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An Unhappy Monk

While I don’t consider myself an enlightened  Buddhist, I do subscribe to many of the teachings of Buddhism. It seems to be such a no-nonsense, practical way to look at life usually and besides that, I’ve never seen an unhappy monk!

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Often times when I find myself in a state of uneasiness, I look to those who seem to have a process I might follow that will work for me in any given situation. This is where the principles of the Buddha’s teachings showed up for me.

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These philosophies and principles are based on the universal truth that nothing lasts forever.

I used to have a bit of a self-deprecating statement that I had an attachment disorder. Now, I’m not so sure that this is a bad thing, maybe it turns out it is a really good thing.

This does not mean that things, people and places are not important to me, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I absolutely love deeply and those who enter into my life and make any type of impact, regardless of the length of time experienced, are held in my heart for life.

What this does mean is that I allow the place, person or object to be what it is in each moment. Today they may be part of my everyday routine or with me for my morning coffee, tomorrow they may be a text message or video chat once a month or we reconnect at another time and location.

I may return to a place I once called home but I never experience it the same way. Change happens and people and places change, and if they don’t, I have. In this case to hold on to the expectation of what it used to be for me could cause a lot of disappointment.

This relates to the second Noble Truth that the origin of suffering is attachment. For me this does not relate to not being attached to the person or place, but to allow it’s place in my life to move with life itself.

For example, I will love my family eternally, that will surpass all constricts of time and space. I know this because 20+ years after my mother has died I still feel her love in different moments. I feel joy instead of sorrow because I have been able to release the need for the physical experience I used to have with her. I now am able to celebrate a more heartfelt experience of love washing over me as a butterfly flits by me while on a hike in the middle of any country I happen to be in.

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Because of this change in perspective or adapting to what is now and not suffering over what used to be that can’t be any more, I can truly celebrate the feeling. My mother’s love can reach me in places she never would have been with me. Those of you who knew my mother know she would never be on a cliff walk with me no matter how much she loved me!

Life is a constant state of evolution and these days change is happening quicker than ever before.  The more we cling to how things “used to be” or our expectations of how the “should” be, the more pain and suffering we cause ourselves. The more we adapt to how things are and find the celebration opportunities where we can, the more joy and peace we can have in our lives.

I encourage you to think about attachment in your life and how a new perspective might ease suffering, disappointment or sorrow for you and bring you more peace and joy.

In the end, we could all use a bit more peace and joy in our lives, couldn’t we?

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Time Passages – A Decade in Review

fullsizeoutput_41d9I accomplished many firsts in this decade, I stretched my physical capabilities by running amazing races and summiting some amazing mountaintops. I have been more health conscious in this decade than any before and I plan to continue this trend by continuing to be active and focusing on my nutrition.

Each time I move to a new location regardless if it is for a week or a year I stretch my emotional capabilities. The ability to continually be starting over and being a stranger in an unfamiliar is both exhilarating and uncomfortable all at the same time.

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In 2019: 27 flights, 1 Train; 6 buses; 17 Locations; 5 Countries; 4 Continents – countless memories

As I learn about others and meet people from all different backgrounds and cultures, I learn more about myself as well.  I am constantly amazed at what others have endured that I have taken for granted and the privileges I have been granted simply by circumstances beyond my control. These continual discoveries keep my gratitude list quite long and my faith in the human spirit high.

I have crossed a number of things off my bucket list and each time I do I think I add about ten more!

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Still working on meeting Richard Branson in person!

One of the most amazing things for me though is even as my bucket list grows, so too does my understanding that I will likely not get to everything before I get to the bucket. As I collect experiences along the way, the pressing need to achieve each and every item diminishes. I will continue to aim for them all but have no regrets if I can’t reach every one and I appreciate each moment in each experience.

As I am able to complete many of the items I desire I am in comfort and peace that I will enjoy all that I can in each. My ability to be present has increased and because of my desire to travel slow I have been able to really absorb the nuances of a location not just visit.

My gratitude for all I’ve been able to enjoy and discover gives me both the joy and peace that I have gotten to do more than I ever thought and the experiences have been rich and thorough. This is a unexpected benefit of this lifestyle.

