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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This Year, Take Your Breath Away

This-Year-Take-Your-Breath-Away This Year, Take Your Breath Away

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven't even happened yet.” -Anne Frank


I've Been Thinking...

I wrote a version of today’s column just a few days before New Year’s. In it, I wrote about my resolutions for the year ahead, and also how I wanted to feel. Then January 1 arrived, and I tossed everything aside. Why? Well, after doing some reflecting that day (as I do every year), it became clear to me that New Year’s resolutions wouldn’t be enough this time around. 

After all, this isn’t just the start of a new year. It’s the start of a great new decade. And a lot can happen in 10 years. I spent some time on New Year’s Day thinking back on the decades of my past, and how many big, life-altering things had happened in my life. That’s when I realized that I wanted to set intentions for my entire decade ahead.

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How I Wrote Three Thousand Pages Without Trying

How I Wrote Three Thousand Pages Without Trying How I Wrote Three Thousand Pages Without Trying

I wasn’t trying to be a writer. It surprised me when I looked through the stack of handwritten notebooks stored in plastic tubs under my bed and realized, I have written over three thousand pages. It started as writing one page songwriting idea snap shots. I don’t write books, I write pages or at my best, distilled wisdom condensed into a single quote. I call my writing process WISDOM PAGES.  

Two simple exercises set the foundation for my unique technique in writing.

• THE MORNING PAGES daily practice in Julia Cameron’s classic, THE ARTIST’S WAY – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. I followed her suggestion and wrote three pages every day for over a year. This simple practice allowed unfiltered observation of my internal thought processes. Over time, the inner critic was silenced. I relaxed into a fluid intuitive style of free writing. The blessing of deeper self awareness is unmeasurable.

• THE WISDOM CAN is an exercise I learned in a prosperity class.

I decorated a large coffee can and named it my Wisdom Can. The idea is to observe one simple thing you learn each day, write a small note of affirmation and put it in the can. After the class we were directed to start taking out one wisdom message each day as a reminder of what we learned. My curiosity was ignited. I continued to put wisdom messages in my can every day for several years. Without knowing it, my habit of direct observation of personal experience fueled my understanding of how, focus amplifies experience.

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Receive Generosity

Receive Generosity Receive Generosity

Do you accept the gift?

The Practice:
Receive generosity.

Why?

Life gives to each one of us in so many ways.

For starters, there’s the bounty of the senses – including chocolate chip cookies, jasmine, sunsets, wind singing through pine trees, and just getting your back scratched.

What does life give you?

Consider the kindness of friends and family, made more tangible during a holiday season, but of course continuing throughout the year.

Or the giving of the people whose hard work is bound up in a single cup of coffee. Or all those people in days past who figured out how to make a stone ax – or a fire, edible grain, loom, vaccine, or computer. Or wrote plays and novels, made art or music. Developed mathematics and science, paths of psychological growth, and profound spiritual practices. A few people whose names you know, and tens of thousands – millions, really – whom you will never know: each day their contributions feed, clothe, transport, entertain, inspire, and heal us.

Consider the giving of the natural world, the sound of rain, sweep of sky and stars, and majesty of mountains. How does nature feed you?

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Focus on the Goals of Life: Happiness and True Joy

focus Focus on the Goals of Life: Happiness and True Joy
We realize that stress takes over in our lives because we feel we have not been able to live our dreams. All of us in our childhood grow up with certain desires. We could even call them our dreams. Over the years disillusionment sets in as in trying to cope with our daily lives, we have not been able to maintain a correct balance, and we allow life's challenges to undermine our confidence and hit us below the belt. 

But we need to realize that our whole life is in our own hands. We can turn the wheel in any which way we want. Since our goal in life is happiness and true joy,  we need to keep our focus on this very goal and move forward in life accordingly. 
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Our New Year is Illuminating Awareness, Partnerships & Discipline

holidaypause Our New Year is Illuminating Awareness, Partnerships & Discipline

The pause just after Christmas and Hanukkah holds a powerful occurrence.  The work schedule is not quite back to normal.  A lull in expectations can be felt.  This temporary interruption in our daily lives offers us the perfect time to create goals for the new year.  This is a truly spectacular opportunity.  We get to decide what we want in 2020.  This season we are creating not only a new year, but a new decade!

