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