Feast on Your Life

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It’s here! My favorite holiday of the year.

Thanksgiving is one of those rare days when our collective attention turns to all we have to be grateful for instead of all we have yet to achieve, acquire, or otherwise add to our lives.

As much as I love the tradition of gathering with family and friends to celebrate scrumptious food, delectable desserts, and familial frivolity, this year I opted for a simple  yet somewhat scandalous solution. Stay home.

Silence + Solitude = Saving Grace.  

My adventures have taken me far and wide this year and I have never felt more blessed to have the family and friends I now have in my life. I’ve had the opportunity to do deeply transformational work with fellow coaches, clients, and canines (my dogs are always the first recipients of my new coaching methods). And I’ve stretched myself beyond anything resembling a comfort zone into a continual curiosity zone where the ground is constantly shifting.

For all of this, I am incredibly grateful.

And in desperate need of some quiet time with no agenda, no expectations, and no unnecessary drama.

This year I have set some things in motion that have changed the trajectory of my life. The best I can do to honor the source of all this goodness is to find a place of grace in each day to say thank you.

So on this day dedicated to giving thanks, my offering is this:

Feast on your life.

Feast on all that you have endured and achieved, become or dreamed of becoming.

Feast on the lives you’ve unknowingly touched with your smile, your words, your random acts of kindness, your refusal to give up on what you know to be true.

Feast of the fears you overcame to get you to the right place at the right time to do that thing that only you can do.

Feast on the doors that opened because you had the courage to keep knocking.

Feast on the friends and family who get your quirky sense of humor, can activate your superpowers, believe in your brilliance, reflect your beauty, and take care of your dogs while you travel the world.

Feast on the way your body works tirelessly on your behalf, day in and day out, in pursuit of optimal health.

Feast on the freedom you have to choose your thoughts, write a new story, break old patterns, reinvent yourself, or opt for a “do-over”.

Feast on poetry, music, laughter, imagination, kisses, kindness, talent shows, card games, traditions, long walks, eccentric relatives, and belonging in this world.

Thank you for being a part of my blogging family.  Some of you have been around since the start in 2011.  Bless you!!

You know I adore you and would love nothing more than to hear how you are celebrating today (even if it’s not Thanksgiving when you read this or if you live outside the US) and what you are feasting on by leaving a comment below.

And, if you are not planning your Black Friday shopping strategy, watching football, or sleeping off the stuffing, please join me and fellow coach Becca Formenti on Facebook Live tonight at 6pm CST.  It will be Facebook friendship feast!

 

Don’t Let Chaos Eclipse Calm

Chaos vs. Calm

The topic of this week’s Sunday Summer Stretch Series is chaos. Specifically, how to keep calm in the midst of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear.

I’m fairly certain if you’re alive on Planet Earth, you’re feeling the effects of the intense energy vying for your attention. Everywhere you look, you can find evidence of escalating emotions as it appears we have collectively taken the fun out of “dysfunctional” and now just frighten the life out each other.

But if you look closer and get quieter, I believe you’ll find evidence that we are equally committed to collaboration, communication, and contemplation.

Admittedly it takes practice to cultivate consciousness in the midst of collective chaos.  It’s difficult to decipher the facts and figure out what’s really going on. It takes courage to stand up for what’s true and what’s right for you. And it’s almost impossible to interrupt the pattern you’ve been programmed to run when you get scared or feel threatened.

But it’s imperative that you are able to question, object, or offer another perspective than the one that leads down the rabbit hole of doom, doubt, and drama.

With all that’s already on your plate, I’m going to assume you are not looking for yet another cause to commit your evenings and weekends to.  So I’m going to suggest a simple practice that you can do anywhere, anytime you feel stressed.

It’s a simple tapping exercise that I originally learned from Gabrielle Bernstein that goes like this.

  • Touch your thumb and your pointer finger and say the word “Peace”
  • Next touch our thumb and your middle finger and say the word “begins”
  • Then touch your thumb and your ring finger and say the word “with”
  • And finally touch your thumb and your pinky finger and say the word “me”.

