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

The Benefits of Beginning

Having a discussion with a friend and colleague today she said something I think we all feel.

“I like trying new things, but I hate being a beginner.”

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Does that resonate with you? It does for me, but as much as I don’t like the beginner stage and I want to start everything I try at expert stage – I continue to begin again on something new often.

For me, this is part of why I like travel so much, I get the chance every time I arrive at a new location to have the childlike wonder where everything is new.  This part is cool, but until I learn a place, I get lost, turned around and can’t find what I need right away. Things take longer for me because of the unfamiliarity and I risk looking like a fool (have you heard my Spanish?)

Here is the thing though, if we don’t step out into what we do not know, we stop growing. One of the dangers of not stepping into something new is that because of familiarity we miss some pretty cool stuff.

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When I begin something new my awareness is heightened both in how I’m doing the new thing and how it’s being received. I want to do it well and I pay close attention to each step of what I’m doing because it’s unfamiliar to me. My awareness is heightened to a level not seen in what is commonplace for me and I see and witness things that might be otherwise overlooked if I was doing something routine.

Remember learning to drive? Remember when going 5 mph felt like you were flying?  You noticed everything, where your hands were on the steering wheel (was that only my Dad?) where you were focused, the speedometer and the rearview mirror. Do you even notice any more when you pass 70mph unless there is a cop around?

This is what happens when we stop putting ourselves into new situations. Things become routine and habits are formed (good or bad) and life goes a bit into autopilot which to me is existing, not living. It becomes so natural to not pay close attention and do multiple routine things at the same time. When we are in an habitual mode we fail to notice some of the beauty around us and we might even take some things for granted that are precious to us. We definitely miss a lot because we are not paying close attention.

The discomfort of doing something new gives us the opportunity to examine things around us much more closely and be focused on our interaction with them. We are naturally more present in a new environment or when doing something new to us.

In the newness of a process or location we are also at our most vulnerable which encourages interaction with others. Those whom we may have overlooked or not made time for become a necessary connection for continued learning or growth in the new process.

As technology continues to take us away from our natural world and we need to relearn how to “be present” I can think of no better way than to start something new.

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What could you become a beginner at today? Have you always wanted to play guitar, or sing, or learn a language?

There is so much to be gained by continually becoming a beginner, so as we move into Spring, I ask you, what will you begin next?

10 Critical Items for the Digital Nomad and Location Independent Worker

cropped-gwmhzsxtfet8v2u16d2l_hero-imageThis is not my usual type of post but I have been a digital nomad for years now and it is different than being a traveler with different requirements. Many people have asked my advice about what things I feel are “must haves” for this lifestyle – here are my top 10 picks.

Do you dream of working online and having no restrictions to where you can call home at any time? Do you dream of traveling to different locations to experience their culture without the restrictions of PTO or days out of the office?

If you are dreaming of becoming, or are a digital nomad or location independent worker I have some important tips from the road.  Whether you adopt this lifestyle for a lifetime or simply several months a year, there are some “tools of the trade” that warrant the coveted space in your luggage. Sorry fashion forward travelers, you will have to forgo your shoe collection for these items.

There is a difference between tourist and digital nomad and therefor what to bring on a trip versus what to have for a lifestyle are different as well. As a tourist, if you can’t get internet on a day, you can work around it, as someone who relies on it for their income, it’s a whole different ballgame. This is a list for those who make their living while traveling.

This is my list of the top 10 most important items for a successful location independent lifestyle:

