It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Kelley Kosow is the author of The Integrity Advantage, a motivational speaker, and the Chief Executive Officer of the highly acclaimed Ford Institute.

She continues the legacy of the New York Times bestselling author and thought leader, the late Debbie Ford, and leads the development and teachings of The Ford Institute’s transformational...

Kelley Kosow is the author of The Integrity Advantage, a motivational speaker, and the Chief Executive Officer of the highly acclaimed Ford Institute.

She continues the legacy of the New York Times bestselling author and thought leader, the late Debbie Ford, and leads the development and teachings of The Ford Institute’s transformational programs to thousands of people across the globe. Known as a “kick-ass coach” to high-level executives, change makers, and celebrities committed to personal transformation, Kelley blends her quick wit, laser sharp insight, and relentless compassion to help people upgrade their lives on a cellular level. Throughout her impressive career as a successful lawyer turned personal growth super star, she has been featured in Oprah Magazine as someone who could “Dream it, Do it,” as well as In Style, People, Working Mother, Latina, NY Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and LA Times. Kelley has also appeared on “The Balancing Act” and Better.tv.

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Break Free From The Shadows That Drive Your Parenting

kelley7kosow Break Free From The Shadows That Drive Your Parenting

These past few weeks, I like many of you have been shocked, rocked, and somewhat horrified by the college admissions scandal in which parents paid a college consultant to falsify their children’s records, bribe test administrators and college coaches, and cheat on entrance exams so that their children could gain admission to elite universities.

Although I in no way condone what these parents did, I do have empathy for any child who is being told directly or indirectly that who they are is not good enough to take a college exam or to apply to college on their own merits. Although it is easy to judge these parents who are accused of committing a crime, our personal growth does not come by judging others. Our evolution comes by using the situation to take a deeper look inside of ourselves - asking ourselves questions such as “How we are like the people we judge?” and “How can we learn from this situation?”

Being a perfectionist/overachiever, there is no question that, in the name of “wanting what was best for my children,” I helped them, pushed them, and tried to steer them in directions which I believed would lead to their “success.” Whether it was bringing them the homework they forgot at home so they wouldn’t get an incomplete mark, proofreading an essay, or, when they were young, doing their art projects for them.

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Start Taking Control of Your Life Today!

Blog-031219-Generic Start Taking Control of Your Life Today!

For as long as I can remember I have been the ultimate overachiever. Starting in elementary school, it was like a badge of honor for me to study longer and harder than any of my classmates. Although my workaholic tendencies produced a lot of achievements and success, they also came with a cost. I can’t tell you the number of invitations I turned down, the time hanging out with friends I missed out on, and the added pressure I imposed on myself.

Have you ever wondered about what your driving force is? 

Have you ever wondered about what keeps you from manifesting and actually experiencing that which you say you want? 

Have you ever wondered about what keeps you from letting go, even when you know something or someone no longer serves your highest vision for your life?

What’s Really Controlling Your Life?

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STOP…Looking for Permission!

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Day after day I work with people who, when facing some issue, question, change, or decision, feel overcome by uncertainty and are paralyzed by the possibility of “making a mistake.” Despite having an inkling of how they want to handle the situation at hand, they don’t trust it. Instead of going with their gut and following their inner impulse, they look for confirmation from others and spend time and/or money:

  • seeking counsel from therapists and coaches,
  • polling friends and sometimes even strangers to see what they should do, and
  • having sessions with astrologers, psychics, and intuitives to find out what is in the stars or what their chart says.

Basically, they are looking for permission to follow their truth!

Now, it is normal to feel scared or insecure when faced with living our truth. We worry about how our truth will not only affect ourselves but others as well. Not wanting to be seen as selfish, mean, unreliable, or narcissistic, we question whether we have the right to pursue our passion, heed the messages of our heart, or break out of the box of what has been. As a result, we: 

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Breaking Out Of The Cage of Fear!

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On a daily basis I encounter people who are frozen in fear. 

  • They want to date but fear getting hurt. 
  • They long to quit their day job to pursue their passion but fear failure. 
  • They yearn for connection but fear rejection.
  • They want to speak and live their truth, try something different, ask for a raise at work, take the next step in their relationship, go to a movie by themselves, or try a new exercise class but their fear of being embarrassed, what other people might think, judgment, or just plain not being good enough keeps them clinging to their comfort zone, unable to embrace or navigate change.
 
