OUT WHAT MATTERS MOST
    Start by reading through the above list and circle the ones that really mean something to you. 

    Don’t circle something like “be a better parent” just because it seems like something you should circle. Only highlight the ones that jump out at you – the ones that put a bit of a lump in your throat.

2. Tap into authenticity, purpose and connection. 
I call this making the THREE DECLARATIONS:

  • I WILL SHOW UP AS I INTEND (authenticity)

You have an image somewhere in your head and heart of who you really are – of that best, glowing, radiant self. 

It’s probably pretty rare, however, that you actually show up that way. 

Our behaviors are mostly automatic. We spend most of our time in default mode, going through the motions, reacting instead of responding, and wondering why no one ever seems to see the real us. 

By pausing, taking a breath, and coming back to the moment you’re in, you can choose to show up as you intend rather than how you might have if you simply reacted by default. 

This simple act of showing up intentionally is a game changer. Use it if you circled 2,6,7,10, 15 21 or 22.

  • I WILL LIVE TRUE TO MY MISSION (purpose) 

Whether it’s taking care of your family or serving a higher power, finding adventure every day, or changing the world – every life has a mission, and they are all equally important. 

Knowing yours and declaring it is the first step in living a life on purpose, a life that feels meaningful and full.

If numbers 4,8,9,11,13,17,18, 19,24 or 25 struck a chord with you, it’s time to uncover and declare your mission. 

Hint: Anything that you come up with that starts with “I should,” “I need to,” “I have to,” may or may not be something you choose to do, but it’s not your mission. Missions start with “I am,” “I love,” “I want to,” etc…

  • I WILL LOVE FULLY (connection) 

People shy away from the word love. It seems too raw, squishy and intimate. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Loving is about being present. It’s about seeing yourself and others as whole, exactly as you are. It’s about showing up as the authentic you and simply connecting with the authentic person in front of you – fully engaged and free from judgment.

There’s nothing squishy about it. This kind of love can be accomplished in any setting, in every relationship, every single day. If 1,3,5,12,14,16,20, or 23 rang out for you, this is a great place to start.

3. RELAX

  • THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG AND NO ONE CAN DO IT ALL. 
    If this feels overwhelming or like a lot of pressure, you’re missing the point. Most regret comes from living in your head, not noticing what’s right in front of you. 

So take a deep breath, actually, take 3 or 4, and see what’s there to experience today.

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 Swallow Your Pride? I don’t think so.

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Swallow Your Pride? I don’t think so.

My teenage daughter has a friend, who is a musician. Let’s call her Vivian.

Vivian writes her own music and lyrics, taught herself to play guitar, and produced her first EP by the time she was 16. All on her own.

Believe it or not, that’s not what makes her remarkable.

Sure, she’s talented.

But I live in a house full of talented musicians – and their friends are talented musicians – and most of what they do for fun has to do with seeking and enjoying other talented musicians…

…lots and lots of people are talented.

What makes this girl remarkable is the amount of opportunity she creates for herself.

If there is a local stage featuring live music, she’s either on it or involved with it. If there’s a contest, she’s in it. If there’s a course or program that’s free (this kid doesn’t have a lot of money) she signs up. If it’s far away, she gets a ride.

People tell her no all the time. She gets turned down for scholarships, loses competitions and is turned away as often as not.

A few days ago, my daughter, referring to a particularly harsh rejection and a subsequent triumph of Vivian’s, said, “I wish I could swallow my pride so that I could do more of that.”

That’s what it feels like, doesn’t it?

For most of us, when we ask for help or opportunity – it feels like we’re swallowing our pride.

But I’ve seen this girl operate. She’s not swallowing anything. She’s simply asking for what she wants. If the answer is no, she moves on and asks elsewhere. Her pride isn’t attached to the yes or no, it’s attached to playing music – and so she persists until she gets to play it.

When “pride” comes from someone else’s response to you, you’re caught in the trap of external validation and sooner or later you’ll have to swallow it.

True pride comes from the feeling we get from doing the things that we are meant to do, thethings that feel like a genuine contribution to the space we’re inhabiting.

What are the things that you want most? The things that you are meant to do?

This Week: 
Use pride as a focal point in your mindfulness practice.

Take a moment and . . .

  • Focus on anything that you do that truly makes you feel proud of yourself.
  • Set an intention to do something today that supports that part of you.
  • Visualize yourself doing it.
  • Now close your eyes and hold the vision in your mind’s eye for about 10 deep breaths. If your mind wanders, don’t worry or judge yourself, simply direct your attention back to your vision.

Do this several times each day or whenever you need a bit of focus or energy boost.

And Vivian? She’s touring with a band in Paris this fall.

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