I haven’t just collected airline miles and passport stamps, I have embedded myself in daily life, learned about the culture, volunteered with local groups and left footprints along my path. Whether I am in my home country in a new location, revisiting a location I have enjoyed previously or in a completely different culture there is so much I have received and in return I leave a bit of myself behind.

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As I look ahead to the next year and decade I am filled with excitement. It is said that we over estimate what we can accomplish in a year and under estimate what we can accomplish in a decade. Being the over achiever that I am, I intend to blow it all out of the water over the next 10 years so buckle up, I’m just getting started!

I have some amazing adventures lined up for the upcoming year that I will happily take you along as best I can. My life is not just about the adventures and travels, I joke about wanting to have amazing stories to repeat when I’m old, but I really want to enhance my present moments.

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Steve Jobs was quoted saying, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Having grown up in a household with a terminally ill parent has shaped the way I view life. No one knows how long or in what condition we will live, so as my sister likes to quote me, “How bout now? Now is good!”

As you step into this new year, may I remind you that you are already naked and encourage you to engage in every moment of this time we call life.

Dare To Dream

If you hear a voice within you say, 'You cannot paint,' then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced." -- Vincent Van Gogh-2.jpg

What happens if you follow your heart?

Yes it’s scary.

Maybe it doesn’t go as planned right away.

Maybe you feel a little foolish in the beginning.

Maybe you think people will judge you.

Or maybe you’re afraid that no one is looking and that has its own story!

To a certain extent, you can’t win for losing. Either people will watch you and might think you are crazy, or they won’t watch you and you’ll think maybe you’re crazy!

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You sit with your thoughts and the voice inside you telling you that you cannot paint or whatever it is that is inside you that wants to come out which is how a life of regret starts out.

Maybe you are not a painter, but maybe you are! Frankly, I believe that anyone that has that voice or dream inside them also has the ability for that very thing.

For example, I’ll never hear my inner voice telling me I can be an astronaut because my desires and voices are in another direction altogether. My inner desires don’t have anything to do with space travel, I mean, I like looking at the moon, but have no desire, even with MY wanderlust, to visit it.

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Here is the thing I find tricky though, and I suspect you may have this issue too. There are so many voices that have ideas about how to live my life. There is the voice of society, “go to school, get good grades, get a good job, retire with a gold watch and then live on an island if you want.”  There is the voice of my father, “Did you know that the house next door just went up for sale? You can always come back home and get a job.” And finally there is the voice of doubt, “Who are you to be doing this? What makes you such an expert?”

There are so many more but you get the point, you may even recognize a few in common as well!

My challenge to this point in my life has been to clear away all the voices to find my own. It was very soft and tiny at first and it came as more of a question then a “calling” and it was timid, oh so timid!

Lucky for me I am a curious sort and began to explore the voice. To be honest, I have attempted to launch about five entrepreneurial ventures before finally ignoring all the naysayer voices and taking the leap. If you didn’t know that about me, that’s because most business ideas never saw the light of day because I was talked out of them.

This is the other issue, I’m sure many loving people thought they were being helpful when they talked me out of these ideas. Maybe they were right, or maybe not, I’ll never know.

What I can say is that the voice became less timid over time and began to get a bit pushy with me. I kept having ideas and walking away from them until one day the idea came right up to me and point blank asked me to do the thing! It was a moment that said – “it’s go time girl, stop messing about!”

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Since that day, Thrive This Day has come to life and evolved over the last 8 years. It started as a blog, moved into coaching, writing, online classes, public speaking and workshops. I have a book, blog and weekly video show, I have an online school and a number of workshops booked worldwide in the next year.

This began slowly and even to this day I’m not a household name (yet) but it builds over time. Some things I have created have failed in an epic crash (which few even heard) some were raging successes, but either way I keep moving; sometimes forward, sometimes backward and sometimes it looks like the cha cha!

So today, as we begin to prepare for a fresh decade, I encourage you to be still and listen. See if you can hear that little voice inside you. Understand that it is probably timid and very soft, so listen carefully. When you do hear it, and it may be just an idea or hunch, get a little curious, play a little with the idea. What could you do with this idea or desire?

