Category Archives: choice

Choice is a Superpower

Embracing choice is a superpower. When you realize this, everything changes… for the better.

I’ve been working on my next book, which is all about how to actually create positive change in your life in a tangible, actionable way. But the first step to actually creating change is wanting to… making a choice. In fact, choice is the most important step we take throughout our lives on a daily basis. It’s also something we all do rather reflexively and distractedly – if not, unconsciously.

However, when we make choice conscious and realize that we are engaging in decision-making nearly every minute of every day, we are flexing our real muscles. We develop our superpowers, and the quality of our life changes… for the better.

Priorities, Values, and Authenticity

What are your priorities, really?

It’s an honest question, to which we often provide less-than-honest answers. If we were 100% truthful about our actual priorities (the things we actively pursue and attend to), we might not actually like ourselves so much, and fear others might not like us at all. The rub is, of course, the “others” already know your priorities based on your actions, so the only person you’re lying to is yourself.

There are many quotes in the world about being a priority, making something a priority, etc. Here are just a few I dug up:

“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” – Mark Twain

Or Maya Angelou’s less passive version: “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”

Then there’s this, more pointed version by Laura Vanderkam: “Instead of saying ‘I don’t have time,’ try saying ‘It’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.”

My favorite, though, is really simple in its delivery, and profound in its meaning:

“Action expresses priorities.” – Gandhi

Ah, leave it to Gandhi to hit home with the truth, in a profoundly neutral way.

What we do is a direct expression of what we prioritize.

So often I’ve heard people say “I can’t do… x, y, or z,” when what they really mean is they don’t want to. (I know, I’ve done it.) “Can’t” feels somehow more palatable, and hopefully less offensive.

The truth is, though, “I can’t” is what we say to make ourselves feel better, and often only we believe it. The people we are saying that to know we’re lying, but they let us do it because they understand. They do it too. Everyone does it. It’s almost a societal ‘norm’ to be deflective in this way. And that’s okay. (Sort of.)

What’s really not okay is when we start to believe the lie ourselves (ie: “I’m too busy” or “I’m unable to”), because then we are living out of integrity and authenticity – living out of alignment with our core values … and that is a really slippery slope.

So, like Laura suggested above, try saying “I’m sorry, but t’s not a priority for me,” or “Thank you, but I’m not interested.” See how it feels to be honest with yourself and someone else, instead of lying about what you’re able (or unable) to do. You might just be surprised at the outcome.

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Post-Note: I did this myself recently, when I received yet another (mis-aligned) solicitation for marketing partnership, and instead of ignoring it, or lying and deflecting with “I can’t right now,” I simply replied: “Thank you, I’m not interested. This isn’t a good fit for me.” The response I received in return was kind and genuine: “Thank you for taking the time to let us know. Best wishes.” I get that not everyone will be like that, but it’s nice to know that some people are. And I’d like to think that the more we respond to life with truth and authenticity, the more we invite others to do the same. xo

Complaining Doesn’t Create Change

You can either change or stay the same, but you can’t do both. And if you want to create change in your life – if you want something to change – you have to become a participant in making it happen. 

Harsh words? Perhaps. But that doesn’t make them less true. And trust me, it’s not as if I think change is easy. It’s not. Change can feel hard, and very few people are actually good at it across the board. We all have at least one thing that seems harder to change than others. (I’m no exception.)

In reality though, change isn’t actually hard, even though it often feels that way. What makes it hard is when we add emotional weight to the process. This is what happens when we want to “have our cake and eat it too.” In other words, when we want change, but we don’t want to have to work for it.

You can’t create change by simply wanting it and doing nothing to make it happen. It doesn’t work that way. Change requires decision and then action. These are doing words, not being words. You can’t be your way into changing something.

All too often we readily complain (as I’ve done myself) that “nothing is changing,” or “nothing is getting better.” When I hear a client say this, the immediate question I ask is: What have you done to make it happen? (Which is often met with a scowl or grimace.)

The thing is, so many of us want things to change, yet we’re also too tired/angry/resentful/lazy/scared/upset/frustrated/sad (or numerous other emotions) to do anything about it. Either that, or we’re caught up in some form of victimhood and martyrdom that allows us to feel like we’re entitled to complain endlessly without actually engaging in bettering our own lives. Yikes!

The concept is really simple, though: If you want something to change, you have to do something to create that change. 

  • If you’re feeling sad, depressed, pitiable – do something.
  • If you’re feeling angry, scared, frustrated – do something.
  • If you’re feeling resentful, tired, lazy – do something.

No matter what you’re feeling, if you don’t like it – you have to do something to change it. Take a walk, call a friend, eat a different diet. The list of things you can do to create positive change in your life is virtually endless.