Imagine the Universe is preparing to give birth to a new year that has yet to be touched by our experiences.  The emergent year remains intact and waiting for our concept of time to crack open the shell that contains our collective thoughts.  Soon we begin to feel the experiences we have been searching for.  Like most births there is a mixture of anticipation, a little fear of the unknown and possibly an awareness of the responsibility to do the right thing.  There are moments of pain that will be forgotten and overwhelming experiences of heart opening love.  Together we will welcome the birth of a new year and a beautiful new decade.

When looking back, the year 2012 was thought to bring a powerful new consciousness shift to Earth.  Many believed it was the beginning of changes that could help humanity evolve.   Some were expecting to see proof of a cosmos that contains miracles, truth, and the answers mystics speak of.

Like 2012 the year 2020 is set to unleash a great wave of evolution for Earth and it’s inhabitants. What begins in 2020 will gain strength through the decade.

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Be Grateful, Surrender, and Share Hope This Holiday

grateful Be Grateful, Surrender, and Share Hope This Holiday

This is the week I loved when I was little, then over time as life took its turns it became the one I dreaded most, and then changed again into something I was grateful for and looked forward to. (My husband, the holiday elf, is the direct cause of that.) The holidays, in my case Christmas, (you might celebrate one of the other 29 other holidays across the 7 major religions that take place in this season) took on new meaning, like the story in motion reflected in all life. The corridors of time echo for all of us as we are all meaning makers. We assign meaning to periods of time, events, and the stories that accompany them. In many ways this season, certainly for some of us, houses the influence of many ghosts. Maybe you feel this too, the presence of the past, overlapping the now and pointing to what could be in the future. It’s probably why the movie A Christmas Carol was and still is so popular. This is a universal experience. 

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Step Out of the Flood of Negative Thoughts and Feelings

can-not-take-it-anymore-picture-id493575076 Step Out of the Flood of Negative Thoughts and Feelings

There's a very old saying…. maybe it's not popular anymore, and only older people know itIf you lay down with dogs, you'll get up with fleasBut you don't have to belong to the era from out of which that sagacity comes to get the gist of it.

If you lay down with dogs, you're going to get up with fleas. Why are you going to get up with fleas if you lay down with dogs? Because dogs and fleas generally go together.

We look at life, and then let something inside of us direct us to lay down (take a nap) with those negative states. We embrace them. We cuddle up with that sense of anger or frustration or fear.Who's at fault if I get up with fleas? Who's at fault if I'm negative? Is it the dog's fault? Is the dog responsible for the fleas that are on me? 


You may say, "No, I hate these negative states that I'm in!But your hatred of a negative state is the same as you laying down with the dog and picking up the fleas.

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Finally, How to Live Your Dreams: Become an Unstoppable Warrior for Your Life’s Work and Desires

Finally, How to Live Your Dreams: Become an Unstoppable Warrior for Your Life’s Work and Desires Finally, How to Live Your Dreams: Become an Unstoppable Warrior for Your Life’s Work and Desires

The question I hear most as a career/success coach is HOW do I live my dreams?

How can I take what I love and turn it into a living, an empire, or a sapphire on the crown of fame? But I know that it’s not the concrete tasks that will unleash a destiny. It’s not about “sensible” actions. It’s the love and drive of “irrational” desire. I don’t want my clients just taking actions. I want these precious souls to take inspired actions. Here’s my answer to HOW to live your dreams: It’s all about the mojo.

Indulge me, as I quote myself from Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! (and indulge me—as a proud mother– as I tell you the book hit #1 on Amazon.com for Career guides!!)

“Here’s what I know from coaching thousands of creative individuals and visionary entrepreneurs. It’s all about the mojo. The mojo unleashes the electricity that turns a light into an obliteration of darkness and an act of God. Wild success isn’t about going through the motions. It’s not even about staying in motion. This isn’t about your legs. It’s about the light in your eyes, the fire on your tongue, and the sweep of your heart. When you’re bouncing off the wall with voltage and star power, and as long as your hair looks good, nothing can withstand you for long.”

So how do you get that mojo—you ask. Clever you.
You are hoping for the trail map, so as to get somewhere. But as your new paradigm shape-shifting mentor, I want to help you to tap an inner fire and forget about chalky projections and guides.  I want you to burn with desire—and then conviction. A fire will take you places that a map never will.

You are not looking for information. You are craving transformation. 

Someone could tell you “how to do your dreams,” and your brain will nod with comfortable satisfaction, but you won’t change a single strand of hair on the head of your life. You’ll tuck the workbook into your desk drawer, and you will stay barren and unmoved.  Let’s face it. You’re not looking to bake a sheet cake.

