Falling Leaves

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When I was a child I remember being told about a story where a man was tying leaves back onto a tree in the autumn. As a child I thought that no one would ever do that, but as I grow, I watch people attempt the same every day.

Change Is Scary

We happen to know that leaves must fall off a tree, there is no benefit to the tree or anyone by tying these back on the branches. In fact by doing so, especially in the regions that get snow, you could likely cause more harm then good.

Looking at the leaves as a metaphor though, how often do we argue with nature? How often do we feel that what is naturally happening should not happen and attempt to altar it?

From what I observe, it’s often.

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Attachment

I find that when I am attached to something my attachment does not leave room for change.

If this is a person, does that not allow them to grow?

If that is a location, does that mean progress is always bad?

If that is a goal, can it not evolve?

I’ve learned that attachment often harms more often then it actually preserves what I am attached to. I’ve learned that the more I hold loosely and observe what I love about something or someone, the more room I give it to breathe and become what it is designed to be or become.

Living In The Moment.

The less I am attached to something in its current form, the more I can simply appreciate it. I can always love those initial things that drew me to it and at the same time allow appreciation of how it transforms or evolves.

Does this mean I don’t enjoy permanence? Absolutely not! I l have favorite things that travel with me all over the world and I have many long-lasting relationships. I find that I enjoy more of these relationships by allowing them to be what they are in any given moment. If that is a day-to-day experience, or if it becomes a once-in-a-while experience, I don’t spend the time bemoaning the time I don’t have so I find more enjoyment in the time I do have.

Your Turn

I encourage you to take this time to reflect on the leaves you might be trying to tie back onto the tree. What might be in your life that you might be so attached to in its present condition that you might miss what it could become. Is there a change that has clearly taken place that you are not acknowledging because it will mean you’ll need to break out the rake?

Take some time to think about the trees in your forest and make sure you are allowing ample space for nature to breathe and follow its course versus trying to control it.

Seasons of change

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Give It Up!

I know that this is not what you are used to me saying.  I know I am usually the one pushing you forward and encouraging you to keep going.

Today, I’m changing my tune a bit to both keep you on your toes and to lighten your load.

Sometimes to keep moving forward you need to look over what is going on in your world.  So let’s examine a few things that might be worth giving up.

I hear all the time that in order to be successful it is a hard road that requires sacrifice and pain. This thought is the basis of the statement that “if it were easy it wouldn’t be worth it.”

I’m here to challenge all this.

First off – if we buy into the notion that whatever we’re working on is hard, we look for ways to prove this.  If you are trying to lose weight and you tell yourself how much stuff you can’t have and how hard it is to stay on track – how do you think you feel about your eating plan?  Then, top it off with what everyone refers to as a “cheat meal” and then feel wonderful about that!

If you’ve been reading my work for any amount of time you know how powerful I feel language is.  I believe this is where many people can benefit from a change of mindset and it will make a huge difference in how it goes for them.

If you work on creating a positive atmosphere around what you are doing I guarantee you that it will make even the hardest tasks more pleasant and easier.

For example – when setting out for a long run, I can choose to think about the miles, the heat and the effort the whole thing is going to take me.  Instead in order to get a good run in, I think of the fact I’m doing meditation at the same time, how good I will feel when I’m done, how accomplished I will feel and how strong I am becoming.  I’m not telling myself anything that is not true however I’m just focusing on all the benefits of my run instead of all the challenges.

Status Quo

The other thing that deserves review is this idea of change.  This is a natural progression in life.  Why are we so against change?

I encourage you to give up on the notion that life should be the same all the time.  If we didn’t have ups and downs how boring would life be? [Raise Your Hands And Scream-Aug 2012]  Think of the blooms we would not see if seeds never broke their shells and sprouted their first leaves!  Think of the life you would live if you never grew up and never changed.

Give Up The Story

Finally, the last thing I want you to give up today is the notion that your dream life can’t come true. Please give up the thought that your dreams are too big, you’re too old or that your time is past or whatever is holding you back from chasing that spark that lights you up.

