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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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

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

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

“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

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.

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

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

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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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

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

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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How to Move Out of Your Ego Wounded Self

If you sometimes get stuck in your wounded self and can’t see how to get back into your loving adult, here are some ideas that may help you.

Sometimes, when we get stuck in our wounded self, it is hard to wind our way out of it. I’ve noticed what I do when I’m happy and my frequency is high, as opposed to when my frequency feels low.

It is helpful to me to keep a list of ways I’ve learned move myself from closed to open.

 

Here are some of the ways I’ve found work for me…

The subtlety of these choices is that I need to be consciously doing these things because it is loving for me to do them, rather than as a form of control. It’s possible for your wounded self to choose these same behaviors as a way to avoid responsibility for your feelings and avoid learning from your pain. When that is the intent, then these choices will not raise your frequency, which means you will not move out of your wounded self. So please be honest with yourself!

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Use Your Imagination To Create Reality & Open The Door To Synchronicities In Your Life

Working with so many people over the years, I’ve really gotten to see how, with effort, insight, and perseverance, we can co-create our reality in partnership with Spirit and transform our lives.

It’s so important to remember that you have a partnership with Spirit that is essential to your life and highest good, crucial to your destiny, and more powerful than any rushing around you could ever do. Spirit is your manifesting partner. God, Quantum Fred, The Dude, Goddess, The Holy Spirit, the Field – whatever you call it – you need to be in service to it, as it is in service to you!Joseph Campbell said it so eloquently when he said:

“When you take one step towards the gods they will take ten steps towards you!”

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How do we communicate?

We communicate through energy! The receptors read vibrational energy fields such as light, sound and radio frequencies, and if the receptor is atuned to the particular frequency it can alter the proteins and change the shape of the receptor. This is the one of the ways our cells are impacted by the vibrational Universe. "Thought waves" and "emotional waves" being of obvious importance in the field effect on biology. We are immersed in living fields of vibrational information. 

Specific frequencies and patters of electromagnetic radiation regulate DNA, RNA and protein syntheses, alter protein shame and function, and control gene regulation, cell division, cell differentiation morphogenesis (the process by which cells assemble into organs and tissues), hormone secretion, nerve growth and function. 

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See Progress

Are some things getting better?

The Practice:
See progress.

Why?

There are always things that are getting worse. For example, over the past year, you probably know someone who has become unemployed or ill or both, and there’s more carbon in the atmosphere inexorably heating up the planet.

But if you don’t recognize what’s improving in your own life, then you feel stagnant, or declining. This can foster what researchers call “learned helplessness” – a dangerously slippery slope. It typically takes only a few experiences of painful entrapment to create it but many times as many counter-experiences to undo it.

If you don’t recognize whatever is getting better in the people around you, then you might feel more disappointed or despairing than you need to feel – and they might feel not seen, criticized, or “why bother.”

If we don’t see the positive trends in our world amidst the negative ones – such as for many people, improved medical care and access to information, and less extreme poverty – then we’ll get swallowed up by all the bad news, and give up trying to make this world better.

This is not looking through rose-colored glasses. The point is to see life as it is, particularly your own life – including the progress that is occurring.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Refection: Not Great But True

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

Rumi

Because all young people are taught to be ambitious, I began as all young artists do—working toward some imagined greatness that might reveal itself in time if I could stay devoted enough to my craft. But along the way, I was humbled to be more uplifted by what was true rather than what was great, by what was heartfelt rather than what was intricate. It kept me close to my own experience, which when entered honestly began to reveal the common ground of all experience and all time.

From there, I risked more by entering the poems than by writing them, not sure where they might go, and found myself touched and changed by showing up in my life so completely. Well, that’s not very different than being changed by loving another, is it? Now in the second half of life, I am devoted to being in that holy space where the conversation of aliveness exists. It’s not about the words but the poetry of life that is revealed and enlivened by our honest engagement.

The process of writing and expressing—whether you become a writer or not—offers many valuable tools for living. If you concentrate on learning what those tools are and are diligent in using them, this concentration of wakefulness will help you live, and chances are that you’ll surface good writing.

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Dream Crazy Big – Here’s How

I have been studying and practicing the art and science of manifestation since 1984, and I am always learning (or being reminded of) another dimension of it.

