Let My Love Open the Door

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Love is in the air.

At least that’s what card companies, chocolate factories, and flower shops would have us believe around this time of year.

Of all things to believe in, love is certainly a noble and worthy cause.

As someone who has never been married and spent my fair share of Valentine’s Days celebrating the unconditional love of my dogs, I could give you a million reasons why romantic love is overrated.

But I won’t.

Because as cliche as it sounds, love makes the world go around.

The problem is not with love.

It’s with our limited view of what it should look like, feel like, or how and when it should show up in our lives.

If you are like me and Hozier,I fall in love just a little, oh a little bit, every day with someone new.”  Or something. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the one I am with. Because of that, my cup runneth over with love..

So I am looking to fall in love just a little bit every day with someone new because there are so many people in need of love.  No one may have noticed the tiny tears in a person’s heart.  No one may have noticed the way a person is lovable, adorable, vulnerable, creative, generous, surprising, kind, or appears to be broken.

When I do, I let my love open the door.

Whether that be through a smile, a reassuring word, a gentle touch, or just keeping my mouth shut when I might be tempted to criticize or judge. Often times these things can mean more than diamonds, flowers, candy, or over-the-top declarations of love.

And I don’t limit myself to people.

I especially love trees and have no shame in wrapping my arms around their trunks whenever I have the chance.

And, oh, I do love my animals.

I love ideas.

I love art and music and poetry and delicious food.

I love to sleep.

I love my snow pants because they allow me to be warm and comfy in winter weather. And they create a softer landing when I fall off my skis.

I love creating something out of nothing and transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.

None of that can happen without love.

So I will continue to be a hopeful romantic and believe in love and all the ways it dares to shows up in the world against all odds.

And I will send a whole heart full of love to you.

P.S. I would love to know what you love and what songs about love you love.  Please add your playlist of love songs in the comments below.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of the Year

Joyful woman enjoying the winter snow .

For someone who is not real big on the holidays, I absolutely adore these days between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Part of it is because I work full-time at a college and, like our students, we get these glorious days off  before starting full steam ahead again in January.

The other part is I happen to believe there is something magical about these days.  Because they are the last days not just of the month or the quarter but the whole year, people tend to write them off as an insignificant segue into start of a New Year.

But I know better.

It’s as if these days have a secret they will share only with those who can get quiet enough to listen and be still enough to notice.

While many people are bustling about returning items, reconnecting with family and friends, or trying to check off the last few items on their yearly to do list, I’ve been quietly calling the pieces of myself back home in order to acknowledge all the adventures I’ve had during this trip around the sun.

Before I even begin thinking about what I want to create in the New Year I ask myself a series of questions about the current year. The answers I get inform my direction and my intentions for the upcoming year.

I wanted to share them with you as a way to consider what 2017 has meant to you. You may want to sit with them, answer the ones that feel most in need of answering, skip those that don’t make sense for you, or make up your own.

After allowing my answers to these questions to reveal themselves to me, I take out a piece of paper and put a big plus sign on one half of the page and a big minus sign on the other. Armed with the insights from this year, I can clearly articulate what I want more of and less of in the New Year.

Because this is a process and the questions require time to marinate, I first read through them and let them seep into my psyche before attempting to answer them. Then I grab a pen and let the answers come to me.

By about Sunday I’ll be able to collect my responses and apply the perspective they afford to the New Year. On Monday I’ll spend some time welcoming 2018 and contemplating the choices ahead of me. I’ll Name & Claim what I intend to create and then release that intention into the wild.

I share this with you in hopes that these questions might help you find some clarity and direction in the New Year. Maybe you can ask some of these questions of your family and friends at a New Year’s Eve gathering?

May you savor these last days of 2017 as they share their secrets with you.

Baby Steps & Best Advice

  • Where did the smallest step produce the biggest result?
  • What was the best advice you were given this year?
  • Who shared it with you or how did it find its way to you?