  1. Surge Protector– there are many locations around the world for which power is inconsistent at best. Your most valuable possessions are likely electronic and thus need recharging. Stay protected against power surges that can fry your equipment by always having this between an outlet and your devices. I like this Belkin Surgeplus because it contains both electric and usb outlets, has a rotating plug and is super compact for packing.
  2. Multi-Current Converter and Adaptor– When traveling to different countries I’ve had little pouches with all different plugs. I have since ditched those since pieces can get lost and have an integrated unit that handles every possible country I’m likely to visit. This unit from TryAce acts as both an adapter and a converter. So those of you that travel with hair appliances or juicers can use it to still run your devices without smoking them up. Compact, multi purpose is all what this lifestyle needs!
  3. Warm Coat – It is inevitable that you will find yourself in cooler climates throughout your travels. Having a warm coat is priceless, however they often take up a lot of real estate in your luggage! This option from NorthFace for women and this for men is water resistant, insulated and packs into it’s own hand pocket making it a trifecta win for the location independent traveler.
  4. Daypack – There will be times you get caught in a rain shower or want to go on an adventure in one of the places you land. You can certainly get a backpack that has a rain cover – but let’s be honest, will you have it on hand during that pop up rain shower? Are you likely to be a bit more adventurous and need it for water activities? I recommend having a fully waterproof and durable daypack like this one by Vitchelo the trick to managing this lifestyle is to have multipurpose items and this lightweight daypack will protect your valuables from water damage all while serving as a regular back pack.
  5. Noise Cancelling Headphones– There will be days that you feel like these are the best thing on the planet! You may be sitting that one row in front of the crying baby on a plane or happened to accidentally book the airbnb next to the train station but noise cancelling headphones are the BFF for a location independent traveler. You can get the over ear ones which compact into a small case or the tiny, space saving ear buds. One way or another make sure you have them, you will be grateful one day!
  6. Compact Raincoat– This need goes without saying, I’m sure. You can definitely carry one of those lovely plastic ponchos with you or you can spring for a compact packable wind and waterproof jacket for yourself like this one for women and this one for men.
  7. Electronic Reading Devicekindle, iPad, surface– whichever you fancy but you will want to read at some point and carrying books as a traveler is weight you cannot add to your luggage. These devices allow you to keep your laptop safely stowed and can be used from plane boarding until deplaning without the evil eye from the flight attendants! Additionally, I have my iPad as a back up option for some of my most important programs in the terrible event something happens to my laptop. You’ll not lose by adding this piece of electronics to your gear.
  8. Luggage– This is your life you are carrying around in these bags. You need to be sure you have the most sturdy and best product to hold what possessions you have decided to take on your journey. I am a huge fan of Osprey products as are many of my nomad friends. My gear is a Osprey Shuttle however I think the Osprey Sojurn would have been a better fit for me. Regardless of what suits you, it makes sense to buy quality here – and do yourself a favor, do not get black luggage!
  9. VPN (Virtual Private Network)– As a location independent person and traveler, you will spend time in airports, coffee shops hotels and various shared network locations where you are not secure to do the day-to-day things like pay your bills or transfer funds in your financial accounts. Having access to a secure network has more benefits than watching shows blocked in the country you’re visiting (although that is a feature!) it provides you protection for your data. The Butterfly is the most compact and portable VPN I’ve seen on the market and well worth the money for sure.
  10. HotspotSky Roam Solis– Since you will rely completely on your internet connection, this is a key element for your tool chest. You will find yourself occasionally at a fabulous location that has intermittent power outages, or their idea of reliable internet is not yours. If you are continually telling clients you cannot connect online because of a power outage which took all the routers down in your fab location. This tool is not for a daily use, it is a great disaster recovery system for a day use from time to time.

So there you have it, 10 tools I believe every remote worker, location independent business person or digital nomad should make space in their luggage for.

Note – yes, there are affiliate links in this post, this will not add any cost to the items but I will receive a small credit for anything you may choose to purchase – so it helps a fellow traveler out!

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Valuable Time

We arrive in December each year and remark how fast time slips away.IMG_5922.JPG

I hear often, “it felt like only yesterday we were celebrating New Years Eve!”

So as you reflect over the year that has passed and plan for the year ahead, I’d like you to add something to this exercise. I encourage you to take this opportunity to consider what I call value-based living.

This is a missing component to many people’s reflections I’ve found. I believe it is an essential step to making the most of your time.

What is Value-Based Living?

Value-based living is exactly as it states, living your life by your values. Many of us believe we do this, however upon deeper reflection there is often room for improvement.

I remember growing up hearing the saying that dust bunnies were ok if you had happy children.

The point is that so many of us spend a huge amount of time at work or chasing something that when all is said and done, is not part of our value system.  If you spend all day chasing your kids out of the house so you can clean it and keep it clean and your family is where your values lie….

Can Values-Based Living & Reality Co-Exist?

But E, you say, money is not where my values lie, but I’ve got to make money to live!

I do know this, and yes, you can have a values-based life and make money. The key is to know your values both individually and as a family if you are part of one. In this situation it is more about how much money you “need” to live your values.

The reason this is key is that it gives you a touchstone.

