The Message

Here's your sign!
I have said before when I get a repeat message in my life, in any capacity, it makes me think the Universe is trying to tell me something. Right now, it feels like the Universe is screaming! I am being bombarded these days with news of deaths and illness in my direct circle.

The Picture

Let me go over some of what my current landscape looks like today:

Close friend looses 37 year old family member/Spartan racer and very strong healthy man, to condition he’s had for life. Leaves behind a legacy of greatness and living, together with a wife and 3 young children.

Family member has stroke and is facing uncertainty, and a whole bunch of change in his life.

Close friend’s mother has just entered hospice care. This woman’s mother blossomed following the tremendous grief she moved through after her husband died. She went from being this quiet, devoted wife to the party organizer at the assisted living facility for her new-found friends. She became someone always doing something fun and most often things she didn’t do when married.

A new, but dear friend, announces he’s about to take up his battle with Cancer, one that he’s certain to overcome, but a battle nonetheless.

A mentor of mine, for whom I run his local group, has died in a tragic accident at 33, leaving behind a huge legacy, a young wife and a large, amazing community called Live Your Legend.

A sister of a family member has been placed into hospice after living with MS, Cancer and metastatic Cancer. Preparing to leave a full life of all that was dear to her.

What does it mean?

I have to wonder – Is the Universe trying to tell me something? OK, I get it! No more messages at this time please!! Live life while I am here!

As you know, I walked away from corporate life a few months ago to move my business from a “side job” to my full-time focus. I can honestly say, although the road is tough and a bit scary for its uncertainty, I absolutely love each day. I mention this at this time because it is really, really important!

We have one certainty the minute we are born, that we will die. We have no idea what the road has in store for us, but we can bet on an unforeseen circumstance coming along at some point. What that unforeseen thing is, and how it will show up in our life is unknown. Will we be able to provide our family and loved ones the comfort of a full and beautiful life well lived?

A Time for Reflection

I am spending some time in reflection. Am I living the life I believe in? Am I chasing money at the expense of what is truly valuable in my life? What is truly important to me when faced with the end of my days, or a life change that will dramatically altar my sense of “normal”? Do I believe I am using my days to their fullest and living my values? Would I be living any differently if I were faced with the knowledge of my days ending?

If I had not taken the leap to leave corporate by now, I think I would be doing just that at this point. However, since I have taken the leap, I now look to two people who have just died and am so moved that each of them have been living such amazing full and inspiring lives. They were strong, purposeful people leaving behind more than some of us will after many more years than their short time here. They died while fully engaged in this thing called life, they weren’t just earning money and paying bills, they were living fully.

My Desired Legacy

I work each day to continue to reach out to people and help them consider new possibilities in their lives. I hope to be able to encourage others to reach for their dreams despite any odds they feel there might be. I hope in my life to make a positive impact in as many lives as possible to say, you matter, you can do it and I believe in your dreams. I also hope to be one of the people in your life that lets you see you can have the life you desire and it is worth reaching for. Finally, I hope to die while living fully and doing the work that I love and connecting with those seeking to do the same.

Please let your light shine while you are here – we owe it to the world!

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Focus on what – not how

I have just made a move across country to take a job at a pretty awesome company. Many people when they meet me, they ask, “What brought you out here?” I figure enough people ask, and enough people are unhappy where they are, maybe it was time to make this a more public story.

Growing up on the east coast I always wanted to know what it was like to live on the west coast (and the girl with straight hair always wants curly!). When I was 19 I was planning to move out to California and pursue education in the music business. This plan ended up getting postponed, looking back it was likely a lifesaver, but the dream and desire never left, just got put on the back burner.

A couple of years ago, I realized my current job was likely not a long-term fit for me based on many factors. One night I just sat down and since I knew I needed to continue a 9-5 as I build Thrive Life, my life coaching business, I brainstormed. I thought about what were the elements of a company that I would want to work for? What would the culture be? Where would it be located? What was my “pie-in-the-sky” goal company? If I could work for anyone, who would want to work for?

I came up with two companies that I thought had models that I wanted to emulate in my own business. I remembered advice I had heard a long time ago saying that the best way to understand how a company works is to work for them. So I sent out my resume to Apple Inc. and Virgin Companies.