No matter the situation or area of their life,
they remain captive under a dark cloud of always desiring and never doing.
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What Are You Consciously Walking Toward?

walkingisle What Are You Consciously Walking Toward?

I hope you are feeling energized by the possibilities of 2019!  As you may or may not know, I am getting married in 2019! It seems hard to wrap my head around, but after 15 years of being single, I will be “walking down the aisle.”  Planning a wedding as a 58-year-old bride has been interesting, especially when I compare it to the experience I had as a 28-year-old one:

  • Salespeople and vendors tend to do a double-take when they realize that it is me and not one of my 20-something year old daughters who is the bride. 

  • Instead of feeling compelled to follow protocol or formalities, you quickly realize that you are in a situation where “no rules apply.”


And the biggest and most profound difference is that this time the most important aspect of the whole event is the walk down the aisle and the person and life I am walking toward. And here’s what I truly find so fascinating. Even though I thought I was I pretty aware person, this imagery of walking down the aisle has provided a huge breakthrough in terms of all aspects of my life and being truly cognizant and conscious about what and whom I am walking toward.

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Families Are Messy!

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I hope your holiday season has gotten off to a beautiful start. For me, the holidays are my favorite time of year. I love the lights, traditions, celebrating with family and friends, and, of course, all the new Hallmark Christmas movies! Although we all know how the movies will end, there is something so heart-warming about being invited into these charming and magically decorated small towns where families sit around the kitchen table decorating Christmas cookies, helping their one unwed daughter who has come home from the big city mend her past heartbreak, so she can open up to finding love with her old flame, who just happens to be the boy next door.

 

Always being a person who had a desire for my life to look like a Norman Rockwell painting, there is a part of me that has always craved Hallmark’s picture of family. Even after I got divorced, I still had an idyllic picture of what I wanted my future family to look like. I imagined myself and my partner sitting connected on the couch as our blended families excitedly rushed in and out, sharing about their day and easily interacting with us and each other.

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December – The Month of Saying “Yes!”

Blog-112718-HeaderKS December – The Month of Saying “Yes!”

There is no doubt about it. December is the time of year that is synonymous with giving. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, charitable organizations, or the people who make our lives better, we all have our lists and are checking them twice! Most of us love to give – and when we do so, we feel good about ourselves, abundant, and alive.

But what about receiving? Most people feel very uncomfortable about receiving! Whether it is a lavish gift, an act of kindness, generosity from a friend, or even a compliment, we have a difficult time receiving. For many, our awkwardness around receiving started at an early age. We were brought up hearing messages like, "Tis better to give than to receive" or "Give more than you get." We decided consciously or unconsciously that people who receive are greedy, selfish, weak, or needy – and since we didn't want to be any of those things, we made receiving wrong. When I first looked at my inability to receive, I realized that I had a belief that if I received something from someone, then I would owe them something in return. For me, being beholden to anyone was a loss of control and a very scary place, so receiving became taboo.

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What Do You Need To Weigh In On?

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Most of us have blind spots -- situations in our life that we can’t see clearly or, consciously or unconsciously, choose to avoid. Whether we realize it or not, on some level, we even fight to keep our avoidance alive. We justify our excuses and buy into our rationalizations of why we should or should not do something.


On a daily basis I hear stories from people who, despite what they say they truly want in life, remain in the cage of their comfort zone. They validate their justifications by telling themselves that they should: 

  • Not get into a relationship because they might lose themselves it,
  • Avoid looking at their bank balance because it might impact their feelings of security,
  • Or if they are like me, they convince themselves that they should not get on the scale because it may trigger their body and eating issues from the past.



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What Superhero Are You?

TFI-Blog-Post-Header-103018 What Superhero Are You?
Halloween is this week. Many of us have spent days planning and putting together the perfect costume. I am always fascinated to see the trends in Halloween costumes since I view them as a commentary on what is relevant in today's society. This year, there is no question we will see all sorts of references to what’s making headline news as well as fake news. There will be groups of people representing everything from Disney Princesses to the casts of Black Panther and Suicide Squad. And even though we will have the classic stand-bys like the naughty nurse, Rocky Balboa, or the Addams Family, there is no question that year after year, the most popular Halloween costumes are superheroes. From DC to Marvel Comics to the Avengers, the number and wide array of superheroes that are out protecting, patrolling and partying in the streets are always ever-present on Halloween night!

