You Are the Designer of Your Life

We often believe that people, circumstances and situations outside of ourselves are responsible for shaping the course of our lives. If we get a certain job…then life will be awesome.

If we marry a certain person…then we’ll be happy.

If…then.

And when we place those conditions on ourselves, we find ourselves constantly harboring the desire, but usually our mind is racing around the negative track instead of the positive one. Usually we’re thinking- “oh, how I want that job, and there’s no way I can get it.”

Or

“I would do anything for her/him to give me the time of day, but s/he’s out of my league. What am I thinking?

So we constantly talk ourselves out of our greatest dreams and desires.

And we wonder why life won’t give us what we truly want.

Our job in this life is to be the designer of our lives. And there are many stories of people who set their mind in a determined fashion and accomplished what they set out to do. Why them? And why not you?

Are they smarter? No

Are they prettier? No

Do they have more luck? No

Do they live a charmed life where everything goes their way? Yes

Why?

Because they dream of their desires with dogged determination.

An elite athlete doesn’t take no for an answer; doesn’t see weakness in his/her body. They just train and train and train both body and mind to accomplish their dreams.

A performer, a musician, a tech mogul, a billionaire– none of them started that way. They all have the same things in common with us; they’re human and wear their pants one leg at a time just like you and I.

So what sets them apart?

Single-minded focus.

The inability to see their dream fail.

For them, there’s no question, beyond a shadow of any doubt that they will get where they’re going

So what’s the common denominator?

Harnessing the power of the mind to accomplish your goals.

Most of us live our present from our past. We are shaped by, and molded in the life of our past.

What if we lived our lives from our future?

What if we intentionally shaped and molded ourselves into the life we desire?

What if, instead of lamenting our past, we celebrate our future like it’s already here?

I’m talking about the future that we want to create. Not the one that is a natural extension of our past.

Life is a gift. As far as we know it, it’s the only one we have. We owe it to ourselves to live it in the best way we know how.

So the next time you find yourself using memory lane to blame your present circumstances; take a hard 180° turn and walk into your future.

A simple mind hack to get this started is to take one deep desire/want; and start to imagine it done. Not the HOW. But simply living in a future where it is a reality. If you can train your mind to spend 5-10 minutes a day in your future state, providence will start to provide the HOW.

You don’t have to worry about the HOW.

You only have to focus on the WHAT.

We don’t have to have the correct circumstances to make our dreams a reality.

We only need to have a very vivid dream.

So go ahead- dream in high definition technicolor.

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The Storm before the Calm

You cannot plant seeds or plants into soil that hasn’t been stirred up or amended. You cannot stick seeds for new growth into existing soil beds that already have plants growing. There is no space or nutrients for this new growth. In the same way in order for you to have growth, in order to step into the next best thing, you too need to be stirred up, amended and woken up from your status quo so that you can Be, Do, Have the next best thing in your life. It feels like the storm before the calm for you because you’re being shaken out of your reverie. Human nature doesn’t like change. It is resisted. Hence change has to come in a way that makes it a necessary one, often one that is seemingly out of your control. However the more self aware you get, the more you will realize that you do get early warning signs about the change. You usually ignore or overlook them because they aren’t as painful or uncomfortable. Only once we get to that level of discomfort where it is untenable, then that is when you are willing to change. Your job is to get hyper aware and heed the early warning signs for yourself and then change will become second nature and you won’t resist it; rather you will welcome it. 

My Life Worth Living

Many of you have heard me talk about Robin Sharma’s 5:00 am club (my Holy hour) and how I am a proud member. It took me over a year to get to the place where I could easily and gracefully get out of bed at 5:00 am every day and I relish starting the day before the sun comes up. I love being able to see the sunrise; there’s something very special about the time right between dark and day break. Naturally, to be able to wake up at that hour requires that I turn off the lights and be in bed at a reasonable hour – usually 10:30 pm, no later. This too took practice. Interestingly, this discipline took a LOT longer to cultivate than the discipline of waking up at 5:00 am.