Body Wisdom

  • How aware of your body were you throughout the year?
  • Did you feel connected to your body and allow yourself to feel the pleasure of being in a body or did you disconnect and spend the majority of time in your head?
  • Did you have any health challenges or achieve any health or fitness goals?

Experiences

  • What books, movies, music, conversations, trips, trainings, or classes forever changed the way you think, feel, see, or experience life?
  • What places provided you with the most peace or inspiration, the best working environment, the most creative conversations, the most nutritious and delicious food and drinks, incredibly beauty, or fascinating people?
  • Where did you love hanging out and with whom?

Fears & Thrills

  • What was the scariest thing you did this year?
  • How did you feel once you faced your fear?
  • What was the most thrilling thing you did, said, felt, or experienced this year?
  • What made you feel most alive?
  • What caused you the most pain or regret?

Gadgets & Gizmos

  • What new technology did you master that catapulted your business or personal life forward?
  • What products, apps, or life hacks made your life easier, more organized, or more fun?
  • What purchased created the most joy and/or frustration as you worked through the learning curve?

Gifts

  • When and how were your gifts recognized and appreciated this year? (By you and others.)
  • When did you need to activate your superpowers and how did you do so?
  • Was there a particularly painful lesson that held an exquisite gift for you?
  • When did you have to practice patience and learn to move at the pace of grace?

Health & Well-Being

  • What creative, meditative, fitness, or health practices did you begin that made a noticeable difference in the quality of your life?
  • What new foods or drinks did you discover this year that you now can’t live without?
  • What really nourished you?   (Mind, body, and spirit)
  • What health care practitioners offered you the most comfort or provided you with the most helpful information necessary to achieve your optimal health and well-being?

Homefront

  • Were there any new arrivals in your home? (Pets, people, plants, furniture, etc.)
  • Were there any departures in your household or family circle?
  • Did you move or add on to your existing home or somehow alter your living arrangements?

Livelihood & Creativity

  • Did you start a new adventure, begin a new business, retire, or leave an old career to start something new this year?
  • Who was on your dream team? What collaborations or partnerships gave you the most joy and brought about unexpected or innovative results?
  • Who needed to be fired from your life? What relationships created chaos, unnecessary drama, miscommunications, or major meltdowns?
  • Where did you create something amazing out of nothing?
  • Where did you take “massive imperfect action” as my coach likes to call it?
  • What crazy idea captured your attention and refused to let go until you took action? What happened next?
  • Where did you lose track of time and fall into the flow of doing what you love?

Money

  • How did money show up in your life this year?
  • Did you experience any money miracles or windfalls?
  • When did you feel especially abundant? What thoughts, practices, purchases, or actions contributed to that?
  • When did you feel constricted or tight about money? What thoughts, practices, purchases, or actions contributed to that?
  • Did you read any books, attend any seminars, work with any financial wizards or coaches who helped shift your mindset around money?

Relationships

  • Who walked into your life this year? How did their presence impact what’s possible for you?
  • Who walked out of your life this year? How did their absence create more presence for you?
  • Who do you long for? Who is missing in your world?
  • What relationships shifted or transitioned as you changed and grew?
  • Where was your love most needed and how easy was it for you to offer it up?
  • Who surprised you with their unwavering support and love? Who disappointed you?

Travel

  • Where did you go this year and how did you get there?
  • Did you travel for business, for pleasure, out of obligation, and/or because it was your soul’s calling?
  • Who did you meet in your travels?
  • What did you see?
  • How did it change you?

Spirit/Divine Intervention

  • How did God/the Universe/the Great Creator/Divine Feminine or Masculine reveal itself to you? How did you respond?
  • Were any of the answers you were seeking hiding in plain sight?
  • What was lost? What was found?
  • When did you feel closest to God or Source energy?

Surprise

  • What was surprised you most this year?
  • How did this surprise rearrange your reality?
  • What unlikely sources of support, funding, friendship, or freedom showed up for you?

World Events

  • How did world events impact your actions?
  • Did these events alter your opinion of humanity or change the way you view the world or the future of the planet?
  • Did these events catalyze you to join a movement, stage a protest, offer aid or assistance to those in need?