Last night I attended a big fundraiser for Just Like My Child, an organization I have been on the Board of for 13 years, and our keynote speaker was the amazing Mary Morrissey of Dream Builder fame. (that’s Vivian Glyck, founder of JLMC, with me and Mary in the photo)

The theme was Dream Crazy Big and when I arrived at the event, they asked me to put on my name tag what my big dream is.
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It’s Still Mercury Retrograde: Time to Reevaluate, Realign, & Release for Deep Healing

It’s that time again…actually, we are already halfway through this cycle of Mercury Retrograde! Right about now, you’re probably thinking I KNEW IT! That’s why everything has gone awry. So, if you just got frazzled and also weirdly relieved at the mention of this planetary cycle, take a deep breath. Today I’m going to share my insight into this Retrograde and help you make the most of the next nine days, as I feel the last week of Mercury Retrograde is the most profound. 

For a quick refresher, from October 31st through November 20th, Mercury is retrograde in Scorpio, the sign of deep-diving and deeper healing. Mercury Retrograde happens three to four times per year when the planet Mercury slows down and appears to stop and move backward. It’s an optical illusion, since there is forward movement, like speeding by a slow-moving train—as it recedes, it appears to go backward. 

The purpose of Mercury Retrograde is to review and revise our life and our connection with reality. In many ways, this time helps us prepare for the future by propelling us to realign and reevaluate our plans and ideas. Since Mercury rules communication, things most often go haywire in that area—computers go on the fritz, (totally happened to me) miscommunications abound, and often the internet goes down. 

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Why I’m Staying Open to the Unexpected

I've Been Thinking...

I celebrated my birthday on Wednesday. It was a beautiful, warm, meaningful, lovely, and easy day.

It started with one of my daughters bringing me coffee, and then I took an early morning walk with my elder son (who bought me another cup of coffee and a vegan scone!). My other daughter picked me up later and read me my horoscope for the year. And then, my youngest son (who is away at college) Facetimed with me.

If that wasn’t enough (and it was!) so many friends and family took a moment to text, e-mail, and call to let me know that they love me and that I matter to them. I’ve come to learn over the years that that’s what life is really about: having people around that love you, see you, make you laugh, and make a point to reach out to you.

Something else also happened on my birthday that made me take a step back. It made me reflect on how I approach my life and discover a theme for my new year ahead.

What happened was that I got a text from someone I met many years ago—someone I really don’t know at all. It was someone I would have never expected to reach out to me on my birthday, but lo and behold, they did. Their message, which came out of the blue, reminded me of our previous exchange and wished me a happy day.
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Start Attracting Positive Life Results

If we can see how positive inner states lead to positive life experiences, then we can also see that negative inner states must attract negative results. Shedding light on this dark cycle will help us bring an end to it as a source of self-compromise.

Suppose someone walks into your office and drops the bomb that your company has unannounced plans to lay off several employees, and that no one knows who these unfortunates are going to be. Without higher principles to meet this unexpected moment, the fear would surely take control of you and the moment. In no time, you would be the victim of your own self-compromising plans for revenge on an insensitive company, or some such enemy.

Of course, at first glance, feeling scared and getting angry in an event like this seems like it makes sense. But a closer look clearly shows how it betrays. We can't have fear without anxiety. Anxiety can't exist without unconsciously comparing what we hoped would happen, to our new fears that it won't. And connected to this spreading fear our expectations won't be realized is our growing resentment of the situation, or person, we blame for wiping out our hoped-for happiness. So bitterness spreads. And as it does, it whispers to us that since we've already lost our future, why should we do anything more, for anyone, in the present? Now defiance has the reins, and in no time, self-righteous anger courses through our veins.

It's impossible to have one sad or sour state without another. But there's still much for us to see. Negativity, like all forms of thought, is actually physical in nature. All things physical, all forms of matter, have mass. And any mass in motion has momentum. Now, with these facts in mind, let's go back into our illustrative story and see what the momentum of this negative state has to ultimately attract.

So now the boss walks into your office -- or you see him at lunch -- and he asks you to do some extra work. But with the feeling of being betrayed still fresh in your heart, you can't help but meet him and his request with a full-blown negative state. The impression you make on him is indelible. Later on, at a time unknown to you, this same superior starts to review who he's going to keep on and who to let go. And he chooses to release you. Why? Because among other items weighted in his decision process, he recalls your barely masked aggression and obvious resistance to his request.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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