Since the start of the New Year, after all the holiday festivities were said and done, after the tree came down, the house got cleaned and we marched into 2015, I have been faithfully waking up at 5:00 am, working out every day, by either hopping on our trainer bike, going for a run (I love running outside when there’s no one there…I run in a safe area, I wouldn’t advocate for running in the dark if you’re not a 100% certain of your environment), and even yoga using my handy dandy Yoga Studio App. Even if I just get to do a 5 minute yoga routine, it feeds my soul. On some of the mornings when my body isn’t wanting to do the more active exercise, the yoga helps just move my body to wake me up. After my exercise, I usually either write in my journal or read something meaningful. I also take this time to review my Big 5 goals for this year. I LOVE this time. Even if I don’t end up doing much more than a work out, this early morning ritual wakes me up in a way that helps me fuel my day with the right nourishment for my soul.

Earlier this week, I had one of those days that in the past were standard days. I had started at 5:00 am as usual and then after getting my kids off to school, I had back to back appointments all day until I picked them up, after which we came home, ate, did homework, tag teamed them with my husband, and then I went back out to attend a training by one of my favorite Network Marketing trainers. I didn’t get home till after 10:30 pm. Needless to say my energy was completed depleted and I was entirely spent! Consequently, I did not get up at 5:00 am the next morning, I did NOT exercise or spend time writing or reading, my soul was undernourished and my body was exhausted. I didn’t course correct that day by spending time recovering and then getting back on track the next day. No, rather, because I had slightly veered off course and because I didn’t immediately auto correct, I veered MORE off course. Now, the next night, instead of going to bed early to get back on track, I hung around with my husband till even LATER than usual. I fiddled around my laptop doing nothing more productive than checking Facebook. So as a result, a second day of No Holy Hour ensued, and now I am even MORE off course.

Interestingly I am observing myself and my actions as if I am outside my body, which is the reason for this post. I have never been this observant of my own behavior before, mostly because we are all so b*&y in the hamster wheel of life (remember I boycott the word b&^y last year?) that we don’t take the time to see what things we are doing that don’t serve us. When I replaced the word b&^y with productive last year, I was amazed at the time that showed up for me, and how things got done with ease and grace and with time to spare.

All I needed to do in order to veer back on course is to sleep early, so I can wake up early again and everything will be back to normal, and I am finding it hard to do just that.

My husband had to remind me that it was late yesterday yet again. Today, I woke at 5:30 am (ok, so that’s a bit better) and interestingly I had this awareness, that I needed to exercise. I felt lazy to go outside or get into bike clothes, but at least I could do yoga. So I found a 15 minute routine and did it before sitting to start write this post. By the time the weekend ends, I am committed to being in bed no later than 10 pm so that come Monday morning, I can be up again to renew my membership in the 5:00 am Holy Hour Club.

So what I realized through this was this:

  1. All it takes are slight tweaks of behavior to change a habit from one that’s not serving us to one that is. What’s one thing you want to do differently? Do you need to drink more water? Perhaps you can start by increasing just one extra glass of water a day. Do it first thing, as soon as you get out of bed, or the very first thing when you enter your kitchen in the morning. Do it consistently, same time every day for 21 days and you will have formed the habit of drinking more water. Drinking a glass of room temperature water and a splash of lemon or lime juice first thing in the morning is a really good habit by the way.
  2. Our lives are so overly filled with activities, that we don’t have the time to slow down and consider our actions and whether they are hurting or helping ourselves most of all. I used to LIVE in this overdrive mode; in the kind of day that I had just once this past week. I booked my days to the gills and its no wonder then that my health wasn’t at its best, my habits didn’t serve me and I couldn’t be the best version of myself for my kids, husband, friends and family.
  3. In creating space, by creating boundaries and saying NO to projects and other things that don’t serve my top priorities right now, I created space for myself to BE more and DO less. I am after all a Human BEing, not a Human DOing. This allowed me to have more meaningful relationships with fewer people instead of having a 100 acquaintances. I am spending time cultivating friendships that mean the world to me AND more importantly, I am way less cranky to my family. I can laugh more, be more joyful and music to my ears, my 4 year old son lately has been saying ‘mommy you’re FUNNY’!
  4. I can LOVE more LOVINGLY. This one’s a big deal to me. Family is in my top three core values and yet family is what was taking the brunt of my burn out. I was less tolerant with my children and impatient with my husband and even my parents. I was on autopilot as a mom, wife and daughter. And I didn’t like it at all. I needed to be more present, more focused and more joyful for the 3 single most important people in my life…my husband and two kids.
  5. Today, in simply listening to my body and doing 15 minutes of yoga I was able to bring myself back on track. My mind is no longer racing at a frenetic pace and it can serve as an energy charging station for the people who I interact with, vs. being an energy sucking station (ever encountered one of those people? I used to be one!)
  6. Interestingly and not surprisingly, I am being more productive, more is getting done, I’m more aware of my projects/tasks and am methodically and carefully checking them off my list with a renewed zest.
  7. I MISSED my evening wind down holy time. Because I was staying up so late, I felt like I couldn’t take the 10 minutes I take at the end of the night to gather myself, give thanks, wind down in meditation and float off to dream land, instead, I would get into bed right away, then end up staying up even later because I couldn’t calm myself enough to go right off to sleep.

