The Pony And The Pile

The other night after a long day, I got ready for bed and I could hear the distress cry of a cat outside. I went to my window and as I was closing my shutters, I saw the cat right outside my window, one floor down staring up at me, meowing urgently.

My first thought was one of empathy wondering what the cat was trying to communicate and my second thought was, Oh no, she’s not going to sit there all night meowing and keep me from sleeping is she?

It was at that moment, I needed to remind myself nothing is permanent – the good, the bad, the suffering or the joy. (OK the cat did not cause me suffering – lost some sleep, but let’s not be that dramatic!) Yet we often take the things that are bad or causing us pain and suffering and act as if they will last forever. When joy arrives we miss it because we are trying to find a way to cling to the feeling for fear it will vanish as quickly as it came.

As humans we are wired to look for danger, but are we also wired to cause ourselves pain? Are we the cause of our own suffering? Are we missing out on the experience of joy for fear of it’s impermanence?

I believe that through changing our focus we can experience more joy and peace in our lives, though it takes practice. Now this is not to say everything is rainbows and puppy dogs, I’m not practicing pollyanna optimism here. It is to say that if we look for the pony in the pile of shit two things can happen. One, we get excited that although we are up to our elbows in shit that there may be something beautiful in it so it makes what we’re digging through tolerable. The second thing that happens is that we stop focusing so much on the shit because we are looking for something in it, not just staring at the shit itself.

Again, don’t get me wrong, we cannot ignore that we are in shit up to our elbows, but maybe there is purpose in why we are there? Maybe there is benefit in the shit? And maybe if we stop looking at the pile of shit and start digging we’ll find a pony or something else.  Maybe we know we we’re looking for or maybe not, but if we begin to dig instead of staring at it and experiencing it in a state of overwhelm, we can begin to clear it up and see what is there.

This does not mean that the pile doesn’t smell badly or that it is pleasant, but looking for the lesson, the good thing that might be in there provides us a way to move through it. It provides an incentive to clean it up and not just stare at it and experience it as a whole pile. It allows us to work through it a bit at a time and get a better understanding of what is in it and sort out if there may be learnings in there.

An example from my life comes from my mother. She used to talk about the gift of cancer. As a 4-time patient of various forms of the disease, I do look to her as a bit of an expert there. She would speak to patients and survivor groups about what cancer enabled her to do versus what it took from her. She spoke of the benefit of the disease bringing to the forefront what was important to her, what she learned about herself and her friends and family through her times in treatment. She looked at life differently because she had faced death. She didn’t deny it was hard, she just focused on what good came from it.

The other night on the phone I was talking with a friend who, as a survivor himself, was now watching his mother take on her own journey with cancer. A comment he made struck me, he said, “I’m amazed at how strong she is, I had no idea.”

It was such a beautiful comment and even as I write this it brings tears to my eyes. As a mother myself, I think we often down play our strength or it seems to be taken for granted. For this son to be able to experience his mother in a new and beautiful light is an incredible pony in the terrible shit that is this illness.

So as we move through our days, we know that some will be joyful and some will not and that is the way life is experienced. What we can do is create our focus point so that when the joyful times come we are present to enjoy every bit in that moment and know that although it wont last forever, it will come again.

As you face painful or uncertain times your focus is essential to move through them knowing that these times will not last forever either. I encourage you not to sit in the big pile of pain rather to begin to dig into it a little at a time and ask for help if it’s really tough. If necessary, bring in an entire excavation team so you are supported as you dig through it.

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Having experienced many piles in my own life, I have found that there is always something I learn from the tough times.  As I focus on my learning instead of the pain I find peace returns and I am able to move through the pile better.

As I write this we are facing unprecedented uncertain times. Even though I began this post before the preverbal shit hit the fan, it seemed to be good timing to publish it as I work hard in my own life to remain focused on the lessons and pray for this to pass. I am hearing from my community they are in this shit with me and if we all dig maybe we can fill a whole stable by the time it passes!

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Photo Credit: Markus Korenjak

 

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