You can substitute the word for whatever quality you wish to experience in place of “peace”.  It’s easy to do.  It’s so subtle no one even has to know what you are doing.  And it’s a tactile reminder for you to call in the quality that you most need in the moment.

Because sometimes all you need is a moment to restore your equilibrium.  I like to say you are only one thought away from a new perspective.  It’s just getting to that thought can take a little wrangling.

For more conversation around this topic, jump in on our FB Live Sunday Summer Stretch Series episode this evening at 7pm Central time.

We’d love to hear how you keep calm and carry on.  Leave your feedback or suggestions in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

The Learning Curve

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It’s that time of year when students of all ages are graduating on to bigger and better things. In my family alone, we have three graduations in as many weeks.

After a couple of decades of being out of school, my sister just completed her Master’s Degree in Student Leadership.  Her daughter is finishing her last week at SCAD and will be heading out to California to start her creative career with a hat maker. And my nephew just graduated from Illinois State University and is on his way to Wyoming with his girlfriend to experience a summer working at Yellowstone.

Oh, the thrill of the open road and a new chapter!

This is the promise of new beginnings. Anything is possible.

The reality is that new beginnings are available to us at any time, although we sometimes need a little pomp and circumstance before we’re officially ready to roll.

I prefer to start without the fanfare.

I tend to launch before I know what I’m getting into.

Because if I knew what would be required of me to do half the things I long to do, I’d never do them.

It’s too daunting.

The learning curve is too steep.

If I knew how ridiculous I would feel prior to feeling fabulous or smart or trendy, I would never conjure up the courage to connect or create in all the ways that really light me up.

If I knew how much time, energy, and effort would be required to learn something people half my age were born knowing, I’d be tempted to use the “I’m too old for this” excuse.

But it’s that attitude that ages us faster than anything else.

The thing is, before we can get there from here, we have to go through the I-have-no-idea-where-I-am-or-what-I’m-doing place.  No one talks about this place because once we get where we’re going and know what we’re doing, we often erase limbo land from our memory.

It’s human nature to want to forget our ineptitude or gloss over the obvious errors in our thinking or the epic failures we didn’t anticipate.

But these often make the most memorable stories and become the beginnings of our greatest adventures.

Countless success stories start with the adventure that went awry, the chance meeting that wouldn’t have happened if all had gone as planned, or the random recalculating of  an accepted hypothesis that resulted in a scientific breakthrough.

There is an urgency about getting to the Promised Land, wherever that may be. We want to start out making top dollar. We want to instantly become an internet sensation. We want everyone to know our name. We want to succeed in business without really trying.

But there is a necessary learning curve. This is that magical time when we are humbled and frustrated and overwhelmed and filled with uncertainty that’s only occasionally sprinkled with awe and amazement and enthusiasm about what’s possible.

It’s this grace period when we get to fly under the radar, make mistakes, and hone our craft before we get pummeled by public perception.

It’s when we realize how lucky we are not to have our dreams realized before they are fully formed.

I recently came across a book titled “What’s In The Way, Is The Way.”  This echoes the idea we’ve been tossing about in my coaching program that the life we’ve lived so far, with all its trials and tribulations, has provided the precise experiences we need to succeed.

Whatever impeded our journey informed our journey and placed us in the perfect position to offer the unique contributions we can today.

So, graduates, as you saddle up and ride off into the sunset, remember it’s the detours, flat tires, the missed turns and the learning curves they afford that hold the real gifts.

I have no doubt you will get to your Promised Land with the flair and finesse that only you possess. Just remember to embrace with grace the path that leads you there.

I’d love to hear what you are graduating from at this juncture in your life. Please leave your comments, insights, or advice for fellow graduates of all kinds in the comments below.

 

 

Farewell to a Friend

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Yesterday I attended the funeral of a dear friend.  She was the first one to “like” a blog post or leave a comment on my “latest and greatest” idea, no matter how wacky or weird it was.