Look, if you are still breathing – even if you’re on life support – it ain’t over til it’s over!

When you give up all the stuff above, you make space for all the greatness that you can possibly hold, and if your arms get full, think about what else you can give up that is not allowing for great stuff to come into your life.

Focus on the benefits you reap from chasing what you truly desire.  Focus on the life that you wish to live and what you look, feel and act like when you are living that life.

Remember that change happens, it is not something to be feared or forced it is natural, doesn’t have to be scary and brings beautiful things like butterflies and blooms. Sometimes there is a spot during this that it feels like life is in chaos however it will pass and just understand it is a temporary part of change.  If you fight it less it will carry you along.

And last but not least, step into your dreams bit by bit.  Nothing is too big or crazy – look, we’ve got people sending cars to the moon and a guy who created the pool noodle.  So get crazy, creative and dream anything you want then take a small step towards it.

Look, you’re going to give up things along the road of life, let’s make them things that have been weighing you down or holding you back from living your dreams, not the dream itself.

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Living in the First Kiss Moment

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Your heart races a bit, your palms get sweaty and the promise of what might be is before you and you lean in.

This is what I call living in the first kiss moment.

These are the moments that hold a feelings of exhilaration and possibility together with the reasonable expectation that what is to happen is going to be great.

These moments of possibility are what gives life that spark. It is the feeling of stepping out of your comfort zone (or what I call the familiar zone) into a new space that you are not entirely certain of but are excited to be because it feels right.

This is the feeling that comes by living an inspired life. When you feel driven by purpose and inspired by the possibilities in front of you even if their outcome is uncertain.

So how do we create more of these moments in our lives?

First, take some time to think deeply about what stirs you. Is there something you do that you just can’t imagine not doing on a regular basis? Something that may come as second nature to you, but is a gift to someone else that doesn’t possess the same talent or skill?

Or think about what you are doing when time doesn’t exist or it flies by. Think about what just brings a smile to your face or heart when you think about it or are doing it. That is one of your “things” and there may be many, that’s ok!

Secondly, I encourage you to take a deep look at your values. In today’s society values can be subject to becoming hijacked without even noticing. One day you may find that you are doing things out of habit or societal norms.

If you take a step back and think about how you’re spending your time and energy you might realize it doesn’t match with your values at all! When you drift away from your values, what is important fails to receive the attention you feel it deserves and the result is usually not good. So take stock of your time and energy and how it is being spent and make some decisions about what makes you feel good.

Once you have these pieces together you know what you need to add into your life in bigger proportions. You need not sell all your belongings and move to the beach, or maybe you can, but this doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing way of living. Just take the time to find your bliss and find ways to put more of these opportunities and occurrences into your days.

In other words, lean in and take a step in the direction of where your passion and your values collide and enjoy!

If you are looking for more direction or in-person assistance with this process, I hope you will join me in one of the workshops I’ll be offering as I travel around the globe in 2018.

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In March, fellow coach Amy White and I are kicking off the first US date in Northern California with our seminar called Living Your Inspired Life. I hope you will join us for a full day workshop which will highlight the tools and resources already within you to discover and begin to live your life with many more first kiss moments. For more information and to purchase your ticket – see here.

Who Are Your 1,500 People?

WDS in LightsAnother year of WDS has passed and although the lead up to it this year was different for me, the result seems to only get better.

There are many reasons why WDS is on my list each year as a “must budget for” conference. There are the amazing speakers, many of whom I don’t know until I get there, the academies by some of my favorite mentors and of course Portland, it is such a wild and amazing city, it’s a definite draw.

I will say though that when the stage darkens and the closing party is over, it is the people I have met that I carry with me from this experience.

IMG_2460Each year I am amazed at the number of people from all walks of life and with all different ideas and methods about how to make this world just a wee bit better. My spirit is always renewed that this many people care – just simply care about me, you and helping others live good lives doing nice things.

