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?

Sleeping With A Mosquito

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

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

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

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

Impact Matters

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

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

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

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The Best Way To Upset Your Life Coach

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

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

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

Love Is Not A Hole

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

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

Of course Tom replies, “yes”

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

The Blueprint

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

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

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I’m Calling BS!

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

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

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

Love Is A Verb

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

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

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

So go, be love today.

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Go Big By Going Home

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

Everything is shiny and new and full of promise.

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

Home Is

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

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

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

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

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

Authentic You, Authentic Goals

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

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

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

Let Your Light Shine

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

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

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

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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.

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A Digital Nomad Defines Home

I had an interesting revelation during my last trip.  I discovered the term home has lost its traditional definition for me.

Please don’t misunderstand me – Yes I grew up outside of Boston and that will always be where I come from and since it is where I grew up and the bulk of my family still lives, I absolutely still consider it home (don’t take this the wrong way Dad).

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What I have discovered is that the more I travel the more I consider the globe to be my home.  It is not the house I was raised in, it is not the town I grew up in; home is no longer a place but a feeling.

Home is Familiar

No matter where I am, there are always a few familiar things like chain stores and restaurants across the globe.  Because I often repeat travel locations, I find there are familiar faces to each location and now, because I am connected with the digital nomad community, I am likely to find a familiar face in an unfamiliar location. This provides a sense of belonging and in a way a feeling of home.

Although primary languages may be different depending on where I am, it seems that in a global society multiple languages and dialects are more common in any location than to hear only one language.  I can be in Boston, San Francisco or Rome and I hear multiple languages, so hearing different languages just feels normal to me now; the unfamiliar has become familiar.

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3 Carry-On’s And A Dog

It’s no secret my life needs currently fit into three carry-on suitcases. I’m not trying to promote simplicity or minimalism, it is a lifestyle of convenience for me at this time.  I simply don’t want to lug a whole bunch of stuff around the world with me and there are few tangible items that have great importance to me.  It is the memories and experiences that I treasure and these take up much less space in my luggage!

Home As A Reflection

Most people have a more permanent home than I and in the course of their lives they create one that reflects their values and things they hold precious.  Designing and decorating to create a space that provides comfort, respite and safety for all that is important in their lives.  They collect items to remind them of travels and happy occasions, mementos of events and their history.

I guess I’m different in this way (surprise!). Although I love when my screen saver on my computer scrolls through my photo collection and fond memories pass by, the pictures on my wall are mostly the art of any given landlord I have.  I don’t keep my memories on my wall, I have them in my mind and they are as portable as I am.

So as much as I no longer have a home in the traditional sense, I have a home that is as vast as the globe. I am able to move about the world in a way that is both exciting, like seeing people and places you remember and miss, and comforting, like being in an old familiar space.

Almost all of us have had several locations which we have called home over the course of time, be it a family home that moves, a college dorm or your first apartment.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to think about what made these home for you. I wonder if I am not alone in feeling like home has less to do with the place than the feeling created within?

Once you have your definition, I encourage you to think about how you might carry that with you throughout your journey.

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.