An Open Letter To My Children

This post is a bit past due – however the sentiment still applies.

Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate mothers – yours and those that have mothered you and molded you into the person you’ve become, helped you through times you never thought you would make it through and loved you when you felt unlovable.  Mother’s Day is a bit different for me, I don’t see it so much as a day my children honor me, more a day for me to thank them for making me a mother.

I was 19 when I had my first child, I was figuring out how to be an “adult” when I became responsible for this little human – it was terrifying and wonderful all at the same time.  I have literally grown up alongside my children.  I have often said that having children saved my life, and to this day I believe it is true. These days as we have all made it to so-called adulthood, it is fascinating to see the reflection of my life in their lives and theirs in mine.  I am moved by their desire to help others and their empathy and humanitarianism.  I don’t always agree with some of the choices they make and then I remind them, I made a few decisions my parents weren’t thrilled about either – and we all turned out ok in the end.  Sometimes I say that more to remind myself!

On this Mother’s Day I got to speak to my daughter who lives on the other side of the country while she was in between her 2 jobs.  We just chatted as normal about her weekend fun and how she was beginning to get comfortable in this thing we call the “adult world” and some thoughts about what opportunities are in the days ahead for her.  Later I hopped in a car with my son and we drove out to a beach, had Bloody Mary’s, some lunch and a long discussion about travel, what it means to live life fully.

At the end of the day, this for me was a celebration of my children.  I have been incredibly fortunate to be able to have this front row ticket to watching these two develop and grow – they are the show I have come to see and I am excited every day to see what they create in their lives.  I completely owe my gratitude to them as they have supported me, helped me through times I might not have made it through without them, loved me when I felt unlovable and helped me realize and become the woman I am today.

This Mother’s Day, I celebrate my children who raised me while I was raising them and who love and support me through all my dreams and adventures.  May we continue to grow together and discover all life is meant to be for each of us.

With all my love

-Mom

My Pride &  Joy

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Why I Left Corporate America

I just made a phone call that most people would tell me was crazy.  I turned down a great job at a wonderful company for a lot of money (please don’t tell my father!)  At this point you’re asking if I’m crazy or just independently wealthy.  I can tell you I’m neither.  Let me walk you through this decision in hopes that it might provide some insight for choices you face in your life.

A couple years before I came out to California I sat down and put some great thought into the question, if I could work at any company, which one would it be and why?  I came up with two corporations, both were chosen for their culture and my perception of their top level leadership.  I wanted to spend some time in a company that I admired to learn from the inside out ideas I would want to incorporate in running my own company some day.

I applied to the companies I had chosen and after a couple years a job opened and I was hired.  It was a wonderful and eye-opening experience and I learned volumes about how they interpreted work/life balance, treated employees, customers and even the competition.  I obtained much of the information I sought while also building my own business in my spare time.  During this year it became clear that my time was becoming increasingly more important to me, and working for a purpose was creating such joy in my life I wanted to do more than I could fit in my schedule while working for a corporation.

The day came for me to leave the admired company and I was immediately courted by another great company, different from the two I originally considered, but a great company nonetheless.  I was not looking to stay in “Corporate America”, but I believed I had to at least consider the option and see if I could continue to fit both a job with them and my own business into my days.  After several interviews and discussions with the company the offer came in at a great figure with incredible benefits.  They offered me everything I could want and more – everything that is except for time.

It is ironic that they actually helped me come to this decision unknowingly.  I was asked by one interviewer, what makes you get out of bed in the morning?  Believe it or not, the answer was not corporate law, it was to make a difference.  In the final discussion I had with the HR representative, it was asked that I consider if my extracurricular activities were where I wanted to direct my life or was I interested in growing my paralegal career?

My final answer is I am building a career out of my extracurricular activities because to me that is the life I want to live.  My someday has arrived. Today, I coach people through life transitions and help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.  I may make tons of money or I may just get by financially, but I know that as I move through my days I am excited to wake up in the morning.  I know that what I do each day is making a difference in the lives of others.  I know that I am able to spend time with people I love and care about because I am not beholden to some corporate schedule.