If you had to sum up the year in 6 words, those words would be:

___________    _____________    _____________     ______________   _______________    _____________

* Mine would be:  You can’t make this stuff up.  Really, it was that kind of year! Totally amazing.

Top 10 Takeaways from the year? List them here!

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I’d love for you to share any aha’s or epiphanies that may arise from these questions 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 – Plan “U”

It’s time for Plan “U” of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. Plan “U” urges you not to underestimate the appeal of the ugly sweater. It’s undeniable!

If you’ve got one, it’s time to usher it in with unbridled enthusiasm. Understanding this fashion trend is not important. Unraveling the mystery is unnecessary.

Wearing Santa underwear or elf pajamas usually falls under the ugly sweater umbrella. But have no fear, upgrading to ugly sweater apparel does not undermine your authority. On the contrary, it unquestionably upholds it as it unifies us by unleashing and acknowledging a kind of universal dorkiness in all of us.

When you dare to be vulnerable or silly or uncharacteristically unconcerned, you uncover the truth that it’s what’s underneath the ugly sweater that counts. I’m guessing for most of us, that’s ultimately a uniquely loving heart and an utterly amazing soul.

Use the hashtag #midlifemacgyver to send me photo of your ugly sweater on Instagram or leave me a comment below describing your ugly sweaters or other apparel and the adventures they uncork.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Cake , recipe for winter holiday party

P.S. If wearing an ugly sweater leads to your undoing, then make an ugly sweater cake. The possibilities are unending!

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “R”

 

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Plan “R” is ready to report in for duty in the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge.

Although there are many “R” words in the running for today’s top tip like relax, rejuvenate, roam, radiate, read, renew, receive,  reveal, respect, restore, represent, reflect, reign, and shake-rattle-and-roll, one of the revolutionary principles I like to coach people on is resolving to evolve.

Although I have written Reasonably Radical Resolutions to Redefine Your Reality in response to regular resolutions that tend to last as long Rocky Road ice-cream on a ridiculously hot day, resolving to evolve means you repeatedly return to the place where you get to rewrite, re-do, or reinvent yourself as a result of your most recent reach for something outside your comfort zone.

This quote by Rumi sums it up.

Respond to every call that excites your spirit.”

The reward for risking everything is that you reveal who you really are and this reminds you of what is possible for you.

Instead of removing yourself from any chance encounter with a roly-poly bearded guy and his flying reindeer, see if you can recapture a bit of the Christmas magic by reclaiming your  own superpowers and rising to the challenge of realizing your potential.

I know you may resist and possibly resent me for requesting this of you at this time of year, but I want you to ride this year out on a wave of remarkable moments made possible by your commitment to reigniting your rousing curiosity and rejoicing with the totally righteous dudes and dudettes who recognize your rebellion as your resurrection into right livelihood or reassurance that you’re already rollicking along the right track with no regrets.

And one more thing.

Release the need to ricochet or rush around. It will rob you of any peace of mind you may have recovered while reciting riddles in a padded room. Rely on your own rhythm to move at the pace of grace this holiday season.

What rings true for you?  Report in and recall your reasons why you rock and your Plan “R” rules below in the comments.

Right on. Or write on, as I like to say.

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P.S. I almost forgot… more Good Cheer here! Remember I told you there would be goodies? Well, I’ve got goodies galore!

If you would like Resolve to Evolve or Here to the New Year in Good Cheer stickers to put on packages or love letters, or a mini Resolve to Evolve journal, respond in the comments below. Please leave your contact info below so I know where to ship your goodies.

It’s my way of rewarding you for reading and responding. (And don’t worry, your privacy is a big deal to me. I don’t let anyone have access to the information you share with me.)

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “P”

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It’s the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge and today “P” pitches its plan. You might possibly presume for a prolific person like Penny Plautz from Prophetstown, Plan “P” is probably my preferred plan. It packs a powerful punch and promises to pour a plethora of positivity into our peace producing project.