The two companies have so many traits in the way the run their business and very importantly, how they treat their employees and customers that resonate with me. I didn’t know if either company would have openings that fit my qualifications, or that they would be interested in relocating me as both companies were out of my area, but that didn’t matter. I didn’t worry about the how, just the who.

The trick is not to know how it will work out, but to get started and allow the hard part to be worked out by the Universe. I call this a trick, because I think this is the part most people are tripped up by. Most people get caught up in the details of how it can happen and sometimes that is enough to stop them from throwing it out to the Universe at all.

Do note, the timetable for this major change was not over night. It probably took a little over two years between the time I decided and the time I finally got an interview with one of my dream companies and subsequently landed the job. I did put into place items immediately that would move me in the direction I wished to be. I sent my resume out, I joined each of their job websites, I stopped by their sites regularly to see if something new had opened up and maybe something I had not originally considered.

This month, as we move into Spring and the season of new beginnings, I encourage you to review an area of your life that might not be the best fit for you and brainstorm your ideal solution without worrying about if it’s a feasible solution or how to accomplish it, just what would you want it to look like. Then move toward that vision as you can in small steps, and leave the details out of your concern.

I’d love to hear from you to hear what you decide to move towards – leave a comment below if you are willing to share.
Set course on a new day

Hold Your Own Key

As we venture into a brand new year, many people take this time to assess their past year and their future goals. If you are reading this blog, you too are probably one of those people. Resolutions are designed to bring people closer to happiness or to the idea they hold of what happiness is.

Often times I find that a person’s idea of happiness for themselves includes actions of another. Now that is not to say this is a bad thing, however it bears some exploration. At times when you probe the question, “I am happy when_______________ “and that happiness involves the actions (done or not done) by another person, you are giving your happiness power away. The statement “I will be happy when I am married to a wonderful man/woman” requires many actions to be taken by another individual, for which you may or may not control. This is only one blatant example, but do you see how it might matter?

I often find when looking at an individual’s goals that they are so focused on the end result they fail to see they are giving away their power to be happy or successful to someone else. For example, often sales people tack their goals to the number of customers they have or sales they make. Do you see how that sets them up for an excuse to be unhappy? A sales person has no control over if someone buys their product or service. A more productive option might look like this: I, salesperson, will make 40 calls to prospective customers and 20 maintenance calls to current customers and write 30 proposals for existing or new customers.

Do you see how that goal still puts people in mindset to propel them forward without tying their happiness or success to the customer buying something? This also allows for the little beauty called integrity. This type of goal will allow the sales person to decide that maybe their product isn’t well suited for a particular customer, maybe something else would be a better fit. Do you think that if you goal or happiness is tied to the other person buying the product a sales person will have the same focus? If the sales person has made the call and listened carefully to find out their product didn’t fit the customer, do you think that customer might have confidence for a future, maybe bigger sale later?

So back to the idea of what happiness looks like. I suggest you take a good look at your resolutions and goals for the coming year and see if you are giving away your happiness power. I encourage you to rethink any goals that rely on the action of another to make you happy/accomplished/successful and return that power to its rightful owner.

By aligning our goals with actions under our control we can continue to strive to improve and grow all while maintaining integrity. A goal achieved at someone’s expense never feels as good as one in which you push yourself and achieve it and more people benefit in addition to the goal setter.

I don’t know about you, but I like the power to create my own happiness and not wait or expect anyone else to provide my happiness. In the end, if I own it, I can share it with others and we can enjoy our happiness and success together.

Here’s to you handling your keys and riding that happiness to your goal destination!

Your ride awaits

Your ride awaits
Photo Credit PJ Farinha

Superheroes Among Us

On April 15, 2013, at approximately 2:50 pm two bombs were detonated at the finishing area of the Boston Marathon. People who were present described what they witnessed as if it were a scene out of a movie. Hundreds of people were maimed and lay in the streets calling out for help. Superman did not arrive, nor did Batman, or Robin or Wonderwoman…the bystanders rushed in to help the victims.

It is said that among the smoke and confusion no one looked to the sky for a superhero, they didn’t have to; ordinary citizens became superheroes that day. As the days have passed, we have watched closely and lovingly as the survivors mourn the loss of their family members, and those who were hospitalized begin to heal and leave the hospitals. We watch those who have lost limbs, or suffered grave injuries learn to walk all over again or develop methods to live their lives differently now. These people are revealing they are superheroes.

