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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Ain’t Misbehaving

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I love this quote for so many reasons. I love the permission it gives me to break the rules. I love the boldness it gives me to think outside the box. I love the idea that I can make history.

Here is where it all falls apart for me.  I take offense of the term a “well-behaved woman”. How is it that we continue to identify women by their behaviors and classify them as good or bad?

When did having ideas that challenge the norm and being bold enough to say so become a bad thing or something to be classified as misbehaving? And why is this only true if you’re a woman? Men are considered mavericks and women are considered…ill-mannered?

I have to say, I was brought up in a bit of an old-fashioned household. It

imageswas part of our upbringing to be taught etiquette and know the setting and use of a proper table setting to include each fork, knife and spoon, glass, bread plate and even if we were sat at a table including finger bowls (who uses those?) I was taught the etiquette of social situations, what to say, when to speak and not to speak, where my elbows belonged, etc. so that I would always be proper and the objective was that I would be comfortable in any situation.

 

 

The Time Has Come

I was brought up to be “well behaved” and I can be at times (if called for) but I also am a born rebel. I don’t like to be restricted, I question most everything around me and I push boundaries always.

It has taken me many decades to finally come to terms with the fact that these very traits are to be celebrated not hidden because they are not aligned with standard social grace. It is part of the very “E-ness” of me. I know it challenges some people, it scares some and it exhausts others. I’m learning to be in celebration of this aspect of myself and help others hear what their bold inner voice is longing, but too polite, to say.

Now that the final UK prince has married, it is unlikely I will be called to use the teaching of my grandparents to the degree they may have hoped. Luckily I haven’t been waiting to dine with the queen, but I have been apologizing for and toning down some of my zest in effort to “behave” myself.

Well-Behaved And Showing Up

It is time to discard the idea that standing out, being bold and making history is for those who are misbehaving or doing something wrong. We women are using our voices to share our views, making our mark or even making history and we arewell-behaved, intelligent women who are changing this vision once worn as a badge.

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We don’t have to be nasty to be heard, we aren’t wrong or socially incorrect, we have something to say or do and it’s our time to be heard and seen unapologetically.

It is time to discard the idea that having an opinion is misbehaving that using our voice and standing up for or creating what we believe is “unladylike” and should be avoided as a woman.

So I encourage you to join me in being a catalyst for whatever you wish to share with the world regardless of your gender. Know that you can share your gifts in whatever way you wish and feel comfortable knowing that we can all make history and it is only a credit to your character.

And don’t worry Granny,if I get called to have lunch with the queen, I still remember which fork is for my salad!

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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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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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