So many words beginning with the letter P pop into this paragraph and prompt me to play with a preponderance of profoundly pleasurable ideas that promote good cheer. It’s perplexing to pick one from the predominant pool of prized philosophies.

Although I pondered plunging ahead with poetry, prevailing wisdom prods me to publish something that may be perceived as practical yet profoundly perfect.

So today I present you with this plan.

Practice being present.Your presence is the best present you can give. Or, as I like to say, the magic of Christmas isn’t the presents, it’s being present for the magic.

I poked around on Canva and created this design for you. Permit me provide you with personal proclamations you can print out and post where your peeps and pals can put them into practice.

Here’s another positive prescription for today.

Pamper yourself with a parade of possibilities for pursuing your passion – from protesting the need to punish yourself for presumed imperfections to pulling off the phenomenal and placing yourself in a priority position. This proves you are preparing to powerfully procure your place as a prosperous player in a promising New Year.

Please leave your comments below and feel free to pen your own “P” plans and share them with the particular planet of prized people who read this blog.

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “N”

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No way! We’ve already narrated our way to Plan “N’ in our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer and nothing can stop us from neglecting our duties now.

The need for novelty necessitates less napping and more noting of nouns and verbs that begin with the letter of the day. Focusing on things of a specific nature nurtures a nuanced notion of creativity not normally noticed by novices or newbies.

But since you are nearly a ninja now at naming a number of basic holiday survival tips, I must be nimble and expose the naked truth in order to nab your attention in a noisy world.

Despite never ending negotiations as to whether you belong on the naughty or nice list,  nailing the nickname “Notorious”  by nosy neighbor Nigel does nothing to negate your nomination to St. Nick’s newly named Not Quite Sure list.

Here’s a little nugget of advice.  A nudge in the right direction is as near as one good deed away.  Notice, nourish, and nuzzle up next to any number of noteworthy causes.

When Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, neck, knuckles, and knees, donate hats, scarves, gloves and other necessities to local shelters or schools. The net gain gleaned from giving is often greater than receiving.

Or while nibbling away at Nana’s nutritious nutcracker cake instead of Nelly’s nachos, find out where your local food bank is and feed a family or two.

What needs nestled into the nooks and crannies of normal life might you meet for others in your neighborhood this season?

Give me a nod and share the ways you move up a notch on the Nice List in the comments below. For every like, comment, or sharing of this post with, I’ll donate a dollar in your honor to our local food bank. How’s that for spreading good cheer?

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “L”

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Let’s let “L” lead the way today in our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge.

Yes, there are lots of “L” words lobbying for the lucky lesson of the day, but sometimes less is more. (Especially when I had the luxury of listening to visiting artist, JM James, last night instead of laboring over a longer post.)

So no lecturing from this language lover. I’m limiting myself to eleven lyrically liberating love notes or lullabies to lift you up when your spirits start to lag.

  1. Listen before you label.
  2. Lavish with love.
  3. Linger longer.
  4. Laughter lightens the load.
  5. Lose your luggage. (Figuratively, not literally. At least not the lingerie or longjohns!)
  6. Launch. Leap. Land. Repeat.
  7. Do what you like. Like what you do.
  8. Luxuriate in the little things.
  9. Legitimize your leaps of faith.
  10. Lean in. Lap up the light,  levity, and loveliness.
  11. Leave a comment below.

 

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Rocky Mountain High

 

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Today I’m trying my hand a flash fiction because as John Muir said, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”  Like six word stories, they pack a powerful punch in just a few words.  Here goes:

In the midst of a month of madness, she was plucked from the pressures of puppy parenthood and advising anxious students who only recently realized their imminent return to school required registering for and funding their education, and drove across the country to Colorado attend the nuptials of her fiancé’s  niece.

Despite the availability and legality of certain mind altering substances, the only thing she needed to experience a Rocky Mountain high was to walk among the aspens, breathe in the air, and respond to the call of the wild.