The ripple effects of overloading my agenda in months and years past is far greater than I even imagined. It didn’t just affect me, it affected people and activities around me. It caused me to be late, behind schedule and panicked, which caused me to be short, impatient, and slightly intolerant. It caused me to drive more aggressively, wonder why everyone was so slow on the road and just simply be unable to see the beauty of the world around me. It caused me to talk, walk and think at a pace that most people couldn’t keep up with.

Interestingly, I am finding myself at my creative and professional best as well. In clearing out the energetic and physical clutter in my mind and life, I have created space for magic to happen and I can see the momentum building to what’s possible for me. As we enter the year of the sheep, the year of collaboration I am excited to see what partnerships will transpire because of the space I created.

Now what I live for is the sounds of the birds, the patterns of clouds, sunrises and sunsets, the smell of the roses my husband bought me for Valentines Day, the orchid bud that’s beginning to open, the one that my 8 year old daughter and I have nurtured for half a year, the tapping of the birds at our feeder when its empty, the smell of incense burning in my home every day, the giggles of my children as I play tickle monster with them at the end of the day, the belly laughs I get when I make funny faces at them, the surprised smile on my husband’s face when I say or do something that he doesn’t expect, the playfulness that’s come back into our relationship, the purring of my kitties as I make the time to sit on the floor and tickle and play with them and quality time with girlfriends who I love and adore.

Isn’t this what life should be like for us all? It’s not impossible, and I’m here to say that it’s not hard. Mother Teresa said, ‘The Ocean is Made Up of Drops.’

The first step is awareness. Take stock of your life, keep a time journal, track where you’re spending your time for a week. Then we can assess from there. Let me know if I can help you!

Inner and Outer Problems

I attended a Buddhist meditation class last week. The teacher talked about inner and outer problems in a way that really resonated with me. Outer problems are the ones we have no control over- the ones that happen to us as a part of living our lives- our car breaks down or someone cuts us off on the freeway, an accident backs up traffic and makes us late to an important meeting or job interview, people talk to us badly or any myriad of things– these all comprise outer problems and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.

The inner problems are the ways we chose to deal with these outer problems. We can get super aggravated, retaliate by cutting off someone else or chase after that person to flip them off, get really upset and develop anxiety or have sleepless nights and really make ourselves and those around us miserable because of how badly we are being treated by someone in our lives whether it be a co-worker, a boss, a parent, a spouse or a friend or anyone else for that matter.

This really got me thinking about this topic because I can certainly relate to this. In the past year I had a situation going on with me where for months I was in what I felt was a ‘stuck’ place– I didn’t feel like I had a way out with this person’s behavior and I couldn’t understand why I was being treated this way. I started sleeping badly, getting into fights with my husband Jason, and my 7yo started acting out which made things worse– only in hindsight after I extricated myself from that situation (and things at home went back to normal) was I able to realize that my husband wasn’t trying to ‘be controlling’ my daughter wasn’t ‘acting out’ rather it was ME! They were the mirror for my thoughts and actions and were merely ‘doing’ what I was…except they weren’t really doing anything– I was!! This was such a huge realization to me.