A Fishing Story

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There is a story I love that talks about this perfectly. A fisherman with a small boat went out every day to fish. He would come in from a few hours on the ocean and sell his fish at the local market and go home with some money.

A businessman met him one day and asked him why he didn’t have more fish? The fisherman replied, I have a small boat and this is what I can bring in.

Well, the businessman said, feeling very smug, “Why not get a bigger boat then you can catch more fish and make more money?”

The fisherman thought for a moment and replied, but then I would have to stay out longer and I wouldn’t get to bring my children to school and spend the day with my wife.

The businessman went on to explain the merits of a business plan to catch more fish, make more money, and in the future expand his business and then hire others to do the work and make lots of money.

The fisherman contemplated the plan and said, so when I expand my business and hire other people then I can be home to walk my children to school and spend the day with my wife?

Smiling, he walked away to go home to be with his family with the money he had earned in his pocket.

THIS is values-based living.

I find so many people get caught up chasing things that are not important to them at the expense of things that really are.

It’s no one’s fault, each day we are bombarded, pinged and flashed with things we’re being told are important to us. After a while it is hard to remember that we know in our heart what deserves our time and attention.

I have been through this myself, which is why I can talk about it and how I actually developed this philosophy of values-based living.

I found that the closer I live to my values, the happier I become. I have incorporated this into my work with others and regularly ask them to really think deeply about their values when they are considering a change in their life.

Making Your Time Count

imagesI haven’t found the cure to slowing down time. What I have discovered is that when you consciously match how you spend your hours, days and months to what is truly important to you, your time feels expanded.

I encourage you today to sit down and really think about what you value. Once you have your list as long or as short as it is, I ask you to consider the year that just passed. Did you spend your days in concert or conflict with your values?

Where you find your gaps is where change will bring the most fulfillment and happiness.

 

Inspiration In Practice

I am always taken aback when someone tells me how inspiring my life is to them. It certainly makes my heart happy that I am helping others consider options that they may not have thought possible originally and I am so grateful for the reminder of the ripples my life generates.

I love to set big goals that most would shy away from because I have learned that there is as much ability to reach an amazing goal as an average one! I have also learned by stretching myself over the years that I am far more capable than I allow myself to believe most days.

I want to let you all in on the whole story though – I have the same fears, insecurities and self-doubts as everyone and I don’t always get it right.

Leaper

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Look, you all have been in my world long enough to know I’m a leaper. I have had tremendous success and a few epic failures. I know there is more than one side to this coin I’ve chosen for my journey.

What fuels my courage?

The possibilities of each leap I take are my main inspiration.  I do a lot of research on the bigger leaps I take, but there is always an unknown. I plan for what I can and anticipate as much as possible, however I have learned that I cannot control the outcome.

I have  learned that control an illusion, and my grandest idea of the best outcome is limited by my experiences. There might be a far greater outcome possible if I get out of my own way and let it unfold!

Epic Failures

I have also had the benefit of failures of epic proportions both business and personal. The benefit to these experiences is that at my lowest point, I was never out. I got pretty low and close to the absolute bottom and I learned that if you jump in a body of water and hit the bottom, you can propel yourself to the top at a speed that shatters a slow swim from the middle!

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Plan B

My sister and I have a history of making plans that somehow might just not turn out exactly as we originally planned. My Type A sister has come a long way and now without any hesitation will say, “Oh well! What’s plan B?”

We call ourselves the Plan B Girls now because it never riles us and because we have a goal in mind and we are determined to figure out a way to get to what is important. We  have learned not to waste time with what could have been and go around what is inconvenient or unplanned to reach our end goal.  It’s brilliant!

When Contingency Planning Gets In The Way

I am a risk manager by trade (20+ years in the legal field will do this to you) however, there are times when you can sabotage your goal by planning on “what if’s”.

Sure I recognize that things won’t always go the way I am hoping and planning. When setting goals with others and myself, examining the full picture is critical to be prepared for what might come up.

Be careful though not to scare yourself right out of your dream!

Right before I left California I almost did this to myself. I was halfway done selling all my items and planning my move to another country and I woke up one morning in a complete panic!

What if my clients don’t follow me online?

What if I get to Panama and I don’t have any way to make money?

What will I do if I can’t run my business in Panama?

I worked myself up so much that I actually considered scrapping the entire move and going back to the workforce and getting another paralegal job (gasp!)

