Soundtrack Of Travel

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From the balcony of my workspace I hear the sounds of the street below. There are taxis honking and the faint hum of people greeting each other as they pass by.

And then it begins, “ Ah, cinco mil pesos!” a vendor shouts through the streets. The familiarity of this gentleman will become synonymous with my memories of Santa Marta for sure.

You would think that hearing this chant throughout the day, each day (he works Saturdays and Sundays too) would become annoying, but actually it has become quite comforting. He has a rhythmic way of shouting this out, almost like the melody of a familiar song, and the precision – wow, I hear him say this so many times a day so many days and each time it sounds identical to the last.

I can almost mimic him at this point because of his consistency.

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Carrera 2 traffic, both old and new

This is just one of the sounds that will remind me of this part of Colombia, together with the clip, clop of hoofs from the horse drawn carriages riding up and down Carrera 2 in Rodadero. Some were work carriages, some were giving tourists rides, but the sound almost always brought me to the window just to enjoy the sight of the old times combined with the current times.

This is part of the experience of travel for me. You see, in the US, the buildings are closed up, the street sounds are usually traffic and there is no sense of what is really going on in the community. You can tell people are busy, but you don’t know what they are busy with because everything is so buttoned up!

I may not know what this gentleman on the street is selling for 5 million pesos, but I know he’s a vendor. I do not know him but he has become part of my day and will be deeply engrained in my memories when I leave here.

When I lived in Belize I had a similar chant from below my 2ndfloor balcony apartment.

“Alejandro!” This chant was not nearly as rhythmic as my Colombia gentleman and did not have consistency at all. Sometimes it was drawn out, sometimes it was quick and other times it was welcoming.

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You see, I quickly figured out that Alejandro was a little boy and his mother would call his name in varying frequencies depending on the day or what the boy had gotten himself into.

My son and I still recall this memory fondly each time we think about our time there.

It is the sounds of a location, the pace of life and the ability to find yourself immersed in a new culture simply by listening to life around you. In many places around the world, houses and transportation are open so connection with the community is simply part of the fabric of the location.

Learning a new culture is not simply the one-on-one interaction with people but it is allowing ourselves to become enveloped by the community. To pay attention and listen to the melody of the streets and the people within them is to know life in the community.

One of the most beautiful gifts I take from my travels are the songs inscribed on my memory like an audio keepsake souvenir.

Thank you “cinco mil peso” vendor, for you have become part of this soundtrack of my time here in Santa Marta, Colombia.

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Vendors setting up for their day on Carrera 5
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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?

Max Bet Living

 

“Big money, c’mon big money!” my daughter chants, sharing my excitement as the number continue to increase on the slot machine I’m playing.

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Then I remind her, this is the penny slots and we both laugh and continue with excitement.

Going after your dreams is a lot like gambling. There is risk involved, you may put a whole lot of time in a get nothing for it but a very expensive “free drink” or you may hit big. Sure there is skill involved, no doubt in that. There are many factors that go into success; here we’ll talk about only one today.

I go to the casino’s about once a year. I’m not a gambler and I’m not good at it really, but it’s fun for a few hours a year. My brother-in-law also goes on my annual visit and out of everyone on the trip, he’s usually the big winner.

When asked what his strategy is, he said, “I always play max bet.”

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Now here is the story of my life, and maybe yours too. My “max bet” has never been able to be the max bet of the machine or other people. I have been limited in my bet because I was scared of losing. It could be a VERY short night for me if the gamble doesn’t pay off. The other thing is, a “max bet” is limited by what you have availabl

This is kind of how life works, and when I talk with people about following their heart or going after their dreams, I get the impression they are like me in a casino.

There are a few things though – 1, you can’t win if you don’t get in the game; 2 start where you are with what you have; and 3 courage is also part of the equation.

Now I’m not sending you to the casino, don’t get me wrong, but I am asking you, are you courageous enough to place your max bet?

I have been showing up to roles I was just a bit under qualified to do and pushing myself to meet the requirements. I have been putting myself in situations where I knew I couldn’t execute perfectly, but needed to try. I have taken risks with my life to sit at the tables of big rollers and I have learned so much by simply being at the table.

Little by little I have been able to move upwards, only by stepping up and showing up with all the possibility that might be and trying my hardest to not only stay in the game but to win.

My “max bet” continues to be able to increase, the tables I continue to request a seat at get bigger and the rewards are greater. Sometimes I lose the bet, it’s true, but what I learn from showing up at the table and playing my hand the best I can is a huge win in my book.

You see, I am running my business and I try things all the time. These are some of the things I bet on, I create programs, create events, write and speak. At times I get amazing responses, other times…not so much. So I learn what I can and move on to the next thing – that’s it. I’m not suggesting you bet the house, just put up a bet that says I believe in myself (to the max).

You see, in my opinion, the only way for me to win and hit that jackpot is to have the courage to keep showing up to play at whatever level I can. I don’t wait for perfection, I sure as hell don’t wait for an invitation or permission, I don’t allow self-talk to stop me, I move forward, see what works and adjust from there.

So whether you’re still at the penny slots or have advanced to the tables, I encourage you to place your max bet.

My money’s on you!  C’mon, big money, big money!

-E

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Sleeping With A Mosquito

I am reminded of the quote attributed to The Dalai Lama, which says,

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

For my purpose I would like to just focus on the size of something that can make a big impact. Such as trying to sleep with a mosquito buzzing around you.

We have all had one of these nights, where we actually end up boxing our own ears in an attempt to finally have some peace. The mosquito is a very small and insignificant insect on its own. It is only when it comes into contact with you that it has any impact to you at all.