How you chose to let this affect you is in your hands. Typically when someone treats you badly or says something that hurts it’s them using you as a mirror that reflects how they feel- and because they dislike how they feel and they don’t know how to articulate it so they lash out against those that are closest to them- usually family and people they care for and interact with on a regular basis. You can’t change them, but you can change you!

I decided that my self-worth wasn’t tied to this person’s treatment of me, that no one gets to treat me this way- and that I ALWAYS have a choice! ALWAYS!

There are two types of suffering in the world– the one is where you learn from it and never go through the same experience again– and then the other where you didn’t actually learn and implement your lessons and so the way the Universe works is that you continue to experience the same lesson over and over– what is it that we are taught in school at an early age? Repetition is a pillar of learning! Life lessons are no different. It took me 10 years and three different experiences to learn this particular self-worth lesson. I consider myself blessed to have had such great ‘teachers’ because without the angst they caused- I’d never have had these breakthroughs.

So what can you do when you find yourself in what feels like and untenable situation?
1. Remember that we give words a lot of power. We can take that power back.
2. By being hurt/offended/upset by someone’s actions or words against us we are giving away our power to that person- and we can TAKE IT BACK!!
3. You always have a choice! Extricate yourself from the situation as quickly as your time, situation and resources allow.
4. Mentally disconnect from that situation and remind yourself that you control how you think and feel. And YES you can control your mind.
5. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you! Use them like an AA sponsor and ask to connect with them when you’re feeling low! There’s no better feeling when your mentor, well wisher or biggest fan tells you how great you are because they truly believe that!
6. Affirm daily that you are strong and that you are in control of how people behave with you.
7. The world’s greatest thought leaders and humanitarians all shared the same message- Love and Forgive. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nonviolence (Ahimsa) movement in India is noted for literally ‘turning the other cheek’ and he’s not alone. I’ve never read the Bible- but someone once told me that the word Forgiveness appears more often than the word Love.
8. Most of all love yourself above all else. Love yourself the way you love your children. Imagine how you would respond if someone hurt your child, said mean things or physically hurt them- that pain would be unbearable — it is that emotion and feeling that I want you to tap into when you love yourself. When you do that– nothing and no one will be able to say or do anything negative to you because you will have taken away their power to do so!

Make a decision today that you will not let your feelings run away with you. That you’re in control and that you can’t be hurt by someone else because their words/actions have no power over you. It’s your time to shine!

Sending you light and love

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What Defines You?

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Last Friday I started what is going to be a 10 month long journey as a cohort of a leadership program called Emerging Leaders. This is designed to be a reflective, thoughtful, thought-provoking training with 15 of my peers to develop the next generation of leaders in the nonprofit sector. 

An honor system confidentiality agreement dictates that I cannot share with you what others confide in that safe, sacred space, but I can and will certainly be sharing my journey here and I hope you’ll come along for the ride. 

During an incredible orientation which started with a tour of a magnificent venue called Lotusland in Montecito, CA – a place obviously purposely chosen not just for the serenity and natural beauty but also for the inspiration that it provides you to just BE! It’s the place, where I’m told members go to just ‘Zen Out’ although I am not quite certain what that means. I imagine it means to just BE.MINDFUL. 

One of the exercises we had to do was to think of a word, a phrase or a group of words that we felt defined us – after considerable thought the words I chose were 

MIND.AFFIRM.ABUNDANT – and when I had to share with this group of complete strangers what this meant, I choked up! I couldn’t continue the first time and had to be allowed time to compose myself…I’m still working on why that happened…but when I did get to re-present to the group – here’s what I shared:

MIND – the most powerful tool at our disposal to create and have all that we ever want in this lifetime. It is our choice to use it or not.

AFFIRM: My dear coach and mentor Donna has dinned into me the power of affirmations – they work, even if you don’t believe them initially – they work! So create positive first person affirmations of EVERYTHING you want to attract or achieve in your life and don’t just say them – believe them…emote them!

ABUNDANT: If you employ your MIND to visualize and believe in your AFFIRMations you will fill your life with ABUNDANCE.

Wishing you abundance and peace