I have the absolute pleasure of living in Boston. Since that tragic Monday afternoon I have witnessed innumerable tributes to those injured, and activities to promote healing for all. It is clear to me that all who were affected by the cowardly act of senseless violence were not present on Boylston Street. The outpouring of support from all over the world speaks to the fact that all who were wounded that day did not bleed. People everywhere were deeply affected by this event and many wish to help the healing.

Not too long ago, I heard about three more superheroes from the UK; Kate Treleaven, Danny Bent and Jamie Hay. These three individuals from the UK have organized an event called One Run For Boston (onerunforboston.org). This is an epic relay with more than 1,000 ordinary citizens across the US running approximately 3,000 miles in 300+ segments. This is the largest superhero gathering I’ve ever had the honor to witness! Each day since June 7, 2013, at any moment of any day until June 30, 2013, there will be someone, or group of people, running their heart out to support the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy.

I get misty-eyed with each post I read knowing full well how much these people are giving to right the wrong that was done that day; to overcome evil with such overwhelming love. My heart is filled with joy and hope by the superheroes I’ve come to know on this journey. It is amazing to find that there are so many of these individuals who simply are walking among us.

I know Superman is a fictional character, but I know that those who wish evil on ordinary citizens in Gotham City and beyond are unfortunately real. May we never need to call upon them, but have the comfort of knowing we are part of an amazing community filled with ordinary people who, when needed, have the capability to be superheroes.

Peace
reveal your superhero

How you do anything is how you do everything

This is a statement, maybe more like a mantra, from one of my mentors. I heard this for the first time over a year ago and since then it has rung in my head as a constant reminder that who I want to be needs to be who I am every moment of every day.

I recently read a book by someone from my hometown of Boston who stated he had the amazing experience of crossing paths with Derek Jeter of the Yankees. Now as a true Bostonian, there is an inborn negative reaction to all things Yankees (although the Yankees tribute to Boston playing “Sweet Caroline” for us post Marathon Bombings makes hating the Yankees a bit harder now). However this gentleman felt about the Yankees, he couldn’t help but be in awe of this great player. He went on to explain that it wasn’t that Derek Jeter had won many championships, it was the all-around player he is that was admired. Whether Derek Jeter is playing an elimination championship game, or an exhibition game, he gives the same energy and dedication. The author further explained that Derek plays the same way so his body remembers how he plays, there is no half-effort game – this is just how Derek Jeter shows up every day.

I was taught as a child that “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”. We cross paths with people all the time, sometimes you don’t even notice you are creating a first impression because you didn’t even notice someone was watching you. My mentor who taught me the opening phrase of this blog likely has no idea he is one of my mentors. Do you know who is watching what you do as an example? Would you be pleased at the reflection you create?

These two sayings dovetail together completely. I woke up this morning in May and it was “real feel” of 32 degrees outside (BRRRR). What got me out the door anyway is what has become my mantra – “how I do anything is how I do everything”. I could have rolled over in bed, pulled up the covers and decided my training could wait, or I could have half-assed a quick run and no one would know. However, my mantra reminded me, if I let this slide, what else will I do half-assed? I don’t want to do everything with half effort or half anything, so I don’t want to do anything that way either! If it was a race today, I would have been out there, so for a training run; I was out there in the cold and rain.

It is one thing to do the easy things but it is so important to get out and do the hard things. The more you accomplish the hard things, the easier they become, and it just becomes what you do. No matter what the task, hard, easy or otherwise I work hard to bring my best self to everything I do. I am training my mind and body so that it knows how I play, not just during the big games, or when someone may be watching, but EVERY moment.

I am in control of what I project to the world. I work hard to approach everything with my best effort and energy so I can be proud of the projection I cast. Of course, I am still working on it, it’s a constant work in progress, but this mantra helps remind me to bring my champion to everything because this is who Elizabeth is and this is how I play. How about you?

Bringing the A game - cause there is no B game!

Bringing the A game – cause there is no B game!

The Living Years

I drove home today from work and got stuck in a bit of traffic. Ok, I understand, that is not unusual or “blog worthy”, however it was the reason for the traffic that caught my attention. A funeral home about a quarter of a mile ahead had parked cars lined up on both sides of the road for about 8 blocks, including all side streets. It was an incredible scene. I thought to myself, who was that person? What did he or she do to touch so many people to come out to pay their respects and support the loved ones left behind?