So, what is it about superheroes that make them so popular? Their superpowers, of course...And the desire we all have to possess them, even if it only is for one night!
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I Don’t Want To Be That Person!

romantic-time-of-loving-couple-at-cafe-picture-id49403863_20181018-172202_1 I Don’t Want To Be That Person!

This morning I was working out with a friend who was telling me a story about how he went to a quintessential Cuban cafe for breakfast. Although he used his best Spanish to order, they ended up giving him the wrong kind of steak with his eggs. Now my friend, who is dedicated to health and fitness, is vigilant about what he puts into his body and eating clean. When I asked him if he sent his meal back, he shrugged his shoulders and replied,

 

“No. I don’t want to be that person.”

 

Being raised around people who sent things back at restaurants, got upset if the service was slow, or took it personally if they didn’t get “the right” table, I vowed at an early age not to be a complainer. I, like many of us, have played the role of the meal martyr and tolerated underwhelming service, waiters getting my order wrong (you know, the whole “no croutons, dressing on the side” thing), and my biggest pet-peeve - cold food, just because I didn’t want to be that person!

 

I think it’s safe to say that most of us have sat silent, fought with ourselves about whether to say something or send something back or not, and paid for things we did not order because we didn’t want to be that person. Our fear and worry about being judged or labeled as a complainer, spoiled, entitled, or a pain in the butt has caused us to bite our tongue and swallow our integrity along with an order of food we didn’t want or care for.

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You Are Not Your Shame

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Over the past few weeks I have had the privilege of leading two transformational weekend workshops. I am always in awe of what an honor it is to be invited into people’s lives and have them share so openly about their past as well as the honest and raw feelings they have about themselves and their lives. Of course, we are also seeing so much of this in today’s culture – people, especially women, coming forward and sharing about the assaults, attacks, abuse, and secrets that they have not wanted, been able, or felt ready to share.

 

Although I am always very mindful of never assuming I know or can even comprehend what someone else feels, since I never want to diminish someone else’s pain by comparing or making sweeping assumptions or generalizations, I think it is fair to say that most of us have endured situations that felt off, wrong, or were just downright soul-crushing. And, in order to deal with or manage the pain or to just do what we have needed to do to get by and function, we learned to manage it, push it down, remain silent, numb ourselves, or stay busy and try to forget about it.

 

Although all of our stories are personal and unique, whether it comes from what we are seeing in the news, the #MeToo movement, or the people I have the privilege of working with, I am always so present to the insidiousness of the shame we all carry.


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Is Your Self-Help Helping?

selfhelp Is Your Self-Help Helping?

Market studies show that the personal development/self-improvement industry is growing at a rapid pace. More and more people are spending more and more money to help them lose weight, improve relationships, manage stress, attain success, increase productivity, achieve balance, and find fulfillment.

Yet despite the increase of people investing in self-help tools, techniques, technologies, teachers, and coaches, daily I hear from people who are stuck. They feel helpless, resigned, and frustrated after months or years of: 

  • being on diet and exercise routines yet not seeing a shift in their weight or inches
  • trying to adhere to a budget yet never getting out of debt
  • practicing yoga and meditation daily yet still being consumed/paralyzed by stress and anxiety
  • looking for “the one” yet finding no one special
  • wanting to start, ramp up, or change careers yet continuing to sit at the same desk or lie on the same couch

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The #1 Tool to Radically Shift Your Relationship!

close-up-of-couple-holding-hands-on-urban-street-picture-id901579888 The #1 Tool to Radically Shift Your Relationship!

“He/she never listens to me.”

“No matter what I do, it’s never good enough!”

“I can’t trust him/her to follow through.”

“What about my needs?”

 

On a daily basis, I hear stories from people about their relationships.

They are somewhere on the scale of feeling frustrated - fed-up - frozen - finished.

They are not sure if the relationship will make it or not and whether they truly want it to or not.

They question what is best for themselves, their partner, and their kids.

They have tried talking, therapy, and yelling, as well as silence and separate bedrooms.