On the flip side, there’s only one proven way you can guarantee that nothing changes, and that’s to continue to complain while doing nothing. In fact, not only will things stay the same, they’ll actually get worse. There is no level of “maintenance” that includes complaining and/or inactivity. None.

So, if you are tired, frustrated, or upset about how things are in your life – you absolutely have the power to change it… by making a different choice and doing something that changes your situation. It all begins with you. Even if it feels difficult or challenging (or even overwhelming) it is worth it, because the alternative is doing nothing – which is a guarantee that things will get worse. And who wants that?

Change doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, there’s an easy way to approach change that I’m writing about in my new book (to be published early 2019). In the meantime, just do one thing – one thing – differently. There’s hope in action. Give yourself the gift of possibility, by taking action in your life. 

It’s All About You (even when it isn’t)

If you think something you read online is about you, it probably is – even if it isn’t.

Let me explain.

Over the weekend, I posted some words about truth and wisdom. Then this morning, I shared how incongruent it is to preach light (or truth) and spread anything fear-based. And then I got some push back. A few people were courageous enough (I truly respect their courage for actually asking) to reach out and ask me if what I had written was about them.

The short answer was “no.”

But the long answer is… “probably.”

Because if you read something online that someone else wrote, and you get a twinge in your gut or mind that it might be about you, even if it’s not… then it probably is – because you are feeling something. You are feeling the message in the words, and it’s prompting you to call your own actions into question. So, even if it wasn’t written with you in mind – if you’re feeling it, then yes, it’s about you. 

More importantly, it’s within you, and has nothing to do with the other person (like me, or anyone else writing and sharing stuff). They’re simply the mirror or message that you need in that moment. For both the positive empowering stuff, and the twinge-y kind of stuff that gives us pause and makes us angry, resentful, or curious to ask the question.

The bottom line is simple: We’re all on a journey of our own making, and yet, we’re also walking this path together. It’s a duality of truth that feels contradictory, and is anything but. So, if someone shares something that prompts something in you, it’s an opportunity… a gift. It’s a chance for you to modify your path slightly, as we journey together. Cool, huh?

The Law of Karma and Wishing Harm on Others

When is it ok to wish ill on someone?

Well, the short answer is: never.

And the long answer is: never.

It’s never ok to wish harm on anyone else. If you do, you’re actually inviting that bad energy back into your life tenfold. Karma doesn’t discriminate in that regard – what you reap, you will (eventually) sow. Always.

I actually know of several “spiritual” teachers who have given clients invocations of harm toward another person. Every time I hear of it – I shudder. (Seriously, yikes!) Thankfully, my first brush with understanding this simple truth came from my Reiki grandfather who taught me a very simple lesson: You never impose your will on anyone else. Ever. To do so is to practice black magic, and it will always rebound onto you. Always.

I learned this within the first week of studying Reiki and beginning to uncover my own gifts, but millennia of history in other traditions teach the same message, most commonly:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

If you don’t want someone wishing harm on you, don’t wish it on others. It’s really that simple. We only choose to make it more complicated by employing the three most dysfunctional attributes of the mind: justification, generalization, and rationalization.

Perhaps, though, rather than getting mired in the teachings of the past, or the simple truths that echo through their wisdom, it might be more practical today to think of it this way:

You can’t cast a negative net and expect to catch anything positive.

Nothing good comes from sowing or spewing venom or toxicity in the world. Even though it might “feel” good in the moment, it will ultimately cause more problems in the long run. Of course, the long run could be your next lifetime, but that still doesn’t make it right.

In this age of instant gratification and guarded consequences, it’s increasingly more important for us to remember the simple truths and the wisdom of the ages. They’ve lasted as long as they have because they’re as pure as it gets. Time can’t tarnish them.

As for what to do when you feel wronged by someone? It’s 100% natural to vent, cry, get angry and experience all of the emotions running through your body… stopping just short of desiring harm on the other party. Not only will you be properly managing your karma, you’ll also actually feel better for not having created more toxicity in the situation. That’s a win-win if ever there was one.

Or, as another great teacher once taught: turn the other cheek. Which can either translate as 1) allow yourself to be hit again, or 2) (as I prefer) turn and walk away, removing yourself from the drama of the other person, and staying true to who you are.

There’s no shame in disengaging. The only real loss is when you choose to engage in something destructive and negative from a place of hurt or fear, because it perpetuates the cycle of harm – a cycle you’re standing squarely in the middle of. Yikes!

We Don’t Have Three Feet

We don’t have three feet – so it’s time to stop acting like we do.

I run into this all the time with clients, friends, family, acquaintances  – even in the mirror. We seem to think we have three feet… but we don’t.