If we’re lucky, we all have at least one person like my friend Linda who makes us believe in our own brilliance by reflecting it back to us.

Ours wasn’t a likely friendship but one that developed by working together.  We didn’t work together for hours on end but in the odd hours when everyone else was asleep or had gone for the day or the week.

You see, Linda was the caretaker of our building.  She was the invisible hand that kept the floors and windows clean and everything in operating condition. She would usually come in around 4 in the morning and spend a couple hours at our building before heading to her full-time job to put in another 8-9 for the day.

In her “free” time she made quilts and took in sewing projects and did all kinds of odd jobs for others.

She was a worker bee.

About a year ago Linda got bone cancer and embarked on the only route she deemed acceptable – the grueling road to recovery. She was an extremely private person so at first she simply withdrew. I’m sure she thought she could handle it without bothering anyone else and be back to work in no time.

But that was not the case.  She had a long battle ahead of her and she was forced to fight it full time.

Once as I was driving her to the hospital I remember thinking, “This is really happening to us. We are no longer immune to cancer. It’s no longer something other people deal with.” 

I got a glimpse into the impact a diagnosis of a debilitating disease has on a person. She, of course, was not going to let it get the best of her.  In fact, like many people who have had cancer, it seemed to bring out the best in her.

Despite her declining physical condition, emotionally and spiritually she seemed to simultaneously harden and soften. Harden to take on the fear and uncertainty and soften to allow others to help. This brought about a kind of acceptance and letting go that comes with finally understanding what truly matters.

During the service, the priest admitted that he didn’t know Linda. I thought about how lucky I was that I did. As he fumbled his way through a reference to some Twilight Zone episode meant to comfort her family and friends, I consoled myself with what I did know and love about her.

While he surmised she loved being an aunt, he had no idea how much she loved her “kids” Rick and Rachael, the cats who shared her life.  He made no mention of how mechanically minded she was or how, despite her fragile physical form, she was in the midst of a full DYI home renovation that had her excited about her future again.  He failed to mention her lucky streak at the casinos or her love for Manny’s pizza.

He had studied her obituary but knew nothing of her life. He hadn’t had the opportunity the rest of us did.

As the priest offered the congregation communion, I imagined Linda finally communing with Michael Jackson, whom she admired more than any other performer.  She told me once she’d love to have his music played during her funeral service but didn’t think it would go over very well.

So I came home and honored my friend the best way I knew how.  “Alexa,” I commanded my AI device from Amazon,  “please play ‘Man in the Mirror’ by Michael Jackson.”

Let me just say Alexa has ever understood or responded to any of my requests before. I believe she’s in cahoots with Siri who has the same problem. But today she responded, “Okay, Penny.  Playing Man in the Mirror – the Immortals edition.”

Then I moon-walked around my kitchen, celebrating the life of my friend.

Please Come to Boston for the Springtime

Boston 005.JPGFollowing the plea from the David Loggins song, I just got back from 4 days in Boston.

I would not recommend it as a spring break destination since the day before I arrived the snow, rain, ice, and wind did, leaving me in a bit of a panic as to whether I would actually make it there or not.

The plan was to attend an Ignite Your Power conference with Margaret Lynch. I was the usual mix of excited/terrified, so when Mother Nature unleashed the blizzard that looked like it would throw a wrench in my plans, I was secretly relieved to let her call the shots and let me off the hook.

But then came the video from Margaret on Tuesday night saying all systems were go and Boston would be ready to receive us on Wednesday. So much for sabotaging my self-development plans.

Now there was no excuse not to pack my bags and conjure up the courage required to head into 3-days of intense personal development work.

I have spent my whole life attending personal growth workshops.  Every “vacation” is really me heading somewhere to learn something with a bunch of other people who have similar interests.