As they share their stories about all of the things their partner is doing that causes them pain or drives them crazy, I let them get it out for a while before I jump in and ask,

“What if it’s not about them?
What if this is happening for you instead of to you?”
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Igniting The Fire of Your Inner Desire

new-ideas-with-innovation-and-creativity-concept-picture-id692714766 Igniting The Fire of Your Inner Desire

Last week I had a true proud mama moment!  I flew to L.A. to attend the premiere of a series pilot that was created, written, produced, and acted in by my 25 and 27 year old daughters.  Although as a mom, I was pinching myself watching what they have accomplished, the truth is I am always in awe of people who start with a passing conversation or idea and then actually make it happen! 

Many of us have a great thought or a brainstorm yet it never gets off the ground or comes to fruition.  So when it comes to:

  • creating something from nothing, 
  • doing something you have never done before, or
  • putting yourself out there in a whole new way, 


What drives those who do versus those who just think or talk about it? 


What have they tapped into inside themselves that fuels their fire and carries their commitment


Answer???  Desire!


Desire is the most important catalyst for bringing about radical change. 

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Why Don't You Tell Them?

adult-woman-holding-a-finger-on-her-lips-over-white-background-picture-id663991088 Why Don't You Tell Them?

We’ve all been there before.

  • You see a friend with a split in their pants, a stain in an unfortunate location, their zipper down, or some kind of wardrobe malfunction…Do you tell them?

  • A potential business associate keeps mispronouncing your name in meetings…Do you correct them?

  • A fellow professional has misspellings on their website, social media posts, or blogs…Do you let them know?

  • An acquaintance or even a stranger at a bar has something green in their teeth…Do you say something?


Especially at this time when being “politically correct,” more accepting, and less judgmental is being emphasized, you can’t help but getting caught up in the quandary of “Do I say something or just keep my mouth shut?”

Now before I go on, let me clarify two things.

First, I believe there is a distinction in terms of situations that are matters of opinion versus those like the ones mentioned above which are black and white or “facts.” This blog is about those hard truths, the times you know when that person gets home and finds their fly down or the lettuce wedged in their teeth, a wave of embarrassment will wash over them as they try to trace who might have noticed and how bad it was.

And second, this blog is not about the person who is being told about their mistake or faux pas since everyone reacts differently to honest feedback. And it is their insecurities, wounds, or shadows which will determine how they process, defend, reject, spin, use, or integrate the feedback.

This blog is for all of us who spend the five seconds, minutes, or hours belaboring the question “Do I tell them or not?”

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Reconnecting With Your Soul's Desires

lonely-rock-sculpture-at-the-shape-of-heart-preveli-crete-greece-picture-id695940520 Reconnecting With Your Soul's Desires

I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend. I have been in Greece for the past week or so. Although I have done a lot of traveling this year, my trips, although amazing, have been full of early morning wake-up calls and jam-packed itineraries. This trip was a true vacation, especially the last five days in Mykonos. I got up on my own accord and my biggest decision of the day was which beach club to explore. I enjoyed a wonderful beach read and basically flowed into each moment, one moment at a time.

 

Although most people like to stay connected when they travel, I reveled in the delight of disconnection.

 

Generally identifying myself as a person who loves structure and thrives on my ability to multi-task and accomplish so much in a day, I was shocked at how good I was at doing nothing! And I enjoyed it! Yet somewhere in between my third beach club and seventh Greek salad (yes, I was enjoying a feta-thon!), a very cool thing happened. As my life got quieter, I was able to hear a voice I hadn’t connected with in a while. I was able to hear the whisperings of my soul.

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Learning To Love Your Cellulite, Stomach, and Scars

bodylove Learning To Love Your Cellulite, Stomach, and Scars

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of summer. I am literally moving very slowly into summer since I had a procedure a few weeks ago that has curtailed my normal activity.

Several years ago, I had a pain in the area of my lower abdomen which was so acute that at times I could not sit up straight. After seeing several doctors, they determined I had a growth on my ovaries. At the time, they treated it with antibiotics and made the decision to monitor it regularly. Since the mass continued to grow, this past February my gynecologist suggested I consult with a specialist. Not thinking anything of it, I scheduled the appointment in between my workout and work day. I figured the most the doctor would tell me was that I needed to have the growth removed, which, in my mind, would be a quick outpatient procedure.

Determined not to miss a beat in my day, I arrived at the specialist’s office juggling my iPhone and iPad. Now, I must admit that I was a bit taken aback when I found out that the doctor I was seeing was a gynecologic oncologist, located in the new “Cancer Institute” building of the hospital. However, I shook it off and kept my eye on the prize which was trying to get in and out in under two hours.

