Act Like An Olympian In Your Own Life


Since the snow continues to accumulate here in Iowa I thought I would try my luck at skiing on Saturday. My niece wanted to ski and Bob’s nephew wanted to snowboard and because they still think of me as the hip and crazy aunt who will try anything, I could not disappoint them.

I’m not really sure why I thought I could ski since I haven’t been on skis in over 20 years and I’ve never once had a lesson. Maybe it’s the subliminal messages the Winter Olympics athletes are sending us to get out and act like an Olympian in our own lives.

By attempting to ski I learned about myself, fear, fun, and falling down. As much as I like to think I’m able to listen to my body’s wisdom, my head hijacks whatever is attempting to communicate through my extremities at the first sign of danger.

In my case, this happened as soon as I slid by boots into the skis and attempted to maneuver over to the bunny hill. The ability to put one foot in front of the other without falling over suddenly became a monumental task.

What was I thinking?” became the only thing I was thinking. Until I fell and then, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” became the predominant thought.

Take off your skis!” Kat advised as I pondered how my knees and feet might work in unison with skis pointed in opposite directions.

You can do it!” Brad encouraged.

And I did.

After a successful run down “Rookie’s Ridge“, I moved on to the “green” hill where I wiped out a couple of times and skied right into a snowbank.

I think it takes most people 3-5 minutes to ski that slope. I’m pretty sure it took me 35.

Come on, Pen! Try going a little faster,” the young ones quipped.  It sure seemed like I was moving at top speed when I skied into the snow bank.

Luckily Kat and Brad were more patient than I ever expected them to be.  They even acted like they knew me when I came careening into the chairlift area.

Did I have a fabulous time? A humbling time would be more like it.

In my mind, I still believe I’m their age. It always shocks me when my body reminds me this is no longer the case.

But courage begets courage. I’m not sure I would have even agreed to try this had I not just started a mastermind group called Practicing Everyday Alchemy and been buoyed by the support and faith of a fearless group of amazing alchemists.

Every Olympian has an entire team behind them encouraging, supporting, training, and seeing them through their toughest and most glorious moments. Why wouldn’t I put a similar support system in place when I take my leap into the unknown?

Having just read an incredibly insightful book by Shawn Achor called Big Potential, I wouldn’t attempt anything worthwhile without assembling a star system that allows me to not only to tap into my potential, but the bigger potential of everyone in the group.

It’s often the tiniest of actions that catapult us out of our comfort zone and into what I call our evolutionary zone. Sometimes it’s heading to the slopes. Other times it’s passing on dessert or an alcoholic beverage.  It could even be cleaning out a room in order to create some breathing space.

What courageous acts –  big or small – have you taken lately?

Who makes up your star support system and allows you to shine your light in new and adventurous ways?

Please share in the comments below so we can celebrate your moments of magnificence with you and those who made it possible for you!


What’s the Plan?


I ended 2016 very differently than I have most other years. Instead of going quietly into the New Year with as little fanfare as possible, I experienced a media blitz that had me working harder on my time off than I had at any other time throughout the year.

It was part of my whole alphabet plan to get from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer. It also allowed me to end 2016’s self-titled “Stretch Year” strong by catapulting me out of my comfort zone and consistently into the public arena.

Instead of building on this momentum and jockeying for position in the onslaught of self-improvement programs that January brings about, I retreated. In order to hear the still, small voice among all the shoulding and shouting, I had to get quiet.

As a college administrator, January rivals August as a “don’t mess with me” month. At least not until the students are registered, the faculty is prepped, the staff is informed, and we all get through the first few weeks of classes.

So I’ve resisted the urge to jump into every exciting new program that arrives in my Inbox as well as the temptation to launch my own signature program. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

There is a lot of buzz at the beginning of a New Year. It’s an excellent time to tap into the energy of a fresh start, a new beginning, a clean slate. As much as I wanted to ride the wave and see how far it would take me, I was starting to feel a bit frazzled.

So I asked myself, “What’s the workable plan for now?  What’s the next right step to move my life forward at a sustainable rate?” 

The answer? Plan my work and work my plan. This, of course, calls for a fabulous planner!

Last year I used Danielle LaPorte’s daily planner, which piqued my interest in planners. This year I decided to try out her weekly planner. Even though this planner works brilliantly for my creatively quirky mind, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Are there other planners out there I might also love?”

Oh yeah. Being organized is big business.