While friends and co-workers talk about their unforgettable time in Bermuda, Jamaica, or Cabo, I talk about my adventures in forgiveness, opening my heart, and getting in touch with my lower chakras.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my “vacations”. I have met some of the coolest people on the planet just by being brave enough to go where they are gathered.

But initially walking alone into a room of over 400 people I don’t know catapults me so far out of my comfort zone I’m amazed I can function. I never get over the feeling that I could be the last one picked for the popular team.

So I breathe.  And now I tap because tapping (or EFT) is the reason I am at this particular event.

I remind myself I belong here. These are my peeps. This is my tribe.

I remind myself there are others who feel exactly the way I do.

So I take a seat next to someone and introduce myself. And in a few days my world doubles in size.

Who knew the exact right people would be sitting next to me? Who knew they would share my same fears, challenges, joys, and dreams? Who knew that allowing myself to be uncomfortable for the better part of 4 days would yield such immediate and impressive results?

I did.

That’s why I went. That’s why I continue to put myself out there over and over and over again.

Because try as I might to go it alone, I can’t.

I need support in order to do cutting edge work.

I need mentors to model success.

I need coaches to hold me accountable.

I need clients to experience the transformative power of what I do.

I need an expanding group of friends from around the globe to help me gain the perspective only they can provide.

And I need water taxis and drivers with that unmistakable east coast accent to shuttle me back and forth to the city and the airport and tell me stories about Boston so that when I get home, I can bring these stories back to you.

What about you? What do you do that leaves you feeling alternately exhilarated and exhausted, excited and anxious, and alive and exquisitely vulnerable? What do you need to continually coax your life forward?

I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – You’ve Got This

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Congratulations!

You made it through the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. Let’s pop the cork and toast the successful completion of this challenge and the good fortune that brought us together.

I look forward to supporting you in achieving your deepest desires in 2017 and having a whole lot of fun along the way.

Why does this template look like this and not numbered lists and boxes and categories? Because we’re starting with the basics. Feel free to fancy it up and add as many lists, boxes, and categories as your heart desires. It’s your field guide to use as you like. If you want to add some support materials like day planners and schedules, by all means do.

But let’s start with the basics.

What do you want and why? How do you want to feel? Underneath all the striving and longing is a desire to feel something. Feeling drives everything. So what are those feelings and what are you willing to do to feel that way on a regular basis?

Do you want to feel alive, free, vibrant, rich, confident, healthy, sensuous, brilliant, gorgeous, generous, passionate? What exactly? I want to know. I also want to know what you are willing to do to experience this regularly.

Who do you have to support you and encourage you to along the way? You wouldn’t climb Mt. Everest without securing a Sherpa, setting up base camps, knowing the terrain, or studying the weather conditions. Don’t go into this alone.

Gather your ground crew and intel. Hire a coach, a personal trainer, a chef, someone to clean your house or shovel your snow, get a virtual assistant, do what you can to set yourself up for success.

Build daily wins into your Name It and Claim It blueprint. Our brains are wired for winning, so I want you to sprinkle as many small victories along the way as possible.

Wins can look like anything from stopping to notice the finches have discovered a full bird feeder outside your window to savoring a home cooked meal to finally beating your brother at Euchre.

Here are 6 key concepts to keep in mind as you move into the New Year.

  1. Thinking your way into your goals or intentions doesn’t work.

  2. Feeling your way into them does.

  3. Large, grandiose declarations that you can easily put off don’t work.

  4. Small, consistent daily actions do.

  5. Complicating things distracts, overwhelms, and pulls the focus away from your goals.

  6. Simplifying and being specific about small, easily executable actions allows you to focus and build unstoppable momentum.

You can download the template here.

Please join me on Facebook Live on Saturday, December 31 at 10am CST or Sunday, January 1 at 2pm CST where I’ll be discussing the Year In Review and Name It & Claim It process.

I’m sharing some of our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer tips on Paula Sands Live today at 3pm if you happen to be in our QC viewing area.

I’d love to hear your responses to these questions in the comments below.  Or join me over the weekend on Facebook.