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Your Inspired Vision Is Waiting For YOU!

Your Inspired Vision Is Waiting For YOU! Your Inspired Vision Is Waiting For YOU!

I can't believe that summer is almost here and that, like so many of you, I, am thinking about my summer plans. This summer I have the privilege of leading The Shadow Experience: Breaking Through to Emotional & Spiritual Freedom at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. For me this is still humbling.


I remember the first time I went to Omega in 2002. I had another business at the time. It was called Go Goddess! and we created games to connect and empower women and girls. As a result of the success of that business, we were asked to do speaking engagements and workshops. Although I was a "great girlfriend," I quickly realized that those traits didn't qualify me to stand up in the front of a room and hold, support, and advise other people. I decided I needed some sort of formal training. I called The Ford Institute because I'd heard that they offered the best life coach training program out there. The man I spoke with said that I could jump into the training which had already started if I promised to attend Debbie Ford's upcoming workshop at Omega. Something in my heart told me to jump and I did.

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3 Tips For More Self-Love

Kelley-Kosow-3-Tips-for-More-Self-Love 3 Tips For More Self-Love
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about this concept of unconditional love for both ourselves and others. Defined by many as “affection without limitations or love without conditions,” I sometimes question whether unconditional love in its purest form is attainable and sustainable.

When it comes to unconditional love for others, many say that although there may be times when they don’t like or are upset with the people they love, underneath whatever might be going on in the moment, they do always love them.

However, when it comes to unconditional love for ourselves, after working with thousands of people, it is clear that our love for ourselves is very much conditional. Why? Because we have lost sight of who we are. And as I write in The Integrity Advantage

To love ourselves, we need to know ourselves.

The problem is that most people know themselves in a distorted or limiting way. Our sense of self has been largely formulated by the projections and programming of others. We take on what other people think of and say about us, even if the other person doesn’t have any idea who we are. We also take on the projections of others without questioning whether that person is seeing themselves or us. As Anais Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

Our sense of self is also slanted by our limited view of ourselves. Most of us are walking around constantly beating ourselves up and berating ourselves. When it comes to ourselves, we are constantly judging and fixating on our flaws and what needs fixing. We see only pieces of ourselves and focus on what we are not instead of realizing all that we are. We forget that we are born whole and complete and that wholeness is our birthright. It is not and cannot be taken away. It is the integrity of who we are and it is inside of us. It’s just that events happen that cause us to create negative interpretations and limiting beliefs about the essence of who we are. As a result of these situations, we cease from knowing ourselves.  We cease seeing our true selves and, as a result, our view of and love for ourselves becomes compromised.

But the good news is that it is never too late to get to know yourself and take on self-love. Here are 3 tips to support you on this journey.

 

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Choose U!

Choose U! Choose U!

Have you ever thought about what or who is driving your choices?

 

Week after week I hear stories about:

 

  • The people-pleaser who does everything for everyone else besides themselves

 

  • The baby-boomer who puts their life and dreams of traveling more on hold to stay in close proximity and take care of their aging parents

 

  • The sibling that not only financially supports their own family but also feels compelled to pick up the check when they go out with their family or give money to their brother or sister who has fallen on hard times

 

  • The millennial who is trying to make their parents proud

 

  • The partner who is working around the clock because their significant other has certain materialistic expectations and desires

 

  • The creature of habit who lives on autopilot, doing the same or slightly different versions of the same thing that they did last month, year, or decade

 

  • The person born into a certain religion or culture who feels obligated to live in accordance with expected rules or norms, even if those values are not in alignment with their truth and desires

 

Although the specifics may vary, the common thread that runs through all of their stories is that they are letting others or their tendency to live on automatic pilot dictate their life. They are being driven not by what is in their hearts or in their highest. Instead, they are running around like the proverbial gerbil on the wheel, putting others, organizations, and societal expectations in front of themselves. And as Lily Tomlin famously said,

 

“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you are still a rat.”

 

Making choices based on the expectations of others or placing the needs of others over ourselves is a setup for disappointment and exhaustion. Even if you accomplish all the things that you set out to do, the accomplishments will eventually feel empty. Why? Because they aren’t being sourced by your dreams, your desires, your truth, and your wants and needs.

 

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