Impact Matters

There are so many things in our lives that get overlooked because of their size or effort but ultimately are of great importance when they make contact.

Take for instance a smile of acknowledgment. The number one sadness I hear from people who are living on the streets is the lack of acknowledgement that they are human.

I have worked with people in various states of poverty for many years and have come across them in a multitude of countries and level of need. A smile, which by itself is simply not much can mean the world to a person who doesn’t feel seen, it is acknowledgement of existence. A smile means little until it is received by someone and then, there is no telling how big of a difference it could make for someone regardless of their situation.

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The Best Way To Upset Your Life Coach

Now I’m going to take this a bit further and more personal.

I work with people who on many occasions have shared with me that they are having trouble in their relationships. (Note – I am NOT a relationship counselor, please don’t ask!) I hear the phrase, “I love him/her, I’m just not in lovewith him/her anymore.” I hear this often enough to address it here because, I’m going to be honest with you, the comment pisses me off!

I feel like we’ve been sold a lot of goods from Hollywood and Disney to give some glamorous picture of love being pure bliss and sexual attraction at every moment. I call BS on that.

Love Is Not A Hole

Love takes work, it takes time and it takes attention. It is not something to be fallen into, a hole is what you fall into, love is actually cultivated.

I recently watched a conversation between Simon Sinek and Tom Bilyeu where Simon asks Tom, “Do you love your wife?”

Of course Tom replies, “yes”

Simon goes on to ask when did he know he loved his wife? What was the moment or day, it wasn’t when you met, which number date?

The Blueprint

You see, one doesn’t fall, one builds love through acts of kindness, compassion and attention. It is the small things of courtship that create love and it is those very small acts that get tossed aside for various reasons at some point along the relationships that suffer the most.

Of course there are the kids, the job, the Grand Pubah club, football on Sundays and girls nights on Fridays. Whatever the schedule is filled with between the familiarity that comes with time and exhaustion that comes with our busy and distracted lives, those small loving gestures disappear. But they’re small, so no big deal right?

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I’m Calling BS!

So when I hear that someone claims to have “fallen out of love” I call BS. You climbed out of love! You stopped giving attention when your partner was talking to you, you stopped making the other person feel they were prime importance in your life, you have stopped committing to cultivating love. Maybe you expect the work is done once the “fall “ has happened – but I’m here to tell you the Hollywood script is getting a rewrite.

I’m no expert in love but I have been in enough relationships to know when the magic is gone it is usually because the attention is gone. Those small details like realizing even though you think you understand what your partner is saying, they are still upset so maybe you should ask more questions. Or maybe your partner is seeming mad because you want to go out without them again which makes them feel they are not important. Contrary to popular belief, no one really likes to nag!

There are a million scenarios I could go through, but hopefully I’ve got you thinking of your own right now.

Love Is A Verb

Whether you are dating, married, in a committed relationship or looking to be, I ask you to not wait for some baby with an arrow to make things happen, commit to being love. Love is an act and it is often found in the small gestures that might be seemingly unimportant but can make a huge impact when received.

What can you do as an act of love to your partner, a friend or even a stranger today to be love?

If we all think a little more about how much that mosquito impacts us, we might realize the size of a gesture has little to do with the impact.

So go, be love today.

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Go Big By Going Home

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We’re at the beginning of a brand new year.

Everything is shiny and new and full of promise.

As we go big into our dreams and goals for the coming year I remind you (and myself) to also be present to home.

Home Is

Home is you, in all your glory. Home is where you are authentically you – no make up, hair messy and in your yoga or sweat pants – in all your glorious self without anything to prove or anyone to please.

Have you spent much time with that you?  Do you understand clearly all your cool features and talents? Are you leaving that you buttoned up in case it doesn’t fit into the world outside home?  Are you afraid that not everyone will find your uniqueness as cool as you do?

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So many goals and resolutions for the new year are focused on “reinventing” oneself or becoming a “new and improved” version of ourselves.

What if we recognized that we are pretty damn good just the way we are already?

What if we did not need to remake ourselves and instead decided to be courageous enough to share our authentic selves?

Authentic You, Authentic Goals

Our goals change focus when we do this. By discovering more of ourselves and being willing to share our unique qualities, we reach for more authentic goals. Instead of goals or standards set by society or some commercial that told us what we need to be “happy” or “better”, how about this year we follow what our unique DNA craves?

I am suggesting we make this year, not about reinventing ourselves, not changing ourselves because there is nothing wrong with us nor do we require a new version of ourselves. This year is about embracing ourselves in our truth, revealing instead of reinventing.

Knowing your heart and following it is not the easiest thing in the world (boy do I know this) however after years of trying not to listen to my heart, I can tell you it is the biggest gift I have given to myself and therefor to others.

Let Your Light Shine

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We are each pretty awesome and to know and feel that brings a whole different energy forward to everything we do. I’m not saying to be arrogant, however to live in a way that is aligned with what our values and hearts desire lights people up in a way that is noticeable, and that is pretty awesome in my book!

By going home to know ourselves fully we can then show up in the world BIG and share the gifts we have because we understand what they are and where they fit in to the world we live in. Let this year be the one we spend time fully understanding our thoughts, beliefs and who we truly are at home and be brave enough to share ourselves.

As we stand before a bright new year, remember, we are enough (actually, we’re pretty awesome) exactly as we are leaving 2018. We may have goals and achievements we desire for the year, but only by staying true to ourselves will those goals be worthy of our time and effort and become valuable gifts to those around us.

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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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