My Truth

It was in the moment that I was considering scrapping my business and getting a “real job” that the nausea set in. It was immediate and visceral and unable to be ignored.

The one thing I have learned is that my body speaks to me! In those moments of self-doubt and insecurity when I retreat to the familiar, my body says, “I don’t think so! You don’t belong there anymore, you’ve learned what you were supposed to – time to move on!”

Wow, I’m so glad for this!

Conviction

In the case of my Panama move, well, you all know how that turned out and I am happy to say, I’m having one of the most successful years in my business to date.

I had to do a couple of things to get here though:

  1. Decide that this was the path I wanted and it was indeed possible to succeed.
  2. Determine what markers I would use to signal a need to reassess my move.

Once those two items were in place, I was ready to move on with confidence that I would not hit total bottom and become homeless in Panama before reassessing my options. I further committed to making it work because I believed in my business and I’d seen my clients follow me when I moved from Boston, so I had proof it could happen.

Your Turn

So now I ask you, are you talking yourself out of what you really want to accomplish? Is there a possibility you are selling yourself short?  I am certain you are far more capable than you give yourself credit for!

I encourage you to set your real goals this year, you know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that maybe you’re even a little afraid to tell others about because maybe they’ll laugh or try to talk you out of them.

As I head forward into a new year in a new location, I am filled with gratitude for this audience with whom share my journey. It is you who continue to inspire me to see how high I might reach and if I in turn inspire you a bit to reach as well – then I am doubly grateful!

Let’s do this!

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In Pursuit of Crow Pose

I have recently returned from a week away at a yoga retreat.  This was one of those things I’ve always wanted to do, but for one reason or another, had never actually done.  I can’t even tell you how I heard about this event, or why it came across my radar, but when I saw it something said I needed to do it now and this was the one.

Our initial evening we were asked to write our intentions for the week.  What did I want to get out of the week?

I was stumped!

This goal girl had no goals for the week, except, maybe to finally get into crow pose for more than a millisecond before toppling.

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Toppling crow

As I pondered this question and searched my soul to figure out my goal for the week, I realized it was just to have this experience.  My goal was to let the week unfold and teach me what it wanted and for me to just be curious and a allow myself to be a novice in this experience.

Now you all know, I am an action person, I like to set goals, make plans, allow them to change but always I seem to have my eye on some prize, some goal.

I have begun to explore another way, to see if there may be times when I would benefit by allowing life to unfold for me. The idea to not drive my life every step of the way and to allow the path to reveal itself with each step is new for me and I’m seeing how much it might benefit me to listen, watch how each move I make changes the landscape before me.

I’m not saying that I believe sitting on a couch eating bon bons is the way for me, nor do I believe you can just OM your way to a fulfilling life. I am saying, maybe releasing my grip on the driving wheel might have some benefits at this point in my life. How about you?

The challenge for me is to find a way to both allow life to unfold while still having a strong direction and taking action and steps. Lord knows I can’t just sit around and wait for life to happen to me – I’m never going to be THAT chill!

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For example, the action I took was to attend the yoga retreat, the release and the unfolding was that when one came across my plate and it struck me, I didn’t question it and I jumped on board. Once I determined I was in a safe space, I further released to the unfolding and allowed all of the people I came into contact with during that week to teach me and share whatever it was they chose to share.

I did not have a list of questions to ask others nor did I have any agenda of accomplishments I hoped to achieve. I did not have to be the best yogi, I did not know anything about the topics that were being taught.  In fact, I knew very little about the stories that were shared or any of the activities or rituals that occurred during the week. I was in a “child’s mindset” which I could have embraced or fought – I chose to embrace it.

Curiosity Is Action

What I learned during this week was precious and not entirely what I could have thought to put into an intention at the beginning.

One of the most important items I continue to learn as I practice my crow pose, is to take careful assessment of how I feel, align myself well, take my time as I move and concentrate on the moment as I look forward, let go and trust myself.

Although you may or may not be a practicing yogi, I believe these lessons may prove helpful in all that you pursue.

Are there places in your life that you are safe enough to let go of the driver’s wheel, be a novice and just be curious? Are there times when you are so busy setting goals and being the best you can be that you miss what others share with you?

I encourage you this month to consider where you might loosen your grip on the driver’s wheel in your life to trust and allow some of life to unfold for you and show you what it has to teach you.

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