Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The article that I wrote on "forgiveness" can now be found on the blog, "Think Simple Now".  Please click into "Think Simple Now".  

Monday, December 20, 2010

10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn

Hoping all of you are enjoying the holidays!  I love this article and I think it is a great way to get ready for the New Year.  
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to all of you!
10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn

By Martha Beck
Oprah.com   |   April 13, 2010
In the past 10 years, I've realized that our culture is rife with ideas that actually inhibit joy. Here are some of the things I'm most grateful to have unlearned:
1. Problems are bad. You spent your school years solving arbitrary problems imposed by boring authority figures. You learned that problems—comment se dit?—suck. But people without real problems go mad and invent things like base jumping and wedding planning. Real problems are wonderful, each carrying the seeds of its own solution. Job burnout? It's steering you toward your perfect career. An awful relationship? It's teaching you what love means. Confusing tax forms? They're suggesting you hire an accountant, so you can focus on more interesting tasks, such as flossing. Finding the solution to each problem is what gives life its gusto. 
2. It's important to stay happy. Solving a knotty problem can help us be happy, but we don't have to be happy to feel good. If that sounds crazy, try this: Focus on something that makes you miserable. Then think, "I must stay happy!" Stressful, isn't it? Now say, "It's okay to be as sad as I need to be." This kind of permission to feel as we feel—not continuous happiness—is the foundation of well-being. 
3. I'm irreparably damaged by my past. Painful events leave scars, true, but it turns out they're largely erasable. Jill Bolte Taylor, the neuroanatomist who had a stroke that obliterated her memory, described the event as losing "37 years of emotional baggage." Taylor rebuilt her own brain, minus the drama. Now it appears we can all effect a similar shift, without having to endure a brain hemorrhage. The very thing you're doing at this moment—questioning habitual thoughts—is enough to begin off-loading old patterns. For example, take an issue that's been worrying you ("I've got to work harder!") and think of three reasons that belief may be wrong. Your brain will begin to let it go. Taylor found this thought-loss euphoric. You will, too. 
4. Working hard leads to success. Baby mammals, including humans, learn by playing, which is why "the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton." Boys who'd spent years strategizing for fun gained instinctive skills to handle real-world situations. So play as you did in childhood, with all-out absorption. Watch for ways your childhood playing skills can solve a problem (see #1). Play, not work, is the key to success. While we're on the subject...
5. Success is the opposite of failure. Fact: From quitting smoking to skiing, we succeed to the degree we try, fail, and learn. Studies show that people who worry about mistakes shut down, but those who are relaxed about doing badly soon learn to do well. Success is built on failure.
6. It matters what people think of me. "But if I fail," you may protest, "people will think badly of me!" This dreaded fate causes despair, suicide, homicide. I realized this when I read blatant lies about myself on the Internet. When I bewailed this to a friend, she said, "Wow, you have some painful fantasies about other people's fantasies about you." Yup, my anguish came from my hypothesis that other people's hypothetical hypotheses about me mattered. Ridiculous! Right now, imagine what you'd do if it absolutely didn't matter what people thought of you. Got it? Good. Never go back.
7. We should think rationally about our decisions. Your rational capacities are far newer and more error-prone than your deeper, "animal" brain. Often complex problems are best solved by thinking like an animal. Consider a choice you have to make—anything from which movie to see to which house to buy. Instead of weighing pros and cons intellectually, notice your physical response to each option. Pay attention to when your body tenses or relaxes. And speaking of bodies...
8. The pretty girls get all the good stuff. Oh, God. So not true. I unlearned this after years of coaching beautiful clients. Yes, these lovelies get preferential treatment in most life scenarios, but there's a catch: While everyone's looking at them, virtually no one sees them. Almost every gorgeous client had a husband who'd married her breasts and jawline without ever noticing her soul. 
9. If all my wishes came true right now, life would be perfect. Check it out: People who have what you want are all over rehab clinics, divorce courts, and jails. That's because good fortune has side effects, just like medications advertised on TV. Basically, any external thing we depend on to make us feel good has the power to make us feel bad. Weirdly, when you've stopped depending on tangible rewards, they often materialize. To attract something you want, become as joyful as you think that thing would make you. The joy, not the thing, is the point.
10. Loss is terrible. Ten years ago I still feared loss enough to abandon myself in order to keep things stable. I'd smile when I was sad, pretend to like people who appalled me. What I now know is that losses aren't cataclysmic if they teach the heart and soul their natural cycle of breaking and healing. A real tragedy? That's the loss of the heart and soul themselves. If you've abandoned yourself in the effort to keep anyone or anything else, unlearn that pattern. Live your truth, losses be damned. Just like that, your heart and soul will return home. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Always Have a Choice