The decision to follow the path I feel I am called to and to spend my days in the manner which brings me fulfillment is not a safe choice.  I know I am risking not having the backing of a large company with benefits and financial means.  I do believe I am making a contribution to others by coaching more than I ever could as a corporate paralegal.  If I am correct in my beliefs, I will have plenty of money to live my life as I choose and be in charge of my time.  If I’m not right in this choice, I will have spent some time living life as I wished, and I can go back to a 9-5 job knowing that I tried something I felt compelled to do and made a difference in at least a few lives.

I encourage you to take stock in your current situation and review if you might be compromising one thing you value for something of less importance.  I encourage you to ask the question, what makes you get out of bed in the morning and find a way to do more of that.

It's all about the journey!

Choose your path

13 Life Lessons Discovered While Hiking Mountains

Camelback Mountain on the way to the summit

Camelback Mountain on the way to the summit

I’ve been doing a lot of hiking in a variety of locations lately.  I noticed how similar it is navigating a mountain and navigating life.  Here are a few of my observations:

  1. Keep your eyes on the path since there are often things that could trip you up along the way.
  2. Take a moment every so often to stop and look at the views along the way – it’s not only the summit that is worth noticing, there are many views to be enjoyed along the journey.Desert Flowers
  3. Watch your footing – you never know if the ground you’re putting your foot on is stable until you test it a little.challenging footing
  4. The views at the summit are almost always worth far more than the work put in to get there.

    Castle Rock Summit - spectacular view of Lake Tahoe

    Castle Rock Summit – spectacular view of Lake Tahoe

  5. Many will admire the mountains, but not everyone will attempt to put the work in to reach the summit.
  6. Sometimes the terrain is not what you expected.
  7. Prepare for the unexpected – sometimes bad weather moves in fast.

    Storm on the horizon

    Storm on the horizon

  8. If you get caught in a storm take the time to analyze the situation with as much information as you have at the time and make a swift decision, then act!
  9. Take in the entire experience all the way through from the base to summit and back to the base.
  10. It’s more fun to hike with someone than going it alone.
  11. Look for signs along the way that assure you that you are on your desired route.Signs & Maps
  12. If you make a wrong turn, acknowledge it as soon as possible and backtrack as much as you need to until you can figure the best direction.
  13. Pick a focus and relentlessly pursue it until you reach it.Mountains to Climb!

Sometimes you learn a lot about the road you are on by taking one that is unfamiliar.  I find a great deal of wisdom is gained by placing myself outside my routine surroundings.  Sometimes the obvious is seen more easily by simply changing the scenery.

Along the route to Inspiration Point on McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Along the route to Inspiration Point on McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Time to Fly

I have recently made a huge life change.  I know this is not news to those of you that know me, I have a tendency to do this from time-to-time, but for the benefit of all, let me explain how this works for me.  Maybe it will help you pursue something you have been thinking about doing.

I have been planning this change for quite some time.  I have been thinking, dreaming and building up my dream life for about 2 years – before I even came out to California.  I have been putting together a foundation, slowly and surely building it up very carefully one brick at a time.  Now it’s not perfect, nor is it complete, but I’ve got a good base together.

From here I finally have made the leap!  I decided I needed more time and focus on my number one priority.   Too many responsibilities that were more stressors than stress reducers were taking valuable time away from what I truly wanted to do and more importantly feel called to do.  So with a little help I have taken the leap and am stepping away from the security that also has been holding me back.

Now I’m not about to tell you that this is not scary as hell, because it is!  What I will tell you is that even though I’m scared, I’m also at peace.  I am moving forward in the ways I think are right for me, but I am also working hard to listen to and be guided by the Universe.

I tune into the Universe, or my intuition in a very basic way.  I am acutely watching and listening for signs and indications that I’m moving in the right or wrong direction.  I am looking for recurring themes in what I’m reading, listening or hearing about from others and seeing if there are patterns.  When I hear the same thing from a couple different sources, I figure – ok, time to analyze this and see if I’m being sent some type of important information.  For the most part, I think I’m being directed to some great new ideas and concepts that are helping to move me forward.  The peace I feel comes from understanding that as I maintain a close watch on messages around me, I know I won’t drift too far from the right direction before figuring I’m off.