You’re looking to find a way to burst with joy and, finally, feel as though you can breathe, maybe as you have never yet breathed in this lifetime.  You will only really breathe when you believe in the certainty of the life that calls to you— more than the life you know. Everything else is pain.

The Moment You Stop Questioning…is the Moment You Start Creating

When you allow yourself to believe in your desire, you will be an unstoppable force for your life’s work.  You will have your people, those who emerge from the wood work to support you and those who clamor to have what you offer. You will know what to do because you will stop doubting the internal promptings you receive.  Yes, I know it sounds like Shangri-La talk—but it’s more powerful than that.

For me, I could only breathe– when I was breathing fire.

I urge you to follow your desires as though they are decrees from a higher authority within you. I have come to know they are. This is not a career path—though, especially in these times, it is the most likely way you will ever succeed in a career.  This is your soul’s goal and the purpose of your life. You will discover who you really are– when you follow what you really want.

To believe in your desire, is to walk on holy ground.  The poet Rumi said, “Why would you be content to crawl, when you have been given wings?”  Your wings are made of trust.

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Deep, Powerful Process to Set Your Future

female-business-professional-taking-a-break-from-work-picture-id1155165480 Deep, Powerful Process to Set Your Future

I am blessed to know many brilliant people and one of them is my friend Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency and bestselling author. Sam created a process of Review-Preview questions so you can reflect on the highlights of the previous year and clarify what you’re looking for in the coming year/decade and I’m excited to share this with you as we end the year and begin a new decade.

Sam used to host Review-Preview salons at the National Press Club. Every December, they would gather to share highlights and lessons-learned from the previous year – and what they’re looking forward to in the coming year.

Many people told her they appreciated these opportunities to “connect and reflect” on highlights, intentions, what really impacted them – and why.

One participant said, “This is kind of like a verbal vision board party, isn’t it? I’ve done vision boards in the past. It’s uncanny how many of the things I put on my board came true.”

You are welcome to use these 10 Review Questions and 10 Preview questions to facilitate a fascinating conversation that adds value for all involved.

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Animals Teach Us To Love

sculpture-of-greyfriars-bobby-picture-id532530965 Animals Teach Us To Love

For all of you who are animal lovers like me, I’d like to share a beautiful story about “Greyfriars Bobby.”

Bobby was a Skye Terrier that belonged to a police officer named John Gray in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 1850s. Back then, police officers were required to have watchdogs. Terriers seemed a perfect fit because they are known for their watchful eye and booming bark.

Every day, Bobby would obediently follow his master on his daily rounds. Wherever Constable Gray was, there was Bobby faithfully walking beside him. The two were inseparable. Sadly, one day in 1858, Constable Gray died of tuberculosis. The poor dog must have been incredibly confused, finding himself all alone as he sat beside his master’s coffin. When it was time for the funeral procession, witnesses saw Bobby walking proudly in line, constantly looking up at the coffin that was being carried by Gray’s fellow officers.

Constable Gray was laid to rest in Greyfriars Churchyard. When the grave was filled in, friends, family and colleagues returned to their normal lives. But the Constable’s loyal companion Bobby continued to lay by his master’s grave day after day, rain or shine. Neighbors and passersby began to feed him, and this went on for years.

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Lighten Up

barefoot-woman-walking-on-street-picture-id1090610868 Lighten Up

What’s weighing you down?

The Practice:
Lighten up.

Why?

On the path of life, most of us are hauling way too much weight.

What’s in your own backpack? If you’re like most of us, you’ve got too many items on each day’s To Do list and too much stuff in the closet. Too many entanglements with other people. And too many “shoulds,” worries, guilts, and regrets.

Remember a time when you lightened your load. Maybe a backpacking trip when every needless pound stayed home. Or after you finally left a bad relationship. Or just stopped worrying about something. Or came clean with a friend about something that had been bothering you. How did this feel? Probably pretty great.

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Unsubscribe and Live Peacefully

IMG_1570-1200x900 Unsubscribe and Live Peacefully

“Subscription” once referred mainly to printed magazines and newspapers (“Your subscription is about to expire—please renew”). Now it’s the backbone of online communication. If you ask a question or sign a petition online, you automatically get subscribed to a barrage of ongoing emails. Subscription has become a cyber activity, distanced from anything real or living. We don’t subscribe to, or unsubscribe from, life. It’s just there, always supporting us. We can, however, lose touch with the essential simplicity of life. We can get entrapped in excess minutia—like too many emails.