I am taking Dr. Lisa Chu's course, "12 Days of Holiday Sanity: How To Stay Sane In The Midst Of Holiday Craziness" not because I am crazed by the holidays, but because Lisa teaches me something new each day that I will use all year long.  Today, the first day of the course, is a good example.  I have a friend who would say periodically to me, "You don't really have a choice".  I hate that phrase because you may not be able to do the particular action you wanted to do, but you have a choice in how you react and that makes all the difference in feeling, as Lisa says, "empowered".  I actually hate it when somebody tells me I can't do something, but that's a whole other post.
I have included a snipet from today’s lesson with Lisa.  Missing is the video and the worksheet that comes with it (I don’t want to give away everything).  If you are interested in signing up for her course, go to: http://12daysofholidaysanity.eventbrite.com


There are two different energies to this affirmation, "I always have a choice."
1. Energy of Empowerment. There is power in taking responsibility for YOUR choices, and only your choices. There is relief in knowing that you ONLY have responsibility for your choices, not the ones made by other people, no matter how much they love you or how much authority they have in your mind. Connect with your own power to choose.
2. Energy of Gentleness and Kindness. There is also a softness in the recognition that no matter what situation you find yourself in, no matter how far you have gone down one path, no matter what choices you have made in the past, you have the opportunity to make another choice. As long as you are alive and breathing, every new breath gives you a fresh opportunity to forgive yourself and choose again. Connect with your own gentleness and kindness toward yourself, and make another choice.
Throughout this course, you will be exploring various aspects of CHOICE. You will be creating opportunities to make new choices, and also observing the unconscious choices you're already making. All of it is designed to help you honor yourself more deeply through the choices you can always make, in each moment.
And now...an activity!
Here's an activity to help you with a common source of overwhelm, not only at the holidays but throughout the year: our "To Do" lists.
Download the worksheet (upper right corner of this page) and follow along. You should probably set aside 15 to 30 minutes for this exercise, again choosing a quiet space where you won't be interrupted.
  • Choose a timeframe for your "Have To Do" list (today, this week, this holiday season, or whenever). It doesn't matter what timeframe you choose! Anything will work.
  • First, write down all the activities you think you have to do. Just let all your ideas come out, without editing or thinking too much about them.
  • Now, take a few deep breaths and return to each item on the list, starting with the ones you feel most reluctant about, or are maybe even dreading.
  • Ask yourself, "Is it true?" Do you really "have to" do this? Write down the "Yes" or "No" answer that comes to mind first.
  • Then ask, "Why?" What are you believing that makes you think you "have to" do this? I've provided an example in the worksheet to help you see what I mean by this. Write down all the thoughts that come to mind, without editing.
  • Next, take a breath, close your eyes and imagine yourself in vivid detail, actually doing the task as you described it. Picture the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures associated with the task. How does it feel in your body? Write this down.
  • When you have completed these steps for each of the activities on your list, move on the final column of the worksheet: CHOICE.
  • Martha Beck has a clever way to remember the choices you can make on a typical "To Do" list: the 3 B's.
    • Bag It - Eliminate the task from your list. You may find, after completing this exercise, that your "Have To Do" list is actually much shorter than you originally thought. What a relief! You don't have to do everything you think! Give yourself the tremendous gift of choosing NOT to do some things.
    • Better It - For those items that you really have to do, you can make choices that will improve your experience of the task. HOW to better it is up to you. A good place to start is to think of a treat you can give yourself as a reward for completing the task, or to do the activity with a person who brings you positive energy, or even to change the location to someplace that makes you feel peaceful and joyful. You'd be surprised at how even a small, seemingly simple positive change can completely transform your experience of a mundane task. I've given you an example in the worksheet, but here's where your creativity can really serve you!
    • Barter It - Sometimes a task needs to get done, but you don't necessarily have to be the one who does it. Consider hiring someone to do it. Or trading with a friend who enjoys the task more than you do, and could use your help in another area where your strengths and joys are utilized.
Take a look at your list of choices! Acknowledge yourself for creating each and every one of these new choices.
Not only have you created a new way to experience your list of "have to do" activities, you have exercised an important muscle that you can continue to practice and use to create joy and peace throughout the new year: CHOICE.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

My iPod

Nine years ago, my mother gave me one of my favorite birthday gifts: my yellow lab, Casey.  
Every day I walk Casey and I always walk listening to music.  In 2001, I listened to the radio while I walked and the songs were random and I had no control over them.
In 2002, I got an iPod.  I started creating playlists, but unlike my children who are very sophisticated with their music organization, I just started with a playlist called “My Favorites” and followed with “My Favorites 2”.  I now have 27 playlists.  I chose and choose songs for their beat and sound, but most importantly, I choose them for their lyrics.
Today, I was bored walking to “My Favorites 27” and I went all the way back to the first playlist and kept listening.   It was amazing.  It was like reading my autobiography.  Every song not only had meaning and reminded me of a time during the last eight years, but the images were incredibly vivid.  It was if I was living the ups and downs of every year by listening to those songs.  I could feel every emotion I felt at that particular time.
Since I am not very clever with the organization of the playlists, they were just in chronological order.
I was able to hear the last eight years and feel all the joys, pain, anger, and love that I have felt over almost a decade.  In 2002, I also had started taking annual trips by myself  and I would always choose one song before I left to be the "vision" song for my journey.  So, of course, those songs were there too and I could remember every sight, taste, and smell of those trips just by listening to the "vision" song for that year.
WOW!  It was so cool!  It reminded me of how full life is and of how many experiences we really live in a year, or even eight.
It also gave me a picture of how I have grown, where I have been, and maybe even where I am going.
Thanks, Steve Jobs, you gave me a gift I didn’t even know was there.
Happy Hanukah!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Nothing Big Required - You are Enough

Sometimes I think we can feel that we have failed in someway if we haven’t accomplished something “big” in our lives.  Yes, people will tell us you have been a great mom or you have been a wonderful friend.  I think we forget that each of us really does make a difference even if it doesn’t make the front page.  I am a huge fan of the site Daily OM.
Thank you, by the way, to one of my first Oxygen members who told me about it three years ago.
Here is today’s Daily OM.  Read it and pat yourself on the back.  You are enough just the way you are.
December 2, 2010
Nothing Big Required
You Are Enough
You are enough the way you are. It isn't everyone's path to do something big for the world, all is important.

Most of us have the feeling that we are here to accomplish something big in our lives, and if we haven't done something that fits the bill we may feel as if we are waiting. We may feel incomplete, or empty, as if our lives don't yet make sense to us, because they don't line up with our idea of major accomplishment. In some cases, this may be because we really are meant to do something that we haven’t yet done. But in most cases, we can let ourselves off the hook with the realization that just being here, being ourselves, is enough.
As we live our lives in this world, we share our energy and our spirit with the people around us in numerous ways. Our influence touches their lives and, through them, touches the lives of many more people. When we strive to live our lives to the fullest and to become our true selves, we are doing something big on an inner level, and that is more than enough to make sense of our being here on this planet at this time. There is no need to hold ourselves to an old idea in the back of our minds that we need to make headlines or single-handedly save the world in order to validate our existence.
We can each look within our hearts to discover what is true for us, what gives our lives meaning, and what excites us. We can release ourselves from any pressure to perform that comes from outside of our inner sense of purpose. Staying in tune with our own values and living our lives in tune with our own vision is all we need in order to fulfill our time here. Our lives are a process of becoming so that we cannot help but cocreate; being who we are, responding to each moment as it comes, we can trust that this is enough.
 For more information visit http://www.dailyom.com

Monday, November 29, 2010

FRAZZLED, Rather than Dazzled, by the Holidays?