It doesn’t have to be a full out career change, or even a major change, it might just be a new way to express yourself. Maybe you want to dance, or write or sing or….paint!

And if you or anyone else tries to talk you out of it remember the words of Vincent Van Gogh: If you hear a voice say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

I am done trying to ignore the voice or voices around me and I encourage you to do the same! The voice is there for a reason.

So what does your voice tell you to do, or not to do? How can you add more of this into your life?

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I got robbed in Marrakech!

Yes it’s true, but it’s not what you think.

I landed in Marrakech this month and my motivation seemed to disappear like lost luggage at baggage claim!

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I don’t know if it was the multiple jet-lags that I refused to submit to finally catching up with me or if it was just one of those times. You know, the times that you know what you have to do but there is just nothing bringing you to do it.

This happens to everyone – yes, even life coaches! I think it’s important to talk about this and how to get out of it because it is life and even the best lives deal with this from time to time.

For me it is important to determine first and foremost, is this more than just a loss of motivation or is it simply a reaction to the hustle of running my own company and being away from those I love and have connection to?

Once I determine what I’m dealing with I can better figure out how to get out of the stagnation and begin to be productive again doing what I love. If it is more than a loss in motivation, I urge you to seek out help beyond a coach!

For me a number of things contribute to this which I am in the process of rectifying.

The mastermind group I had been participating in determined it was best to end which is a great loss for me. I had developed deep friendships and count these people as huge supporters of me and my business in a way not everyone can be for me. I write often how much I believe mastermind groups are important so this was a biggie for me.

I recently had the pleasure of spending a great deal of time with family and going from the warmth and familiarity of that to the stark contrast of a place like Morocco was harsh. Although this place is beautiful, this city is a place where I feel like I definitely do not belong. Many of the things I do naturally and hold dear are forbidden or frowned upon.

As it was I nearly gave the room service guy a heart attack by him delivering a plate of food to the chambers of a woman not known to him. His discomfort was more than palpable and he couldn’t wait to get to the open doorway to be visible to others and for me to sign my check so he could jet! It was almost comical, however it did highlight how just being a single woman here is a “thing”.

Knowing what I know, I can now take action to fill my needs and recapture my motivation along the way. I soon head to the coast where I believe (hope) it will be a bit more relaxed and I will stay at a coliving space.

The way to motivation is through action. Most people wait for motivation to create action but that is the wrong order. If what is being felt is truly simply a lack of motivation, I encourage you to source out what is off and rectify it and take action. I know this is the hardest thing to do when you are not “feeling it” but it is the best way through the muck.

The need for connection is huge for me and I know this. As a solo traveler I have the opportunity to meet people that I might not have the opportunity if I were a couple or with others. I had the opportunity to chat and have tea with Saleem yesterday as I purchased something from his store. Here a purchase is not a transaction it seems to be a connection and something to be celebrated. Apparently, I now have a store in Marrakech as he told me now that his store is my store! This is not the type of connection I was really looking for.

I need more than the average small talk though and so as I head to the coast I will spend several weeks with people from all countries that are digital nomads – just like me. I love these times because we have a few things in common even if one is not language, we have short but intense time together and often can develop meaningful friendships. Many people I’ve met in these locations go on to become long-term friends that I meet up along future locations and we support eachother’s businesses and journeys.

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I have also reached out to the members of my former mastermind and set up individual calls to keep connected. I am actively in search of a new mastermind, but these guys will always be in my corner and I in theirs so we will continue to connect and support each other’s growth and journey.

So here is my formula when you find yourself, like me, robbed of motivation. Report the crime! Reach out to friends, family, peers, colleagues, a coach or anyone that can help you through this process.