I researched and ordered a few planners that made the top  10 lists. One was the Inkwell 2017 planner. This could possibly be my new favorite planner because of all the fun extras like a habit tracker, mission board, lots of space for notes, colorful tabs, and some pockets in the back to store stuff.

The other was Nourished the daily planner for a well-fed life.  I loved the concept and it seemed like the perfect planner to help me be more deliberate and intentional with my meal planning and fitness tracking. It just arrived over the weekend, so I haven’t worked with it too much yet.

As much as I love  each of these planners and are impressed by the details that went into their design, ultimately I have to customize them so they track what I deem important. I need a place to ask the clarifying questions on a daily basis that are just as important to me as knowing where I need to be at what time.

For example, every morning it helps me to ask:

  • What is this day about? 
  • What wants to come forward?  
  • What needs to get done?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What am I willing to do to feel that way?

Every evening it helps me to figure out:

  • Where was the magic hiding?
  • Where did I get tripped up, lose focus, fall out of integrity, or tell myself something that wasn’t true?
  • What was lost? 
  • What was found?
  • What were the HappyThankYouMorePlease moments?
  • What brilliant ideas surfaced?
  • What thoughts consistently hound me?
  • What do I need to sleep on and hope to gain clarity on for tomorrow?
  • Where did I excel?
  • Where can I improve?

The answers to these questions dictate my actions and determine what makes it on the next day’s agenda.

What about you? How much attention do you pay to your day and how does this attention or lack of attention affect your ability to achieve what you want to achieve?

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. you may want to craft your own “I Have a Dreamspeech today. Even if you don’t have any inkling as to how to achieve it or the specifics of what you truly want, just start by stating what you believe is possible. You don’t have to deliver it to anyone else. This is mainly to remind you of what matters and why.

Or, if you are avoiding resolutions or self-reflection the way year-round exercisers avoid the gym until February, that’s okay.  Just breathe in, breathe out, and go about your business. Let the dream, the purpose, or the vision find you.

One of my favorite mantras is, “What you seek is also seeking you.” Somehow the timing is always perfect. Trust wherever you are is where you need to be for now.

You’ve got a whole year ahead of you. Plan accordingly.*

I’d love for you to share your favorite planners and any tips or tricks for making 2017 your best one yet in the comments below.


*P.S. –  There will no doubt be surprises and things you didn’t see coming in the year ahead.  Don’t forget to leave some room for the unexpected in your grand plan.  Keeps it interesting!



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

Resolve to Evolve - Name It and Claim It(6).jpg


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!


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 – Let’s Review


This week might be one of my favorite weeks of the year. Not just because I work in education and get this week off, but also because it gives me some breathing space.

I look forward to this time all year to reflect on the lessons learned, experience gained, relationships rekindled or lost, and the unexpected surprises that buoyed my spirits or broke my heart.

Some of these things were in my control and many of them were not. Either way this year  provided a continually expanding arena for me to rearrange my perception of my place in the universe.

In an effort to become more visible and accessible, I became aware of how small I’ve been playing for a long time and how safe it is to do so.  The minute I risked becoming more visible and having an opinion, an agenda, or an attitude, I risked opening myself to judgment, criticism, and haters.

I can live with that. It appears to be the price of admission to a non-apologetic life.

What I can’t live with is being a writer and censoring myself so as not to offend or otherwise ruffle a few feathers. There were many things that had me worked up this year. It was also the year I embarked on an Integrity Cleanse so not writing about them was not possible.

As a writer, my job is to articulate the emotions underneath the issues so you can feel them in a way you may not have, left to your own devices.

I take this job very seriously. And though I don’t get paid to do it or enjoy celebrity status because of it, it’s the most rewarding thing I do. Because of you.

If reading makes us feel less alone in the world, then writing makes us feel more understood.

The greatest satisfaction I get from writing is knowing that some of you are reading this and thinking,”I know exactly what she’s talking about.” Especially when I describe the crazy stuff or make an obscure reference to something you thought you were the only one who remembered or had an experience of.

After a long day at work, I know I can retreat to my writing room and send something out into the world that will come back with a reassuring, “I hear you, honeyWelcome to my world.”

As I begin my week-long year in review, I want to start with saying thank you for being a consistent source of delight in my world and an incentive to keep pushing the envelope, expressing unspoken hopes and fears, and sprinkling a healthy dose of humor on ridiculous situations.

In between dog walks, reading, and savoring some quiet time at home, today I’m working on a few templates I’ll share with you tomorrow.