Something I also feel is a very important indicator to determine if I’m following the right direction is how I’m feeling.  I am continually checking myself.  Do I have anxiety?  Am I happy?  Do I feel good about what I am working on?  Do I feel good about the people I’m surrounding myself with?  This isn’t a moment to moment thing, because we all have fleeting feelings all day long, rather this is an overall combination of those moments.

So I take in this information as it comes and from there I put faith in myself and my abilities.  I know this sounds simplistic, but I think it’s something many of us have lost, I know I have from time to time.  This is probably the hardest part and the most important muscle to be exercised!  I put faith in my ability to hear the wisdom of the Universe and follow the path that is before me with confidence that I will make the best decisions at each given moment.  That does not mean this will not have bumps or be flawless, I know I will stumble, but I do have complete faith that I can and will pick myself up and move in the direction that will provide me the best success each and any time it happens.

I think the final piece of this is that I believe I will succeed.  It is important to know the end goal is imminent even though it may not look the same in the end, it will be the right space for me based on the information received along the way.

As far as we know, we only get so many trips around the sun.  I decided that since I’m not sure how much time I get here, now was a great time to live the life of my dreams.  Is it your time?

Time To Fly

Time To Fly

10 things I learned running my 1st marathon

I had the most fabulous opportunity to spend a weekend with a dear friend who had recently been declared cancer free.  He gathered a group of the most inspirational and beautiful spirited people to create Team Choose Joy and together we ran the Austin Marathon raising funds for LiveStrong.

I’m always looking for reasons to celebrate, and being declared cancer-free is one of the most celebratory occasions I can imagine!  Often people gather and celebrate a life once it has passed; so rarely do we celebrate a life being lived.  It was wonderful to be able to celebrate Sean’s successful treatment and the all the effort and energy he put towards his treatment and ultimate triumph over the disease.  The amazing people running in support of Sean were all living strong and wonderfully fulfilling and purposeful lives and many, I later found out, are fighting their own battles – but nothing was stopping them.

I have learned so much from runners, they never cease to amaze me, and once again, I learned a tremendous amount as I tackled this new goal with many more experienced runners by my side.

Here are a few lessons I learned along the route of my first marathon:

  1. Just show up – making the commitment to be there – ready or not is the most important part.
  2. Just keep moving.  Start out with a goal time and pace if you wish, but no matter what, keep moving in the direction of your goal.  Eventually you will get there; maybe not as you expected but you will arrive at the destination as long as you don’t stop.
  3. Be open to the unexpected.  Plan for your race, however be open to new obstacles that you didn’t anticipate.  Throughout the course there are many variables and some are out of your control, do not let the unexpected throw off your race.
  4. Enjoy the encouragement and feedback from people along the way.  You will have to dig deep at some point and you will likely need their voice in your head to help pull you through those times.
  5. You can do almost anything you think you can do.  Remember though, if you let your confidence fade, you can also talk yourself out of what you are truly capable of accomplishing. This works for or against you, the choice is yours and it will make or break your results.
  6. Enjoy the process.  It might be your first or your 100th time doing this but each time will have something unique about it.  Be open to experiencing each time to its fullest.
  7. Rally the troops!  If you do things with a group of likeminded people the joy will exponentially raise (remember this goes for negativity too!)
  8. Trust the original idea, not the current discomfort.  Remember during times of doubt, at one time, you thought this would be a good idea.
  9. To every uphill there is a downhill and the trick is to manage your pace as best you can through both.  Also remember, sometimes the biggest uphill is right before you reach your goal!
  10. Above all, smile.  People are watching you and even as you struggle, you might be inspiring someone.

We each have our own battles along this road, but we are all running this race.  I encourage you to just show up each day and move forward at whatever pace you choose with joy and passion for the length of your course.

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To Fail Or Not To Fail…Is It Even A Question?

There is so much being written and discussed about failure these days and I find it very conflicting, so I thought I’d chime in with hopes of adding a little ThriveLife perspective to the topic.

