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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the Plan?

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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.

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*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!

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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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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Let’s Review

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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 penny@wellpower.com.

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “X-Y-Z”

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It’s not that each of these letters aren’t worthy of their own plan in the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. It’s just that I’d like to finish the whole alphabet plan this week so we can get down to business next week preparing to ring in the New Year.

Like a well-planned exit strategy from a job or a relationship or a location, a well-thought out exit strategy for the year will yield excellent results.

While you may yearn for a yacht, a yellow submarine, or a career in yodeling, you can’t get from zero to hero without a little strategic planning.

You may zig. You may zag. You may even zip around in order to convince yourself you are getting there fast.  But as Aretha once asked, Who’s zoomin’ who?” Let’s get real about what it’s going to take.

So after we have ourselves a merry little Christmas and make the yuletide gay, we’ll recap 2016. We’ll leverage what we’ve learned so we can leap into 2017 with every intention of 10Xing the results we can expect once we get clear on why we want them.

I appreciate you reading and working through the Alphabet Plan. All I want for Christmas is to hear how these tips helped you or someone you love through the holidays.

Please leave your comments below.  Or just pipe in and share how you are spending the holidays. What are your favorite traditions, foods, presents, places, or parties? I love learning from you and knowing what matters to you.

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P.S. If you’d like to trade in your fruitcake or other interesting gifts for a perfectly-sized Resolve to Evolve journal, just fill out the info below and I’ll send you one.  No need to send me the fruitcake in exchange though. 🙂

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 “S”

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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”.)

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