I spend the days, weeks and months after WDS reaching out to those I’ve met, following their progress on social media and supporting them in any way I can because we are now connected. I recognize faces even though I may not know their names or names that I can’t place the face to, but I feel a bond because I know we have a common ground through WDS.

I see people from this group soaring through the clouds doing amazing things and I am not jealous, I am grateful because I know a rising tide lifts all boats in the harbor. I reach out to those in the community with compatible projects or skills and look for ways to share or combine our gifts to create even bigger impact.

In this space I feel no competition; I feel unity and encouragement. I feel as though we have a common purpose with unique solutions that combined could really dominate the world in a great way!

IMG_2549The five people I spend the most time with are very important indeed, and I can say most of them are WDS attendees, but the 1,500 I spend a week with each year have an enormous impact on how I feel about what I can accomplish and how big I can dare to dream.

Thank you for the assembly of these stars in my life, they are a necessary beacon throughout the year. They are as reliable as nightfall and they often are there to help me through the inevitable storms to the next sunrise.

A Few of my 1,500!

A Few of my 1,500!

Planting Seeds

When my kids were growing up I was always telling them to be careful what they told themselves. I was learning the power our thoughts and words have over our bodies and actions.  I didn’t learn this as a child and I wanted to provide them an awareness early on.

There were those times when they would say something derogatory to themselves in frustration and I would get on them about it. They would often brush me off and do the “yah, I know, my brain is listening to me” response thing that teenagers do. I do know that they truly heard me though there was never a chance they would have told me.

Your Brain Is Not That Smart

The power of our words is so very important to understand. Those spoken and even those, especially those, thought and left to play on repeat in our minds. The trouble here is that your brain doesn’t verify these thoughts, it just accepts them as truth.  These are the seeds we are planting each day.

When I begin to work with clients, along the road we often come to a point where it’s obvious there are stories they are telling themselves that are holding them back from what they want. Most times people are not even conscious of this, although sometimes they are, but they haven’t addressed it. It is at this time we discuss writing some new stories – planting some new seeds to cultivate.

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What Will You Plant?

What amazes me is how many people have so much trouble with the exercises for this. When I work with clients and we talk about how important self-talk is and there is never any doubt how important it is. I then send them off to notice something wonderful about themselves each day and they come back with shrugged shoulders saying they just had a really hard time with it.

It’s so interesting the resistance many of us have to say nice things to ourselves. So why when it comes to recognizing and celebrating positive things about ourselves do we have such struggle?

There has been so much engrained in us not to be boastful or brag. I understand not encouraging arrogance, but when did that turn into not appreciating or acknowledging anything nice and good about ourselves?

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So Now What?

I say that it is high time to put an end to this! I am telling you, that it is not only ok, but necessary to acknowledge your greatness. If you don’t recognize how fabulous you are, how on earth with you share it with others?

Think of all you can accomplish when you stop planting the seeds of doubt or negativity! When you think you are capable of doing things, you just do them; you don’t question, or explain why you can’t do them, you just do them. Once you learn to drive a car you don’t stand at the door with key in hand and wonder, you just get in and drive.

Your Mission If You Choose To Accept It

So for one week, I encourage you to listen to the stories, excuses or “not nice” things you tell yourself. Notice if you are always making self-deprecating remarks to make people laugh or to hide your insecurities. Pay attention to the thoughts you allow to move about unspoken in your head or out loud.

Then STOP!

For the following week (and forever more), every time you notice yourself doing one of the behaviors above, stop and turn it around. This is not as easy as it sounds, but I can guarantee you it will be worth the effort. If you are not sure you can do something, don’t say you can’t, just analyze if you would like to, find someone to help you accomplish it and give yourself a positive nudge and DO it!

If you find yourself consistently telling yourself negative things, stop and find something positive you can say. If you don’t like your hair today, instead of looking in the mirror and downing yourself, notice your eyes or your smile and how beautiful they are. Maybe your hair is just not cooperating today, so just look for what is. I’m not trying to Pollyanna you, just refocus on what is positive and the negatives become less important.