In the meantime, please share your highlights from 2016 in the comments below or email them to me at



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

Atmospheric Christmas window sill decoration

The letter “V” is the visiting today to validate and vouch for the various strategies we been voicing to get from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer.

If this were a tv show, I’d be asking you to vote for your favorite strategy. But I’d like to give you a vacation from vocalizing your views or vetoes and simply ask you to practice the strategies that add value and verify what works for you.

Venting about what vexes you may be all that’s necessary to vanish the stress.  Or visualizing a vibrant,  healthy, happy version of yourself may do the trick.

The variety of tips vying for your attention may vary. So I’m going to volunteer one of  my very favorite strategies.

Find a room with a view and let your imagination veer you towards that venerated state of a virtual Valium like quality peace and serenity. When you can vacate the need to control events and open to the vulnerability of being present, the volume of vibrant ideas you recognize as vital signs to your well-being may astound you.

One of those ideas for me is to venture into video. So slave-driving Santa will be bringing the equipment I need to up my game, face my fears, and be more visible in the New Year.

I’d love for you to voice your viewpoint in the comments below.


P.S. How would you like a perfectly sized Resolve to Evolve journal to record your resolutions, write out your to-do or ta-da! list, or record the many vistas you see out of your room with a view?  Just let me know where to send it below and I’ll get one to you in time for the New Year. Please know your information is safe with me because selling your information violates all that I hold dear.

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


Skipping to the front line of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge is the letter “S”, stacking one stone upon another in seasonal style.

There are several “s” words and ideas that strive to serve you. I could shower you with strategies that leave you staggering with a sprawling spread of spirited suggestions, but sticking to something more subtle suits us better.

You don’t need a series of solutions to get through the day. All that scheming, scripting, scouting, and scheduling may sacrifice your sanity. Where’s the satisfaction in that?

So without further speculating I shall spill the beans and sow the seeds of what I hope will be a shared sentiment.

Slowly succumb to the sights and sounds of your sacred space. If you can’t physically be there, go there in your mind. Soften your sharp edges. Seize the opportunity to shimmy, shake, shine, shout, or seek shelter in this place sanctioned solely for the spectacular surrendering of your stress.

It may seem silly or sound self-indulgent and you may be tempted to shrug it off.  Do it anyway. It will soothe your soul, sweet pea. Splurge. Savor. Soak it up.

You deserve some serious stress relief. And I’m here to see that you shift your sights slightly sideways so you might be seduced by a shameless sashay into a silent night – or seconds if that’s all you can sequester – to sleep, shop, or shovel snow in heavenly peace.

Score some stickers or snag a sassy Resolve to Evolve mini journal  by sharing your “S” stories in the comments below.  I never sell the information on my list so your secrets and your emails are safe with me.

P.S.  Here’s a bonus book recommendation for Plan “S”.  Start With Why from Simon Sinek. If you prefer watching TED talks to books, catch his sensational talk here. (Thanks, Tom, for sending the book to me in the (saint) nick of time for Plan “S”.)



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


Okay. We’re back with the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge and the plan for today starts with the letter “O”.

As I write this, the steady stream of snow continues to obstruct and obscure all attempts to remove it. Overtaxed and overwhelmed city workers optimize ongoing efforts to overcome this disadvantage, opting to remain optimistic as they operate heavy equipment and implement organized outlines for clearing what appears to the casual observer to be overwhelming amounts of the fluffy white stuff.

Even if the weather outside is frightful, today’s tip is to be open to the outdoors.

You may object or oppose this idea, but hear me out.

Snow days (sick days or whatever the warm weather equivalent might be) offer all kinds of opportunities to overthrow official agendas and orchestrate new world orders that oust the overburdened, overextended, or overzealous plans that originate in a kind of overrated orneriness.

Outwitting, outsmarting, outmaneuvering, or outrunning the regular routine often offsets the outrage or ennui that oozes from an obsessive obedience to ordinary operations.

Occasionally we need the oddly outrageous to overtake our senses. This allows us to get over what we’ve outgrown that overshadows our ability to move upward and onward and opt in to an optimal operating system.

You owe it to yourself to entertain what occupies your attention. Overlooking it or omitting its existence will obligate you to deal with it later.

How do you overhaul or override your over scheduled calendar so you can create some space for something original?

I’d love to hear how you overturn the ordinary and make it extraordinary in the comments below.

PS – Here’s an “O” book recommendation for those of you who enjoy oracle cards and other divinely inspired works – Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver.