Wednesday, June 30, 2010

When You Know Your Plate is Full

I have a friend for whom I have great respect.  In the last year, she was dealt a devastating blow in her life, one that I don’t know whether I would ever be able to handle.  Regardless, she had to deal with it.

I have always known her to be strong; but, in this instance, I truly am in awe of her.

In talking to her, she taught me a huge lesson.

We were discussing the goals she had set for herself about six months ago and she said she had accomplished those goals and now she was setting others.  I asked her if she would be going back to work at this time and she said in an amazingly confident and calm way, “No, I do not have room on my plate for that right now.  I have enough to handle”.

She wasn’t rude.  She was just sure about what she was saying and exactly how she was going to handle her situation.  It wasn’t that she said she was not going back to work that hit me.  It was the fact that she knew her plate was full.  She didn’t feel guilty about not adding to her plate. She didn’t feel she needed to defend her stance.  She just knew what she could handle and what she couldn’t.

By listening to her instincts and following her self-knowledge, she was exactly where she needed to be.

I had such respect for her and, how in such a difficult time, she seemed to have found peace because she knew exactly where she was going.

There are times when I feel like I should be going in so many directions. I feel like there are so many parts of my life where I should be moving forward, but then I think of her words and her focus.

After that conversation, I find myself hearing her comment in my head and I say to myself, “I don’t have room on my plate for that right now and that’s it”.  No ifs, ands, or buts. I learned something from my friend that it is OK to know when you are handling enough and you will know the time when it’s right to add more to your plate.

By being gentle with ourselves and allowing ourselves to deal completely with just a few issues, we can then move on to others and know in confidence we have handled things well.  In addition, we won’t feel the need to explain to anyone or even ourselves why we aren’t tackling a few more items.

I believe when you reach that point where you stop questioning yourself or demanding too much of yourself, there is a certain peace that you achieve.  That must be the time that people refer to when they say, It just all fell into place”.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Less is More - Stone Soup

This looks like a great recipe site for the summer:

Stone Soup bills itself as a place to find minimalist cooking resources, that is, recipes with limited numbers of ingredients and minimal time involved.

The food looks healthy, delicious, and the pictures are beautiful.  In addition, you can download a free cookbook, sign up for the blog to have recipes emailed to you, or use the recipe index on the site.

Have fun and bon appetit!


Monday, June 21, 2010

How to Solve a Thorny Problem

I love Martha Beck and this article on learning how “not” to look at the world as either-or is a terrific analysis of how to change your perspective.  I have included just a few paragraphs of the article because it is a little long for this blog.  I have included the link to the whole article in July’s O magazine below.  I highly recommend you take some time and savor it.


Oprah Magazine - July 2010 issue

We're used to living in an either-or world—but when it comes to yes-or-no dilemmas the most powerful thing you can ask is: What if both answers are true?

Think of dilemmas like these as dual-emmas. Unlike standard-issue questions, dualistic dilemmas confuse people by leading to two apparently true but contradictory conclusions. Maybe you've found this in your own life: Perhaps your marriage is both wonderful and terrible, your job both wretched and stimulating, your worst habit both destructive and helpful. Reconciling these apparent brain-benders seems impossible, but if you understand the dynamics of dualism, you can transform bewildering dilemmas into sources of insight.

What to do when you're faced with a dual-emma? There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide everyone into two kinds of people, and those who don't. The tendency to dichotomize is stubbornly pervasive in human thought.

If you scrutinize your own life, you'll find you do plenty of things that violate the dichotomies in your mind. I certainly do. We're considerate, selfless, and clever (except for the times we aren't). Or we're luckless losers (not counting the infinite things that go right for us every day). This is the problem with either-or thinking: It keeps us removed from reality, and it requires that we spend a lot of time and energy convincing ourselves that life is one particular way (and burying evidence that doesn't jibe with that view). More important, it will never feel truthful or satisfying—because it leads to an answer that's only half-right. 

What makes a both-and mind-set so powerful is that it takes you beyond the two choices you thought you had. It opens up new, previously unseen possibilities and opportunities.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Trust is Granted Not Earned

I really enjoyed this article by Mike Robbins on trust.  I tend to be very cautious to prevent getting hurt, but in the end, that makes for a very dull and fearful life.  I guess it's better to go for it and get burned every now and then rather than never feeling anything and staying so protected.


How easily do you grant your trust to other people?  What factors play into your ability or inability to trust certain individuals around you?  What do people need to do to earn your trust?

As I personally reflect on these questions, I'm reminded of both the importance and complexity of trust in our lives, our work, and our relationships.  Trust is one of the most critical elements of healthy relationships, families, teams, organizations, and communities.  However, many of us have an odd or disempowered relationship to trust - we've been taught that people must earn our trust, when, in fact, it's something we grant to others.

I learned early in my life that it wasn't always safe to trust people - my folks split up when I was three, I went to tough schools and found myself in some difficult situations, and part of my "street-smart, survival kit" was to be very suspicious of just about everyone I came into contact with. While this did serve me to a certain degree as a child and adolescent (at least in terms of survival), as I got older I noticed that my resistance to trusting others created some real issues in my life and my relationships.

No matter how many "tests" I put people through in order to have them "earn" my trust, at the end of that whole process, it was ultimately up to me to grant them my trust (or not) - and then to continue to trust them (or not).

We each have our own internal process about trust - much of which is based on past, negative experiences.  In other words, we get burned, disappointed, or hurt in life and then decide, "I'm not doing that again" and we put up barriers around ourselves to keep us "safe."

While this makes rational sense, it usually leaves us guarded, leery, and insecure - unable to easily create meaningful and fulfilling relationships with people.  The irony is that no matter how guarded we are, how thick the walls we put up, or what we do to try to keep ourselves from getting hurt and disappointed; it usually happens anyway.

One of my teachers said to me years ago, "Mike, you're living as though you’re trying to survive life.  You have to remember, no one ever has."

What if we granted our trust more easily?  What if we were willing to make ourselves vulnerable, to count on other people in a genuine and healthy way, and to expect the best from others authentically?  Michael Bernard Beckwith calls this being "consciously na├»ve," which may seem a little oxymoronic on the surface, but at a much deeper level is very wise and profound concept.

Will be get hurt?  Yes!  Will we be let down?  Most certainly.  Will people violate our trust?  Of course.  However, this will happen anyway - it's just part of life.  Ironically, the more we are willing to grant our trust consciously, the more likely we are to create a true sense of connection, cooperation, and collaboration in our lives, relationships, families, teams, and more - even if we feel scared to do so or it seems counter-intuitive at times.

We almost always get what we expect in life.  What if we start expecting people to be there for us, to do things that are trust-worthy, and to have our backs and our best interests in mind?  As with just about everything else in life, it's a choice.  As Albert Einstein so brilliantly stated, "The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe."

I choose "friendly," how about you? 

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Take a break and listen to something for a minute or two

You may have missed the conversation yesterday on the phone with Dr. Lisa Chu, but thought you might want to take a break and relax just for a moment.  If you have a minute to just pause things in your life, sit back and listen to her play this wonderful piece.

Just go to this site and hit play:

If you want to know more, you can go to her site:  

You can also hear her interview with Susanna Liller at: 


Saturday, June 05, 2010

Phone Interview with Dr. Lisa Chu - June 8th @ 4PM Pacific time

Susanna Liller is a friend and mentor of mine who lives in Maine and has been leading workshops, coaching, and interviewing accomplished women across the country who have chosen different paths.  Her next phone interview will be Tuesday, June 8th, at 4:00 PM Pacific Time.  It runs one hour and is free. To sign up for the the call, go to Susanna's website and register:

Susanna will be interviewing Dr. Lisa Chu.  You can read more about her below.

If you cannot sit in on the call, you can email Susanna directly at and she will send you the interview by email to listen to at your convenience.  I have met both Susanna and Lisa personally and I am sure this will be a very interesting interview.  

June 8, 2010 Dr. Lisa Chu

Lisa and Susanna Liller met in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  She keeps crossing that first threshold and starting new journey adventures – each time learning and growing.  Dr. Lisa Chu, founder of The Music Within US, is an experienced performer, educator, and creative entrepreneur, and now offers her gifts through facilitated self exploration adventures in music.  Harvard-educated and familiar with conventional routes to success and status in professional roles, Lisa has also taken the bold leaps of faith necessary to learn the power of following the voice in her own heart.  Her musical experience began at the age of three, with classical piano and violin training, including performances at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, for Pope John Paul ll at the Vatican, and in Moscow for Boris Yeltsin.  Lisa has an A.B. with honors in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University, and an M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School.  She has worked as an investment professional at a venture capital firm, and created her own violin school for young children in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Most recently, she has received training in the methodologies of Martha Beck Life Coaching, Gail Larsen’s Real Speaking ©, and California Institute of Integral Studies’ Sound Voice & Healing Program.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

What's Really Important

I have been writing lately about many things, but I have neglected an area which is near and dear to my heart:  food.

Many of you may have heard of this ice cream before, but I had not.  It's called "Tahoe Creamery".  Now, besides that fact that a portion of the proceeds go to "The League to Save Lake Tahoe", this stuff is amazing.

Here is the link to check out flavors and other information:

You can find Tahoe Creamery ice cream at Whole Foods, Smiths, and Raley's.  

This ice cream is in no way low fat, but it doesn't have any "bad" stuff in it and it's summer, for goodness sake.  Time to live a little.

Should you have other foodie tips that you think we would all enjoy, please pass them on (along with info on where you can find the product) and I will be happy to post them.

Thanks, Denise