Three Feet. (This image reminds me of My Three Sons (the TV show), but I digress.)

Too often, and we’re all guilty of it, we live life trying to keep one foot in the past (resentment, grudges, hurt, blame, shame, anger, etc.), while also trying to put one foot in the future (hope, manifesting, daydreaming, planning, preparing, making goals, striving, wishing, etc.). But this strategy leaves nothing for the present. And it’s the present that allows us to move into the future with more ease, while also allowing the past to heal with grace.

You only have two feet – where do you want to put them?

The Importance of Simple Pleasures

Like many people I know, over the last month I have felt emotionally inundated with one shocking headline story after another. My sympathetic nervous system felt under attack, and I needed to do something about it. It’s the old “oxygen mask” rule of taking care of yourself before assisting others, because otherwise, you’re no good to anyone.

So, one day, I decided to snap a pic of my silly face enjoying some olives… because they made me so happy! They were a new discovery at my local grocery store, and they were DELICIOUS!! So, I took a picture. Then another, and I found myself laughing and smiling and, most importantly, emotionally lifted. I shared it with friends, and they, too, smiled at my goofiness. I hashtagged it #simplepleasures and didn’t think about it again.

Original Post: With everything going on in the world it’s SO IMPORTANT to find little joys. And today, I did! My local grocery store has THE BEST olives!! #simplepleasuresmakelifebetter #iloveagoodolive

Then, a couple of days later, another small thing made me wonderfully happy: A new pair of fun earrings, and I thought: Hmm…. there’s something here. So I wrote another post, played around with a fun new photo app, and shared it.

Original Post: Remember my post about simple pleasures making life better (or some days, just bearable)? Well, the other day it was olives… whereas tonight it’s shiny new baubles!! What do we think?! I LOVE them! They’re like glistening mandala ornaments for my ears. <3

And with that, I started doing a daily #simplepleasures post for about a week just to see what would happen. What I noticed was that I was pausing more and taking better note of my daily life. I watched insects crawl and fly around on flowers, I listened to rain on the roof at night, and I sipped my tea more consciously, rather than guzzling down the morning caffeine.

While the world continued to spiral all around me, I felt more grounded and better able to remain emotionally-balanced. Subsequently, I also felt more more discerning about where I focused my energy and time. And that’s what’s important here: we have to be discerning about where we focus our attention.

With everything vying for some piece of our time or focus, it’s increasingly more and more important to be thoughtful and deliberate about how we move through our days. While our news stations seem to primarily focus on the “bad” things that are happening (see my “PS” below), it becomes increasingly more important for us to take pause in our lives and identify the good things. An awareness practice, like #simplepleasures, is a perfect example of how to do this.

Here are the rest of my week’s posts using the #simplepleasures hashtag. I invite you to try this out for yourself. Make a game out of it with friends and family. It doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the “bad” that’s going on in the world; it means that you’re choosing to keep yourself healthy, grounded and balanced, in order to be able to create positive change with more energy and focus. That’s a win-win, in my book.

(PS: Seriously though, if you’re not sure what I’m talking about with needing to be more discerning about watching the news, try this: try not actively watching the news and instead sit in a room nearby listening in order to count the number of “bad” things they share as compared to the “good” things. I’ve done this. It’s even worse than you might imagine.)

 

Happy Accidents

Accidents happen, and rarely do we call them “happy.” Then something comes along to change that and suddenly they become ‘Happy Accidents.’ But we never know they’re actually “happy” until after the fact. 

This is a simple truth about a lot of life. Hindsight is the tool that allows us to take perspective and choose new adjectives, right?

Earlier today I tried to trim my own (long, overgrown and frustrating) bangs. But I ended up taking off a lot more than I had planned (because I’m not a hairstylist – duh). I thought it would be simple, and it wasn’t. My “trim” resulted in weird blunt wonky pieces of hair draped in front of my eyes. 

Somewhat laughing, I called my hairdresser, but she was too busy. However, she referred me to someone else she works with who had some time available today, and… voila! My blunder became a ‘happy accident’ in the form of a totally new hairstyle that I love.
I love when something unplanned (and potentially frustrating) turns into something unexpectedly awesome, don’t you? It happens more than we realize or acknowledge though. Unfortunately, we are a bit too programmed to focus on the “bad” or frustrating bit, rather than enjoying the positive change. I see it daily… people seem to be more and more hard-wired to complain, than they are to celebrate or enjoy. It’s almost as if we’re not allowed to truly be happy with our lives. 

Hindsight gives us a choice, though. It allows us to look back and change the adjective, and thereby change the experience. People say we can’t change the past, but that’s not entirely true. Because we can change how we feel about the past, which, in essence, changes it in our memories. It’s a superpower too few people are exercising. 