  1. Assess! – Is this more than a loss of motivation? Is this a sign it’s time for a change in direction? Or more?
  2. Reach Out! – If this is more than a lack of motivation and it is burnout or depression or even eeks of either, reach out to get help please! A good coach can help you determine what you’re dealing with and help you connect with a good therapist if necessary. Please do not try to plow through these things, I have seen what that can do to someone and it’s not pretty and is so avoidable!
  3. Take Action! – Determine what tools and resources can help you. Get yourself a mastermind to help you stay accountable and reach for those goals again or a coach who can help you with more personalized direction. Whatever you do don’t wait for it to reappear, hunt your motivation down through action.

This blog has actually helped me as an action step and I hope it gives you some guidance as well.

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Back in action

Mindful Time

My desire to grapple with the concept of time started at a very early age. I was a child IMG_9720living with a mother with a terminal illness and I always understood that she would not live the “normal” life expectancy. From the age of seven I understood our tomorrows are not guaranteed and that time is precious.

As a child and teenager, long into my early adulthood, I had trouble being “on time” for anything. As a young child my mother called me the pokey little puppy from the children’s storybook of the same name, but it quickly became an issue and not cute at all as I got older.

As a teen and young adult I struggled with schedules and meeting people at a specific time. It never failed as I was getting ready to meet someone, a friend would call needing to talk, or something would come up that I felt needed immediate attention.

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We now call that being in the moment, or being present – but then…it was called disrespectful.

I do own the fact that not everything truly needed the immediate attention I gave it, but this came only from practice and experience. I have also learned the art of predicting the unplanned and notifying people if it appears I’m going to be late now.

Once I got a handle on working within the constricts of time, I then was a single mother with children. Anyone with children knows this was an utter derailment and all my efforts to keep on schedule went down the drain as I tried to get my children to care about time.

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Children don’t care about schedules or time; they rely on their own rhythm and make their needs known as they arise. I allowed being on time to become so important to me that I missed so many important moments by hurrying them through something because of a schedule.

It’s funny how natural the child’s presence comes and as adults many struggle to become present. It is a natural instinct that we have put aside in order to work within the concept of time.

I know we need some type of order in the world. If everyone ran around being present and “in the moment” there would be chaos and we would certainly have trouble.

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Yet I think about living on the islands and going to a store or a utility office to pay a bill only to find a sign on the door, “out to lunch”. I knew that meant I should come back in 2 hours or so because they would come back when they were done, not within a prescribed 20 minutes or hour. Yes it was sometimes a hassle but not often because who doesn’t appreciate living on “island time?”

The thing is that time is a man made concept. It is a method we use to understand a rhythm of our existence. However this is not always to the benefit of our human experience, sometimes it separates us from the very experience and rhythm of life.

As I prepare to take a trip to the other side of the globe whereby I will cross the date line and a day of my life will vanish into thin air this concept becomes ever more illusive. A day will pass that I will never have lived yet been present the entire time.

If this doesn’t explain that time is not real, I’m not sure what does!

We are pulled each day by appointments, obligations and our schedules. Many often have trouble saying no to a request to spend their time doing something they may or may not want to do but once put in the schedule it is time spent.

Each time I step on a plane, each time I talk to my children on the phone or my family or friends either in person or on the phone, I recognize that time shared is a gift and not a guarantee. To miss being fully present in those moments however normal and routine they may be is to ignore the gift because it is those moments that are the ones I will long for if and when they are no longer available.

So I leave you with these thoughts on time. Time is a gift not a guarantee. It means onlyimages what you allow it to mean, so I encourage you to consider this each moment you
schedule on your calendar. Make sure what is in your calendar is what is in your heart and that you make space to be present during those appointments.

I encourage you to celebrate each moment. And if you forget how to be present, take a child for a walk in the woods and follow their lead, you might just spend a 20 minutes following a critter and it might just turn out to be the most magical and enjoyable 20 minutes you’ve had in a while.

Thank you for spending your time reading this and I hope it helps you be more present with the rest of your time.

The Mundane & Messy Middle

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I know when “it happens” it is going to be amazing. I know I will say it was worth the wait because “it”is everything I wanted…but in the moment – I must practice patience.

The idea is to surrender to the timeline that is true for me, and enjoy the present so I don’t miss out on my todays while working towards my amazing tomorrow.

This is true for so many things (the “its”) in my life my career, a relationship, my business.