I hope you will take on this challenge because the seeds you plant each day are directly related to the bounty you will harvest. No one is served by you planting mean, doubtful or condescending seeds, especially not you!

I’d love to hear your experiences with this exercise. It is Spring and there is no better time to turnover the soil and plant a fresh garden.

-E

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7 Ideas To Keep The Sparkle In Your Holidays

Holiday Sparkle

When did the holidays become something to survive? When did holidays get to be things filled with to-do’s, rushing around and fulfilling obligations?

Sometime between childhood and today I have learned that not everyone likes the holidays. Lately, I’ve heard quite often how some people even “hate” the holidays.

I don’t happen to be one of those people (I know, you’re probably not surprised) but I am curious where the sparkle went out of the season for some. I’m sad to hear some answers, there are too many errands and not enough time, I have to go to parties with people I don’t like because it’s expected, I don’t like my family, or I miss my family. I can’t erase the pain of missing family, but for the rest I can share the way I preserve some of the joy of the season.

I’m not saying that I don’t have some sadness during the holidays because I miss people who are no longer here. I don’t claim to have all my decorations done just so and presents bought and wrapped before I prepare my Thanksgiving dinner (which by the way this year was steak). What I have done is altered my focus for the season from being movie perfect to perfect for me.

For me, the holidays are all about slowing down and spending time with those you treasure and love. This is not about buying the perfect present for the distant uncle or making sure the tree has more gifts than last year. This is about the gift that cannot be bought, the most precious gift; time.

I have a small family, I’m fortunate in that way, however each of us have extremely busy schedules and our distance makes time spent together even more precious. I suspect over the next year it’s going to become even more difficult with my speaking schedule, my son’s photography business taking off and my daughter’s travel schedule.

Some of the things I have done to maintain the joy of the season:

1. I have, for the most part, omitted gift giving for friends. I schedule time to get together instead and work this in over December and January so as not to add to people’s already stretched schedules.

2. I ask my children for a single big item they would like but can’t afford or that they have been saving for. Granted, my children are grown now and this works for us because of their age. My son has a particular lens for his camera in mind this year. Last year for my daughter it was a headboard for her bed that she had wanted for a long time. I could have gotten her another red sweater and other small things but it turns out, she doesn’t even like red sweaters!

3. I am flexible with traditional holiday meals. This year Thanksgiving dinner was just for my son and me, my daughter stayed back East. A turkey for the two of us might have been a bit ridiculous mostly because neither of us is overly fond of turkey; it’s just what you do. I asked him what he wanted and he said steak. I can tell you so many people were jealous of us…it’s not a hard switch to make!

4. I pull out all the stops to get the family in one place for a couple of days no matter what. This is a foregone conclusion that wherever you are, Mom will be flying you home for Christmas – wherever home happens to be that year.

5. I say no to invitations that seem obligatory but are not part of the list above. I refuse to be busy doing things I don’t want to do in my “free” time. That is what we call a job and can suck the joy right out of the season in a heartbeat!! Remember, to say no does not require an excuse (real or made up) it simply requires you to do it unapologetically but politely.

6. I send out handwritten cards. Yup, it’s totally old-fashioned in this digital age, but since I’m not at the malls buying gifts, I have time to thoughtfully write out cards to those I am grateful to have in my life. I do this for both my business and my friends and family. This is both a gift to myself to celebrate these people and how they have touched my life over the year, and a gift of gratitude to them.

7. I have pared down my holiday decorations a lot! Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have one of those houses on HGTV, but not enough to take time away from the other things I love – the non-things! Besides a ton of decorating means a ton of undecorating, packing and storing after the holidays. I have a few meaningful items that I always put out and forgo the rest. It doesn’t change the festivities, those are created by the people inside the home sharing memories.

These ideas may or may not work for you. For some the idea of serving steak on Thanksgiving is blasphemy! These are simply ideas to ponder if you are one of those people who seems to have lost the spirit and are looking to put some more joy back into the holidays. Some simple changes to consider to help you align your most precious gift with the most precious people in your life.

Sparkle on!
-E

Sharing Joy