A few weeks ago, I reached critical overload with the number of non-personal emails flooding my inbox. Political and environmental groups, spiritual programs and teachers, doctors and alternative healthcare practitioners, bookstores and theaters, online businesses. What a waste of time just to delete them multiple times a day! I went through and unsubscribed from virtually everything except a few key ones. At the same time, I decided to cut back on social media, visiting only occasionally. It was a relief. I felt as if I had lifted the heavy weight of contemporary social busyness and distractions off my shoulders. At least one day a week now I don’t even turn on my computer or phone. Wow, what freedom!

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Life Marks Us Up

darkroom Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Life Marks Us Up

I was stranded in Washington D.C. due to a storm in Chicago. It was sunny and cold and I wandered into the National Gallery of Art just beyond the Capitol. On the ground floor in the west building in two small rooms was an exhibit called In the Dark Room, which mounted examples of the early process by which photographs were developed in the 1800s.

We don’t see many darkrooms any more, given the ease of digital cameras. But darkrooms still offer a small, reflective solitude for serious photographers. The great photographer Ansel Adams had a very elaborate, expansive darkroom, while the Civil War photographer Timothy O’Sullivan refitted an ambulance wagon into his portable darkroom. Progress doesn’t limit our toolbox but adds to it, the way that master woodworkers don’t throw away their hand tools just because they have a set of power tools.

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Clear the Clutter – Clear Your Mind. Free Yourself From Negative Vibes.

clutter Clear the Clutter – Clear Your Mind. Free Yourself From Negative Vibes.

Do you know that you’re surrounded by stuff that talks to you all the time? If you have some difficulty during the holidays, (and a lot of people do) it’s an ideal time to clean up your environment before you start to decorate on top of the stuff that’s telling you stories that keep you off balance. Why could that be so? Because objects have meaning. How we get them, why we do, what they mean to us always accompanies their presence even if we’re not conscious of their constant communication. 

I remember when I was a kid, my mom would move things around while getting ready to get out the holiday decorations and would off-handedly talk to the air when she was doing it. I’m sure she didn’t realize what she was teaching me but I never forgot her reactions to certain objects. I know she loved this beautiful statue of the goddess Lakshmi that my parents’ friends, the Sharmas, had gifted her with because she would dust it and lovingly place it on a shelf above her favorite chair. I know she loved it because she literally would sigh and say, “I love this—I must call her this week!” I learned the object represented friendship and desire for meaningful connection. We weren’t ever mad at that piece of art. As I inherited it, it also is prominent in my office to remind me of their beautiful friendship. I feel wistful for connection and loving when I look at it. This statue always reminds me of the abundance of friendship. 

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Make Your Morning Routine the Best with These 5 Habits

getting-ready-for-training-picture-id498699640 Make Your Morning Routine the Best with These 5 Habits

Harvard researchers say the first hour after you wake up in the morning is the most impactful of your day.

So how can you spend the first 60 minutes of your morning in a way that sets you up for success throughout the day?

Here are five strategies I use in my morning routine, based on my forty-year career of learning from and working with the world’s leading entrepreneurs, executives, and creative geniuses…

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Practice of Reading

reading-book-while-drinking-coffee-picture-id932272022 Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Practice of Reading

In our modern age, the noble art of reading has been truncated and compromised. Today, a skilled reader is judged as someone who reads rapidly, who can scan the skeleton of any piece of writing and abstract its silhouette of meaning. Yet this is like taking an x-ray of a person and thinking you now have met the whole person.

The word “read” comes from the German raten which originally meant “to guess.” So reading is always a guess at what matters, a leaning in to all that is beyond words, a bow to all that gives rise to words.

I have always been a slow reader, not because I struggle with comprehending what I read, but because when challenged or moved by what I read, I slow down in an attempt to absorb what I’m taking in. Inherent in immersing ourselves in books is the call to enter time and not just move through it. Understanding reading in this way, books become thresholds to moments of living beyond our own.

There is a story in the Talmud in which students notice that their rabbi has been quietly reading the same passage over and over for several days. Concerned, one of the students approaches his teacher to see if he is alright. The rabbit smiles and says, “When I have come upon this small window into Eternity, why should I go anywhere else?”

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A Simple Skill to Amplify Mindfulness in a Heartbeat

Feeling-Heartbeat-1024x52_20191127-140545_1 Feeling Your Heartbeat

Heartfulness is the companion, not the opposite of Mindfulness. Awareness is the result and cause of this beloved union.

“In all Asian languages the word for mind and the word for heart are the same word, so in English when you hear the word mindfulness, if you are not hearing the word heartfulness, you are not understanding it fully.” Jon Kabat Zinn - internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society.