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

I just finished an online course with Dr. Lisa Chu and I really enjoyed it, especially because I did it all at my own pace.  Lisa is a life coach and also writes a blog which can be found at http://www.themusicwithinus.com

We were talking about some of the stress that people feel during the holidays and she decided to create a new online course called, "12 Days of Holiday Sanity:  How to Stay Sane in the Midst of Holiday Craziness".  It starts on Monday, December 13th and runs for 12 days.  The course prices and registration are at the link below and Lisa is offering a $5 discount off both of the Early Bird offer prices to Oxygen members. Enter discount code: "oxygen".

The course information is below.


FRAZZLED, rather than dazzled, by the holidays?

If you, like me, have suffered from overwhelm and joyless holiday seasons in the past, try this course! I will share with you some new ways of thinking, and new ways of taking action, that will help you transform stress into greater harmony with your true self, during the holidays and beyond! - Dr. Lisa Chu, life coach

This course delivers 12 daily doses of practical wisdom to help you reclaim your own joy during the holiday season, no matter how crazy it gets.
It's like having a daily coaching session to help you maintain your peace and clarity through the holidays, within the privacy and convenience of your own computer, iPad, or web-enabled smart phone, and at an INSANELY affordable price.
If you have ever experienced overwhelm, dread, emotional volatility, and high levels of stress around the holidays, this course is for you!
Receive 12 daily lessons about how to deal with common stressful holiday scenarios such as:
               being triggered by family members
               feeling pressured to keep up with holiday rituals and activities (cards, decorations, parties,  gifts)
               not honoring your own needs and ending up exhausted, instead of joyful, by year's end
               dreading or avoiding holiday family gatherings altogether
               feeling obligated rather than grateful
               annual "replay" of old familiar patterns of behavior and conversations
               handling "difficult" people and awkward situations with greater ease

Online course, with 12 lessons, each link delivered daily to your inbox.

Lessons are completed at your own pace, so no worries about "falling behind" or showing up for class on time!

Media include written materials, a daily audio MP3 podcast, downloadable worksheets, and videos.

Utilize these lessons throughout the year, whenever you need a dose of sanity in your life! You will retain unlimited access to the course website and lessons.

Discussion forum and real-time online feedback from classmates and instructor for the duration of the 12-day course.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Baseball Can Teach Us About Life

I am not a huge baseball fan, but this is a great article because it sums up some of the best lessons in life.  After reading this piece by Mike Robbins, I think I have changed my mind about the game of baseball.

Go Giants!


With all the excitement of the playoffs and the World Series (which, thanks to the success of the San Francisco Giants, we get to experience directly here in the Bay Area), I’ve been thinking about, watching, and appreciating the great game baseball a lot these past few weeks.  As someone who spent eighteen years of my life (from the age of seven until the age of twenty five) playing organized baseball and who has been a huge fan all my life, the game has taught me a great deal.

Whether you’ve played (or still play) baseball yourself, watch it as a fan, or even if you don’t particularly like it, understand it, care about it, or think it’s boring (which I know some people do), the game of baseball can teach us so many important things about life.

The fact that there are seemingly endless metaphors and universal life lessons that can be gleaned from baseball is one of the many things that make the game so interesting, exciting, and magical in my opinion.

Here are some key lessons from baseball I’ve been reminded of these past few weeks as I’ve been following the Giants with passion and enjoying the excitement of the post-season:

1)  Appreciate the moment. It’s so easy in life to take things for granted, focus too much on the outcome, and worry about our own agenda or performance - all things I did for much of my own baseball career.  Doing this, as we’ve all learned the hard way, causes us to miss the magic of the moment.  As I’ve continued to remind the folks within the San Francisco Giants organization whom I’ve had the honor of working with as a client this year, the most important thing to do in the midst of the excitement, intensity, and pressure of competition - whether it’s in baseball or in life - is to enjoy and be grateful for the experience right now.  As baseball teaches us, if we hold our breath and wait for it “all to work out,” if often doesn’t and we lose opportunity to appreciate what’s happening, while it’s happening, which is the only way we can authentically enjoy anything in life.

2)  Take it one step at a time. As most baseball coaches preach to their players - “Take things one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time, one inning at a time, and one game at a time.”  While these may be some of the oldest baseball cliches in the book, they’re cliches for a reason - they’re true, and not just for baseball.  The better you are at letting go of what just happened, not worrying about what’s coming up, and staying in each moment of your experience as it happens - the more likely you are to enjoy yourself and perform at your best.  You never know how things are going to unfold and you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself.  According to all of the “experts,” the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies were supposed to be playing in the World Series, not the Giants and the Texas Rangers.

3)  Focus on what you can control. In baseball, work, and life, there are so many things we can’t control (i.e. what other people do, external factors, and ultimately the results), but we always have control over our attitude and our effort.  Remembering what you can and can’t control, and putting your attention on your attitude and effort are key elements in staying focused and positive, and in reducing stress and negativity.  In baseball, if you waste your time getting upset about the calls by the umpire, the play of the other guys on your team, the decisions your manager makes, the weather conditions, what the fans and media have to say, and more, you’ll make yourself crazy and render yourself ineffective in the game.  The same is true in life - we spend and waste so much energy on stuff we have no control over.  When we shift our focus to what we can control (our attitude and effort), we’re empowered.

4)  Failure is part of the game. There is so much failure in baseball, even when you’re a really good player or team.  Cody Ross, an outfielder for the Giants, won the Most Valuable Player award of the National League Championship Series against the Phillies last week.  He had a great series and hit .350, which is a fantastic batting average.  However, this means he got out (i.e. failed) 65% of the time.  Even when you’re considered the “best,” which he was for that series, you still have to deal with a lot of failure in baseball.  The two teams in the World Series this year, the Giants and the Rangers, each lost 70 and 72 games respectively during the regular season.  That’s a lot of failure…and, they’re really good!  This is also true in life.  The question isn’t whether or not we’ll fail; it’s how we’ll deal with it when it happens that’s most important.  Remembering that failure is an essential part of the game of life can help us let go of unnecessary fear, worry, and self judgment.

5)  Swing hard, just in case you hit it. Our fear of failure and embarrassment often holds us back from really going for it.  There were many times in my baseball career that I played tentatively, so as not to fail or lose. However, the best way to approach the game, as well as life itself, is with passion. Juan Uribe, the Giants third baseman, hit the game winning home run in Game 6 of last week’s National League Championship Series (sending the Giants to the World Series).  He’s a guy who swings about as hard as anyone in baseball.  Sometimes he misses and can look bad at the plate.  However, when he hits it, as he did last weekend, he has the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark and win the game in heroic fashion.  Swinging hard in life, just in case we hit it, is a great way to approach many of the important things we do.  Imagine what your life and career would look like it you weren’t afraid to fail or embarrass yourself?

6)  Don’t be a front-runner. During the post-season, there are lots of “front-runners,” (i.e. fans, media, and others jumping on the “band wagon” when a team starts winning games and doing well). We live in a culture that loves winners and makes fun of losers. While this makes sense in baseball and sports, it can be quite damaging in business, relationships, and life. Sadly, we’re often “front-runners” with ourselves - thinking that we’re only as good as our performance or liking ourselves better based on external factors (money, accomplishments, weight, status, etc.). The most successful baseball players I’ve ever seen or known and the most fulfilled people I’ve ever been around, don’t get too caught up in their own “hype” when they’re doing well and don’t get too stuck in their own “black hole” when they’re in a slump. Keeping it real with yourself and others and not being a front-runner is critically important to creating authentic success and fulfillment in life.

7)  It ain’t over ’til it’s over. As the great and somewhat quirky hall-of-fame catcher from the New York Yankees Yogi Berra famously said, “It’s ain’t over ’til it’s over.” This is, of course, true in baseball and in life. So often individuals and teams get counted out - which was true for both of the teams playing in this year’s World Series, as well as many of the individual players on both squads, especially the Giants. However, baseball is a game of many second chances and opportunities for redemption - just ask Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers. His story of recover from addiction is inspiring and a great example of perseverance. We are confronted on a daily basis in life with opportunities to give up, give in, and quit. Remembering that “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” is important for us in those low moments when we feel like throwing in the towel. Don’t give up - you never know what’s going to happen; as we’re continually reminded about through the great game of baseball and the great experience of life.

Whether you love baseball like I do, get into it from time to time (especially at this time of year), or think it’s a ridiculous and boring game - I hope you’re able to watch the World Series over this next week and not only appreciate it for the exciting sporting event that it is, but also look more deeply into the beautiful way it can teach us so much about ourselves and how to live life to its fullest.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Inspiration vs. Motivation

As you probably know by now if you have been reading my blog over the last year, I love words and the way they can have an impact on our perception of things.  Two words can be similar yet just slightly different and they completely change our behavior if we look closely.

This piece is from a great blog called "Illuminated Mind".

I think the author has done an excellent job of deciphering the nuances between "inspiration" and "motivation".


It may seem like a subtle distinction, but the worlds of motivation and inspiration are millions of miles apart.

A lot of people use the words “motivated” and “inspired” interchangeably. But I’ve found something different to be the case.
When I try to motivate myself, nine times out of ten I’m pushing myself to do something I don’t really care about.
Motivation is about psyching yourself up. Chest-pounding. Fire-walking. Heavy-metal riffs. You get the point.
Inspiration comes from a completely different place. The word inspiration means to be in spirit. When you’re tuned into your spirit, you are naturally drawn to do whatever feels best. You may do things that aren’t outwardly productive. Or you may write a book in 30 days. Either way, it’s all good because fulfillment is the end result.
Motivation, on the other hand, usually has a lot to do with fake growth. You think you should be doing something (without thinking about why) and it often leads in the direction of something that doesn’t really matter. It’s what you’re “supposed” to be doing. It’s just a good idea, not a passionate, burning desire that emanates from the core of your being.
So, motivation is about things that you think you should do or that you’re supposed to do. Inspiration is about being called to act because you’re in direct alignment with the magnetic, luminous marrow of potential that is you.
When you’re inspired you know because…
  • Life feels effortless.
  • You have to hold yourself back from starting right now.
  • Your passion burns steady, it doesn’t flatline.
  • It occupies magnitudes of mental space, there’s no vacancy.
  • You feel called to do this; the feeling comes from your core.
  • You feel it in your bones.
Continual inspiration is about continual realignment
You might be thinking… “How do I get inspired?” Well, you can’t. Inspiration isn’t something you get, it comes from within, it comes from your core.
So being inspired isn’t about doing something external to bring something in. That’s motivation, remember?
Being inspired is about a constant process of realignment. Whenever you’re feeling like you have to push, it’s time to realign. Whenever you’re feeling like you’re not enjoying life, it’s time to realign. Whenever you feel like you’re trying to fulfill a quota or expectation, it’s time to realign.
Realignment isn’t anything complicated. It’s very simple, actually. All it involves is drawing inward and exploring what you really want. Your home cosmography, as Thoreau put it.
So, what do you really want? Not what should you want, not what you think might be a good idea for you to want. What lights you up? Once you’ve got a grasp on that, stay with it for a little while. Bathe in it, savor it. Taste it on your tongue. Feel it tingling down your spine.
It feels good, doesn’t it?
If it doesn’t feel good, you’re still not there. Keep going.
Once you’ve come to that state of anticipation, you’re inspired. You’re In Spirit. And you’d rather have that than trying to motivate yourself, right?