The trick is to appreciate all the amazing that I have right now. The gift of the journey is to appreciate the unfolding, the stuff I love and the other stuff too – the mundane and the messy middle stuff.

I would love to say I have it all figured out and I don’t get impatient and I don’t have destination blindness at times, but that would be a total lie. I do however now recognize more and more that this journey I am on has a purpose and I’ve begun to really embrace it.

I have days that I question things, that I wonder why I’ve chosen a particular location, decided to attend a particular event or wander into any given coffee shop or workspace. I wonder if what I’m doing is as important to others as it is to me. I wonder if I matter (don’t we all?).

I also have days a total stranger starts a conversation with me for no particular reason and before long, tells me their story, sheds a tear and calls me an angel. Wow!

I realize this is all part of my journey and if I was Oprah today – that stranger wouldn’t be able to get near me and I might not ever be part of his/her healing.

If I was the female Tony Robbins in this moment, sure I could touch more people, but would I reach the ones that I reach today? Would I be able to give the time and attention to this person to create the same impact through these intimate, seemingly random conversations?

I remind myself of the magic of the journey, these moments in time that tell me I am exactly where I am supposed to be at any given moment. I can’t say that I don’t still think it should look or be different at times, but to surrender to what is and have the “why” reveal itself is proving to be quite powerful to me.

One of my three guiding words this year is surrender and although I didn’t really understand what that meant to me when I chose it in January, now in September it is becoming so much clearer. I am learning a whole lot by living in this space of letting go of what I think life “should” look like for me.

It is said that the beauty of goals is not in the achievement, but rather who you become by walking the path to achievement. I am learning to embrace the lessons along the way knowing that I can’t get to “it”if I don’t do the work.

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This is not easy and I often have to remind myself to slow down and look around. There are roses to smell and views to take in all along the trek up the mountain and I want to make sure I don’t race by and miss “it”.

Life has taught me that we don’t always reach the peak, so if we don’t appreciate the journey along the way, we have missed it all and I am not willing to take that chance.

In the end, I have a goal and I imagine what “it” will be like when I achieve it, but who knows, maybe “it” is not the ultimate goal. Maybe ”it” is along the path after all.

I encourage you to continue to set your goals and your sites on big dreams, just make sure you are not sleep walking or racing to the destination. Remember to enjoy the mundane and magic along the way.

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The Step Beyond Courage

Have you ever had that feeling, “uh oh, I’m in over my head”?

Living my lifestyle this is not a new thought for me, but this past week it was a more intense version of the same thought.

I just returned from a week that really challenged me. It challenged my ability to call out for what I needed, it challenged me to learn new skills, and most of all, it challenged me to stay when I wanted to run. I was challenged to my very core to be brave.

When I Don’t Run

It is in these times when I have to dig deep that I find the best parts of me. I learn so much about myself and my strengths and weaknesses and I often find a new voice.

When I am placed in a position to be brave I have made a decision that what I am facing is worth the challenge before me regardless of the outcome. It is the truest test of what is important to me and it calls on my spirit to support it.

This is where my spirit lives in the moments I need to call on my ability to be brave.  I believe this is true for others as well.

Size Doesn’t Matter

It doesn’t matter the size of the challenge, for some just getting out of bed to face the day is the bravest thing in the world in that moment. To me, being brave is the virtue of knowing that you are pushing yourself to do more and be more than you think is possible in the moment.

To go after something even when you are not sure you will succeed is a step beyond courage and moves into bravery where you must call on everything you have to accomplish your goal knowing it is not guaranteed. It has reminded me that those with illnesses, addictions or facing any kind of unknown outcome, the strength summoned to face each day and the challenges it brings is tremendously brave and I am in inspired by you.

Reminder

This week reminded me that I have so much more ability than I believed because I can call on my spirit and be brave when I am faced with the opportunity.

Because I had forgotten about this inner strength, I thought you might have too and I wanted to remind you that you are braver than you believe and stronger than you seem.

I encourage you to celebrate the ways you are brave today.

I see you being brave.

I know how strong you are.

It all matters.

You matter

-E

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