There are those who think failure is a good thing and a great learning opportunity, they say, “Fail hard and often – it’s a good thing” or “If you are not failing, you are not trying hard enough.” Those who think failure is overrated as an educational tool – [paraphrased from a Peter Thiel interview] “..we often look at failure as the one thing that didn’t go right, however, it is often the case that something failed for reasons 1 through 5 but only reason number 1 is examined as  to the cause of failure.  Because of this, on your next project, you fail for reason number 2 etc. so people miss the point and lesson of failure.”

Where do I stand on this subject?  You all know I’m a great advocate of risk taking, so you know I have an opinion about failure!

Failure is an end game and I just don’t see things that way.  Failure to me does not exist unless you name it as such and call an end to your attempts or given goal. I’ve done many things that didn’t workout the way I thought they would or should, but they always worked out another way.  Is that failure?  To me, I don’t count that as failure.  I have tried things that didn’t move me forward, and then found I was re-directed to another path that was a better fit for me.  In the end, I still was moving, maybe a little cha-cha for a bit, but then a side slide and moved another step and wa la!  Again, if I called it a failure, at which point would the failure have occurred?  If I didn’t stop working out other routes to the desired result was my time and work to that point failure?  If I don’t stop, simply change course, is that failure or just recalculating?  If one way doesn’t work then that is not a failure in my opinion it is the knowledge needed to try a different way.

I’m not trying to get all sunshine and no rain on you.  It rains, it sure does, and even sometimes it downpours – but is that bad?  As my mentor Tony Robbins says, “things only have the meaning we give them”.  Sometimes the rain gives you some new information that you need to change course or time to evaluate what is going on.  Once the storm passes maybe things look a little different and you find a different path appears.

Until you decide the journey is over, keep moving – sometimes it will be forward, sometimes backwards or sideways – but keep moving.  A GPS cannot redirect you if you never put the car in drive because you are too afraid to get lost or fail.  You only fail by not attempting or by quitting, until then it’s just more information about what does and does not work for you or to reach your given goal.

So go out there and put you life in drive!

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The State of Happiness

Why do so many people seem to be searching for happiness these days?  There are books about it, movies about it and every advertisement seems to be selling something promising happiness.  This seems to be a big topic these days, and not being one to shy away from the big things, I decided I would share my views.

Is it possible that we have spent so much time and emphasis on this state of being that we’ve lost touch with what it really is?  Is it possible that we’ve mis-defined happiness?

It seems to me that maybe, just maybe, expectations of what happiness is are off.  Maybe because of social media and TV, hollywood and airbrushing, that many people are comparing their day-to-day lives with their Facebook friends’ “highlight reels”  Let’s face it, as the song goes “no one hangs bad times on the wall.”

I am learning that happiness is understood by so many as being this constant state of total bliss.  Boy, what a big order to fill!  I believe that by this desire or definition, people miss the happy moments and the gratitude that comes from fully experiencing and enjoying those just for what they are – moments.  In pursuit of grandeur so many people are missing the many joys in each day in search of those perfect days.  In the end, the pursuit of this constant state diminishes their daily joys and make them even less happy!  Hmmmm

When I ask my clients to describe what happiness is to them, I usually get a bit of a confused expression back.  When given some time to really think about the concept, I can often get a more clear response, but the fact is that many of the people who come to me in search of this illusive state have no clear personal definition to it.  Lesson one, you cannot successfully pursue something undefined.  It will forever remain illusive.

There are several exercises I work on with people to gain clarity and a definition of what they are truly in search of so that we can put together ways to bring more of these events, situations and moments into their lives.  What most people are interested to learn is that happiness is not just some glorious day filled with everything you love.  Happiness begins and grows with the little things that might bring a smile to your face, or just a small feeling of joy in a moment.

My opinion is that it is the cumulative collection of these moments and small things that bring a state of happiness.  Of course there will be days of complete bliss and days of sorrow, that is life, but the actual understanding of what makes someone happy and recognizing those items and moments is critical to one’s happiness.  When all is said and done, happiness is not so illusive after all!

So I ask you, what are your happy moments?  How can you bring more of those into your life?

My Happy Place

My Happy Place