I’m sure we’ve all seen similar scenes, or pictured our “calling hours” at one time or another and imagined who would show up? Would there be cause for a traffic officer? Maybe many traffic officers to direct all the people you’ve touched throughout your life?

This post is actually many weeks in the making as it is a combination of a couple of events/conversations and this final visual/experience which pulled it all together. Funny how life works like that huh?

I met up with an old friend the other day after reconnecting through social media. We hadn’t seen each other since we attended camp together as teenagers! We got to talking about all sorts of things (30 years leaves a lot of catch up!) and through the discussion it was clear he was in the throes of mid-life crisis! He had accomplished so much in his life to date; he has a wonderful wife and family, a beautiful house and a great job (incidentally, the one he decided he would have when he was a teen), but he was clearly moved by the fact that he had completed half the race already – the clock was ticking away daily, his mortality was in sight. I felt from him this sense of urgency that his days ahead needed to be utilized to accomplish things, maybe he had not utilized the past 45 years to their absolute fullest.

Over dinner with my sister a few weeks past we were speaking of the differences between how men and women (generally speaking) leave legacies. Over the course of the evening, we deduced that our concern was not about leaving something tangible; money, a building with our name on it; a Nobel prize, but relationships. We wanted to have touched people and leave our mark of our time here by the way we touched others and the energies exchanged during our time on earth.

So back to the wake I passed – How do we live in a way that we matter to others when we are no longer here? In fact, better yet, how do we live in a way that we matter while we are here each day? In the end, no matter how you define legacy, doesn’t it come down to our time on earth mattering? We don’t have to create world peace (although don’t let me stop you!) or discover something magnificent, but I think we, as humans, do need to feel like our existence matters.

Today marks the one year anniversary of Steve Job’s death. Steve mastered mattering both in life and continues to touch people after his passing, not by his iDevices, but by his speeches, the quotes all over the internet today. Those quotes came from Steve living each day – as he is famous for the repeating the line to live each day as if it was your last as one day you will most certainly be right.

Using the desire to matter to people – those I know and will show up at my funeral, and those I don’t, who may never know of my passing, becomes my new touchstone. I guess it has been there for all along, but not as clearly as it was as I passed others celebrating having been touched by a certain someone as I drove passed their calling hours today. That person touched me and directed me, a complete stranger, even in their death – I want to be that kind of person!

How about you? What kind of person do you want to be in your living years?

Time wasted may not be wasted time…

I was listening to Steven Covey the other day and he was talking about an assignment he gave his students. He told them to envision that this was their last semester on earth, the scenario maintained that they had to stay in school, and determine how they would chose to live. What they might do with their time and how they might live the next few months was the task. This is the same type of exercise as “living as if you were dying” in my opinion.

When faced with this scenario, the students, chose to do things differently with their limited time, as one would expect. They chose to spend their days differently and chose different classes – they got more serious about school and what they wanted to learn. They also became more focused on confirming their personal relationships. They made sure they used their time for serious matters and did not waste it as sometimes youth may do.

This exercise made me re-think if living each day as if it were numbered limits the freedom of being carefree or maybe even a little frivolous with your time. I can see this quite vividly in the case of college students as I have two in my household. I urge them each to be aware that time is a gift, but at the same time, I know they are living as college students, and not as though their days are numbered. This allows them a bit of levity in their days and to focus on the entire college experience which most definitely contains a bit of frivolity! All the lessons to be learned while in college do NOT happen in the classroom!

Since I believe there is a value for others, I see there is value for me to be maybe just a little less serious about time and how much I may or may not have. So I begin to search for the balance. Living my life in a manner that will create the legacy I wish to leave behind, living presently and in the moment all the while planning to be around for a long time, and making sure that I can maintain and support myself in the way that I wish to live.

It is interesting to me that having lived my days so long trying to make sure I could squeeze everything out of each one, that maybe I was missing my days. I am a youngest, so a little of the “I don’t want to miss anything” comes from missing things since I was too young to do what others were doing. I also grew up with a mother that was very sick off and on throughout my entire life (hence “tomorrows are not guaranteed” is indelibly impressed upon me). However, maybe I’ve been too concerned about making sure I don’t miss any opportunity that I’ve missed the opportunity and the lessons that come from being irresponsible and a bit frivolous sometimes.

Hmmm, food for thought!

A perfect place to waste some time