Now, to be clear, this is not about denying an event or creating revisionist history. Facts are facts. But how we feel about the facts can be updated. It can be modified through a shift in perspective, turning something frustrating or difficult into something neutral, or even positive. 

It’s not always easy, mind you. Sometimes it takes a fair amount of work, but the guarantee is that it’s always worth it. Why? Because low vibration emotions take a lot more energy than high-vibration, or even neutral, memories. Shifting perspective and attributing new feelings to something that has already happened frees up the emotional, mental, and energetic space inside you that had been given over to maintaining the complaint. And that, is a very happy accident, indeed. 

Make Time – Take Time

It’s December 4th, and I am already witnessing the stressors of the holiday season begin to show up. Upon running a few simple errands today I saw both frustrated and happy shoppers. Some were smiling as they completed the tasks they set out to achieve, while others were grumbling as they pushed their carts through the aisles.

Is attitude a choice?

We’ve been taught over and over again by leading authors and “gurus” that we can choose a positive attitude throughout our life. And while that may be true, it’s also rather dismissive, isn’t it? (Personally, I’ve never appreciated someone telling me to adopt an “attitude of gratitude” or a “positive mental outlook” when I’m in the midst of some stressor or another.)

So, while our mood may or may not be a choice, we definitely have power over how we choose to spend our time… which directly affects our mood.

This is where a favorite rhyming couplet comes into play:

Make Time – Take Time

Make Time to Take Time

When we make time to take time, we empower ourselves to take action that leads to a more peaceful presence. In other words, our mood becomes a byproduct of our actions and decisions.

But, what does this actually mean? If you’ve known me at all, you know that I like things to be both accessible and actionable. Making time to take time looks like this:

Carving out 15 minutes in the morning to sip your tea or coffee from a favorite mug, while listening to music, an audiobook or a podcast.

Setting aside 10 minutes a day before bed for private quiet time. It can be meditation, or a spa-like ritual of pampering your skin. (Lately, I’ve been focusing on my feet, and boy does that 10-minute massage feel good!)

Planning 15 minutes ahead of schedule when you have an event to go to, so that you arrive feeling relaxed and excited, rather than rushed and frazzled.

Choosing to sit down and eat your dinner at the table with nice plates and silverware, and savoring every bite, even if you’ve ordered in.

Ordering in! Even the best cooks need a break. Ordering in is a simple indulgence that allows you to reclaim at least 30 minutes that would have been spent cooking.

As you can see from the list, it’s all about being deliberate with our time. Our society has a tendency to glorify being “busy” – but there’s no trophy for feeling frazzled and stressed. Typically, there’s only exhaustion and frustration, and nobody likes that.

So, in order to shift your attitude from one of grumbling through the aisles to one of quiet joy in accomplishing your everyday tasks (including attending numerous holiday events), instead of choosing your mood it might be easier to choose how you spend your time. We do this by carving out little snippets of time in our day to create moments of pleasure, joy, or peace. It really does make all the difference.

 

 

Life, Death, and a Simple Question

Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude. Just yesterday millions of people across the USA came together to share a meal, a tradition, or some sport, all in the name of gratitude. I, myself, gathered with part of my family and created a new tradition as we ate a simple meal together at my father’s nursing home. In many ways, it was more the essence of Thanksgiving for me than it ever had been. It was family, coming together, sharing food, and sharing stories.

For others, this week also brought something new. In the past few days I have had very dear friends unexpectedly lose a parent, while another dear friend extended their family by one.

The timing is not lost on me. This week – a week of gratitude – the cycle of life hit me square in the face.

Even though I have been living with perpetual loss for over 11 years since my father’s massive stroke, I have not had to deal with the permanence of loss. I can still go and hug him, laugh with him, smile with him. My friends who just lost their parent no longer have that privilege – that joy.

So, as I sit tonight and reflect on the miracle of life and the meaning of death, I find my mind wandering to a quote I’ve always liked, but never fully embraced…. until now. Now, it seems to have a deeper meaning.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

It’s from the poem ‘The Summer Day’ by Mary Oliver. Whether or not you believe in reincarnation, it’s this life – now – that matters, because it’s the one you can embrace. In the wake of death and birth, it seems even more poignant as I remember that time can feel too short, while also being marvelously full of possibility and potential.

With gratitude for a simple family gathering fresh in my mind, it seems a good time to truly answer Mary’s question. And the best answer I can come up with is: Live.

Live in Love.
Live in Hope.
Live in Peace.
Live in Joy.
Live in Play.
Live in Curiosity.
Live in Intimacy.
Live in Laughter.
Live in Connection.
Live in Spirit.

Live.

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‘The Summer Day’ by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?