Thanks so much for reading.  Happy New Year!

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P.S. Did I mention I have a Resolve to Evolve journal with your name on it?  Just leave your contact information below and I’ll get one in the mail to you.

 

 

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Take Your Time

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When I lived in Santa Fe, I used to housesit and dogsit for people. When a friend’s mother  passed away, she asked if I would stay at her mother’s house until she and her sister decided what to do with it.

This was no ordinary house. This was a gorgeous ranch with a guest house in one of my favorite places on earth. I was sure everyone was mistaken and I was really the one who had died because this was my idea of heaven. The days I got to spend in that home among so many beautiful things were unforgettable.

My friend’s mother was a remarkable woman who had crafted an astonishingly elegant life for herself and the friends, family, horses, and canines that kept her company.

One evening as I sat on the porch watching a spectacular sunset the idea occurred to me that I couldn’t hang on to this place or this experience any more than my friend’s mother could. The only thing I could do was fully appreciate the time I had there.

This is why I’m so protective of this time at the end of the year and seem obsessed with making sense of the year coming to a close.  I’m acutely aware that, as the classic Seals and Croft song goes, “We may never pass this way again.”

So I want to make sure I’m present for it. That I don’t rush through it in my desire to move on to bigger, better, faster, or flashier. I want to take my time and give it the attention a full year of my life deserves. I hope you’ll do the same with yours.

With that said, I’ll take you through the rest of the Year in Review template and tomorrow I’ll give you a different one to look at the year ahead.

What were the products that rocked your world? Every year there is at least one thing I wonder how I ever lived without. Usually it’s an upgrade or improvement to something I use every day. It could be as simple as a new electric toothbrush, slim velvet hangers, a new skincare product, or an app that reminds me to meditate, move, or feed the fish. What are those things for you?

Who were the people who rocked your world? Just as there are products you can’t live without, there are people who make it all worthwhile. It could be your yoga teacher, your rabbi, a rock star, a writer, your next door neighbor, Alexander Hamilton, or the dog-treat-dispensing bank teller. I was inspired by so many people that this will have to be a separate blog post for me.

What books, blogs, movies, music, concerts, conversations, or workshop/seminars/coaching programs/retreats changed the way you think and feel? The thing I like to remember is I am only one thought away from a new perspective and a few dance moves or dog walk away from a better mood. As much as I like to think about things, I don’t act on them until I feel something. Often times I need a nudge in the form of reading material, listening material, phoning a friend, or giving in to the unbridled enthusiasm of two dogs who think they are going for a w-a-l-k.

How did your relationships change or shift this year? Did you get engaged, married, divorced, have a baby, lose a loved one, start a business, hire a coach, fire someone, rekindle a romance, move to a new neighborhood, or retire from your job? When your circumstances change, usually your relations shift as well.

What health, fitness, food, or spiritual practices did you try, tweak, test out, or keep up this year? Maybe you took up archery or turned into a total foodie, much to your surprise and delight. Maybe you started a hip hop class or became a Buddhist. Maybe you did a 21-day cleanse or tried acupuncture. Or maybe you suffered a debilitating illness that turned your world upside down and forced you to do everything differently. How have these new practices defined you or allowed you to reinvent yourself?

What is the smallest change you made that had the biggest impact? Did you start meditating for 5 minutes in the morning or stop drinking soda? Did you start leaving love notes in your spouse’s lunchbox? Did you take up taekwondo with your kid? Did you give up lattes for Lent and never looked back?

And finally, what were your greatest contributions this year? Maybe you spent a Saturday afternoon being a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. Maybe you took 3 carloads of career ready clothes to Dressed for Success. Maybe you sponsored a child, saved yourself and your children and left an abusive relationship, or fed some local families during the holidays. Whatever you did, make a note of it. It mattered.

Tomorrow I’ll look at what you want to call in for 2017.  But for today, take your time and tell me about your year in the comments below.

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