Amazing things happen when you begin with the awareness of your breath in Mindfulness and add awareness of our heartbeat in Heartfulness. The synchronized rhythm of your heart beat, breath and mental focus can greatly amplify the experience of harmony and balance in your daily life.

This heartful state of being supports a lifestyle of energetic buoyancy, where life can flow with more harmony, calm, ease, intuition, confidence, safety, concentration, aliveness, gratitude and generosity. As Heartfulness becomes an effortless habit, you will experience increased relaxed confidence and more effective results in your daily activities.

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Trusting Your Gut: How to Live from the Soulful Self Vs. Personality Self

Trusting Your Gut: How to Live from the Soulful Self Vs. Personality Self Trusting Your Gut: How to Live from the Soulful Self Vs. Personality Self

Have you ever struggled to make a decision, your mind spinning constantly as it vacillates between options yet can never find a solution?  This confusion or lack of true knowing comes from the mind, or what I like to call the “Personality Self.”

On the other hand, have you ever had a “gut” feeling about a situation in your life? In a particular moment, you simply “knew” what to do without knowing why or how you knew it? This “knowing” is the wisdom that comes from the True you, or your Soulful Self.

Both the Soulful Self and the Protective Self exist, yet only one contains the truth of who we are and what we’re meant to do in our life. Our task is to learn to live from the Soulful Self, and have constant access to that deep wisdom within guiding our lives in the direction we’re meant to go. To do this, we have to start listening to the messages of our body.

Our Soulful Self speaks to us through our body and to learn how to hear the messages it sends, our mind, or Protective Self, needs to learn how to trust the body because the body doesn’t lie. It is constantly revealing truths to us, yet the mind can’t perceive these messages because it’s so distracted keeping itself busy with questions of what we should do next.

The minute we can bring the mind’s attention onto the body, the mind can begin to filter information more accurately. Once we do, we have access to deep wisdom and we begin to cultivate the power to do something about what we know to be true.

How the Body Speaks to the Mind

Have you ever felt a knot in the pit of your stomach? Maybe you assumed it was indigestion, or that the burning in your belly had something to do with you needing to take some kind of antacid to cover up the discomfort that you’re feeling.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Energy of Hope

person-the-pen-writing-on-desks-picture-id635876658 Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Energy of Hope

I believe that teaching, reading, and writing all have to do with searching. Each involves searching for Wholeness through dialogue and experience. When that search involves other living things, we find ourselves in the province of learning and teaching. When that search involves other living things that are not present or of our time, the dialogue takes the form of reading. And when that search involves things that are present and living but not yet visible or known, we have entered the creative realm, which includes writing.

These forms of search are really inseparable. They constantly impact each other. In truth, a teacher is someone who is actively involved in all three forms of search—whether they have a classroom or not, whether they are reading the wind instead of a book, or whether they ever write it down or not. At the heart of it, learning is really seeing, while writing is really internalizing what is seen through the life of our expression. And teaching is asking questions about what is seen and taken to heart—in an effort that if honestly entered usually leads to seeing further and taking in more.

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What to do when you're truly feeling overwhelmed

doingnothing What to do when you're truly feeling overwhelmed

When everything feels too much to handle, even with the best laid-out plans you’d feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. Everything seems to come at you all at once and you feel like that there’s not enough of anything to do everything—not enough time, not enough money, not enough support, and most especially not enough you. Desperate for help, perhaps from no one in particular, you ask, “How do I do this? What do I do?”

Most of the time, in the attempt to deal with everything, we spring into action even more. We reassess our plans, downsize our to-do lists, set our priorities, start to say ‘no,’ delegate tasks and manage our time as efficiently as we can. We enroll in a yoga class and start a meditation practice or do whatever we think would help take away the feeling of overwhelm only to realize that they are yet more items to add to our already endless list.

Worst of all, our mind goes on overdrive, stressed not only about what’s going on around us or what we have to do, but by the commentaries going on in our head: I can’t do all of this. I don’t have what it takes. What if I made a mistake? What if I fail? We want to prove to everybody that we can do it all hiding the fact that we are a mental and emotional mess.

Our lives are filled with obligations and must-do’s. To make matters worse, in our materially-driven world, we are pressured to be ‘productive’—which often translates to always doing something (even if it’s not productive). We don’t want to appear lazy or useless so, sometimes, we even make ourselves busy just to appear productive even if busy and productive are, in fact, two different things.

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